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

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 - Year End~

Farah at the beach~
It's been a good year - somewhat lonely for me...  (Two daughters & neither came to visit all year...)  My husband working more hours than ever, with a commute from hell that has only gotten worse each & every year - shortening the time he has to spend doing what HE enjoys...  Let alone the time we enjoy spending together!

Riding - mostly on my own.  A busy year for two of my friends, who didn't get in the saddle time they wanted - which left me wishing they had!  Then - my decision to trailer a little less to ride a bit more, closer to home - where most of the mountain trails I enjoy are.  Since we were only about 20-miles shy of 1,500 last year & are over that for this year - I can't even imagine how many miles Farah has spent in the horse trailer!

I enjoy being the "Equestrian Representative" for the Centennial Trail & by association, the Whitehorse Trail.  News is so positive about getting the Whitehorse open by the end of next year & what a Great trail it will be!  Lots of work to do there... 

Starting the Washington Trail Riders Distance Derby for riders in Washington State - has been fun & will I hope, continue to be both for me & for everyone who's signed up!  I'm thrilled that we not only met, but exceeded our goal of 50-riders!  Not just from the "endurance" community - darn few of those, but from all over our state!  Spokane being heavily represented, Ellensburg, Tri-Cities & lots of riders from down south!  What's impressed me, is the miles these trail riders ride!  I'm looking forward to seeing how our mileage adds up by the end of 2015!

I've been asked what my goals are for the upcoming year & for the first time in a long time, I don't know?  I like making goals & striving to meet them, but the last two-years of chasing miles has me examining where I am & where I want to go...

I'm very much looking forward to a planned trip in March to Joshua Tree National Park with Patty.   It's been years since I've been on a road-trip with my horse & I've never been that far south in CA.  I think I'm going to let this coming year speak for itself - stay flexible & stay in the saddle!

Monday, December 22, 2014

1,500 miles - One Horse, One Rider, One Year~

Sunshine & Shadow~
Today - we reached our goal!  1,500-miles since the first of this year.  Farah did it All!  We did a lot of it on our own...  Including this ride - that I knew would take us over the top.  In a way, it was fitting that these last miles were riding out from home, on our trails - after all, they're the trails where we first starting riding horses!
On our way~
It was somewhat bittersweet...  We didn't win the Derby, we managed to stay in second place all year long - knowing full well that there was no way we were going to win.  The motivation came from knowing that if we continued on - Farah would be the highest mileage horse in the Derby for the second year in a row.  That was the number of miles we needed to surpass the distance we traveled last season.
Heading north, we visited the big wetland, then crossed through the water flowing over the road & headed on to the point farthest north on these lines, where it's blocked by a gate.
It actually got pretty deep at the far end!
From here, we passed the bottom of another wetland, now partially choked with reed canary grass...
Here is what a Wetland looks like when an invasive plant takes over...
Taking a closer look - we did see our Hawk friend!
Do you see him?
The last trail heading west, goes just a short way - then dead-ends at the last wetland of this string.
Another quiet beauty~
It had been a long time since we'd been this way & I wish there was a way to continue on.  Instead, we turned back.  The day was a quiet one, the birds weren't out - or if they were - we didn't see them.  No deer, no people - just a light haze of smoke in the air.
The Homestead - Between Farah's ears~
Some may not believe, but I really think I could tell the difference in the quality of the daylight on this first week of Winter!   It was thin, the golden glow of Fall has been replaced with the shades of blue/gray of the winter months.  Subdued colors - but lots of those.

With horse people - bragging up one's mount is a recurring theme that I try to avoid - but there are those days, those times, when Farah deserves her due.  She's proven herself to me & cemented her place in my heart...

I'm done counting miles...  Now - tack is getting washed, Linda's saddle is getting cleaned & conditioned, my new one may arrive one of these days...  All will be ready for the new year & what it brings.  Finally - we rest & kick-back to enjoy the holidays!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas Time at Rhodes River!

