Posts Tagged ‘Colorado’

View looking down Conejos Canyon. — Photo by Pat Bean

“The more I draw and write, the more I realize that accidents are a necessary part of any creative act, much more so than logic or wisdom. Sometimes a mistake is the only way of arriving at an original concept, and the history of successful inventions is full of mishaps, serendipity and unintended results.” — Shaun Tan

Following the Road 

Hmmm. I think I took a wrong turn a couple of dozen miles back. — Photo by Pat Bean

One lovely fall day a few years back, I took a wrong turn in Chama, New Mexico, a quaint village with a population of not much more than a thousand residents. After a bit of exploring the town’s charm by dawn’s light, I set off again toward my Texas destination.

My lack of directional sense, however, sent me driving in the opposite direction.

It was an awesome drive, and my fascination with the scenery distracted me so much that it wasn’t until I was near the top of Cumbres Pass, high in the San Juan Mountains, that I realized my mistake.

Instead of backtracking, I decided to simply continue on and discover what else the road had in store for me this day. While I usually carefully charted my daily routes during this  wandering without deadlines period in my life, I occasionally let the road decide my path.

However, with scenery like this, I think I’ll just keep going. — Photo by Pat Bean

This day was one of those, and I soon found myself in Conejos Canyon, one of the wildest places in the United States, and where grizzly bears once roamed.  I have seen a gazillion stunning landscapes in my travels across North America, but this day’s drive might have topped them all with its kaleidoscope of color and surprises.

I learned early on not to bemoan my flawed sense of direction, but to enjoy the unexpected wonders it brought. This day made me especially thankful for the lacking gene – and also for my willingness to simply go with the flow.

Bean Pat: Paperback Reader https://dereid99.wordpress.com/2018/05/24/paperback-reader/  Usually it’s just the opposite, so this tickled my funny bone.

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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Looking down at the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.-- Photo by Pat Bean

Looking down at the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.– Photo by Pat Bean

“The river is another world, which means that one’s senses and reflexes must begin to live another life.” – Wendell Barry

Texas Flooding got me Thinking

I grew up near the Trinity River in Dallas, which has been overflowing its banks the past few days. It was the first river in my life. The current flooding made me remember when I was a kid, sitting in the backseat  our car looking out the window, as we drove over a huge viaduct with just a skinny stream surrounded by huge patches of dry land beneath us.

The Virgin River in Zion National Park. I remember when this river tore out the Zion Canyon Road after a heavy rain. The time is fondly remembered as the camping trip from hell. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The Virgin River in Zion National Park. I remember when this river tore out the Zion Canyon Road after a heavy rain. The time is fondly remembered as the camping trip from hell. — Photo by Pat Bean

I wondered, back then, why the bridge was so long and high. And then the rains came, and I understood the necessity of the bridge and the vacant land, which had suddenly become part of the river.

The Trinity River was the reason John Neely Bryan decided to establish the settlement, which would become Dallas. He thought the site would be a great place for a great port, but he was wrong. The Trinity River’s ebbs and flows were too fickle to allow reliable navigation. But if you knew where to go, one could find a cool, quiet place to swim on a hot summer day back in the 1940s and early ‘50s — when I was a kid.

The next river in my life was the Brazos. I met it when I lived on the Texas Gulf Coast for 15 years during the late 1950s, all of the’ 60s and the early ‘70s. I swam in it, fished in it, caught crabs in it, sat beside it and canoed it. It was also the river in which I saw my first water moccasin and first alligator.

The waters of these two Texas rivers were usually brown and muddy, which is why I was so surprised at the next two streams that became a part of my life, Utah’s Logan and Ogden rivers. Bubbling down from mountain springs fed by snow melt, these smaller rivers were cold and clear as a crystal glass. They gurgled and sang as they made their way downstream.

Nothing gave me more pleasure than finding a hiking trail that ran beside them, or the joy of tubing a stretch of these rivers through a narrow canyon

The Snake River below Jackson, Wyoming. Photo by Pat Bean

The Snake River below Jackson, Wyoming. Photo by Pat Bean

It wasn’t until 1983, however, when I became acquainted with the river that would turn me into a passionate white-water rafter. For the next 20 years, after that first introduction to a six-mile stretch of the Snake between Hagerman and Bliss, every summer would find me floating the Snake (an annual trip below Jackson, Wyoming), and other rivers as well.

