Ain't nuthin like ridin' a fine horse in a new country - Augustus McCrae – Lonesome Dove

Monday, September 1, 2014

Our Weekend~

Our Lunch View~
We spent a lot of time driving...  Sat. errands, all the stuff that always needs doing when Butch is home & someone has to do it...  Since it was a three-day weekend & we had a movie we wanted to see - the bulb went out in the projector without warning.  We found a temporary fix for that & did enjoy our movie!

Sun. we drove the way less traveled to Issaquah, visiting a member of our family who took a fall & was in need of some entertainment to pass the time.  We decided that an MP3 player loaded with a few good audio books would do the trick.  We also stopped in Monroe at the Giddy-UP Barbecue for lunch to take out & take with!  (Thanks Linnea!)

Finally - today - was ours!  What to do?  We ended up on Chuckanut Drive & at the Oyster Bar.  I'm not into posting food photos - but I'll make an exception, since it's a condiment - not food. :-)
We continued north on Chuckanut Drive & stopped by what's become our favorite art gallery & sculpture garden.  Only having visited once before in the winter months - we were amazed at the tiny, but mighty garden area they have - full of incredible art of all kinds.  I'll let the photos do the talking...
Fire red impaitents~

Copper Butterflies~
Glass art!
Visiting places like this always rekindles the little gardening fire that simmers inside me - but is usually dampened by my time in the saddle.  It's hard to delicate enough time to do both well - so guess what wins out?  
Looking for interesting places in Bellingham, I found that they have an arboretum.  I'd printed up the trail map before we left home, it didn't look complicated & the entrance was easy to find.  We parked up at the end of the access road & hiked to the lookout tower.
50 some easy steps to the top~
What was once a beautiful view of the bay has been mostly taken out by the growth of Alders & new Big Leaf Maples.  From what I've read, there's a plan to cut them & re-open the view.  
The "view"~
We hiked the longest trail there, then looped back up to where we'd parked.  The park has some nice Douglas Fir, but I was disappointed otherwise.  Being in the middle of town & close to the College - this poor piece of land has had years of hard use.  People have tried to cut between trails, damaged the ground cover & caused serious erosion in many places.  Invasive plants too have gained a foothold - the worst of which is ivy...
The culprit~
Seeing it choking out the big trees is so disgusting.   Discovery Park in Seattle is another place where 100's of volunteer hours have been spent trying to remove it & it still comes back.  If you buy ivy & decide you no longer want it - put it in the garbage or burn it!  Don't think you're doing the environment any favors by tossing it out into the woods!
Douglas Fir - Ivy shrouded
Clouds moved in & by the time we'd hiked all the way back - uphill - we felt like we'd at least worked off that lunch!  It was gorgous driving back along Chuckanut with the views of the water.  I picked up a detailed map of the area that includes the Blanchard Forest Block.  Soon I want to make the drive up there & spend a day riding & exploring the trails.  I've only been there a few times, always with others who know the trails.  Another plan for another ride!  :-)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Long & Almost Longer!

