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

Monday, March 31, 2014

First Trillium of Spring!

Perfect Trillium
Lynn & I met at Kathryn Taylor Park - first trailers there.  It was a sunny, perfect morning, after starting out in the low 30's.  We planned to get in some miles & Lynn had a plan!  Once we'd started out, I realized that we were riding our longer loop - only in reverse!  Funny how just a change in direction can make the views fresh & interesting.  My surprise though - was finding blooming Trillium's!  The first few were beat by the heavy rains, but finally my search was rewarded when I found the one above!
Daffodils line the drive~
It was such a gorgeous day that I tried to overlook Farah's antics...  Head tossing, threats to buck - her usual arsenal of ornery behaviors.  The miles rolled by - we headed down the the Sammamish Valley Trail along the slough in Redmond.  We were surprised by the many people out enjoying a real spring day.
Farrel-McWhirter Farm
 Next we rode the long way around Farrel-McWhirter Farm.  All forested trails, we found a couple men surveying at the edge of one, they were unlucky enough to be working near a large patch of skunk cabbage!
Lots of water flowing everywhere!
From the park, we connected with the Powerline Trail & started back due east on the straight shot of rolling Big hills that we followed all the way back to Kathryn Taylor.
Powerline Trail looking east at the Cascades
 This gave us the opportunity for some trotting & a couple gallops too!  Sophie as usual set the bar high - with her good, fast working trot, so Farah had to reduce her antics to keep up.   The bikes found that while they excelled on the downhills, two galloping horses would pass them handily on the up!  :-)

As we rode back into the parking area at KTP, there was a woman who had her horses tied to the trailer while she was stripping hair, cutting the mane of a Fiord etc.  There were piles of manure - so it looked like they'd been there a while.  As she started to pull out - I looked over & noticed that all the mess still on the ground!  I had to run - but cut her off & asked her to stop.  She did & unhappily put her window down, as I asked her to pick up her mess.  She said;  "The manure?"  I responded;  "Yes & the hair too!"  Next - she asked me if I was the "horse police?"  I replied;  "No, just a horseman who wanted us all to be able to continue to have these amazing & few places to RIDE!"  UNREAL!  How can someone pull into a pristine parking lot & think that leaving a mess is OK?  

We covered just over 21-miles of urban trails in under five hours.

By day's end - we'd made plans to meet-up with Amanda in Woodinville for an impromptu birthday dinner!  Jack drove over & Butch met us too!  Farah was so surprised when he pulled in next to the trailer :-)  What fun to get-together & good time we had catching up!  The perfect way to end a perfect day of riding!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Difference Between Knowing & Seeing~

Downriver on the Sauk~
I knew the kids were fine.  Our youngest daughter left us a message not too long after the disaster had struck.  She was one of the lucky ones who have satellite reception.  Sat. when the phone lines went down, our Grandson Ben was able to contact his mother through Facebook - where they delayed his trip home from his Dad's in Everett.

By today - I decided that I had to go up & see for myself that they were all OK!   I took the long route heading north through Mt. Vernon to Sedro-Woolley, on to Concrete, Rockport & finally Darrington.  The trip door-to-door took two hours.  Once I arrived in Darrington, the number of reporters, their supporting trucks etc., seemed to have invaded what had been such a quiet, peaceful town.  The parking lot at the IGA was full!  Emergency responders were coming & going - a busy scene - but even in the midst of the controlled chaos - the somber feeling on what was a sunny afternoon was obvious.

(It seems any time disaster strikes, there are so many who use the public's hunger for news - to to promote themselves in whatever way - whether it be by bragging about the charitable contributions they've made, or further pontificating on whats already known.)   I decided Not to take any photos in town.
Newly logged land along 530 opens views of Whitehorse
I'd heard that the schools scheduled early release days this week - that was to have been parent/teacher conferences.  I headed over to the school & gave Ben a lift home.  On our way we checked out some of his dirt bike tracks under the power lines - where we'd hoped to ride together next week.

