Monday, December 28, 2009

Bumper Sticker of the Week

"Rodeo...because football, basketball, and soccer only requires one ball"

Horse Injuries Don't Take Holidays Part II

Injured horses tend to be rather stoic. Smokey, however has a flair for the dramatic. To be quite honest, I prefer it that way. The earlier we become aware of a problem, the sooner action to prevent further injury can be taken, and treatement can begin.

My non-veterinary opinion, based upon experience, is that he sprained a tendon or ligament in his fetlock. He had a marked limp when he walked, and was avoiding placing weight on it. There was heat and swelling in the fetlock, two of the more common symptoms of inflammation. I kept him penned up in his shelter for two days after first noting the problem. On Saturday morning I noted that The affected leg was beginning to stock up. Stocking up is a phenomenon that sometimes occurs in a horse's legs due to inactivity. It is the result of blood and lymphatic fluid pooling up in the joint, thus swelling up. To combat this I hand walked him for nearly an hour on Saturday, after running cold water over the joint. While the leg was still swollen, he was no longer limping when he walked, and was bright eyed as he followed me up and down the path.

On Sunday, our farrier stopped by, as we wanted to rule out a possible hoof abscess, a condition to which Smokey is prone. Smokey has his winter pads on, so the possibility of an abscess is not obvious to the naked eye. Not the case this time. Since he is no longer limping, and to combat the stocking up, he is no longer cooped up, and is free to roam his paddock. I checked on him this evening, and things were neither better, nor worse. These injuries generally just require time to heal.

Note to self: I've been spraying DMSO on the injury, to promote blood flow to the area. After spraying it this evening, I absent mindedly ran my bare hand down the leg. Immediately realizing my mistake, I rinsed my hand in the water bucket. Too late. My hand was tingling, and I had the taste of it in my mouth. There are just some things that I must periodically relearn.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Heh!

Seems that the donkeys in a live nativity scene in Vail, Colorado, weren't happy with working conditions.

So, they set out on their own.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Today we celebrate the birth of our savior. I hope this day finds you all well. Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ghost of Christmas Past

Christmas 1970. I would have been just shy of my 5th birthday.

I'm flabbergasted that I was permitted to step outside dressed in such fashion.

On that note, something a little more fashionable. And pleasing to the senses.


Twas the Night Before Christmas

The poem "Twas the Night Before Christmas", penned in 1822 by Clement Clarke Moore, provides one of my earliest, and fondest memories of Christmas past. The memory centers around the reading of this poem by my Paternal Grandmother. It is so vivid that I still remember what the book looked like, and the drawings that accompanied the tale.

Years later, I would revel in the opportunity to read the poem to my daughters before they retired to bed each Christmas Eve.

Which begs the question: Is Santa Claus real? I would argue that yes, he is. Not, of course not, in the conventional sense of a living person. No jolly old elf will be setting out from the North Pole, clad in red, pulled a regal team of reindeer.

What Santa Claus represents, at least for me, is hope. The hope that there is goodness in the world. That there are those who do good deeds simply for the sake of doing them. That we can make the world a better place, through simple acts.

Horse Injuries Don't Take Holidays

Smokey came up limping this morning. His left hind fetlock is swollen, and their is some heat. He can walk on it, so I don't suspect it is anything terrible. Probably sprained it running around his paddock.

It should be noted that Smokey has shown a flair for the melodramatic when he is hurt. He was in his shelter when I headed back to the barn to get the DMSO. When I came back he was walking around in the back of his paddock. He was limping on it, but clearly it wasn't going to slow him down too much. When I went to get him, the limp became noticeably more pronounced. For my benefit, I suspect.

For good measure, after spraying it with DMSO, I penned him in his shelter so he'll stay off it. We'll be keeping a close watch on it.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I Got Nothin'

Can't even conjure up a news story or stolen post. Wholly uninspired even. A couple tales brewing, but, like good beer, not ready to be served yet. Hope everyone is making their way through the Christmas Season after their own fashion.

A few pics of life:

The weather was soggy yesterday.


Khira announces that the water bowl is empty by placing it in my lap. This is a fairly routine occurrence.


Rather unique Christmas decoration.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Frogger?

I must have been asleep at the switch, as I failed to catch wind of the fact my two bit town has declared war on the state of Alaska. The weapon of choice?

Christmas Trees.

Heh...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Letter

I'm certain most of you have heard about the four Police Officers who were gunned down in Lakewood, WA, by a piece of human trash.

It's hard to believe that any hope could come out of such a thing. But maybe it can.

Recently Spotted at the Loading Dock






I think I need to revise my Christmas list.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Deadman's Party

So, there was the family BR, watching marathon episodes of the "Ghost Whisperer". In one scene there was a party going on, and all the guests were, well, dead.

Thus inspired, I broke out in the refrain from "It's a Dead Man's Party" by Oingo Boingo. This immediately garnered the eye from DN3, along with the accusation that I am weird. It's worth noting that this accusation is levied in my general direction quite frequently. I'm starting to believe it. You try spending 20 years going to sea on submarines, and see how normal you turn out.

Without further adieu:

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Glowbull Warming Strikes the Pacific Northwest

Records fall as temperatures plunge to single digits.

I know it isn't midwest winter cold here, but it's cold nevertheless. Colder than it typically gets in this part of the world. Meanwhile, there is a summit in Copenhagen to perpetuate the fraud that Al Gore started and has benefited handsomely from. And the President is threatening to have the EPA take action to control carbon emissions if Congress doesn't tackle the "problem" post haste.

Nevermind that recently hacked emails have exposed the whole thing to be the sham that most reasonably intelligent people believe it to be. When the subject comes up, the lamestream media resembles crickets chirping. Wouldn't want to expose the media darlings for the shysters they really are, would we? And "Call me Senator" Boxer is calling for an investigation into the hackers. Ma'am, if your going to throw a smokescreen, make sure you've added the smoke fluid to the generator. Seems to me that it should fall into the whistleblowers category, and you should be calling for an investigation into Al Gore, et al.

It's my opinion "climate change" is a manufactured crisis, with the purpose of allowing the self declared "elitists" to gain a further measure of control over those of us who comprise the unwashed masses. They long for a return to the class structure of the early 1900's, but we just won't lay down and roll over on command. So, mix climate change, healthcare, TARP, crushing national debt and tax burdens, throw in a dash of Republican bashing, bake at 500F for a few congressional cycles, and Bam! Sheeple loaf.

