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Posts Tagged ‘road trip’

“Not all those who wander are lost.” — J. R. R. Tolkien

I wonder if this crow is heading the right way — or is as turned around as I was. — Photo by Pat Bean

Turned Around

            The 200-mile road trip from Dallas to Austin to attend my fifth Stories from the Heart writing conference — which was the reason for my making my annual trip to Texas in July instead of a more pleasant month, like April when the bluebonnets are in bloom – took me once again on a familiar route.

No bluebonnets in Texas in July. But if you go in April, you might be able to catch them. — Photo by Pat Bean

I picked up Interstate 35 on the outskirts of Dallas and followed it south all the way to Austin. It was a familiar drive with little chance for me to get off track, since even the Wyndham Garden Hotel that was my destination, was located beside I-35. But I put the address into my GPS anyway.

Using the GPS is a recently new habit since I didn’t own one when I traveled full-time exploring this country between 2004 and 2013. My youngest daughter, however, gave me one for Christmas in 2015. And I’ve grown addicted to it, although I do still study actual maps before taking off down the road.

On the far side of Waco, I needed to make a restroom stop, and when I saw a Buc-ee’s sign ahead, I took the next exit – and ended up in a tangle of construction that required a U-turn to get where I was going. Then I took the wrong exit and found myself repeating the U-turn maneuver to get to where I wanted to go.

Instead of Buc-ee’s however, it was another gas and convenience store where I stopped because it was closer – and the need to use the restroom, a bonus of being an old broad, was making me more and more uncomfortable.

Once my business was taken care of, I filled my little car up with gas and took off back down the road, which required about two miles of dodging construction before I finally got back on I-35. I had gone about a mile down the road when I passed a highway marker that read North 35.

Sh-ee-it!  I’m not sure how it happened but I was heading the wrong way. It was another four miles before there was an exit that allowed me to make yet another U-turn and get headed south again.

At times like this – and I have them often since my sense of direction ranks in the minus category even with a GPS – the only thing to do is to laugh at oneself, and be thankful for the bonus sight-seeing excursion.

Bean Pat: An artist’s eye https://playamart.wordpress.com/2018/08/16/timeout-for-art-about-that-feather/#more-19973 I liked this blog because I piddle around with watercolors, and because the live model for this simple painting delighted me.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book, tentatively titled Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact h

er at patbean@msn.com

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“Family means putting your arms around each other and being there.” — Barbara Bush

Nana, posing for a picture with Savannah and Charlotte. Life was good.

Making Connections

After too brief a visit with family in San Antonio, and a promise to stop again on my way out of Texas, I hit the road for Texas’s Gulf Coast south of Houston. It was an easy, and familiar, 210-mile drive: Interstate 10 to Highway 36 to West Columbia, the home of my son D.C., his wife Cindi, who acts as my guardian angel when I am on the road, and their autistic daughter, Susan, who holds a special place in my heart.

One of my favorite things when I visit the Texas Gulf Coast are the moss-laden trees. I lived down there during Hurricane Carla in the 1960s, and one of the sad results that all the moss was blown away. — Photo by Pat Bean

Nearby lives his son, David, and the second of my three sons, Lewis, and their children (my grandchildren and great-grandchildren). Making and keeping connections with all these family members is important to me, especially since I usually only get to see them once a year.

The connections come easier with the adults, especially since I’ve found things to share with them – from watching Survivor with D.C (we’re both addicted to this TV reality show) to playing Settlers of Cataan with Cindi, to birding with Lewis.

But I hadn’t yet truly bonded with my two great-granddaughters, four-year-old Savannah and two-year-old Charlotte. Charlotte wasn’t even a year old when I had seen her last, and Savannah was shy with strangers, a good thing in my mind, and I let her maintain her comfortable distance.

This visit, however, Charlotte broke the ice. She climbed up on the couch beside me and we played “This Little Piggy …” She laughed and giggled and was free with her hugs, and since Savannah didn’t want to be left out, I got hugs from her too.

Life is good.

Bean Pat: A relaxing drive through the country  https://travelsandtrifles.wordpress.com/2018/07/22/lens-artists-photo-challenge-time-to-relax/ A peaceful kind of road trip.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book, tentatively titled Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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Life is Good

Mountains are always calling to me. — Art by Pat Bean

The greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” — Bill Bryson

Road Trip Ahead

One of the best parts of my days is sitting on my third-floor balcony with my morning cream-laced coffee and my thoughts. Often, they turn to gratefulness for the good life I have. Thus, it was this morning.

While I have to count the pennies carefully these days, at the still young (or so I would like to believe) age of 79, I have a nice place to live, children and grandchildren who love me, plenty of books to read, good friends, a dependable car, great horned owls in the giant ponderosa tree in view of my balcony, I’m not yet addle-brained (at least I think I’m not), a loving canine companion – and I’m beginning a road trip Thursday.

May I never take any of these fine things for granted.

