Archive for the ‘Travels With Maggie’ Category


            “Fate is not an eagle. It creeps like a rat.” – Elizabeth Bowen

I’m a believer  

We never know what we're going to encounter on the path of life. And I wouldn't want it any other way. -- Photo by Pat Bean

We never know what we’re going to encounter on the path of life. And I wouldn’t want it any other way. — Photo by Pat Bean

          “We make our own fortunes then call them fate,” said Benjamin Disraeli. His words were the gist of almost all the quotes I could find on “fate.”

I agree, and yet I also disagree. I’m not a religious person, but there have been many times in my life when it seemed as if fate took a hand.

Most recently, it was after I broke my ankle and met Betty Ann, who was a dog walker, well of sorts. It was something she fell into while searching for a job. She was my next door neighbor, and thus agreed, for a pittance, to walk Maggie until I could take over the task again.

Recently I discovered, she had excellent editing skills. And again, for a pittance, she has agreed to edit and
proofread “Travels with Maggie,” the book which I desperately need to finish and publish so I can move on.

Every writer needs an editor, if for nothing more than to see what the writer really wrote, and not what she thought she wrote. She hadn’t even got past my dedication of the book, which read: This book is dedicated to my canine traveling companion, Maggie, and to John Steinbeck. His book, “Travels with Charley, was one of the inspirations for my vagabond lifestyle and also for this book’s title. I would also like to think the hundreds of other great travel writers who taunted me to discover my own adventures.

Did you catch the mistake? I didn’t. Think should have been thank.

I truly believe it was fate that brought Betty Ann and me together. What do you think? Or is that thank?

The Wondering Wanderer's blog pick of the day.

The Wondering Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat: The Mockingbird and the Cat http://tinyurl.com/l4ebgew I’m both an avid bird watcher and a cat lover, so I’m a fence sitter on the issue of cats being allowed outside. I put a bell on my cat to give the birds warning, just fyi. But I sure do love this mockingbird’s attitude.

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“We cling to our own point of view, as though everything depended on it. Yet our opinions have no permanence; like autumn and winter, they gradually pass away.” Zhuangzi

It’s turning to fall in Utah’s northern mountains — Photo by Pat Bean

Adventures with Pepper: Day Four Continued

I left the summer of the valleys briefly yesterday to find autumn already blooming in the higher elevations. Thought you would enjoy sharing the colors with me.

Book Report: I needed to get on the road early but got up early to at least write for half an hour on Travels with Maggie, which is now at 45,312 words. The number might have been higher if my Internet connection for fact-checking hadn’t been so poopy.

The Wondering Wanderer’s blog pick of the day

Bean’s Pat: Margaret’s Miscellany http://tinyurl.com/99nqldk A Death Valley story that’s G-rated.


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“If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have to at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family anatidae on our hands.” Douglas Adams


Heads or tails? Northern pintails both. — Photo by Pat Bean

 Favorite Bird-Watching Places

A roseate spoonbill turns the water pink with its reflection. — Photo by Pat Bean

            Squished between the Kennedy Space Center and the Canaveral National Seashore  is Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.

On and around this Florida coastal area live over 1,000 plant species, 117 fish species, 68 amphibian and reptile species, 330 bird species and 31 different mammals.

I spent a couple of days roaming the refuge in search of the birds. These photos represent  just a few of the ones I saw.

Wood storks, snowy egrets, great egrets and white ibis feeding peacefully together, well until the snowy egrets got pushy. — Photo by Pat Bean

The world needs more such places.                

  Book Report:  Travels with Maggie is up to 43,203 words.. Not much else to say except I’m slowly plodding ahead. 

The Wondering Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat: Make Mine Mystery http://tinyurl.com/9mnc8b4 Visiting Archer City has been on my To-Do List for some time now. I think I need to give it a higher priority.


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            “To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.” George Santayana

            The above quote fit my blog, but the one below made me laugh.  I couldn’t decide which one to post with my column, so I’m sharing both.

            “A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing and the lawn mower is broken.”—James Dent.

The sage brush in an area adjacent to the Lake Walcott campground is beginning to think it’s already autumn. — Photo by .Pat Bean

Summer Comes, Summer Goes

The brown-headed cowbirds that earlier thronged my bird feeders have already migrated elsewhere — Sketch by Pat Bean

            I can’t believe my summer at Lake Walcott State Park in Southern Idaho is coming to an end. But then they do say time flies when you’re having fun.This green, manicured park that sits beside the lake and the Snake River is an oasis in a dry high desert region that this year has been plagued by wildfires. While it was a hotter summer here than last, it was still heaven compared to central and south Texas weather, where I usually spend the winters. There, they not only have the heat but high humidity as well.

