Posts Tagged ‘Idaho parks’

“The grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never dried all at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal dew and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.” – John Muir

The view from my RV, with no photographic enhancement. — Photo by Pat Bean

Lake Walcott Welcomes the Day

Reflections: A calm lake provides a second canvas for Mother Nature. — Photo by Pat Bean

I took 25 days to drive from my daughter’s home on the outskirts of Dallas, Texas, to Lake Walcott State Park in Idaho, where I’ll be spending the summer.

It’s my third year here as a volunteer campground host. I return because it’s an awesome place, where Mother Nature changes the scenery daily. I arrive in time to see the first buds of spring paint the landscape, and stay until the crisp colors of autumn paint over the green of summer.

Nowhere, however, have I ever seen more spectacular sunrises and sunsets.

Thankfully, my canine companion, Pepper, wakes me in time to see that magic hour of grayness, when all the world seems to hold its breath for a moment, in anticipation of dawn’s first light.

This morning’s explosion was especially spectacular.

Bean’s Pat: http://photonatureblog.com/ This blog helps me get a daily dose of nature’s wonders. Today it’s a butterfly that stirs my soul. Blog pick of the day by a wondering wanderer.  

Read Full Post »

 “Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all.” – Stanley Horowitz

Spring at Lake Walcott, when it arrived in June, brought trees laden with pink blossoms. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Travels With Maggie

Most of Lake Walcott's many trees were still leafless when Maggie and I arrived at the park in mid-May. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Fall is coming to Lake Walcott. It’s early. This Southern Idaho park was still sleepy with the last breaths of winter when I arrived here mid-May. Most of the trees were still leafless and running my heater, at least at night, was a given.

The days, however, slowly begin to warm and before soon foliage blocked my view of the lake, while dandelions dotted the park’s manicured lawns with yellow and pink blossoms colored a tree just outside my RV, Gypsy Lee.

Spring lingered for a long time here. It wasn’t until July that I had to first use my air conditioner, and even then it always went off when the sun went down. August brought with the first days when temperatures reached the 90s, but still most days the mercury’s high only hovered in the mid-80s.

Rarely was there a day that wasn’t perfect for the long walks my dog, Maggie, and I took daily through the park.

` While so many parts of the country have been experiencing record-breaking heat, Lake Walcott has had an unusually mild summer. And now, just a little more than a week before I am leaving, it’s treating me to hints of fall. Within a 120-day period I’ve experiences all four seasons.

As I looked out on the Landscape surrounding Lake Walcott, at the frosty sagebrush now grown tall, and the rabbitbrush all aglow in autumn colors, I remembered to thank Mother Nature for her gifts. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I thought on this as I looked out on a landscape yesterday of frosty sagebrush, now grown tall in this high desert, interspersed with the fall display of golden-topped rabbitbrush.

I give thanks to Mother Nature for the beauty she gifted me. I also give thanks that I have eyes and a heart capable of appreciating her gifts. May it always be so.

Read Full Post »

 “Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. . But the real universe is always one step beyond logic.” Frank Herbert.

Travels With Maggie

Sun and rain in the same frame. Lake Walcott State Park, August, 2011 -- Photo by Pat Bean

Going for our morning and afternoon walks here at Lake Walcott is a pleasurable experience for both Maggie and me. But for different reasons, of course.

Maggie uses her nose to follow the track of the raccoon that visited our camp site in the early hours of the morning. She slowly checks out the tree on which the male springer spaniel in the camp across the way lifted his leg. Then she spends 10 minutes circling a small area trying to decide the exact spot to do her own business.

Her entire small body wags with her tail in joy when she spies a human who looks like they might greet her. You can actually see the dejection in her body if that person passes by without snooping down to pet her.

I’ve never quite figured out why this is so important to her, because most always after about 15 seconds of a stranger’s adulation she’s pulling on the leash for me to continue our walk.

But then she probably doesn’t understand why I want to stop and watch every bird I see, photograph every butterfly buzzing around a flower or spend time each day simply staring out over the lake to gauge its mood.

