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Cooper’s Hawk. Once I became addicted to birdwatching, I couldn’t not see birds. And occasionally I got lucky and got a good photograph. — Photo by Pat Bean 

“Does the road wind uphill all the way?  Yes. To the very end. Will the journey take the whole day?  From morn to night, my friend.” — Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

Dredging up the Past

I’ve begun work on my memoir, which friends have been urging me to do for years. Like most people’s lives, mine has good parts and bad parts. My book, Travels with Maggie, is 100 percent upbeat, focusing only on the life’s sunshine. I’m happy with it.

If you’re looking for a good book with lots of trivia about America’s cities and landmarks, check out Travels with Maggie on Amazon. It’s G-rated and an excellent book to read together with your kids. Maggie was my canine companion on the six-month birding trip. — Book cover by Sherry Watcher.

For the past year or so, I’ve been working on a second book about my adventures as a late-blooming, bird-watching old broad, tentatively titled Bird Droppings. It also looks at the world through Pollyanna’s eyes. I’m thinking I might start trying to market the chapters I’ve written as single essays.

Meanwhile, as I think about my memoir, tentatively titled Between Wars, a book that will focus on my 37 years as a journalist while also being the mother of five children, and surviving a nasty divorce, I know I will have to put the rose-colored glasses in the trash bin.

I’m not sure I can do it. But I’ve started going back through all my journals and finding I at least enjoy doing the research.

For example, as a former river rat who took two, 16-day, white-water rafting trips down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, I almost couldn’t stop laughing after reading this entry:  The difference between a fairy tale and a river trip: The fairy tale begins “Once upon a time,” while the river trip tales begins: “No shit! There I was…”

            This past day’s entry also contained some quotes that are still worth repeating.

Me, at the Standard-Examiner in 1992, when I was the paper’s environmental reporter. It was my favorite newspaper job, and I held it for 10 years before I became city editor to get more money.. — Photo by Charles Trentelman.

“To the dull mind all nature is leaden. To the illuminated mind the whole world burns and sparkles with light.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson. I think I was reading one of Emerson’s journals at this time.

I was also probably reading one of Natalie Goldberg’s writing books, too. For I wrote down this quote of hers. “If you do not fear the voices inside you, you will not fear the critics outside you.”

I also wrote down some thoughts of my own, in quote form. “At one time in life, I sought logic in everything. Now I know better,” and “If our thoughts were not continually shifting, we’d be a broken record to ourselves.” – Pat Bean

Bean Pat: What a Waste https://brevity.wordpress.com/2019/08/29/what-a-waste/ Leonard Bernstein and scammed writers.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, enthusiastic birder, and is always searching for life’s silver lining

 

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Road Tripping

 

On the road again, outside Monterey, California. — Photo by Jean Gowen

          “The real voyage of discovery consists in not seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust

Interstate 80 and a Lifer  

            Day Six: Coffee was again the first order of the day, but this time I didn’t get lost on the way back. After our caffeine fix, Jean was eager to go to the beach again. I sent her alone and stayed at the inn with Scamp. I wanted to catch up with my journaling – and much-needed alone time.

            When Jean returned, we packed up, then made a stop at a tire store because my low-pressure light had popped on the day before. All tires, probably because of a change in elevation and temperature, were a bit low, which meant there really wasn’t a problem. Aired up, we headed east out of Monterey and before long all the heavy, horrendous traffic was behind us. As the driver, I heaved a great sigh of relief, and once again was able to enjoy the passing landscape.

A California towhee — my first, and No. 711 on my life bird list.

           Before long we hit Interstate 80, a route that stretches from the Pacific Ocean in the West to the Atlantic Ocean in the East. We would take it all the way to Salt Lake City, before heading north to Ogden, Utah, where I had lived and worked for 25 years. We had two sleepovers before we would reach this destination, however.

The first was at the home of another of Jean’s half-sisters. This one lived in a splendid, remote home just off I-80 about an hour outside of Sacramento.

            We arrived mid-afternoon and were heartily welcomed by the sister, her husband, their two dogs, and many cats. Scamp and Dusty romped in the couple’s hilly backyard, glad for the exercise. Inside, however, I had to keep Scamp on a leash beside me because he was determined to chase the cats.