I have three children in those regions who frequently remind me how lucky I am not to be there.

But the house sparrows, as noted from the ones feeding beneath my bird feeder just this morning, are still sticking around. — Photo by Pat Bean

Last year when I arrived at the park, it was still winter and the trees were bare. This year, on the exact same day, May 15th, it was 90 degrees when I arrived and the trees were already full of leaves. It cooled off, however, and it was almost July before I had to start using my RV’s air conditioner daily.

Now, I’m seeing signs of fall creep into the park. Many of the park’s birds, like the colorful Bullock’s orioles and the American goldfinch are already migrating south. Most robins, as well. Instead of seeing dozens of these birds on my walks through the park, I’m now lucky to see one.

Book Report: Travels with Maggie, 41,820 re-edited words. Not much progress but I’m hoping to spend all afternoon working on the book. I decided to blog earlier today and clear my decks. A young blogger asked today what was the best writing advice his readers had ever received. I told him, it’s “Write! Write! Write!”  

The wondering wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

          Bean’s Pat: Lifescapes: The Texas Hill Country http://dld.bz/bJNbr The sounds of summer. This is a blog for nature lovers written by Susan Wittig Albert, author of the China Bayles mystery series written for herb and plant lovers. .

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“Don’t taunt the alligator until after you’ve crossed the creek. – Dan Rather

Wheeler Creek, up Wheeler Creek Canyon near Huntsville, Utah. — Photo by Pat Bean

And a Shady Spot to Sit 

Burch Creek as it flows down from the mountains above Ogden,Utah. — Photo by Pat Bean

I like nothing better than to find a shady spot next to a frisky stream. It brightens even the best of days.

And I’ve found dozens of just such places in Utah, where this native Texan was fortunate to live for almost a third of her life. I thought I would share a couple with you.

I hope you enjoy the photos. But it would be better yet, if you would find your own babbling stream where you sit and let it talk to you for a while.

Book Report: Blogging late and quick because I spent the morning writing on Travels with Maggie, which is now up to 41,639 words.

The wondering wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat: Eric Murtaugh http://tinyurl.com/9lhy3as Who do you think you are anyway? I love this blog, and this blogger. But he names himself properly in this column when he calls himself an intelligent donkey’s behind. One of my models for my travels was Frank Tatchel, author of the 1923 book, “The Happy Traveler,” who said: “The real fun of traveling can only be got by one who is content to go as a comparatively poor man. In fact, it is not money which travel demands so much as leisure and anyone with a small, fixed income can travel all the time.”  Eric sounds to me like a modern-day Tatchel.

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“Memory … is the diary we all carry around with us.” – Oscar Wilde

Everyone was off watching the Revolutionary War reenactment so I had the beach to myself when I visited Hamblin Beach State Park on Lake Ontario in upper New York. — Photo by Pat Bean

One Brought Memories, One Created Them

Once upon a time, I pictured the state of New York as being one Big Apple. That picture changed the day I drove the parkway that runs along the south shore of Lake Ontario. Upper New York, I discovered this region is quite rural – with fantastic parks.

The board game, Krull, which my young grandson and I played often during his six-month stay with me.

I passed at least a half-dozen of them during the 75 mile drive from Niagara Falls to Hamblin Beach State Park,” a day that is remembered in the travel book I’m writing.

One of these awesome public recreation areas, the Joseph Davis State Park that sits on the Niagara River near its mouth with Lake Ontario, was the setting for the end of the 2005 Amazing Race. I didn’t know it at the time, however, and so didn’t stop. The Amazing Race is my all-time favorite Television Show.

I also didn’t stop at Krull Park, which came in second in Coca Cola’s search for America’s Favorite State Park. But just passing by this park and seeing its name brought back pleasant memories that had nothing to do with parks.


A poster from the 1983 movie, Krull. — Wikipedia photo

During the 1980s, my young grandson, David, lived with me for six months. We played endless games of Krull, a popular board game created from the movie “Krull,” which we went to see together. There’s now a video version of Krull out, while the original board game is selling for up to $75 on eBay.