Lights on the Drive~
There is nothing more beautiful than after taking a drive in the dark & the rain - to turn the corner & see the lights of Rhodes River Ranch!  Just breathtaking!  It was pouring rain when we arrived, so I decided to wait until we were leaving to try to get some photos.
Scott & Barbara
The good friends & fellow trail-riders above invited a few of us up to the ranch for a holiday dinner & what a dinner we had!  The menu has changed, the service has improved & the mixed drinks are a bonus!
Joyce was Good!
When Santa walked in - well let me tell you - Joyce was the first person that Santa gave a big hug to!  I think she's been Good all year!  :-)
The Pack String was playing & their tunes were great!  Jesse Taylor sang a song or two & we're all so proud of our local talent!
It's pretty dramatic to walk out into the night & see all the amazing color & reflections in the rain!  When we were leaving, it wasn't raining - but by the time I had the camera out & the tripod up - it was!  I cut my photo opp short for this visit, so hope to have another excuse to visit before the season is over, on a dry evening!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Almost There~

Golden pools of water~
  Instead of doing the long ride I'd planned for yesterday - I had an opportunity to go play with Mason, Cassidy & their Mom - so guess what I did?  (I really don't think I wouldn't have made it through that ride dry!)  After last nights pouring rain that continued on this morning, I didn't think that I'd get out.  But then - the clouds parted & the sun emerged - bright - shinny & warm!  Farah had her head over the stall door when I walked up.

When we came off the trail where things open up at the power lines, we pulled up - I looked up & was thrilled at what I saw.
Our Red Tailed Hawk
 There he was!  I'm sure it was the same Hawk that I was too slow to get a photo of last time I was up here.  This time he just sat & watched us.  Farah started grazing & I got the shot!  Always such a feeling when a bird this size allows you those few extra moments to admire their beauty.  It didn't last long - in the next second - our friend took flight!
Away he goes~
 I never expected to win the Derby this year, but holding in second place, all year long - behind Diane - I hadn't counted on either.  She's lucky in that many of her miles are endurance miles with many 100's thrown in - that adds up quickly.  Ours are trail-miles, only 85 in competition.  
North to the far side~
 Not one to give up so close to our goal - instead that one long ride, it's now going to take a couple shorter trips, so I stretched our route out to the far north end of our home trails, where we hadn't been since hunting season.
 The wetland on this side is one of the prettiest in the Winter months - with all the hardhack that grows around & in it.  I didn't take our break until after we'd passed the usual spot & went to the end of this trail, before we turned back & finally as we arrived for the second time, Farah let me know that gosh!  Time to stop!  :-0
Our big climb - far out there!
You can just see the big hill at the very far end of this photo that we climb on our way home & slide down on our way out.  The Magnesium supplement that I started Farah on, seems to really be helping her return attitude.
Pilchuck under clouds~
I never get bored riding here - every trip something has changed, every time I revel in the freedom of having this kind of space all to myself.  At least on most days.  The days like today - when we get a special surprise make the ride memorable.  It was a beautiful afternoon!  We returned home with only a hand-full of miles left to go!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Pluggin' Away~

Farah & the Christmas Tree
It's up to me - to keep me motivated these last miles of 2014 - Year of the Horse!  I made a pact with myself - if nothing's scheduled, if it's not raining - Ride!  I have been, over 30-miles in four days.
Harvey Creek & Eagle in the tree over the creek, Red-Tailed Hawk too!
I haven't added up the miles I've ridden alone this year - but it's a big number.  Today - it was gray, but so darn mild!  I think of my friends in IA & NE riding in the cold & sometimes in the snow & that motivates me to Saddle Up!
More new top dressing on the Whitehorse Trail!
But - it wasn't the new sand going down that excited me...  It was what I saw at the far east end!
Cutting Through~
The huge blackberry jungle was cut back!
"The Hole"
I could even see the "Hole" in the trail - where years ago, someone came in & stole all the rock base from the rail bed!  Just a little more clearing & I'll be able to get through!  On top of that good news, I could actually SEE a piece of the equipment that's working on the decking for Bridge #2!   Halleluiah

After our lunch break - we headed over to check out the river.
To the North Fork of the Stillaquamish
The horsetail rushes give a stark look to an already stark landscape.  All in All - it was somewhat of a stark gray day.
Looking toward Tin Bridge
The flow of the river was way down from what it had been a couple weeks ago - when we had all the rain, but part of the main current has also moved to this side, dropping some of the bank into the water with it.
Looking back at Cloverdale Farm
We turned back from here.  Soon we were back on trails, crossed Harvey Creek & checked out the farthest corner of the tree farm & looped back.  I pulled Farah up just before we crossed the bridge.  I got a funny feeling - looked up over my right shoulder & there was a Huge Bald Eagle - just above us!  I tried to quietly get the camera out - but heard the flutter of wings as he flew off & onto a branch just up the creek from us.  Not the shot I'd hoped to get - but thrilled to see him.
Our Bald Eagle Friend~
 It was Very Quite today - we didn't see anyone all day long.  The only trailer in the parking lot when we arrived - it was hard to leave it sitting there in the open...  I just had to hope that it would still be in one piece when we returned.
All was OK!
A light rain had just started as we got back.  Now - my girl & I are within shootin' distance of our goal!  It will probably go unnoticed & unsung - except maybe for those crazy ladies out in the mid-west!  :-)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Continuing On...