Our little granddaughters are growing like little spring flowers!  Both so darn cute & full of mischief :-)
Josie Lynn~
Skyla Jean
After lunch - Ben warmed up his bike as I was getting ready to leave.  
Ben & Skyla
He planned to ride the now wide-open trail along Hwy 530, as I headed for the Mountain Loop - with one more meet-up spot under the power lines.
Ben on his bike!
I captured this shot out the window of the Bronco!  He was flying!   I had to pick up speed for the traffic coming up behind me & hurried to make the turn to the power lines & get ahead of him!
Ben out on the power line trails~
I made it just in time to get this shot!  After saying our goodby's, I stopped in at the Darrington Ranger District office to see if they could confirm that the Mountain Loop was open.  The two ladies there deep in their own conversation, but finally acknowledged my presence & asked what it was I needed?  They told me that the loop was not yet open, that Snohomish County was in charge of the clearing & had run into ice about 14-miles in.  That it was very possible that I would be turned back.  They assured me that they would be the first to be notified when the road was open - I'd stopped at the right place. 

I didn't want to chance that - so decided to take the long route back.  Later I found out that the road was indeed open for traffic, so I'll take it next week when I go to pick up Ben for the weekend.

For us, knowing our family was OK - was such a relief.  Seeing them with my own eyes, getting my hugs & kisses...  made it Real!  Still...  bittersweet when thinking of what others are suffering through...

The people of Darrington & Oso are survivors.  They live where they do because it's where they want to be.  It's just so sad that Snohomish County allowed continued building & living in an area where there were such serious known risks...  Now - many - way too many - have paid for the oversight with their lives...

Post Script - three of my co-committee members on the Centennial Trail & Whitehorse Trail Committee live in that area.  It was a huge relief to receive an email from George that they are all OK - though they have neighbors that were affected...

Monday, March 24, 2014

Spring on the SVT~

As we leave Duvall~
What a Spectacular Day!  Lynn & I met in Duvall, it was a no jacket day!  As if the world woke & was starting to burst at the seams!  Everything is popping open!  The light green flush of new growth is Everywhere!  The birds were singing - a few people out on the trail enjoying the warmth!
Beaver Lodge
The Beavers are thrilled with all the water & debris that the flooding brought to their door!  They're using it to enlarge their home!  Farah has been moving better than ever!  Thanks to the incredible saddle that Linda has loaned us.  I used my old - but very good Woolback, shaped to fit the lowered rigging on this saddle & it worked perfectly.
We planned to go to Carnation, but once there - we decided to go ahead to the Griffin Creek trail-head.  There we finally had to turn back.   We set a decent pace on the way out.
The Tolt
 The Tolt River was lower than I'd expected it to be - but it was nice - we waded out & the mares got a good drink.  I was busy being comfortable!  So nice to be back in a saddle with a great seat, rigging in the right place & my legs back where they belong!  Everett has bucking rolls ordered for me - that's the only thing I'll add.
Farah, Grammy & Mason
I knew that Courtney would be picking Grandson Mason up from school - when she called, ten-minutes from the school, we were about ten minutes out of Carnation!  We met at the park where Mason gave Farah cookies & I got my Big hug! 

Heading back to Duvall, Farah really started warming up - she was finally hitting her stride, maintaining & lengthening it.  It's taken this second ride for her to realize that there's no more pinching, rubbing etc. from the saddle.   When I think of all the miles she did last year  - it's amazing that she's kept the good attitude she has when it's time to ride.  I've been very lucky - notice I don't say "smart" -  in that we're finally working through this one issue that every horseman knows can be a tough one.   I'm so happy to be enjoying the ride & to know that my mare is finally comfortable too!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Tree Fits!

On our way~
We've been just darn lucky with this entire saddle journey...  A dry pass the first of February & a dry pass today - late March.  Perfect weather for our second round-trip to Olson's Saddle Shop.  This time - to check the fit on the tree that's been made to fit Farah on the bottom, me & the leather (of my saddle) on the top.  I was hoping that Randy would be a miracle worker & also give me the narrower twist that would make the ride much more comfortable.  All this while keeping the rigging, dish of the seat etc. exactly as it was.
Mr. Olson checks the fit~
I have to say that these trips have been as fun as we could make them...  A lot of miles & expense for a saddle - but all will be well worth the effort if everything comes together as we all hope.  Everett said that when he unpacked the tree - it was still tacky with the sealer - so we know that Randy was doing his level best to get it to us!   After putting it on/off & every which way - it was unanimous - a Good Fit!  There had to be some wiggle room - because the tree is far from done.   It's lighter & more streamlined too.
Leather over & under
Will the leather work?  Looks like it will!   My poor saddle (Can I still call it that?) looks really poor at this point  - almost a Frankenstein saddle.  Rather than discouraged - I'm encouraged.