It baffles me that there seem to be so many people drinking the kool-aid.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Just...wow

Most horse owners will probably admit that there are times when we become convinced that horses must be the stupidest creatures on the planet. Getting spooked by, and whirling to run away from a rock on the trail, but aren't in the least bit phased by the appearance of a black bear. They will ford a river without qualms, but will go to great pains to avoid a mud puddle. Jump ten feet sideways at the appearance of a cat on the rail in the arena. The list goes on.

Truth be told, they are incredibly intelligent. And, provided that you go about things correctly, they tend to be pretty willing to learn. Case in point:



To be able to teach a horse to do that takes skill that I doubt I will ever possess. The style of riding is called dressage, and while I have no desire to be a tally ho rider, I am nonetheless impressed. And it looks so effortless, I believe, because the mare knows her business. And I find it doubtful that the horse is an unwillning participant, else it would be nigh impossible to keep that up for over six minutes.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Treezilla

Contrary to the previous post, the family BR did not go Christmas Tree hunting last weekend. No, we saved that for today. Good thing too, since last weekend temperatures were in the 40's with little wind. This mornign, it was 30F with a 20mph wind. Ideal Christmas Tree hunting weather, since one does not get the full experience without the threat of frostbite thrown in for good measure.

We aren't hardcore enought to get a permit from the forest service and set off into the forest on the search. While their may be some sense of adventure involved, the trees that can be found in the wild tend to be a bit spindly. My brother-in-law routinely has to drill holes and glue extra branches on the wispy little sticks he brings home to Mrs. BR's displeased sister. Thanks, but I'll pay the extra $20 to avoid getting the eye, and being accused of stealing Charlie Brown's Christmas Tree.

The valley we live in is lined with tree farms, all vying for your business, all providing the opportunity to hack down the tree of your dreams. The choices can lead to sensory overload.

The first place we stopped in was rather proud of their trees, with prices starting at around $50 for a 5-6 ft member of the fir family. Apparently one is paying for the experience, what with an espresso stand on site, and the melodious sounds of Christmas music filling the air. We were greeted by cheerful young lady who spent two minutes reciting their list of "don'ts". Quite a few rules just for tree hunting. After listening rather dumbfounded to this, we stared briefly at their price list, and handed the saw back to the young lady. We avoided the phrase "highway robbery", although it certainly did cross our minds.

We loaded back up in the pickup and proceeded to our usual tree farm (which we should have done in the first place). Any size Douglas Fir for $30. No music, no latte stand, no cheerful young chippies reciting rules. Just acres of trees, and a saw. At this point, the adventure must be choreographed, since the chain events differs little from year to year. Off throught the foliage we go a trooping. Stopping to admire numerous trees. Of course, with seven people involved in the process, the odds are fairly good that each candidate will be vetoed by one or more. And, of course, periodically, one or more would become separated from the main body of the group. I can attest that "Marco" "Polo" works just as well at at tree farm as it does in the pool.

After a seeming eternity, our core body temperatures falling dangerously low, feeling lost in all extremeties, the Perfect Tree was located, and felled.

Of course, said Perfect Tree was located on the edge of the field as far away from the pickup truck as humanly possible. I'm not certain that we were still in the same county at this point. Fortunately, DN1 & DN2 brought their boyfriends along, and I didn't put up much of a struggle when these strapping young buck's volunteered to carry the tree.

The first warning sign of impending trouble should have been the fact that the tree hung about four feet past the end of the tailgate. But, mind numbed by the cold, I did not connect the dots at this point.

Arriving home, the tree was unloaded, placed securely in the stand, hauled into the living room, and placed upright. This is where the trouble began. It was touching the ceiling. Now, bear in mind that the vaulted ceiling tops out at 12 feet. And this tree was too tall! Cue the ominous music, as this is the point where I get grumpy, and tend to turn the air a little blue. The damn tree sure didn't look that big on the farm.

A brief side note. Two years ago, we had the tree wrapped in that plastic netting prior to loading it up. Makes it easier to get through the front door. After the tree was erected in the house, I took the scissors to the net. Those of you who recall the scene in "Christmas Vacation" when Art Griswold cut the twine from the tree will have a fairly good idea of what happened. It didn't break a window, but that is about the only difference.

After hacking about six inches of the bottom, and a foot off the top, the tree finally cleared the ceiling. After decorating was complete, I measured the distance from floor to top of the star at 10.5 ft. Good grief, Charlie Brown.

Mrs. BR is, of course, taking great satisfaction in having snuck another Treezilla past me.
Tis the Season...



I may need to take that ceiling fan down...

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Start of The Season

Thanksgiving is past, and Black Friday is in full swing. Tomorrow, I believe, the family BR will set out to lay saw to trunk for to hack down a tree which will then be erected in the living room, only to be discarded a month hence.

So starteth the Christmas Season. And to start you all off with a little good cheer, I humbly present the following (NSF):

http://

Pop Quiz Time - The Answers

Okay, the answers to Wednesdays pop quize are probably obvious. Horse A would like to stomp you flat, whereas Horse B is fairly convinced that you come bearing carrots, apples or some other delicacies. Although as Christina points out, it could be a trap. This particular horse has never tried to kill anyone, however. He will fleece you down checking all your pockets for treats, and look mildly disappointed if you fail to produce one, but you are safe. And Daphne suggests that they both might be crazy. I can assure you that Horse B is only crazy under saddle, and then only if a deadly object (such as a boulder or traffic cone) is encountered whilst riding.

Generally speaking, the position of a horse's ears will give you some insight into their current mood. If there ears are pinned back against their neck, they are not happy, and if the situation doesn't change post haste, they will take action. An argument between two horses proceeds something like this:

1. Angered horse pins its ears back
2. Angered horse moves it's head towards the offending horse
3. Angered horse bites offending horse
4. Angered horse kicks offending horse

Now, if at anytime during the above exchange, the offending horse moves off, it all comes to an end, so the biting and kicking phase might never be reached. Humans could learn a thing or two about handling disagreements. Although my efforts to master the art of pinning my ears back has yet to produce any palpable results.

Now I realize that most people are not horse savvy, though the signs of an unhappy horse seem fairly obvious. But, like the car, Americans have a love affair with the horse. Thus, when horses are on display at the fair, they want to pet them and talk to them. And of course, some of them want to poke at them. Like people, horses come in many different termperaments. Our mare Bailey LOVES people. She eats up attention. Other horses are less affectionate, and some get downright mean after being poked and prodded by the general public for days straight. If a horse pins his ears and opens his mouth, he's not smiling for your camera folks. He's thinking about sampling your flesh, and as I can personnaly attest,their is a great deal of clamping force in those jaws.

