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All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Buber

Travels With Maggie: Voice

As you travel the Blue Water Highway from Surfside to Galveston, you can enjoy two different landscapes, the beach and restless waves of the Gulf of Mexico to the east of the road, and a lush marshland where birds, such as this tri-colored heron can be seen in abundance. — Photo by Pat Bean

This past November, I blogged about my NANO (National Novel Writing Month) experience in which I wrote a 50,000 lousy first draft of a mystery. It was a way for me to keep up my six-day-a-week blog and still have time for the serious business of writing that NANO demanded.

So as to keep my blog’s travel theme, I also posted pictures of some of the many places I’ve visited since I became a full-time RV-er eight years ago.

About midway during those eight years, I wrote a travel book: “Travels With Maggie: The Journeys of a Wondering Wanderer and Her Canine Companion.”

It’s a six-month travelogue that begins in May and will take readers 7,000 miles, through 23 states and Canada.. It begins in a small town in Arkansas, wiggles north to Acadia National Park in Maine, and climaxes in Texas in time for Thanksgiving with family.

After it was finished, it was accepted as a book worthy of critique for the Mayborn Nonfiction Writer’s Workshop, and received high praise in all but one area. The nine writers who critiqued it, to a person, all said it lacked voice.

A restless Gulf provides a background for these laughing gulls. — Photo by Pat Bean

I’ve played around with rewriting the book for the past two years, but finally got serious, and re-excited, about doing it just two weeks ago. That’s mostly because I finally found my voice.

While writing the first draft, I had this image in my head that readers would get turned off if they knew how old the author was. That, along with my journalist background of keeping my own voice out of stories, was a serious flaw which I am now correcting.

I love that I’m an old broad with perspective, and I’m now trusting that readers will appreciate it, too.

This old broad stops for butterflies wherever she sees them. — Photo by Pat Bean

So so as to simplify my blogging so I can spend more time on my travel book, I’ve decided to repeat what I did during NANO, which is to post pictures of some of this country’s many beautiful places, while at the same time keeping you updated on the progress of my travel book. Perhaps you’ll even have your own perspective to add to my thoughts.

In the meantime, I’m also trying to convince an agent that my book will fit perfectly on a bookshelf between Charles Kuralt’s “On the Road,” Tim Cahill’s “Road Fever,” and John Steinbeck’s “Travels With Charley” – but with a birdwatchers’ old-broad slant.

Bean’s Pat: Durango to Silverton http://tinyurl.com/bm73owe A train ride you shouldn’t miss. Brian and Shannon are two of my favorite bloggers, perhaps because they and I travels frequently cross paths. Blog pick of the day from the wondering wanderer.

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“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters.” Ursula K. leGuin

African Safari: A Texas Prelude

The Johnson Space Center was busy the day Kim and I visited, and dreamed of what it would be like to leave this planet's gravity. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Kim’s arrival at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston in August should have been greeted with 100-degree temperatures and 90 percent humidity. Instead the temperature was about 80 with little humidity.

The sadist in me was disappointed. I had told Kim what to expect of Texas summers, and now my native state was making me into a liar. Oh well, much better for the two days of sight-seeing before we left for Africa.

Our first stop was the Johnson Space Center.

I was living south of Houston, near all the glamorous astronaut happenings, when Neil Armstrong set the first human foot on the moon, uttering the historic words: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

I’ve been fascinated with space travel ever since. And Kim and I both expressed awe at the idea of an adventure in space. She even oohed in awe when she actually touched a moon rock. I had taken a couple of grandkids to the center previously and recalled doing the exact same thing.

Our sight-seeing continued the next day with a trip to Galveston via the Blue Water Highway that runs from Surfside, parallel to the Gulf of Mexico, to San Luis Pass and then across a bridge to Galveston Island. My son and his family came along, and we did some birding on the way over to the island.

I had earlier infected my son, Lewis, with my passion for birds, and the others in the party were patient with our dawdling drive. They might even have enjoyed the sight of brown pelicans flying low over the horizon, snowy egrets gathered in the shallows and a lone great blue heron patiently fishing along the shore that we saw this day.

Hurricane Ike, just as a matter of trivia, took out the Blue Water Highway the next year, but it has since been rebuilt.

Laughing gulls and royal terns are common beach-side sides along the Blue Water Highway. -- Photo by Pat Bean

In Galveston, we walked along the sea wall, whose water-front sandy beach has been disappearing in recent years. Afterward, we stopped at the Rain Forest Cafe for dinner.

The cafe, which looks out on the Gulf and has an amazing rendition of an exploding volcano on its outside facade and a waterfall and computer animated wildlife on the inside is a popular place. We had an hour wait to be seated.

What helped make the wait worth the time was how the hostess finally announced that our table was ready.

“Bean, party of seven, your safari is ready to begin,” she said.

It seemed so apropos, as tomorrow Kim and I would fly to Africa and our safari would begin for real.

Next Episode: Flight to Nairobi

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