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

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Hay you Say?

Gray, wet, nasty morning on the Snoqualmie Pass~
A week or so ago, Butch said;  "Call Everett & see if he has any hay left."  "What!" I say...  Why do we need more hay?  Well, it seems that three ton was not enough to hold our gold girl over the Winter!  Lucky for us, Everett had enough stockpiled & was willing to sell us another ton.
Kachees Lake
Grandson Ben was up for the trip, so this morning - in the rain we headed over.  I'm always amazed at the difference in the weather from our wet side, to the dry side of the state.  The sunshine was very welcome, but the wind was blowing something fierce.  I was a little surprised that the rivers didn't have more water flowing, since so much of the snow on the pass has melted.
Toward Ellensburg
I always enjoy the drive, at least when the weather is decent.  It wasn't that cold, but the howling wind sure made it feel colder than it was - the chill went right through me.
Butch, Ben & Everett~
Ben loves climbing up to the top of the hay barn - so he gets the job of pushing the bales down to Butch.  Everett handles the supervision & we catch up on the news of the day, while watching Butch & Ben work :-)  Always such fun to visit & head home with those nice bales of good hay!  Now, if our 1,080 lb. mare can mange to keep from eating it all until June, we'll be happy!

Friday, February 26, 2016

MHC - Finding Our Way~

Beautiful blooms, in the camping area~
 It was an eerily strange day.  I wanted to ride out from the Morgan Horse Club, my first time there since Pat & I had met all the logging trucks back in Oct. of last year.  Post~   There were plenty of changes in the area - the first - the quarry is now probably four times as large as it used to be.  This of course tells me - more gravel for more roads = more logging.
Just a small section of the greatly enlarged quarry area~
 We rounded the corner & there's a new gate too.  No way around on the left, boulders on the right - but just enough room to get between two of them.  I'm thinking they're worried about someone getting in & stealing the gravel? 
Old original gate posts just beyond~
 Farah was very aware of all the changes & as surprised as I was.  I didn't get a photo of the old road under the power lines.  It is so washed out now that it's becoming a ravine.  Very deep, sometimes as much as a couple feet in places - I was busy watching every step Farah took.  It was a relief to get out to the road.
A stiff  climb 
 Pat had seen this hill when we were here & today I saw the road that lead that direction & took it.  It was quite a steep climb to the top!  Farah stopped to blow about 1/2 way up. 
Looking NW
 It was quite the view from the top though!  I never like being under the big power lines, but made an exception & we had our lunch break admiring the views.
Back the way we'd come~
 It sure gives your spacial perception a workout for whatever reason...  Maybe all the nasty vibes from all the power zinging over head.
Farah enjoys her lunch~
 I walked on foot back down, we took another trail that branched off at the base of the climb.  It looked like it might go somewhere, but we got to a corner where the blackberries had completely shut off where the old actual trail had begun.  I'm going to ask about this - it would make a decent loop.
Starting up the climb~
 Once back down, I decided to ignore the heavy sounds of logging & take the road up for a way - to the corner & view that I used to enjoy so much in the fall.  Just past the big culvert & river.  It was obvious right away that the road was getting a Lot of Very Heavy use!  Very!
The view from the corner~
 We got there, the view will never be the same & the noise was much louder...  I just didn't feel like taking the chance of meeting a loaded truck on these grades.  It was another disappointment to have to turn back.
The other way~
 So, I took the main road the other direction.  I thought I knew where I was & thought it would meet up with the road that Scott & I had been on yesterday.  Wrong!  The road that we'd had such a nice long trot on, ended at this creek crossing.  It sure didn't look familiar to me - I'm sure I've probably been here before, but since Grandson Ben was coming this afternoon & time was getting short - we turned back.
Our Route 
Once I downloaded my Garmin to Google Earth, I could see that we had actually been heading the right direction to connect up with yesterday's trails.  Now, I've got to do my homework, print up some of the old routes & figure out a loop of our own.  It seems that my memory never gets serious about remembering a ride loop, until I'm forced to ride it on my own! 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Clearing Trail~