I took the picture of Horse A while at the Central Washington Fair. Scotty belongs to a friend, and he was none too happy by day three, and just about everytime people came near him, he got that angry look on his face. What amazed me was the sheer number of people who couldn't recognize that it's not a happy look, and would continue to present hands or small children for sampling. Nevermind that there were dozens of attention loving horses in the barns. Fortunately, no was injured, although certainly not for lack of trying.

Oh yeah, if the horse is kicking at the stall door while you are standing there, that's not a happy sign either.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!!

I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!! Hope your day is a good one.

And a brief moment for me to be thankful. The list of things I have to be thankful for is long and could probably fill pages, so I will touch on the highlights.

First and foremost, I want to give thanks to God that I am an American. That I live in the greatest country, with the longest enduring representative democracy. And thankful that I was given the opportunity to serve this nation during my years in the world's Greatest Navy.

I am thankful to be blessed with a wonderful family. I could not ask for a better wife or daughters. They have stuck by me through thick and thin.

I am thankful for all my friends, both the ones I see in person, and the ones I know only through the blogosphere. Friends that I can share success and failure with, without fear of judgment.

And I am thankful for the equine companions in our life. In a way that is hard to understand or describe, they act as a glue that holds the family together.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pop Quiz Time

This is directed at the non-horsey folks, but you horse people can play along if you'd like.

Below are pictures of two horses. Your task is to match the following statements to the horses pictured below.

1. This horse thinks you might have carrots, and would really like to be your friend.

2. This horse would really prefer to bite you and stomp your guts out.


Horse A

Horse B
Answers, plus an explanation for this seeming nonsense will be provided in tomorrow's post.

Monday, November 23, 2009

There is No Bias in the Media

Or so they would like us to believe. I wonder how many people are drinking their kool-aid?

But wait! A beacon of truth appears, since apparently the LA Times has given up all guise of impartiality in politics. What leads me to make that statement? Read the first sentence of this article. I tried to convince myself that it was tongue in cheek, but, alas, could not reach that conclusion. Perhaps you disagree, and can convince me otherwise.

Now, as I've stated before, I'm no fan of Sarah Palin. I think she is a flash in the pan, not ready for prime time. Although I certainly do not think she is the reason McCain failed to win the Presidency. She does, however, possess the star power to help revitalize a lost party. There is something to be said for being able to write a book that is a bestseller before it even appears on the shelf. And, since the left is so busy reviling her, perhaps she has the power to help keep their eye off the ball, making room for a serious candidate to take the forum for 2012.

We can only hope.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

On the Subject of Guns in the Wilderness

For those of us who travel off the beaten path, whether on foot or horseback, the question arises as to whether to carry a firearm. Generally speaking, people fall into one of three camps on this topic:

1. Those who carry a firearm, either on their hip, or tucked into their pack.
2. Those who do not carry a firearm, but are not opposed to those who do.
3. Those who do not carry a firearm, and are militantly opposed to those of us who do.

For the record, when riding the trails, I carry my trusty Smith & Wesson Model 19, in .357. A bit venerable, and not particularly glamorous, but it is reliable, and frankly, my favorite sidearm.

So, the question of why one would carry a firearm into the wilderness needs to be addressed.

An oft cited purpose is for defense against unfriendly wildlife. While dangerous encounters with predators such as cougars , bears , and wolves in the wild are not particularly common, they do happen. In the summer of 2008, my nephew and I came across two black bears on the trail within 200 yards of each other. Once these poorly sighted creatures had us in their view, they made themselves scarce. I blogged some time ago about our horses being attacked on the night highline by what we now believe were wolves. While tactics such as the use of bear spray, bear bells, or “making yourself look as large as possible” are the preferable way to terminate such encounters with wildlife, I prefer to have a fallback position should it appear that I am losing the upper hand.

Another, albeit less likely, reason that is argued is for use in encounters with predators of the two legged variety. I don't have any personal experience in this area, although I have heard second and third hand stories along these lines. There is also anecdotal evidence that farms of the illicit variety are popping up in the wilds, some of them guarded. I would suspect that said guards would tend towards the “shoot first, don’t ask questions” variety.

Now those in the anti-gun crowd would argue that those carrying a weapon would tend to present a hazard to others. I declare that argument to be bunk. If you don’t threaten me, then I’m certainly not going to threaten you.

Those of us on horseback have a more compelling reason to carry a firearm. In fact, I would argue that we have a responsibility to carry a pistol when we ride on the trails. Why is that? Accidents on the trail involving horses can and do occur. A broken leg is nearly always a fatal injury for a horse, even if it happens at home. Fatal because the nature of this injury requires, that in most cases the horse be put down. It’s not a simple applying a cast and ordering bed rest. A horse cannot support its own weight on three legs for an extended period of time. Despite the fact that money was no object, and the best veterinary care in the world, the race horse Barbaro eventually had to be put to sleep due to the damage that was being incurred by the non-injured hooves.

What will you do if your horse breaks a leg while you are miles into the backcountry? There is no vet around the next bend in the trail.

One of the old mule jockeys recently related a story from his youth. He and a friend were pushing cattle out of the hills, when his friend’s horse stepped in a hole and fractured a leg. They were miles from help, and had not a gun between them. They were forced to euthanize the poor animal by slitting its throat with a pocketknife. The event bothers him to this day, and he has never ridden without a firearm since.

While no horseman (or horsewoman) ever wants to find themselves in this situation, we should all be prepared for it. Our horses our are friends, and it would be wrong to let them suffer because we failed to be prepared, thinking “it’ll never happen to me”.

It's a Major Award!

But it's not frageelaay...so it must not be made in Italy.

Seriously, Mrs. BR and her Paint Horse Ellie went to a schooling show at the Tacoma Unit yesterday. She took 1st Place in her pattern class, receiving a ribbon the size of a small third world country, and a $100 gift certificate to Hobby Horse, a purveyor of show clothes and such.

She's pretty stoked, to say the least, as this is her first Big Win on Ellie.


I'm proud of her, as it has been a long tough road to reach this point.

Man it was cold in that covered arena yesterday. I'm just starting to get the feeling back in my toes.

Required Reading

If either of my readers finds the time, head over to Rude1's RamPage.

He's retired Air Force, currently residing in the Mountain West. He has some good stories from his USAF days, and good viewpoints on the current political climate.

Take some time and give it a look see.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Heh...

I wonder what it's like taking off in a plane knowing in advance that the landing will be little more than a controlled crash?



Love the soundtrack!

It looks the best landing was when the nose wheels failed to extend.

