Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Game Plan - Part Two

In his younger life, Jerry was a packer in Idaho. Using horses and mules, he packed deer, elk and bear hunters, into the back country to his hunting lodge. He also tamed wild mustangs. He is a horseman and rugged outdoors man to the core. The years went by, he found himself living the suburban 'good life' in sunny California; the outdoors... his green lawn, the horses... only in the cowboy movies he enjoys.

More than a decade ago, a rancher friend and fellow packer in Colorado, needed help getting his hunting camp prepared for the elk hunters. Jerry was on it, no hesitation, he's like that. Putting together a group of buddies from California, mostly city boys, most never on horseback, they set out for Durango. They became wranglers, cowboys, mountain men, away from "it all" for a week. They rode horses, leading mules carrying supplies up the mountain, to 'the cabin'. They repaired corrals, cleaned the cabin, put up tents, chopped down trees, split fire wood, engineered a system to obtain water from a spring, dug a toilet. They were hooked. It has become a yearly tradition; this trip of the City Slickers, the faces change occasionally as an extra man is invited or an old timer just can't make it. But the trip stays the same.

Until this year.

A woman tagged along.


I opposed the idea, the idea of one woman infiltrating the ranks of men celebrating their escape. Jerry insisted, went to all lengths to get me on this trip. I argued that it was a MAN trip. He emailed all the men asking if they minded me coming along, they all responded favorably. I am not dumb, of course they would say yes to the Boss-man, the one who gets them to the Colorado Back country. He's like that.

So I was in.

But another concern of mine, this vacation to go do work? Huh? Explain that to me please. I have horses here at home that aren't ridden enough for the amount of food they consume, there is work aplenty here at home, I have mountains practically in my back yard, I have all the camping gear needed to survive years in the wilderness, when I go camping my goal is to escape and relax. The cowboy assures me, I will have to do no work, just relax, enjoy the mountains, take a few pictures, and be in his presence. Oh boy.

We all met in Durango, some flew in, some drove. Six rugged cowboys for the week. and me.

First order of business was grocery shopping. I just followed behind taking pictures and gulping at the amount of vittles being tossed in the baskets. It was disturbing to have folks stop and say howdy to the cowboys, and tell them it was good to see them back again. Now, I can shop somewhere weekly for a year and I am not recognised, what's up with that? I start wondering if they shoot up the town when they come back, get rip roaring drunk and get thrown out of saloons, or something else crazy.

Horses and mules are picked up, the rancher friend has a list of work to be done at the cabin. Packs are sorted and loaded. Horses and mules are saddled and bridled. Above is the trail head leading away from civilization and into the wilderness.

The trail was steep. We took frequent breaks to let the animals catch their breath and rest. Seven horses and five mules. The mules carried our bedrolls, our clothes, our food, chain saws and tools.


Rustic, simple, quiet. My home for a week.


Rustic, simple, not so quiet, my companions for a week.

Rustic, simple... an entire week!

Just a short little walk up from the cabin. (read - can be seen from the cabin!)

True my friends. No indoor plumbing. See the walls, the ceiling, notice the privacy... Exactly!

My plan: to only have to use the facility in the dark.
Result: total failure.


On the Road to Durango - Part One

We began our journey to Durango in the evening. I had worked all day, while Jerry spent the day at home preparing vehicles and camping gear for the trip. I had my bag packed, we ate dinner, filled a thermos with hot strong coffee and hit the road.

We decided to haul our newest, longest stock trailer to Colorado to help with transporting the horses and mules that we'd be using once in Durango, we also planned to haul home a load of hay from Jerry's ranch buddies, and last but not least..... the trailer made a fine bedroom while on the road the first two nights.

For a day and a half this was our basic view as we drove across the barren Nevada desert. Jerry did ALL of the driving. As a result, I have way too many desert photos. They all look alike. Mountains, dirt, desert plants, and a long lonely highway. We saw one antelope. I like to make up travel games to break the monotony. Jerry vetoed all of my suggested games. He came up with one on his own, I was a good sport and agreed to play. His game rules; 'the first one to spot a rabbit would be the winner'. I finally saw a rabbit three days later. What an exciting game.