 A man in a white hat rode up out of Idaho & made us an offer that was hard to refuse!  His expert help in the reconstruction - Mike of Meridian Saddles.  Mike had never had a saddle go wrong & once he realized that this one had - he was ready to make it right!  Now - the tree goes back to Randy to be finished.   Next - it will be shipped back to Everett - who'll box the whole thing up & ship it all to Mike.  Mike will have the task of turning all of this work back into a working, riding saddle!
A Beautiful Saddle!
My hope?  To have Farah wearing a saddle that is comfortable for her, secure & comfortable for me.  Then - if the the winds of fortune are blowing at our back - to have it back & on her back in time for Mt. Adams!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Sunshine & a Cold Breeze!

Fresh snow on the Cascades
Today - we rode!  Jack & Lynn drove up to meet me at Victoria.  We dressed warm figuring that we'd be removing layers as the day was supposed to warm up!  Well... it may have warmed up some places - but up on the ridge & with the wind - it was down right Cold!
Sound side of the mountain~
By the time we'd reached the Monument - we stopped for a short break - but the cold wind soon put us back in our saddles!  Once we headed down & back into the cover of the trees, we did finally escape the breeze & it felt a little warmer.   We did a modification of the loop that I'd figured out last week & went all the way down to Hwy 9.  My new Garmin software no longer allows me to overlay our track onto Google Earth & I miss it so much!  I can see it in the Garmin Connect Dashboard - but there's no tilt/pan or any of the controls that I used to make up my personalized ride map  :-(  Plan to call them & talk about it!  Regardless - we covered over 15-miles & got in 2009 ft. of elevation gain.
We look out at the Hwy
I'm using my HR now - so it's nice to see how high Farah's HR goes & how quickly she recovers.  We need to get in more speed work & now that I have a saddle that I can count on - plan to get some of that done once things dry out a little.  I'd put all my gear on Linda's saddle, including my sheepskin seat cover!  Just love the way it rides & Farah was moving out the best she has in forever - at least when I could get her to stop threatening Sophie!

The Good News!  The raw tree from Randy arrived at Everett's shop yesterday!   We're headed there tomorrow with Farah in tow.  I'd had a ride planned & was really looking forward to it - but so excited to see the tree & hopeful that it will fit Farah!  Then it goes back to UT to be finished before it will again be shipped up to us.  Soon I hope we'll be a step closer to getting mine put back together!  But "oh what a relief it is" to have Linda's to use in the interim! 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Welcome Spring!

On my morning walk~
Yes!  The skies cleared - at least a little - & I headed out for a walk-a-bout.  It's amazing to me how much things can change in just a day or two.  The Indian Plums started blooming so late this year - but now that they are - their flowers look like white lace against any background.    They love the cool temperatures.
Rascal & Nika
When I looked up from the viewfinder - my eye went right back to it!  :-)  As usual - now that they have to wear their PetSafe collars - I have company on my walks again.  We had to replace Rascal's - it had been "chewed" - by his friend I'm sure.  Another $69. into it - the new one has a light that blinks when the batteries are low.  Nice feature for that kind of money!  But I digress...
Indian Plum blooms with Mountain Ash behind~
Back to the walk...  Can't resist another photo of these.  But for color - at least this time of year, the Flowering Red Currants are the first for us here!
Bloom on the Flowering Currants
I used to hang hummingbird feeders in the early spring - but gave it up after I did some further reading & with all the natural sources of nectar - decided to forgo the artificial.  I've already seen a couple hummers & we should be seeing more soon!  I didn't get the flocks of birds that we usually do in late winter.  Will never forget the first morning I looked out to see Groosbeaks!
Nika eating the blooms off the Currants!
 Only a few birds out today - but I've seen lots of Chickadees up in the woods on the few nice days we've had.   The weatherman has reported that we've now had three times our normal rainfall for the month of March & the month is still far from over!  The creek has been flowing bank to bank & I love hearing the sound of running water!
The creek widens out near the road~
The boxwood's we planted a few years ago are finally getting big!  Soon they will be large enough to block the view of pavement.   Such a tough plant & one of the few that can eek out their existence where it's soaking wet in winter & cooking hot in summer.  The emerald greens have done such a fantastic job of insulating us from the road.  I've yet to count how many we've planted over the years.
The light in these photos is so indicative of the high overcast & off/on rain & thunderstorms that are our normal.  Here's to a Great Spring with warm days, sunshine, light breezes & all the things we enjoy this time of year!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Trying out a Saddle~

