Sunday, September 30, 2007

Feather River Canyon

I spoke to both Jerry and my brother David last night just after they met at the Durango Airport. They were headed out to the ranch, planning to get some sleep before an early morning start. Jerry called me again this morning. The horses and mules were in the trailer and the four mountain men were heading out to start on their adventure. David sounded happy!

My day has been pleasant. I rode my mare for awhile. Brushed our 3 horses and the mule. Gave them all a good soaking with the fly spray. After a few cooler days, it warmed up today and brought out swarms of those pesky little flies, I noticed bot eggs on their legs for the first time today also.

This evening I drove up to Placerville for a committee meeting to plan my riding club 's 'Play Day', or gymkhana. I am the coordinator this year. It went well and we got a lot done.

Last week I spent three days in Feather River Canyon while Jerry worked on a power house job.
It is a gorgeous canyon. The weather was perfect. I spent sometime on site watching the crane work. The rest of my time was spent hiking and reading. I'll share a few pictures and comments.

It's a very narrow canyon with the highway running along the river. Rarely, there are bridges crossing to the other side of the river leading to small settlements. The bridges and the buildings are old!

Another view of the same bridge, taken from our 'cabin'. The highway runs over along the far side of the river. See the pipe coming down the mountain side? It is really huge. They are called "pin stocks" and carry water down to the power houses. There are quite a few power houses along the Feather River. I have toured a couple of them now when traveling to Jerry's PG&E jobs and it is really very amazing.

The front of our cabin. Rustic is a kind description. We even had mice and mouse poop. The bathroom window curtains were sheets of paper towel draped over a home-rigged curtain rod.
The refrigerator, microwave and shower all worked well. We brought a cooler of food and drink. I brought the coffee, the kitchen had a tiny Mr Coffee... BUT no filters were to be found. We didn't want to use the fancy bathroom curtains as filters so the toilet paper was utilized. There is a row of various sized cabins here and I thought of Rapid River.

This picture was taken from our cabin back deck. We were just above the river. After checking in; we hiked across the two bridges and found several trail heads. We started up one which supposedly connected to the Pacific Crest Trail, but soon turned back when I could go no further due to the fear factor. A narrow trail with only straight down for a v e r y long ways made my body freeze, my knees 'gumby' joints, my hands soaking wet, and try as I did, I could go no further. I hate to wimp out with my ridiculous fear of heights!

The second trail we started up followed a little ravine deep into the woods. And we found the strangest little cemetery out there in the middle of almost no where. Maybe 10 or so graves were identifiable. Dates on markers ranged from the 1930s to the 1970s. No fences or organization... just looked like bodies were dug in any place it may have been easier to dig,

We read a few markers, wondered a bit, I imagined a few weird scenarios and then we continued up the trail.

The mountain sides were steep and several dry creek beds full of rocks. Jerry has to check everything out. Maybe he was looking for gold.

This trail started getting higher and higher until eventually there were no trees on the down side of the trail. I do OK if there are trees or rocks on the steep drops. I was already in height fright mode so again we turned and headed back down. No summits were reached that evening. I have done more horse riding than mountain hiking this year, I need to start hiking more and get this fear of heights back under control.

Thursday I stayed at the 'resort'.... I hiked along the river on the cabin side. The clouds were being very creative and I played that finding shapes in the clouds game with myself.

The water was very clear and fast. I love spending time near rapids and listening. I did bring our fly fishing gear but didn't read the regulations until there. The Feather River is catch and release on non-barbed hooks, so I did not fish.

This was representative of the views I was so blessed to enjoy during my day hiking.

Poison Oak! Everywhere. Growing abundantly. It has 3 leaves shaped like smooth oak leaves, I like that it turns red in autumn and then I can identify it. I stayed on the trails!

*sigh* I miss Jerry and miss being in Durango.....

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Home Alone

Greetings from California! With no work scheduled for me this week, I was able to go with Jerry on business.
His business trips are usually to very cool places. We went up the Feather River Canyon to the Rock Creek Power House and stayed in a 'rustic' cabin(?) for three days. I was able to see amazing crane work and I got some much appreciated alone time hiking in the mountains. More about that another time.

There are more important issues today.