From whence we departed~
I planned to ride today - the weather was forecast to be stellar & it did not disappoint!  But - instead - someone I know well asked if I'd like to do some exploratory trail clearing?  I've had thoughts of divorce - after years of a solid relationship, my loppers had not only beaten me at my own game, but with a backhanded hit!
The loppers~
Regardless, when it comes to doing some exploring - I'm always up for it & the loppers were required.  We got a pretty early start, it was chilly enough that I started out in my polar fleece vest.  Soon, though - it was by the side of the trail.  Amazing how quickly the day warmed up.
If you know the dog, you know his owners :-)
 Mostly, we cut through blackberry & lots of it!  Butch had provided me with two pairs of safety glasses, one set tinted, the other not.  I used both & ended up with only a poke on my cheek.  We were working on a very old trail, one that I have never ridden.  (Jay's laser really seems to be speeding up the healing of my cut!)
Old growth stump, broken cedar laying on top, with nurse trees~
We were far enough into the tree farm, that it was wonderfully quiet.  It felt good to be out in the fresh air & getting in some good exercise.  For my reward, I was taken on a hike to one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen on this side of the state.  It was stunning & I'm sworn to secrecy.
Being watched!
We did hang a few ribbons, so that I have a chance of finding my way here - horseback - on my own.  Direction-ally challenged was again mentioned :-)  One thing I did notice, was new trails being put in for bikes.  They have marked them in places with rock cairns at the edge of the logging roads.  Most look steep & technical.  I wish we had more manpower to re-open more of the old horse trails.

There will be a trail clearing party at the Morgan Horse Club on Sat. April 9th!  Be sure to mark the date on your calendar!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

60's & Sunshine!

The Olympics
From 29 degrees when Butch left for work, the sun soon burned through the frost!  With Farah in the trailer, we were on the road for Victoria, where Linda was waiting at the trail-head.  I'd finally been feeling close to my old self - when I hit my head on Sat.  Yesterday, the vertigo got bad, after all the traffic Courtney expertly drove us through. I was a little leery, wondering if I could get through another ride feeling decent.
A Seahawk decorated tree~
Someone has decorated a little cedar with blue & green ornaments - a few with the Seahawk logos too :-)  It felt so good to be back in the saddle.  My helmet didn't hit my cut - that was a relief.  If I frown or do anything with my forehead though - it hurts!  We headed to the Monument for lunch - the sun felt So warm, even with a light breeze blowing.
Farah Going for the grass :-)
Farah would have stood on her head to grab huge mouthful's of the freshly growing green grass!  Linda & I caught up on all the news.  On Sat., her neighbor's son was riding with his sister, ponying her horse - when a group of riders going fast rounded a corner & spooked their horses.  His sister fell off - luckily unhurt.  Time to remember that there are green horses & green riders out enjoying this great weather.
Linda & Count - Lake McMurrary Overlook~
Count was feeling his oats today!  We trotted, galloped & really had a great ride!  Linda noticed too, that Farah is doing less bucking when we bring up the rear - again - we both think due to her new comfortable saddle.   She was in season too - Count was happy that he was again on her good side :-)

Both Farah & I are happily comfortable now.  A working saddle is such a boon to us both, the hackamore has made a difference too.  Continuing my visits to Jay seems to be helping me.  When those strings of gray, wet days start getting to me - I think Winter will never end...  But the flip side, comes when we get to enjoy days like these!  The sheer fun of riding out in the wide open spaces, in the bright sunshine, on a great mare & enjoying the company of a good friend!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Workin' in the Woods~