Linda's McClintock Saddle
After our ride on Thursday - when we returned to Linda's, she surprised me by pulling this saddle out & handing it to me!  One of the nicest looking saddles that I've seen in a while.  With - a Deep Seat!  Close contact!  (Linda is the one person I know - who knows full well the importance of a deep seat!)  Over the weekend I played with it - the biggest challenge was getting the fenders adjusted up enough for my short legs.
Morning snow/sleet/hail
This morning the rain turned to white stuff & the temperature at 35 degrees didn't make me want to go out to try something new...  But - I put a corned beef from Kelso Meat Market in the pot (with a beer) & washed up some red potatoes, carrots & started our St. Patrick's day dinner.  It was after lunch that things really warmed up - everything started dripping & I decided that I could squeak out for a short ride!  I didn't bother to put any of my trail "stuff" on the saddle.  I was busy playing with my heart monitor - trying to sync it with my new Garmin.
Farah says the saddle worked fine!
 I decided to use the Thinline pad, the sheepskin on the bottom of the bars is worn down from years of use.   The breast collar needed adjustment & could have shortened it a little more, but I was in a hurry to get out & get back.  I Loved the slick seat, a narrow twist & plenty of security.  Finally - after a couple of stops to re-adjust my stirrups & the electrodes for the HR - I had success with both!  The 310 XT picked up the monitor & my legs felt about right!
At the wetland
The sun felt so Warm!  I had on my heavier jacket - but left it on.  We had to break through around the gate at the top again - I hadn't brought my saw.
Our "trail" is now a stream!
 The trail past the lower end of the large wetland was totally flooded out & flowing over the road & back into the creek.  The deepest was about knee high on Farah.  But on the way back, there were new orange stakes going down the side of my trail - so with the coming of dryer weather - may be the coming of development...
Stakes on the trail...
I won't relish giving up these trails - so will continue to use them for as long as I can...  So sad - to see another wild place disappear...  Thanks Very Much for the loaner saddle Linda!  I'll be riding in style again now!

Twenty-four Years Ago Today~

St. Patrick's Day 2014
It doesn't seem possible that it's been twenty-four years!  As with all movement through time, the speed of the days, weeks, months & years seem to change as we progress through life.  Some memories - seemingly in our minds as "yesterday" - others that could be from another lifetime they seem so distant.
Our first photo - we've Arrived!
If you look closely, you can see the doberman & cat - both were left by the previous owners.  The doberman we found a home for, the cat "Tequila" was with us for many, many years.   (We'd had the keys for a few days & been driving up after work to start scrubbing things out...)  After years of managing apartments, mostly new properties & owning a rental in Marysville - this was an entirely new challenge!  Pulling up to our door though - was a little disheartening!
Jentry on the far left - scrubbing the moss off the siding~
It was the Acreage we fell in love with!   Our oldest daughter Courtney, had been living on her own for a while, had a job in Lynnwood & was engaged.  Jentry had started Jr. High School.  I would be commuting to the apartment property in Mukilteo - where I'd been managing & we'd been living.  Butch had already moved over to Construction - always on the road.  Little did we realize in those days the scope of the changes we'd made & how that one decision would change the path of our lives.
The view from the front porch~
As Butch & our friend Guy took the U-Haul truck back to town, I was alone for the first time - on the Homestead...  Almost in tears... thinking that it was probably the stupidest mistake we'd ever made - tieing up all our assets in one property that we now loved...  the rain let up & a rainbow appeared to the southeast.   As I watched the glow of the amazing colors & remembered the story of the rainbow...  I thought it was a very auspicious beginning!
Early April - Abby on the far left & the edge of the woods~
 We were lucky to have made the move just before Spring!  Because with every day - we fell in love more & more with our country home.  Tequila would wait for Jentry each day down by the big stump when she heard the sound of the school bus, Abby had plenty of room to run & forced us into making fencing one of our first projects!
March 16, 2013 with Nika~
Each morning when I walk out the door & look over at the woods, I realize - just by that view - how much time has passed.  We've been here long enough to see the trees grow!  They've grown a LOT!  So - though I don't feel any different, it does make me contemplate how much time has passed - how things have changed & how our life melded with this place that has been our home & our haven.