I've had a pleasant week; today, at home, the weather is perfect at 68 degrees, a breeze swaying the trees, a brilliant blue sky; the farrier was here on time this morning and replaced all the horse shoes that fell off within a week of shoeing...... BUT I am feeling blue, melancholy and maybe even a little anxious. What gives with that!???

I feel like my mare.... when her best buddy herd-mate is taken from the pasture and led away. When she is just left behind while her buddy rides away on an adventure. I will never again be annoyed when she gallops back and forth along the fence line screaming out, "hey wait! wait for me, don't leave without me!" I helped Jerry load up his truck and as he drove away last night I fought the urge to gallop after him yelling, "NO! wait! you can't go, the plants will die!"
Now I am faced with all this self analysis; exactly when did I become so danged 'herd bound'?; has my formerly strong sense of independance faded?; why did I decline the invitation to join him on this trip months ago?; why is it fine when I am the 'leaver' but now as the 'left behinder' I am feeling so blue?

In June we took my 2nd trip to the cabin in the Colorado Wilderness. I love it there (except in the winter). I love the trip to the cabin. Jerry has some lifelong rancher friends in Durango. For years Jerry has been taking a small group of menfolk into the mountains on kind of a City Slicker adventure. They do repairs and open up a log cabin for the winter hunting season for his friend. The friend gets work done and the guys get the taste of being COWBOYS for a week. It has traditionally been a 'man-trip'. Horses, mules, bedrolls, spring water, hard physical labor, cowboy boots and hats: the whole nine yards. And Jerry really wanted me to go, I declined, saying that he couldn't bring his bride along when the trip has always been for guys. SO I scheduled work. When it turned out that only four were able to go this year, and half of them wanted me there, it was too late to get out of work. They will have a wonderful adventure and I miss being there. David and Jerry will have the best time ever and promise to drink one for me at Whiskey Point!

I am now done whining.

Pickup loaded with saddles, bridles, bedrolls, blankets, slickers, mantees, and my cowboy ready to drive off into the sunset. A late start puts him in Durango sometime Saturday afternoon.

The trail to the cabin is steep, with sharp switch-backs, pine trees and 'quaking aspens' ('Quakies') turning golden. Leather squeaking, horses puffing, rhythmic muffled hoofbeats, leaves rattling, winds 'shshing', hawks sceaming and distant raven caws.... how I am missing it!

This is the destination. A rustic log cabin nestled in a peaceful valley, 100 years from our world, in the mountain wilderness just outside of Durango, Colorado.


Monday, September 24, 2007

Staying Dry

The morning started with Jerry's horse coming in from pasture lame, missing both front shoes. We decided to take Pistol the mule instead. His other horse had one shoe gone, Jerry replaced it at camp. We arrived at camp Friday afternoon, quickly set up camp,saddled horses and got in a few hours on the trails before the rains began.

There were four of us; Jerry and I, Sharon and Gene. Sharon brought her two horses and we worked on training her younger horse to 'pack', she did well. Gene rode Jerry's horse Remington, Jerry rode the mule, and I was on Rock. Saturday it was dark and cloudy. The rain held off until we had all the horses tacked up and packs in place on BJ. We donned our slickers and waited for the downpour to slow. It rained.....

Dark and rainy, but we kept smiling.... and we kept our slickers on....

Not the most picturesque of rides. Sharon's horse did a great job hauling the packs.

It was so dark and cloudy, my flash was needed for pictures in the afternoon. The horses eyes look spooky with the flash. We sure like that little mule, he is quite the personality, very sweet and was 'talking' to us a bit this trip.

Jerry and I kept dry at night in the living quaters of the horse trailer. Sharon slept in Jerry's cozy cook tent. Gene set up his bedroll in his SUV. We took advantage of the campground's hot showers after riding all day in the cold rain. Jerry provided us with great breakfasts and Sharon whipped up super suppers. I kept the dishes washed. We all had a good time but all was wet. We decided to head for home Sunday as the rains were just not letting up.

Jerry and I celebrated our two month wedding anniversary Friday. Just two short months ago we were camping and decided to visit the Chapel of the Bells in Tahoe. Married life is good!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Rain Date

Still summer and it RAINED last night, snowed in the Sierra. Dang. There goes our five day trip to Yosemite this weekend, a horse camping/trail riding trip, a year in the planning. Dang. It was planned by a group of us in the horse club I belong to. Our camp reservations were cancelled yesterday. Dang. Jerry responded, "What a bunch of wimps, lets go anyways." I was 'saved' by a forest ranger this morning. I spoke directly with a ranger 'up on top'. I asked if it was really that bad up there at the horse camp. His answer....'Depends on how you define 'that bad'. For me, the 2 inches of snow, freezing temps, and the 60 m/p/h winds he described, meet my definition of 'that bad'.

