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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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When snow melts, the creeks do rise. — Watercolor by Pat Bean

“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.” – Robin Williams

Remembering my Grandmother

I was reading High Tide in Tucson, an essay anthology by Barbara Kingsolver who mentioned that she was often tempted to use one of her grandmother’s axioms when asked to commit to a future obligation. “Lord willing, and the creeks don’t rise,” she wrote.

My grandmother used to say exactly the same thing — and suddenly my wondering-brain was wanting to know the origin of the phrase  …  and then I was putting down Kingsolver’s book for a bit of research.

As usual, I came up with conflicting stories. One is that the phrase was first used by Benjamin Hawkins, U.S. General Superintendent for Indian Affairs between 1796 and 1818. Supposedly he used it in a letter to Thomas Jefferson requesting his presence in Washington D.C. in which he replied he would be there “God willing and the Creek don’t rise,” meaning the Creek Indians.

Barbara Kingsolver is one of my favorite authors — and I’m loving this book of essays by her.

Others believe that Creek merely refers to a stream, and that it was simply a hayseed rural term meaning if nothing stops me or all goes well. One example for this is a mock rustic speech from an 1851 Graham’s American Monthly Magazine: “Feller-citizens — I’m not ’customed to public speakin’ before sich highfalutin’ audiences. … Yet here I stand before you a speckled hermit, wrapt in the risen-sun counterpane of my popilarity, an’ intendin’, Providence permittin’, and the creek don’t rise, to go it blind!”

Another example of early use of the phrase, according to Wikipedia, is from the 1894 Lafayette Gazette: “We are an American people, born under the flag of independence and if the Lord is willing and the creeks don’t rise, the American people who made this country will come pretty near controlling it.”

It’s also said to be a sign-off tag line of the 1930s’ radio broadcaster Bradley Kincaid. My grandmother liked to listen to the radio so maybe this is where she picked it up. And finally, it has also been attributed to Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Jackson, among others, on the usual principle that attaching a famous name to a story validates it.

Well, that was enough information, if not exactly uncomplicated, to placate this wondering-brain of mine — until the next time it is wants answers. In the meantime, God willing and the creek don’t rise, I’ll go back to reading High Tide in Tucson. And in case you’re wondering about that title, Kingsolver explains it in her first essay.

Bean Pat: In tribute to Mary Oliver https://deborahbrasket.wordpress.com/2019/01/20/mary-oliver-washed-in-light/  Her words live on.

Now available on Amazon

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion Pepper. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder and is always searching for life’s silver lining. Check out her book Travels with Maggie, available on Amazon, to learn more. She can be reached at patbean@msn.com

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DFW Flashback

One of the trams at DFW airport that transport passengers from gate to gate and terminal to terminal. — Wikimedia photo

     ‘Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind; it is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees; it is a matter of the will, quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs of life.’ — Samuel Ullman

Surviving Teenagers

Friday evening, I found myself sitting in a tram at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, hoping to get from Terminal C to Terminal A in time to catch a connecting flight to Orlando, Florida. Sitting across from me was my youngest daughter, T.C., who is a quite responsible and protective mom these days to the three boys she and her husband are raising after she raised three girls who are grown and given her grandchildren.

As I looked across the aisle at T.C., I suddenly remembered a night in 1978 when it was just her and me living together in Arlington, Texas, just a few miles from the DFW airport that had opened in 1974. My daughter was out with friends, and had an 8 p.m. curfew. By 10 minutes after 8, I was fuming and by 20 minutes after 8, I was worried and fuming.

Have a joyous one,

Shortly afterwards, I got a call from my daughter telling me she and her friends were at the airport riding the trams for fun, and asking if she could stay a bit longer. Of course, I screamed at her to get her butt home instantly.  I told this story to my grandson Patrick, who was sitting beside.  “How was that even possible?” he asked.

“That was before 9-11,” I said, realizing that he had never lived in a time before today’s paranoid airport security measures, back when anybody could follow a loved one all the way to the take-off gate, or meet them at the arrival gate. And even teenagers could explore an airport or ride the trams without the proper ID or a body pat, one of which I had before getting on my flight from Tucson to Dallas. I guess terrorists these days can even look like old broads.

“Wow!” Patrick responded to my information about the “old days.”  But I wasn’t sure he understood those days. And it made me sad.” But remembering how Patrick said he loved to come to my place because he didn’t get screamed at, I told him he should have heard me scream and howl at his mom. “It’s a mom’s responsibility to their children to scream at them,” I said, “especially if they’re teenagers. If you think it’s noisy at your house now, you should have heard the ruckus I made when I was raising your mom and her four siblings.”

I’m not sure he believed me. But I’m sure my children would love to back me up and tell him just how much they got yelled at by his Nana. Thankfully I survived those days – and so did my children. Now if we can all just survive these days.

Now available on Amazon

Bean Pat: Christmas. https://aipetcher.wordpress.com/2012/12/24/christmas-eve/ When life was simpler.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie would make a great last-minute Christmas gift for all those who wander but are not lost. You can order it on Kindle or in paperback. Merry Christmas all.

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“The most important things in life aren’t things.” – Anthony J. D’Angelo

I promised myself when I moved into my new apartment that I wouldn’t bring anything into it that I didn’t love. And I do love these tin birds which were a gift, and my home will always have room for flowers. — Photo by Pat Bean

Once Again I’m at that Point

            Back in 2004, when I downsized from my two-bedroom home in Utah to a 21-foot RV, I was amazed at how much stuff I had. That was nothing, however, to the stuff I had when I moved from a six-bedroom family home, after three of my five children had grown up and started life on their own, into a two-bedroom apartment.

And I love having a simple place where I can read and write, and look out at the world. — Photo by Pat Bean

That time I finally called the local thrift store to come empty out my large unfinished basement. It seems if you have plenty of storage space, you tend to fill it up.

Space in my small RV during the nine years it was my home on wheels hardly existed, and I quickly learned that if I brought one item into my life, another item had to go out.

I was thinking about this the day I drove through the small town of Leakey, Texas, and saw a sign on an antique store that read: “Sophisticated Junk for the Elite.” That was worth one of my loud belly laughs.

I turned to my canine companion Maggie and asked her if we should

Having a great view, as I do from my writing chair is important, too. It’s better than stuff. — Photo by Pat Bean

stop. She looked up at me from her co-pilot seat in my RV and yawned. I guess not, I told her. Sophisticated or not, there was no room in my RV for old, or even new, doodads.

When I retired from my traveling RV life, settling into a small one-bedroom, third-floor apartment with a view of the Catalina Mountains out my bedroom balcony window, I felt as if I had moved into a mansion, and loved its spaciousness.

Looking around, six years later, I realized that it wasn’t quite as spacious. It’s time to go back to the practice of when one thing comes in, another goes out.

Bean Pat: Bo’s Café Life https://boscafelife.wordpress.com/2018/12/05/11561/ Life shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

Now available on Amazon

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon. Currently, she is writing a book, she is calling Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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