Posts Tagged ‘Ursula K. LeGuin’

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters.” Ursula K. leGuin

African Safari: A Texas Prelude

The Johnson Space Center was busy the day Kim and I visited, and dreamed of what it would be like to leave this planet's gravity. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Kim’s arrival at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston in August should have been greeted with 100-degree temperatures and 90 percent humidity. Instead the temperature was about 80 with little humidity.

The sadist in me was disappointed. I had told Kim what to expect of Texas summers, and now my native state was making me into a liar. Oh well, much better for the two days of sight-seeing before we left for Africa.

Our first stop was the Johnson Space Center.

I was living south of Houston, near all the glamorous astronaut happenings, when Neil Armstrong set the first human foot on the moon, uttering the historic words: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

I’ve been fascinated with space travel ever since. And Kim and I both expressed awe at the idea of an adventure in space. She even oohed in awe when she actually touched a moon rock. I had taken a couple of grandkids to the center previously and recalled doing the exact same thing.

Our sight-seeing continued the next day with a trip to Galveston via the Blue Water Highway that runs from Surfside, parallel to the Gulf of Mexico, to San Luis Pass and then across a bridge to Galveston Island. My son and his family came along, and we did some birding on the way over to the island.

I had earlier infected my son, Lewis, with my passion for birds, and the others in the party were patient with our dawdling drive. They might even have enjoyed the sight of brown pelicans flying low over the horizon, snowy egrets gathered in the shallows and a lone great blue heron patiently fishing along the shore that we saw this day.

Hurricane Ike, just as a matter of trivia, took out the Blue Water Highway the next year, but it has since been rebuilt.

Laughing gulls and royal terns are common beach-side sides along the Blue Water Highway. -- Photo by Pat Bean

In Galveston, we walked along the sea wall, whose water-front sandy beach has been disappearing in recent years. Afterward, we stopped at the Rain Forest Cafe for dinner.

The cafe, which looks out on the Gulf and has an amazing rendition of an exploding volcano on its outside facade and a waterfall and computer animated wildlife on the inside is a popular place. We had an hour wait to be seated.

What helped make the wait worth the time was how the hostess finally announced that our table was ready.

“Bean, party of seven, your safari is ready to begin,” she said.

It seemed so apropos, as tomorrow Kim and I would fly to Africa and our safari would begin for real.

Next Episode: Flight to Nairobi

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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. 


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