Posts Tagged ‘Alaska’

Bookish Wednesday

            “The books that help you most are those which make you think the most. The hardest way of learning is that of easing reading; but a great book that comes from a great thinker is a ship of thought, deep freighted with truth and beauty.”  — Pablo Neruda

Even though it was in the early hours of the morning when I got to sleep last night, I was up in time to take this picture of the moon over Tucson this morning which by the way is not photo-shopped. It's pure Mother Nature at her best.   -- Photo by Pat Bean

Even though it was in the early hours when I got to sleep last night, I was up in time to take this picture of the moon over Tucson this morning ,which by the way is not photo-shopped. It’s Mother Nature at her best. — Photo by Pat Bean

The Joy of Finding a New Author

            I’m persnickety about the books I read, and it gets worse every year. Mostly I read mysteries, fantasies, travel and memoir. And lately I’ve been having a dry spell of finding books that don’t sound like ones I’ve read before, are well-written (That’s a must for me) and make me think.

            I got into fantasy about 10 years ago because there’s room for these stories to surprise me. Two and two doesn’t always have to add up to four when you experience a different world.

            Mysteries have always been a favorite because they present a puzzle. I want to be able to arrive at who-done-it before the final page, but not too far before.   

Mount McKinley in Denali National Park in Alaska.

Mount McKinley in Denali National Park in Alaska.

         Setting and character are also important for me. And I always  want to learn something.

            I know that’s asking a lot, but I’m been fortunate in finding a lot of authors who do it my way. The problem is that when I find one who does, I go on a reading binge and read just about everything they write. For example, I discovered Blaize Clement’s cat sitter books – light reading but rich in characterization, including the cats and dogs – and read all six of her books in two weeks.

            It took me several months to get through Robin Hobbs’ fantasy trilogies, and now I’m impatiently waiting for her fourth book in her Rain Wilds series to be released.

            Within the past year, I got turned onto Patricia Biggs’ Mercy Thompson series. This was a brand new fantasy genre for me, as I’ve been more into the classic dragon tales than werewolves and vampires. But I was hooked and once again, in a short time had read everything she had written.

            So it was with great delight that I discovered a new author yesterday, Dana Stabenow, who I saw had 21 books in her mystery series featuring Kate Shugat. Staying power, I hoped, was a good indication of good books. I started with Book One, “A Cold Day for a Murder.”

            I had my fingers cross when I started reading. I knew I had found a winner when I didn’t put the book down until the wee hours of the morning. The setting is Alaska, and Kate is a gritty character, an Aleut, that fits the wild Alaska park setting. I’m sure I’ll finish the book before I go to sleep tonight – and then I have 20 more to go. Yea!!

            “A room without a book is like a body without a soul.” – Cicero

            Bean’s Pat Volcano http://tinyurl.com/bk3qk92 While I like this photo, the story behind it is what intrigued me most.



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 “Victory is won not in miles but in inches. Win a little now, hold your ground, and later, win a little more.” Louis L”Amour

While I haven't taken a walk through Alaska's wilderness, I have driven the Top of the World Highway past Chicken. It was an awesome drive. -- Wikipedia Photo

Book Talk

I just finished Lynn Schooler’s “Walking Home,” a true story about Alaska, Mother Nature’s fierce side, a crippled grizzly bear that wanted to eat a human, and coping with loss.

Lynn survived the bear, plus a raging creek, and heart-wrenching, although self-imposed, solitude – I’m not giving away the ending because of course he had to survive to write the book – with the comment that his next adventure might just be a drive in a rented car around Hawaii.

“Why not? I am fifty-five years old; they are all victory laps now.”

He said a whole lot more that resonated with who this wandering/wondering, nature-loving old broad is, but that comment made me laugh with joy. I’m 72 years old so certainly my life is now nothing but victory laps. It’s fun to think of it that way.