            After a grilled salmon dinner with all the trimmings, Jean and her sister took the dogs on a walk up a steep hill to a pond while I sat on the patio and watched birds. I was thrilled to announce when they had returned – with muddy dogs that needed to be rinsed off with a hose — that I had seen a lifer, a bird that I had never seen before.

            It was a California towhee, a dull brown bird with a bit of rust color beneath its tail and at its throat. There are six towhees that can be found in North America, and I had already seen the other five: spotted towhee in Ogden, Utah, on Dec. 20, 2001; green-tailed towhee on Power Mountain Ridge in Ogden Valley on Aug. 12, 2002; canyon towhee in Sierra Vista, Arizona, on May 9, 2004; eastern towhee in Camden, Arkansas on Dec. 24, 2008; and Albert’s towhee on April 5, 2012 in Tucson, Arizona.

            Seeing this final one on June 26, 2019, near Sacramento, made me one happy birder.

            After this, Scamp and I retired early to one of the guest rooms and left Jean and her sister alone to catch up on the years that they had been apart. In the middle of the night, I took Scamp outside so he could do his business.  It was dark, and when I heard a rustling in the bush, I realized how wild the landscape was surrounding her sister’s home. Scamp and I both hurried back inside. We would wait to enjoy the scenery until daylight.

            Bean Pat: Where – or When https://simpletravelourway.wordpress.com/2019/07/27/travel-advice-temperatures-and-showers/  Another travel blog.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, enthusiastic birder and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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Road Tripping

            “Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” – Henry David Thoreau

Jelly fish at the Monterey Aquarium. — Photo by Jean Gowen

Monterey

            When we walked into the Fireside Lodge, our Monterey home for the next two nights, the first words out of Jean’s mouth were: “I wonder how many pornographic movies have been filmed in this room?” I wasn’t sure where that thought came from, but it did make me laugh – and check to make sure the sheets were clean.

The Fireside Lodge.

            As for its name, our room, which appeared to have once been an efficiency apartment, did have a fireplace, but we would have had to pay extra to use it. Otherwise, it only cost us $188 per night, which wasn’t too bad seeing as it was pet-friendly and we were in Monterey. The lodge was conveniently located about halfway from Fisherman’s Wharf and Cannery Row and was away from heavy traffic, with one of our nearest neighbors being a liquor store.  

            Across the street was a narrow tree-lined stretch of grass where we were told we “must” walk our dogs. This area also held a picnic table, where both mornings when I walked the dogs, sat a grizzled, homeless-looking man at the table using a computer. I said “Hi” the first morning, but he ignored me, as I did him the second day,

Our room at the Fireside Lodge.

            Day 5: The first order of business when we woke up the next morning was coffee. Jean Googled a Starbucks on her phone, and once we had its address, just a little over a mile away, I took off to get the coffee. I didn’t return for over an hour. The coffee shop was located on a Navy base and the entry gate where my GPS led me was blocked. I then used it to locate another nearby coffee shop. I found it, ordered our coffee, a latte for me and a flat white for Jean., and then promptly got lost on the way back to the lodge – despite my GPS. I got to see a good bit of Monterey, a bonus for getting lost before I finally found the lodge again. Thankfully the coffee was still hot.

            The second order of business was to leave our canine companions at a doggie day-care so Jean and I could visit the Monterey Aquarium and Cannery Row. It was our one scheduled outing without our canine companions for the trip.

The day’s sight-seeing was splendid, especially the aquarium, but we were both eager to retrieve our animals at the end it.

I expected Scamp, who is still a rambunctious puppy, to have earned a bad report card from his caretakers. Nope. They had nothing but praise for him, noting as soon as we walked in the door that he had played well with all the other dogs, made special friends with a few, and had been fun to watch. Dusty had also been good, but more aloof, they said.

Finally, all tired out, Scamp makes himself comfortable in the back seat of the car. — Photo by Jean Gowen

When they brought the dogs out, Dusty jumped, pranced and danced with unconcealed joy to see her owner, Jean. Scamp hadn’t wanted to leave his new friends and acted as if I had never left him. I think my feeling were hurt.

We then located a beach, where Jean let Dusty run while I kept Scamp on a leash while walking for a bit beside the water. The tide was coming in and the waves were strong, I enjoyed letting them run over my bare feet, but Scamp tried to avoid them.

Once back at our lodging, we had hamburgers delivered by Uber and sat outside our room to eat. I also had a Jack and Coke, which went well with the expensive, but tasty burgers.