Heading south~
There are those days when you just must continue on...  I didn't want to, I wanted to curl up in a ball & hide under a blanket & feel sorry for myself.  I talked to Linda - she was willing to ride...  I just couldn't get up the motivation to trailer out.  At 25 degrees this a.m. everything was frozen & the roads were slick.  By the time things finally started warming up - it was noon.  So - I pulled myself up by my bootstraps & saddled Farah.
Our hill on the way to the trails~
I usually walk out the first 1/2-mile from home & hoof-it up this hill to warm myself up.  Farah drags along behind - totally unmotivated - Until we hit the trails!  Then she's ready to go - her motivation is always finding that patch of emerald green grass that she can devour in a minute flat!
On our way~
It warmed up way more than I thought it would!  My jacket stayed on the back of the saddle.  Since I'd been wondering about the orange gate for a while - thinking that it has probably been closed again - we headed down to see & yes I was right..
Orange gate - locked
I wasn't fast enough to get a photo of the pretty doe who jumped up the hillside as we rounded the corner.  We turned back & headed north.   Down this trail - then a right turn & we'd have come to the housing construction.
Perfect December afternoon~
It really was a beautiful, if short, afternoon.  As we continued north we ran into another ATV, going slow.  He pulled off - really nice gentlemen with a granddaughter I think on the back.  He told me it was the last day of Black powder hunting...  I was surprised - since I thought ALL hunting was over for the year.
We checked out the lower wetland
Going on north to where I turn to 4-mile rock - instead we turned through the Moss Woods & started back.  I'm so close to the mileage goal I had for this year...  I still don't know if we'll make it...
The Star at the barn
We timed it just right again & made it home just at dark.  Of course each day sunset comes a few minutes earlier - so for the next couple weeks we'll be chasing nightfall~  Farah gave me a gift today...  I was just pretty much along for the ride...  When we turned for home I thought for sure that her usual antics would start & dreaded it.  She did start champing the bit, did one little buck - but then straightened out & hit her good walk.   I just kept the reins steady on her neck & she was good all the way back!  Maybe it was all the times I'd turned her back on Sat., but at least this ride - was a good one for us both!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Tribute to Debbie~

This morning I woke - happy to see the sun shining in the windows, to have my husband beside me & looking forward to a nice, restful Sunday to spend with him.  As most of us do - these modern days - I looked at the Facebook news feed...  There - at the very top of the page;
It's so hard to write this..... Yesterday my mom passed away. My dad, the three if us kid and aunt Pam were all there.
In true Debbie Highbarger fashion she left us only after a camp out/ sleepover in her room with her husband, kids, sister and grand kids.
We plan in having a party after Christmas to celebrate her life. If you are in the mood to share, please leave a comment of great memory of mom. We (immediate family) would love to read the stories together as we celebrate her life.
Mick, Heather Salmen, Scott and Morgan

Debbie was my Best Friend - for almost fifty-years...  Since the day I started Junior High in a different part of town from where I'd attended elementary school.  My parents had recently divorced, my life was upside down, we'd moved & I was starting the school year, without knowing a soul. But - there was this blond!   Beautiful, Bold, Pushy as heck & before I knew it - I'd been adopted into her circle of friends.  Her family was huge - a sister, step-sisters - suddenly - I had a built-in group of friends!
Linda, Connie, Genji & Debbie - circa 1968
  Debbie was my rock, the friend who kept me sane.  I was confronted with many new responsibilities in those days.  Taking care of my younger brothers & little sister while Mom worked nights.  On weekends, if not working Mom caught up at home.   No real teenage fun times for me - it was all about the responsibilities I took on as the oldest, the one Mom had to depend on.   Debbie was the one I went to for advice & it was always sound.
August 1966
Our friendship strengthened as the years went by, Debbie lived only a couple blocks away & Mom liked her - not just because she was a good friend to me, but because she smoked.  Mom & Debbie would occasionally smoke together.  I couldn't go to parties, or out with friends - it was right home from school, chores, cook dinner for the kids, homework & finally tucking them into bed.  I'd lay awake most nights - waiting to hear Mom's car in the driveway to know she was home safe. 
Mom, my sister Laurie, Debbie's sister Audi, brother Jeff & Debbie - Feb. 1968
Sometimes on  Sundays, Debbie & I would dress Audi & Laurie - the four of us would walk to the neighborhood church.   Once in a while, Mom would hire a sitter & I'd go to the Peppermint Square Roller Skating rink with Debbie & her sisters!  Rock & Roll!  Beatles music & skate till you dropped :-)
Debbie & Connie
 In High School, we were forever hatching up plans to ditch & go swimming at Baseline Lake where Debbie's Dad & step-mother were caretakers.  There were dress codes too!  Anyone remember those?  We were required to wear a skirt!  It could be SHORT - Yes - the Mini was IN!  But NO pants!  So - we all decided to wear pants one early summer day.

