October 31, 2008

Haunted Yesteryears

Superman and the Alien ('81):

In the mists of time ('85):

Dastardly pirate ('85):
Darth Vader:
Darth and the Witch:
Bunny, Dracula, and Top Gun('87):
Silly Wabbit ('87):
Hobo and Ladybug ('88):

Surgeon and Ladybug:

A motley crew ('88):
Zombie Girl Walks ('90):

Rock Star and Cat ('91):

Two Kitties:
Hans and Franz ('91):

Grim Reaper ('92):

Goin' Vampin' ('96)

The Nerd ('03):

The Devil made him do it:

Einstein ('06):
Arrrgh ('06):

In the Pirate's Lair ('06):

Little Cuties ('07):

Stolen Kiss ('04):

Fairy Dusted:

Trailer Park Trash ('07):
(OMG, is this really my daughter?!!)

October 30, 2008

Riding Lessons

by Sara Gruen.
Janie's review:
At eighteen, Annemarie Zimmer is a world class equestrian and Olympic contender when she’s badly injured in a jumping accident that ends the life of her beloved mount, Highland Harry.
Fast forward 20 years. Annemarie is laid off from her job and her husband leaves her for a younger woman. Feeling as helpless as she did after the accident destroyed her future plans, she takes her rebellious teenage daughter and returns to her parents’ New Hampshire horse farm and riding academy. There, the vital father who taught her to ride is now wasting away from ALS.
She’s always felt that she failed her parents by giving up on her equestrian career, but she doesn’t know how to make it up to them at this late date. She’s felt emotionally empty for a long time. Connecting with her dying father, her ultra-disciplined Austrian mother, or her troubled daughter all seem beyond her. Even her attempts at barn management lead to disaster.
Things begin to change when she rescues a starved gelding with rare brindled coloring that closely resembles her old horse Harry. As she faces family loss and generational conflict, her search for the origins of the mystery horse gives her focus and brings her close to a long-ago romantic interest, the family veterinarian.
Although at times I wanted to slap Annemarie upside the head and tell her to pull herself together, I couldn’t help but sympathize with all she’d been through. As a fellow equine lover, I mourned Harry and rooted for the brindled horse who seemed to offer her a second chance. In the end, Annemarie’s rediscovery of passion and caring, and her renewed ability to walk her own path with confidence, made for a satisfying reading experience.

October 26, 2008

The Spring that Makes Boss Snort

In this photo taken at yesterday’s trailhead in Indian Canyon, Gray Head Peak juts above Steve’s hat. In a replay of Tuesday’s trip, we once again achieved Gray Head Peak, elevation 9496 feet.
Here’s a picture aimed at measuring the angle of the slope just below the peak. After searching around for a protractor, which was nowhere to be found, Steve used his fancy compass to measure the angle , which appears to be about 30 degrees.

It seemed steeper. Actually, there are some steeper areas, but it’s hard to find sufficient motivation to move off to the side for a photograph when even standing upright is difficult…
In carefully observing the lowest and highest of the bristlecone pines in the area, we found that they seem to exist in the narrow range of 8800 to 9300 feet. Here’s the last bristlecone we passed on the way up to Gray Head.

On this trip, we proceeded downhill on the northwest side of Gray Head in search of one of the springs listed on Topo! The highest spring, called Sulphur Spring on the map, didn’t seem to exist, but a mile in distance and a few hundred feet in elevation lower we found what’s dubbed Meadow Spring. Appropriate to the name, the area around it was a rich, sedge meadow, marshy in places.

The water smelled so strongly of sulphur that it made Boss snort. He wasn’t willing to drink much. Mischief tanked up, and Daisy had a most satisfying drink, giving her the energy to chase an elk and at least one bunny on the way back.

Meadow Spring’s running water had ice on the top, and in places there was a gap between the ice and the water beneath. Perhaps the water had frozen solid downstream and caused a dam as the ice film formed?
The round trip was 15 miles with 4000 feet elevation gain, in about 4.5 hours moving time.