I’ve rafted through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River twice, paddled the River of No Return (the Salmon), taken a wild ride down the South Fork of the Payette, and captained a raft down the Green River through Dinosaur National Park.

I feel as if these rivers are a part of who I am. They have made me stronger because I’ve challenged them, humbled because I’ve tasted their power and been lucky to escape alive, and thoughtful about their tenacity to keep rolling on, wearing down obstacles through eons of time in their effort to reach the sea and start the process all over again.


Bean Pat: The Outer Banks after a storm http://tinyurl.com/k37fyjd



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            “Every morning I jump out of bed and step on a landmine. The landmine is me .After the explosion, I spend the rest of the day putting the pieces together.” – Ray Bradbury

The scattered rain showers that slowed my journey for a day turned the sky overhead into an ever-changing kaleidoscope. — Photo by Pat Bean

Adventures with Pepper: Day Eight

Robins, as well as magpies, white-crowned sparrow and dark-eyed juncos were plentiful around the campground. — Photo by Pat Bean

While I was eager for the next step of my journey, crossing Rocky Mountain National Park, I let a little rain delay me. My RV, Gypsy Lee, doesn’t like slick roads.

So instead, I spent the day catching up on laundry, giving my RV a good Pine Sol cleaning and simply enjoying the sights around the campground. .

It rained off and on until late afternoon, but then, as the weatherman had promised, the sun came out and bode well for my next day’s travels.

Book Report: Just a half hour this morning because I wanted to get on the road. Travels with Maggie is now up to 52,186 words.

The Wondering Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat: A Red-tailed Hawk Survives a Tornado http://tinyurl.com/924×859 I love happy ending stories. Don’t you?

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“One’s age should be tranquil, as childhood should be playful. Hard work at either extremity of life seems out-of-place. At midday the sun may burn, and men labor under it; but the morning and evening should be calm and cheerful.” – Thomas Arnold

I stood outside in awe for quite a while watching this blazing end to my playful day. This image was not enhanced even a tiny bit. — Photo by Pat Bean

Adventures with Pepper: Day 6 Continued

            Playful black-billed magpies followed my journey this day. I seemed to see them everywhere, and they delighted my soul.

Not a very exciting magpie photo, but it was the only one that didn’t come out blurry. The magpies were just too quick for my camera. — Photo by Pat Bean

The first time I became aware of these birds was in the mid-1980s during a visit to a friend’s house in Glenn’s Ferry, Idaho. A half-dozen or so of them were frolicking above the Snake River. I was enchanted, and have stayed that way.          With magpies shadowing my drive after leaving Dinosaur National Park, I soon crossed into Colorado and through the small town of Dinosaur.

It was here, in October of 2009, that a mythical portal consumed Marvel Comics’ Dark Avengers.

Pepper in control of her own leash. — Photo by Pat Bean

I wondered if the portal was located on the city’s Brontosaurus Boulevard, Stegosaurus Freeway or Tyrannosaurus Trail.

The city had been renamed Dinosaur from Artesia to capitalize on the monument that stretches from Utah into Colorado, and then the city fathers began to get playful with its street names.

My scenic Highway 40 route this day  also took me through Maybell, which holds Colorado’s lowest recorded temperature record – minus 61 degrees F; and Craig, which claims to be the Elk Hunting Capital of the road.

“Ok! I’m tired. You can be in charge again.” — Photo by Pat Bean

My stopping place for the night was Yampa River State Park near Hayden, where even more magpies were hanging out. Pepper took a running leap at one that came too close and jerked the leash out of my hand.            I could almost hear her shout “free-at-last” as she began running circles around me. It wasn’t the first time this had happened.

A smart dog, Pepper had wised up to the fact that it was easy for me to grab hold of the trailing retractable leash, so she had started picking it up and running with it.

Yup! I think playful was the word of the day.

Book Report: 51,306 words. An aha moment gave me the perfect conclusion for my book, but made me realize I’ll have more rewriting to do so I can add a continuous thread. It was like getting both good news and bad news at the same time.

The Wondering Wanerer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat: East London Art Walk http://tinyurl.com/8zkzkmr Now I might enjoy this kind of walk almost as much as I do my nature walks. It would be a fun change of pace anyway. Perhaps one day I might even get to London. I’ve never visited Europe, but I have visited 46 of the 50 states, and after this journey I’ll have knocked off 49.