And I spent all day in a bus traveling this road in Denali National Park to Wonder Lake. Mount McKinley, shown above, hid behind the clouds for most of that day. -- Wikipedia photo

Lynn said it after surviving an awesome environment that suddenly turned mean and realizing that his wife no longer wanted to be with him.

His book, one of those slow-reading ones so you have time to ponder the words, made me think of the things I had survived. While nothing so deadly as Lynn’s adventure, I had survived my own marital breakup, teenage-children with rebellion in their makeup, 37 years as a journalist and even being thrown out of a raft in the middle of a raft-eating rapid on the Colorado River as it flowed through the Grand River.

These are indeed my victory-lap years. Thanks Lynn for allowing me to think of them this way.

Bean’s Pat: Everywhere Once: American Safari http://tinyurl.com/7932lx2 Who said you had to go to Africa to be on safari?


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 “A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.” – John Steinbeck


The 121-mile trip from Fairbanks to Denali National Park, followed by an 85-mile bus drive on the Park Road in view of Mt. McKinley is considered a classic road trip by "TravelBudget" magazine. -- Photo by Nic McPhee/Wikipedia

Travels With Maggie

I’ve been pouring over maps this past week, in anticipation of getting back on the road after spending the summer as a campground host here at Lake Walcott in Southern Idaho. It’s been a great summer, surrounded by Mother Nature’s gifts and away from this year’s awful Texas heat, where Maggie and I spend our winters.

But the wanderlust in my soul will ease the pain of leaving this serene setting.
The route I’ve planned for my dawdling 3,200-mile return trip will take me to Oregon to meet a new friend and to learn about self-publishing. From there I’ll travel down through Nevada and into California and Yosemite National Park, where I’ve never been.

Avoiding interstates as much as possible, I’ll then wind my way to Tucson, Arizona, to spend a week with my youngest daughter, and to sneak in some birdwatching. All too soon, however, I will have to be on the road again, traveling into New Mexico before dropping down to the Texas Gulf Coast so as to arrive there in time for a grandson’s wedding.

It’s an ambitious trip, requiring me to average 300 miles on the road during traveling days, which is twice as far as I prefer. It will take almost $1,000 to keep my RV, Gypsy Lee, fed during the journey, requiring me to sit somewhere for two months to balance the budget, maybe even three given how the cost of everything, not just gas, seems to be on the rise.

One of the hot topics of travel articles this summer has been places to visit on one tank of gas. For example, the most recent issue of “BudgetTravel” magazine features an article entitled “One Tank Escapes for 7 Cities.” That kind of thinking meant we had many area Idahoans vacationing at the park this year instead of going elsewhere.


Mt. McKinley from the Wonder Lake viewpoint. What a magnificent road trip it was to get here.

But this same issue of the magazine includes a piece on “5 Classic American Drives” that would take travelers far afield.

One of these was the 121-mile drive from Fairbanks, Alaska, to Denali National Park, where one catches a bus ($43) to drive another 85 miles to Wonder Lake. You’ve probably seen the lake many times. It’s a photographers favorite as it reflects Mt. McKinley when circumstances are right

I made this drive back in 1999. Circumstances weren’t right. McKinley gave us only a very quick view during our day-long bus trip. It took twice as long as usual as our bus broke down twice and finally had to be replaced halfway through our journey, which required us to wait a good long while before continuing on the journey.

Since a sack lunch was all I had taken with me, I was quite famished when we got back to the park headquarters, but all the grizzlies, foxes, birds (my favorite was a gyrfalcon) made the trip well worth it and one I would repeat in a heartbeat given the opportunity.

While I did get pictures of McKinley and Wonder Lake with the mountain’s reflection, they were not very good shots. Certainly not as good as the one of the road and mountain accompanying the “TravelBudget” article. This photo I noted was actually one from Wikipedia, which means I can share it with you, along with another free-use one of the mountain reflected in Wonder Lake.

Now we can all dream about upcoming road trips together.

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