October 24, 2008

Lost Dog, Pit Bull Fight, and Mischief's Inner Mule

Yesterday morning dawned bright and cold. We started riding at the Grassy Hollow trailhead (about 15 miles down Indian Canyon from Duchesne) about 11 AM. The temperature was still in the 30’s. The first part of the ride was easy. We trotted and cantered along a 4 wheeler trail for a couple of miles, passing a spring with a tire trough. Water around the trough was mostly frozen.
At the top of the hollow, we headed straight up, or so it seemed. The slope was forty degrees, at least. We ended up on a hillock at near 9000 feet. To reach Twelve Mile Creek, as was Steve’s plan, we then had to go down to about 7500 feet. Steve came up with an “old horse trail” (translate: no trail”) that was equally steep as the route up. Steve walked and led his horse and I let Mischief follow them while I struggled along on foot, or sometimes on hand and foot, trailing the group. Mischief balked about halfway down. I continued, thinking he’d follow. After my wise Arab thought about it for a few minutes, he came along.
As the lay of the land leveled out, we rode through a forest with a lot of downed trees. The spring on Steve’s map ended up having no water, so we moseyed along the creek bed, came up the other side, and started riding southwest, intending to intersect a real trail leading to Gray Head Peak. Half a mile later, we realized Daisy Mae wasn’t with us. We’d last seen her in the creek bed, so we called her as we retraced our steps. About the time we reached the creek bed again, we saw her trotting our way with her tongue hanging out. Her custom is to trot ahead of us, but this time she missed one of our turns. Usually her sensitive nose is good enough to find us, but she must have become confused and gone back the way we’d come for some distance before turning back.
By the time we found her, she was pretty thirsty, so Steve took her back to the frozen spring. He wasn’t happy about the added travel. It was becoming apparent that we weren’t going to complete his planned route. Here they are, returning from the spring:
After the lost Daisy fiasco, we went northwest along the creek, thinking to find a route back over the hillocks that would be easier than the one we’d just done. After about a mile we came to a nice spring. A cowboy who’d been riding the area looking for cows was parked on the other side of a fenceline, and he came over to ask if we’d seen any of his animals. We hadn’t.
He was with his little girl and a couple of dogs. One of the dogs looked like a pit bull with strange light blue eyes. Since Tess’s dog had a bad run-in with a pit bull, I was a little concerned, but Daisy and the dog sniffed each other and the dog showed no aggression. Then, while we were talking, the two got into a tussle. Daisy ended up on the bottom, in good position to have her throat torn out. We yelled at the dogs, though, and the tussle ended without bloodshed.
The cowboy told us we could go up Camp Draw, where the spring was located, to reach a 4 wheeler trail that would lead us back to Grassy Hollow. We decided to give it a tray.
Talk about an “old horse trail!” In retrospect, we probably took the wrong fork at the head of the draw, but we ended up on the steepest hill we’ve ever attempted with horses. Steve led Boss and I let Mischief follow while I struggled through to keep my feet on the sandy cliffside (Okay, not a cliff, but close… 50-60 degrees?) After awhile, I noted that Mischief was hanging back, but I figured he’d follow as he normally does.
Not so. I finally caught up with Steve at the pass we were aiming for, and neither of us were too keen on going back for my errant horse, who had decided to hang where he was, midway up the mountain. He’d found a spot with a little grass, and he figured he was past due for a break. He was on strike for better working conditions. While I waited around, hoping Mischief would give in, Steve rode Boss to the top of ridge. Meanwhile, Mischief decided to go the other direction and disappeared from sight. Uh-oh.
Finding a horse in that rough country wouldn’t be easy. Fortunately, Boss and Steve reappeared on the ridge and found that Mischief had just gone over a rise and out of sight. The two horses nickered to each other and reunited.
Steve accused Mischief of looking like an Arab and behaving like a mule. I say he’s just too smart to meekly go on an impossible trail. Maybe next time we should take trail advise from him. In any case, I was happy to have my ride back so we could go home. In celebration, I took a few photos of the views:

At the end of the insane route up Camp Draw, we did, indeed find a 4 wheeler track. On the way back to Grassy Hollow, we found more bristlecone pines, these at about 8900 feet. (I’m not holding back on location any longer, since I read that the forest service allowed a large bristlecone in Nevada to be chopped down in 1968 in order to count the rings. That tree turned out to be 4900 years old, the oldest living … well, not living, after that… plant or animal in the world. So, the worst sort of vandalism has, in fact, been committed at the forest service’s own hand!) The trees above Grassy Hollow aren’t in a particularly difficult environment, so they probably aren’t more than a few centuries old. Here's the largest one we saw:

We reached the truck and trailer about 5PM, and just barely reached home before dark. The ride was 13 miles and 3400 feet. With all of the crisis management, it seemed much longer.

October 22, 2008

The Quest Continues

Yesterday we went on another Bristlecone Pine quest on the West Tavaputs Plateau. The Forest Service is apparently aware of up to 5 communities of bristlecones in that area, but they're cagey about the locations, and to respect their policy, I’m not being specific either.
Before we reached the peak that was our destination, we began seeing bristlecones somewhere above 9000 feet. Here is the destination peak framed between two bristlecone pines:

This group of trees was much larger than the one we found last weekend, stretching along the ridge top for perhaps half a mile. There were numerous trees with quite a few young ones:

The area also included Englemann spruce, Douglas Fir, limber pine, and ground-hugging shrubs such as birchleaf mahogany and wild roses.
After passing the bristlecones, we continued along a “trail” – or what our family lovingly calls an “old horse trail”, meaning it’s not fit for mountain goats!

I got off and let my horse follow Steve while I struggled along in deep sand on a steep mountainside. I also documented my view of the fall I anticipated taking at any moment. It’s steeper than it looks:
But as it turned out, I made the audacious passage without incident and came out the other side. We continued to our planned destination, leading the horses up a very steep path to the top. There, we found this deer head, skin still attached, with antlers.
The views were nice,
,but we didn’t stay long on that barren peak. The wind must have been blowing 40 mph. I was afraid to stand up. Mischief was buffeted so hard now and then that he staggered a step to the side. And he weighs 900 pounds! Here he is getting a much-deserved treat:

We started out near noon at about 50 degrees. Up top, the temp couldn’t have been much above 40. Pretty chilly, when the wind was factored in.
Our total ride was about 4 hours, 12 miles, and 2000 feet.

October 20, 2008

Happy Birthday, Tess!

You've always kept your sense of humor at the ready.

You’ve loved animals from the time you could walk fast enough to catch up with one.

You’ve loved your brothers, even when they teased you or wouldn’t let you join in rough games.

You’ve loved your dad, even when he threw your Ollie riding toy in the creek because it was always underfoot.

You’ve loved your mom, even when Mom wouldn’t let you stay out as late as you wished or go all the places you wanted to go.

As a three year old, you began working on finding a soulmate. You suggested your brother Eric as a possible husband (probably Eric instead of Seth because Eric was closer to your size), but we told you a brother wouldn’t do.

You suggested your best friend Carin, but we told you a girl wasn’t quite the norm.
Finally, you settled on a little boy named Collin as a viable possibility.
Don’t know what happened to Collin, but much later, you found Tim, and he seems to suit you just fine.

You’ve grown smart, pretty, funny, wise, (not tall, but that’s okay!) and loving. And, of course, we all love you right back.
To paraphrase “Sunrise, Sunset”,
When did you get to be a beauty?Wasn't it yesterday when you were small?

We wish you great happiness, today and always.
Mom and Dad


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