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“It’s so curious: one can resist tears and behave very well in the hardest hours of grief. But then someone makes you a friendly sign behind a window, or one notices that a flower that was in bud only yesterday has suddenly blossomed … and everything collapses.” – Collette

Morning sunrise at about 6:40 a.m. here at Lake Walcott State Park. — Photo by Pat Bean

In the Flicker of an Image

I never tire of waking up to a sunrise here at Lake Walcott. Each one is different, but all are usually awesome.

Flags at half-mast in front of the Lake Walcott State Park visitor center. — Photo by Pat Bean

This one, since my canine traveling companion, Pepper, let me sleep in an extra hour, was taken at about 6:40 a.m. The days are slowly getting shorter here now. This would have been too late to catch even a glimmer of sunrise when I first arrived.

And I noticed last night that it was now getting dark before 10 p.m. Lake Walcott is far enough north from southern Texas, where I grew up, that there’s a significant difference in how long summer days can be. That was emphasized when I was on the phone the other evening with my son. He noted that it was dark outside at 8 p.m. while there was still two hours of daylight left here.

It’s also finally gotten hot here at the park, not by Texas standards perhaps, but enough that I take Pepper for long walks only in the early mornings and late evenings. On this morning’s walk, I saw that the flags at the park’s visitor center were at half-mast.

It took me a moment before I realized that this was probably done to honor those whose lives were so senselessly lost in Aurora, Colorado. Because I don’t have a TV, that tragedy is only brought to my attention when I read the news on my computer.

A single sunflower reminded me that life goes on. It’s just that after the Aurora tragedy, it will never be the same again for those who lost loved ones or those who will carry scars of that day. — Photo by Pat Bean

Suddenly all the joy of my morning evaporated.

Like the rest of the caring, honorable, law-abiding people in this world, my heart goes out to those who lost loved ones, and to those whose lives will never be the same again.

I know life will go on, just as the sunflowers I left dying when I left Lake Walcott last fall, are just now beginning to bloom again. My hope, however, is that one day we will live in a kinder, more caring, gentler world where such acts would never even enter anyone’s mind.

History tells me that will never happen, but I, for one will never stop hoping. If Mother Nature can change her face day by day, then so can we.

Bean’s Pat: Goodnight Precious http://tinyurl.com/d6dfkr3 A kinder picture for all of us who grieve Aurora. The wondering wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

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 “With all things and in all things, we are relatives.” Sioux proverb

A healthy crop of young prairie dog pups. -- Photo by pat Bean

Good Reasons to be Cautious

An adult prairie dog giving me the eagle eye after she shooed all the young ones below. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I don’t often get a chance to see prairie dogs, and even rarer do I get to walk among them.

But that’s the opportunity I had at Texas’ Lake Arrowhead State Park just outside of Wichita Falls.

To get some photographs of them, I left my canine traveling companion, Pepper, in the RV. She loves to chase anything on the ground that moves. So far, robins and butterflies have been her favorite targets, but I’m sure prairie dogs would also be high on her list.

While I keep her in check with a 10-foot retractable leash, I figured her quick dash toward a prairie dog would send them deep in their underground tunnel homes.

All about prairie dogs sign at Lake Arrowhead. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The truth is they didn’t let me get too close before they would dash below, especially since there were babies among them. On my approach an adult would shoo them below and then turn around and give me a chittery war cry while keeping an evil, eagle eye on my movements.

I did, however, manage to snag a few pictures.

I sort of feel I owe prairie dogs an apology. As a reporter I covered the release of rare and endangered black-footed ferrets in the middle of a prairie dog colony in the Browns Park area of Colorado back in the late 1990s.

Prairie dogs are ferrets preferred menu item. They are also on the coyote’s menu as well, and Lake Arrowhead is full of coyotes. Even so, I must say that the prairie dogs numbers don’t seem to have diminished since I last visited the park. Prey usually  reproduces quicker and more abundantly than predators.

Bean’s Pat: Love Thy Bike http://tinyurl.com/cdsrs2o See Los Angeles beaches from a bike seat.