Meanwhile, my plan is to tell you all about my road trip to visit family and attend a writer’s conference in Texas as it happens. Stay tuned.

Bean Pat: Frog Diva Thoughts https://frogdivathoughts.com/2018/07/04/scaffolding/#like-8189  Most, if not all of us, have survived some hard times in our life. This heartfelt blog reminded me of that, and made me even more grateful for the life I live now.

           Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book, tentatively titled Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her patbean@msn.com

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Texas Road Trip

When we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through space with other stars all singing and shining together as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty.” — John Muir

Sunrise in Van Horn, Texas, on Wednesday, when I began the second leg of my journey back to Tucson, Arizona. — Photo by Pat Bean

While Hurricane Harvey Roared

I drove to Texas for a granddaughter’s wedding one weekend and a family reunion the next weekend. The wedding was held in Dallas — and it was beautiful. But the family reunion on the coast was canceled because of Hurricane Harvey. I stayed dry in Dallas and anxiously watched the impact Harvey had on two of my five children, six of their children, and two of my quite-young great-granddaughters and their families.

Hurricane Harvey near peak intensity prior to landfall in Texas, on August, 25. — Wikimedia photo

My son D.C. and his son David evacuated their homes in West Columbia. Their families went to Temple, Texas, where they watched events on television at their hotel. My other son and family members sat out the hurricane in Lake Jackson, Galveston and Houston. Amazingly their homes weren’t flooded, although it was a close call for family members in West Columbia, who still haven’t been allowed to return home because the San Bernard River flooded the sewage plant serving their residential area.

“In fact,” D.C. said, “it was the residents who couldn’t evacuate, because all outgoing roads flooded so quickly, who saved our neighborhood. They got to work and shored up the levee to keep it from overflowing.”

D.C. also said, before he knew his home was safe, that what mattered was that all his loved ones were safe, and that was what was important. My son and I think alike.

Meanwhile, I got to spend more time with my oldest daughter than in a long, long, time. We had a great visit, spending much of it playing board games. Even my son-in-law Neal and I got along, despite the fact that he and I are quite competitive game opponents, and he annoys me by giving me huge bags of gummy bears, which I eat until I get sick.

Bean Pat: Storms http://tinyurl.com/y748oypa Great birds and inspirational thoughts.

   Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y You can contact Bean at patbean@msn.com

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Through my windshield: Somewhere in New Mexico on one of the better stretches of road. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Through my windshield: Somewhere in New Mexico on one of the better stretches of road. — Photo by Pat Bean

“One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure.” – William Feather

Snow and Ice Adventure

            I left Dallas the day after Christmas, after three weeks visiting my scattered Texas family. It was a quiet, cold overcast morning with 950 miles of interstate driving ahead of me. I hate freeway driving, but I needed to get home by the 27th because my Tucson daughter was having surgery on the 28th.

To make the drive go faster, I listened to an audible version of Ken Follett’s “Edge of Eternity,” which is the third of the author’s Century Trilogy, and which covers the period of the 1960’s through the ‘80s. Those are years I lived through, so the book was a refresher history course for me of the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crisis and Civil Rights issues.

Not too far from my daughter's Rowlett home.

Not too far from my daughter’s Rowlett home.

About 5 p.m., I pulled into Van Horn, Texas, and checked into a $47 a night Motel 6 – and immediately regretted my economy decision. About 7 p.m., as I was lying on the bed (on my own blanket) watching TV, the electricity went out. It flickered on and off for another hour then blacked out altogether. I blamed the cheap motel until I got up a bit later and opened the window curtain to see if I could let in some light. My car, parked right outside my door, had about 10 inches of snow on it — and the entire town was blacked out.

The next morning I learned of the Texas tornados, and that one had sat down just two miles from my daughter’s home — where my return to Arizona journey had started. Thankfully all my Texas family was OK, although sadly other families were not so fortunate.

Since I needed to get home, I got on the road early – well, after a half hour of scrapping ice and snow off my car without the proper tools and no gloves. For a while the roads were clear, but somewhere before I hit El Paso, snow began to fall. And somewhere after El Paso, the roads turned to ice. At one point I was following a snowplow, and at another traffic slowed to 10 mph, or even stopped completely a time or two.

Cayenne in El Paso, after I cleaned her up in Van Horn and before the nasty New Mexico snow and ice. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Cayenne in El Paso, after I cleaned her up in Van Horn and before the nasty New Mexico snow and ice. — Photo by Pat Bean

On the sides of the road were many stuck and wrecked cars and semis, whose drivers I assumed didn’t know the first rule of getting from one place to another on ice. Drive as if you have no brakes because you’re going to lose control of your vehicle when you apply them.

With 25 years of Northern Utah winter driving behind me, I felt reasonably confident I would make it through, and so I decided to take William Feather’s advice and consider the day an adventure.

It worked. I forgot about making time and my stress level dropped significantly – and I even made it home before dark. You don’t get many adventures like this at my age.           

