Posts Tagged ‘Utah’

Antelope Island

Antelope Island from the causeway on an overcast day. — Photo by Pat Bean

“Women, like men, should try to do the impossible. And when they fail, their failure should be a challenge to others.” – Amelia Earhart

Wilson’s Phalaropes 

My newest writing work in progress, since Travels with Maggie is now published, is a book I’m calling Bird Droppings. It’s about my adventures, and that they have been, of being a late-blooming birder.

Female Wilson’s phalarope in breeding plumage. — Wikimedia photo

It’s a passion that addicted me at the age of 60, just when my body was beginning to revolt against my more strenuous outdoor activities of back-packing, white-water rafting, biking and skiing.

Recognizing the new hobby as a major blessing that kept me moving forward in my zest for life, I reveled in the new experiences. And the more I actually learned about birds, the more enamored I became with bird watching.

As I watched for birds on the island, I always saw other wildlife, and pronghorn antelope were frequently among them. — Photo by Pat Bean

At first, I relied on others to make identifications of birds in the field, but there came a point when I wanted to be able to be the first one to say that’s a yellow-rumped warbler or a ruddy duck. Those two, by the way are usually easy to identify. The first, also known as a butter butt, often moons you so you clearly see its golden backside, and the second has a blue bill and a stuck-up tail,

To satisfy my need to be able to identify a bird on my own, I began solo weekly visits, with field guides in hand, to Antelope Island in Great Salt Lake. I called the place my Birding 101 Lab and visited it almost weekly, throughout the seasons, for two years. I never had an outing to the island, which was reached by a six-mile causeway, in which I didn’t learn something new and fascinating.

One of the more interesting birds to me, since I’m a woman who raised five children almost entirely on her own, were the Wilson’s phalaropes. These nine-inch or so shorebirds are members of the sandpiper family. They flock by the hundreds of thousands to Great Salt Lake during the summer. I often watched them swimming around and around in circles, creating a vacuum that would bring up tiny bits of food to eat.

But the thing I enjoyed most about these birds, which I learned from my many bird books and field guides, was that they switched roles. The female had the brightest colored feathers, courted the males, and then left the egg sitting and rearing the young to the gentlemen as well.

As a mom who changed cloth diapers for five children without any help, I couldn’t help but admire the female phalaropes.

            Bean Pat: Refuge https://www.birdnote.org/show/terry-tempest-williams-reads-refuge One of my favorite authors reads a short piece in her soothing voice. This is a real treat, and less than 2 minutes long.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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There's no question but that I'm in the autumn of my life. But then I think the fall is beautiful. Don't you? -- Photo by Pat Bean

There’s no question but that I’m in the autumn of my life. But then I think the fall is beautiful. Don’t you? — Photo by Pat Bean

            The most important thing I can tell you about aging is this: If you really feel that you want to have an off-the-shoulder blouse and some big beads and thong sandals and a dirndl skirt and a magnolia in your hair, do it. Even if you’re wrinkled.” – Maya Angelou

            “Aging has a wonderful beauty and we should have respect for that.” — Eartha Kitt

Just Keep On Keeping On

Early in the day, my good friend Kim, her brother Robert, and his wife Carla, and I decided to visit the Anasazi Ridge petroglyphs near St. George, but it was late in the afternoon before we actually got around to doing so.

anazazi-2          We hadn’t gone far along the trail when I realized I was holding up the other three people, all 20 or more years younger. I had back problems last year that has slowed me down considerably. Anyway, I knew that at the rate we were going, we would never get up to the petroglyph ridge site and back down before dark.

I opted to stop at a pleasant spot along the trail and wait for them. They, being good people, tried to persuade me otherwise, but I was more persuasive, and so they left me behind.

A few years earlier, I would have been upset at my inability to keep up on a hiking trail. In fact, I cried the first time it happened. But the years have been good to me, and I’ve learned that there is always, and in my case I do mean ALWAYS, a silver lining for my slower hiking pace.

More Anasazi Ridge petroglyphs

More Anasazi Ridge petroglyphs

This day, I took some photos of St. George’s rare autumn colors (this was the day after Thanksgiving) and then settled down on a large flat rock and enjoyed my surroundings.