It was a great day!

Bean Pat:  Short hikes https://juliejourneys.com Ideal for old broads like me, even if I’m just taking an armchair walk.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, enthusiastic birder and is always searching for life’s silver lining. She can be reached at patbean@msn.com

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Road Tripping

            Once you have travelled, the voyage never ends but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.” – Pat Conroy

Scamp and Dusty in the car vying for a good look of the road.

First Four Days

            I’ve just returned from a 12-day road trip with my good friend Jean and our two dogs. WOW!

Selfie of the two travelers. I was the driver for the trip and Jean took the photos.

            Day 1: We got out of Tucson at 7:30 a.m., our spirits thrilled with the freedom of the open road. We stopped at a great dog park in Yuma, where we ate lunch while the dogs briefly roamed before coming to sit beside us in the shade hoping for a bite of our sandwiches. As we left, Jean told me there was a man in some nearby bushes shooting up drugs near an abandoned building across the road. You just never know what sights you’ll see along the road.

We got into San Diego during the afternoon rush hour but made it safely to our dog-friendly Red Roof Hotel, close to the beach as advertised but located between two auto dealerships. We looked for a dog park but didn’t like what we found. So, we got burgers and went back to the hotel. The dogs loved being able to jump from one bed to the other in the small room, an unending activity when there was an opportunity all during the trip.

It looks nicer than it was, but for $200 a night with two dogs in San Diego, this was what we got. Oh, and we had busy auto dealers on both sides.

Day 2:  First stop was a PetSmart so I could buy a sturdy harness for Scamp, who was so excited about new things to investigate that I was afraid he would break his neck pulling so hard on the leash, or that the leash would break free and he would dash into traffic and be smashed flat. We then went to meet Jean’s new sister, one she didn’t know she had until recent DNA test results. We then spent five hours visiting with the new sister and one of Jean’s cousins. We sat outside in a splendid courtyard, with our dogs by our sides, at their much nicer hotel. It was a great visit that no one wanted to end.  Of course, I got sunburned.

Day 3: Jean was getting antsy about not having beach time, but the one dog-friendly beach we found this morning was crowded, with absolutely no parking.

So, we drove North on Highway 1 toward Morro Bay. Traffic around Los Angeles was horrid, and we finally gave up Highway

Western gulls in Morro Bay.

1 and took Highway 101, that provided us occasional views of the Ocean. It was a long day of driving. But finally, we made it to our dog-friendly hotel, a bit on the shabby side but with a view of the ocean across the way. We ate sandwiches, walked the dogs and crashed early, with the dogs jumping back and forth between our beds for a long time.  

Day 4: We only had about 150 miles to drive today — and we planned to do it leisurely on Highway 1 all the way into Monterey.  The first order of the day was ice for the cooler and snacks for the road, and then it was beach time just a few miles up the road. Scamp wanted to first eat a dead gull – yuck! And then he was into everything and running all over the place, while Dusty was happy to run in and out of the waves with her happy owner. Scamp ran with Dusty for a bit, then got distracted by another dog. He has yet to meet a dog he

Elephant seals on the beach in San Simeon.

doesn’t want to play with. I eventually had to put him back on the leash. I couldn’t help but think how much more fun beach time would have been with Pepper, my canine companion who died in March. The trip was originally planned with her and Dusty in mind. Pepper would have been the good dog, and Dusty the “scamp.”  Pepper wouldn’t get more than about 25 feet away from me. Now I had the true “Scamp.” But we still had fun.

 A bit farther up the road, we stopped at Elephant Seal Rookery in San Simeon. You can see seals at the beach here all year round, up to 17,000 during the peak seasons. Not nearly that many this time of year, but there were still quite enough – young, mature and old – seals hanging around for good viewing.

This day’s drive was the most scenic and relaxing of all, especially since we seemed to have left most of the traffic on the southern side of Morro Bay.

To Be Continued:

Bean Pat: Dressed by a legend https://johawkthewriter.com/2019/07/12/dressed-by-a-legend-thursday-threads/

*Available on Amazon, 

A writing practice and a tribute.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, enthusiastic birder and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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And Maiden to Crone

Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued is always just beyond your grasp, but which if you will sit down quietly may alight upon you.” — Nathaniel Hawthorne

Bald cypress trees along the Frio River at Texas’ Garner State Park. — Wikimedia photo by John Bonzo

I was camping at Garner State Park, back in my full-time RV-ing days, looking for birds when I came upon one of nature’s many surprises.

Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly — Photo by Pat Bean

Chomping down on tiny ground plants hidden among the short grass were a dozen or so pipevine swallowtail larvae. That morning, I had seen, and photographed, the end result of all this chomping and transformation business, an awesome pipevine swallowtail butterfly.
To become that beautiful butterfly, it had to first give up being a caterpillar.

I thought about this as one of those lessons Mother Nature shows us if we look to her for advice. Just as the landscape and wildlife change from season to season – the land from green to white between summer and winter, and birds molt their feathers for drabber ones and foxes change their fur color, so we

Pipevine larva

are changing with the years.
There are even names for the female cycle, maiden, mother and crone. I’m definitely in the latter cycle right now, although I prefer the term old broad to crone. I’m the butterfly to the caterpillar. I like thinking of myself that way. While time may have left me a bit worn and tattered, happiness has alighted upon my shoulder with the quietness and beauty of a butterfly.

And now this wandering-wondering old broad wonders if the butterfly enjoys its final cycle as much as I am enjoying mine.

Bean Pat: Nature has No Boss https://naturehasnoboss.com/2019/06/12/luminous/#like-12113 Yellow is my favorite color

The Book

*Available on Amazon, Travels with Maggie features a list of birds saw each leg of the journey.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, enthusiastic birder and is always searching for life’s silver lining. She can be reached at patbean@msn.com

 

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An overcast day at Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge. — Photo by Pat Bean

 “To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” -Bill Bryson

Road Trip: June 21 – July 6, 2002

In Dallas, I found myself visiting the Museum of Natural History, which is located on the Texas State Fairgrounds, with my youngest daughter T.C. and her oldest daughter Heidi, and my oldest grandson David and his then-girlfriend. I know this because there is a photo of them in my journal in front of the museum.

A postcard of the Dallas Museum of History from my 2002 journal. Sadly, the museum is now closed.

I also took some photos of the museum’s bird dioramas because this trip was as much about seeing birds as it was spending time with family. And I noted in my journal, that this morning of June 25 began with me adding a blue jay to my life list. The blue jay is common in Texas, and I saw many growing up, but not a bird normally found in Northern Utah where I had done the majority of my birding after joining the ranks of birdwatchers in 1999.

I’m sure I had a delightful visit with family in Dallas, but I didn’t write anything more about it other than the birds I saw and a bit about the museum outing. While I write in my journal almost daily these days, in earlier years there are big holes in my recorded thoughts.

A quick blue jay drawing by me from my journal.

I wrote quite a bit in the 2002 trip journal, however, about my visit to Lake Jackson to see my son, Lewis and his family – perhaps because it included a landmark moment that turned my son into as addicted a birdwatcher as his mom.

It was a dreary morning, with rain threatening, but Lewis said: “Come on. I want to see what this bird-watching hullabaloo, or something to that effect, is all about. The two of us then drove to the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge that was less than 15 minutes away.

The first bird we saw on this overcast day, just as we entered the refuge grounds, was a red male (females are yellow) summer tanager, a showy bird that was impressive enough to interest even a non-birder like Lewis.

It was while I was oohing and aaahing over a yellow-crowned night heron that Lewis asked me what the large bird sitting near the pond was. I glanced over and saw that it was a double-crested cormorant, a bird that I had seen many times – or so I thought.

Instead of answering him — after all the yellow-crowned was a new night heron for me as I had only seen the black-crowned – I tossed him my bird field guide, saying, “See for yourself,” and went back to studying the heron. A couple of minutes later, Lewis said, “It’s a neotropic cormorant.”

“What!” I turned my binoculars from the heron to the cormorant and realized he was right. This is the moment Lewis claims as addicting him to birding. I’m so glad for that moment, and not just because the neotropic was another life bird for my list.

Lewis and I will get to go bird-watching together once again during my upcoming trip to Texas. We probably won’t see 100 bird species as we identified on a past April marathon day of birding, but we’ll surely make good memories that I can record in my journal.