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Pelicans http://ghostbearphotography.com/pelicans/   One of my favorite bloggers hates birds, but loves pelicans. I love his photos.

 

 

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     “Sometimes you have got to look at things really positively – without putting your head in the sand, you have got to manage the negatives and keep putting a positive slant on it. Keep trying to find answers.” – Brian McDermot

I just got a glimpse of these white sand dunes as I passed by them just outside of Alamogordo, New Mexico. -- Wikimedia photo

I just got a glimpse of these white sand dunes as I passed by them just outside of Alamogordo, New Mexico. — Wikimedia photo

White Sands: Beauty and Missiles  

            When you think of White Sands in New Mexico, what’s the first thought that pops up in your brain? Monument or Missiles?

White Sands National Monument, whose dunes of glistening gypsum sands I passed on the final leg of my trip home after three weeks in Texas, is a place of both. I didn’t stop this day, but have taken the time to explore the 275 square miles of glistening white sand on past road trips.

But I did stop long enough in Texas Canyon, 50 miles east of Tucson, to snap a few pictures of the area's rocky landscape. == Photo by Pat Bean

But I did stop long enough in Texas Canyon, 50 miles east of Tucson, to snap a few pictures of the area’s rocky landscape. == Photo by Pat Bean

The National Park Service claims that this is the world’s largest gypsum dune field, and that its rising  from the heart of the desert in the Tularosa Basin is like no place else on earth. The Park Service also notes that occasionally the monument is closed to the public because of testing events at the nearby White Sands Missile Range, which Wikipedia claims is the largest military installation in the United States.

The seemingly oxymoron of beauty and missiles crossed my mind, sending me back in time to when my youngest daughter served on a destroyer tender during the Gulf War. Her ship was the USS Acadia, named after Acadia National Park in Maine.

Whose bright idea was it to name military ships after National Parks, I wondered at the time?

Such thoughts occupied my mine again during the next hundred miles or so driven beneath low-hanging clouds. I hit the rain at Texas Canyon in Arizona, with its own unique landscape of giant granite boulders. Although eager to get home, which was just 50 miles away, Pepper and I took a brief, damp break at the canyon rest stop.

By the time we did reach home, the drizzling rain that accompanied our last leg of the journey had turned into a downpour. I took it as a sign that Mother Nature was welcoming us back to Tucson.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Blood-Red Pencil: Breaking up is good to do http://bloodredpencil.blogspot.com/ I like this writing advice, probably because I still have a journalistic habit of short paragraphs. Some editors like it, and some don’t. It just goes to show that writing is never like math. Two and two are never four when it comes to words. What one editor thinks is wrong, another editor loves.  So sometimes you have to choose between pleasing yourself, and pleasing the editor who wants to publish your writing. At various times in my life I’ve done both.

“You can’t sit around thinking. You have to sit around writing.” – David Long

 

 

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“It is better to travel well than to arrive.” Buddha 

This Muscovy duck wasn't shy at all. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Bird Talk

“Want to go to Texas City with me?” My son, Lewis, asked yesterday.

Giving nary a thought to the writing and other items on my busy day’s agenda, I said: “Sure.”

While the trip was a business one for my son, I knew that there would still be plenty of opportunities to see birds along the way. Lewis is as passionate about bird watching as his bird-watching mom.

Besides, road trips are my thing. Nothing makes me happier than watching life through a vehicle’s windows, especially knowing one can stop at any time for closer looks. While I once had to hit an older son just to get him to stop and let his mom go to the restroom, Lewis has always been as eager to explore the roadsides as me.

The first stop on this overcast, foggy day was at an RV park near Angleton. I had been looking for a place to dump my holding tanks and this was a possibility. While we weren’t in my RV today, I still wanted to check out the possibility.

It turned out not to be an option, but the long driveway into the park passed by a field full of killdeer, meadowlarks and mourning doves.

 

The waves rolled in from a horizon made invisible by the fog. I had my son stop along the Galveston Sea Wall so I could try and capture the day's mood. -- Photo by Pat Bean

And the park grounds turned up some Muscovy ducks, a Mexican species that’s beginning to be seen more and more of in North America. The ones we saw this day, although free to fly away, clearly preferred domestication.

They swarmed Lewis in hopes that he would have food to give them. I stood back and took pictures, enjoying the iridescent sheen of their feathers and the bright red nodules on their faces.

Back in the car, we drove on to Texas City. After my son had taken care of his business, we took the long way home through Galveston and over the San Luis Pass toll bridge to Surfside, birding as we drove.

Laughing gulls and brown and white pelicans were the seashore’s primary occupants along the Galveston Sea Wall. At LaFitte’s Cove, a small birding sanctuary in a residential section south of Galveston, the shallow pond area was full of ducks, teals, ibises, yellowlegs, coots and sandpipers.

“A good day for ducks,” said the one other birder we passed.

Indeed it was.

It was also a good day for a road trip. While I do so love sunshine, this day’s mist and fog added a hint of mystery and magic to the day’s drive – and 57 different bird species.

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