A bit later, a good-looking, grey haired man sauntered down the trail, and stopped to chat with me. It was a pleasant interlude. I’m not so old that I didn’t enjoy his effortless masculinity – and may I never be.

“You know you’re sitting right beside some petroglyphs,” he said, then showed me two spiral stone carvings hidden in a rock crevice. One of the spirals turned clockwise and the other counter-clockwise. “One represents birth, and the other represents death,” he said. We chatted for a bit longer before his long legs sauntered on. I was then eager for my friends to return.

“Did you see the petroglyphs?” I asked, when they finally came into view. They replied that they had. I then smiled, and asked if they wanted to see some more?

“When one door closes, another opens,” said Alexander Graham Bell, who then went on to say that too often we focus so much on the closed door that we fail to see any new openings. Thankfully, I see new doors opening everywhere these days. It’s the reward for the aging of my body that can no longer do the same things it once did, certainly not at the same speed.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Cravesadventure http://tinyurl.com/z9w3bs2 Some good thoughts about one’s hopes for the New Year.

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         ” May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.” — Edward Abbey

The view through Mesa Arch shows off a rich, red-rock background. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The view through Mesa Arch shows off a rich, red-rock background. — Photo by Pat Bean

Weekly Photo Challenge: In the Background

I always find Canyonlands National Park, located in Southern Utah where four other awesome national parks vie for attention, surprising. One visit it is the deep blue, cloud-dotted sky above a red-rock landscape that captures my awe. On another visit, it is the emerald green of the Colorado or Green rivers off in the distance as seen from a high viewpoint. The confluence of the two rivers takes place within the park.

A more distant view of the arch shows off the La Salle Mountains in the Background. -- Photo by Pat Bean

A more distant view of the arch shows off the La Salle Mountains in the Background. — Photo by Pat Bean

I’ve visited Canyonlands’ Island in the Sky section many times, as it is located on the shortest route from Utah to Texas, the one I took many times when I worked and lived in Utah and visited family members in Texas.

This week’s photo challenge gave me an opportunity to show off its Mesa Arch, perhaps one of the most photographed scenic sites in North America. Reached by an easy half-mile round-trip hike  just off the park’s main road, I never visited the park without walking out to see it.

And then there is always the emerald green of the river in the background as seen from one of the park's many viewpoints. -- Photo by Pat Bean

And then there is always the emerald green of the river in the background as seen from one of the park’s many viewpoints. — Photo by Pat Bean

The season, time of day and weather made each viewing a one-of-a-kind experience, not to mention the varying wildflowers and dry or wet potholes scattered along the hike that gave a different mood to the trail.

Bean’s Pat: The Road Ahead http://tinyurl.com/p6jzvvu This blog describes perfectly how I feel the first day of a road trip. I see more, write more in my journal and am awed more by the landscape than any other day on a trip. But of course that’s not to say I don’t also enjoy all my traveling days.

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            “Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write compose or pant can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic inherent in a human situation.” Graham Greene

Gypsy Lee in Capitol Reef Gorge in Utah. during an escape I took with my oldest son during Gypsy Lee's first year on the road. -- Photo by D,C, Bean

Gypsy Lee in Capitol Reef Gorge in Utah. during an escape I took with my oldest son during Gypsy Lee’s first year on the road. — Photo by D,C, Bean

Escape = Writing, Nature, Books and Gypsy Lee


Gypsy Lee by Lake Frank Jackson in Alabama at sunset. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Gypsy Lee by Lake Frank Jackson in Alabama at sunset. — Photo by Pat Bean

          Escape from anything the slightest bit heated, boring, uncomfortable, emotional or unpleasant has always been my first line of defense. It began as a child growing up in a turbulent family and never stopped.

I finally learned to face head-on things that simply had to be faced, but I still don’t like it.

These days, when my life is mostly quite mellow, Gypsy Lee is my No. 1 escape mechanism. I use her to escape from itchy feet that still want to go everywhere, see everything and do everything.

I do so love her.

The Wondering Wanderer's blog pick of the day.