That's Gonna Leave a Mark

While sometimes the good Senator Graham gets a little too carried away in his quest for bi-partisanship, he certainly hit the mark on this one:



That pause after the first question was so long and uncomfortable that I even started to squirm a little.

I find the decision to try these people in Federal Court absolutely unconscionable. But having made that decision, one would expect that Mr. Holder would have thought through the concerns that Sen. Graham raises, and would have clear, succinct answers. There should be no "it depends. " Depends on what?

If things reach the point where our Marines and Soldiers need to carry a copy of the Miranda Act in their pockets, then it just may be that we have lost the cause. As Sen. Graham says, it will "make this country less safe", and it is "a perversion of the criminal justice system".

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What are They Afraid Of?

What is it about the likes of Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann that gets the left all worked up? Is it because they dispel the myth that women can't make it in a man's world? Or, perhaps, because they are proof that people can make it on their own, without the government holding their hands.

Read "The new wave of female firebrands striking fear into liberal America".

While I believe that, overall, the article paints these ladies in favorable light, a few words leaped off the page. Words used in reference to conservatives. Words like "shrill", "rabble-rouser", "ugly face of some modern conservatives". What words did they use to describe such notable organizations as Code Pink and MoveOn.org?? Groups that were far more mean spirited and ugly than any of the protest groups springing up on the right would ever dream of being. Do I smell a double standard from the media? Wait, I repeat myself.

Many on the left get worked up into a real froth at the mere mention of the names Palin or Bachmann. They declare them to be a "joke". If they are not to be taken seriously, why go to such efforts to denounce them. I must believe it is because they fear them. These ladies represent real Americans. People like you and I. Those of us who were not born with silver spoon inserted in mouth. What we have and who we are has been achieved through work and sacrifice. Not given to us by privileged parents, or a handed out by a bloated government.

They strike further fear through their ability to breathe new life and credibility into a Republican Party that is foundering on the rocks. They provide fresh, young faces, pushing aside the gray haired stodgy McCain types. Liberals try to dismiss Tea Party protesters by lewdly referring to them as "teabaggers", but deep down, when they are alone in their own thoughts, I suspect they are terrified. Their candidate, having ascended to the Presidency with few discernible qualifications, is making a mockery of the office and our country. Pelosi and Reid continue to drive the health care reform bill down our throats because they truly believe that they are the anointed ones who know best what us commoners need.

And all the while, the backlash is slowly brewing. Many who voted for The One are suffering buyers remorse. Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann are helping to give conservatives new hope. And perhaps, in 2012, the Republican Party will give more care to their selection of a nominee for this nation's highest office. Contrary to some others, I do not believe that Sarah Palin is that person. But I do believe that she has the ability to assist in guiding the party back to relevancy.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Oh Noes!!!

It would appear that one of our much ballyhooed, yetinfamous Central Link Light Rail trains has derailed. Luckily there were no passengers onboard. Wait, maybe that's because there are never any passengers on board.

Maybe the engineers designed it such that it needs the weight of the non-existent passengers to keep it on the track.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

More Abandoned Horses

Read the story here.

Four of these horses were lucky. They were found in time by a hunter who happens to be a horseman. And he chose to do something. Unlike the sorry sacks who abandoned them to their own devices in the backwoods. I hope there is a special place in hell for people like that.

Horse ownership is not an inexpensive proposition. I am not blind to the fact that in these tough economic times, some horse owners can no longer afford to care for their animals. And while Pierce County Animal control is but another sorry government run organization, there are avenues for help. The numerous equine rescue organizations would have helped, in one way or the other. Do not be too proud to use them.

While the thought of the wild mustangs on the range is very romantic, the fact is that domesticated horses do not possess the skills needed to survive in the wild. Forested areas in Washington state do not possess enough nourishing vegetation for the horses. As the article states, these animals were starved, and probably near death.

Since our government likes to regulate everything, why not regulate things that really count, like the ability to own animals or have children. Some people have no business doing either.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Bones and Muscles

Do you recall those grand old days in health class, memorizing the name and location of every bone and muscle in the human body? If memory serves, there are approximately 2,334,349 (give or take) bones and about as many muscles. At least it seemed so at the time.

With 205 bones and 42 muscle groups, the horse presents no less a daunting challenge for veterinary students. More rote memorization through hours spent staring at dusty old drawings and sketches.

Unless, of course, someone develops a better approach. That someone would be British champion rider Gillian Higgins. Over a four hour period, through the application of some water based hypoallergenic paints, she presents the horse anatomy as never seen before:



For more info an pictures visit www.horsesinsideout.com


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day Post

Much has been said in honor of all the veteran's on this day. By people who speak and write much more eloquently than I.

I have this to add:

Thank you to the American People for the privilege you gave me of serving my country.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Because Mocking the Citizens Usually Works

It seems that Barney Frank has found a way to convince the American people to get behind health care reform.

Or maybe not.

It never ceases to amaze me how elitist many politicians, at all levels of government, and regardless of political stripe, have become. They think they are smarter, more gifted, more talented. That they know what is best for us, because we are uneducated dolts.

When will people tire of this? How is it that these arrogant people keep getting re-elected? Do their constituents feel better when they are demeaned and compared to furniture?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

"Not once did he quit or complain"

If the military mission in Afghanistan fails, it will be due to the politicians.

Because United States Armed Forces are filled with Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines who are like this man. A man who loved his country, and his comrades. Who served willingly.

Rest In Peace.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Of Raptors

The family BR spent late September/early October at the Central Washington Fair in Yakima, for the express purpose of letting the Ladies BR show their ponies. I snapped over 700 photos while we were there, and have been meaning to blog about the experience, but, well, I've been a bit delinquent in that endeavor. So I will strive to make amends, although the posts will appear in no particular order other than that which strikes me.

I have a general disdain for birds, viewing them, for the most part, as winged rodents. Not so the members of the raptor family. Eagles, Hawks, and Owls. I find them all very majestic animals, and will stop what I am doing to watch them in flight.

The fine folks at the Sardis Raptor Center were at the fair. They work to rehabilitate injured members of the raptor family. Human contact with the animals is kept to a minimum, and most are returned to the wild. However, due to nature of their injuries, some of these birds are unable to be released. These birds are used in their educational program.

I believe this is a Red Tailed Hawk:


Barred Owl:


Golden Eagle:


4 year old Bald Eagle:


12 year old Bald Eagle. If you look closely you can see that he is missing his left eye.


The folks at Sardis are all volunteers, and their operating capital entirely from grants and donations. I hold people who volunteer their time for animals in great esteem.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

An Airmen Returns Home

Thanks to the efforts of the folks at BentProp, and the work of JPAC, a hero has returned home.

