Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘RV travel’

Grotto Geyser, located on the walk to Morning Glory Pool at Yellowstone National Park. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Lewis Falls is always one of the first places I stop when I enter Yellowstone from the south entrance. -- Photo by Pat Bean

My Favorite Places

 “It’s my job to invite all of you to come to Wyoming and Yellowstone Park where we hope you get a glimpse of the grizzly. We hope you do not have an encounter with the grizzly.” – Mike Enzi

NaNoWriMo Update

My goal yesterday was to use my drive time to Dallas from Lake Jackson to think about my plot for my November novel writing experiment.

North of Houston, I stopped at a Flying J to dump my holding tank. Not only were the RV dumping spots full – I’m used to this task, which I usually do when I traveling between the two cities, taking a half hour – but when I learned that the once RV-friendly service station was charging $10 to dump, I drove on without waiting.

I might have paid $5, but certainly not $10 for my little 20-gallon holding tank. Most RVs have at least 40 gallon tanks. And no longer will I seek out Flying J’s to get gas. I felt the cost was an insult – and I’m still pissed. .

My outrage interrupted my head-plotting for the next few miles, and then I detoured off Interstate 45 – I hate driving on freeways – at Huntsville and took highways 19 and 175 the rest of the way into Dallas.

It was the first time I had gone this route so I mostly just watched the scenery go past.

The little plotting I did for the upcoming challenge involved thinking about the Gulf Coast landscape, which will be the setting for my yet as unnamed mystery.

I drove this landscape recently, between Surfside and Galveston, to get a feel for it. But my only thoughts on the book this day were that the endangered Ridley sea turtle and offshore oil spills might make good conversation fillers.

Sure hope, as past NaNo participants have said, that the characters take charge of the plot once the writing begins. Meanwhile,  I still have to find a place to dump.

Read Full Post »

“A leaf fluttered in through the window this morning, as if supported by the rays of the sun, a bird settled on the fire escape, joy in the task of coffee, joy accompanied me as I walked.” Anais Nin

Snowy egret at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Utah. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Travels With Maggie

The landscape around the Texas Gulf Coast home of my son, Lewis, is always full of birds. It is why my binoculars are always sitting beside me when my RV, Gypsy Lee, is parked in his driveway.

Wrens, woodpeckers, warblers, hawks and ducks all visit or pass through his yard.

This morning, Carolina wrens inspected the gutters over his garage, a pair of cardinals sat on the utility wires attached to his roof and a flock of black-bellied whistling ducks flew overhead, alerting me to their presence with their high-pitched chorus as they winged past in V-formation.

Is this a photographer taking picture of birds, or a birdwatcher photographing birds? -- Photo by Pat Bean

The park directly across the street from my son’s home offers even more entertainment for this passionate birder: Logger-head shrikes hang out in the trees, mockingbirds frequently chase away a red-tailed hawk when it comes around and goldfinches hang around the feeders in the yard next to the park.

I sometimes think I might be mistaken for a peeping Tom, or in my case a Jane, because I might appear to be looking in someone’s window when I’m simply watching a ruby-throated hummingbird flitting around the flowers.

If you really want to know how crazy we avid birders are, you should go see the movie, “The Big Year.” It’s about competitive bird watching. Or you can read the book, “The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession,” written by Mark Obmascik. It’s actually a true story and I couldn’t put it down once I started reading.

 

Great-tailed grackles near Surfside, Texas. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Recently, when I was down at the beach – to watch birds of course – I watched another bird watcher as he tried to take a picture of some skimmers. Watching him was almost as much fun as watching the skimmers myself. I wondered if he was more photographer than birder, or more birder than photographer, like me.

We birders are actually a funny, but much blessed lot. The day I realized I had joined the craziness was the day I took a 440-mile, one-day, round-trip drive just to see nesting ospreys.

In fact, many of the 122,000 miles I’ve put on Gypsy Lee the past seven years have been in pursuit of birds – from the elegant trogons in Southeast Arizona, to the marbled murrelets on the Oregon Coast, to the Atlantic puffins in Maine, and the Florida scrub jays in the Everglades.

It’s been one great feathered adventure after feathered adventure.

Perhaps that’s why, at least for a little while, I’m content to simply watch birds from the comfort of my RV that is parked in the driveway of my son.  

Read Full Post »

 “In this world of change, nothing which comes stays, and nothing which goes is lost.” Anne Sophie

Thousand Springs from the wrong side of the Snake River. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Travels With Maggie

I never exactly got lost yesterday, but I never got exactly where I was going. My maps didn’t help, and my 25-year-old memories were useless.

I wanted to drive the section of Highway 30, known as the Thousand Springs Byway that runs south of Interstate 84 and west of Twin Falls – and I did. But I still never got to the actual site I was trying to find.

