Posts Tagged ‘Idaho state parks’

     “On the road again – Just can’t wait to get on the road again …Goin’ places that I’ve never been. Seein’ things that I may never see again …” – Willie Nelson

Hello the Road 

Good-bye Mr. Lake Walcott Bear. Have a nice winter. — Phto by Pat Bean

Today I start a 5,000 mile journey. I invite you to come along.            I begin by traveling from Lake Walcott State Park in Idaho to Ogden, Utah, where I will stay a few days with friends and have my RV, Gypsy Lee, serviced and checked out.

I retired from a 37-year journalism career in Ogden on September 1, 2004. Two weeks before my retirement, I bought a new RV, which I named Gypsy Lee. Gypsy is for my itchy feet and Lee is for my grandfather, Charles Forest Lee, from whom my mother said I inherited my wanderlust.

Good-bye willow tree with the split personality. I’ll miss nodding to you each morning when Pepper and I take our walks. — Photo by Pat Bean

Before the end of 2004, I had sold my rooted Ogden home, and took to the road. After this coming journey, which will be the subject of my upcoming blogs, Gypsy Lee will have over 137,000 miles on her, and I will have visited 49 of the 50 states. I visited Hawaii in the 1980s and Alaska in 2001 before I retired.

Traveling between Lake Walcott and Ogden is a familiar 160-mile trip for me, but my plans today are to take a backroad that will take me through City of Rocks State Park. I’ll try and tell you all about it tomorrow.

Taking the untraveled path is how I hope to travel as my journey takes me across Middle America east to Front Royal, Virginia, before it heads south toward Texas, where my children expect me for Thanksgiving dinner.

Good-bye Lake of Many Moods. I’ll miss you, too. — Photo by Pat Bean

Book Report: Zilch. I celebrated my leaving Lake Walcott with a bunch of mostly old broads like myself, a group of women who call themselves the “Bay of Pigs.” Many of them have been friends since childhood. I feel honored that I got to know them at their First Wednesday lunches this year. I’ll carry their warm wishes with me on my journey and hope to see them next year when my tentative plans are to return to Lake Walcott. While I’m sorry my writing got left in the dust today, I’m not going to beat myself up. It wouldn’t be me if at least occasionally I didn’t let life interfere. That’s been a very hard lesson for me to learn.

The Wondering Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat: It’s a Bird Thing http://tinyurl.com/bnvf333 Exploring the Rio Chama Wild and Scenic River. My kind of travel. I was fortunate to have met Judy on a bird outing to check out mountain blue bird nest boxes above Ogden.

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            “To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.” George Santayana

            The above quote fit my blog, but the one below made me laugh.  I couldn’t decide which one to post with my column, so I’m sharing both.

            “A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing and the lawn mower is broken.”—James Dent.

The sage brush in an area adjacent to the Lake Walcott campground is beginning to think it’s already autumn. — Photo by .Pat Bean

Summer Comes, Summer Goes

The brown-headed cowbirds that earlier thronged my bird feeders have already migrated elsewhere — Sketch by Pat Bean

            I can’t believe my summer at Lake Walcott State Park in Southern Idaho is coming to an end. But then they do say time flies when you’re having fun.This green, manicured park that sits beside the lake and the Snake River is an oasis in a dry high desert region that this year has been plagued by wildfires. While it was a hotter summer here than last, it was still heaven compared to central and south Texas weather, where I usually spend the winters. There, they not only have the heat but high humidity as well.

I have three children in those regions who frequently remind me how lucky I am not to be there.

But the house sparrows, as noted from the ones feeding beneath my bird feeder just this morning, are still sticking around. — Photo by Pat Bean

Last year when I arrived at the park, it was still winter and the trees were bare. This year, on the exact same day, May 15th, it was 90 degrees when I arrived and the trees were already full of leaves. It cooled off, however, and it was almost July before I had to start using my RV’s air conditioner daily.

Now, I’m seeing signs of fall creep into the park. Many of the park’s birds, like the colorful Bullock’s orioles and the American goldfinch are already migrating south. Most robins, as well. Instead of seeing dozens of these birds on my walks through the park, I’m now lucky to see one.

Book Report: Travels with Maggie, 41,820 re-edited words. Not much progress but I’m hoping to spend all afternoon working on the book. I decided to blog earlier today and clear my decks. A young blogger asked today what was the best writing advice his readers had ever received. I told him, it’s “Write! Write! Write!”  

The wondering wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

          Bean’s Pat: Lifescapes: The Texas Hill Country http://dld.bz/bJNbr The sounds of summer. This is a blog for nature lovers written by Susan Wittig Albert, author of the China Bayles mystery series written for herb and plant lovers. .

