Posts Tagged ‘yosemite’

             “Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vase edifice of stone and space.” – Ansel Adams

Yosemite waterfall. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Yosemite waterfall. — Photo by Pat Bean

Happy Birthday Yosemite

            I woke this morning just after 5 o’clock. It was beautiful and cool outside, with nary a hint that today’s high here in the Sonoran Desert would top 100 by several degrees. So I decided to take my canine companion, Pepper, to the dog park for a romp.

The Grizzly Giant -- National Park Service photo

The Grizzly Giant — National Park Service photo

On the three-mile drive there, I listened to NPR on my car radio, and learned that Yosemite is celebrating its 150th birthday. As the story goes, a photo of “The Grizzly Giant,” a Sequoia tree that is as tall as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but with a greater lean, was shown to President Abe Lincoln.     Greatly impressed with the photos he saw, he took time out from the heartache and bloodshed of the Civil War to declare Yosemite Valley the first federally protected wilderness area.

I guess Old Abe was a tree hugger – just like me. That’s nice to know.

Bean Pat: You can read all about Yosemite’s birthday celebration here. http://tinyurl.com/ofh92d2

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“A book is a magical thing that lets you travel to far-away places without ever leaving your chair.” – Katrina Mayer

Yosemite's Half Dome, which Nevada Barr wrote about in "High Country."

Yosemite’s Half Dome, which Nevada Barr wrote about in “High Country.” — Photo by Pat Bean

When a Travel Book is Not about Travel

As a person with wanderlust in her soul, I find that on any list – and there are many – of the best travel books, I’ve read almost every one. And if I haven’t, give me a year and I usually will have.

Sara Peretsky's Chicago. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Sara Peretsky’s Chicago. — Photo by Pat Bean

But this avid traveler has also discovered that a travel book isn’t always found on the travel book shelves. Two of my favorite authors, Nevada Barr and Sara Peretsky, write mysteries, which I love to read as much as I do travel books.

Barr’s character, Anna Pigeon, is a park ranger; and each of this author’s books increases my knowledge of one national park or another. Since I visit national parks as often as I can, reading Barr’s books has let me look at such parks as Yosemite, Guadalupe Mountains, Big Bend and Isle Royal through more knowledgeable eyes.

Peretsky’s character, V. I. Warshawski, meanwhile, gives me an insider’s look at Chicago.  What Sara has written about Chicago makes other travel books about the Windy City seem dull in comparison. Thankfully I get to visit Chicago more often than not because I have a son who lives there.

Isn’t it great when you can find two passions, like mine of reading mystery books and traveling,  that fit together so perfectly?

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Canoe Communications http://tinyurl.com/n9wvdx6  I loved this blog quote because it reminded me how connected we are to every living thing on this planet.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Up


Looking up at a waterfall in Yosemite National Park. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Looking up at a waterfall in Yosemite National Park. — Photo by Pat Bean

“It is easier to go down a hill than up it, but the view is much better at the top.” Henry Ward Beecher

Hot air balloons up above the Serengeti Desert. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Hot air balloons up above the Serengeti Desert. — Photo by Pat Bean

“I like nonsense; it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s the way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope … and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.” Dr. Seuss.

Looking up at a bit of nonsense in Custer, South Dakota. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Looking up at a bit of nonsense in Custer, South Dakota. — Photo by Pat Bean

“Never, never, never give up..” Winston Churchill.

The Wondering Wanderer's blog pick of the day.

The Wondering Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat: Five things to do today http://tinyurl.com/c5njbav I’m all for anything that gets today’s kids out from in front of a TV or endless computer games. How about you?

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 “A nomad I will remain for life, in love with distant and uncharted places.” – I Eberhardt

What I Didn’t Know About Muir

Half Dome from Tioga Pass

Half Dome from Tioga Pass, a Yosemite landscape Muir spent years seeing. I only saw it for the first time two years ago. — Photo by Pat Bean

            I’ve long known about John Muir’s association with Yosemite and his role in creating the Sierra Club, but I knew nothing about the 40.000-mile journey he took when he was 73.

I discovered this when I came across Muir’s unpublished journals and correspondence that provide the contents for the book, “John Muir’s Last Journey: South to the Amazon and East to Africa,” that were collected and edited by Michael Branch.

Upon discovering the book, published in 2001, at my local library, I thought about Margaret Mead’s words that I had once read, and which as a writer have stayed with me through the years. She wrote that perhaps she wasn’t the world’s best anthropologist, but that she was best known because she always wrote down and published her research, beginning with her first book, “Coming of Age in Samoa,” published in 1928 to her 1972 autobiography “Blackberry Winter.”

It impressed upon me the value of keeping journals and writing things down when they were still fresh in the mind.

And a Samoan landscape that Margaret Mead saw but I never did. -- Wikipedia photo

And a Samoan landscape that Margaret Mead saw but I never did. — Wikipedia photo

Mead also had a lot of other things to say that have influenced me life. For example:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that every has.”