I found another great place we can go to instead, staying out of the mountains but still in the foot hills, decent temperatures, a few scattered sprinkles. I called a list of folks; I am dismayed to find that most of our riding buddies are 'fair weather riders', and not even embarrassed to be such, as they laughed at my determination to not let a little rain ruin the weekend. Sheesh, they need to spend a spring and summer in Michigan. For now only 4 of us will go.

I admit to being a little bit excited about the early snow. Could this be a sign of a snow filled early Sierra winter? Snow was not abundant last winter. I sneaked a peak at the Sierra at Tahoe ski resort web cam..... snow on the slopes, just a sprinkling, enough to get me excited.

I need to bump up my exercise program and dig my ski stuff out of the storage unit.

I need to head out and buy camp groceries for the horses and for us too.

For some reason I am having trouble posting comments on my own blog! I enjoy reading your comments.

I will keep trying to get in there and answer your qusetions and comments.

The crayfish remain a mystery; they have vanished. The next evening I walked the entire pasture and found not one crawdad! A few squished ones on the road and the hapless couple I stepped on are all that remain of the crawdad mass gathering. I googled crayfish, found no reference to land dwelling, large gatherings, or migrations. It shall remain an unsolved mystery for now. I did find a few southern cooking sites with some delicious sounding crawdad recipes. Now I wish I had frozen a dozen or so.

Happy Trails!

Monday, September 17, 2007


It doesn't rain all summer in California. Things get dry, the rivers dry up, ponds disappear, fires burn out of control. Fields here on The Ranch are irrigated, kept green for cattle and horse grazing. The method here is to open big pipes on the ground and just flood the pastures as needed. Note, across the road, the 'golden' fields are a result of no watering.
Tonight I called Jerry as I headed home from work. He answered with ,'You'll never guess what I'm doing right now'. Well, I knew he was planning to be out messing with the irrigation, up to his ankles in mud and water. So my guess was right. But in addition to digging little ditches to direct water, he claimed to be gathering dinner also.... 'what????' He started carrying on about crawdads all over the field...., 'crawdads???' 'yeah, you know crayfish.' 'WHAT are you talking about?' He starts into this description of little things, you know, look like small lobsters..... 'OK OK, I know what they are, what are they doing in the field?' He explains, 'crawling all over, lots of 'em.' There are some things I know about; geese flying south, June bugs hitting the screens in June, 17 year cicadas, even caribou migration. The 'lots of crawdads in the field' just didn't make sense.

The front pasture tonight, lush and green from a good water soaking. As soon as I get home I grab my camera and ask to be shown the crawdads crawling all over the place. Looks pretty innocent from here.

We walk out and they are everywhere. Big Red Crawdads. Jerry wouldn't put his hand any closer, the little boogers are rather aggressive. How did they get there? Where did they come from? The river is dry and a quarter mile out back. The ditches are dry. The little pond in front dried out early spring. The water flowing from the pipes is well water. The fields have been irrigated all summer, we never saw field crawdads before! Never... until tonight.

This is my size 7 boot. Kind of a large crawfish, don't you think? I crunched a couple of them, accidentally. eewwww

True to his earlier comment on the phone, Jerry had been gathering dinner for tonight. Here is a close up of the living main course on our picnic table. I am dying with laughter this entire time, these little beast are mean and in attack mode. Jerry had been out gathering them with B-B-Q tongs. I cannot believe the field is over run with these, they are also on the driveway and in the yards. As it got later there seemed to be more and more and more..... why have I never heard of crawdad migrations? Does this happen yearly? Where do they come from? Are they resurrected from the mud?

This picture is rather disturbing I know. A large tub full of angry red crayfish. There were several gallons of them, at least 50, I am sure. By now I am excited, I love lobster but have never feasted on Crayfish or Crawdads, whatever they are.
We plan our dinner. Pull a steak out of the freezer, pop a couple of baked potatoes in the microwave, steam fresh broccoli, melt butter, and select a dozen or so of the largest critters. I hope they are edible and really crawfish. I start to worry, I have never heard of land dwelling crayfish!

