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Posts Tagged ‘Mother Nature’

Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help.” – May Sarton

Linn Cove Viaduct — Wikipedia photo

Adventures with Pepper: Days 35-36

One of the best things about the Blue Ridge Parkway is that it’s totally decommercialized, which means if you need gas you have to exit the parkway.

I found the rock walls along the parkway just as fascinating as the more spectacular autumn views at overlooks. — Photo by Pat Bean

I needed gas, and according to my maps, Linville, North Carolina was where I needed to get it. Right before I got there I crossed the Linn Cove Viaduct, a 1,243-foot bridge that snakes around Grandfather Mountain. It was completed in 1987 at a cost of $10 million and was the last section of the parkway to be finished.            As I was crossing it, I thought how nice it was for a change not to be going up and down ridges for a little bit. The thought turned out to be cause for laughter almost as soon as I got across the bridge. Linville was in the hollow at the bottom of the bridge crossing.

Some times Mother Nature makes words seem inadequate. — Photo by Pat Bean

So down I went, and then back up again to continue my slow, winding, uphill-downhill journey on the parkway.            I would spend the next five hours driving just about 100 miles. While the parkway speed is 35-45 mph, most of the time that’s way too fast for road conditions . And then of course there were the overlooks and Mother’s Nature’s wonders around every bend in the road that needed to be explored on foot.

I spent the night and all the next day at a small, but friendly, RV park just off the parkway in Ashville, North Carolina. It was a welcome break for all that uphill and downhill-ness, even if I had enjoyed every moment of it.

Book Report: Nada. Too busy with other projects. Somehow I’m going to have to push Travels with Maggie back up to the top of my priority list.

The Wondering Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat: A Silk Road Forest http://tinyurl.com/b82opv8 I thought this arm-chair travel blog was a nice contrast to the forests I was driving through.

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“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream Discover.” – Mark Twain.

A Safe Refuge is an Impossible Dream 

Yesterday’s sunrise here at Lake Walcott taken from my camp site. Smoke from Idaho’s wildfires has turned the sun quite red. — Photo by Pat Bean

I’ve been asked three times this morning if I’m safe from the wildfires that are currently ravaging Idaho. I am. Lake Walcott is an oasis surrounded by a very dry high desert.

But the fires are on everyone’s mind. The park’s flags flew at half-mast Saturday for the 20-year-old female firefighter who was killed by a falling tree while fighting a wildfire near Orofino.  And the news this morning was that the small town of Featherville, Idaho, which sits between the Boise and Sawtooth national forests, is being evacuated because a wildfire there is out of control.

I’ve watched a fire-fighting helicopter fill up its water bucket out of the lake here to fight some nearby fires started by lightning strikes, while firefighters turned the park’s boat dock area into a staging front for those earlier fires.

But so far, no wildfires have threatened the park. Lake Walcott has even attracted campers whose favorite camping spots elsewhere have burned or been evacuated.

The same sunrise a few minutes later. — Photo by Pat Bean

Meanwhile the morning sunrises and sunsets here at the lake have been red because of all the smoke in the air. I captured the two photos included here of yesterday’s sunrise.

As much as I love Mother Nature, I must say she is not playing nice right now. High temperatures and little moisture have left the landscapes a sitting target for lightning strikes. Idaho has been hit extremely hard, with over one million acres burned so far this year.

I long ago realized that safety is a fantasy. Hurricanes strike those who live next to the oceans, tornadoes strike those who live on the plains, avalanches strike those who live in the mountains, fires, earthquakes and evil humans can cause havoc everywhere. While it’s wise to take precautions to protect oneself from both nature and evil, it’s also foolish not to continue living life to the fullness of one’s dreams.

Book Report: Travels with Maggie, 36,372 words. Lot of editing and cutting here, so this is more impressive than it looks, since at last report I was up to 35,726 words. Besides which, I worked in the visitor kiosk here at Lake Walcott on Saturday and Sunday, and had very enjoyable company Saturday evening. The good news is that the rewrite of my travel book is still progressing.

Bean’s Pat: Turtles at Dawn http://tinyurl.com/cn34ftj Despite the fires, life goes on, and these tiny turtles headed out to sea cheer me.

This new illustration for Bean’s Pat is courtesy of Laura Hulka, who like me is a member of Story Circle Network, an organization of female writers which has enriched my life. Check it out at: www.storycircle.org Thank you Laura.

