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Posts Tagged ‘Texas’

“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” –  Cesare Pavese 

I don't drive at night, but I do like to be on the road in time to catch the sunrise. I caught this one on my last road trip to Texas. = Photo by Pat Bean

I don’t drive at night, but I do like to be on the road in time to catch the sunrise. I caught this one on my last road trip to Texas. = Photo by Pat Bean

Upcoming Road Trip

            I just started reading A Way to See the World by Thomas Swick, who begins the book by explaining how he became addicted to travel while still a teenager. It’s kind of how I begin my just completed travel book, Travels with Maggie.  

Pepper and I didn't see any rattlesnakes at this rest stop on one of our trips to Texas to see family, but in an unmanicured area just beyond the building, she got into a nest of burrs that took me a good half hour to pick out before we could continue on our way. Photo by Pat Bean

Pepper and I didn’t see any rattlesnakes at this rest stop on one of our trips to Texas to see family, but in an unmanicured area just beyond the building, she got into a nest of burrs that took me a good half hour to pick out before we could continue on our way. Photo by Pat Bean

          While our stories are quite different, both of us clearly have a gene of wanderlust in our souls that made itself know at a young age.     As I’m reading Swick’s book, it gets my mind thinking about my upcoming road trip to Texas for a writer’s conference. It’s a 900-mile adventure over familiar territory, so I know I’m going to have to look at the roadside landscape with fresh eyes.

But then that’s one of the best things about travel, at least for me. I just can’t wait to get on the road again,” as Willie would say.

Or as Robert Louis Stevenson said: “For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.”

And I’m going to follow the advice of Molsih Eddin Saadi, who believes we should use our eyes when we travel: “A traveler without observation is a bird without wings.”

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: More Travel Quotes: http://tinyurl.com/3p8msma I love them all.

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On the Road in Texas

Junior this Christmas

Junior this Christmas

Me and Junior, my first grandchild, five years ago.

Me and Junior, my first great-grandchild, five years ago.

            “I dearly love the state of Texas, but I consider that a harmless perversion on my part, and discuss it only with consenting adults.” – Molly Ivins

Time for Memories

Cattle, cotton fields, small towns with boarded up buildings, oil rigs and northern mockingbirds, along with a few hawks, dominated the passing, brown winter landscape as I drove from Dallas to Lubbock yesterday. I realized the Sonoran Desert, where I now live, has more color than this part of Texas right now.

But it  was still a pleasant drive, well, once I left the traffic cacophony of the FortWorth-Dallas Metroplex. The area is more commonly called the DFW area, but I once worked for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and the newspaper’s stylebook always put Fort Worth first.

Driving across Texas is almost always a time for reflection of earlier times and earlier trips that annually crisscrossed my life once I left the state for good. And so it was this day. But the best part of the day’s drive was when I could hug a granddaughter, grand-son-in-law, and most importantly a 5-year-old great-grandson.

It was one of the few times in my life when the destination was more important than the journey.

Bean Pat: Write to Done http://tinyurl.com/pnfkcgn Some writing blogs to check out

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     “Life is short, break the rules. Forgive quickly, kiss slowly. Love truly. Laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that makes you smile.” — Mark Twain

 

One of the highlights of my trip to Brazoria County on the Texas Gulf Coast,  where I lived for 15 years, is an opportunity to go birding with my son, Lewis. He is as avid a birder as I am. We always see great egrets on our outings. -- Photo by Pat Bean

One of the highlights of my trips to Brazoria County on the Texas Gulf Coast, where I lived for 15 years, is an opportunity to go birding with my son, Lewis. He is as avid a birder as I am, and we always see great egrets on our outings. — Photo by Pat Bean

Texas in my Soul

I arrived in Texas, my native landscape, on December 19, after leaving my current home in Tucson and traveling all the way across New Mexico. I spent the night in a two-star hotel in Van Horn before traveling on to visit a granddaughter and her husband in San Antonio.

On December 20, I drove to West Columbia, to my oldest son’s home where I celebrated Christmas with two sons, seven grandchildren, three spouses, and a brand new great-granddaughter. It’s a family of large personalities but all was peaceful – perhaps because everyone was enthralled with the sparkling personality and cheerful giggles of Savannah Kay, the youngest family member.

Sam Houston played a prominent roll in early Texas history, and so like most things in Texas, here he is -- larger than life. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Sam Houston played a prominent roll in early Texas history, and so like most things in Texas, here he is — larger than life. — Photo by Pat Bean

The day after Christmas I took the half-hour drive from West Columbia into Lake Jackson, where my middle son currently lives. The city’s moss-covered trees, winding streets and green-green landscape felt familiar, perhaps because I lived in Lake Jackson for 15 years, from 1956 to 1971, when I left Texas — and never permanently came back.

A few days and another road trip away, I celebrated New Year’s Eve in the suburbs of Dallas with my oldest daughter and her husband, a granddaughter and her partner, and a niece and her husband. Dallas is where I was born and lived for the first 16 years of my life.

I remember back when Dallas, the Big D, was Texas’ largest city. Now it’s only third having been surpassed by both Houston and San Antonio.  While the Texas landscape of cotton fields, oil rigs and live oak trees still feels like home whenever I see them, Dallas never again felt like home after John F, Kennedy was killed here.

I can’t help but wonder how much of who we are is tainted by where we lived, from our accents to our way of thinking. I think of Utah, where I lived for over 30 years, as a full-blooming flower in my life; Idaho, Nevada and now Arizona are the leaves of my plant-being,  varying in intensity and color like the seasons. Texas, however, contains my roots, the first glimmering of whom I would be and the catalyst of my personality.

But it’s the still the road itself that has always been the place I felt most at home. I was born, I believe, with wanderlust in my soul.

On Monday, I’ll be on the road again, although staying in Texas just a bit longer. I have one last Texas family member to visit, a granddaughter, along with her husband and my first great-grandchild, 5-year-old Junior. They live in Lubbock.

And then it’s back to Tucson, where I’m letting the desert creep into my being.          

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

  Bean Pat: Miss Pelican’s Perch http://tinyurl.com/nmv9zeh Looking at the world in a different way.

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“No one knows what causes an outer landscape to become an inner one.” – Margaret Atwood

The drive between Dallas and Austin is filled with roadside bluebonnets right now. Get out and go see them. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The drive between Dallas and Austin is filled with roadside bluebonnets right now. Get out and go see them. — Photo by Pat Bean

Catch ‘em While You Can

I drove from Dallas to Austin this past Thursday to attend the Story Circle Network’s Stories from the Heart memoir conference. The bluebonnets alongside the road on my I-35 and toll road 130 route were magnificent.

 

Up close and personal with Texas' state flower.

Up close and personal with Texas’ state flower.

On Sunday, after a fantastic few days of association with like-minded writer women, I made the return trip — and the bluebonnets were even more abundant and just as magnificent.

How could anyone not like bluebonnets?

They were named bluebonnets because someone thought they looked like the bonnets worn by pioneer women.

Texas’ singing cowboy “Pappy” O’Daniel, who became governor of the state when I was 2 years old, sang: “you may be on the plains or the mountains or down where the sea breezes blow, but bluebonnets are one of the prime factors that make the state the most beautiful land that we know.”

The Indian paintbrush blossoms along side Texas highways aren't too shabby either. --  Photo by Pat Bean

The Indian paintbrush blossoms along side Texas highways aren’t too shabby either. — Photo by Pat Bean

Did you catch that Texas pride there? I have to admit it’s something I share.

If you were a native Texan, like me, and saw the fields of bluebonnets I’ve seen this past week, you would understand. .

This is a really good year for bluebonnets, which require special conditions of rain, sun and cold, to bloom at their best. But the fields of blue are short-lived.

So if you can, catch them soon.

The Wondering-Wanderer's blog pick of the day.

The Wondering-Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Not Yet There http://tinyurl.com/k243py5 This is one of my favorite bloggers, and this month Red Jim is writing poetry daily because it’s National Poetry Month.

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            “The story never ends. There’s always a new corner, a new chapter – and who knows what wonders await there.” – Don George

A lily pad pond at Atwater's National Wildlife Refuge. -- Flick'r photo

A lily pad pond at Attwater’s Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge. — Flick’r photo

O Frabjous Day! Callooh! Callay

            Lewis Carroll’s inventive words — a victorious chortle uttered after the Jabberwock was slain — popped into my head this morning.

