Posts Tagged ‘rivers’

Looking down at the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.-- Photo by Pat Bean

Looking down at the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.– Photo by Pat Bean

“The river is another world, which means that one’s senses and reflexes must begin to live another life.” – Wendell Barry

Texas Flooding got me Thinking

I grew up near the Trinity River in Dallas, which has been overflowing its banks the past few days. It was the first river in my life. The current flooding made me remember when I was a kid, sitting in the backseat  our car looking out the window, as we drove over a huge viaduct with just a skinny stream surrounded by huge patches of dry land beneath us.

The Virgin River in Zion National Park. I remember when this river tore out the Zion Canyon Road after a heavy rain. The time is fondly remembered as the camping trip from hell. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The Virgin River in Zion National Park. I remember when this river tore out the Zion Canyon Road after a heavy rain. The time is fondly remembered as the camping trip from hell. — Photo by Pat Bean

I wondered, back then, why the bridge was so long and high. And then the rains came, and I understood the necessity of the bridge and the vacant land, which had suddenly become part of the river.

The Trinity River was the reason John Neely Bryan decided to establish the settlement, which would become Dallas. He thought the site would be a great place for a great port, but he was wrong. The Trinity River’s ebbs and flows were too fickle to allow reliable navigation. But if you knew where to go, one could find a cool, quiet place to swim on a hot summer day back in the 1940s and early ‘50s — when I was a kid.

The next river in my life was the Brazos. I met it when I lived on the Texas Gulf Coast for 15 years during the late 1950s, all of the’ 60s and the early ‘70s. I swam in it, fished in it, caught crabs in it, sat beside it and canoed it. It was also the river in which I saw my first water moccasin and first alligator.

The waters of these two Texas rivers were usually brown and muddy, which is why I was so surprised at the next two streams that became a part of my life, Utah’s Logan and Ogden rivers. Bubbling down from mountain springs fed by snow melt, these smaller rivers were cold and clear as a crystal glass. They gurgled and sang as they made their way downstream.

Nothing gave me more pleasure than finding a hiking trail that ran beside them, or the joy of tubing a stretch of these rivers through a narrow canyon

The Snake River below Jackson, Wyoming. Photo by Pat Bean

The Snake River below Jackson, Wyoming. Photo by Pat Bean

It wasn’t until 1983, however, when I became acquainted with the river that would turn me into a passionate white-water rafter. For the next 20 years, after that first introduction to a six-mile stretch of the Snake between Hagerman and Bliss, every summer would find me floating the Snake (an annual trip below Jackson, Wyoming), and other rivers as well.

I’ve rafted through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River twice, paddled the River of No Return (the Salmon), taken a wild ride down the South Fork of the Payette, and captained a raft down the Green River through Dinosaur National Park.

I feel as if these rivers are a part of who I am. They have made me stronger because I’ve challenged them, humbled because I’ve tasted their power and been lucky to escape alive, and thoughtful about their tenacity to keep rolling on, wearing down obstacles through eons of time in their effort to reach the sea and start the process all over again.


Bean Pat: The Outer Banks after a storm http://tinyurl.com/k37fyjd



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 Weekly photo challenge: Down

“To trace the history of a river or a raindrop…is also to trace the history of the soul, the history of the mind descending and arising in the body. In both, we constantly seek and stumble upon divinity, which like feeding the lake, and the spring becoming a waterfall, feeds, spills, falls, and feeds itself all over again.” – – From Islands, The Universe, Home, 1991 Gretel Ehrlich

Headed DOWN the Snake -- Photo by Pat Bean

Down River

White water rafting was how I got my adrenalin rush for 20 years. These days I’m mostly content to sit by a river and watch it flow past on its way to the sea.

Or take a gently canoe ride down a flat section of river and watch the scenery float by.

I like rivers. I live to hear their music, from the tinkling,, bubbling lullaby of a small mountain stream to the the bass roar of the rivers, like the Snake and Colorado, just before you come upon a man-eating white-water rapid. 

Hey! Who stole the boat? -- Photo by Pat Bean


“THE River,” corrected the Rat.

“And you really live by the river? What a jolly life!”

“By it and with it and on it and in it,” said the Rat. “It’s brother and sister to me, and aunts, and company, and food and drink, and (naturally) washing. It’s my world, and I don’t want any other. What it hasn’t got is not worth having, and what it doesn’t know is not worth knowing. Lord! The times we’ve had together…”  –– From the Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahme


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“In rivers, the water that you touch is the last of what has passed and the first of that which comes; so with present time.” Leonardo da Vinci


All cares drop away when I hike Zion National Park's Gateway to the Narrows trail, an easy 2-mile out -and-back roundtrip that parallels the Virgin River. -- Photo by Pat Bean


“Rivers know this: There is no hurry. We shall get there some day.” Winnie the Pooh.