Heading out the trail Linda cleared~
I wanted to get in some miles on our own today, so headed up to Victoria with the plan of doing my long loop & finding all the miles I could.  So we started out this way - then headed up the climb to the Monument.
Thistle Everywhere
The Thistle has just gone crazy with the heat!  Where all the seed comes from I have no idea - but it proliferates in ALL the clear-cuts.
Sending out more seed~
When you see the huge amounts of seed that these plants send out - it's crazy.  An interesting look to a hillside.
From the Monument
Once up on top, the sun started trying to break through the cloud cover...  I didn't want it!  I was so enjoying the cooler temperature - even if the humidity was high.
Farah hears something?
Once we turned into the deep dark woods, the sun did break through - turning the landscape almost Farah's color!  She was alert & I was too, but we didn't see or hear a thing.
The Ridge Trail south of the overlook
I love this trail & let Farah decide which way she wanted to go - she chose trail two different times - but on another - took the road for a gallop, with a buck thrown in :-) 
View from the trail - Mt. Washington to the right~
Heading down, down, down, I had to try again to get a photo of the old growth Cedar Stump that's off the edge of the trail.
Amazing that it's still so huge after all the years since it was cut.
When we headed down the long stretch of road - I had to make several stops!  The blackberries were just too ripe to pass up & eating them is the only thing on earth that they are good for!
Ripe for picking!
Farah is the only horse we've ever had that doesn't seem to like them!  I picked a handful of ripe ones & tried to give them to her - she chewed, but spit them out!  Once we'd ridden through our green mile & the trails down to the Scott Mainline - it smelled like Fall!
Leaves down from the dry summer~
We were clipping right along on this stretch - it was coming up on 3:30 & I was figuring just over an hour to get us back...  Wrong!
Track Hoe
This was the place where I'd seen a small dozer working on the road a few months ago.  Today - this track hoe was coming right at us down the road, with the boom in the air & the grappling hook swinging back & forth!  Lucky for me - the operators truck was in front of us - so I dismounted & put Farah behind the truck.  She was watching - but didn't show signs of wanting to bolt!  The operator turned up the road you see, turned it off & got out.  He said that we could continue on to the road that would cut us back up the hill & back to the parking.  Whew!  Otherwise we would have had a long ride back the way we'd come!   
Logs waiting to be hauled.
The last truck load pulled out, headed down to Hwy 9 - so things quieted down in a hurry.  The corner I was watching for had changed - but we had no problem getting through.
From the top of the cut~
Things looked really different, but this was just a small section & I think that's all they're going to do here - I hope so anyway.  Up the big climb we went, trot, canter & finally - near the top ran into a couple bike riders.  Farah did another nice gallop, then we took the trail through the big trees & were back at the trailer, the only one left in the lot.  We covered almost 20-miles & it was 77 degrees when we stopped in Arlington for a pizza on the way home!  At least Way better than the high 80s! 

Monday, August 25, 2014

We are Where?

At the creek~
We started out about 10 & headed down the trail to the creek crossing.  On the way - Farah Again whirled & tried to turn back on an open trail - brush down both sides & a pile of poo in the middle.  I couldn't believe it!  Neither could Joyce.  I turned her back & again she whirled!  This time I told her;  "Either you go - or you get the stick"!  Joyce mentioned in Farah's defense - that with all the blackberries ripe, a Bear could have easily crossed the trail before us.  I hope that's Farah's excuse.  She was on alert for the first few miles.
Can you see Joyce & Jesse?
Joyce asked if I wanted to do some exploring & that's what we did!  Going on trails that I have never seen - technical, muddy (even now) but really beautiful with some huge trees!  I tried using my phone camera today- but the results in the woods were no better than with the Nikon.   It was hot, humid - but much cooler in the shade & that's where we were most of the ride!
You see it Jesse?  You see it Farah?  What are we looking at?
These two feed off each other & it was almost comical at times :-)  When we came in off our wanderings to a trail that was familiar - even then, the two of them were still somewhat on guard.  In spite of it - we again enjoyed some really nice stretches of trot & the breeze felt so good.
Trees thinned
The tree farms have been busy places this season...  The selective cutting here, then this thinning - to allow the remaining trees to grow.  It's eerie looking - almost like a scene from some scary movie.  But then - if you ride far enough out & we did - we found some truly beautiful places too.
Jesse gets a cookie :-)
The photo doesn't do the area justice, it was like riding through a forest of green lace, the vine maples with their bright green leaves are protected from the sun here & it was still spring like.  In most other places they're turning their fiery fall colors!
Butterfly Bush
Finally - I took this photo today of a Butterfly Bush.  Yes, they're pretty - but NO - we don't want them!  It's originally from Asia - invasive & toxic to Butterfly's!  Please read the link that is also the caption of the above photo.  Pass this information on to anyone you know - who has one, wants to buy one etc.  There's nothing that riles me more than nurseries who knowingly sell invasive plants.  There are so many beautiful native plants in this state, there's no need to propogate those that do harm to the environment.

I'm ready for the Dog Days of Summer to be done! 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Fun at the Fair!

As the sign says;  "Fun Games"!
We always try to go the first couple days that the Evergreen Fair opens.  Everything is fresh & new - the vendors are friendly, the food is outstanding & it's usually not overcrowded.  I left from up north, Butch from Ballard & Monroe was about in the middle - but Butch had the wait for the train.  Now parking is $10. We used to complain when it was $5.  Entry was free though if you brought 3 cans of food each - & we did.
Behind the scenes~
It's great touring the horse barns!  First to see all the 4-H Clubs with their stall decorations, informative posters, curtains, horses etc.  The kids are always so bright, courteous & friendly!  Every kid we saw asked if we had any questions!  We did & they were quick to answer :-)  There was even one poster on "Endurance Riding"!