Woods from the backyard~
It had been So very long since we'd spent any time working up here...  The last few years I've been spending a lot of time in the saddle & it's not fair to my hard working husband to have that honey do list loom every weekend.
At Frog Hollow~
After the drought this last Summer, then months of the wettest Winter on record, the creek had gone out of it's bed in several places.  Butch went up & started working on that.  He got a fire going, so I decided to work in Tall Trees Grove, another area close to the yard where we'd had so many limbs come down & the lower branches on the Cedars had dried & dropped down.
Kitt in Tall Trees Grove - 1999
 I was happily cutting, hauling & pruning - when suddenly as I was cutting through a smaller cedar branch - my heavy, long handled loppers backfired & slammed back to hit me right between the eyes.  After the pain cleared, I was thinking;   "Great!  A nice big bruise!"  For the few seconds until the blood started flowing...  Now, I have a nice 2" gash on my forehead :-(  Let that be a lesson to me.  We'd just been discussing the use of protective gear when doing work with the BCH.  (Should have listened to you Chris!) 
Creek at our NW corner~
Not to be deterred, I went back out!  Between the two of us, we managed to clear out that section!  My goal is to have the worst of it cleared before the ferns start growing again.  When I think of all the wheelbarrows full of ground cedar bark that we used to cover the trails - I wish I'd know then what I do now...  This state is tough on anything outside.  All that bark has now decomposed into the ground & you'd never know it was ever there.  Even small statuary made of concrete has disintegrated.
Weathered Signage~
The signage too, all hand done - is showing the effects of the 16+ years since it was installed.  As we sat out at the fire - late in the afternoon, we were picturing the McMansion that will probably, someday be built where our modest little home is now.  Until then - I still love every minute I'm working up there & hope that the woods will remain intact - forever.  Letting nature take it's course, the Cedars growing huge & the creek flowing free.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


Looming large~
 I've only experienced bad vertigo when riding twice.  The first on a "Y2K" ride, the second - on the 2nd of this month.  I tend to associate whatever I was doing when it happens with getting sick...  Today, when it looked like we'd actually get a break in the never-ending rains I knew it was time to Cowgirl Up...
 Farah hadn't been out until yesterday - when she spent a while tearing up the pasture.  She had her happy face when she realized that I was actually going to saddle her up!  I planned a short ride!  Taking my hand pruners, the goal was to cut all the long, nasty hanging blackberry that I'd had to dodge on my walk back last time.   It gives us an opportunity to practice side-passing, I can't believe how well she understands where I want her to be.
The neighbor's field is growing!
 As I made the climb up the hill on foot, I felt hot - took my helmet off & hoped I wouldn't feel worse.  I'd just worn cotton tights & shirt, taking a jacket around my waist.  At the top of the hill, I mounted up.
The newest houses under construction are on the left~
 The noise from the construction wasn't too bad, but we knew they were there.  At the far end of this section of trail is the outflow of the large Wetland.  I couldn't believe how much water was flowing over the trail.  It dropped down into the creek using the Beaver's drag path.  The culvert must be totally clogged.  I love the sound so captured it with the video below.

 On the good trails - we did some trotting & Farah broke to a gallop - soon it was a faster gallop & gosh it felt good!  I wish we had the room here to do the miles & miles of galloping that friends in CA enjoy.  This has got to be one of the wettest years I can ever remember.  Ground just saturated, so much mud etc.  Once we were up & on the power lines, I dismounted & took a nice long break.  Ate a few nuts, drank some water & let Farah graze.  The sun felt so good & I was so relieved that I'd made it that far.  I decided to drop south just a little way to check out that Wetland.
South wetland
 It was as beautiful as ever & full on both sides of the road, but not going over the top.  This section had been filled with large quarry spall a couple years ago.  From here - I decided to play it smart for a change & start back.
The "new" Beaver pond~
The Beaver pond was full & overflowing!  The dam is a little further down from where I took this photo.  I worked at keeping Farah calm on our return.  Once or twice she tried her little head drop/shoulder shake - but she's doing it less & less.  As Temple Grandin has written;  we're making a new picture in Farah's brain!  The realization that this saddle doesn't pinch her shoulders.
Pat's Snowbells!
Pat's new automatic gate opener has presented us with some challenges, but soon all the quirks will be worked out!  It was fun catching up with Donnie on our way out & with Pat on our way home.  Pat has such a knack with bulbs!  

Home long before dark, mare calm, me calm & better yet - feeling pretty good!  It's so good to feel better!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Whidbey Island - Winter Visit~

Having missed our usual January camping trip to Whidbey - due to my unexpected trip to Colorado, we changed our reservation to this - our birthday weekend.  It was about noon on Fri. by the time we left in absolutely torrential rain!  Just a mile before the Conway exit, I-5 north came to a total halt.  We crept a few feet at a time for over 30-min.   A semi-truck was overturned & beyond, traffic was moving again.  It was a relief to take the turn to the island.  We stopped first in Oak Harbor to visit Seabolts for a late lunch.  While we ate, it rained more, the sun briefly appeared & as we left a stunning double rainbow lit the sky!
We're here!
We set up camp - all done just before dark.  Soon to kick back & enjoy one of the best movies we've seen in a long while;  Bridge of Spies.  Totally riveting & a based on a true story.  Only once did we have to backtrack after being buzzed by Navy Jets that about took the tops off the trees! 

