November 22, 2008

A Few Photos

The new little guy:

He's kinda fun to hold:

Dad and Lukie are showing the new little bro' how to have fun:
After visiting the baby, we spent the afternoon at a Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk. The kids liked the seals and crabs and manta rays and shark-whales (sharks).

We Have a Boy!

Yesterday, we welcomed a new baby boy grandchild!
No name yet. That's under consideration.
He's healthy and hearty, 8 pounds, 12 ounces. Mom and Dad came through okay, too.
We'll post photos as soon as we get some good ones. Meanwhile, Steve and I are having fun playing grandparents with Stella and Lucas.

November 15, 2008

Have a Heart

We’ve been to the top of Little Mountain many times, from several directions. Today’s starting point was a crested wheat grass meadow located just west of the “Old Indian Treaty Boundary”, according to the map. In our usual parking place in the meadow, cows gathered around some water troughs that had been filled with trucked-in water. Daisy set off immediately to chase the cows, but she came back when Steve called her.
Before we’d ridden our horses far down the road, an old rancher came by in his truck and admonished us for “running his cows” every weekend. Since we hadn’t been to the area since spring, and on that occasion, all we’d seen were antelopes, we couldn’t possibly have been running his cows. And we told him so. After that, he chilled out and griped a little about ranching and how his cows didn’t seem to want to stay on the meadow. He even talked some politics (sounded like an Obama fan!) before wishing us a good ride and moving on.
We headed on up the hill, trotting and cantering much of the way. Steve checked Boss using the heart monitor he straps under the saddle. Boss’s heart rate went up to 180 after 20 minutes of running uphill. Ten minutes after stopping, it was down to 72. Not bad.
Nearly to the communication towers, Daisy was delighted to find elk innards in the middle of the two-track. Apparently some hunters had shot and gutted the animal right there. Wow, that was some delicious stuff. Daisy tried to haul the critter’s heart along with her, but couldn’t quite manage the load. She was very disappointed to leave her special treat behind.
Views from the top, about 8500 feet, were very nice. You can see Red Mountain, north of Vernal, in the distance.

We got off and walked on the steeper stretches coming down. Here’s Mischief dawdling. He doesn’t much like loose rock.

Daisy scared a group of cows on the way down (all she did was a halfhearted chase for a few yards, b ut that was enough.) They headed off in the direction the rancher didn’t want them to go. So, Steve and Boss ran to cut them off and turn them back. Boss is a pretty good cow horse. He seems to know where he needs to be to turn the cows.
We arrived back at the trailer at sunset.
The ride was 18 miles, 3200 feet elevation gain and loss, done in about 4 hours.

November 12, 2008

The Cedars

About 3 miles west of our house, we enter an area known locally as The Cedars. In fact, it’s misnamed for the junipers that grown there, which the early settlers called cedars. (Same deal with Cedar City. Should have been Juniper City!)
Today we went riding there for the first time this fall. We thought it’d be a short ride, but we ended up crossing Dry Gulch, cantering down a lot of sandy two-tracks, and going a total of 18 miles in 3 hours. The area is relatively flat, but we still had 1000 feet elevation gain and loss. Here’s some of the interesting country we covered:

Note the window in the rocks:
In the distance, you can see the snow-covered High Uintas:

November 11, 2008

Our Veterans

My father piloted B-17’s in WWII, flying 36 missions out of England with the 8th Air Force’s 457th Bomb Group. In the course of a 30 year military career, he again served during wartime as a USAF civil engineer in Vietnam.
Steve’s dad, served our nation as an aircraft maintenance engineer in the 15th Air Force's 464th Bomb Group which flew B-24’s out of North Africa and Italy during WWII.
Today, we salute the veterans in our family, as well as all members of the military, past and present, who have given so much to our country.
Many thanks.

November 10, 2008

The Appeal

A novel by John Grisham.
Krane Chemical’s improper disposal of toxic waste leached into a Mississippi town’s water supply, causing a “cancer cluster” of horrific proportions. In a lawsuit filed by Jeannette Baker, whose husband and son had died from cancer, a jury returns a guilty verdict with a $41 million award.
Carl Trudeau, billionaire CEO of Krane, has no intention of paying a dime. He immediately begins an appeal process, and at the same time, manipulates the election of a Mississippi supreme court justice who, bought and paid for, will overturn the verdict. Although the many players left little room for characterization, Grisham does admirably depict the plaintiff’s dedicated attorneys, the callous Mr. Trudeau, and the politicization of the judicial electoral process. The result is a chilling tale of corruption, in which verdicts and acquittals can be bought. Unfortunately, I suspect such things can and do happen in real life.

November 8, 2008

Mischief Goes Mavericky

When we reached the trailhead to Gray Head Peak this morning, the temperature was upper 30’s, and an inch of snow covered the ground.
As was the plan, we took the road that goes downhill toward Avintaquin Canyon. Footing was bad due to wet and snow, so the going was slow.
We had to leave the trail to reach the creek and canyon. Some of the creek was ice covered, but Steve build a little dam to collect the melt water.