The Wondering Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat: Survivor Fan http://tinyurl.com/bhsdcmo This old broad is a big survivor fan, and this blog – how true, how true – had me rolling on the floor laughing. What a great way to start my morning.

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 “The journey itself is my home.” Basho Matsuo

Adventures with Pepper: Day Four Continued            

Devil’s Slide as viewed from the far side of the Weber River. — Photo by Pat Bean

When it comes to interesting landscapes, the Devil too often gets the credit.

For example, Colorado has a Devil’s Playground, New Zealand has a Devil’s Bath, Wyoming has a Devil’s Tower, Norway has a Devil’s Valley and Oklahoma, Idaho and Arizona all have Devil canyons. And this is just barely scratching the surface.

Wandering/wondering minds are curious about this name phenomenon. Aren’t you?

Utah’s Weber Canyon, which I passed through, was what got me thinking about this.

Near the mouth of the canyon I passed Devil’s Gate, and near its end I passed Devils Slide.

The gate was named by early explorers to the region, and later illustrated by Thomas Moran for a railroad tour guide. He also did an illustration of Devil’s Slide.

I was on the wrong side of Highway 84 to get a picture of the gate, but Pepper and I stopped at the scenic turnout to admire Devil’s Slide for a while.

Artist Thomas Moran’s etching of Devil’s Gate, a rock formation in the Weber River that daunted early pioneers who came down Weber Canyon. This spot on the river now offers kayakers a major challenge.

The limestone sides of the slide were part of a sea floor about 175 million years ago. The sea drained away, the reef bed tilted and the softer between layer of rock eroded away to create the unusual geological site.            I wondered what was on the mind of the person who named it Devil’s Slide instead of Angel’s Slide, or simply The Giant’s Slide.

Book Report: Travels with Maggie is now up to 45,422 words. I got up early this morning so I could write.  

The Wondering Wanderer’s blog pick of the day

          Bean’s Pat: Take a hike http://tinyurl.com/8fk88m8 Along the West Coast Trail. I would be envious if I weren’t having my own, less strenuous, but still fabulous journey right now.

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Fall sketch of red-winged blackbird at Antelope Island State Park in Utah

“Identity would seem to be the garment with which one covers the nakedness of the self, in which case, it is best that the garment be loose, a little like the robes of the desert, through which one’s nakedness can always be felt, and sometimes, discerned.” James Arthur Baldwin.

One Thing Is Not Like the Other

Female red-winged blackbird — Wikipedia photo

Back in my earlier days of bird watching, I came across a small flock of birds at Green River State Park in Utah that I spent an hour, field guide in hand, trying to identify. They just didn’t quite fit the description of any North American bird, or so I was coming to conclude.

And then a lone male red-winged blackbird flew past – and the light bulb came on. My flock of birds were female red-winged blackbirds. It wasn’t that I hadn’t seen them before, I had just forgotten how unlike their mates they look.

You can find red-winged blackbirds anywhere you live here in North America.

Here at Lake Walcott State Park in Idaho, the males flash their scarlet epaulets boldly, saying look at me, look at me. The females, however, mostly stay hidden in the reeds growing on the lake bank, where they build their nests, in hopes they won’t be seen.

The show-off male — Wikipedia photo

It’s a rare day here at the park that I don’t see both birds, the females because I know where to look, and the males everywhere I look.  This morning one was even checking out the fresh supply of sunflower seeds I had put in my bird feeder.

Life doesn’t get much better.

Bean’s Pat: Lady Romp http://tinyurl.com/cekabj8 A message we all need to remember. Blog pick of the day from this wandering wonderer.

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 My Favorite Places: Zion National Park


Emerald Pools waterfall in Zion National Park in Utah -- Photo by Pat Bean


There are so many different kinds of writing and so many ways to work that the only rule is this: do what works. Almost everything has been tried and found to succeed for somebody. The methods, even the ideas of successful writers contradict each other in a most heartening way, and the only element I find common to all successful writers is persistence-an overwhelming determination to succeed.” – Sophy Murnham.