In 1900, a million Atwater prairie chickens roamed the coastal prairies, by 1998 less than 300 remained. Like the passenger pigeon, this species is headed toward extinction. -- Wikimedia photo

In 1900, a million Atwater prairie chickens roamed the coastal prairies, by 1998 less than 300 remained. Like the passenger pigeon, this species is headed toward extinction. — Wikimedia photo

While my canine companion, Pepper, and my RV, Gypsy Lee, are staying behind at my daughter’s home, I’m going to be on the road for a couple of weeks, beginning with an airplane flight early tomorrow morning.

It will only be to my native Texas, and I will only be traveling between the familiar landscapes of Austin, San Antonio, Houston and Dallas in a rental car to visit family members. But, as is always my plans when traveling, I will make sure I drive down new roads and try and see things I’ve never seen before.

These birds today can only be found in the will at the Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge near Eagle Lake, Texas, and the Texas City Prairie Preserve near Texas City.  -- Wikimedia photo

These birds today can only be found in the wild at the Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge near Eagle Lake, Texas, and the Texas City Prairie Preserve near Texas City. — Wikimedia photo

The one thing in concrete on this part of my traveling agenda is a side trip to visit the Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge. The wildlife sanctuary  is located off Highway 36 — between a son who lives north of Austin and a son who lives south of Houston.

I’ve passed by the turnoff to this refuge many times, but never allowed time to stop. Hopefully on this trip I’ll be able to add this rare bird to my life list. I’ve been forewarned that this might not happen. But even if I don’t see the prairie chicken, I know I will see many other wonders; national refuge visits have never failed me in this way.

And that’s why I’m chortling with job, “O frabjous day. Callooh! Callay!

The Wondering-Wanderer's blog pick of the day.

The Wondering-Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat: A Time to Write: http://tinyurl.com/k6378j5 It’s not Musical Monday, but I think you’ll find this just as enjoyable on a hump-day Wednesday.

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“I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and
respecting her seniority.” — Elwyn Brooks White, Essays of E.B. White,  1977

 

This red-eared slider turtle lives in a green world in the creek that runs through Springfield Park in Rowlett, Texas. — Photo by Pat Bean

 

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 “The very idea of a bird is a symbol and a suggestion to the poet. A bird seems to be at the top of the scale, so vehement and intense his life … The beautiful vagabonds, endowed with every grace, masters of all climes, and knowing no bounds – how many human aspirations are realized in their free, holiday lives – and how many suggestions to the poet in their flight and song!” – John Burroughs

Delightful, Colorful, Awesome Birds

Great blue heron at Lake Arrowhead State Park -- Photo by Pat Bean

From the Bullock oriole’s flash of bright orange feathers as it flew across my path to the Canada geese that strutted down to the lake, birds were constantly making their presence known during my visit to Texas’ Lake Arrowhead State Park.

For an avid birder like myself, it was better than my favorite Jack-in-the-Box chocolate milkshake high — and came without the calories.

Mockingbirds were plentiful, making my mind play tricks on me when I saw one that didn’t quite fit in. I was thinking it might have been a tropical mockingbird, but then this quite-out-of-place species was on my mind from reports of one of them being seen in Texas’ Sabine Woods. I certainly wasn’t sure enough of my find to add it to my life list of birds.

Canada geese strutted across the manicured lawn near the fishing pier, making it easy to photograph them. I wish I had been able to capture the flock that had honked their way overhead earlier in the morning. But as I remind people often, I'm a writer not a photographer, and the only camera I own is a pocket Canon point and shoot. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I saw a great blue heron at the fish-cleaning station near the park’s fishing pier, but before I could get a picture,  it flew away. It landed in the lake on the opposite side of the pier and began fishing for its breakfast.

When I looked at it through my binoculars at it,  I saw a dozen or so spotted sandpipers cruising the shoreline in front of it, and a yellowlegs a bit farther out in the water. It had to have been a lesser yellowlegs because it was too close in size to the sandpipers to be a greater.

As I continued to watch the sandpipers, a red-winged blackbird flew in beside them. Its shoulder epaulets were so brilliantly red that they made my heart skip a beat.

Grackles, robins, snowy and great egrets, swallows (cave, I think), killdeer, scissor-tailed flycatchers and circling turkey vultures were among the many other birds at the park that I saw.

While I suspect the park is mostly favored by fishermen, it’s now on this birders list of favorite places, too.

Bean’s Pat: Trees for Arbor Day http://tinyurl.com/crhxqtu For tree huggers like me, a slide show from the National Wildlife Federation.

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