In the draft horse area, we loved visiting with the owners of the Spotted Drafts!  Such beautiful animals!  The one above was a rescue from an Amish farm.  He would shake like a leaf when touched anyplace below his mid-line.  This made working with his feet, grooming etc. very difficult.  He was especially afraid of men.  Over time, he's now a much happier horse & enjoys his work without fear.
This photo does Not do Prince justice!  He has the most beautiful head, hands down of ANY draft I have ever seen!  Not only a handsome head, but nice eyes & the Look of Eagles - which is how he got his name!  To see him in harness at a full trot - is a thrill!
The six-horse hitches are the highlight of the show.  This year was no exception.   The work that goes into showing these large teams is immense in every way!
Harness shined & ready~
The harness for each horse weighs over 80lbs!  We entered the drawing for a free yearling!  :-)  Before the show, about 12 of the 4-H kids - rode into the arena bareback for a "Bucket Race".  Also, one guy on a Percheron!  When the music stopped, there was a dash to reach a bucket, dismount & stand on it!  Each round a bucket was eliminated - along with a rider.  Finally it was down to one bucket - a girl on a paint & the guy on the Percheron.  The music stopped - both horses were flying at the remaining bucket!  Seeing that huge horse coming at him head on - the paint wisely gave way & his rider retained her seat!  :-)  Guess who won?  :-)

Our favorite stop for food is Kaleenka's - where the stuffed bread is the best thing at the Fair, next to the Indian Fry Bread!  For many years we'd occasionally drive down to Seattle on a Friday night for dinner at the restaurant.  In/dinner/ back home all within just a couple hours.  Can't be done now with the traffic...
Carved Bench
As is the case every year, I plead my case for the wood carved horse bench :-)  It would look amazing in the entry of a huge house with high timber ceilings.  So maybe the house first?  :-)

We came home with new pillows & a Helios Heater.  I'm not really giving the product much of a plug - it does get hot & stay hot for quite a while, but to re-generate the crystal liquid inside - you have to boil the pad in a towel, in a pan of boiling water for 12-15 min.  That's pretty energy wasteful.  Even so - it's soft, pliable & makes my neck & shoulder feel good!  :-)

We had a great time, talked to some nice people & really enjoyed our visit.  If you don't mind the time in lines of traffic to get in - it's a great place to enjoy a late Summertime day!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Equine Mind ~

Vine Maples showing off their color!
It was a perfect day for riding!  Joyce & I met at Bracken to get in a faster little ride.  Farah was happy that Joyce brought Target today.  The overcast was high, it was very quiet, we left a little later than usual - noon, but it seemed like it was earlier in the day.  Every year when we ride these trails, the vine maples above light up the day!   It's an early harbinger to the coming season - Fall!
Under the power lines
Today, we were in a grove!  So darn much fun!  The two horses trotting along 11-mph - side-by-side, both on a lose rein.  The miles were whizzing by & we both were wearing huge smiles!  The temperature was so cool that the horses hardly broke a sweat.
I don't know who made this sign, but every time I pass it I say I'll take a photo & today I did!  :-)  There were several trailers in the lot & we ran into a few riders.  It was quiet too, no logging going on - but plenty of reminders that it has been.
A few logs left~
It's not pretty - but it's the purpose of the farms...  Without them & their welcoming policy toward horsemen all these years - where would we ride?  I'm just hoping that this cut will be Very selective - keeping enough shade from the tall trees to prevent the influx of invasive weeds.
Target shows his consternation :-)
On the way back, Target decided that he'd not cross the bridge unless Farah went first  & then - he wanted his nose at her tail!  Joyce said;  "No, we're going to stay here!"  As I turned to see - I had to laugh out loud at his expression!  Then - the final trail back to Bracken Rd., Farah in the lead - walking her big walk - suddenly stopped!  The giraffe look happened as her attention concentrated on a fresh pile of poo in the trail.  One millisecond later she did a complete 180 & I was facing Joyce!  UNREAL!  I smacked her Hard with the stick, turned her back & dismounted.  I picked up a piece & put it on her nose while using my most severe tone to chastise her for her stupidity,  whereupon she let out a huge sigh!

So, we wonder & wonder some more...   Just what does go on in the equine mind?  :-)