Monday, September 21, 2015

Random Pictures - Part 3

We continue to be busy helping an old lady move.  
I told LC today that I don't care how cold it is next month, but I need to camp..................

A month or so ago I pulled on mountain bike shorts, donned helmet, gloves, sunglasses, and pulled my mountain bike out of the garage with plans to ride out on BLM land.
It was late in the day - the only time in mid summer when it is not unbearably hot - and agreed to meet Kory and LC a couple of hours later.
With water bottle in hand, and walking carefully through the house so that my bike shoe cleats didn't tear up the floor, I hobbled into the office and kissed LC goodbye.
Got your gun?  Yes.
Always the same question and always the same answer when I wander far from town and out onto BLM land.
Just in case.  
In case of slithering critters.
In case of four legged critters.
In case of two legged critters.
With his attention on the computer screen I reminded him of where we were going to meet up.  The cedar trees across from Cedar Butte where we had wandered early in the spring.
With that I headed out, rode down first one and then a second gravel road, before crossing over a downed fence and picking up a trail that would take me out into the vast and open and endless expanse of public land that is in back of town.
I didn't ride for a long time.
But rode a couple of times this summer just to see what it felt like.
Considering how long it had been, it felt fine.  Endurance and leg strength wasn't as lost as I had feared that it might be.
But I had worked out fairly often on an elliptical in the living room.
A huge monstrosity of a machine that sits behind the couch completely messing up the rugged decor of the room.
Ever since I started adventure racing I completely lost interest in machines.  
When I worked in Tennessee I used machines almost every lunch hour - grabbing a quick work out and then eating lunch at my desk after the fact.
They were one more workout when all I was doing one, two, sometimes three times a day was working out, but I didn't like them very much even back then.
And so it goes with the elliptical.  Moving fast and going nowhere................

I slowly wandered along the trail that Kory and I walk often, only this time I was planning on going much further.
As I pedaled I reminded myself of all the things I used to know, and at the same time wondered how much I had forgotten.
I could work the gears without a problem.   OK.
I found myself often looking just in front of the wheel instead of ahead of me, picking lines.
Yeah - that needs work.  A rookie mistake.
As I approached small hills I wondered how the legs would do.  Wondered how the gearing would go.  Wondered just how badly it would all suck.
There was no longer any faith in abilities.  No longer faith in the fitness level.  No longer faith in climbing ability.
No longer much of anything, but I found that it was going OK anyway..................

The first trail lasted for a few rutted out miles (funny - you don't notice that sort of thing when you're on foot) and then it eventually flattened out before moving into sandy trail with a few small climbs.
Boring.  Boring.  Boring.  
All of it boring and suddenly I missed the gnarly, rutted out, leaf filled, rock filled, tree filled technical single track trails that I had loved for so long back in Tullahoma.
Likely I will never see those trails again
I miss a lot of things about Tullahoma.  The trails being one of them.  But I didn't miss the 6 million people, the traffic, the noise, the speed.
I had known exactly where I was going on this trip.  Knew the terrain.  Knew the trails and roads.  It was OK. 
I was alone with myself, and that was a good thing.
45 minutes after leaving the house I had weaved my way through wide open trails until I eventually hit Big Butte Rd.
If I stayed on this road for another 15 miles or so it would take me all the way out to Big Butte.
But on this day I was only headed just beyond Cedar Butte.
From where I was in this picture I had about 8 miles of gravel riding to go.
Pretty low key ride.  Not far.  That was all OK................
Surprised to see a truck parked just off the road by the rail road tracks, I looked to my right, scanning the rocks to see if could find the owner.
Two guys were climbing on the rocks.
I knew this area very well.
These rocks were part of a huge and ancient lava field.
I had wandered the entire field with Kory one day last winter, climbing and exploring in the snow.
It has taken us a couple of hours.
It will not be long before Kory and I will again own this desert.
People don't come out here in the winter.  They don't four wheel or climb on lava rocks, or explore individual places in a freezing cold and endless desert.
Soon it would all belong to just us again.................
Huge cracks in the top of one lava rock hill....................
I stopped briefly to take a picture of the Cedar Butte sign, before taking a quick drink of water and continuing on.
The ride was going fine.  I had only traveled maybe 8 miles in total so far (my bike computer no longer worked, so I didn't know for sure and had never measured the mileage by trail).  Regardless, this pitifully short ride (in comparison to mileage I used to do when training in earnest) was going fine.
Stress free.  Alone.  Quiet.  Physically demanding but only a little. 
Continuing on.................
A mile or so beyond Cedar Butte there is a road intersection.  The road straight ahead narrows down into double track.  The road to the left is the continuation of Big Butte Rd, and that is the road I took.
One more mile down the road and I arrived at the start of the cedar trees.
Pulling over to the side of the road I climbed off my bike, looked around me, laid my bike down on the side of the road, and then found a large stump to sit on while I waited for LC to meet me.
The plan was to park the Suburban and explore in the cedar trees.  
Much of the desert is simply sage brush and lave rock.  But Cedar Butte and a huge swatch of land across from the butte are filled with beautiful cedar trees.
We had explored them a number of times - enjoying the simple desert pleasure of wandering through trees, while at the same time enjoying (from our higher perch) the site of endless square miles of desert floor in front of us, and the endless wall of mountain chains to our north and west.
And so I sipped water, looked at my watch, and realized that LC would likely be along any time.............

