Posts Tagged ‘Oklahoma’

A great egret fishing the Poteau River below the Lake Wister Dam near Poteau, Oklahoma. — Photo by Pat Bean

Come Fairies, take me out of this dull world, for I would ride with you upon the wind and dance upon the mountains like a flame!” – William Butler Yeats  

Making a Mountain out of a Hill 

           For the nine years in which my home was on the road in a small RV with my canine companion, Maggie, I called myself a wondering-wanderer. It’s because as I drove across North America, through its golden fields of grain and mind-boggling redwood forests, and often went to sleep beside a gurgling body of water, my mind was always asking questions.

Cavanal: World’s Tallest Hill in Poteau, Oklahoma

A week spent at Lake Wister State Park near Poteau, Oklahoma, got me thinking about the difference between a mountain and a hill. That’s because Poteau’s Chamber of Commerce promotes the city as home of the world’s tallest hill, but that hill is officially called Cavanal Mountain.

What I easily learned, from bit of geological research, is that a landscape feature is a mountain if it is 2,000 feet or taller, and a hill if it is less than 2,000 feet tall. Cavanal Mountain is 1,999-feet tall.

The road up to the top of Cavanal Mountain.

Once I put my wondering mind at ease, I was able to enjoy my stay on the park’s tiny Quarry Island, which was accessed by a short bridge.

I awoke each morning to the sound of a chipper mockingbird greeting the day from the top of the picnic table outside my window. Lake Wister, created when a dam on the Poteau River was completed in 1949, also greeted me every morning. It was visible out both my front and rear windows as Quarry Island was quite narrow.

Maggie and I took frequent walks around the island. It was a great week in which my wondering mind did a lot of wandering.

Bean Pat: Deep in my Bones http://tinyurl.com/yayrrvgf A lot to howl about. This reminds me of the night I howled with the wolves, which I write about in Travels with Maggie.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is soon to be released. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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“Joy in looking and comprehending is nature’s most beautiful gift.” – Albert Einstein

A male Baltimore oriole. — Wikimedia photo

My 477th Bird

Back in 2006, when I was still a full-time RV-er traveling across America, I found myself camped beside Grand Lake o’ the Cherokees at Bernice State Park in Oklahoma. On my second day there, I was up by 6 a.m., and after a quick cup of cream-laced coffee and a short walk with my canine traveling companion Maggie, I took off alone to explore the park’s nature trail. It was summer-hot and humid, and Maggie had seemed quite agreeable to be left behind to sit in her favorite perch in front of the air conditioner.

View of Grand Lake that I had through the window of my RV at Bernice State Park in Oklahoma. — Photo by Pat Bean

Several bird feeders set out near the trailhead were bustling with Carolina chickadees and American goldfinches, and as I watched, a nearby downy, North America’s most common and smallest woodpecker, drummed its own attention-getting beat. It was going to be a good day, I decided.

As I continued on down the path, I took plenty of time to breathe in the simple beauty around me: a yellow patch of wall flowers, the artistic composition of a small dead tree reclaimed by vines, and an occasional peek of a glistening, sun-speckled lake through thick foliage

I’ve often wondered how people who don’t take nature breaks stay sane in today’s fast-paced world? I suspect that the angry psychopaths who do evil and harm are among the deprived.

My thoughts were interrupted when a doe and her freckled fawn came into sight around a curve in the path. I froze, as did the two deer. We all stared intently. When I finally took a step forward, mom stepped into the woods. Her baby gave me one last look of interest then quickly followed. It amazes me how fast wildlife can disappear from sight.

A male Bullock’s oriole — Wikimedia photo

My thoughts were still on the deer when a flash of orange drew my attention. With eyes glued to my binoculars, I followed the color through the tree branches, and realized I was most likely looking at a Baltimore oriole. While common in the East, these orioles don’t visit the West, where I had lived when I took up birdwatching.

Out West, the Baltimore’s look-alike cousin is the Bullock oriole. I had seen hundreds of Bullocks, but this was my first Baltimore. It was what we birders call a lifer. While I rejoiced, I lamented the too brief view I had before the bird disappeared amongst the trees. I had identified the bird more because of its color and location than because of specific field marks.

Later in the day, as I was sitting at my table writing, the omission was rectified. A Baltimore oriole flew right outside my RV window, and then lingered in the area. It was a breeding male with a black head atop a bright orange body that had thin white streaks on black wings. A Bullock wears only a black cap atop its head and its black wings have prominent white patches on them.

