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A 2015 road trip to the north rim of the Grand Canyon to see aspens in the fall. — Photo by Pat Bean

“You can’t travel the back roads very long without discovering a multitude of gentle people doing good for others with no expectation of gain or recognition.  The everyday kindness of the back roads more than makes up for the acts of greed in the headlines.: — Charles Kuralt. 

A fall hike in Maine’s Scarborough Marsh. — Photo by Pat Bean

A Break from the Chaos

Fall along Texas’ Gulf Coast. — Photo by Pat Bean

I don’t know about you, but I need a break from hearing people being unkind and downright nasty to each other. I’m tired of people who are rudely unaccepting of anyone or anything that is different from them or theirs.

I don’t expect everyone to think the way I think, or the way you think, but that doesn’t mean we can’t at least be civil to one another. Being different or thinking different is not a crime.

I think I need to take a back road road trip to remind me of all the good people in this world. And what better time of year to do it than in autumn, when Mother Nature showers the vistas with color.

Anyone want to join me?

Colorado’s Cumbres Pass in the autumn. — Photo by Pat Bean

Bean Pat: Breezes at  Dawn https://breezesatdawn.wordpress.com/2018/10/08/a-monday-meander-surprise-adventures/ Another blogger who likes to wander.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book, tentatively titled Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

Fall at Idaho’s Lake Walcott State Park. — Photo by Pat Bean

 

 

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“Family means putting your arms around each other and being there.” — Barbara Bush

Nana, posing for a picture with Savannah and Charlotte. Life was good.

Making Connections

After too brief a visit with family in San Antonio, and a promise to stop again on my way out of Texas, I hit the road for Texas’s Gulf Coast south of Houston. It was an easy, and familiar, 210-mile drive: Interstate 10 to Highway 36 to West Columbia, the home of my son D.C., his wife Cindi, who acts as my guardian angel when I am on the road, and their autistic daughter, Susan, who holds a special place in my heart.

One of my favorite things when I visit the Texas Gulf Coast are the moss-laden trees. I lived down there during Hurricane Carla in the 1960s, and one of the sad results that all the moss was blown away. — Photo by Pat Bean

Nearby lives his son, David, and the second of my three sons, Lewis, and their children (my grandchildren and great-grandchildren). Making and keeping connections with all these family members is important to me, especially since I usually only get to see them once a year.

The connections come easier with the adults, especially since I’ve found things to share with them – from watching Survivor with D.C (we’re both addicted to this TV reality show) to playing Settlers of Cataan with Cindi, to birding with Lewis.

But I hadn’t yet truly bonded with my two great-granddaughters, four-year-old Savannah and two-year-old Charlotte. Charlotte wasn’t even a year old when I had seen her last, and Savannah was shy with strangers, a good thing in my mind, and I let her maintain her comfortable distance.

This visit, however, Charlotte broke the ice. She climbed up on the couch beside me and we played “This Little Piggy …” She laughed and giggled and was free with her hugs, and since Savannah didn’t want to be left out, I got hugs from her too.

Life is good.

Bean Pat: A relaxing drive through the country  https://travelsandtrifles.wordpress.com/2018/07/22/lens-artists-photo-challenge-time-to-relax/ A peaceful kind of road trip.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book, tentatively titled Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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“The reward for having children is grandchildren.” – Pat Bean

Me and Junior, taken nine years ago. — Photo by Barry Marsh

 

Grands and Greats

After the blowout day, the next day’s 430-mile drive into San Antonio was a breeze. I was passing through familiar territory, and so out came my audible book, Fallout by Sara Paretsky. But I didn’t listen much as I was still too excited about the road trip and the scenery to concentrate for long periods.

A recent picture of three-year-old Marshall with his dad. — Photo by Heidi Pease

I have two granddaughters in San Antonio: Heidi, who is the mother of my three-year-old great-grandson Marshall, and who was nine months pregnant with my great-granddaughter Cora; and her younger sister, Lindsey, who is mother of nine-year-old Junior, my oldest great-grandchild.

I arrived on July 6, and Junior’s birthday was July 5. He had chosen to wait to share his birthday dinner with me, which of course made me feel good. It turned out to be a delightful event with both sisters’ family in attendance, as well as one of Junior’s closest friends.

My daughter in Tucson had sent a bike and other presents with me for Junior, but I simply gave him books, which is what I almost always give my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Marshall, who had recently turned three, got a book, too. And for a special treat the next day, I got to go to Marshall’s swimming lesson.

And of Marshall waiting to become a big brother. Heidi was due any moment but didn’t pop while I was there.

While I enjoyed every minute of the two days, I had with this portion of my large scattered family, I came away with a favorite memory.

Nine-year-old Junior wanted to play Nerf guns with me, and I didn’t want to play. And after I had told him that for the fourth time, he walked over to a chair, and plonked down with a big sigh.