Back in the mid-1980s, when I was regional editor at the Times-News in Twin Falls, one of my girl friends took me right up to those rivulets of crystal clear water that gush out of the sides of the steep cliff and flow into the snake river.

I climbed among the tumbled rocks between the rivulets of water, and walked a short boardwalk that had water flowing beneath it. That was the place I wanted to visit again.

Instead, I found myself on the opposite of the river with only distant views of the springs. And after spending so much time at the nearby Haggarman Fossil Beds, which I was seeing for the first time and told you about in yesterday’s blog, I was short of time to search more.

So instead of close-up views of the springs, all I got was a distant view from the wrong side of the Snake River. And so that’s all you get to see, too.

Read Full Post »

 “We all have our own life to pursue, our own kind of dream to be weaving. And we all have some power to make wishes come true, as long as we keep believing. — Louisa May Alcott

African Safari: The Dream

Frank Buck, a macho "bring-em-back-alive" hunter/explorer, provided the first generation of many of today's zoo animals. He also whet my dreams to visit the dark continent. -- Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

For the most part, I’ve been perfectly happy traveling only where my RV Gypsy Lee will take me. America has the most amazing and diversified landscapes – from Death Valley to the Grand Canyon and the Denali peaks to the Everglades’ river of grass – one can find anywhere.

Perhaps that’s only my opinion, but I’m sticking to it and challenge anyone to prove otherwise.

I’ve driven this country from coast to coast and border to border, finding beauty everywhere I go. People ask me what’s my favorite place, and I’m always hard-pressed to answer because I have so many.

But I also grew up reading Osa Johnson and Frank Buck’s tales of Africa. This dark continent so full of wild animals and mystery called to me. The truth is it called and called for many years before my dream of an African Safari finally became a reality four years ago.

Since this is a travel blog, and since Maggie and I, are currently camped out until mid-September here at Lake Walcott State Park in Southern Idaho, where I’m a volunteer campground host, I’ve decided this is the perfect opportunity for me to share my African adventure with you.

I began planning for the trip three years in advance, first telling my good friend, Kim, my travel plans. She and I, over the years, had already shared many adventures, like battling white-water rapids together and getting lost while four-wheeling up an unpaved, muddy canyon.

Osa's Ark: The plane that Osa Johnson and her husband used to study African wildlife, which she wrote about in "I Married African." Her book lit the fire in my desire to visit Africa. -- Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

“You’re not going without me,” she responded. And I didn’t.

Together, we decided to do the trip first-class, and for three years we each saved the approximate $10,000 cost that covered airfare, in-country transportation, guides, luxury camping (even in tents), daily safari trips, tips and souvenirs.

After pouring over brochures, we chose The Africa Adventure Company to make all arrangements for us, and our choice of tours was their 16-Day African Journeys’ Safari to Tanzania and Kenya, the cost of which I noted on their website http://africa-adventure.com/ this morning begins at $6,450. It was a bit less back in 2007.

Next Episode: Travel Details. Please journey with me as I relieve, from beginning to end, my African safari.

Read Full Post »

“perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all people cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” — Maya Angelou

Travels With Maggie

A western grebe floats near Lake Walcott's shore on a liquid canvas painted with reflections. -- Photo by Pat Bean

One of the reasons I love being a campground host is the people I get to meet, like Jane and Greg from Australia, who arrived here two days ahead of their paid reservation.

This charming couple with the twangy accent had rented an RV to tour western national parks, and had been chased out of Yellowstone early because of snow.

They came knocking at my RV door after park office hours to tell me their dilemma. Since the park was sparsely occupied this rainy night, I took their name and information and told them to just select a site and the details could be straightened out in the morning.

But being a nosy old broad, I had to also ask a lot of personal questions, beginning with: “Are you two Aussies?” They, thankfully, were just as nosy about me and Maggie, and eventually we agreed to get together over a drink and before-dinner snacks the next afternoon.

A bench beneath a shade tree says "Come sit a while and visit with Mother Nature." -- Photo by Pat Bean

Lake Walcott State Park here in Southern Idaho was their last hurrah before heading back to their home in Queensland. We talked about their visit to Zion National Park, my favorite place in the universe, and their fantastic reaction to the waterfalls in Yosemite, which is the one western national park that has mysteriously escaped a visit from me.

This was their first visit to America and I told them of other of this country’s wonders they should see if they came back, like Texas’ Palo Duro Canyon. They, in return, told me of places I should visit in Australia, which is still on my To-Do list.

It was a cold day, and the extra chill of the approaching night, sent us off to our respective homes on wheels all too soon. But not before we had exchanged e-mails.

