Posts Tagged ‘Travel’

   “Do or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda

Fall was in full progress when I arrived in Maine, and followed me on my southward return. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Fall was in full progress when I arrived in Maine, and followed me on my southward return. — Photo by Pat Bean

Is Finished

For all of you who have stuck with me for a bit, and followed the writing journey of my book, “Travels with Maggie,” I’m delighted to inform you that it is now ready to go out to the world.

Maggie claiming the driver's seat during a stop for gas. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Maggie claiming the driver’s seat during a stop for gas. — Photo by Pat Bean

The 75,000-word travel book/memoir is about a six-month journey my canine companion, Maggie, and I took in 2006. The title is inspired by John Steinbeck’s  “Travels with Charlie,” and I’ve been telling prospective agents it would sit nicely on a book shelf between his book, and Charles Kuralt’s “On the Road,” with Tim Cahill’s “Road Fever” nearby, but that its uniqueness lies in the fact that it was written by an old-broad, wandering-wonderer.

I’m currently in the process of looking at ways to get it published as an e-book, and getting a cover designed for it. Next will come a printed book – I’m hoping.

The journey began in Camden, Arkansas, where my youngest daughter lived at the time, and ended in Rowlett, Texas, in time for Thanksgiving dinner at my oldest daughter’s home. It was a trip of 7,000 miles that took me to Maine and Acadia National Park that wriggled its way through 23 states and Canada.

Any advice those of you who have self-published a book is welcome. Especially helpful would be experiences any of my readers have had with Vook or Bookbaby.

Meanwhile, this is my way of yelling from the mountain top that the third rewrite of “Travels with Maggie” is now behind me.

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

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

Bean Pat: Two short videos. Footloose and Kevin Bacon fans will enjoy this one, even if they saw it on the Jimmy Fallon show: http://tinyurl.com/oldwfxj And old broads and anyone who loves life will enjoy this one. I smiled all the way through it. http://tinyurl.com/qz8btq6

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“Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.” – Gilda Radner

Me, Pepper and Cayenne. -- Photo by T.C. Ornelas

Me, Pepper and Cayenne. — Photo by T.C. Ornelas

Hello Cayenne

            Ten years ago I sold my home and traded in my car for a new RV, which I named Gypsy Lee, in honor of my wanderlust and a grandfather I never knew but from whom my mother claimed I inherited my rootless ways.

Me and Gypsy Lee in 2004, 140,000 miles ago.

Me and Gypsy Lee in 2004, 140,000 miles ago.

I lived on the road for nine years before settling in a Tucson apartment a year ago, during which time Gypsy Lee, a 21-foot motor home continued to be my only means of transportation.

This past weekend, I parked Gypsy Lee at my daughter’s house and drove away in a bright, red new car that I named Cayenne. I thought it was a fitting name to go with my canine companion, Pepper, and this flower child who still loves to wear tie-dye.

Over the past few months, I came to understand that driving an RV in a crowded city was holding me back from doing things, like attending a play where there was no parking or driving on city streets at night. There was also Gypsy’s gas guzzling stomach to consider, which meant I mostly only drove her for errands once a week because of the cost of keeping her fed.

My beloved Maggie, who spent the first eight years with me in Gypsy Lee. She is still missed

My beloved Maggie, who spent the first eight years with me in Gypsy Lee. She is still missed

I knew I was going to eventually have to give her up, but sensibly had decided to keep her one more year for financial reasons.

Then it finally dawned on me that while I’m, thankfully, healthy and physically active now, I’m going to be 75 this year. Now is not the time for me to slow down. I need to keep running as fast as I can, as far as I can, and as hard as I can for as long as I can.

So on Saturday it was good-bye Gypsy Lee. We had an awesome 10 years together. I will always treasure the memories we made during our 140,000 miles on the road.

And hello, Cayenne. You’ve got a lot to live up to in sharing your life with me and Pepper.

Oh, and the first place I visited yesterday, after waiting a year to do so, was Tucson’s downtown main library, where Gypsy Lee couldn’t go because there was no parking space for her.

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

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

Bean’s Pat: You gotta do what you gotta do to survive http://tinyurl.com/k8tor9v This is a story that made me feel blessed for everything I have – and for the power of starting over, which I once had to do in life. Although my situation wasn’t as drastic as this story, I did have to borrow money to pay rent for a while.