“I guess I’m not your favorite Nana anymore,” I said.

Junior, who had given me my name of Nana Bean almost as soon as he could talk, got quite indignant. Looking squarely at me, he said, “You will always be my favorite Nana Bean.”

I just about cried. He got a big hug for that. But I still didn’t play Nerf guns with him.

            Bean Pat:  Procrastination https://ryanlanz.com/2018/07/29/12-ways-to-manage-your-procrastination-problem-because-yes-you-definitely-have-one/    A good reminder to this procrastinator.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book, tentatively titled Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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“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

leaving at dawn

Nothing is better than setting out on a road trip at dawn. — Photo by Pat Bean

The Blow Out
When I posted my last blog, I said stay tuned for the details of my upcoming road trip to Texas. I had planned to post along the journey. But you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men.
I was distracted, too busy having too many wonderful moments, and too undisciplined to follow through. But I’m back now with lots to tell you over the next few posts. We’ll start with my first day on the road.

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Rocks became the dominant landscape as I pass through Texas Canyon about 65 miles east of Tucson. — Photo by Pat Bean

While I love back roads, the only way to Texas from Tucson, without adding too many extra miles and time is Interstate 10. But since it had been a while since I had been alone on a road trip, I enjoyed even the passing scenery of cacti and mesquite trees.
I didn’t listen to music or even an audible book this first day, simply happy to think of Willie Nelson singing “Back on the Road Again,” and hearing Dr. Seuss say “Oh the things you will see…”, and stopping every 75 miles, to walk around a bit to untangle the kinks of sitting. The pattern worked as I stayed comfortable, well almost, the entire drive.
My destination was Van Horn, Texas, which was 438 miles from Tucson and the halfway point of my first stop in San Antonio. Since I had left early in the morning, I expected to arrive at my two-star –that’s all there is in Van Horn — hotel around 4 p.m., or 2 p.m. Tucson time, which would give me plenty of time to rest up and have a leisurely dinner.
All was going well until I was 10 miles east of Las Cruces and my left, rear tire blew out. I was going 70 mph but was easily able to get to the side of the busy highway, where I sat for a moment or two thinking “What in the hell do I do now?” Then my brain kicked in, and I called my insurance company, which gave me the number for roadside assistance, for which I generously pay them.
I got a quick response, but even quicker were a New Mexico Highway Patrol woman, a county sheriff’s deputy, and a Border Patrol guy, who all pulled up in separate cars around me. I told them I had roadside assistance, but they said they wanted to get me quickly back on the road.
Since the semis roaring past shook my car every time they went by, their kindness was greatly appreciated. They pulled off my shredded tire, put on the spare donut, then gave me directions to the nearest Discount Tire back in Las Cruces.
I called to cancel the roadside assistance, but 10 minutes later, as I was renearing Las Cruces, I got a call from the roadside assistance guy saying he couldn’t find my car. I apologized, and said I had left the scene of the incident.
It took a bit of time to get a new tire put on, but finally, my pockets $155 lighter, I was back on the road. I made it to Van Horn by 8 p.m. and had a fast food burger for dinner. Even so, it had been a wonderful day.
Bean Pat: In Diane’s Kitchen https://indianeskitchen.com/2018/07/27/old-fashion-blueberry-grunt/#like-26686 I’m getting ready to go to the store and I am going to buy blueberries.
Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y Currently, she is writing a book, tentatively titled Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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 “Maybe you weren’t born with a silver spoon in your mouth, but like every American, you carry a deed to 635 million acres of public lands.”  — John Garamend

Dragon Mouth Spring in Yellowstone. — Photo by Pat Bean

 

For over 20 years I lived just five hours away from Yellowstone. I’ve visited this national treasure over 25 times, long enough to see Mother Nature redecorate and remodel her landscape.

Black Dragon Caldron, which can also be seen along the Mud Volcano Trail. — Photo by Pat Bean

 

The changes have been many, but one that has been personal to me are the changes that took place at Dragon Mouth’s Spring. I first saw this steam-spurting, hissing feature in the late 1960s. It is located along the Mud Volcano Trail, a 2/3-mile loop through a varied landscape of mud pots and geysers.

It was easy for me, the first time I saw this sight, to imagine a dragon huffing and puffing as steam and water sloshed out from the entrance to a small cavern. But each time I revisited, which I always did when in Yellowstone, the dragon seemed mellower than the time before. And the dark green boiling water of the spring, which was easily envisioned as acidic dragon slime, began turning a bubbling light gray, the color of my hair today.

Interpretive sign along Mud Volcano Trail. — Photo by Pat Bean

Scientists reported the changes, but weren’t exactly sure why the dragon had stopped huffing and puffing so strenuously

As I watched the dragon settle, I began to imagine it as an old broad like me, no longer always on the run, but settling into contentment with no need to continually prove one’s worth — and with time to simply enjoy life.