 It rained off & on all night - Saturday morning dawned cloudy & foreboding - but dry!  With our usual lack of preparation, (thinking it would be a short hike :-) we put the dogs on their leashes & decided we'd hike over to Cornet Bay & check out the cabin remodels that had been under way our last visit. 
View from one of the Cabins at Cornet Bay
 Such a beautiful spot - the cabins turned out amazing!  All modernized, with stainless steel appliances!
One of the newly remodeled cabins~
Since the weather was holding, we took the Discovery Trail.
Salmonberry bloom~
On our way, I found my first Salmonberry bloom of spring! A bit bedraggled by all the wind & rain, but such a bright spot of color on such a colorless day!  The air was so fresh & it felt so good to be out & walking - after weeks of being sick.
The little Underpass
 Before we knew it - were at the little underpass that takes you over to a trail to North Beach!  This can be such a secluded little beach & it was on this day.  Lots of cars up in the parking area, but just a few people out on the trails, none on this beach. 
The "Cutter Rock" heading under the Deception Pass bridge~
This was one of only two boats that we saw - what a beauty it was!
Great Blue Heron~
Right on the tip of shore, just under the bridge, was this Great Blue Heron.  I had to zoom in to get this photo - grainy - but such an amazing looking bird.  He finally flew off as the boat went by.
Rascal checks out a smell...
Still not raining - so we climbed up to the base of the bridge & decided to take the perimeter trail back around to Cornet Bay.
Stunning trail~
Once we got away from the bridge & around the bluff, the noise of the highway faded - I love the quiet!  We did run into a couple groups of hikers, everyone friendly & out doing what we were - enjoying time outside!
Looking at the end of Cornet Bay - where we'd started.
Very low tide & by now the wind was starting to pick up, just a drop or two of rain.  The dogs were very patient waiting for me to take photos :-)
Nika & Rascal~
We were well past the mid-way point in our hike, we'd had a couple decent uphill climbs & I was still feeling OK!
Flowering Red Currant & Madrona
Our Valentine gift was to see these early blooming currants - so pink & springlike against the red of the Madrona bark!  The trail was lined with them!

On our way home Sunday, we stopped at what's become another of our favorite watering holes - the Skagit River Brewery!  If you haven't gone, Don't!  We've been told that there are days you can't get in the door!  It's a fairly small place with not only great beer, but good food too!  We enjoyed their fresh out of the tap Blackberry Cider!  A great end to our holiday weekend :-)

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Another year!

Original Birthday Greetings from daughter Courtney, talented founder of Duvall Handmade~
My birthday was something I was never fond of until my amigo Dean reminded me years ago - of what the alternative was!  Since then - I've Celebrated every one with gusto :-)  The day started with birthday wishes via PM from eldest Grandson Ben!  Flowers, card & balloon from my husband too!

 I was on the road early to Smokey Point Chiropractic - it had been well over a year since I'd visited after Farah & I had fallin' off the bridge.  Since I'm still working on feeling better - it was time to see if my ongoing headache & vertigo could be alleviated.  Dr. Jay helped - I'm set up with a new treatment program & really hopeful that it will help!

Some light shopping - picking Valentines cards for our grand-kids, then a really nice, quiet lunch with Linda.  After pouring morning rain - the sun appeared as I drove home.   There was a big box waiting!
My new Saddle Bags!
I'd been looking for saddle bags, large enough for a bottle of wine!  Thinking ahead to this years trip to Cave B!  (These were highlighted in the Feb. 2015 issue of Western Horseman Magazine.)  Insulated, with plenty of pockets for lunch & bottles of wine too!
Great Card!  :-)
 That small unknown singing group from Duvall, called to sing me the birthday song!  There's a new baritone in the ensemble!  Another call & a beautiful sweet rendition by our youngest Granddaughter, Josie!  Butch was home early - we ended the day with a fun dinner with friends in Arlington!   I looked through every birthday greeting that I'd received on Facebook - too fun!  So nice to be remembered on that one day of the year that makes each & every one of us special!