At 6:55 he called me.
OK, I'm at the intersection.  Do I go straight or go left?
Go left and just stay on the road..............

As I continued to sip water from my plastic water bottle I was slightly surprised that he had called me.
He knew where the cedar tree section was.  
We had stopped and wandered through here a few times, and had agreed that it was quickly becoming one of our favorite places............. 

By 7:10 LC was still nowhere in sight.
He should have been here by now.
Something must be wrong.
I tried to call him.  The call went straight to voice mail.
Tried again.  Voice mail.
Tried one more time.  Voice mail.
By this time it was 7:15 and I stood beside my bike for another few minutes, momentarily indecisive about what to do.
He must have misunderstood where we were going to meet.  If that was the case it wasn't a good idea for me to go wandering around the desert trying to catch up with him.
Digging my phone out of my shorts pocket one more time, I speed dialed his number.  Voice mail.
I had no idea where he was, but decided that I would ride back the way I had come.  Maybe I could get through on the phone at the top of one of the rises on the road...................

A few minutes later LC finally picked up the phone.
He tried to tell me where he was but I couldn't make sense of his directions.
At my suggestion, we agreed to meet back at the Cedar Butte sign.
By the time I got back to the sign there was still no sign of LC.  
Looking at my watching again it was a little past 7:30.  
Standing my bike up against the sign, I wandered around on foot, feeling restless and wondering where my guy and my dog were.
At 7:45 I looked up and was pleased (but also surprised) to see the Suburban coming down the trail from the back side of Cedar Butte.
He has driven half way around the butte before getting my last phone call.
Talk about getting our signals crossed...................
Wild fires dominated the west throughout the summer, and for many months we were surrounded by wild fires in California, northern Idaho, western Idaho, Montana.
For a long time the south eastern portion of our state was untouched by fire or smoke.
And then one day we woke up to a hazy landscape filled with the smoke of seemingly endless fires.
We had it for weeks, and the west continued to burn.
Some days the smoke was little more than a haze.
Some days it was so thick that we could barely see across the road.
The mountains in the distance, and even the buttes close to us, completely disappeared for weeks.
Lost in the smoke.
Many people experienced breathing problems, and for a few weeks daily air quality warnings were issued.
But we were hundreds of miles removed from the nearest fire (and the destruction they caused to wild life, public lands, homes and towns was devastating) so there was no complaining.
Plenty of people had it much worse than we did..
 Pictures of the sun taken through the smoky haze on a couple of different evenings...................
A few weeks ago we were on the way home from Pocatello when we stopped for gas right around sunset.
Kory had been stuck in the truck for a long while at the point, so while LC pumped gas I grabbed her leash and together we walked across the parking lot.
I wanted to get some pictures of the setting sun.................
Crossing over the lot we reached a short rise, and together we climbed to the top of it.
As we reached the top I looked down and was surprised to see that we had found an irrigation canal.
Instantly my pup decided that she wanted to drink.
As I stayed at the top of the rise I watched as Kory carefully climbed down the hill.
I think that she had intended to stay onshore to take her drink, but instead she unexpectedly slipped into the water and immediately began to swim....................
The look on Korys face told me that she had not intended to slide into the water.
Watching her carefully (and still hanging on to her leash), I waited for her to understand that she was in moving water and that she needed to climb out.
In truth, I was ready to climb down there at any moment if it looked like she was in over her head, but thankfully she took a couple of drinks of water while swimming, turned towards shore and easily climbed back out................
One more Random Pictures blog and I think I may just be able to clean up the last of my random pictures.................

 Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky..............Rabindranath Tagore 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Random Pictures - Part 2

Didn't I just write in my last blog post that LC and I were going to begin saying no to the needy, overbearing and dysfunctional who live in this tiny-town-with-too-much-drama?
The elderly lady who lost her husband early this year finally sold her home.
For months LC and I have helped her to research, organize and sell a lifetime worth of belongings, and now that she has finally sold her home in preparation for moving on to the next phase of her life, she (and we) are getting down to the wire.
Lots more researching, lots more selling, lots more organizing, lots more packing, and then eventually loading and sending her on her way.
We can't say no.
I wish we could, but we can't.
I need to go.
Some place away from here.  Away from couples who don't get along with each other.  Substance abusers who cannot function like normal human beings.  Constant drama from people who are old enough to stop with the drama.  An old lady who needs us because...........she just does.
Someplace with trees everywhere I look, and water, and the crispness of fall.
Someplace to paddle my kayak.
Someplace to watch LC happily throwing out a fishing line, and caring not whether he catches anything.
Someplace soon I hope..................

We are now in the middle of very cool and very damp weather.
I love it and am completely ready for it.
I would never have imagined that constant heat and constant and never changing blue sky would be depressing, but it can be.  
Maybe it is the Norwegian blood.
Maybe its that I am a menopausal woman.
Regardless of the reason, I woke this morning to strong winds, grey skies, and buttes covered down to the ground with cloud cover.
And I smiled.
It was a most welcome sight..............

These pictures were taken just a couple of days ago, late in the evening as I was walking with Kory.
It was still too early for sunset pictures, but the sun was already beginning to lower on the horizon and the shadows were long.
It was cooler at this time in the early evening, and the coolness was welcome after a very hot day.
The sky was completely cloudless and unbearably blue.
I turned the corner at the far end of town and the sun shone brilliantly.
It was a beautiful time of day..................
Walking around the corner we picked up one more street and then quickly turned right, picking up yet one more gravel road.
We have all of two miles of roads in total, in Atomic City.
Deep in thought, Kory noticed them before I did, and I looked up in surprise when I felt the unexpected tug on her leash.
A small herd of deer at the end of the road.
They were quietly grazing and I stopped moving for a minute, as they looked up startled by our unexpected presence.
Pulling Kory closer to me I locked her leash and then slowly began walking again.
There were a couple of does and three young fawns - a set of twins and one other.
It is SO good to see them back.
They were gone for six months and I missed them in town very much.
This group of five have been traveling together for a while now, but there are other deer floating around town alone or in pairs.  And of course, there are three bucks who we see occasionally out on BLM land just outside of town (and in town - including our own back yard after dark).
Kory (thankfully) wants nothing to do with them, although she is mesmerized by them.
She has been chased by does twice (including once in our back yard) and that has scared her.
And I'm glad....................
Click on any picture to enlarge and begin a slide show..................