After the horses and Daisy had a drink, Steve and Boss led us over a hill (again slippery, with no trail), intending to go to Sick Cow Spring on the other side. Doesn’t sound that appetizing, actually. We never got that far. The way down was rocky and steep. Under those conditions, where we have to get off and walk, I usually let Mischief follow Boss on his own. This time, he got all Mavericky and went his own way, mainly back to the fence gap we’d come through at the top of the hill. Steve went back to find him, and Mischief was calmly waiting there, assuming we’d all be back eventually to return the way we’d come. Pretty smart of him, considering that, after another try at the hill, we ended up going back that way after all. Here’s Mischief returning after proving his Maverick-ness:
We followed the fence back down to Avintaquin Canyon, then rode the canyon almost to the Tribal Land border. There was water in the creek most of the way, and nice groves of cottonwoods. Of course, the leaves are gone now, but the area would be lovely in spring and fall. Here was a unique rock chimney formation:
The snow-covered mountains behind me will probably stay that way: until spring:

On the way out, we tried climbing a different hill, hoping to avoid the slippery snow patches. Unfortunately, the alternate choice was covered with loose rock, and the going was even more precarious. The horses did fine, although they didn’t like it much. At one point, Mischief slid gracefully down a rock slab for a few yards, and amazingly came off on his feet.
At Mud Spring, we passed a group of 3 hunters sitting on their ATV’s waiting for deer to show. I thought deer and elk seasons were over, but I guess not.
Altogether our ride was 15 miles, 3000 feet elevation gain and loss, in about 4.5 hours moving time.

November 7, 2008

Happy 10th!

Year after year,
Better and better.

Happy Anniversary, Seth and Darleen!

November 5, 2008

Desert Stamina

After conditioning our horses at 9,000 to 10,000 feet elevation, up and down mountainsides all summer and fall, tiring them out at 5000 feet on the flat is almost impossible.
We went to Ouray National Wildlife Refuge today, the untraveled part on the south and east side of the Green River. We rode mostly sandy roads and trails, covering about 18 miles, almost all at a canter, and could never get their heart rates much above 120. CRI (Cardiac Recovery Index) returned to baseline in 1 minute after all that work. They weren’t fatigued in the least. Away from the river, the area has some greasewood and other brush, but not very dense. Riding through it isn’t a problem. Along the river, there are some nice cottonwood groves lining the sandy roads. On game trails near the river, the going can get rough with all the tamarisk and Russian olive growth.
We scared up a group of 4 wild turkey and saw a huge flock of Canada geese (maybe 200?)hanging out along the river banks. Alas, I forgot my camera, so no photos. I got these from a federal wildlife site.

I thought my Mischief and I would get some rest over the winter. Maybe not. Depending on snowfall, the Ouray area could be rideable all year. Of course, I don’t think even Steve is crazy enough to ride with daytime highs below zero, so that may shut us down for at least a few weeks in January. Then again, we could always trailer down to southern Utah and give those trails a workout…

November 4, 2008

Sand Wash

There must be hundreds of gullies called “sand wash” all over the state of Utah, but the one we investigated yesterday is located southeast of Ouray and drains into the White River.
The area turned out to be lousy with oil wells and related activity. Not all bad, because the horses were exposed to all kinds of scary knocking noises, the sound of gas release from the wells, the sight of flags, wires, big ol' pipes, etc.
We had a fast ride along a dirt road to the White River, where Daisy and the horses cooled off.

This rock formation in the distance reminded us of Stonehendge.

Once we entered Sand Wash, we found some good working terrain,

but not as much as we’d hoped. Unfortunately, the stretches of sand were interrupted by rocks here and there, and sometimes the gulch became almost impassable due to tamarisk (salt cedar) overgrowth.
The clear skies of the morning gave way to complete cloud cover by late afternoon, but the temperatures remained in the 50’s.
Steve used our Polar heart rate monitor on Boss to determine the horses level of conditioning. (All prior checks indicate Mischief, an Arab, has a consistently lower heart rate than Boss, a quarter horse mix .) After a 10 minute canter, mostly on the flat, Boss reaches 130 bpm. After 1 minute stopped, he’s down to 76. After 5 minutes, he’s down to 64. After 6 minutes, he’s at sixty. According to Go the Distance, our favorite source on endurance riding, that’s a good heart rate recovery.
On the way back to the trailer, Daisy found a herd of antelope and chased them over a hill. She was back before long, since they easily outpaced her.
Our total ride was 13 miles, 1000 feet elevation gain and loss.

November 2, 2008

Wild Horse Spring

We thought we’d get in a good long ride yesterday since the weather was predicted to turn rainy and cold today.
Temperatures were nice, in the 50’s at 9000 plus feet, sunny, and not too windy.
Again, we traveled to our current favorite trailhead in Indian Canyon, saddled up, and rode 4 miles and 2000 feet to Gray Head Peak in a little over an hour. From there, we followed last week’s track to the Meadow Spring. Riding on past, we went another couple of miles to Wild Horse Spring. The cow trough there kind of belied the name "wild horse", but the water was nice.

Daisy even considered a swim, but decided against it. I think she was just too tired to climb in. She’d been racing around looking for rabbits and deer, in addition to keeping up with the horses fast pace.
Water in the shade was frozen, but in sun it was thawed out.
On the way back, we did a bit of burling through the forest:

Here’s a picture of a Douglas Fir we found on one of the ridges below Gray Head.
It’s stunted and twisted with lots of character. Looks pretty old.

Here's a view of Gray Head taken from the north side. You can see it's a pretty steep climb to get up there:

From near the top, we took a photo of the Avintaquin Creek valley below. We'll use the contours to help plan a ride into that area:

Almost back to the trailer, Daisy found a deer to chase. After that run, her tongue was really hanging out.
My GPS ran out of batteries, so I don’t have all of my usual statistics. The ride was about 19 miles, 5000 feet elevation gain and loss. From start to finish took about 6 hours.


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