Posts Tagged ‘Travel’

NaNoWriMo Update: 35,353 words

Sadly this abandoned ship off Jamaica's coastline reminded me of the state of my NaNo goal the past two days. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I’ve been on sabbatical for two days. 

 I cut short my writing yesterday to spend the day with my granddaughter Jennifer. She’s 28 and a nurse. I spent the day at her house fulfilling her request for Nana’s chicken and rice. My grandkids usually want me to cook it whenever I visit. We visited and watched animated films while it cooked. it was a great day.
Here’s the recipe: From a writer’s perspective
Cook a whole, fat chicken in a pot full of water with salt added to taste until the meat falls off the bones. Cook it on low with a top on the pot. You’ll have about an hour and a half to write while it cooks.
Take the chicken out of the water and put it in a large bowl to cool. Don’t throw out the broth. Write for at least one more hour

Skin and debone the chicken, adding all of the meat (in bite size pieces) back into the pot of broth (make sure there is at least 8 cups of liquid}
Add two cups of uncooked rice, a generous amount of poultry seasoning and pepper to taste.

 Cook on low until rice is done. Here’s about another half hour in which to write. When done, eat and enjoy. 

Today my son bought me a smart  phone for an early Christmas present. He wants to be able to track my location as I travel the country in my RV.

So of course I spent too much time playing on it and not enough time NaNo-ing.

 But if I get in 2,000 words a day for the next eight days, I’ll still meet my goal. And I’ve come too far at this point not to finish.

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“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.  

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“You may have a dog that won’t sit up, roll over or even cook breakfast, not because she’s too stupid to learn how but because she’s too smart to bother.” — Rick Horowitz

Travels With Maggie

Maggie lives a most comfortable life -- and she gives me comfort. And this was the most comforting think I could thing of to illustrate this week's photo challenge. -- Photo by Pat Bean

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 “A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.” – John Steinbeck

My wandering mind waa on green jays as i drove Highway 36 toward Lake Jackson. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Travels With Maggie

With my canine traveling companion, Maggie, snoozing away in her co-pilot seat, I left Harker Heights, and my oldest son’s home, early for our drive to Lake Jackson, and my middle son’s home 250 miles away. It’s a very familiar drive for me, one I’ve made many times.

As I passed oil rigs, grazing cattle, cotton fields, mesquite trees and roadside sunflowers that let me know I was in Texas, I was glad to see the color green still existed. It had been missing on my drive two days earlier down Highway 190, clear evidence of the dastardly drought the state has been suffering. .

To all Texans living where heat and drought has scorched the landscape, I just wanted to show that green does still exist. This is the view from my RV window in Lake Jackson. -- Photo by Pat Bean

While admittedly things weren’t quite as lush as I remembered from past drives down Highway 36, the landscape was still a far cry from the brown and dying cedar trees, lack of grass and stunted and yellow cactus that had dominated my entry back into the Lone Star state on Tuesday.

The driving this day was easy with little traffic. As usual under such circumstances, my mind begins to wander. This day, it went south to the Rio Grande Valley, perhaps because I was thinking about when I would be able to go there and do some winter birding.

From Lake Jackson, where I was headed, it’s only a half day’s drive. I would have to see what bird festivals were going on down there in the coming months, I thought as I drove.

My mind must have still been with the fantastic green jays down there when I came to the Highway 35 turnoff, because I took it. I was looking for it in fact.


I then realized that what I had actually been looking for was the Highway 36 turnoff that I always took when I returned from the valley. But then I had already been on Highway 36.
I guess I should have been paying more attention to where I was than where I wanted to go.

Anybody else out there have a mind that plays tricks on them like that?

If so, I hope you have a traveling companion like Maggie. She never yells at me when I take a wrong turn.

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“I think we are bound to, and by, nature. We may want to deny this connection and try to believe we control the external world, but every time there’s a snowstorm or drought, we know our fate is tied to the world around us.” Alice Hoffman

This isn't how a willow tree is supposed to look. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Travels With Maggie

From the heights of the morning’s glorious Texas sunrise, my first since mid-April, my journey to just north of Austin descended into horrifying reality of the drought the state has been suffering.

The sights hit me especially hard when I left Interstate 10 to follow Highway 190 for over 200 miles.

The scorched earth, brown and dying cedar trees, total lack of grass and yellow and stunted cactus were hard to stomach.. While I had been luxuriating beside a lake enjoying a mild Idaho summer, my native Texas had been suffering record temperatures without rain.

My Texas family had frequently informed me that this was so, but seeing it still broke my heart, especially when I saw skinny deer wandering the roadside huddled around one small patch of grass. It was very close to the road, and the deer stayed nearby instead of scampering away as my RV approached.

Laughter is not a bad thing when faced with hard times.

It made me glad I was traveling a lonely stretch of highway, especially since a bit farther on I passed two deer that had given their life for staying too close to the road. The turkey vultures seemed to be the only ones prospering on the landscape.