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            “Be as a bird perched on a frail branch that she feels bending beneath her, still she sings away all the same, knowing she has wings.” –Victor Hugo

Minus One Sharp-Tailed Grouse


Only occasionally do I see western tanagers at Lake Walcott State Park. — Photo by Pat Bean

           I keep bird lists. These include a life list for all the bird species I’ve seen, a yearly bird list and a list of Lake Walcott birds. My life list stands at 702 bird species, the one for the year currently at 203 and the one for Lake Walcott, minus 1.

That one bird is the sharp-tailed grouse. Of all the birds that have been seen in the Lake Walcott area, it’s the only species not on my world list. Admittedly, it’s a rare bird for here, normally preferring more northern habitat, but I keep hoping.

Lake Walcott has, however, given me two lifers. A rare migrating Sabine’s gull that winters at sea, primarily off the West Coast, and a gray partridge, that calls Lake Walcott home year-round and which I’ve seen, among other places here, out the rear window of my RV.

Yesterday evening, the lake hosted a flock of Franklin gulls, a bird I’ve frequently seen but this was my first sighting of it here at the park. I think the flock was  just passing through because there were none of these gulls still around when Maggie and I took our walk this morning.

But white pelicans are on the daily bird-watching menu here. — Photo by Pat Bean

The visiting gulls, which both look and sound a lot like laughing gulls, were far enough out on the lake when I saw them that I had to use my binoculars to make an identification.

Birds I see here at the lake almost daily include white pelicans that make their nests on the opposite shore from me and which gather in great numbers below the dam where the Snake River froths up white as it flows down and over some rock ledges.

House sparrows, American goldfinches, black-headed grosbeaks, house finches, house sparrows, white-crowned sparrows, brown-headed cowbirds, Brewer’s blackbirds, red-winged blackbirds, mourning doves, robins, killeer, and broad-tailed and black-chinned hummingbirds visit my camp site almost daily.

And black-headed grosbeaks make daily visits to the bird feeders I put out. — Photo by Pat Bean

Common nighthawks and a variety of swallows fly overhead each evening. A red-tailed hawk frequents a huge nearby cottonwood tree; I wake to the hooting of a great-horned owl and the cooing of doves.  I watch western grebes, Canada geese, quacking mallards and an occasional pied-billed grebe and northern pintail swim about in the water.

Life is good for this wondering/wandering birder here at Lake Walcott. If I were to send a postcard, I’d say: “Wish you were here.”

Book Report: “Travels with Maggie” now stands at 31,331 words. While that’s just about 600 more words than yesterday’s final count, I did a lot of slashing and rewriting to make things read smoother. Rewriting can be both easier and more difficult than the first time around, which I already knew. The good news is that I’m having fun with it.

Bean’s Pat:  10,000 Birds http://tinyurl.com/8t62xry Check out these bee-eaters.

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Lake Walcott State Park

“To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter; to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring – these are some of the rewards of the simple life.” John Burroughs.

Yet Another Amazing Morning Walk

Early morning on Lake Walcott — Photo by Pat Bean

            It’s been a busy past week: Computer problems and two 100-mile round-trips to try to get it fixed before buying a new one to end my frustrations, out-of-town visitors to my camp site here at Lake Walcott, unsuccessful struggles to meet a writing goal although I did add 5,000 new words to my travel book, falling way behind on correspondence, etc. etc.

            All of the above obstructions to my peaceful existence disappeared this morning when I took Pepper for an early morning walk. I let Mother Nature take the weight off my shoulders and simply let my mind an senses revel in the reflection of the sun on the lake, the sight of apples growing in a tree next to the trail to the boat docks, two perfect yellow flowers growing in the cranny of a rock wall smiling at the sun.

I returned to my RV refreshed and ready for the coming week, confident that whatever this week throws at me, I will embrace it and survive.

Thank you Mother Nature.

Book Report: My goal this week is 10,000 words on my travel book. Encourage me keep my fingers and brain moving.

Bean’s Pat: http://tinyurl.com/d9lsjxf Some days it’s just Monday. Blog pick of the day from the Wondering Wanderer

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“The moments of happiness we enjoy take us by surprise. It is not that we seize them but that they seize us.” – Ashley Montagu

Special Moments  

If there is anything of value that the years have taught this wondering wanderer, it’s how fleeting time is, and how important it is to be ready to catch the special moments that may never come our way again.

Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but the number of moments that take our breath away. Someone else said that first, but I don’t know who, just that it’s so very true.