So, it was that each time I hiked the Mud Volcano Trail, I took more and more time to enjoy the sights along the remainder of the trail, and not just the more memorable dragon. Each hike seemed to offer a new surprise: a fox lazing beneath a tree barely visible through my binoculars, a Clark’s nutcracker flying between hillside trees, the yellow hues of rocks painted by the minerals whose aroma taints the air with rotten eggs.

I can’t imagine visiting Yellowstone without revisiting the Mud Volcano Trail. While not as colorful as the Fountain Paint Pot Trail, or as spectacular as the geyser-dotted trail to Morning Glory Pool – which of course I can’t miss either – there be a dragon that calls to me.

Bean Pat: Boondocking https://nomadadvocate.wordpress.com/2018/04/18/boondocking-love-it-or-hate-it/   I boondocked at Lone Rock at Lake Powell the very first night I spent in my RV. What a wonderful time. And this blog brought back all those good memories.

Pat Bean: is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book, tentatively titled Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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The sun’s rays made this coot’s black back look almost white, and its red eyes gleam, while the lake’s ripples take on the ambiance of a fine art painting. — Photo by Pat Bean

“Even the woodpecker owes his success to the fact that it uses its head and keeps pecking away until it finishes the job it starts.” – Coleman Cox

A Chilly, Windy February Day

It was cold and a bit on the breezy side last week at Lake Patagonia State Park, but the birds didn’t seem to mind. While my friend Jean walked our dogs, I watched birds at the feeders and on the lake.

A northern cardinal playing peek-a-boo among the tree branches. — Photo by Pat Bean

The first bird I saw, well after all the great-tail grackles flying around, was a gila woodpecker. It attracted my attention because it was hanging upside down from a nectar feeder. The acrobatic maneuver was the only way it could feed. I’ve watched other gila woodpeckers do exactly the same thing on my balcony hummingbird feeder.

The one I saw this day was a male, its gender easily identified by the red feathers it wore on its crown. The female is identical to the male except for that patch of red. The gila is a common bird in Southern Arizona, less common in California, New Mexico and Texas, and rare anywhere else above our border with Mexico.

A gila woodpecker at my balcony feeder. — Photo by Pat Bean

Other birds I watched this day included coots paddling around on the lake, (you can see them everywhere), and a violet-green swallow joyfully darting back and forth across the lake. Near the feeders, I spied a couple of northern cardinals in the still, winter-leafless branches, a small flock of American goldfinch at the feeders, dozens of white-crowned sparrows feeding on the ground beneath the feeders, along with a few male and female red-winged blackbirds. I also spotted two yellow-rumped warblers, both of which flashed their butter butts at me, and one black phoebe and one house finch.

I’m eager to visit again next month when spring has made its greening appearance, and the birds should be more plentiful.

            Bean Pat: Daily Stuff https://onewomansday.wordpress.com/2018/02/27/february-27-daily-stuff/?wref=pil From Story Circle’s One Woman’s Day

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book, tentatively titled Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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The river is constantly turning and bending and you never know where it’s going to go and where you’ll wind up. Following the bend in the river and staying on your own path means that you are on the right track. Don’t let anyone deter you from that.” — Eartha Kitt

The entrance to South Llano River State Park. — Photo by Pat Bean


Turkeys, Wildflowers and Dark Skies

A pair of Rio Grande wild turkeys.

It was one of those days when my canine companion Maggie and I took off down the road in our small RV with no destination in mind. We were simply exploring Texas’ Hill Country. I was confident that I would come across the perfect place for us to camp before night overtook us.

As I recall, it was well before noon when I came upon South Llano River State Park, and on seeing the abundance of lavender wildflowers dominating the lawn in front of the small building near the entrance, I figured we had found the place. I brake for wildflowers the same as I do for birds.

The South Llano River, a spring-fed tributary of the 105-mile Llano River that flows through Texas’ Hill Country.

And on checking into the park, I learned that here there were both. The park’s 500 plus acres of Hill Country river bottomlands, are home to the Rio Grande turkey, as well as habitat for wood ducks, white-tailed deer, squirrels, jackrabbits, javelinas, foxes, beavers, bobcats, cottontails and armadillos. It would be nice to see an armadillo walking around, I thought, recalling the roadkill one I had passed earlier in the day.

The park also had 18 miles of hiking trails, a few miles of which I explored, and modern campsites with electricity and water to feed my RV. I stayed for several nights, one of which I stayed up late watching a sky full of twinkling stars, a bonus of the park being a designated Dark Sky site.

Wildflowers, birds and stars – life doesn’t get much better for this fan of Mother Nature.

Bean Pat: You Gotta Live:  https://theenchantedoutlook.com/2018/02/20/you-gotta-live/ T0 this great post, I add my own mantra. Live so that when you die, you’ll know the difference.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book that she is tentatively calling Bird Droppings. It is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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