At my oldest son’s home in Harker Heights, I found his usual green lawn brown, and the limbs of the vibrant willow tree in his back yard scantily clad. And today, the water pipes buried in his front yard sprung a gigantic leak.

“It’s happening a lot all over the place,” said the plumber, who was too busy to come until the next day. As the landscape dries, it shifts around, often breaking things in the process.

Even Maggie noticed how things were different. A bit of a tenderfoot, she found the stiff dry grass on the edges of the road we walked not to her liking.

I watched as she carefully place one paw down, and then looked for a softer spot to place her next step. When she didn’t find it, she quickly came back onto the paved road to continue our evening walk.

In some places, this beautiful lantana plant is considered an invasive weed. It looked awfully good to me, however, when all else was suffering from the drought. -- Pat Bean

My daughter-in-law, meanwhile, has still managed to maintain a bit of color around their house. Her backyard flower bed , filled with what she called hardy plants, hinted that all was not lost.

 As I looked out on them this morning, I saw house wrens playing among the blossoms, while bright cardinals, finches, mockingbirds and sparrows visited the yard as well.

. I think they liked the color, too. And perhaps the bird feeders scattered about the yard as well.

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 “Sometimes it’s important to work for that pot of gold. But other times it’s essential to take time off and to make sure that your most important decision in the day simply consists of choosing which color to slide down on the rainbow.” Douglas Pagels

Travels With Maggie`

A walk around Silverbell Lake helped clear the cobwebs from my crowded brain. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Life caught up with me this past week. Too many miles in not enough days, too many amazing sights and not enough time to linger among them, and only three days to enjoy loved ones before I’m back on the road.

My preferred style of travel – no more than 150 miles a day with a couple of days sitting in between – has been blown to hell in a hand basket, the same one my grandmother said would take me there if I didn’t shape up.

Something had to give. And it did. I stayed off my computer and missed two days of daily blogging.

Instead, I lazed around my youngest daughter’s Tucson home, took Maggie for short walks, enjoyed the company of three grandsons, hiked around Silverbell Lake while everyone else fished, read a lot, and watched the turkey vulture and red-tailed hawks soar above, and doves, rock wrens, curved-bill thrashers, gila woodpeckers, northern flickers and rabbits play among the saguaro cactus.

My daughter, Trish, lives on the outskirts of the city and coyotes and bobcats often visit, she said. As do quail that usually trot past their back porch daily.

My son-in-law, Joe, described them for me, and I suspect they’re Gambel’s quail, although they could just as easily be California quail. Both species have the C-shaped plume dangling forward over the front of their heads.


A landscaped yard without grass. Drought-stricken area residents should take note. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I haven’t seen them yet. I think they’re taking a break from their daily routine – like me.

It’s back on the road tomorrow. I’m heading to Texas’ Gulf Coast and a grandson’s wedding. It will be another four days of 300-mile a day drives, although thankfully, well except for the first 50 miles, it will not be freeway driving.

Interstates were something I could not avoid for two entire days on my way from Yosemite to Tucson. It made me never want to go back to California, that and the fact I was paying $4.15 a gallon for gas there. The cost immediately dropped to $3,39 a gallon once I crossed the border into Arizona.

I’ll post pictures nightly of my next four days of driving so you can enjoy the road with me. Just don’t expect me to be too wordy. I’ll save those for later when life has once again slowed down.  


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 “If you think dogs can’t count, try putting three dog biscuits in your pocket then giving Fido only two of them.” Edward Jesse

Travels With Maggie

This is the look I get when Maggie wants something and expects me to know what it is. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Maggie, my black cocker spaniel traveling companion, wormed her way into the heart of my friend, Sherry, when we visited her in Milton-Freewater, Oregon, last week. So much so that Sherry turned up at my RV with treats for her.

Now we’re not talking your usually doggie bone, we’re talking a whole cheeseburger without any condiments one day, and a sausage and egg breakfast sandwich the next day. Admittedly she asked first if Maggie was allowed people food.

Now if you’ve ever read the ingredients in most dog food, which I carefully began doing after the dog-food fiasco a few years back that killed people’s pets, you’ll understand why I replied:


I think this is Maggie's way of saying "Let's rest a bit before going on." -- Photo taken by Pat Bean at Clyde Holliday State Park in Southern Oregon.

In fact, Maggie always gets the last bite of anything I eat. It was the way Maggie, whom I rescued from an abusive first year of her life, and I bonded, As long as it isn’t junk food, I figure real food is as good or even better for her as dog food.

I didn’t know, however, that my answer would reap Maggie such a generous reward, although I must admit Maggie was on especially good behavior with Sherry, her teenage son and their cats.