As we got closer they disappeared into the yard to the right in the pictures, ran through the front yard, jumped the white picket fence and then disappeared behind the adjoining house.
I cannot look at the white picket fence anymore without worrying about the deer.
A month ago the home owners told me a horrifying story of a young doe impaling herself on the fence.
The family was not home at the time, but when they arrived home they found a partially skinned and impaled young deer hanging from that picket fence.
As I watched the young herd run through the yard I held my breath as each easily cleared the fence and then continued on.
The smallest and youngest fawn was the last one left in the yard and I silently willed her not to follow the four others.  Don't jump it baby, it's too high for you.  Don't jump it baby, it's too high for you.
There was a hole in the fence and after hesitating for a moment she scooted through the hole.
Breathing a sign of relief I looked down at my dog, rubbed her ears and called her to move along with our walk....................
ATVers heading out onto BLM land..................
Big Butte and the desert bathed in sunshine................
10 minutes after seeing the herd of five, we ran into these little guys happily grazing on a lawn.
I know these two little things.
The first time I saw them was a couple of months ago, and they were sitting together in a back yard in the shade of a tree.
Immediately I stopped moving, surprised to see them as I always am, and I watched them for a few moments wondering where their mother was.
They were too little to be by themselves.
Within a couple of minutes I had my answer, and I smiled inwardly as I watched them speed across the road, effortlessly jump the metal fence of a neighboring property and 4-foot jump over to their mother.
She was close.
On this day they were alone.  A little older and still traveling together, but still seemingly too young to make their way safely through the upcoming long winter.
They watched Kory and I for a few moments, pulled their ears back, turned, and bounded out of Dodge............
As soon as we returned home I opened the door that led to the back yard and watched as Kory sprinted to her swimming pool.
We picked up a kids hard plastic pool early in the summer.  It is bright pink and complete with seahorse graphics and we thought that she would like to play in it once the weather got hot.
Surprisingly she never sat down in it, but she has spent the entire summer stepping in it and using it as the towns biggest doggie watering dish.
And the deer seem to be well hydrated these days..........

After she had gotten a long drink I looked around me, in search of the noise.
It was almost dark by this time and LC and I followed the hoots until we found where they were coming from.
We had thought that there was only one owl in our trees, but as we stood watching this beautiful guy we heard hoots coming from behind us as well.
There were two - in trees close to each other in the yard - and the two owls were talking to each other.
By the time I thought to dig out my camera it was almost completely dark, and this is the only picture that even remotely turned out.
But they were wonderful to see.....................
Pictures taken about a month ago.
Unexpected flowers unexpectedly showed up in the front corner of our yard.
They're gone for the season now, but will come back next year and will spread, and that is very good................ 
Kory has happily spent the entire summer chasing rabbits all over BLM land and all over the yard.
And she has happily killed a few for her efforts as well.
As we were walking on BLM land in back of town a few weeks ago she made a dive for something just off the trail.
The sage brush was tall so I couldn't tell what she was after, but whatever it was, she was excited.
A small bird suddenly appeared from out of the sage and hopped over to the trail.
Kory followed her.
I watched as the bird hopped along the trail, and was surprised that Kory simply followed behind it, sometimes touching her nose to the bird but not hurting it.
It didn't fly away and I wondered if something was wrong with its wings.
For a long time it continued to hop along the trail with Kory in tow, and then it hopped off the trail and came to a rest against an old section of fence.
Kory stayed with it, continued to sniff it and touch her nose to it, but didn't hurt it.
I watched her closely as I walked by the pair, and after a few minutes called my dog to me.
My goofy dog happily sprinted up to me and we continued with our walk, with me wondering what was wrong with little bird, and wondering why little dog had not taken a bite out of little bird................
On this day the mountains were "out" - silently guarding the entrance to the Lost River Valley............
A look back towards town and the Twin Buttes, while walking trails.............
Ah, September! You are the doorway to the season that awakens my soul... but I must confess that I love you only because you are a prelude to my beloved October............Peggy Toney Horton