I encourage recipients of the Bean’s Pat to copy and paste it on their blogs. The Pat is this wondering wanderer’s choice for best blog of the day. I created it to play it back for the awards readers have given me.

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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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 “Man’s heart away from nature becomes hard.” – Standing Bear

One Last Vista for the Road

The Grand Canyon vista from Desert View — Photo by Pat Bean

The distance between the Grand Canyon’s south entrance, where I entered the park, and its east entrance, where I exited, is only about 30 miles. It took me about five hours to make the journey.

It’s so easy to drink in the Grand Canyon’s vista that sometimes we forget to look at the smaller parts that make up the whole. I try not to forget. — Photo by Pat Bean

Five hours of magic when I left all the worries of the world behind and simply let myself enjoy the wonders of nature’s artistic hand. What a grand canvas she has created.

I don’t know how people exist in today’s chaotic world without visiting Mother Nature’s museums often.

It seems, however, that I’m merely echoing the thoughts of another writer who felt the same way during an era that to me seems far less hectic than today’s world.

Wrote Hamlin Garland in 1899: “I remember a hundred lovely lakes, and recall the fragrant breath of pine and fir and cedar and poplar trees. The trail has strung upon it, as upon a thread of silk, opalescent dawns and saffron sunsets. It has given me blessed release from care and worry and the troubled thinking of our modern day. It has been a return to the primitive and the peaceful. Whenever the pressure of our complex city life thins my blood and benumbs my brain, I seek relief in the trail; and when I hear the coyote wailing to the yellow dawn, my cares fall from me – I am happy.”

Bean’s Pat: Kristen Lamb’s Blog http://tinyurl.com/cvto554 How to become a stronger writer. Good advice for serious writers. 

*This pat-on-the-back recognition is merely this wandering/wondering old broad’s way of bringing attention to a blog I enjoyed – and thought perhaps my readers might, too. June 11, patbean.wordpress.com

 

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“Wilderness begins in the human mind.” Edward Abbey

The Poteau River

Letting the worries about tomorrow and finding help for my ailing RV, Gypsy Lee,go, I watched as a great egret fished for its dinner on the opposite bank of the Poteau River. -- Photo by Pat Bean

It was late evening when I arrived at Lake Wister State Park, a place of refuge for the night while I pondered my first on-the-road crisis in my RV, Gypsy Lee.

I watched the sun as it sank beneath the horizon and allowed it and the river to soothe my soul. I felt grateful just to be alive. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The crisis turned out to be simply a need for new brake pads. The pads, however, had to be specially ordered, which gave me three days to enjoy the park.

The first night, a Sunday when all the places that could service my RV were closed, began as a tense one at the park, where I had parked below the dam beside the Poteau River.

A walk along the river with my canine traveling companion just as the sun was bidding a good-night to all on this side of the world with a pink glowing sky, massaged away the tension in my body.

Mother Nature has a way of doing that to me. Despite my RV woes, it’s a night that I remember fondly.

Bean’s Pat: Mike’s Look at Life http://m5son.wordpress.com A gentle landscape and thoughtful blog that lets me see the world through fresh eyes.

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“The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are. Take one step. Do one thing. Move, even if you don’t feel like it.” Katherine Misegades

Gypsy Lee parked among the cacti at Pancho Villa State Park in New Mexico

Travels With Maggie

I’m going into my eighth year of full-time living and traveling in Gypsy Lee, my 22-foot RV that I bought in 2004 when I retired and sold my home.

My rootless life has allowed me to get to better know my five grown children, who scattered far and wide when they left home, including Japan, Korea, Canada, Egypt and Hawaii. There’s no question in my mind but that they inherited my want-to-see-the-world gene.

Jobs and financial realities meant we saw little of each other before I became rootless and could visit them, although not too long at any one place so as not to wear out my welcome. I mostly spend winters in Texas, where three of my children and nine grandchildren live. Summer, however, finds me heading north to both escape the heat and for a little bit of solitude, which I’ve discovered I need as much as I need people.

Curved-bill thrashers were plentiful at the park. -- Wikipedia photo

One of the other things I’ve come to appreciate most about my rootless lifestyle the past seven years has been the changing, always scenic and educational view out my RV window. I’ve found something awesome everywhere I’ve traveled, even in a crowded, cement-landscaped RV park in El Paso that was located right next to Highway 10’s whizzing traffic roar.

This campground was the first place I stayed in which I thought there was no hope to feel nature’s presence. But then I looked out my window and saw a family of Gambel’s quail parading past. It felt like Mother Nature had turned into Santa Claus and could find me anywhere I went.