We'd made it to our first period class when the PA system came on with a crackle as the V.P broadcast our names & asked that we come to his office.  We did - he explained that he thought we were all scheming something & that by the time we walked home, then found a ride to return - that we'd might as well take the day & return the following back in our skirts!  :-)   

Debbie spent many a summer trying her best to teach me to swim!  The day she made me swim out to the floating dock at the reservoir was a Big Day!  I was scared to death & she would have let me drown if I hadn't made it!  :-)
Debbie, Jeff & Audi Summer 1967
 Dating made things tough - we always fell for the same boys!  That always caused friction!  Eventually - I married & Debbie married Mick.  One day I was home, pregnant with my first & the phone rang...  Debbie... pregnant too, lonely too & suddenly all was forgiven.  We camped together, found crafts to do, bought houses in the same neighborhood & played Bunco on weekends!

 Butch & I found each other & Butch moved me to WA.  Mick built Debbie the amazing Victorian home in the country that she'd always wanted.  Never far from the water, Debbie had to have the pool!  Butch & I made several trips over the years - always too short...  Always enjoying the warmth & hospitality Mick & Debbie were famous for.
Scott, Debbie, Mick & Butch - 2008
To think of her gone from this earth - has knocked the wind from my sails...   Now, I'm left -  the keeper of those memories - the days of our youth;  when we were oh so young, her beauty, the joy of seeing her smile, that gravelly voice, that funny laugh...   Her life revolved around her family - always the center of her universe.  The strength of her presence...   

Here's to you dearest friend - may you rest in peace, knowing that all of us who loved you - will continue on as you'd want us to do.  Your favorite holiday - Christmas - will forever bring happy memories of you...

Saturday, December 13, 2014

From Rain to Shine!

South down the Valley~
The morning started out overcast & with pouring rain!  Not what I'd expected - nor Butch either, since he'd wanted to work on the cover for the camper.  Instead, we sat out in the Cottage with a couple hot latte's & caught up on our week.  By afternoon though - the clouds burned off, day cleared & I decided to saddle up!
Mucky mess~
Once up at the start of the trails - the roads - of the yet to be developed area - were a mucky mess!  It was chilly, but not really cold.
Shadow Rider!
Once we were to the power lines, the sun felt so Good!  I was warm & already thinking that I'd overdressed.  I knew we wouldn't have enough time to go all the way out, but figured we could loop over to the Wetland & back.
Mess going down
The ATV's have been up here a lot since my last visit, beer cans everywhere & they'd made a mess of the hill going down to the creek...  No one out today - I'm going to leave a note next time!
Farah hears something?
Instead of heading down, we looped around through "Moss Woods" - where Farah scared us both - thinking that there was something in the woods!  There wasn't - or if there was - it didn't get us!  :-)
South end of the Wetland
It was beautiful at the Wetland, the ground fog was already moving in & the temperature was starting to drop.
North end of the string of Wetlands~
Again, the bio-diversity of this area still amazes me every time I get to enjoy it.  This string of Wetlands is part of the system of waterways that includes the headwaters for three different creeks.
Dusk had fallen as we came back to the Valley~
Farah again started her antics as we'd turned for home, so it took longer to get back, since I had to turn her back several times.  She champs on her bit, grunts & does her best to voice her displeasure...  At what - I'm still not sure.  But I calmed her down, gave her bites of carrots when she would calm & again - once we were off the power lines she was fine.
Between the ears :-)
Coming up our road, it was almost dark!  Butch met us at the gate & I couldn't resist getting the Cottage in a Between the Ears shot!  :-)  Not easy to do - when Farah was ready to head to the barn & her dinner!