I was doing just that a couple of days ago when I realized nature was presenting me with a triple matinée.

To the south, on the far side of the lake, a dark storm cloud was dumping rain on the landscape. To the north, the summer sky was bright blue with sunlight shimmering through white puffy clouds. Beneath my feet, meanwhile, the rocky shoreline was framed by a bush telling me fall had arrived.

But looking down instead of across the water, I found fall coming into bloom. -- Photo by Pat Bean

From a single spot, I was being presented with three stories, each in conflict with the other. Since I couldn’t deny reality, I had to believe them all.

Thus it is with life and people. There are many realities, and just because we believe one doesn’t mean the others aren’t true. Mother nature’s triple feature left me pondering over this for the rest of the afternoon.

It’s often what happens when I take myself into her realm.

Or listen to Bob Marley: “Life is one big road with lots of signs. So when you riding through the ruts, don’t complicate your mind. Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy. Don’t bury your thoughts, put your vision to reality. Wake Up and Live!”

Read Full Post »

 I think the environment should be put in the category of our national security. Defense of ourresources is just as important as defense abroad. Otherwise what is there to defend? ~Robert Redford

Travels With Maggie

It wouldn't be summer without sunflowers. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Summer has finally arrived here at Lake Walcott. Until this week, I think we’ve only had three days where the temperature got up to 90 degrees. This week, however, the mercury made it to 95.

Weather is always an easy conversation icebreaker with the strangers I meet at the park. It’s the one thing everyone living on this planet shares.

“Hot isn’t it,” a camper commented as I passed by during yesterday’s evening walk with Maggie.

“Yes,” I replied. “But I’m not complaining. I’m escaping Texas’ awful heat.”

“You’re right. It’s a perfect day. We’re from Tennessee,” he responded back. Neither one of us needed to say more.

Not only have both states been suffering from 100-degree plus temperatures – over 110 degrees at times in my native Dallas – but the high humidity in both states has upped the heat index even more. Yes, it’s been perfectly wonderful, weather-wise, here in Southern Idaho.

In the spring this tree graced us with fragrant pink blossoms. Now, in the summer, it's gifting us with apples. -- Photo by Pat Bean.

Most of my children and grandchildren live in Texas, and have not only had to endure the long hot summer, but they’ve done so mostly without rain.

“It’s almost as if we wish for a hurricane to give us some relief,” one of them said back in July.

I thought about that statement as I read this morning’s headlines, which are all about Irene. This vast hurricane is moving into eastern coastal states even as I write this blog. Headlines say there is the possibility of it affecting 65 million people if it surges into New York City late tomorrow as expected.

What with the heat, the recent earthquakes, both drought and flooding, and destructive tornadoes, I have to say that Mother Nature is getting her revenge on us for the way we’ve treated her planet. But then perhaps it’s just the planet’s normal cycle of weather tantrums that has nothing to do with its inhabitants.

I hope this planet continues to support beauty, such as the cabbage white butterfly that I couldn't resist photographing. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The answer to this issue is quite a polarized one, with everyone having their own opinions.

I, personally, think it’s a combination of factors, and that we humans certainly have to take responsibility for making things worse. And I think it’s time we started thinking about what each of us can do to treat earth more kindly.

From walking more and driving less to planting trees and not dumping hazardous waste into our waterways, from reducing our personal footprint on the land to conserving water, there are many things we can do.

So let’s start doing them.

OK! End of soap-box oration. I know better than to get started on a subject so dear to my heart. I really wanted this blog to go in the direction of simply expressing thankfulness for my wonderful summer here at Lake Walcott, and to send well wishes to those in the path of Irene.

My computer keyboard, however, had other ideas. I’m sure the writers among my readers understand what I’m saying.

Read Full Post »

It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird. It would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs … We must be hatched or go bad.” C.S. Lewis

Travels With Maggie

Common nighthawk -- Photo by Joanne Kamo, whose many other wonderful bird photographs can be seen at http://www.pbase.com/jitams

I try to time my last walk with Maggie so that it ends just as the sun goes down so as to catch the sunset. The days, in my opinion, are best when they begin with a sunrise and end with a sunset.