The Snake River just below the Minidoka Dam in Southern Idaho. — Photo by Pat Bean

The Snake River has been responsible for taking my breath away hundreds of times, from it literally doing that when I rafted its white-water rapid sections – I’ve been in a raft that this river’s flipped and it’s flipped me out of a raft more than once – to the beauty it’s provided me every time I stand by its banks.

I saw my first magpies – we don’t have them in Texas where I grew up – playfully swooping above its waters that flowed through a farm in Glenn’s Ferry, Idaho.

Just a few of the hundreds of white pelicans that cluster on the river below the dam. — Photo by Pat Bean

And I’ve watched osprey dive into its depths in Wyoming and come up with a fish, and bald eagles flying over it in Washington, and hundreds of white pelicans fishing its waters just this summer.

It’s thankful I am to be spending the summer right next to the Snake River, the mother of Lake Walcott State Park where I’m a volunteer campground host. While I can only see the lake out my RV windows, a 10-minute walk puts me above or on the banks of this great river, which began its twisting journey through Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon and Washington at a hot spot in Yellowstone National Park.

From its junction here at Lake Walcott, the Snake will makes its way down to Twin Falls Gorge (where Evil Knievel attempted a motorcycle jump), then continue on through Hell’s Canyon and eventually join the Columbia River.

It takes my appreciation for all the joy its brought into my life with it.

Bean’s Pat: Sun Fire: http://tinyurl.com/bu29s98 One of those special moments that might never come your way again. Blog pick of the day from the wondering wanderer.

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 “The town was glad with morning light; places that had shown ugly and distrustful all night long now wore a smile; and sparkling sunbeams dancing on chamber windows, and twinkling through blind and curtain before sleepers’ eyes, shed light even into dreams, and chased away the shadows of the night.” – Charles Dickens, The Old Curiosity Shop

These Canada geese floated away from the shore as Pepper and I approached. — Photo by Pat Bean

It Couldn’t Have Been Any More Perfect

The stone wall is a CCC legacy, and the basalt rocks used to build it a legacy of the area’s volcanic past. In the background is Hole 12 of the park’s disc (Frisbee) golf course, a specialty here at Lake Walcott. — Photo by Pat Bean

I varied my walking route this morning, which usually sees me taking the trail from my RV to the boat dock. I chose instead to visit the fishing decks at the other end of the park, then immediately realized why this was a hike usually saved for the evenings.

Early mornings were when the sprinklers came on in this section of the park.

I managed to dodge all but one big spray, while my canine traveling companion, Pepper, purposely splashed through the raining water and any puddles she came across. Her joy at doing so delighted my heart.

A lone western grebe floats on the lake, whose reflective surface is muted this morning by an overcast sky. — Photo by Pat Bean

The overcast day spread a kind of magic over the landscape and lake, whose watery reflections were muted and quiet.

Running ahead, Pepper startled a flock of yellow-headed blackbirds that took to the sky from several Russian olive trees, their golden heads flashing before their dark bodies like large fireflies lighting their way.

A half-dozen nearby magpies were slower to flight as we approached. With their long tails swishing, these black and white birds didn’t go far, landing out of reach but near enough to keep an eye on us as we passed.

A goose family, also wanting to get out of reach, floated farther out from shore.

Sweet pea blossoms beneath a Russian olive tree added to the morning’s perfection. — Photo by Pat Bean

As they did that, a couple of mallards quacked from behind some bank bushes. I never did see them, but a mallard is one of the few North American ducks whose voice I can recognize. It’s the only one that quacks like Donald Duck.

Pepper and I took the long way back to our RV, taking the route that led past the park’s day-use grounds and visitor center. I noticed that a patch of sweet pea blossoms had sprung up beneath a tree and at the edge of some sagebrush that the sprinklers catch. They fragrant pink flowers hadn’t been there the last time I had walked this way.

I don’t think, even with the sprinkler dousing I took, that my walk with Pepper could have been any more perfect.

Bean’s Pat: Stewards of Earth http://tinyurl.com/cu36rtm Butterfly House. Fantastic photos. Blog pick of the day from the wondering wanderer.

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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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“The longer I live the more I realize the impact of attitude on life … I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it. And so it is with you. We are in charge of our attitudes.” – Charles R. Swindoll

Pepper after getting into the sprinklers and then the ferns at a friend’s house. Yes, she’s a cutie pie, but … — Photo by Pat Bean


Which Do You Want to Hear First?

There seems to be more birds here at Lake Walcott this year than last, an eye-popping treat for this enthusiastic birder. But perhaps that’s because there are more bugs as well.

Thankfully they’re not the stinging kind, just clouds of mayflies thick enough to provide a privacy curtain and little black gnats that like to fly up your nose.