Rest easy, my friend.

Monday, October 26, 2009

We Keep Getting Dumber

It seems these days that the more high tech something is, the dumber it makes us. To wit:

Yuppie 911

It seems that wannabe Lewis and Clark's, whose previous outdoor experience is limited to walking the dog at the city park, are now setting out in their birkenstocks with a sack lunch, their blankie, and a personal locater beacon. Thus emboldened, our intrepid adventurers boldly go where no man has gone before. The reason being that the men who went before knew better than to attempt such folly. But, have no fear, once they find their sorry asses in a pickle, they need simply push the panic button. This done, they can sit back, munch their tofu sandwich and sip a snapple, secure in the knowledge that the designated rescue agency is thundering to the rescue, placing their own selves at risk, to save the stupid.

Not so very long ago, when folks found themselves in such a predicament, they were faced with two choices. Either use their gray matter and work through the problem, or die. I suspect that most. although not all, adventurers made it a point to be prepared. Now any old soft body can go traipsing through the woods, secure in the knowledge that someone will save them when they get a blister on their big toe.

Now, I will readily admit that I have a handheld GPS. I keep it in my saddlebag or backpack. I mark the trailhead before setting out. Then I turn it off, and stow it away. My navigation tools consist of a map, and a Mark I, Mod 0 compass. I have used the GPS on the trail once. Our whereabouts suspect, I used it to mark our Latitude and Longitude. However, had I not possessed map reading skills, this information wouldn't have been worth squat.

My treks are planned out. Supplies are checked and double checked. I always have water, a survival kit, and first aid kit. If a trail looks questionable, I study the terrain, compare it to the contour lines on the map, and am never too proud to say "I don't think so." A healthy fear of heights probably goes a long way toward preventing me from endangering my skin, also. On one trip, we rode in out of the wilderness a day earlier than planned due the fact that thunderstorms were rolling in. Discretion, and all that. Maybe I'm old school, since I believe in preparation, and knowing ones own limits.

I firmly believe that these gadgets, whilst designed with good intentions, are directly contributing to dilution of the gene pool. Along with the thousands of OSHA regulations in place, they keep those of limited common sense from perishing in the wilderness, or dying in an industrial accident, as they would have earlier in the last century. As a result, people not smart enough survive when left to their own devices, are now kept alive by regulations and gadgets, which permits them enough time on the planet to breed. This is usually done with someone possessing of an equally low IQ, thus creating the next generation of people who require that others take care of them.

It is to weep.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Deer Must Be on Vacation

Perhaps in the Bahamas. Or Hawaii. Or just about anywhere other than Western Washington. Nary a deer was to be seen by our party this weekend, or by any of the others that we saw and spoke to along the way. Mother nature is working against us. For the most part, weekend weather was cool and dry, which leads deer to eat at night, and bed down during the day. Good for them, bad for us.

But, a bad day hunting is not a bad day at all. I simply enjoy the opportunity to get out of the house, and commune with nature in places that most people will never see. And I did shoot a few good pictures.



The last is of Unicorn Peak in the Tatoosh Range. Believe it or not, we were getting snowed on when I snapped the photo.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"I'm Alive"

Once upon a time, in my younger days, forty seemed ancient to me. Now that I'm 43, with 44 looming on the horizon, I've discovered that in fact, I'm younger in my forties than I was in my twenties.

And I've found a video that describes this condition to a tee:

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sundays are for Auto Repair

At least this Sunday was. Like Andy, I had some fixin' to do. A horrible, metal on metal sound was coming from the left front of The Beast. My earlier suspicion of a warped brake rotor was incorrect, which led me to believe that the problem lay either in the hub or the cv axle. Sigh...

The first challenge is getting the offending wheel off the ground. A six inch lift and 35 inch tires tend to complicate jacking the vehicle up and setting it on a jackstand.


But it can be done, and soon the tire was on the ground, revealing the shiny new brakes I installed last weekend. Rust sure does set in fast in these parts.


Enter complication number one. Just about every fastener on this truck is metric, and the spindle nut (center of the picture below) is extra large. Despite having a tool set which is the envy of all my friends (courtesy of my Dad, the retired diesel mechanic), it's a bit light in the large size metric department. Thus it was off to the parts store to purchase a 35mm socket.

With that dilemma solved, the spindle nut was removed, followed by the the caliper, caliper anchor, and rotor, revealing the hub.


The cause of the problem quickly revealed itself. There was a great deal of play in the hub. The photo below reveals a bearing race sticking out where it shouldn't be.

While this was the more expensive of the two possible problems, it was the one that is considerably easier to fix, by about 4 or 5 hours. Money well spent. After another trip to the parts store, I was ready to put the whole shooting match back together.

Out with the old, and in with the new.


I'm pleased to report that the grinding metal sound is no longer present, and The Beast has once again been restored to her former glory.

On a side note, one socket and one universal joint were broken in the process of these repairs. Thank goodness for lifetime tool replacement.

It Would Appear That The Cat Is A 2nd Amendment Supporter

I snapped this photo yesterday evening, after laying my rifle out to dry off:

Opening Day

Yesterday's hunt was rather fruitless, at least from the standpoint of harvesting a deer. Or even seeing one, for that matter. For starters, we're hunting the rather elusive Blacktail Deer. And it was just too warm and wet. When the temperatures are high they feed at night, and sleep during the day. And when mother nature provides a frog strangling rain like she did yesterday afternoon, they tend to hunker down for cover.

The shortage of deer does not cause the hunt to end in disappointment. For me, hunting in more about the opportunity to be out of the house, in some far off stretch of land that few people will ever see. Even when I take pictures, they never reflect the same grand views that my eyes take in. The season isn't over yet, so pray for cold weather with rainy nights, for to flush out the prey.

We did spot this bull elk on the drive home:



I apologize for the poor quality of the photos, but the old Nikon Coolpix was at the limit of its range. The question has arisen, why didn't we shoot him? 1) It's not elk season, therefore doing so would be poaching, and activity I will not engage in. 2) As can be seen by the structure in the background, this young fella is standing in someone's yard. Undoubtedly, the homeowners would not take to kindly to gunfire in the yard.

I'm certain that come elk season, this bull will be nowhere to be seen, having found a safe place to weather the storm.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated...

...much to the chagrin of some, I'm certain. It seems that I've been busier than a one legged man in an ass kicking contest, so blogging has been non-existent. Iam full of blog fodder (among other things), with plenty of tales and pictures of the Central Washington Fair and associated horse show. However, tomorrow is opening day of deer season in these parts, so I'll be taking my rifle out for a walk. I'll get to blogging come Sunday.