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What is Home?

            “You can never go home again, but the truth is you can never leave home, so it’s all right.” — Maya Angelou

This view from my balcony is now part of what means home to me. -- Photo by Pat Bean

This view from my bedroom balcony is now part of what means home to me. — Photo by Pat Bean

Whatever You Want It To Be

            I spent nine wonderful years living and traveling this country full-time in Gypsy Lee, my 22-foot motor home. Recently I realized that was more years than I had ever lived in one specific dwelling in my life.         

Desert sunsets from my front balcony now seem like part of my home. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Desert sunsets from my living room balcony now mean home to me.  — Photo by Pat Bean

All that time I was traveling, the road felt more like home than any of my former rooted dwellings. This wondering wanderer pondered why?

            The road, I finally decided, with its wondrous sights and beauty, was what I had longed for almost all my life. I dreamed about exploring this country, from coast to coast and border to border, ever since I can remember.

            The hundreds of travel books I read over the years — “Blue Highways” by William Least Heat Moon, “On the Road,” by Charles Kuralt, “Travels with Charley,” by John Steinbeck, “A Walk in the Woods,” by Bill Bryson, “Desert Solitaire” by Edward Abbey, and many, many more – fueled those dreams.

            Then finally, at 65 years of age, I made the dream come true. I figured I had about five years before age would catch up with me, and I would have to stop living atop wheels, but I almost doubled that expectation.  

And Pepper is part of my home now. I'm a very blessed and a very thankful person. -- Photo by Pat Bean

And Pepper is part of my home now. I’m a very blessed and a very thankful person. — Photo by Pat Bean

          This year I exchanged the road for a Tucson, Arizona, third-floor apartment in the Catalina Mountain foothills. Although I find it hard to believe, it now feels like home. Of course this wondering wanderer pondered why?

            In doing so, I listed what home meant to this old-broad wandering wonderer these days. My answers included: A place with a large bathtub so that I could soak in a hot tub whenever I wanted. This, I should tell you, is the only think I missed after paring down for my RV lifestyle and the road..

            Home also means a place where I can spend a whole day in my pajamas – if I wanted and did not have my dog, Pepper, to walk, but then Pepper, herself, is home.

             Home is a place with lots of books, even if one has a Kindle. Home is my desk and computer, where I can write to my heart’s content.  Home is a place where I can keep in touch with loved ones, and occasionally travel to visit them. Home is a balcony with a view of nature and birds and mountains. Home is a place to bring friends.

            What I now also know is that home is more inside of one than outside of one, and that it can be whatever you want it to be, and make it to be.       

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

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

     Bean’s Pat: The Road Not Taken http://tinyurl.com/l37f994 Something to think about.

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Wherever I traveled, books were always part of the journey. And this lake in Illinois' Lincoln Trail State Park is just one of many I've sat beside while reading. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Wherever I traveled, books were always part of the journey. And this lake in Illinois’ Lincoln Trail State Park is just one of many I’ve sat beside while reading. — Photo by Pat Bean

“Travel is like love: It cracks you open, and so pushes you over all the walls and low horizons that habits and defensiveness set up.” – Pico Iyer

Finding Buried Treasure

The above quote begins essayist Pico Iyer’s foreword in the book “Wanderlust: Real Life Tales of Adventure and Romance.”

Just find me a bench, like this one that sits in Amherstburg, Ontario, beside an Erie River harbor and a book, and I can be happy for hours. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Just find me a bench, like this one that sits in Amherstburg, Ontario, beside an Erie River harbor, and a book, and I can be happy for hours. — Photo by Pat Bean

I recently reclaimed this book of travel essays, unread except for the foreword, from one of the dozen or so bins of stuff I couldn’t part with when I began a life on the road in 2004. Finding it again – with its many intriguing chapter titles such as “On the Amazon,” “Naxos Nights,” “I Lost it at Club Med,”  “Bewitched on Bali” and “Sleeping with Elephants,” was like coming across buried treasure.

A travel book is always one of the books I’m reading at any given time, along with a mystery, a fantasy and a nature book (more and more these days on my Kindle); and I always have dozens of backups – I guess you could say books are my security blanket.

As I renewed my acquaintance with this book of essays called “Wanderlust,” which I acquired before spending nine years living full-time in a small RV, I saw that I had highlighted quite a few of Pico’s travel quotes in its foreword, which probably coincided with my frame of mind with freedom of the road loaming ahead.