While the name of Krull Park sparked pleasant memories from the past, Hamblin Beach State Park, where I camped for the night, created new memories for my brain bank. These included a walk along the beach and taking in a Revolutionary War reenactment that was taking place at the time.

Pat Conroy explains this side benefit of travel best: “Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends.”

            Book Report: I took a day off from all writing yesterday and did nothing but read. I think this is something I simply have to do every once in a while. A stormy day is best, but a hot day, as it was here at Lake Walcott, worked well, too, as I read in air-conditioned comfort. But I was back at work this morning and “Travels with Maggie” is now up to 40,322 words, some of which describe my visit to upper New York.

The wondering wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat: Writing in the Water http://tinyurl.com/9334rbwThe case of the “you shoulds.” Perhaps you shouldn’t. A blog for writers.

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“It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.” – Frederick Douglass

The Hurricane Deck

On the way up to the Hurricane Deck and the full fury of Niagara Falls. I loved it. — Photo by Pat Bean

During my 2006 visit to Niagara Falls, I braved a claustrophobic elevator ride down through rock so I could view the falls up close and personal from the vantage point of what is known as the Hurricane Deck.

This bright orange wooden platform, reached by a looping series of walkways and steps leading to and from it, sits only 20 feet from the full force of the mighty falls.

The Fisherman by Joseph Mallard William Turner

As I stood on the deck in the useless yellow rain poncho handed out to tourists, being pummeled by the force of the water and deafened by its roar, I thought about J. M. William Turner. This artist, best known for the fantastic light he brought to his paintings, once had himself tied to a mast so he could both experience and observe a storm’s fury.

I once wrote an essay about Turner for a college art class. I wondered how much better the paper might have been if I had experienced the Hurricane Deck before doing so.

Book Report: Travels with Maggie is now up to 38,744 words. My blog today is a short blurb from the chapter that talks about my virgin visit to Niagara Falls. It was a good writing morning, especially since I only worked on the book for half an hour.  I have a busy day ahead. I’m doing the 100-mile round trip to Twin Falls from Lake Walcott to visit friends and stock up.

The Wondering Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat: Green Herons http://tinyurl.com/8fehyzw If only we were all as smart as green herons. This one’s for all my fellow bird watchers. It includes a short You Tube video of one smart fishing bird.


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Hello World – Again

“Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.” – Ray Bradbury.

Discovering My Voice as a Wondering/Wandering Old Broad 

This is an illustration that Laura Hulka helped me come up with for my Bean’s Pat, my way of paying back all the reader awards my blog has received. What do you think? Is it a go?

This is my 645th blog since I started my WordPress blogging journey with a blog called “Hello World” in November of 2009. I was taking that Gotham travel writing class I mentioned in my last two blogs, and the instructor said I needed to have a blog.

That first year, I blogged about 10 times a month, mostly about the places I had visited as a full-time RV-er.  Then in 2011, WordPress began its post-a-day challenge and I accepted. I’m so glad I did. .

Writing daily has given me the voice that the first draft of my travel book needed, improved both my writing and thinking skills, and garnered me worldwide friends.

At first I tried to disguise that I was an old broad when writing my blog, which was the same thing I did in the first draft of my book, “Travels with Maggie.” Maggie, as many of my readers know, was my canine traveling companion for eight years. She died earlier this year, and now I travel with an energetic, fun-loving Scottie mix named Pepper.

Don’t forget to smell all the flowers and be amazed at all the butterflies you come across. — Photo by Pat Bean

Recently, as I continued blogging and struggling with the rewrite of my travel book, I realized that being an old broad was one of the best things I had going for me. It set me apart from all those young travel writers out there in search of love. It’s not that I have anything against such a search. I certainly did my share of that. But that’s not me today. The person I am today, and which is my voice, is that of a wondering/wandering old broad.  It’s exactly what I do and who I am.

I wonder a lot about things but seldom have answers to the questions. The only advice you’ll ever get from me is to live in the moment and take time to smell as many of life’s flowers as you can.

I wonder if I would have ever recognized my true self without my daily blogging?

Book Report: Good rewriting morning. Travels with Maggie is now up to 35,726 words

Bean’s Pat:  Baroness Trumpington http://tinyurl.com/br6r7p2 Not a blog but a newspaper story about a great old broad I admire. I think society underrates us old pussies, as Agatha Christie called Miss Marple and others of such an age.