The next morning, as they pulled out in the gray dawn, we waved at each other, like two ships passing in a fog. Perhaps we’ll continue our friendship, perhaps not. Only time will tell.

But I feel richer for having met them and sharing the wonders of our two countries. I can’t help but think that this kind of exchange is where world peace has to begin.

Read Full Post »

My first sunrise for the year at Lake Walcott reminded me of lemon and blueberries. -- Photo by Pat Bean

“Living is strife and torment, disappointment and love and sacrifice, golden sunsets and black storms. I said that some time ago, and today I do not think I would add one word.” — Laurence Olivier

*Travels With Maggie

The wind blew last night, hard enough for my RV, Gypsy Lee, to rock and roll. I thought about sticking around Ogden for an extra day, but decided to drive to Idaho’s Lake Walcott State Park as planned. It was only 160 miles away after all.

Yup! Just 160 miles that took me through three dust storms and wind that almost blew me off the road before I exited Interstate 84 onto Highway 24 to Lake Walcott, with the wind continuing to taunt me the entire way.

Except for that, it was a nice drive beside the Wasatch Mountains, through farmlands, and past Snowville, just south of the Idaho border. The route then took me over Sweetzer Pass, either side of which is where the wind blew hardest, and finally over the Snake River.

Interstate 84, which follows Interstate 15 north to Tremonton before splitting, is nothing like the interstate south of Ogden, which snarled me in traffic last week on my way north. While there were occasional big semis, this four-lane highway from Ogden to Idaho was mostly a peaceful, scenic and uncrowded route.

A cheery robin outside my RV welcomed me back, too. -- Photo by Pat Bean

When I arrived at the park, I noted that while I had left Texas just as “summer” was arriving, spring hadn’t fully visited Lake Walcott. Many of the park’s grand big trees were still leafless. The lake, meanwhile, with its waves being influenced by the high winds, looked like an ocean. .

I though about about getting some photographs of the water lapping over the boat docks, but decided to rest awhile from my difficult drive first. By the time I awoke from a short nap, the winds had calmed and the lake was almost back to normal.

I was sorry I had let the opportunity pass, especially after park workers told me that the lake had been the worse they had ever seen it. In fact, the wind storm actually did some damage to one of the boat docks here.

Even so it felt good to be ba.ck. Last summer I was a campground host here for six weeks. This year I’ll be here all year. While park workers greeted my return with enthusiasm. Also extending a welcome note to my return was a spectacular sunrise and a cheery robin when I awoke to the next morning.

Life is good.

*And so ends my month long, 2,600-mile zig-zagging, sight-seeing journey from Texas to Idaho. Thanks to those who came along for the ride. But please tune in again tomorrow, the adventures are not over yet.

Read Full Post »

 “Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.” — Matsuo Basho

I passed by Mesa Verde National Park today, but last year when I came this same way I stopped for a visit and took this photo of the Balcony House. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Travels With Maggie*

I awoke this morning to an alarm clock of geese honking as they flew overhead. The sound, as always, soothed my soul. Wild things flying free, sharing the burden of making headway against the wind as they flew to whether they were going.

It was time for me to get up and get going, too.

While yesterday’s awesome drive over Wolf Creek Pass through the San Juan Mountains was a new experience for me, today’s drive would be through quite familiar territory.

Over the years, I’ve made numerous trips between my home in Northern Utah and family members in Texas. While I’ve always tried to find new roads to travel to get between the two states, more often than not on the return trip, I headed north at Santa Fe to Pagosa Springs and then went west on Highway 160 to Cortez and then north again through Moab to Ogden. It was the shortest way back home. .

On one of those trips, back in the late 1970s, I took the longer, steeper way home, heading north at Durango to Silverton and on to Grand Junction, Colorado. It was one of the first solo cross-country trips I made. And I can still recall the excitement of traveling through such fantastic country.

In my memory I can still see Twilight Peak from Highway 550, a route I didn't take this day. -- Photo courtesy Wikipedia

Up above Silverton, I came around a high, sharp curve and there, floating almost in front of me, was a hang glider. I pulled my car over to the side, got out and waved. To this day I still wonder where he came from and where he was going to land.

This day, however, I continued west through Durango, past the shadow of Mesa Verde, which I visited last year, and on to Cortez, where I stopped to resupply my refrigerator with fresh vegetables from a local market.

At the far side of Cortez, I turned north on Highway 491, which used to be Highway 666 until the name was changed because of the number’s “devilish” association. I’ve driven it under both names without any mishaps.

I ended the day’s drive in Utah, at a small RV park in the town of Monticello, where I slept soundly with the La Salle Mountains looking down on me and my dog, Maggie, curled up beside me..

*Day 9 of the journey, April 27, 2011

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »