Posts Tagged ‘Travels With Maggie’

“A dog is not almost human and I know of no greater insult to the canine race than to describe it as such.” – John Holmes

Travels With Maggie

While Maggie grudgingly lets me share her over-the-cab bed at night, she considers it her personal domain during the day. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Someone let their big dog run loose in the campground here at Lake Walcott State Park this past week. That’s a big No-No.

While dogs, like my spoiled owner, Maggie, are welcome in the park, the rule is that they are to be kept on a leash at all times, and that the human be considerate and pick up their poop.

Most of the times these rules are followed, but there’s always the guy or gal who thinks rules don’t mean them.

At least once or twice a week I get to remind people of the leash regulation, and most of them nicely comply – at least when I’m in sight.

Maggie’s usually the one who ferrets the non-complying dogs out. While a loose pet might calmly remain sitting by their owner’s side when a person walks by, they can’t resist running out to sniff another dog’s butt to say hello.

Maggie will ignore any dog smaller than her, wag her tail and get happy if the dog’s her size, but growl ferociously if the dog’s bigger than her. I tell her she hasn’t got a lick of sense, but then she figures she has me to hide behind if her bluff doesn’t work.

Anyway, our park ranger was the one to catch the most recent unleashed dog, quite a big one, he told me when I relieved him at the entrance kiosk yesterday morning.

Maggie's always on a leash. She wants her pet to stay close enough to protect her from the world. -- Photo by Pat Bean

He – I’m sure quite gruffly because he’s that kind of ranger – warned the owner to put his dog on a leash, While it can’t be proved, we suspect the owner didn’t comply once the ranger was out of sight. The clues to back up our suspicions include:

I walked outside Friday morning and spotted a big pile of poop near my RV.

Something spooked the two skunks that have been hanging around the park, and they sprayed near the ranger’s house. He’s not a happy camper.

The dog owner was taking his pet to the vet yesterday morning because it came across a porcupine and lost the battle.

Too bad it wasn’t the dog owner who got punctured is all I have to say.

Read Full Post »

Chihuly's orange herons among the plants -- Photo by Pat Bean

 What marriage of art and nature has amazed you?


“Great art picks up where nature ends.” Marc Chagall

Travels With Maggie

I love plants and I love art. And when I visited St. Louis a few years ago, I came across the perfect marriage of the pair. Famed glass artist Dale Chihuly and the internationally acclaimed Missouri Botanical Gardens had temporarily married for a wondrous exhibit. .

The joining had taken place in the garden’s geodesic dome greenhouse. As I wandered through the dome, I found myself constantly snapping pictures of man and Mother Nature’s amazing teamwork. When I later looked at the photos I had taken, I sometimes found it difficult to distinguish between glass and plants.

Blooming glass -- Photo by Pat Bean

I was reminded again of this memorable summer afternoon when I read a comment made on yesterday’s blog. The reader had noted that the mushrooms illustrating my blog looked like pieces of Chihuly art. I looked at the picture posted on my blog again, and agreed with the observation.

I remember lying awake that night after visiting the gardens, asking myself how a genius like Chihuly had been created. Dedication to his calling? Love of his work? A willingness to make mistakes to learn new methods? Hard work? Patience? A natural talent? Probably all these and more I decided before falling asleep that night.

Dr. Seuss words: “Oh the places you’ll go, and the things you’ll see,” have accompanied me on my journeys in my RV, Gypsy Lee, with my dog, Maggie, now for seven years. Seuss forgot, however, to add “And oh the things you’ll remember.” That’s OK. I did it for him.

Read Full Post »

“A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans are fruitless … we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.” John Steinbeck.

Icicles on Gypsy Lee as she sits outside my daughter's home on the outskirts of Dallas. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Travels With Maggie

I’m in Dallas. It’s currently 6:30 a.m. and 23 degrees outside, where my RV, Gypsy Lee, is parked on the street. My cocker spaniel and I, however, are warm and snug inside the home of my oldest daughter, Deborah.

 It’s a rare occasion when Maggie and I don’t sleep in our own above-the-cab bed. But since running the heater constantly all night would have drained the battery in my unplugged home, we had no choice.

It’s a day, I decided on waking, for a cozy chair, a blanket to snuggle beneath and a good book. I have all three, the book being Susan Albert’s “An Extraordinary Year of Ordinary Days,” a writer’s journal.

 It’s also a day that reminds me of the first time Deborah, who thinks spending a night at a Holiday Inn is camping, decided she wanted to experience my vagabond life for a few days. The plan was that I would pick her up in Odessa, Texas, where her contract job had ended, and the two of us would take a few days driving back to Dallas, which was almost 400 miles away.

 When we had made these plans the weather was sunny and warm. The day I picked her up in Odessa, it was cold and rainy. We made it to San Angelo, where we spent the night at Spring Creek Marina and RV Park on Lake Nasworthy. I had stayed here before and loved that I could walk Maggie beside the lake.

That's my daughter, Deborah, on the left during our stop at the Dr. Pepper plant in Dublin, Texas. -- Photo by Pat Bean

But the next morning was not a day for walking. Icicles hung from my RV and the windows inside had ice on them. We defrosted everything and got back on the road for a miserable day of driving in fog and sleet.

By afternoon, Deborah was ready for a long, hot shower and a warm soft bed. But hot water in my tiny shower is limited and my couch isn’t t exactly soft. We spent the night in a Holiday Inn in the small town of Brownwood – and hoped for a better tomorrow.

It wasn’t.

 We decided to forgo our lollygagging and drive as quickly back to Dallas as Gypsy Lee would take us. As far as giving my daughter a taste of what I consider a fantastic lifestyle, the trip had been a big bust. Then we came to Dublin, Texas, home of the oldest Dr. Pepper plant in the world. More importantly, it’s a rare facility that still uses the original recipe calling for pure cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup.

My daughter, who loves the original Dr. Pepper, hadn’t known the city was on our route. She was ecstatic and eager to stop. We spent a pleasant hour in the plant’s soda shoppe drinking Dr. Pepper and eating a hamburger lunch. My daughter then bought a couple of cases of the original Dr. Pepper to take home with her.

She was finally a happy camper, one who now knew one of my travel secrets: The unexpected is as important to a successful journey as the weather.

Read Full Post »

Travels With Maggie

“In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.” — Aristotle 

The floating log that first I saw morphed into a magnificent moose. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Wassamki Springs, Scarborough, Maine 

A revolving scenic landscape as a front yard is one of the best things about living in a home on wheels. Between lakes, mountains, red rocks, forests, wildflowers and visiting wildlife, it would be hard to pick one of nature’s gardens as my favorite view. But the one that riveted my attention at Wasssamki Springs Campground in Scarborough, Maine, on a September morning is certainly one I will never forget. 

 At first I thought it was just a log floating in the misty lake beside which my RV was parked. But as the object came closer it grew antlers, large ones that spread out across the top of its head. The huge moose ended its swim on a spit of sand just about 30 yards away from my front door. 

Then, casually, ignoring several of us campers who had stepped out of our motorhomes for a better look, it lumbered through the campground and then into the forest behind us. 

Maggie’s preference for sleeping in caused her miss the event. She only woke as I returned inside. She wagged her tail at the smile on my face, then clearly informed me she was ready for her morning walk now.

Read Full Post »


Not all beauty lies in the open air. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Travels With Maggie   


The walls of Jewel Cave flow with images created by dripping water. -- Photo by Pat Bean


“Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom.”  James Allen

While Maggie and I spend the next couple of months visiting with loved ones in Texas, I thought I’d share with readers and fellow travelers a few places that have enchanted, delighted, amused or awed me during my past six years of being on the road.

Jewel Cave National Monument

Located in South Dakota’s Black Hills near Custer, Jewel Cave is the second known largest in the world. Only Kentucky’s  Mammoth Cave is larger.  Calcite deposits in the wet part of the cave and gypsun deposits in the drier areas over a 60 million period are responsible for the cave’s fanciful formations.

Read Full Post »

Looking down the Columbia River at the Vantage Bridge and across it at Washington's Ginko Petrified Forest State Park. -- Photo by Pat Bean

“Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known.” — Winnie the Pooh

Travels With Maggie

The mighty, 1,243-mile long Columbia River, begins in the Rocky Mountains of Canada, flows south through Spokane and then forms much of the border between Washington and Oregon on its way west to the Pacific Ocean. Maggie and I crossed it twice in the same week as we traveled to Mount Ranier and then down to Southern Idaho. Both times left me awed.

 The first crossing was on Highway 90’s Vantage Bridge, an impressive structure with overhead steel girders, the kind that always sets off a rare barking episode from Maggie. Passing motorcycles are about the only other thing she barks at during our road journeys.

Once across, the highway climbed steeply through a section of Ginko Petrified Forest State Park. From an

Turbine windmills, part of Washington's Wild Horse energy project, sit atop the Columbia River Gorge near the Vantage Bridge crossing. -- Photo by Pat Bean

 informational plaque at an overlook just east of the crossing, I had learned that the park, in addition to Ginko, the sacred tree of China now almost extinct in the wild, includes over 200 other kinds of woods preserved by million year old lava flows.

 I stopped at the top of the gorge at the Ryegrass Rest Area, where I got a hazy view of Mount Ranier, and a look at huge turbine windmills that take advantage of the winds created by the river gorge. During an earlier trip, when I followed the Columbia River Gorge’s path all the way through Washington, I stopped at Maryhill State Park, where I watched windsufers also take advantage of this same wind source. Mother Nature is so kind to us.

My second crossing of the river on this trip was over Highway 82’s Umatilla Bridge. Before crossing, I stopped briefly at Plymouth Park on the north side of the river, where I ate my lunch and watched robins and house sparrows stroll past, ever searching for a tasty treat of bugs, seeds or picnicker leftovers.

