Posts Tagged ‘Queen Wilhelmina State Park’

 “A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” Lao Tzu

Best Cheeseburger of My Life

One of the park’s trails let to this vista overlooking a sea of green. It was called the Lover’s Leap viewpoint, the first of three so named vistas I would encounter during this journey. — Photo by Pat Bean

My canine traveling companion, Maggie, and I had barely started our journey, like it was the second day out, when we stopped for four days at Queen Wilhelmina State Park. Located on a ridge high in Arkansas’ Ouachita Mountains, the park was named after Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands in hopes that she would visit.

The four days I stayed here still float pleasantly through my head. In addition to the beautiful scenery, I had the best cheeseburger of my life as I sat in the park’s high vista lodge, looking out a huge picture window at dark clouds moving in.

Crimson hollyhocks brightened another of the park’s trails. — Photo by Pat Bean

There’s something in me that loves a storm. I was glad, however, that I made it back to the coziness of my RV, with my last bite of cheeseburger wrapped in a napkin for Maggie, before the downpour began.

Queen Wilhelmina didn’t know what she had missed.

Book Report. Today’s one of my twice monthly trips from Lake Walcott into town to stock up on supplies and do laundry. But knowing that I had committed to making a book report of my travel book progress kept me on track. “Travels With Maggie” grew by 1,750 words this morning, bringing its rewritten total to 25,261. Thanks y’all for being here for me.

Bean’s Pat: Gypsy Mama http://tinyurl.com/bwbb8og Ordinary days. I think they’re great, too. The wondering wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

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Thomas Young together with Snow, his gyrfalcon/peregrine hybrid bird. Both were 37 years old in 2006 when I took this photo.

 “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” – Mahatma Gandhi

One Man’s Love of Animals

Togetherness: Sheena may be a cougar but she acts as if she's right where she belongs. -- Photo by Pat Bean

During my 2006 wanderings, I came across Queen Wilhelmina State Park near Mena. Arkansas. One of its attractions at that time was a small zoo and wildlife sanctuary operated by Thomas Young, a wildlife rehabilitator.

The zoo animals included a bear, a timber wolf cub, orphaned fawns, bobcats, wild turkeys, hawks, owls, raccoons – and a cougar named Sheena. Almost all of them had been injured at some point in time.

The side of a small unpainted wooden building on the property told the real story of this place. Large white lettering boldly announced that 12 bears, 5,000 hawks, 2,000 owls, 22 bald eagles, 18 golden eagles and thousands of small mammals had been released back into the wild by Young. The $4 entry fee to the zoo helped cover his expenses.

It was while I was questioning Paul, a volunteer and apprentice falconer working with Young, that I saw Tom for the first time.

Paul pointed him out to me as the long-haired man who had just appeared with a turkey neck in his hand to feed a wild turkey vulture that had just landed in the park.

As I watched the scene from about 30 feet away, the volunteer told me the vulture was a bird Tom had rehabilitated. Later Tom told me it was actually the parent of the rescued bird. He said it was the first time this particularly vulture had fed from his hand.

I was more amazed that he could tell the difference between two vultures than that a large, society-designated-ugly, wild bird had fed from his hand. .

“For some reason it’s come to trust me,” Tom said of his vulture friend. “A while back it brought its young here for me to babysit while it flew off on some business for about three hours.”

The volunteer had already told me this story in more detail but I was still fascinated with Tom’s less wordy rerun along with a sparse sketch of his life.

This man was a doer not a talker.

Tom said the park’s lofty location in the Ouachita Mountains made it ideal for releasing rehabilitated birds back to the wild. I was privileged to see one such release the next day, an awesome red-shouldered hawk that Tom released from the overlook just beyond the park’s lodge.

The bird simply fall off the edge of the mountain and glided away, one of the most beautiful sights any birder could ever hope to see.

Bean’s Pat: A Traveler’s Tale http://tinyurl.com/brbfpsh Take an armchair tour of a Papua, New Guinea, village.

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 “Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out.” — James Bryant Conant

These two turtles claimed a pond at Queen Wilhelmina State Park in Arkansas as home. -- Photo by Pat Bean

 Travels With Maggie

 My youngest daughter collects turtles. I gave her one made out of St. Helen’s ash for Christmas that I picked up last July when I visited the volcano. I’ve also given her carved wooden turtles bought during my Africa and Galapagos Island trips a few years back.

 Finding turtle replicas as I travel is not hard. You can find them in any souvenir store and being hawked by local, enterprising street venders. I guess my daughter isn’t the only turtle collector out there.

Having something to collect is part of the fun of traveling. In my earlier days, after realizing I didn’t want a lot of dust collectors around my home, I started a collection of Christmas ornaments. I reasoned I could get them out once a year, enjoy the memories they brought to mind, and then put them away.

 When my home became a 22-foot RV, I passed the collection down to my daughter. It was a good choice because I still get to recall my past travels when I spend Christmas with her. 

These two turtle made their home beside the Anhinga Trail in Florida's Everglades. -- Photo by Pat Bean

 Today I collect books and pictures as my souvenirs. The books I give away after I’ve read, and the pictures I keep stored on my computer. A recent perusal of these photos made me realize, in my own way, that I was a collector of turtles, too.

There’s something about the composition of light on water and turtles on a log or rock that prompts me to reach for my camera. I’ve got pictures of the sea turtle I swam with in the Caribbean, pictures of giant tortoises, the land version of the turtle, taken on Isabelle Island in the Pacific Ocean, and numerous pictures of turtles taken all across America.

So what’s your favorite souvenir to bring home from your travels?

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