Posts Tagged ‘mono lake’

I stood at the top of Tioga Pass in 2011 and looked out at Yosemite's Half Dome. -- Photo by Pat Bean

 “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Mary Oliver

Travels With Maggie

Been thinking about my New Year’s Resolutions. I always make them and I always break them’

This past year, however, I did almost keep one. And that was the goal to blog daily. I came up about a dozen blogs short. Just one slip a month.

Too bad I thought, when I counted them up.

Sand and snow at Great Sand Dune National Park in Colorado was an April view for me. -- Photo by Pat Bean

There was a lesson in the tallying, however. I realized how a mere slip here and there adds up. Next year I’m going to meet the goal of blogging daily, which has been a great way to keep track of my life, make new friends, share my travels, as well as my defeats and achievements. It’s also helped me gain a voice in my writing.

What I did last year, meanwhile, was to compete (after five years of failing) the NANO challenge of writing a first draft of a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. That’s the 2011 achievement I’m most proud of accomplishing. It wasn’t a New Year’s resolution, however.

I also knocked off a few places on my travel list this past year, including first visits to Yosemite and great Sand Dune national parks and to Mono Lake.


I volunteered for the summer as a campground host at Lake Walcott State Park, and plan to return there this coming summer. I was elected to the Board of Directors for Story Circle Network, the national writing group to which I belong. I had a photo of mine published in the Fodor’s African Safari Guide and my world bird list hit the 700 mark, of which about 500 are North American species.

And Maggie and I made sure to take time to smell the flowers that grew in 2011. -- Photo by Pat Bean

All in all, I think it was a pretty good year.

 It’s finally time, I’ve decided, to stop beating myself up for all the things I didn’t do and give myself credit for what I did do. I truly hope you will do the same.

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“Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake.” Wallace Stevens


Looking down on Mono Lake from the Highway 395 overlook. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Travels With Maggie

My trip back to Texas from my summer in Idaho was a hurried affair. Usually I plan on arriving for my winter rounds with family just in time for Thanksgiving But a grandson’s wedding, which takes place tonight, moved that up by about six weeks.

Even so, I managed to knock two things off my to-do list, now more popularly called a bucket list, on my way back to my native Lone Star State.

Mono Lake and Yosemite National Park now have check marks beside them. .

It may be easier for some of you to understand why Yosemite was a place I wanted to visit than it is to understand why Mono Lake was on my list. After all, it’s simply a shallow, very salty, often smelly lake As we neared the lake basin, My canine traveling companion, Maggie, perked up at the smell, wrinkling her nose a bit as she caught the scent. . I’m not sure what she was thinking.


California gulls along the shoreline -- Photo by Pat Bean

 The odorous shoreline, however,  reminded me of Great Salt Lake, a place whose beauty I came to greatly appreciate while living next door to it for 25 years.

The Utah lake is larger and much younger than the smaller and much older California lake. Both, however, are part of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network that provides habitat for millions of migratory birds.

About the only species I saw on Mono Lake, however, was the California gull, which incidentally happens to be Utah’s state bird. It was given the honor after Mormon settlers in the Salt Lave Valley credited the gulls with saving their crops from a cricket infestation.

Neither lake has an outlet, and so remain the depository for everything that flows into them. Their importance to the ecosystem, however, has in recent years led to conservation practices engineered for their protection.

Mark Twain, in his “Roughing it,” called Mono Lake “a lifeless, treeless desert … the loneliest place on earth.”

I think otherwise.

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