Until then, I leave you with this video, which confirms my belated switch to Ford (not to mention the fact that they didn't take any of my tax dollars):

Saturday, September 26, 2009

One of Life's Enduring Mysteries

Living in a household where my better half and two out of three daughters are cowgirls, I sometimes find myself asking this question:

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cows, The Constitution, and The Ten Commandments

Via Email:

Think about this:


1. Cows

2. The Constitution

3. The Ten Commandments

------------------------------------------

COWS

Is it just me, or does anyone else find it amazing that during the mad cow epidemic our government could track a single cow, born in Canada almost three years ago, right to the stall where she slept in the state of Washington? And, they tracked her calves to their stalls. But they are unable to locate 11 million illegal aliens wandering around our country. Maybe we should give each of them a cow.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

THE CONSTITUTION

They keep talking about drafting a Constitution for Iraq ... why don't we just give them ours? It was written by a lot of really smart guys, it has worked for over 200 years, and we're not using it anymore.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

THE 10 COMMANDMENTS

The real reason that we can't have the Ten Commandments posted in a courthouse or Congress is this --you cannot post 'Thou Shalt Not Steal' 'Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery' and 'Thou Shalt Not Lie' in a building full of lawyers, judges and politicians .... it creates a hostile work environment.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Cowboys in the 21st Century


"Make mine fat free, sugar free, with soy milk, please."

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Never a Dull Moment

At 0430 this morning, the family BR was awakened by the sound of crunching metal, followed by a car accelerating away. Well, all of us were awakened with the exception of DN3, but she slept through the Life Flight helicopter that landed in the street a few years back.

Quickly dressing, I grabbed a flashlight, and went outside to determine which car had fallen victim. I secretly hoped it was one of the neighbors vehicles, but these hopes were quickly dashed. It was one of ours. And of course, it couldn't have been the 1990 Honda with 220,000 miles on it. Nooooo...it had to be the cherry 1978 Ford F350. To wit:

We, of course, called the police. The offender had been kind enough to leave his passenger side mirror and numerous paint chips behind. This led us to ascertain that he had been driving an emerald green Ford. The mean and nasty side of me wishes that my F150 had been parked there instead. With it's 6 inch lift and 35 inch tires, the perps car may very well have become wedged underneath, making it harder to get away.

Living in a small town has it's advantages, and the offending vehicle turned up less than a half a mile away. From the intel we have, the operator an unlicensed teenager, and, yes, he was under the influence of alcohol. The Police placed the bracelet's on the lad, charged him with DUI, Hit & Run, and operating a motor vehicle without a license, and transported him to the klink.

My speculation is that mom & dad were fast asleep when junior slipped out of the house to go party. I'm sure the cat was let out of the bag when the cops woke them up first thing this morning. I'm disappointed that they haven't made any effort to contact us yet, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt, as they've probably had their hands full today. Although their neighbors were getting a bit suspicious when did two drive by's today, admiring the Ford Explorer that has much of the paint missing on the driver's side.

I'll be paying them a visit tomorrow.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Cattle Call

Today is the opening day of the Puyallup State Fair. As part of the first day's festivities, there is a parade through downtown Puyallup (pronounced: pew-al-up), which includes, among other things, a cattle drive.

Seems that a few head felt the need to stop at a convenience store for an icee.

The horse in the store bears a striking resemblance to Smokey. I wonder if he is moonlighting?

UPDATE: There's video!!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Cellular Phone vs. Tractor

DN2 tried to pit her cell phone against the tractor.

Sigh...I guess it's a good thing that it's time for the every two year upgrade with Verizon.


Again??

WARNING: Laura, you may not want to click on the link. More sad news.

10 Thoroughbreds were seized in Snohomish County. Adding insult to injury, a horse had been removed from the property in July. Why the hell didn't animal control take all of the horses at that time? That certainly would have prevented a bad situation from becoming worse.

2.3 acres is not enough room for 10 horses. Two, maybe three horses, yes, but not ten.

Those of us who choose to keep domesticated animals, from gerbils to horses, have a deep responsibility to those same animals for their care and well being. Through millenia of domestication, they have lost the ability to fend for themselves. They count upon us for food, water, veterinary care, and their very well being. Along the same vein as having children, this responsibility cannot be taken lightly.

While it is often easy to attribute these cases to people who have fallen on hard times, this seems to rarely be the actual case. Most reasoning, thinking people can recognize when they are in over their heads. Seeking help before the problem gets out of hand is the best course. A horse rescue would much rather take healthy horses, as these are more readily adoptable than sick, malnourished animals which must first be rehabilitated.

Too often, the people who create these situations do not think, or accept, that something is wrong, They believe in their own minds that they are providing the best possible care. I believe that animal hoarding is a mental illness. With that said, it does not excuse this behavior.

I also feel that, in many cases, animal control is equally culpable. Too often, they have been called repeatedly, but claim "there is nothing we can do." Really? How about pushing for tougher laws, to start with. Give yourselves some teeth. Here in Pierce County, WA, if animal control is called to a farm for malnourished horses, they will first check to see if feed is on the property. If they find a nice stack of hay, then they will leave, because food is available. I'm sure Smokey would agree that the hay is of no use if it's not being FED TO THE HORSES.

I implore all of you, care for your animals, and if you are unable to, get help. And just as you would do if you suspected child abuse, if you believe that animals are being abused or neglected, please report it.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Injustice

Yet another reason that I have a general disdain for my fellow man.

The article states that the dogs had been a continual problem. As is to be expected, reporting the problem to the proper authorities was to no avail. Personally, I would have allowed the problem to happen once. Upon the second occurrence, the offending dogs would have been roundly dispatched with a scattergun.

No two ways about it, the owners of the dogs are at fault. I have little (read: NO) sympathy for anyone who causes or permits violence upon women, children, or animals. I believe the punishment should fit the crime. In other words, the owners of these dogs should be locked in a cage with a pack of wild dogs, and let nature takes it's course.

Of course, at best they will probably get a slap on the wrist, and maybe a little community service.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Shameless Plug

In the midst of the daily assault of bad news that we continually face, it is easy for us to lose sight of the fact that there are still good people in the world. Average folks who perform good deeds not for the sake of recognition, but for the sake of the deed itself.

Periodically, I stumble across stories of these people, and realize how small and insignificant I am. How little I truly do to make the world a better place.

In my blog list, you will see a blog titled "From Hell to Heaven: Saving Argus". This blog is written by a lady named Katie, and chronicles the rescue and rehabilitation of a Thoroughbred Horse who spent the first 16 years of his life locked in a 12 x 16 pen. It is a gripping, emotional, and very well written blog. While the tale is about a horse, if you look beyond, it is revealing about us humans. The kindness, and yes, the cruelty, that we are capable of.