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Begin challenging your own assumptions. Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in awhile, or the light won’t come in.Alan Alda 

Windows into the past: Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado. -- Photo by Pat Bean

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I took this photo of the train I was riding on as it went about a bend on the journey through Royal Gorge. -- Photo by Pat Bean

My Favorite Places:  Royal Gorge

Looking up at the span across the gorge from river level. -- Photo by Pat Bean


“I feel as though I have lived many lives, experienced the heights and depths of each and like the waves of the ocean, never known rest. Throughout the years, I have looked always for the unusual, for the wonderful, for the mysteries at the heart of life. – Leni Riefenstahl

NaNoWriMo Update

Still thinking, with trepidation, about the novel I will start tomorrow. My night-time thoughts solved one problem that’s been worrying me. I came up with a motive for one of the characters to approach my main character.

Looking down on the Arkansas River from the top of Royal Gorge -- Wikipedia photo

It’s a little thing, but it’s part of the opening scene that still exists only in my head. And at least I now feel more confident about that first blank page.

I’m worried, however, because mornings are my best time for writing and I have a doctor’s appointment at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow. The visit has been planned for a month, and since I only have a short time before I’m off on the road again, I have to keep it.

In the past, I’ve let other plans like this keep me from even starting the challenge. So I’m almost glad that I will be facing this simple one on the very first day. It should help me know I can overcome interruptions – just like solving the first travel difficulty in my RV gave me confidence that I could handle anything the road threw at me.

Is this bravado speaking. Yup! But I’m depending on it to help pull me through the next 30 days and 50,000 words.

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“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” George Eliot

Travels With Maggie


Fall high up in the Combres Pass in Southern Colorado. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Maggie and I are just outside Reno today, where I’m catching up on laundry and house-cleaning chores before I get back on the road tomorrow. Maggie’s spent the morning smoozing with our next door neighbors here at the RV Park.

It’s still summer here, with huge sunflowers lining the roads and wild grasses tall and browning from the long hot summer. But, just as mother used to say it was 6 o’clock somewhere when she wanted an early afternoon beer, it is fall somewhere.

Two landscapes that pop immediately out of my memory banks when I think of autumn are the one I saw last year in Colorado and the 2006 autumn that caught me in Maine. I still thrill remembering the orange, lemon and strawberry colored cocktails that the landscape served up.

Fall is truly my favorite season. And in that I find myself not alone.

Ode to Autumn

Maggie and I spent five days beneath this tree at the Paul Bunyon Campground in Bangor, Maine, in the early fall of 2006. Each day the leaves turned more scarlet. -- Photo by Pat Bean


Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,

For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.
–John Keats

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 “Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.” — Matsuo Basho

I passed by Mesa Verde National Park today, but last year when I came this same way I stopped for a visit and took this photo of the Balcony House. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Travels With Maggie*

I awoke this morning to an alarm clock of geese honking as they flew overhead. The sound, as always, soothed my soul. Wild things flying free, sharing the burden of making headway against the wind as they flew to whether they were going.

It was time for me to get up and get going, too.

While yesterday’s awesome drive over Wolf Creek Pass through the San Juan Mountains was a new experience for me, today’s drive would be through quite familiar territory.

Over the years, I’ve made numerous trips between my home in Northern Utah and family members in Texas. While I’ve always tried to find new roads to travel to get between the two states, more often than not on the return trip, I headed north at Santa Fe to Pagosa Springs and then went west on Highway 160 to Cortez and then north again through Moab to Ogden. It was the shortest way back home. .

On one of those trips, back in the late 1970s, I took the longer, steeper way home, heading north at Durango to Silverton and on to Grand Junction, Colorado. It was one of the first solo cross-country trips I made. And I can still recall the excitement of traveling through such fantastic country.

In my memory I can still see Twilight Peak from Highway 550, a route I didn't take this day. -- Photo courtesy Wikipedia

Up above Silverton, I came around a high, sharp curve and there, floating almost in front of me, was a hang glider. I pulled my car over to the side, got out and waved. To this day I still wonder where he came from and where he was going to land.

This day, however, I continued west through Durango, past the shadow of Mesa Verde, which I visited last year, and on to Cortez, where I stopped to resupply my refrigerator with fresh vegetables from a local market.

At the far side of Cortez, I turned north on Highway 491, which used to be Highway 666 until the name was changed because of the number’s “devilish” association. I’ve driven it under both names without any mishaps.

I ended the day’s drive in Utah, at a small RV park in the town of Monticello, where I slept soundly with the La Salle Mountains looking down on me and my dog, Maggie, curled up beside me..

*Day 9 of the journey, April 27, 2011

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