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Buttercup: “That’s the Fire Swamp. We’ll never survive.”

Wesley: “nonsense! You’re only saying that because no one ever has.”

— From the Princess Bride by William Goldman

Note: Yesterday I used part one of a  travel writing class assignment as my blog. The second part,  which is below, was to write about the same subject with a different voice. Do you think I succeeded?

It’s All About How You Write It

A Pogo welcome to Swamp Park — Photo by Pat Bean

A million years ago, a sand bar along Georgia’s Atlantic coastline cut a basin off from the sea, eventually creating a freshwater wetlands that extended the state’s coast by 75 miles. We know that wetlands today as The Okefenokee Swamp, a place made famous by the antics of Walt Kelly’s political comic strip “Pogo.”

I got my first look at  this home to alligators, lakes (60 of them), screaming panthers, and a dozen islands at Swamp Park, a small section of the 600-square mile whole located near where the 266-mile long Suwannee River begins life. The Okefenokee also gives live to the 90-mile long St. Mary River and both streams flow through the park to the ocean..

Park gardeners had a fondness for green animals. — Photo by Pat Bean

Okefenokee means trembling, or trampoline, earth, a reference to the land’s spongy moss base.

It was autumn when I visited but wild flowers were still growing and green leaves peeked out from the thick strands of moss that drooped from tree limbs.  In an attempt to mimic Disneyland, a  black, red and gold painted engine dubbed the Lady Suwanee took passengers on a tour around the park, past huge stands of saw palmetto, a chickee (a raised wooden platform with a thatch roof used as a shelter by Indians), and past a moonshine still. Bootleggers once found the swamp a handy place to hide from the law.

Book Report: Travels with Maggie now stands at 35,367 words.  I spent all morning rewriting, which is why you got something already written for my blog. I hope you didn’t mind.

Bean’s Pat: The Serenity Game http://tinyurl.com/bw3m6bk I like this take on “Atlas Shrugged,” a book I read at a time when I was rearranging my entire world.

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“We have met the enemy, and he is us.” — Pogo, alias Walt Kelly

Amazing What You Learn When You Travel

Bridge stand-off in the Okefenokee Swamp. — Photo by Pat Bean

Really? There’s an actual  Okefenokee Swamp? I thought Walt Kelly made the place up, the same as he did Pogo and all those other swamp cartoon characters. I must have missed a Georgia geography lesson, or else my Texas teachers were too enamored with tales of the Alamo to include any other state in their history lessons.

At 600 square miles, the Okefenokee Swamp should not have been so easily dismissed.

I got my first look at this geographical wonder at Swamp Park, a Walt Disney like educational and tourist attraction located on  Cowhouse Island  near where the Suwannee River begins life.

In wetter years, visitors to Swamp Park were treated to a boat ride down this waterway. But it was too dry when I visited the park in 2006. — Photo by Pat Bean

The park features plants trimmed to look like animals, scenic walkways above which alligators laze by a pond and an open air train pulled by a black, red and gold painted engine dubbed the Lady Swanee. The train’s tracks meander through stands of saw palmetto, and past a chickee (an open-air native American shelter) and a replica of a moonshine still. I assumed the sights were intended to give tourists an insight into past residents of the area.

The swamp’s name, Okefenokee, means trembling earth and refers to the land’s spongy moss base. I learned a lot more about the Okefenokee during a lecture given by a weathered local, who said he lived in the swamp alone in the winter.

“Bill collectors can’t find me, and I feel honored when I hear a panther scream,” he said. On a more educational note, he said the swamp’s dark water was the result of tannic acid leached from plants and that it was good to drink despite its color.

“We call it gator-ade.”  At this aside, he brought out several small alligators to give his audience a chance to see details of this ancient reptile survivor up close. I touched the smallest of them, thrilled to be part of the experience and more than a mere spectator.

Book Report: 32,985 words. I deserve my own Bean’s Pat for getting that much done today. It was laundry day, and it required a 50-mile round-trip into Burley to get it done.  I cheated on my blog, however. It’s a homework assignment for a Gotham travel writing class I took a couple of years ago. But the swamp was one of my stops on the six-month journey that is the subject of “Travels with Maggie.”

Bean’s Pat: Heart’s Garden http://tinyurl.com/97f7g6d Day After Day. The wondering wanderer’s blog pick of the day.



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