Maggie, who is more cat-like than dog-like, has never had a problem with felines, just other dogs, which all of my children have. It’s not that she’s mean beyond growling a bit at the bigger ones, but just that she likes to mark her territory to let them know she considers herself the alpha dog.

And that means that although she will cross her legs all day to keep from peeing in our RV home, she’s not as considerate when she’s in another dog’s territory, even if that territory is indoors.

Maggie with her pet, me, at Lake Walcott State Park in Idaho

It was like going back to the days when my children were always doing something to embarrass me.

The reason I decided to tell you a bit about my spoiled dog this morning is that I think Sherry got Maggie thinking that cozying up to people might have its rewards. So she smoozed her way into the heart of my RV neighbor here at the Bordertown RV Park just outside Reno, where I spent the past two days. .

This morning the neighbor came over with two pieces of left-over chicken from her dinner last night.

“Can Maggie have some chicken,” she asked.


She then patiently stood there and picked the meat off the bone and fed it to her.

Afterward, Maggie grinned up at me. I swear she did.

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“Life loves to be taken by the lapel and told ‘I’m with you kid. Let’s go’” —  Maya Angelou

Collage of cowgirls hanging in the Cowgirl Hall of Fame Museum in Fort Worth, Texas.

I was looking through my photos for a picture to illustrate texture and came across this. Certainly the textures found in the lives of these strong women qualify. I find it awesome to just think about the softness of their hearts, the hardness of the steel  fueling their gumption, the kindness of their hands on a child’s feverish face, the hot rash of passion in their lives and the rough calluses of their ranch worn hands. And it’s all beautiful.


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 “Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all.” – Stanley Horowitz

Spring at Lake Walcott, when it arrived in June, brought trees laden with pink blossoms. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Travels With Maggie

Most of Lake Walcott's many trees were still leafless when Maggie and I arrived at the park in mid-May. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Fall is coming to Lake Walcott. It’s early. This Southern Idaho park was still sleepy with the last breaths of winter when I arrived here mid-May. Most of the trees were still leafless and running my heater, at least at night, was a given.

The days, however, slowly begin to warm and before soon foliage blocked my view of the lake, while dandelions dotted the park’s manicured lawns with yellow and pink blossoms colored a tree just outside my RV, Gypsy Lee.

Spring lingered for a long time here. It wasn’t until July that I had to first use my air conditioner, and even then it always went off when the sun went down. August brought with the first days when temperatures reached the 90s, but still most days the mercury’s high only hovered in the mid-80s.

Rarely was there a day that wasn’t perfect for the long walks my dog, Maggie, and I took daily through the park.

` While so many parts of the country have been experiencing record-breaking heat, Lake Walcott has had an unusually mild summer. And now, just a little more than a week before I am leaving, it’s treating me to hints of fall. Within a 120-day period I’ve experiences all four seasons.

As I looked out on the Landscape surrounding Lake Walcott, at the frosty sagebrush now grown tall, and the rabbitbrush all aglow in autumn colors, I remembered to thank Mother Nature for her gifts. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I thought on this as I looked out on a landscape yesterday of frosty sagebrush, now grown tall in this high desert, interspersed with the fall display of golden-topped rabbitbrush.

I give thanks to Mother Nature for the beauty she gifted me. I also give thanks that I have eyes and a heart capable of appreciating her gifts. May it always be so.

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A Sleep-In Day for Maggie and Me

“A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face. It is one of the few havens remaining where a man’s mind can get both provocation and privacy. ~Edward P. Morgan

Books and Authors

I couldn't resist this picture of Maggie, all snuggled up and sleeping in with her Teddy Bear yesterday morning. -- Photo by Pat Bean

It was only 42 degrees when I woke up yesterday morning. I snuggled down into my covers, reluctant to start the day with the sunrise as is my usual mode of operation. Instead I reached for my Kindle. I had read Earlene Fowler’s “Spider Web” after getting into bed, before reluctantly putting it down to get some sleep.

But this morning, since I wanted to stay snuggled up, I begin listing to my audible copy of “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett.. I had a hard time putting it down to finally get up and fix coffee about 10 a.m. Reading is bed is my idea of sleeping in on a cold morning.

By the time I got up, the day had warmed to 70 degrees. Maggie, however, who is the true late riser, was still snuggled up on the couch with her Teddy Bear by her side and the quilt I had thrown over her. I couldn’t resist a picture of her.

A good read

I also couldn’t resist continuing to listen to “The Help,” and did little else yesterday except that. I think I needed a down day – and I’m glad I took it. . I finished the book today when I was working in the entrance kiosk here at Lake Walcott State Park.

The book takes place in the early 1960s in Jackson, Mississippi, a time when a lot of history was being made, most of it not good at all. The book took me back to those days as it followed the clandestine activities of a young white women and two older black maids. I highly recommend the book, which I understand was recently made into a movie.

Think about taking a down day to read it. .And then let me know if you had as much trouble putting it down until it was finished as I did.

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