Perhaps they will mean something to you, too.

  “…home is something portable that we carry around with us”

            “…’wander’ has little to do with crossing borders and getting stamps in one’s passport, and everything to do with stretching the boundaries of one’s perspective and being constantly drawn to challenge. The person susceptible to wanderlust is not so much addicted to movement as committed to transformation.”

            “We travel, then, in search of both self and anonymity … and people cannot put a name or tag to us.”  

            “A man (or woman) never goes so far as when he doesn’t know where he is going.”

            “Many of us travel not in search of answers but in search of better questions.”

That last was certainly true of my travels. I found few answers but hundreds of questions.

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

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

Bean’s Pat: Autumn Path http://tinyurl.com/mt4uedk I chose this blog today because it made me want to get out and take a walk – and moving is a good thing to help insure this old broad’s ability to continue traveling.

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“The grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never dried all at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal dew and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.” – John Muir

The view from my RV, with no photographic enhancement. — Photo by Pat Bean

Lake Walcott Welcomes the Day

Reflections: A calm lake provides a second canvas for Mother Nature. — Photo by Pat Bean

I took 25 days to drive from my daughter’s home on the outskirts of Dallas, Texas, to Lake Walcott State Park in Idaho, where I’ll be spending the summer.

It’s my third year here as a volunteer campground host. I return because it’s an awesome place, where Mother Nature changes the scenery daily. I arrive in time to see the first buds of spring paint the landscape, and stay until the crisp colors of autumn paint over the green of summer.

Nowhere, however, have I ever seen more spectacular sunrises and sunsets.

Thankfully, my canine companion, Pepper, wakes me in time to see that magic hour of grayness, when all the world seems to hold its breath for a moment, in anticipation of dawn’s first light.

This morning’s explosion was especially spectacular.

Bean’s Pat: http://photonatureblog.com/ This blog helps me get a daily dose of nature’s wonders. Today it’s a butterfly that stirs my soul. Blog pick of the day by a wondering wanderer.  

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This is how Pepper spends much of her time as we drive Route 66, her chin on the co-pilot arm rest staring at me. I actually snapped this picture as I drove down a lonely stretch of the road. Any guesses about what she is thinking? — Photo by Pat Bean

The Dog

I lie belly-up
In the sunshine, happier than
You ever will be.

Today I sniffed
Many dog butts—I celebrate
By kissing your face.

I sound the alarm!
Paperboy—come to kill us all —
Look! Look! Look! Look! Look!

… Sleeping here, my chin
On your foot—no greater bliss—well,
Maybe catching cats.

Look in my eyes and
Deny it. No human could
Love you as much I do.

I came across the poem above and it made me laugh. I don’t know who wrote it. Do you?

Bean’s Pat: Joy http://jmgoyder.com/2012/05/06/joy/  Very true words. I loved this blogger’s thoughts.

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Note the tail kink -- Photo by Pat Bean

“Happiness is a warm puppy.” – Charles Schulz

Already the Love of My Life

I wanted a 20 to 25 pound, female canine, one to three years old, from the sporting group of dogs, as the replacement for Maggie, my treasured, Cocker Spaniel traveling companion. I got an 11-pound, four-month-old puppy instead.

It was meant to be.

She’s a cross, most likely, between a Scottie and a Schnauzer. I’ll never know for sure because I’m not going to pay the $60 for DNA testing. It really doesn’t matter.

She has chocolate, melt-your-heart eyes, when you can see them beneath her long silky hair – I think we’ll do a little trimming soon. She bounds when she runs, has a kink in her tail and bless my lucky stars, is potty-trained.

Why won't they play with me? -- Photo by Pat Bean

She came from the third animal shelter I visited, it being the Second Change SPCA Shelter in Plano, Texas.

I’m not sure if I picked her, or she picked me. It was as if our eyes met and we both knew we belonged together. The deed was sealed when someone put her in my lap and she nestled down as if this was where she belonged.

Although friendly with everyone, she has already decided she wants to keep me in her sight. For example, she’s lying at me feet right now as I sit at my daughter’s dining room table, and she followed me into the kitchen twice when I got up to refill my coffee cup.