Bean’s Pat: Philosopher of the Mouse Hedge: http://tinyurl.com/6mfskt4 Belly laughs and smiles. Especially if you click on the Carman Miranda link at the end. Remember her –  and her energy. I smiled all the way through the clip.

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I can drool over maps for hours in anticipation of an upcoming journey. This is the route I chose for today's drive. I always right up a cheat sheet for my dashboard that includes right and left-turn directions.

 “… On the road again/ Going places that I’ve never been/ Seein’ thing that I may never see again/ And I can’t wait to get on the road again.” — Willie Nelson

 Travels With Maggie

 Willie Nelson and I share this love of being “on the road again.” And today I get to indulge myself. I’ve been up since before dawn, drinking coffee and reviewing the route I will take from my daughter’s home in Camden, Arkansas, to a son’s home in Lake Jackson, Texas.

 My dog, Maggie, is as eager as I am. She started getting excited as soon as I began packing things snugly away in the RV.

The journey is 427 miles long and I’ll be making it in one run, which means most of my sight-seeing will take place from behind the wheel. If it were spring, and I was truly on the road again and not just hiding out the winter catching up with family, it would probably take me two weeks to go this far.

To speed the time along, I’ll probably be listening to my audible copy of Ken Follett’s “Fall of Giants” along the way. But certainly not during the sections of road that will be new to me.

Mike Nomilini captured this picture of the bridge in Coushatta that crosses the Red River at sunset. While I'll be crossing the river today, it's going to be well before noon so my view will be much different.

 I added 15 miles to the shortest route  so I would pass through a few places I’ve never been before. Coushatta, Louisiana, for one. The Red River passes through this rural town. And I’ll be crossing over it on a 900-ton bridge that was  built in 1989 — not crossing it on horseback as John Wayne did in the 1948 film, “Red River.” 

 It was many years ago when I saw the film, but I still remember it.

There’s something in me that also loves river crossings. While the Red River might not compare to the thrill I had crossing the Yukon on a ferry in 1999, I’m still looking forward to it.

 Did I tell you, “I just can’t wait to get on the road again.”

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  “Sometimes if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slow away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known.” — Winnie the Pooh


The bridge across the Rio Grande Gorge near Taos, New Mexico. The river 1,500 feet below is near the beginning of a nearly 2,000 mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico. -- Photo by Pat Bean


Travels With Maggie


Rio Grande Gorge State Park

Just a few miles past Taos, which I drove through without stopping, I came upon Rio Grande Gorge State Park. Here I did call a brief stop to my travels. I mean who can resist at least a peak at a 1,500-foot deep gorge – and a river that one knows is near the start of an almost 2,000 mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico.

As I looked down at the river from the park’s high, fenced overlook, I thought about a day at Big Bend State Park in Texas when a grandson and I had waded in its shallow warm waters and stared across it at Mexico. Most of the clear rushing water I was looking at below would never make it that far. Human development sometimes reduces the flow reaching the gulf to merely a trickle. Gypsy Lee settled in for the night in Clayton, New Mexico. Photo by Pat Bean

Soon, I was back on the road. I still had 150 more miles to drive before I could stop for the night. I seldom have such a long driving day, but on this trip I was facing a deadline to be in Arkansas to babysit three grandsons for a week – and I only had three more days to get there. 

I spent the night in Clayton, New Mexico, a small town where one has to drive 89 miles to the nearest Walmart, or so the desk clerk told me when she checked me in at the only RV park for miles around.

The town, a former livestock shipping center, sits along the old Cimarron Cutoff of the Santa Fe Trail. I had passed through Cimarron earlier in the day and had been seeing historic roadsigns since then telling me I was following the old cattle trail.

The Clayton KOA was a quiet, clean place with a run-down miniature golf course and dinosaur creations that had seen better days. I watched a croaking murder of crows fly past in search of a roosting spot as we took our evening stroll. Maggie sniffed around at the feet of the dilapidated dinosaurs, which advertised nearby Clayton Lake State Park where tracks of these prehistoric beasts attract passing tourists.


Statues showing their age advertise to visitors that dinosaurs once roamed the area. -- Photo by Pat Bean


Perhaps next time I pass through the area I wouldn’t be on a deadline and could do my own investigation of them. Dr. Seuss’ words: “Oh the places you’ll go, and the things you’ll see,” then flowed through my brain for the umpteenth time. I sighed – and added: “Too many places, too little time.”