The Homestead continues to shelter us from storms & gives us a place to hang our hats at the end of each day~   We're getting older, there's still on-going projects.  Still with a long to-do list - but we're as happy to be here today - as we were then.  The place on planet earth we call Home~

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Takin' Each Day~

View from our climb up~
When you ride with three friends - on an incredibly beautiful, warm day - there's just no way it's not fun!  Linda was gracious & we filled her driveway with our rigs.   It didn't take us long to be saddled up & hit the trails.  George is home now & taking company - so he's had plenty!  Nothing like having your home filled with noisy, talkative ladies first thing in the morning! 
Arlene on Bizy, Lynn & Sophie
Connie & Farah, Linda & Count
Linda's time out was limited - but when four women, all of whom have been horsewomen most of their lives decide to cut the rug & make time - time does get made!  :-)   With Linda leading, we did some big steep climbs, had all four horses walking out & even did some trotting - though Farah made it an animated canter - mostly in place - worried that Count might, just might - leave her!
It was as warm & nice as it looks!
By the time we reached the Trailer Parking area & porta-potty for a well- deserved stop - there was someone - who was entering ahead of us!  That someone - I think might have thumbed her nose at us as she shut the door?  :-)  Once she'd exited though - I got a really Big hug & it felt So Good!  Thanks Patty!
On our way - photo op!  By Linnea~
 Once back at Linda's - it was a bonus for me to spend time catching up with my niece Kylee - who's moved here from AZ & has been staying at Linda's.  She had a short lesson in giving a treat to a horse & even though Farah managed to drop the first cookie - she was determined to get it & worked her lips around Kylee's palm the second time!

We were all invigorated by the smell of Spring that's in the air & a day as perfect as a day spent in the saddle can be! 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Signs of Spring!

When I went up to the barn this morning, Farah met me at the stall door.  She dropped her head for the halter - she touched my cheek with her nose - but otherwise kept her muzzle to herself!   After our ride yesterday - I'd decided to do whatever it took to try to keep her low key.  I saddled her quietly & managed to get it done without seeing the attitude that I have for the past week.  Cycle over!
Beautiful Barn~
To me - my favorite sign of spring is the bright pink flowers of the Washington's native Salmonberry bushes!  Today - I found them starting to bloom!  Only in a couple perfect places, but many more were beginning to show some pink!
Salmonberry Blooms!
Lynn drove up to ride with me & we were oh so happy to be out!  I think we spent the entire ride absorbing the sunshine!  I tried very hard to keep Farah calm.  For whatever reason - she wasn't as nasty as she has been.  We did a Nice trot!  Only one head toss.  She followed behind Sophie all the way back - with very little problem.   I have to say it was a relief to actually be able to enjoy riding her again!
Looking back at the farm from the river~
Once we were at the current end of the Whitehorse Trail, we rode out across the pasture to the bank of the river, then turned back south - way we'd come - hoping to loop back up to the railroad grade.
The river was very full, but down from it's high a few days ago.  It was just so nice, riding in the warm sunshine, along the river, over a field covered with growing green grass!  We stopped for a break & let the mares graze - they loved it.
Tin bridge from below~
Our way up was blocked by a deep trench & steep climb.  Turning back & retracing our path was something that we enjoyed as much as the ride out.
Eagles in the trees~
We saw two Eagles in the trees over the river.  We meandered onto any trail that looked interesting & covered over ten-miles.  It was hard to head back - especially since we now have plenty of daylight to burn~!