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 “Finding beauty in a broken world is creating beauty in the world we find.” – Terry Tempest Williams

Travels With Maggie

Yellow-headed blackbirds are common sights at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. -- Photo by Pat Beans

I first visited the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge east of the Great Salt Lake in Northern Utah in the 1970s. It was lush with vegetation and full of twittering birds.

Then came the early 1980s, when the lake reached a historical high and its briny waters took out roads, causeways and buried the refuge. It killed all the sanctuary’s green-growing plants and took out the visitor center as a warning of Mother Nature’s fickleness. .

It took a long time for the refuge to recharge itself, a period in which Terry Tempest Williams wrote “Refuge,” a book published in 1991 that was written when Williams’ mother was dying. The book weaves the landscape of the refuge and nature into a tangled web with the author’s struggle to come to grips with her own life. A very good read, in case you’re interested.

Another common refuge inhabitant is the snowy egret. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Since both the refuge and I existed at that time in the shadows of the Wasatch Mountains, the refuge drew me to it – often. I enjoyed its quiet sanctuary from the chaotic and stressful world of journalism, and also wrote about the refuge’s recovery for my newspaper readers.

I still vividly remember the first green-growing thing that returned. It was pickleweed, a salt loving plant that would help heal the soil for other plants. Those tiny nubs of green poking up seemed like a miracle.

Today, the refuge,is once again lush and a thriving habitat for birds and other wildlife. It’s there for anyone willing to endure a drive down a 10-mile, bumpy unpaved road from Interstate 15.

Maggie and I’ve driven the slow-going, rough miles several times in Gypsy Lee, who shakes, rattles and rolls over the bumpier spots. She’s used to such detours, however, and so far has not complained.

For those less passionate nature lovers, there is now a new Visitor’s Center just a few hundred yards off the freeway. It was built there instead of on the refuge proper just in case Mother Nature decided to get a wild hair again.

It’s really a nice center, with a created wetlands through which a boardwalk winds to give visitors a chance to see Mother Nature at her best. If you’re ever in Northern Utah, you might like to check it out. Perhaps you’d even like to take the 10-mile bumpy drive.

Bean’s Pat: Travel Photography: Most Unexpected Rainbow http://tinyurl.com/867pogm Have you ever seen a full rainbow? I haven’t. But this photographer did.

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