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And the Fish

The owl

“He who postpones the hour of living is like the rustic who waits for the river to run out before he crosses.” — Horace

Travel’s With Maggie

Today’s drive took me from Southern Utah’s red-rock high desert to Colorado’s San Juan National Forest. I spent the night at an RV park just outside of Pagosa Springs parked next to the Blanco River. It doesn’t get much better than this, I thought.

The Blanco River as seen from my RV window. -- Photo by Pat Bean


Our early September afternoon arrival left plenty of time for Maggie and I to take a hike along the river bank and among the wildflowers. Maggie kept her nose to the ground in search of exotic smells to follow, while I looked to the sky. A circling red-tailed hawk overhead drew my attention, as did a couple of chattering magpies in a nearby cottonwood tree.

I pity the poor person whose heart doesn’t skip a beat at the sight of this hawk’s red tail spread wide and flashing in the sunlight. On the other hand, I think some people pity my love for the playful but loud, long-tailed magpies they consider nuisance birds. Being a Texan not known for her quiet ways, I always feel these birds and I share a connection.

This would be the fourth time I had stayed at this Blanco River RV Park off Highway 84. It’s a welcome and convenient spot for campers traveling between Utah and Texas, a trip I’ve made annually since becoming a full-time RV-er. Each visit here has left me enchanted with both the setting and the little touches the campground owners have made to make the place special.

Modern day rock art -- Photo by Pat Bean

 I consider the rocks someone has painted and scattered about the park as fascinating as I find the pictographs and petroglyphs of earlier cultures.

 As I watched the sun disappear at the end of the day, a feeling of contentment oozed from my  pores. I realized I didn’t miss at all the fact that I had no phone, internet or television connections. Tomorrow would be soon enough to hook back up to the world.

Soon after, Maggie and I crawled into bed and went to sleep to the music of the river rippling over rocks.

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Looking down the Columbia River at the Vantage Bridge and across it at Washington's Ginko Petrified Forest State Park. -- Photo by Pat Bean

“Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known.” — Winnie the Pooh

Travels With Maggie

The mighty, 1,243-mile long Columbia River, begins in the Rocky Mountains of Canada, flows south through Spokane and then forms much of the border between Washington and Oregon on its way west to the Pacific Ocean. Maggie and I crossed it twice in the same week as we traveled to Mount Ranier and then down to Southern Idaho. Both times left me awed.

 The first crossing was on Highway 90’s Vantage Bridge, an impressive structure with overhead steel girders, the kind that always sets off a rare barking episode from Maggie. Passing motorcycles are about the only other thing she barks at during our road journeys.

Once across, the highway climbed steeply through a section of Ginko Petrified Forest State Park. From an

Turbine windmills, part of Washington's Wild Horse energy project, sit atop the Columbia River Gorge near the Vantage Bridge crossing. -- Photo by Pat Bean

 informational plaque at an overlook just east of the crossing, I had learned that the park, in addition to Ginko, the sacred tree of China now almost extinct in the wild, includes over 200 other kinds of woods preserved by million year old lava flows.

 I stopped at the top of the gorge at the Ryegrass Rest Area, where I got a hazy view of Mount Ranier, and a look at huge turbine windmills that take advantage of the winds created by the river gorge. During an earlier trip, when I followed the Columbia River Gorge’s path all the way through Washington, I stopped at Maryhill State Park, where I watched windsufers also take advantage of this same wind source. Mother Nature is so kind to us.

My second crossing of the river on this trip was over Highway 82’s Umatilla Bridge. Before crossing, I stopped briefly at Plymouth Park on the north side of the river, where I ate my lunch and watched robins and house sparrows stroll past, ever searching for a tasty treat of bugs, seeds or picnicker leftovers.

Lewis and Clark camped near this park, which is named after Plymouth Rock because of the huge basaltic rock that projects into the river at the site. The pair of explorers most likely saw robins in the area, but house sparrows hadn’t yet been brough over from England to America.

Joining my thoughts revisiting the Lewis and Clark expedition were one about the first white settlers who passed this

Highway 82 historical kiosk reminding travelers they are following the Oregon Trail route. -- Photo by Pat Bean

 way.   I was now seeing frequent signs reminding me that the smoothly paved road I was driving down was once little more than wagon ruts, and not even that for the first brave settlers heading west. My route across the Columbia River to Pendleton, Oregon, and continuing south was basically once known as the Oregon Trail.\

The pioneers’ crossing of the Columbia River would have taken much longer than mine and Maggie’s. How could one not be awed by the adventures of those hearty souls. Or by the Columbia River itself, I asked Maggie as I crossed the river on the Umatilla Bridge. There was no reply. Maggie was snoozing.

With no traffic in sight, I slowed my speed to better enjoy the river view.

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