But late evening is also the time of day here at Lake Walcott State Park in Southern Idaho when the nighthawks come out to feed. For a kettle of common nighthawks that regularly takes place over the campground where my RV, Gypsy Lee, is parked.

They dine in the air on the many insects that also call this small park home. It’s always a treat to see them. Not only are they awesome to watch, my brain knows that every bug they eat is one that won’t bite me.

A fellow lone-female traveler, not a birder, who stopped by recently to visit me, asked what the birds flying overhead were as we shared our evening walk.

Common nighthawks, I told her. Then pointed out how to easily recognize them when in flight.


Common nighthawk -- Photo by Joanne Kamo

About the size of a robin, these birds have long, forked and pointed wings with a distinctive broad white bar about a third of the way up from the tip of the wing. The white bars are very prominent.

“Do they always fly that low,” she asked, as a couple of the birds zoomed in front of us at about head level.

“Nope. Usually they fly much higher,” I replied. “I guess the bugs are flying low tonight.”

The first time I saw these birds, whose large heads seem to lack a neck, they were flying even lower, however. I was fairly new to birding at the time, having only become addicted to the passion in 1999. The life sighting occurred while I was walking a trail at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, where they were flying low over a small pond.

After watching them for a while, I realized they were skimming bugs off the water. Looking in my field guide to identify them, I discovered they were a member of the goatsucker family, whose name tickled my funny bone. According to folklore, these birds were thought to suck a goat’s milk at night.

The image this false legend flashed through my brain gave me an even more robust chuckle.

There are so many reasons why I’m passionate about birds, and such oddities as this, which I swear each species seems to enjoy, is just one.

Lake Walcott, meanwhile, has treated me to more common nighthawks in one night than all the others I’ve seen elsewhere. If you visit, I hope you take advantage of the nightly summer show.

Read Full Post »

“A dog is not almost human and I know of no greater insult to the canine race than to describe it as such.” – John Holmes

Travels With Maggie

While Maggie grudgingly lets me share her over-the-cab bed at night, she considers it her personal domain during the day. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Someone let their big dog run loose in the campground here at Lake Walcott State Park this past week. That’s a big No-No.

While dogs, like my spoiled owner, Maggie, are welcome in the park, the rule is that they are to be kept on a leash at all times, and that the human be considerate and pick up their poop.

Most of the times these rules are followed, but there’s always the guy or gal who thinks rules don’t mean them.

At least once or twice a week I get to remind people of the leash regulation, and most of them nicely comply – at least when I’m in sight.

Maggie’s usually the one who ferrets the non-complying dogs out. While a loose pet might calmly remain sitting by their owner’s side when a person walks by, they can’t resist running out to sniff another dog’s butt to say hello.

Maggie will ignore any dog smaller than her, wag her tail and get happy if the dog’s her size, but growl ferociously if the dog’s bigger than her. I tell her she hasn’t got a lick of sense, but then she figures she has me to hide behind if her bluff doesn’t work.

Anyway, our park ranger was the one to catch the most recent unleashed dog, quite a big one, he told me when I relieved him at the entrance kiosk yesterday morning.

Maggie's always on a leash. She wants her pet to stay close enough to protect her from the world. -- Photo by Pat Bean

He – I’m sure quite gruffly because he’s that kind of ranger – warned the owner to put his dog on a leash, While it can’t be proved, we suspect the owner didn’t comply once the ranger was out of sight. The clues to back up our suspicions include:

I walked outside Friday morning and spotted a big pile of poop near my RV.

Something spooked the two skunks that have been hanging around the park, and they sprayed near the ranger’s house. He’s not a happy camper.

The dog owner was taking his pet to the vet yesterday morning because it came across a porcupine and lost the battle.

Too bad it wasn’t the dog owner who got punctured is all I have to say.

Read Full Post »

 “Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.” Rabindranath Tagore


Looking eastward at the sunset over Lake Walcott, Aug. 17, 2011. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Travels With Maggie

There’s a scene in the first released episode of “Star Wars” in which Luke Skywalker is standing outside at the end of the day, staring at the sky.