NaNoWriMo Update … 28,717 words

NaNo goal of 2,000 words met, physical therapy appointment kept, drive from my daughter’s homein Dallas to my son’s place  in Harker Heights accomplished, segments of my novel written out in my head as I drove,  hugs and kisses from my autistic granddaughter, yummy liver with onions and bacon, rice and gravy and green pea dinner with family, ice cream sandwich for dessert, Survivor show watched with my son, and now I’m writing and posting my blog post.

I’m pooped but happy.

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Hogsback Ridge between Escalante and Boulder on Utah's Highway 12, often called America's most scenic road. -- Photo by Pat Bean


My Favorite Places


Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument landscape -- Photo by Pat Bean

“I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of hunger for life that gnaws in us all.” – Richard Wright

NaNoWriMo Update .. 8,326 words

Sitting down in front of the computer for five straight hours today wasn’t going to happen. I was stiff from two hours of physical therapy yesterday to make my old broad body unstiff, particularly my neck and shoulders.

So I did my writing in bits and spurts. I got up to 2,000 new words by 4 p.m., after starting at 6 a.m. Did I mention I was still in my pajamas?

My main character is going to have a dog, and if there’s anything I know it’s a relationship one can have with a beloved pet. So today I wrote a lot about that, along with planting a first clue for my mystery. I’ve always hated it when you read a mystery and there are either no clues – or no red herrings.

Thankfully today, I had nowhere to go and my daughter’s big house al to myself, well except for three dogs, one cat that needs insulin shots twice and day and three aquariums full of fish.

. It also showed me, however, that I tend to get more done on the days I have to do more. I’m finding this challenge very interesting.

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 “I would be the most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.” Anna Quindlen

Longhorn wall hanging at the Salt Grass in Pearland -- Photo by Lewis Bean

Travels With Maggie

The Texas longhorn’s mounted head at the Salt Grass in Pearland caught my attention last night. Eight Beans, the human kind, had gone there to celebrate my daughter-in-law’s birthday.

As we waited, beneath the bull, I thought of all the other animal trophies I had seen hanging from walls. This particular steer, I suspected, was there as a symbol of the restaurant’s No. 1 menu item – Steak!

It was certainly in poor taste if looked at through the longhorn’s eyes.

My mind thinks about such things as this when it’s not otherwise occupied. Everyone, I thought, has their own ideas about decorating and the trophies they show off — including me.

Hanging in the only spot in my RV that can hold anything is a caricature of me drawn by cartoonist Cal Grondahl. It shows me as a bird in honor of my bird-watching passion, and goes well with my “trophy’ list of how many birds I’ve seen since 1999.

The St. Bernard's head that hangs on the wall in the Shooting Star Saloon in Huntsville, Utah.

And then there’s my list of all the states I’ve visited – only three more to go to make it 50. I would have to say these qualify as my trophies.

During my travels around the country, one of the more common wall trophies I’ve seen over the years is the mythical jackalope. If you don’t know, or can’t guess, it’s a stuffed jackrabbit with antelope horns attached. I’ve always wondered why some people think this is so funny.

I’ve even come across a stuffed rattlesnake and a huge alligator used as décor. That’s just creepy.

I'm sure that there are those who will think the caricature of me as a bird is as strange as a jackalope.

But by far the strangest mounted head I’ve come across is the one of a 300-pound St. Bernard that hangs in the Shooting Star Saloon in Huntsville, Utah. This bar, built in 1879, is one of those sights, if you’re ever in the neighborhood, that you really shouldn’t miss.

The giant St. Bernard, very beloved by his former owner and once listed in the Guinness Book of Records because of his size, is called Buck. So if you go, be sure and ask for the Buck Booth.

And be sure and order a Shooting Star hamburger. It’s been rated one of the best hamburgers in America. I’ve had one, and I agree.

And if the Buck Booth is filled, you can always sit beneath a black bear or an elk and simply admire Buck from a distance.

By the way, what’s hanging on your walls?

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“The true worth of a man is not to be found in man himself, but in the colours and textures that come alive in others.” Albert Schweitzer

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area — Photo by Pat Bean

Textures abound in this photo. Rock both slick and pebbly rough, grasses both silky and prickly and sky and clouds that one can imagine being as soft  as Maggie’s fur.  

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