I encourage you to read the blog, with two recommendations:

1. Read the story in chronological order. The first post is in December, 2007.
2. Keep a box of tissue handy.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Roll

There is something about soft, dusty, dry dirt, that most horses simply cannot resist.

They must roll...


The time spent rolling is directly proportional to how clean they are.

Just for the record, if dry dirt isn't available, wet squishy mud has been found to be a great substitute.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Appropos of Something, I Suppose...

I'm late to the party where country music is concerned. When I was younger I assumed it was all along the vein of "my dog died" or my "girl ran off". Chalk it up to youth.

My father once told me that when I get old, I will listen to country music. I must be old, since I have started to listen to KBEC & KJUG on the computer. They play that old timey country. I've discovered that I enjoy it.

As for the newer stuff, I do like some of it, but as an old mule jockey told me, most of it is "rock 'n roll with a twang".

"There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man." ~Winston Churchill

Or, in this case, the inside of a child.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Protesting, Arizona Style

I found this video via Drudge yesterday. I won't debate whether it was staged or not. That's not the point of this post.

I'm a firm believer in the Second Amendment. I have a few firearms myself. I do not personally see the need for assault rifles, but if that's what trips your trigger, have at it. But that's not the point of this post, either.

Seems it's perfectly legal to publicly pack an assault rifle around in Arizona. Still not the point.

The point is the great amusement I took in watching these two reporters trying to get their minds around the whole thing. They were shocked!, shocked, I tell you., and are desperately trying to come to grips with it. The one states that he had never seen an AR-15 before. I would venture a guess he's never seen any firearm before.

I'm still laughing.

On a side note: Those two are wearing nice ties...I wonder if they sell any men's clothes where they got them.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Separating the Wheat from the Chaff

Because of crap like this, I tend to take a dim view of "art". In my opinion, most "artists" are anything but. Most of them strike me as pathetic waifs with no useful skills to offer society. "Starving artists" are starving because their works are unappealing. Of course, cities like Seattle will undoubtedly spend other peoples tax dollars on these ocular horrors, since state law requires that 1% of the money spent on public works projects be given toward art.

Via Gordon, I was given a glimpse of a true artist at work. I'm sure many of you have already viewed it, but it was nonetheless awe inspiring.

The artist is Ukrainian, and she is telling the story of the Ukraine being overrun by the Germans in World War II. The effect on the audience is profound.

Despite Hollywood's best efforts, true talent will always shine though.

Rules of the Road

1. No matter how close you tailgate me, I refuse to drive faster than the car in front of me. And remember, I'm commuting in a 20 year old car, and have a herniated disk in my c-spine. I have nothing to lose, and your money to gain.

2. If you drive one of these, it is never acceptable to drive 60mph in the fast lane. The thing was engineered to drive on the Autobahn for crying out loud.

3. If you are driving a Subaru or have Oregon license plates, please stay in the slow lane. It is best for all involved parties. Despite what you may believe, you are not the Washington State Pace Car.

4. If you are driving a Subaru with Oregon plates...please stay in Oregon. We have enough crappy drivers already.

5. No, the 50mph sign does not mean for you to drive 40mph.

6. If the policeman has a car pulled over, it really is not necessary for everyone to slow to 10mph under the speed limit. He's out of service folks.

7. If you are a young, healthy adult in the crosswalk, pick up the pace. I'm behind on my quota.

8. If I'm towing my horse trailer, DO NOT tailgate me. Rest assured that the horseflesh in the trailer is worth more to me than your sorry ass. Should you run into my trailer, your best course of action is to die instantly.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

County Fair

Last weekend was County Fair, which, for us, serves as the culmination of the 4H year. One is provided a different perspective when working "behind the scenes" at these events. The sheer number of volunteer hours that go into operating one of these shows is staggering. Getting people to volunteer is a continuing problem, and, typically, 10% of us do 90% of the work. While it grates on my nerves at times to see the usual supsects sitting on their duffs, you won't hear me complain. I truly enjoy working these shows, and, having proven myself a reliable volunteer, I get the better jobs, as will be seen later.

The days started early, with horses being fed at 6am. Once the horses had eaten, activity picked up in earnest. Horses were cleaned of whatever substance they had rolled in during the night, and thoroughly groomed, so as to look their best. The more spirited horses were lunged or ridden in the practice arena to take the edge off. With DN2 & DN3 showing horses in Western and English performance, Mrs. BR stayed busy helping with hair, makeup and show clothes, while I worked to prep the arena for the days events. This involved dragging the arena, erecting the barricades, chalking, as well as setting up trail, jumping, and dressage courses.

Mother Nature was on our side, with the skies overcast with temperatures in the upper 60's and lower 70's. Perfect show weather.

This years judges were unusually tough. Results, across the board, were not up to the standards that had been experienced throughout the show season. This resulted in no small amount of controversy, but in the end, judging is subjective, and the placings were fairly consistent from class to class.

This is DN2's last season. She and the other graduating Seniors were presented with their Belt Buckles (rather fancy ones, I might add), and formally recognized during Senior Recognition. She is also an alternate for the State Team. She went to State Fair last year, so, having "been there, done that", she isn't too disappointed. Due to cuts in the State Fair, the number of riders permitted this year is smaller, by half. And we will be taking them to the Central Washington Fair, in October, which, if given the choice, is the fair they would rather attend.

Western Equitation Class awaiting placings:


The best looking riders out there:


And, lest you think only the kids get to have fun at the fair, here is yours truly keeping the road apple pile at bay:


I knew playing with those Tonka trucks when I was a kid would eventually pay off.

Sunday afternoon, everyone gathered for the Awards Ceremony. With several of the presenters being a tad long winded, this event began to get a little long in the tooth, but after two hours, mercifully it came to and end. Which led to the mad dash to clear the barns. Decorations were taken down, stalls cleaned, tack packed up, and horses trailered. Finally, barn checks completed, vowing never to eat fair food again, we headed for home.

I think it was Wednesday before we fully recovered...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sailors, Rest Your Oars...

Nine years ago today, the Russian Submarine Kursk sank, ultimately with the loss of all hands. The fortunate members of the crew died immediately. A small handful were not so fortunate, and survived for some period afterward, until they succumbed to the cold and lack of oxygen.

The loss of the Kursk is no worse, and no less so, than the many submarines lost either in wartime, or due to accident. For me, personally, this event was poignant in that it occurred during my time on active duty. It served as a reminder of the peril that we Dolphin wearers placed ourselves in each time we went to sea.