Photographing Pepper wasn't easy. Not only was she constantly moving, her black fur made her look like a bundle of rags in most of the pictures I took. She actually has some red and blonde tints in her coat, the kind women pay a fortune to achieve, that show well in the sunlight. -- Photo by Pat Bean

When I went out to my RV, Gypsy Lee,  for our first night together,  she eagerly bounded into the motorhome and was soon settled comfortably beside me on the over-the-cab bed. When I got up in the middle of the night to visit the powder room, she greeted me on my return as if I had been gone a week.

I’ve named her Pepper, partly because of the spice I know she’s going to add to my life and partly because she is so full of it. She acts as if that’s been her name all her life, even though the shelter called her Kenzie.

I yelled Pepper yesterday evening when I saw her headed for the kitchen and the food bowl of my daughter’s two dogs. I yelled because her tummy was already full, and I didn’t want her eating more and getting sick.

Face-off with my daughter's Cocker Spaniel, MacBean. -- Photo by pat Bean

She immediately did a U-turn, jumped back up into my lap and gave me puppy kisses.

Pepper and I will be getting on the road heading west tomorrow. She has already tried out the co-pilot seat and it fits her well.

I suspect that when we pull away from my daughter’s home, I will turn to Pepper and quote Dr. Seuss: “Oh the places we’ll go, and the things we’ll see.” That’s what I told Maggie when we got on the road eight years ago. And we did.

Bean’s Pat: Stopping the Wind http://tinyurl.com/cbtkqwo Mostly a reblog of Trey Ramsey’s blog by someone trying to change their future. It includes some hard-nosed, kick-butt advice for all of us who are trying to meet new goals. I took notes.



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“If in the last few years you haven’t discarded a major opinion or acquired a new one, check your pulse. You may be dead.” – Gelett Burgess

Royal terns and laughing gulls are common sights on the Texas Gulf Coast. -- Photo by Pat Bean

New Landscape, New Thoughts

My morning walks around here in the desert above Tucson the past few days have been exotic ones, full of new plants, new birds, new views and conversely new thoughts.

And the ocotillo cactus is in bloom in Arizona. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I love the variety my life is currently offering, although there was nothing wrong with waking up every morning  to a view of Utah’s Wasatch Mountains, which I did for 25 years, either. And one of these days, I know, I will once again have time to intimately get to know one particular landscape.

 It’s not that one lifestyle is better than the other, just that they’re different. Actually that can be said about all lifestyles, as long as they do no harm to others or to this beautiful planet we live on.   

Meanwhile, my current wandering/wondering life as a full-time RV-er is continually full of new sights and things to do.

When visiting my Texas Gulf Coast son, I have a beach to walk and a plethora of shorebirds to watch. Here in Arizona, where my youngest daughter recently moved, I have a desert landscape, particularly beautiful in the spring, and a whole different set of birds.

On this morning’s walk, I saw a pyrrhuloxia and a phainopepia, rare sights except in southeast Arizonia, plus doves, lots of Gambell’s quail, a raven, a black phoebe, a large flycatcher (not sure which one) and a curved-bill thrasher. While none were birds not on my life list, it’s been awhile since I’ve seen most of these species.

A visit to my oldest daughter in Dallas offers opportunities to take in a play and to watch northern cardinals hanging out in her backyard trees.

In Chicago, where I recently visited my youngest son, I got to take in an art museum and had a marvelous nighttime view of the city lights and Lake Michigan from the top of the Hancock Tower.

A visit to a granddaughter in San Antonio opens up an opportunity for me to take in this city’s fantastic river walk; In Austin, where another granddaughter lives, I get to play with a great-grandson and visit writer friends.

An hour north of Austin, where my oldest son lives, my daughter-in-law always makes the best cabbage, hamburger and rice meal for me that I’ve ever tasted. It’s one of my favorite dishes and I’ve never been able to duplicate her recipe. Sighting deer on my walks here is also a daily happening.

I’ve begun thinking about settling down, but in the eight years I’ve been on the road, no place has shouted loud enough to hold me. I’m beginning to look and listen a bit harder, however.

Meanwhile I’m just going to keep enjoying the ever-changing scenery that is my current life.

Bean’s Pat: Stopping the Wind http://tinyurl.com/772hswd Good advice for all of us, regardless of what age you are.