I had decided that the world had come to an end and all civilization had disappeared when we suddenly came upon this town. I don't think that folks settled there for the comforts and beauty of the region. There were a few interesting old buildings begging to have pictures taken but we drove through rather quickly. Oh, did I mention that Jerry did ALL of the driving?

Same lonely highway, more mountains, a few more desert plants, some clouds to add interest and a rare change in elevation. This view camouflages the splattered bug guts on the windshield. I get to take way more pictures while traveling, now that I am the designated passenger.

Driving through Utah, the scenery changes. I love driving (riding) through Moab and hope to visit sometime instead of merely driving through on the way to somewhere else. The red rock formations are awesome.

Durango is not far now.
Colorado at last! In the distance, the mountain range we plan to pack into, is bursting with autumn color.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Autumn Camping

I have fallen behind in my 'blogging', my letter writing, and even my phone calls to friends and family.

I have not yet gone through the Colorado pictures. I hope to do so this week. Have I mentioned our trip to Hawaii next week?

Last week, I had a day off and Tristan had a 1/2 day of school. He got home, we saddled up two horses, loaded them in the trailer and headed off to the hills. We belong to a riding club and members get together once monthly for a camping/trail riding adventure. Jerry and I were the hosts for this month's ride. The campground is very close to our home but we still hadn't explored many of the trails. I was not satisfied with the trail we had chosen for the club; mine and Tristan's mission was to find and explore new trails.

About an hour into our ride, and we are liking it. The views were lovely. Notice that Cort has been going out on trails with us too. He's a good trail dog.

The trails took us down into some valleys and canyons. This one was nicely wooded. Just a bit dusty, things are still dry here in California.

We traveled a long, well cleared trail through some very dense, dusky, Manzanita Trees.

We rode three hours of great trails and decided that they would be perfect for our club ride. Tristan and I did not start our ride at the campground, that would add another two and a half to three hours to the trail ride.

This is a view of some of our club members heading out on the trail. Jerry was Trail Boss and as usual, I rode 'drag'; the majority of my pictures are of horse and rider behinds.

This time I actually got a front view of the horses and riders. There are six different breeds represented in this picture. Any 'horse people' willing to try to identify them? Not so easy with these less than ideal photos. But go ahead and try.

Half way through our ride, after three hours of riding, we stopped in a small clearing for a lunch break. Everyone enjoyed the weather, the trails and the excellent company.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Pay It Forward

While I edit and select which to share with you, from the 400+ pictures I took in Colorado, here's something from Karen Deborah at Fresh Fixins, worth sharing. I may not limit it to 3 though. You never know.

HERE ARE THE RULES: The exchange focuses on doing an act of kindness without expecting anything in return other than that the recipient will, in their turn, pass the kindness along and pay it forward in their own way. This is how it works... I am going to agree to send something fun, cute, & nice to the first 3 blog owners who post a comment on this entry. In turn,those three will post this information and pick 3 people they want to send something to and so on. If you are interested in participating, be one of the first 3 blog owners to leave a comment! The little something you send can be something you made, bought, were given or found. No biggie, just a gift that will make the person smile. Maybe something unique from where you live? There are no cost restraints, but don't go crazy! If you'd like to join in, be one of the first 3 people to leave me a comment. You have to promise that you will then post about this on your blog, link to me, and then send something to the first three people who sign up to play along through your blog .If I don't get 3 blog owners that want to participate I would like to send something to 3 people that leave a comment even if you don't own a blog--so leave a comment with some sort of way to contact you and who knows what lovely things may show up for you from California to make you smile...In return I ask that you Pay It Forward to 3 other people in some way. It doesn't have to involve money; there are untold ways to help others every single day, everywhere you go; just look around.

Remember, I may not limit to 3 AND you don't have to have your own blog.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Back in CA

Arrived home safely, our time in Durango was awesome. The drive home was very, very long (boring). We got home Sunday night. Amy had a big delicious crock of pea soup and a pan of cornbread waiting for us. We ate, unpacked and went to bed. I was up at 4 am and headed out of town to work for a week.
I have a camera full of pictures to share.
Now I have to get to work.