Lewis and Clark camped near this park, which is named after Plymouth Rock because of the huge basaltic rock that projects into the river at the site. The pair of explorers most likely saw robins in the area, but house sparrows hadn’t yet been brough over from England to America.

Joining my thoughts revisiting the Lewis and Clark expedition were one about the first white settlers who passed this

Highway 82 historical kiosk reminding travelers they are following the Oregon Trail route. -- Photo by Pat Bean

 way.   I was now seeing frequent signs reminding me that the smoothly paved road I was driving down was once little more than wagon ruts, and not even that for the first brave settlers heading west. My route across the Columbia River to Pendleton, Oregon, and continuing south was basically once known as the Oregon Trail.\

The pioneers’ crossing of the Columbia River would have taken much longer than mine and Maggie’s. How could one not be awed by the adventures of those hearty souls. Or by the Columbia River itself, I asked Maggie as I crossed the river on the Umatilla Bridge. There was no reply. Maggie was snoozing.

With no traffic in sight, I slowed my speed to better enjoy the river view.

Read Full Post »

Baskets of pink pansies add color to a small town's Main Street. ... Photo by Pat Bean

Baskets of pink pansies add color to a small town's Main Street ... Photo by Pat Bean

“It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters in the end.” — Ursula K. LeGuin 

 Travels With Maggie

I was too early for the annual Loggers Jubilee that will be held for the 68th time later this month in the small town of Morton Washington. Between Aug. 12th and the 15th, the town’s expected to be booming with parades, logging shows, flea markets, lawn mower races and of course crowning of the Jubilee Queen. 

 The recent July day I visited the town, for a bit of breakfast at Cody’s Cafe before heading on to nearby Mt. Ranier National Park, Morton was quiet and sleepy.

  This southwestern logging town once claimed itself the “Railroad Mill Tie Capitol of the World.” Ties are those things railroad tracks sit on. Each mile of railroad track requires about 3,000 ties. More and more of the ties these days, however, are being made of concrete instead of wood. Morton’s claim to fame was the huge tie dock – Wikipedia says the “world’s largest” — that was located along the railroad tracks east of the town. 

One of two murals on a fire rescue station in Morton, Washington, that captured my attention. ... Photo by Pat Bean

 After an excellent butterhorn, warm and drenched in butter as it should me, but served by a gray-haired waitress who never smiled – I suspected her feet hurt – I took a quick walk down the city’s downtown.  It was a short walk whose main attractions were sidewalk pots of blooming pink pansies and a couple of murals that colored the walls of the town’s fire rescue station. 

 While not exactly what one could call great art, the murals were interesting and brightened up an otherwise dull building. They were painted by a man named Kangas, according to a signature at the bottom of  one of the murals. I later Binged the name on the Internet and came up with the artist Larry Kangas, who according to his Web site has painted thousands of murals over the past 35 plus years. 

 I suspected these weren’t the first piece of Kangas art I had seen in my travels. They looked too familiar. I also hoped they

Artist signature ... Photo by Pat Bean

 wouldn’t be by last. There was a feel about Kangas’ murals that said the artist enjoyed painting them. That suspicion heightened my enjoyment in viewing them. 

My travels take me to well-know and spectacular places , but its the unexpected sights and experiences,  such as pink pansies, a melt-in-the-mouth butterhorn, surpising railroad trivia and art along the way that give the journey meaning. 


Read Full Post »

Hungry mouths

Growing a little

Photos by Pat Bean  

“It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.” C. S. Lewis

From helpless and naked to spouting feathers for flying in only two weeks at Farragut State Park

"Mama we're hungry"

The good-mother robin I’ve been watching the past few weeks is now raising three chicks. The first time I visited her after they had hatched, she dive-bombed me. After quickly snapping a photo I left the scene. The second time I came, she sat on a tiny tree four feet from the nest and gave me a concerned, dirty look. The third time, she sat on the same tree, but seemed more peaceful.

Her growing chicks mouths were about all I could see at first. The birds are born naked and helpless, depending completely on their parents for warmth and nourishment. They now have feathers and look almost ready to leave the nest, a process that takes only about 13 days. It’s been an awesome joy daily watching this transformation.

I suspect this is my mother robin’s second brood of the year. When I first discovered her nest a fallen portion of an earlier nest beneath it contained remains of an empty egg shell that appeared to have hatched. Robins can raise three broods in a good year, and can live up to 14 years – if Mother Nature is kind to them.

It's getting a bit crowded in the nest

Most, however, don’t survive beyond about 7 years, and only about 40 percent of chicks reach adulthood. Magpies find baby robins quite tasty, as do snakes, cats and many other predators.

Considering this mother robin’s attentive care, I suspect her babies may have a higher percentage rate. And whether that’s true or not, the optimist in me will continue to believe it to be so.

Read Full Post »