Bean Pat: Retronaut https://considerable.com/the-gargoyles-of-notre-dame-witnesses-to-so-much/  The gargoyles of Notre Dame Cathedral.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, enthusiastic birder and is always searching for life’s silver lining. She can be reached at patbean@msn.com

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Remembering Pepper

Pepper and I spent the first eight months of our lives together in my small RV traveling the country. Shown here, just a few weeks after I adopted her, is the time we visited Cadillac Ranch near Amarillo, Texas. The ranch is a motley line of buried old Cadillacs that people spray paint when they visit. Pepper found, and insisted on carrying back to the RV, one of the paint can caps.  — Photo by Pat Bean

“When we adopt a dog or any pet, we know it is going to end with us having to say goodbye, but we still do it. And we do it for a very good reason: They bring so much joy and optimism and happiness. They attack every moment of every day with that attitude.” —  W. Bruce Cameron

Seven Short Years 

Pepper spent a morning running back and forth through a sprinkler, then arrived back in front of me with a fern bow on the top of her head. — Photo by Pat Bean

          Her shelter name was Kenzie. She was a four-month-old, 14-pound black ball of fur giving all the bigger dogs in the yard at the Second Chance shelter in Plano, Texas, a good workout when I first saw her. She was full of energy and joy and not the kind of dog I was looking for to replace my long-time canine companion Maggie.

I wanted a two or three-year-old dog, preferably a cocker spaniel mix, who was already house trained. But Kenzie, an energetic Scottie-mix, took one look at me sitting on a bench, jumped into my lap and gave me a no-nonsense look that said: I’m going home with you. And so she did.

On the ride back from the shelter, I decided she didn’t look like a Kenzie, so I started thinking out loud about other possible names. When I said Pepper, she gave a little joyful yowl, which I interpreted as Yes! That’s my name!

She thoroughly enjoyed chewing up her toys for the entire seven years of her life. — Photo by Pat Bean

From that minute onward, for the next seven years, until this past Wednesday, we were rarely apart. She loved other people and dogs with enthusiasm, but made it clear that she never wanted to be out of my sight. She was a barker when she played and chased other dogs, or when anyone came to visit. I called her my loud-mouth Texan, a trait she and I shared when excited.

My son-in-law, Joe, whom she twisted around her little paw, called her the Queen Bee because she bossed the family’s two, much-larger, male dogs around after their Great Dane alpha female went over the Rainbow Bridge. The nickname stuck here at my apartment complex. One dog-owning neighbor called her the social director because of the way she got all the dogs up and running around in the dog park.

 

Pepper made the cover of PetSmart’s magazine after one of her recent every 10-week groomings. But because I was not in her sight, she was an unhappy dog, easy to see by the down-turned ears. She would cry like a baby when I left her for her bath and hair cut.

Pepper loved belly rubs, and in no uncertain terms would let all humans she came into contact with know she wanted one. She also had this unbelievable stare when she wanted something, clearly expecting you to know if that something was a treat, a walk or just attention.

Her bestie BFF was a dog called Dusty who belongs to my dear friend Jean, both of whom have been grieving along with me the last few days. Dusty, also a rescue, goes bonkers if she’s left alone. It was because Jean was looking for someone to walk and babysit her dog during the day while she worked that the four of us came together five years ago,

Every weekday morning, Jean would drop Dusty off at my apartment, where the two dogs eagerly greeted each other, then spent the day playing, begging for treats, walking together, or simply curled up with each other behind my recliner, a place that they allowed no visiting dogs to enter.

 

Me, Pepper and Dusty in my recliner. The two dogs were besties, and now Dusty wants to know where her friend is — in doggie heaven I tell her.

Pepper’s barking was her most annoying trait. Sort of funny, but it’s now what I miss most about her.  I also miss her stare, our early morning bed cuddles, and her simply joy of life.  OK, I miss everything about Pepper. I suspect it will be many days yet before I make it through a 24-hour period without tears. But I wouldn’t take back a single one of those tears in exchange for not having the seven treasured years Pepper and I had together.

She had more enthusiasm for life in her little body than anyone I have ever met. And if there is a doggie heaven, which I believe in more than I do in a heaven for humans, she’s sharing it with all the other dogs who once were loved by a human as much as I loved Pepper.

I’ll never stop loving or missing Pepper. But in the meantime, perhaps there is another dog out there who needs rescuing, and needs me as much as I need her.  I’m a glutton for joy, even if it ends in sadness.

Available on Amazon

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, enthusiastic birder and is always searching for life’s silver lining. She can be reached at patbean@msn.com

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