After the oriole flew away, I got out my world bird list and added the Baltimore oriole to it. It was bird 477. I had been hesitant to put it on the list earlier because of the poor sighting. Life is good, I thought, as I added the date and place of its sighting beside the bird’s name.

As I had suspected, it turned out to be a very good day.

Bean Pat: Houston Art Car Parade http://tinyurl.com/mqug4ef For people watchers, too. As a writer, these photos are good examples of interesting characters.

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 “The point is that when I see a sunset or a waterfall or something, for a split second it’s so great, because for a little bit I’m out of my brain, and it’s got nothing to do with me. I’m not trying to figure it out, you know what I mean? And I wonder if I can somehow find a way to maintain that mind stillness.” – Chris Evans

And Lots of Birds and Scenic Trails

A walk among the tree branches at Natural Falls State Park in Oklahoma. — Photo by Pat Bean

Natural Falls State Park had it all, a waterfall, scenic trails and lots of birds. And I wasn’t the only one who thought so.

Producers of the heart-warming, “Where the Red Fern Grows,” based on the book of the same name by Wilson Rawls, used the park as a setting for the movie.

Natural Falls was my fourth stopping place on the six-month journey I’m detailing in “Travels With Maggie.”

My favorite hike while there meandered around a small lake and through the woods to a view of the park’s 77-foot namesake. At one point along the trail, a wooden footbridge took me up to tree branch level, where I paused awhile to listen to birds.

77-foot tall Natural Falls. — Photo by Pat Bean

By tracking the melody, I located a  northern cardinal and then a song sparrow that sang a duet from the same tree.

Nearby a yellow-rumped warbler, or butter-butt as birders call it, added its drum-beat chirp to the chorus. I identified it when it flashed its yellow rump at me.

Of course I lingered at the park for a couple of days. How does one leave such perfectness too quickly?

Book Report: Murphy’s haunting me. I spilled coffee on my computer yesterday, which is why I didn’t post. I had written my post and had added about 500 words to my book, Travels With Maggie, before the catastrophe hit, and I had to make a 100-mile round-trip to Best Buy in Twin Falls, Idaho. The fix is only temporary until I get the new keyboard in I ordered, and I’m still dealing with delaying quirks. I’ve been saying the S word a lot. Dookie computers. Can’t live without them, at least I can’t, and it’s hard as hell to live with them. The silver lining, which I always look for and usually find, is that I didn’t lose anything. I keep promising myself I’m going to back up, and I keep not backing up.

Bean’s Pat: http://tinyurl.com/cflc44d The deadly results of playing the comparison game. The wondering wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

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 My Favorite Places: Natural Falls


I never pass a waterfall by without snapping a photo. This one is Natural Falls in Oklahoma. -- Photo by Pat Bean


“On plenty of days the writer can write three or four pages, and on plenty of other days he concludes he must throw them away.” – Annie Dillard

NaNoWriMo Update … 34,559

I spent an hour this morning sharpening pencils. That’s what I call doing things like reading e-mails, thinking about what’s for dinner, ordering books from Amazon, reading blogs in search of inspiration, and staring out the window at birds to prolong the moment when I had to look at the blank space on the page where I left off writing the day before.

While I tried to kid myself I was thinking about the writing, I knew that the next line on the page was not going to come together until I faced the computer screen with my fingers on the keyboard. Me, who collects quotes about writing, finds it interesting how many of them are no longer applicable in a literal sense because they refer to pen and paper.

Up until now, my writing has been focused on keeping things going. Now I need to tie up all the loose ends and try to create a conclusion. It’s giving me writer’s block. Aaaagggghhhh!

Perhaps I should follow Babs Hoffman’s advice. “Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey.”

Her words refer to travel, but seems appropriate for NaNoWriMo as well. I read them this morning as I was ditzing around not writing. I found the quote on Marina Chetner’s Nov. 11 blog, “When a Bolt of Inspiration is Required.”  Thanks Marina.

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Natural Falls -- Photo by Pat Bean


Travels With Maggie

“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

Natural Falls State Park

The 1974 movie version of “Where the Red Fern Grows,” the story of the love between a boy and his dogs, was shot here where this 77-foot waterfall flows year-round. Trails take you both above and below this scenic Ozarks’ spot, which is located near where Cherokees were forcibly marched during the infamous Trail of  Tears in the 1830s.

I viewed it on a hot late spring day and relished the coolness that radiated from its flow.

The park is located off Highway 412,  six miles west of Siloam Springs, and has excellent full hook-up sites for RVs. If you can, plan to stay awhile.  



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