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Travels with Maggie: A Six-Month Journey with a Wondering Wanderer Paperback – July 24, 2017
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Though her journey through the United States was different from mine, it was fun to discover our common admiration for Dale Chihuly, one of America’s premier glass sculptors. I too discovered his astonishing glass work when traveling through the Midwest. I also spent a lot of time in the Adirondacks years ago, and reading her experience there brought me new information and a fresh perspective.
Pat sometimes uses the landscape she explores and the people she meets as a reflective tool on her own life, and I enjoyed seeing how she made connections in this way. Meeting a working woman along the way, it’s the woman’s independence and resilience that Pat related to and smiled at, as though she were looking in a mirror. “There are women like this hairdresser/bartender who makes the best of what life threw at her.” She shared a lot of herself with me, some of her fears and vulnerabilities, and that really drew me in as a reader. Brava, Pat!
I did, indeed, learn a lot about the author, as well as the places she visited. Her openness, warmth, and good nature had everything to do with her ability to cope with the many challenges she met along the way, from car trouble to the rare collision with difficult people.
“Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” ~Miriam Beard
Pat Bean carries that wisdom with her on her travels and, reflecting on her youth and the many changes in the country since then, she is unapologetic about her opinions on some of the ways American life has evolved. I appreciate her candor, but agree with the larger picture she portrays as our country, “America The Beautiful.” Her positive attitude is a joy to observe and a wonderful legacy for those who come after her.
Another nugget she shared with her readers is how our first impressions of states often change with a visit to the landscape. Indiana, for example, had once held certain images in her mind. But upon experiencing the natural habitat along Lake Michigan, she reminded us that “stereotyping always misses the mark.” I’m sure that extends to our knowledge of people as well.
Like Pat, writing is a part of my life…but it will never be my whole life. For me, as with the author, there’s too much out there off the page to savor. And savor it she did. I’m very glad she documented her journey in this way and shared her experiences with the rest of us. I’m all the richer for it.
My particular favorite stop was Chesterton, Indiana, and the Indian Dunes. I spent many a youthful summer there and still treasure memories of Lake Michigan, especially when roiled by a storm, the woods, the swamp (okay marsh, but we called it a swamp).
Birding is a big part of this travel book, and I, not a birder, learned a lot as Pat listed the birds she’d seen. I’d have liked to see more about Maggie the dog, but it comforted me to know she was there.
Writing a book about her experience is another act of bravery. Our travel literature is full of the adventures of men—Paul Theroux, John Steinbeck, Bill Bryson, William Least Heat Moon, Charles Kurault. Joining that all-male club didn’t faze Pat Bean for one second.
Let’s hear it for adventuresome women and their dogs!