Posts Tagged ‘western kingbird’

Sunset at Lake Walcott -- Photo by Pat Bean

 “What a joy it is to feel the soft, spring earth under my feet once more, to follow grassy roads that lead to ferny brooks where I can bathe my fingers in a cataract of rippling notes, or to clamber over a stone wall into green fields that tumble and roll in riotous gladness.” Helen Keller
From Twin Falls, it was just 58 miles to Lake Walcott State Park, where I would spend the next seven weeks. I arrived in the early evening and found the campground full, except for my host site, where a thoughtful park ranger had blocked it off with sawhorses to keep it vacant for my expected arrival.

Broad-tailed hummingbird

After hooking up, Maggie and I took one of the park’s paved trails down to the lake where a pair of western grebes floated gracefully on the water. I would see this same pair almost every day I was at the park. On the walk back to the RV, I watched a magnificent sunset turn the clouds a rosy pink, at times framing a full moon.

I awoke the next morning to an orange and purple sunrise and three broad-tailed hummingbirds playing king of the  mountain at the hummingbird feeder I had put out when I hooked up. The sunrise, which changed in intensity and colors to accommodate the weather, and the hummingbirds, which some days numbered up to eight, joined my cream-laced coffee and e-mail check morning ritual. 

Sunrise at Lake Walcott -- Photo by Pat Bean

By the time Maggie, who sleeps in until at least 9 a.m., woke and demanded a walk, we took it beneath fluffy white clouds floating in a robin’s egg blue sky. Western kingbirds, robins and western peewees kept us company as we walked through the campground, and then beside the lake to watch the western grebes. 

How could I do anything but look forward to my next 49 days. If home is where the heart is, I was there.

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Maggie leads the way during our Ogden Mountain bench trail hike ... Photo by Pat Bean

“True friends are the ones who never leave your heart, even if they leave your life for awhile.” Author unknown

Days 22-25

Catching up with the lives of old friends and renewing my bond with the Wasatch Mountains has kept me busy the past few days.

The Wasatch Mountains wore a misty hat the day we hiked the Ogden River Parkway ... Photo by Pat Bean

On my first full day in town, my friend Kim and I hiked an Ogden Mountain bench trail, one that held many memories for me. The mile and three-quarter loop was one I walked many afternoons to shake off the stress of my city editor job at the Standard-Examiner. 


Yellow and purple wildflowers brightened the trail this day, while scrub jays, black-headed grosbeaks and western kingbirds followed our passage. The scrub jay and grosbeak were the first for my annual bird list. Western kingbirds had followed me all the way from Texas to Utah.

A couple of days later, after a rainy day that left the mountain trails muddy, Kim and I hiked the Ogden River Parkway. We began the paved trail at Monroe Boulevard and followed it for a mile and a half to the mouth of Ogden Canyon. Western bluebirds, western kingbirds and mallards trailed along beside us.

Mallards along the Ogden River Parkway ... Photo by Pat Bean

Rainbow Gardens, both a gift shop and a restaurant, marked the end of the parkway, enticing us to stop awhile to browse and eat  before walking back to our vehicle. When my mother had been alive, this was her favorite place in Ogden to eat.  She always ordered the Gabby Crabby. I ordered the same in her memory.

From hiking, to staying up late one night drinking Jack Daniels and chatting in rapid pace with my friend Kim, to revisiting the newspaper where I worked for 25 years, to eating at familiar places, this visit seemed to be all about memories.

I’m glad I’m still making them. The past can be a pleasant place to revisit, but it’s not a place to live.

Copyrighted by Pat Bean

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“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” — Bill Bryson

Day 20 

My drive today took me onto the Devil’s Highway, a route whose New Mexico portion includes steep, twisting sections. The high number of fatalities along the southern portion — along with the road’s original, satanic-mark-of-the-beast 666 numbered designation — earned it the nickname.

In 2003, transportation officials came up with the bright idea of renaming it Highway 491, their thinking being to end its cursed reputation. I guess they never read Shakespeare’s “… that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

The 53-mile section I drove – from Cortez, Colorado, to Monticello, Utah – was not devilish at all, just hilly and lonely, giving one ample opportunity to drink in the high desert landscape from various vantages. I’ve driven it many times and always have found it a relaxing stretch of road.

At Monticello I turned north onto Highway 191, which I would follow this day into Moab. Western kingbirds and kestrels watched me go past as the drive took me through a landscape of red rock gardens set off by the snow-covered peaks of the La Salle Mountains in the background.

That night, from my RV window, I watched those same snow-clad mountain fade into pink as the sun set opposite them behind yet more red rocks.

It was yet another perfect day.

Wilson's Arch as seen from Highway 191 20 miles south of Moab -- Photo by Pat Bean


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