“Always remember that you are absolutely unique, just like everyone else.”

“It is utterly false and cruelly arbitrary to put all the play and learning into childhood, all the work into middle age, and all the regrets into old age.”

And then there are the words of John Muir, which closely express my feelings about Mother Nature:

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.

Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.

            Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go back to reading about Muir’s last journey. I think he, Mead and me all identify closely with Eberthardt’s quote about being a nomad.

The Wondering Wanderer's blog pick of the day.

The Wondering Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat: Long-tailed ducks on Lake Ontario http://tinyurl.com/bolxga5 Great photos

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I stood at the top of Tioga Pass in 2011 and looked out at Yosemite's Half Dome. -- Photo by Pat Bean

 “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Mary Oliver

Travels With Maggie

Been thinking about my New Year’s Resolutions. I always make them and I always break them’

This past year, however, I did almost keep one. And that was the goal to blog daily. I came up about a dozen blogs short. Just one slip a month.

Too bad I thought, when I counted them up.

Sand and snow at Great Sand Dune National Park in Colorado was an April view for me. -- Photo by Pat Bean

There was a lesson in the tallying, however. I realized how a mere slip here and there adds up. Next year I’m going to meet the goal of blogging daily, which has been a great way to keep track of my life, make new friends, share my travels, as well as my defeats and achievements. It’s also helped me gain a voice in my writing.

What I did last year, meanwhile, was to compete (after five years of failing) the NANO challenge of writing a first draft of a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. That’s the 2011 achievement I’m most proud of accomplishing. It wasn’t a New Year’s resolution, however.

I also knocked off a few places on my travel list this past year, including first visits to Yosemite and great Sand Dune national parks and to Mono Lake.


I volunteered for the summer as a campground host at Lake Walcott State Park, and plan to return there this coming summer. I was elected to the Board of Directors for Story Circle Network, the national writing group to which I belong. I had a photo of mine published in the Fodor’s African Safari Guide and my world bird list hit the 700 mark, of which about 500 are North American species.

And Maggie and I made sure to take time to smell the flowers that grew in 2011. -- Photo by Pat Bean

All in all, I think it was a pretty good year.

 It’s finally time, I’ve decided, to stop beating myself up for all the things I didn’t do and give myself credit for what I did do. I truly hope you will do the same.

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 “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Walking beside a quiet stream and taking pictures of it, especially when the water is full of reflections, is one of my favorite things to do. This stream is located along Highway 41 in Yosemite National Park. -- Photo by Pat Bean







Travels With Maggie

I recently came across a great travel blog called Wanderings. It’s written by Shannon and Brian, who like me unloaded possessions and took off in an RV to see the country.

I particularly enjoyed one of their recent posts: “7 Lessons from a Year on the Road,”  http://wanderings2010.wordpress.com/

In it, they noted that the “path is beaten for a reason.”How true I thought, but then remembered how much planning I do to take the road less traveled when I have a choice. Or do I?

I hadn't noticed the waterfall before i stopped beside the stream. What a nice surprise. -- Photo by Pat Bean Since beginning my travels with my canine companion, Maggie, seven years ago I’ve seen many of this country’s most popular tourist sites, including Niagara Falls, Mount Rushmore, St. Louis’ Gateway Arch, The Golden Gate Bridge, the Everglades, and numerous national parks, including my visit just this past month to Yosemite.

My solution to finding a little peace at some of the more popular tourist sites has been to visit them after Labor Day and before Memorial Day. This strategy has at least minimized the impact of traffic jams around the more popular attractions.

I’ve also discovered that even in the midst of hundreds of tourists, it’s still possible to find a bit of solitude to ease the pain of jostled elbows, the cacophony of noise and long lines.

I found it in Yosemite when I pulled off the road at a convenient spot to take some pictures of a small stream and stretch mine and Maggie’s legs a bit. There was room for only two other vehicles to park at the spot, which had no markers and wasn’t indicated on the park’s map.

Except for one lone fisherman, who was upstream a ways, Maggie and I had the place to ourselves. After taking a few pictures of the stream, I glanced up at the rock cliffs on the far side of the water.

Wow! I thought when I saw the waterfall. I had chosen well for my off-the-beaten path rejuvenation stop.

I guess it doesn’t matter which path you choose to follow – beaten or unbeaten – as long as you take one of them.


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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


The 121-mile trip from Fairbanks to Denali National Park, followed by an 85-mile bus drive on the Park Road in view of Mt. McKinley is considered a classic road trip by "TravelBudget" magazine. -- Photo by Nic McPhee/Wikipedia

Travels With Maggie

I’ve been pouring over maps this past week, in anticipation of getting back on the road after spending the summer as a campground host here at Lake Walcott in Southern Idaho. It’s been a great summer, surrounded by Mother Nature’s gifts and away from this year’s awful Texas heat, where Maggie and I spend our winters.