A gaggle of Canada geese making their getaway as Pepper and I near. Too bad they can’t take their poop with them. — Photo by Pat Bean

It was so much fun watching the Canada geese and their goslings when I first arrived here in Southern Idaho mid-May. There was a bumper crop of young’ens. But now I find myself stepping around tons of goose poop – and they poop big – when I walk the bank paths. Yuck!

Pepper, the Scotty mix puppy I rescued after losing my longtime canine traveling companion, Maggie, brings daily adventure and joy to my life. But she wakes me every morning at 5:30 a.m., and makes sure we take long walks no matter how thick the bugs are outside.

And so life goes.

There’s always bad with the good, and good with the bad. Swindoll got it exactly right. Attitude is the key to our days.  I’m grateful I see my own glass as always half full instead of half empty.

What about you?

Bean’s Pat: Green-rumped parrotlets http://tinyurl.com/brwgre2 From egg to adult. Fantastic. Blog pick of the day from the wondering wanderer.

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 “The man who never alters his opinion Is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind.” William Blake.

These flowers bloomed while I was gone. There were big bunches of them all along a short section of the bank in the upper tent campground. — Photo by Pat Bean.

Life Goes On

And the milkweed plants, which the butterflies love, here at the park went from this … — Photo by Pat Bean

I’m Back now at Lake Walcott, after leaving for four days to fly to Texas for a granddaughter’s wedding. I had a marvelous time. I got to see a new great-grandson, now almost seven months old, for the first time. And I’m still feeling the love from all the family hugs I received.

Homecoming, when it involves loved ones, is always sweet after an absence. It’s a benefit that helps make up for the distance my chosen on-the-road life and the scattered residences – from Texas to Florida, Illinois to Arizona, with Argentina thrown in for good measure – of my children and grandchildren.

But while I was gone, this southern Idaho state park where I’m volunteering for the summer continued its ever-changing life cycle, welcoming me back with new wonders.

My hummingbird feeder was empty and the bird seed feeder, which I had filled to the brim before taking off, had only a few sunflower seeds remaining in it. I had left both full, not wanting to disrupt the continuity of the birds that visit my RV site.

A black-headed grosbeak and an American goldfinch – a study in orange and yellow – were at the feeder when I pulled in. It was the first grosbeak that had visited and I was delighted to see it. I suspected that the Bullock’s orioles had emptied the hummingbird feeder as I’ve only had a few hummers visit this year.

Black-headed grosbeak — Wikipedia photo

My first walk around the park after being back was full of changes too. Along with coming across branches that had blown down from the weekend storm I missed, I noticed that the milkweed had matured, and that some bank plants had come into bloom while I was gone.

It was fun to see the changes, which so often are missed on a day-to-day basis. Life goes on where ever one goes.

Bean’s Pat: Katmai National Park http://tinyurl.com/765d97z Fishing bears. I couldn’t resist sharing this. Blog pick of the day from the wondering wanderer.

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 “It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here.” – Edward Abbey

Always the Same But Always Different


I often sit on this bench to watch birds. The area is a favorite hangout of western kingbirds and Bullock’s orioles. — Photo by Pat Bean

Before I became a full-time wondering wanderer, I enjoyed the familiarity of my frequent hikes on the benches of Utah’s Mount Ogden, whose shadow stretched down to touch my pleasant home.

From day-to-day, season-to-season, year-to-year, I got to watch the same landscape in its different moods and growth. It was an awesome experience.

While I truthfully tell everyone the only thing I miss since paring all my belongings down to fit into a 22-foot long RV is my bathtub – showers have just never been my bathing choice – I’m beginning to think I also miss the continuity of watching one particularly landscape change on a daily basis.

My volunteer position as a campground host here at Lake Walcott State Park for the last three summers is what started me thinking about this. I walk all around this park daily, several times in fact since my canine traveling companion, Pepper, needs an outlet for her energy. And I never tire of seeing the same landscape over and over.

Today the lake is mirror smooth, and so provides a canvas for the landscape to paint.

Part of that is because it’s ever-changing. The slant of the sun, the shadow of a cloud, the arrival of the nighthawks, a new flower opening its petals, the mirror smoothness or crashing waves of the lake against the shore, all this and much, much more add variety and delight to my walks.

Edward Abbey got it right. It’s as important to enjoy the land as it is to protect it. The first, I suspect, will make us fight all the harder to accomplish the latter.

Bean’s Pat: Life in the Bogs http://bogsofohio.wordpress.com I chose this blog as my pick of the day because its author/photographer frequently posts pictures of the same pond in its many moods. I never tire of seeing her pond day after day.

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