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The "Road" is calling. -- Photo by Pat Bean

“Not all those who wander are lost.” JRR Tolkien

Travels With Maggie

“Just can’t wait to get on the road again.”

If you’re a Willie Nelson fan and avid traveler like me, the above words should send a tune rolling through your head. The melody always begins rippling though mine when I start packing up my RV – which I’m doing this morning.

There’s few things that make me giddier than knowing I have “miles to go before I sleep.”

While I’ll just be traveling a short distance across the big state of Texas – from one child’s driveway to another child’s driveway – I ‘m going to take two days to do it.

A trio of web-footed friends -- Photo by Pat Bean

Better yet, I have a sight-seeing agenda of places I haven’t seen before planned for the drive. I could care less that I will be taking a 150-mile detour on what would have been just a 240-mile trip.

Maggie, familiar with the packing up routine, is already claiming her co-pilot’s seat.

So since she and I “just can’t wait to get on the road again,” today’s blog is going to end now. like the song I sang as a kid to the tune of Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever.”


“Be kind to your web-footed friends, for a duck may be somebody’s mother. Be kind to your friends in the swamp, where the weather is always damp. You may think that this is the end. Well it is.”

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  “Than indecision brings its own delays, and days are lost lamenting o’er lost days. Are you in earnest? Seize this very minute; What you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


My travel book would include details about my search for Mother Nature in places like the New Hampshire woods where I came across this peaceful creek. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Too Many Unfinished Projects

Writing a first draft of a 50,000 word novel in 30 days has given me confidence for the old-broad writing days that still remain to me. There’s no question that I will write, for doing so is for me the same as breathing. I was fortunate that I found a way as a journalist to do it almost daily and get paid for it for 37 years.

When I retired from the job, however, I never saw myself retiring as a writer. I thought I would continue as a free-lance writer of travel and birding articles.

The Internet changed all that, however. The sources I had, including writing for my own former newspaper, dried up after a couple of years.

Suddenly it was a whole new world out there, and I faced either changing or being satisfied with writing only for myself. But it’s never worked that way for me. I both want to be read and to be paid for my writing as a way of personal validation


The photo of this hippo I took while on my African safari appears in Fodor's recently released "African Safari Guidebook." -- Photo by Pat Bean

The other change in the world of writing has been that self-publication is no longer considered a vanity, as it was during earlier days. In fact, many writing guides and teachers are encouraging wanna-be authors to go this route.

I’m seriously considering the possibility.

My immediate problem, however, is which project should I tackle first. Until NaNo, I failed to complete any major projects that didn’t have a pay-off deadline. The reasons are many, beginning with my own self doubts about a project’s worth. As former NaNo winners predicted, this inner questioning hit during my second week of the novel challenge. Working past it felt great.


The bear at Lake Walcott State Park in Idaho -- Photo by Pat Bean

So, with this said, let me explain my options – at least as I see them. Actually, I think I’m writing this blog as a way to get my own head straight.

First, there is the NaNo novel, which my ego says has good possibilities. Ever since I was a teenager reading Nancy Drew, I’ve wanted to write a mystery. The NaNo one is my second. The first is one of those uncompleted projects that never went beyond the first draft.

Then there’s the travel book I’ve already written, which needs a bit of rewriting. It has been read by critics who gave it mostly thumbs up, although all said it needed my voice. I now think I’ve developed my voice.

It would be the quickest project to finish. It’s called “Travels With Maggie.” I said in an earlier hunt for an agent that I thought it would fit nicely on the book shelf between Steinbeck’s “Travels With Charley” and Kuralt’s “On the Road” with a little bit of Tim Cahill thrown in and written with a feminine voice. .

Then there is the African safari travel/picture book that I started and which now begs to be finished.

Then there is a commitment to put together a nature book about Lake Walcott State Park in Idaho, where I spent last summer as a campground host and where I will return again this coming summer.

And finally there is a the memoir that is beginning to demand I write. It would be a story of a high school honor roll student who dropped out of school at 16 to get married and who had four children by the time she was 21, and who went on to become a reporter, city editor and finally associate editor of a 66,000 circulation newspaper. There’s a lot of skeletons, heartache, joys and growing up in between.

I’m giving myself a break until Monday to come up with an answer, after which I’m counting on the discipline of NaNo to help keep me to whatever deadline I set for myself.

I’m leaning toward the travel book as my next project.. What do you think? I really want to know.


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