Monday, January 07, 2013

Three Years?

In the absurd unlikelihood that anyone still stops by here, I thought I'd mention that I have new digs over at Glimmer of Veracity.  Come see me.  I miss you.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Back in the Saddle Again.

Or, back to the saddle again?

I've slept since then (though hardly well or a lot), so bear with me as I attempt to recount The Round Up.

Rob and his son having fully prepared our horses' tack, all we had left to do was mount up and make sure they were watered well before we headed off to meet up with the other folks. One thing was instantly clear about our mounts--they were very close friends and did not ken to being separated. When one trotted, the other trotted, when one walked, the others walked. When one galloped...we all screamed our heads of and nearly died (totally just exaggerating, mom!)...but that's a story for a later time.

We met up with the other riders--the real horsemen and women who brought their own horses and trailers and gear. It would have been a perfect opportunity for anyone of them to get snippy or holier than thou, or even just weirdly protective, but everyone was perfectly lovely and treated us and our rental horses as equals. It was pretty cool.

We got the lowdown on where we'd be headed, approximately where we would find the cattle (they had actually already been rounded up for the most part and brought in to a basin a few miles from the ranch--to save us all a lot of time and hassle), and where we were going to be bringing them. And then we rode. And rode. And then we rode some more. It was beautiful and sunny and cool, and just about as close to heaven as I could imagine. If there had been chocolate and a live band, it could have passed.

When we finally got to the basin where the cattle were hangin out, there were a few yet that had to be wrangled. We let the more experienced riders do this, instead opting to sit on our horses and listen to the incessant bleating of the calves and the lowing of the cows as they wondered what the HELL was going on. Damn, cattle are a noisy lot! Oddly, though, the acoustics were so amazing in the basin that even over the cacophony of the cattle, we could hear every word of every conversation being held--we could even hear the folks on the far edge of the basin chatting up the cows they were trying to bring in closer. Perhaps it was a shepherd who originally "invented" the outdoor amphitheatre?

Anyway, after we got all the strays collected, it was time to start moving them all back towards the ranch. We again had positions assigned along the creek bed to ensure that no one bolted from the pack and tried to backtrack into the sunset. I did not fully understand Princess' attachment to the other horses until I was given a spot in a tucked-back area, out of sight from nearly everyone else. She whinnied and pawed at the ground and shook her head and was generally a right bitch. I had to continuously walk her in circles just to keep her busy.

And then, all of the sudden...cattle! Many and lots of cattle, ambling by, wailing and moaning as though they were on some sort of cow-death-march (perhaps after all they were about to go through at the ranch, they were only wishing for death as a less torturous alternative). Just when I thought that this was all for show and that I would never have to actually *do* anything, there they were! A momma and her yearling broke ranks about 20 yards, one 2ft ledge, and 1 treeline from me. The fellow manning that spot had just left it to hustle in another errant pair, leaving a big ole hole that this couple wasted no time filling. I gave Princess a nudge and she LEAPED up the ledge (scaring the pee outta me) and in front of the cow and her calf. They looked stunned for half a second and then grudgingly got back in line, bellowing all the while.

Woohoo! I was a cowpoke for reals! I was so proud of myself, and of course NO one saw it, cos they were too busy doing the same thing. But it was cool, trust me!

After we got the cattle out of the creek bed, it was just an easy walk back to the ranch with them hugging the fenceline and us sort of walking along beside them telling them to hurry the hell up. Damned hoof-draggers.

After we got them little doggies (ha!) safely to the work pens, we turned our horses towards camp. And woe is me for forgetting the nature of the trail horse. Slow to go out, but DAMN when it's time to go home they always tend to move a little faster. A lot faster in our case, because S and I were a little pony-crazed and are speed demons to boot. So we nudged them from a trot to a canter, and then when they realised they were so close to "the Barn", they took off like bats outta Hades-full gallop. I'm fairly certain I was screaming like a banshee (with glee more than fear...but a little fear), and I know for a fact that I was gripping the pommel like it was the last remaining hope in a world of doom (it pretty much was, because at that point I'd lost at least one of my stirrups and I was kind of flailing).

It was terrifying, but OH it was fun! But it just meant that we were back in camp that much sooner and it was time to give the horses a rest and go eat lunch. Yep. All this was before lunch on the first day!!

Of course I don't have photos of any of this, because I didn't have saddlebags, and I wasn't about to risk losing my camera. Besides, when all the good stuff was goin' down, I was far too busy actually doin my job to take snapshots. ;)

There are a few other good stories to tell, and I'll tell them. But most of the rest of the weekend was trailrides, eating, sleeping, reading, eating, and more trailrides. Oh, and the Ride Up Bar. Oh yeah. Mimosas and Bloody Marys on horseback? Heck yeah.