But the wanderlust in my soul will ease the pain of leaving this serene setting.
The route I’ve planned for my dawdling 3,200-mile return trip will take me to Oregon to meet a new friend and to learn about self-publishing. From there I’ll travel down through Nevada and into California and Yosemite National Park, where I’ve never been.

Avoiding interstates as much as possible, I’ll then wind my way to Tucson, Arizona, to spend a week with my youngest daughter, and to sneak in some birdwatching. All too soon, however, I will have to be on the road again, traveling into New Mexico before dropping down to the Texas Gulf Coast so as to arrive there in time for a grandson’s wedding.

It’s an ambitious trip, requiring me to average 300 miles on the road during traveling days, which is twice as far as I prefer. It will take almost $1,000 to keep my RV, Gypsy Lee, fed during the journey, requiring me to sit somewhere for two months to balance the budget, maybe even three given how the cost of everything, not just gas, seems to be on the rise.

One of the hot topics of travel articles this summer has been places to visit on one tank of gas. For example, the most recent issue of “BudgetTravel” magazine features an article entitled “One Tank Escapes for 7 Cities.” That kind of thinking meant we had many area Idahoans vacationing at the park this year instead of going elsewhere.


Mt. McKinley from the Wonder Lake viewpoint. What a magnificent road trip it was to get here.

But this same issue of the magazine includes a piece on “5 Classic American Drives” that would take travelers far afield.

One of these was the 121-mile drive from Fairbanks, Alaska, to Denali National Park, where one catches a bus ($43) to drive another 85 miles to Wonder Lake. You’ve probably seen the lake many times. It’s a photographers favorite as it reflects Mt. McKinley when circumstances are right

I made this drive back in 1999. Circumstances weren’t right. McKinley gave us only a very quick view during our day-long bus trip. It took twice as long as usual as our bus broke down twice and finally had to be replaced halfway through our journey, which required us to wait a good long while before continuing on the journey.

Since a sack lunch was all I had taken with me, I was quite famished when we got back to the park headquarters, but all the grizzlies, foxes, birds (my favorite was a gyrfalcon) made the trip well worth it and one I would repeat in a heartbeat given the opportunity.

While I did get pictures of McKinley and Wonder Lake with the mountain’s reflection, they were not very good shots. Certainly not as good as the one of the road and mountain accompanying the “TravelBudget” article. This photo I noted was actually one from Wikipedia, which means I can share it with you, along with another free-use one of the mountain reflected in Wonder Lake.

Now we can all dream about upcoming road trips together.

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 “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on you own. And you know what you know. You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.” Dr. Seuss

Ayers/Uluru Rock in Australia Calls to Me -- Five photos stitched together by Stuart Edwards


 Travels With Maggie

 I was on the road yesterday, traveling from my oldest son’s home in Harker Heights to my oldest daughter’s home in Rowlett, located just outside Dallas. It was a 170-mile, three-hour drive up Texas’ Highway 35 through Temple, Waco and Waxahatchie, the three cities big enough to be marked in bold on my map.

 I was accompanied by bumper-riding cars and blow-my-small-RV-off-the-road-semis. OK, I exaggerate. Most of the cars allowed a respectable distance between each other and the semis that whizzed past me only created a small crosswind that required me to keep both hands on the wheel. It could have been a monotonous drive.

 Instead I kept myself entertained contemplating the suggestive post to those of us who have taken the pledge to blog daily during 2011. The WordPress moderator asked: What places would you like to visit and why?

First on my list would be Australia, and more specifically, Ayers/Uluru Rock. Located smack dab in the middle of this country that has long fascinated me, I’m not sure exactly why I want to stand beside this huge sandstone monolith that is sacred to the Aborigines. The best I can come up with is that it calls to me. And one of these days soon I intend to answer.

Great Wall of China -- Photo by Jakub Halun

Great Wall of China -- Photo by Jacob Halun

 Second on my list of places I want to visit would be China, where I want to walk on the Great Wall. A designated World Heritage Site, as is Uluru, the wall also calls to me. It’s the man-made equivalent of Australia’s rock island. I’ve long been fascinated with the Mongolian legacy of domination that began with Genghis Khan. The wall failed to keep the nomad hordes out of China and represents, to me, the multitude of guarded borders of today’s world that are proving to be just as ineffective.

 One of these days we’re going to have to accept that we all live on the same planet and if we ever are going to have peace, we’re going to have to learn how to play nicely in the sandbox.

Mirror Lake at Yosemite National Park -- Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

 The third place that sits at the top of my list of must-see places is Yosemite National Park. It’s the only western park of significance that I haven’t visited. It’s magnificent scenery calls to me, and this call I plan to answer this fall. I can’t wait to blog about it as one of my daily posts.

 So what places call to you? I would really like to know.

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