You immediately know he’s not on Planet Earth because the sky is lit by two moons. That scene has long stayed with me. It had a haunting quality about it that imprinted on my catch-all brain.

The scene flashed in my mind again the first time I visited Lake Walcott in Southern Idaho a few years ago. As always, Maggie and I were taking our walk at the end of the day.

We were standing on a point overlooking the lake, her sniffing at a bush, and me staring up at a princess pink sunset with a half-moon framed between glowing clouds. It was an awesome, but not unfamiliar sight – until I realized I was looking east.

Quickly turning around, I saw a second sunset, a Halloween orange one peeking from behind cottonwood and Russian olive trees. This was the real sunset. The eastern one was a trick of the lake.


The same sunset view looking west, Aug. 17, 2011. If you look carefully you can see Gypsy Lee beneath the trees, -- Photo by Pat Bean

The calm water, acting like a mirror, had captured the sunset and then reflected the hues, now muted, up into the clouds.

Depending on the weather, the clouds and what’s hanging around in the air, the sunsets here at Lake Walcott range from a”Brahms Lullaby” to the clash of cymbals in Beethoven’s “1812 Overture.” While the eastern display is barely visible on quieter nights, it can outshine its western source on the louder nights.

I’ve seen both versions many times now since this is my second year as a summer volunteer campground host here at Lake Walcott. But they can still can take my breath away.

And they did that just two nights ago. I was standing at my favorite spot overlooking the lake when the show began. It lasted for a good 10 minutes, going from pastel to vibrant hues than fading into darkness.

I wish you had been here to see it with me.

Read Full Post »

 “Nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion.” – Georg Wilhelm Hegel

Gray partridge -- the pair disappeared too quickly for me to get a photo of them, so thanks to Wikipedia for this one.

Travels With Maggie

I was on the phone with my daughter in Arkansas when I saw two quail-like birds trot across the manicured lawn beside my RV.

I quickly cut the call short, and rushed over to the window for a better look. I knew if I went outside my RV they would quickly disappear. As it was they pretty much did that anyway, although not before I had a quick study.

They were short and plump, gray and brown, and sported a rusty-red face and throat design. I suspected they belonged to the quail or grouse family of birds that spend more time on the ground than in the air.

I was right, which is a clue to how far I’m come since becoming a birder 12 years ago when I couldn’t tell a gull from a tern or a swallow from an oriole.

Back then, I spent many hours thumbing through an entire bird book just to identify one species, or to tell a ruddy duck from a mallard. Today I quickly narrowed the possibilities, and with the help of my National Geographic “Field Guide to the Birds of North American, soon decided the birds were gray partridges.

Maggie and I daily stroll Lake Walcott's many paths, always finding new wonders of Mother Nature. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The guide’s range map, which let me know this partridge could be found in Southern Idaho, and the bird’s facial color,  were the deciding factors. Later, when I mentioned the sighting to a park worker, he told me gray partridges were commonly found here at Lake Walcott State Park.

I was an ecstatic birder. The gray partridge was a life bird for me, my 697th species.

Birding, as a passion, came at exactly the right time of my life. My journalism career was nearing an end, and I was planning for a traveling retirement. Chasing birds not only gave me a new interest in life, it fit in perfectly with my upcoming life as a vagabond.

While you can see robins and red-tailed hawks everywhere, in North America you can only see a Florida scrub jay in one small parcel of land in Florida, or a white-tailed hawk only in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, or an elegant trogan in Southeast Arizona.

I still have a long way to go to see all of North America’s nearly 1,000 bird species, and even farther to go to see the world’s nearly 10,000 species. But that’s OK, because there will always be birds to chase.

Learning about birds, and boy is there a lot of fascinating stuff to learn, has also been great exercise for my brain. But the most important word here is passion.

While of course there’s the male-female sex thing, it can also mean anything in life that moves us. Adding birds to my passion, along with the passions I have for family, writing, art, reading and travel has made my life richer.

If not a gray partridge, what’s your passion?

Read Full Post »