More on that later.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

First Things First (Linkolicious!)

Something cool happened today.

I went for a Mountain Bike Ride at Pemberton this morning. It was about 1 hour and 45 minutes worth of climbing and scrambling and slogging through sand and blazing down hill. When we got back to the parking lot and started loading up, changing clothes, and getting ready to hit town for a good breakfast, I noticed that my little metal wallet(mine is orange, not pink!) was missing. I ransacked the xTerra, had other people go through my Camelbak in case I was just momentarily blind, and finally threatened to re-ride the entire trail to look for it.

Fortunately, the folks I was with talked me down from that stance, reminding me of the heat (it got up to around 100 degrees today!! In October!!) and the fact that it was highly likely that someone would find the wallet before I did and I'd just be wasting my time. So I stopped off at the visitors' station to give my description and my phone number, in case anyone happened to turn it in.

A fellow who happened to be there purchasing a yearly pass to the park asked where I thought I might have lost it. I showed him our route on the map, and the approximate location where we'd stopped and I dug a GU pack out of the top pocket of the Camelbak. My wallet had been in the same pocket, and I felt pretty confident that I'd just fumbled around enough to knock it out. He said he was just getting ready to head out on the trails and that he'd keep an eye out for it. I gave him my thanks and figured that'd be the last of it, since..well..stuff like that never works out, does it?


Shortly after arriving home and determining to thoroughly clean out the entire vehicle in case the wallet had slid between the seats or gotten buried under a heap of papers, my phone rang. The caller ID said "Blocked" but I figured I'd take a chance and answer it.

"Is this Kerri?" Yes! Yes it is! "Hi, this is McDowell Mt. Park Visitors' Center calling; someone has turned in your wallet. The gentleman is standing right here, would you like to talk to him?" Wow, yes, please! "Hi, this is the guy you talked to earlier--the wallet was exactly where you said it would be. I can meet you somewhere if you'd like...."

After recovering from fainting, taking a moment to do a little happy dance, give prayer to the Karma Gods, and catching my breath, I agreed to meet him on his way back into town.

He warned me that he saw a coyote loping away from the scene when he arrived and that I might ought to watch my charges for a while, lest any random ACME purchases show up (i.e. dynamite, bird feed, or road runner traps). :D

He also refused to accept my offers to send him some sort of thank you (a gift card to the bike shop of his choice, for example), the only part of this story that sucks. So do something nice for a stranger, won't you? Pass it on?

I'll get back to the horsey trails soon, really. But my Mini-Machine's battery is about to poof, so I gotta go juice it up. I need a nap too, come to think of it.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Got A Good Grip?

Hope so, cos you're gonna have to keep hangin....

I went down to let the dogs out one more time before bed and got caught up in the trainwreck that is television. "House" was on, and before I could save myself, I had gotten sucked in. So it's late, and I'm sleepy, and I don't want to tell a long story about how awesome the cattle drive was.

Until I return, enjoy this sweet photo of Princess during her "Are you still on my back?" phase of Saturday afternoon:

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Head 'em up, move 'em out...

Yeah, yeah, I know I promised this to you yesterday, but I dragged myself to bed later than I had hoped to and I just wanted to sleep. You may point out that it's later still tonight than even Monday's post, but this is by choice. I decided that since the dogs are plotting against me EVER getting a full night's sleep this week (Bucket crying to go out and poo at 2:30am Tuesday morning, Delilah barking at who knows what this morning at 4am), that I'd just roll with it and quit trying to go to bed early. But I digress.

Country Catering and Cattle Round Ups. That's why you're here. I may not make it much past breakfast today, because, well...I am tired. But we'll get there eventually.

So there was this big whiteboard advertising breakfast from 6am to 6:45am that we had seen the night before. And sure enough, 6am rolled around and there was an honest-to-god breakfast bell. It wasn't a triangle or an iron bell like we used to have waaaay back when on "the farm", but it was a giant oversized copper cowbell of sorts. And they weren't shy about using it to let us know that it was time to get up and get movin.

Breakfast done cowboy style, but with a bit more finesse... Pancakes (I passed), bacon (I sure as heck didn't!), eggs to order, fresh fruit, juice, coffee, cocoa. It was an amazing spread and we ate as though we wouldn't see food again for days. Probably a bad choice, looking back on it, as it was just a gateway meal to many other overindulgences, but boy was it good.

We met up with our rental horse wrangler, Rob, who gave us our assignments. My horse? Princess, a formal barrel horse with "some spunk". Eep. Considering that I hadn't ridden in something like 6 or 7 years, and then only for a short short stint around the jousting ranch in OKC, I was the tiniest bit nervous about whether or not I would be able to sit a "spunky" horse. S would be on Dunbar, and Roommate K would be on Sunflower, whom S had ridden the year previous and had warned us was a big ole stick in the mud. If K was at all disappointed, she didn't show it, but took it in perfect stride.