My traveling companion, Maggie, and I spent the next night 85 miles west of El Paso at New Mexico’s Pancho Villa State Park, where Mother Nature’s presence was expected. She did not disappoint either Maggie, who had lizards to chase, or me, who had birds to watch.

Quail, thrashers, red-winged blackbirds and doves twitted about the park’s historical ruins and large blooming cacti.

And before I left the next morning, I had also made a new friend, another wandering/wondering old broad like myself; had learned that the park was located where Gen. Black Jack Pershing had launched 10,000 soldiers to chase insurgent Pancho Villa back to Mexico; and had glimpsed a bobcat lurking under a picnic table.

I wonder what the sights will be out the RV window as Maggie and I continue into our eighth year of rootlessness? Wouldn’t you?

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My blogging friend, Kathy (To Write Is To Write, http://tinyurl.com/6v75bjp ) wrote about her favorite Christmas song today, and inspired me to do the same.

I’m not a religious person, finding my higher power in Mother Nature’s world. I believe, if there is a god, we can find him or her within ourselves. And so despite the chaos we see in this world today, I do believe there’s hope for better, more peaceful days.

It’s just that I think that we have to do the work ourselves to make it so.

And so my favorite Christmas carol is “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Days.” The song is based on a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow that was written on Christmas Day in 1864. His inspiration was a son, who was a Union Civil War soldier.

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Till ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”


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 Travels With Maggie

 

Rain drops keep falling outside my RV -- Photo by Pat Bean

“May you live all the days of your life.” Jonathan Swift

I awoke in Austin this morning, where my RV is parked outside the home of my granddaughter, Lindsey. It rained most of the night, and is still dripping. It’s an intermittent lazy kind of rain in which the sky stops to breath every few minutes.

There’s no loud pinging on my RV roof as in a storm, just a gentle tittering, like Mother Nature is quietly giggling, trying to suppress her delight in watering her Texas gardens. It reminds me of the quiet tittering I did yesterday evening as I sat beside my 2 ½ year-old great-grandson at a local restaurant where I had taken him and my granddaughter out for dinner.

 

Maggie asleep on the couch as rain falls outside in early dawn. -- Photo by Pat Bean

His mother, of course, was worried about his enthusiastic behavior, but I delighted in it.

“Shush,” I told her. “Remember how I used to get you in a headlock when you got a bit rambunctious as a kid. Nana can handle it.” And I did.

As I lay in my RV over-the-cab bed this morning, listening to the rain , I once again realized how blessed I am. It simply feels good to be alive. Maggie, of course, was still sleeping.

I’ll leave Austin for Lake Jackson soon, and. Mother Nature seems intent on letting the rain accompany me. I hope she keeps the rain to a gentle titter instead of letting it become as rambunctious as a 2-year-old.

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 “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.

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A starling chick getting its first look at the world. -- Photo by Pat Bean

“Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.” — Guillaume Apollinaire.

Travels With Maggie

I seldom get in funk, but that’s what I found myself in this past week. I’m not sure it was just my computer problems either. Thankfully Mother Nature stuck around to hold my hand and point out how precious every minute of life really is.

A pair of European starlings have been nesting in the self-pay kiosk here in the campground at Lake Walcott State Park. For weeks I’ve been watching as they disappear and reappear from a hole in the back of the small structure.

Yesterday morning I was rewarded with the end result of all the starlings’ hard work. I watched as a chick emerged from the hole for a look at the outside world. It sat on the rim of the hole looking amazed, and totally unafraid of the strange new sights.

It made me recall all the birds I saw in the Galapagos Islands that hadn’t yet, and hopefully never, been given reason to fear humans. I had a Galapagos mockingbird actually land on my shoe, and a blue-footed booby that refused to move off a trail to let me pass. I was the one who had to go around.

Later, when Maggie and I took our daily circuit around the park, Mother Nature continued to share her wonders with me.

Mother Nature is generous with her gifts here at Lake Walcott State Park. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The huge willow trees that were leafless when I first arrived in May are now bursting with lush green leaves that dip down to the ground. The frosty green Russian olive trees add texture to the park’s lively green landscape, while the flowering trees give it color.

Honking geese, giggles coming off rushing rapids on the Snake River that feeds the lake, screeching killdeer, rustling tree branches and cheery robins provide the musical background.

It’s as if Mother Nature is laughing at my funk and telling me to get over it. I heeded her advice.

 

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