Fire up the grill, throw on the steaks, boil a pot of water and dump in the unlucky chosen ones.

Boil for 5 minutes. We didn't make that up. We actually called an expert. We called Jerry's brother up in Washington State. He lives on the coast; fishes, and lobsters and digs clams. He said must boil 5 minutes. He and Jerry also decide that if they look like crayfish, must be crayfish, therefore must be OK to eat.

More red but no longer angry.

Our 'gor-maayyy' supper. Lets call it steak and 'baby lobsters'. Those two were just posing for the photo-shoot. We actually only ate the tail meat. OH. MY. GOODNESS.
SUPERB! Dipped in melted butter, most delicate and delicious. mmm mmmm mmmmm
This was a meal to remember.

After eating our fill, we took the tub back out to the pasture and released the captives. That is not a sewer or anything gross, it is the irrigation pipe that water bubbles up through and that is just some mud, nothing gross.
I sure hope we don't get sick or anything. This place just has one tiny bathroom.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Home Sweet Home

Today I cleaned house.

It didn't take very long.

Leather recliners, a TV, DVD player, a whole bunch of guns and a Cowboy Hat........

... microwave oven, MR Coffee, pretty wood cabinets, and a smattering of horse pictures...... and bar stools, booze, more guns and holsters, cowboy and cowgirl hat, more horses......

.....fine dining for four, western-brand place mats.......

...a bed, cowboy pillows AND we sleep with a COW HIDE!

I live in a COWBOY bachelor pad!

On a ranch. With horses, mules, cattle, dogs and a most interesting sheep.

I'm living my dream.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


The past week has gone by so quickly. It was just one week ago that Jenn called telling me Mark had died. A shock for everyone. I have spent the week worried about, thinking about and praying for my daughters and grandkids. It seems like a lifetime ago, a time belonging to someone else, that we were together as a family; a Dad, a Mom and two girls. I hope they remember the good times and minimize the difficult years. I love you both very much and miss you. I am so very sorry for the loss of your father. I pray for your peace.

The Road to Alameda

I have a couple of days off work and I agreed to leave The Ranch and head to The City with my cowboy. He accepted a new position with another company based in Alameda which is in 'the Bay area'; land of heavy traffic, tall buildings and one-way-streets. This trip he needed me along for moral support..... well not really, he needed me so I can drive one vehicle back home while he drives home his brand new Ford truck that the company is supplying. The company is providing a very nice hotel for our stay. The secretary gave me a city map and some ideas of things to do and see while Jerry is busy working for these 2 days. As we leave the hot,dry valley; the sky is overcast and the temperatures cooler. From the Central Valley, you cross the Coastal Mountains before reaching the ocean.

This tunnel goes under some mountains. There is another one that actually goes under the bay, which they call 'the Tube'.

Traffic wasn't too bad, the bridges and over-passes amaze me, I feel like a tourist with my window open so I can take pictures of cars and roads. Maybe I need to get out more.
The picture below is of special interest. Note the crane towering above the buildings. Jerry pointed it out to me on the way to the office. Almost a year ago he was up on top of that crane and slipped. He was holding on to a support and all of his weight loaded one arm, dislocating his shoulder. They lowered him in something called a man basket and took him to the hospital. We were dating at that time and he called me from the hospital, just to let me know. It was a strange conversation since he was loaded up on morphine and they hadn't reduced the dislocation yet. He did well; he had the Dr. teach him how to reduce a dislocated shoulder himself (one never knows when you might need this); and it saved him from snow skiing with me last winter. Our hotel is right on the bay and has a huge marina. This is my view from the room. Lots of pretty boats!
I love traveling and exploring new places. Every where I go I think of loved ones and wish I could share with them. You know who I thought of at this corner!

I found my way to the beach. It was a foggy cool day, normal for this area. That is San Francisco across the bay. I spent a couple of hours walking the beach, sitting on drift logs, listening to the waves and the gulls, and enjoying the peace.

This one is for Kayleigh! I was talking to her on the phone and let her listen to the wind and waves. I tried describing this guy with his kite and surf board, dressed in a black wet suit; it was cold out there, but sure looked like a blast.

Self-potrait in the wind.