We went and got our cowduds on (yes, we ate in our pajamas, but lest anyone worry themselves about me traipsing around in a tank top and holy pajama bottoms, let me remind you that we were camping. on a ranch. in october. I was sharing a tent with two other people, and it was chilly. I was more clothed than I often am during the Phoenix summer!), and went to where the horses were kept. To our surprise, Rob and his son had gotten all of our horses completely ready and saddled. All we had to do was water them and tighten the cinches and make sure our stirrups were set to the right height.

I really do have photos, and I really will post some someday. But for now I'll just tell you that while I dreamed for months of having a paint pony or a buckskin, and dreaded the ever-popular "brown horse", that's pretty much what Princess was. Almost a Bay, but too scruffy to pass. Not light enough to pass for Sorrel... (and here I act like I know what the hell I'm talking about! ha!). But she was a tall horse, and relatively narrow, for which I would be eternally grateful. She tested me a bit, but we eventually got along like...well, like a trail horse and a noob rider. :)

Dunbar was a stocky little thing, and even sassier than Princess, and more brown and plain. But he totally suited S--they looked like they'd been together forever. And Sunflower was the perfect match for Roommate K...a gorgeous palomino paint that looked like it had been created just for the shiny, bubbly blond.

After we watered up and rode around the camp for a bit to get adjusted, it was time to ride out.

And true to form, I've exhausted myself in the telling thus far, and my eyes are stinging me to sleep. So the actual tale of the ride will have to wait, yet again!

I like to keep you hangin. ;)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Poke Poke Poke*

So last week I was entirely too excited and busy to tell you about my then upcoming weekend. I wanted to just jot a quick note about it, but was afraid that I would just ramble on and on and never get any sleep (such as I am likely about to do).

What could possibly have been so exciting, you ask? Another epic mountain bike ride? A fantastic hike? A trip to Parts Unknown?

No no no. I went on a cattle drive! My friend S mentioned it to me months ago when we first met. Said she: "There is this cattle drive in October, and anyone can go and they rent horses if you don't have one and it's full of win and awesomesauce." Said I: "Count me in!"

And time passed and I got the infos and I sent in my registration and my horse rental fees. I got a three man tent, a sleeping bag, and a sleeping pad of my own (thanks, Folks, for the REI gift certificate!!). I made a concerted effort to shed a few pounds, lest I break the back of whatever pitiful pony I got to ride. I got out my old black motorcycle boots and planned and packed my gear for days before hand (although not as painstakingly as my friend Shanny might have ;) ).

Thursday came and S and Roommate arrived to whisk me away to The Ranch. The place is just about an hour north of Phoenix, but we got a late start and arrived long after dark. We managed to set up my never-before-used tent easily (/flex!), and got ready for a good night's sleep before the 6am breakfast bell set to clangin.

Little did we know that we were surrounded by pens full of deer, and these deer had the most peculiar and baleful calls ever heard. We were caught up being simultaneously creeped out and curious about these calls when the horses started whinnying. As we lay cramped together in the tent listening to the cacophony, Roommate K ventured to ask what the horses might have been saying to one another. S was only too happy to oblige us with a translation, which included her very own rendition of "pony speak". I'm sure our camping neighbours were befuddled, to say the least, at the arrival of these three girls whinnying and giggling til all hours in their tent.

Tomorrow, 6am Cowboy breakfast, and my first cattle drive!

*get it? Cowpoke? :)

Sunday, October 04, 2009


Time, she does fly. It's October already? I'm certainly not complaining, as the beginning of month ten has ushered in a cold front (ha!) of sorts for us desert dwellers. The mornings are crisp again, and the highs have hovered around 90 for the later part of this week, and it has been glorious.

Of course, that also means that I don't have any more excuses for not getting off my butt and out of the house. To that end, I went out today and bought some new "road" tires for my old Giant Cadex. I'm going to use it as my commuter bike so that I don't have to swap out tires on my Jamis, or remove the panniers and trunk every time I want to go for an actual mt. bike ride. I don't aim to ride every day of the week, but at 10 miles round trip, even a few days a week will be a good addition of exercise and fresh air to my world--not to mention a bit of a savings on gas for the Jeep.

Now, if I and the other 2 bike commuters at work could just convince the powers that be to put a shower into one of our ginormous bathrooms at work, we'd be set. Until then, I'll just stock up on baby wipes and be thankful that I work in a non-public office with a bunch of engineers and geeks who think dressing up is tucking their t-shirts into a pair of jeans.