Submariners, regardless of nationality, share a bond forged in the dangers inherent to our chosen profession. The loss of our brothers, even our former enemies, strikes us in a way that words cannot express.

Take a moment to remember these brave souls.

H/T Joel

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Horsepower

I've long thought Israeli's to be a tough breed.

Apparently, so are their horses.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What the...? Who the...?

What the hell is wrong with people?

I like my horses, but not this much.

I think it would have been justifiable homicide, and one less virus in the gene pool.

Ms. Kenley is my kind of dame. Knows her way around a shotgun and all.

Saving the Wild Horses

Admittedly, I'm biased on this topic, but I must say that for once, I approve of a plan that is working it's way throught Congress.

After the untold quanities of money that have been thrown down blackholes that provide no benefit beyond filling re-election coffers, I find it almost laughable to hear politicians suddently worried about "Taxpayer Drain". I hate to state the obvious for our challenged politicians, but that horse has already escaped the barn. Pun intended.

Not only does this help the wild horses, but it also preserves untamed land, keeping it free from further unchecked growth. Granted, much of the land is probably in the boonies where it won't be developed in the first place, but still...

I approve.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Work Party

As a member of the Backcountry Horseman of Washington (BCHW), I had the privilege of spending last weekend participating in a work party to repair a section of the Pacific Crest Trail. The goals of the weekend were to build two bridges, replace another that had collapsed, and redirect a section of the PCT that had been washed out for years.

The United States has thousands of miles of trails in the wilderness. Winter, and the never ending onslaught of nature, take their toll on these trails. Once upon a time, the United States Forest Service used summer work crews to perform trail maintenance in the wilderness. A victim of ever shrinking budgets, they have, for the most part, been forced to discontinue their efforts. Much of this work has now fallen on the shoulders of volunteers. The Pierce County Chapter of the BCHW, of which I am a member, has teamed up with the Tahoma and Enumclaw chapters, and the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) to adopt a 35 mile section of the PCT, between Crystal Mountain and Government Meadows. Bear in mind that much of this section of trail can only be reached on foot or horseback. While the USFS has little budget for this work, they do provide tools, and through grants received by the PCTA, hay and water for the horses, as well as food for the workers was supplied. What is needed is labor.

We were operating from the Government Meadows Horse Camp. This accessed via National Forest Development Road 70. For the first ten miles it is a paved, windy road. After that, it becomes a dirt, windy, logging road. When traveling a dirt road, towing a horse trailer, and you reach sign that indicates a 12% grade, you will crease the seat a bit. And although I was traveling 10-15mph at best, I was throwing up quite the cloud of dust. This is the view from the drivers window on the way up.


I'm sure that by this time, Smokey was certain that he had died and gone to hell.

I arrived early Friday afternoon. People had been arriving and working since late Wednesday. After checking in, I saddled up, and headed out on the trail to one of the designate work sites. Shortly I began to pass riders who were heading back to camp. Talking with them, I learned that work had stopped for the day, and most were headed back. I decided to continue riding, to see the trail and enjoy the solitude. Soon, I reached the first section of trail that had been rerouted. It was a nice series of switchbacks that led up to the place at which the trail crosses the 7080 Road. At this point, it was still necessary to ride about 100yds up the road to pick the trail back up. Turning back onto the trail, Smokey and I headed another mile or so down the trail, before turning back.

This is a view of Blowout Mountain from the trail:


Returning to the 7080 Road, I soon realized that I had not paid as much attention to the location of the trail as would have been wise, since the new signs had not yet been posted. I wasn't lost, just geographically misplaced. We went up and down the road a few times before I finally spotted the freshly turned dirt between two small trees. Picking the trail back up, we rode back to camp.

Saturday morning, we ate breakfast at 7:30. This was followed by a riders meeting, and work assignments. Lunches were picked up, horses saddled, tools loaded on the pack horses, and then the teams would set out for work. I was on a team of six that would be posting new signs, assisting with the final section of trail that was being rerouted, and then helping to complete the bridge that was being replaced. An active group to say the least.

On the trail:

Smokey and his new found friend tied up at the trail work site:


Where are those darn horses hiding?


While chainsaws and weedwackers were available to clear the brush, the work of trailbreaking fell to basic hand tools, such as shovels and pulaski's. After our stint on the trail, it was time for our group to return to Government Meadows to assist with the bridge. Government Meadows lies along the Naches Trail. This was a trail that used by wagon trains back in the day.

Government Meadow:


Signs at the Government Meadow Cabin:





From what little I can find, Mike Urich was a trail worker back in the first half of the twentieth century.

Upon arriving, the task of gravel hauling became our primary focus. This involved shoveling gravel from the bed of a pickup into wheel barrows and then hauling it 100yds to the bridge.

This provided one of the highlights of the day: The Pickup Ride. To get more gravel we had to drive about a mile downhill on a dirt road to where a dump truck had deposited the rock pile. Now, this "road" might be considered a road to jeepers, but to those of us riding in the back of the 25 year old F350, it was anything but. And the driver seemed to have forgotten that there were six of us in the bed. More than one of us was nearly bounced clear of the pickup. The cackling laughter coming from the cab of the truck didn't exactly help, either.

Arriving bruised, but intact, we shoveled a huge pile of gravel into the pickup, then traveled uphill with the load. For some reason, I had a mental image of the tailgate fallling up, and being washed out in a cascade of rocks and dirt.

Back at the worksite, we shoveled the gravel out, then back for more. The second and third trips were a little less chaotic. It may be related to the threats that were levied at the driver, but I could be wrong.

The bridge complete, we headed back to camp. After watering and feeding the horses, we settled in to await dinner.


We were fed like royalty at this event. Chicken Friday night, steak on Saturday, with no shortage of food. A huge breakfast each morning, and an ample sack lunch for the trail. The evening entertainment was anothe of the highlights, courtesy of Denny, a colorful old mulerider, who is a talented guitarist and singer. His repartoire consisted of country songs, none newer than 30 years old. In his words, modern country music is "rock and roll with a twang".

Sunday consisted of some minor trail work, and the major endeavor of breaking camp. I rolled out around noon, dirty, hot, sweaty, and tired, but with an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction at having played a small part in something that is bigger than me.

Some hikers happened upon one of the work crews, and stopped to help them work for awhile. This is IMPORTANT. I will discuss why in my next post. As my picture of the cabin at Government Meadows fell victim to my shoddy photography skills, I was searching online when I came across this post by one of the hikers involved.

How cool is that?