Endurance develops strength of character in us~ Romans 5:4 NLT

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Road Ridin' ~

Another gorgeous day dawned, without the threat of thunderstorms.  Cody had kindly driven up to shoe Farah on Monday.  She'd had the same shoes on for ten-weeks!  Breaking all records & way longer than I'd ever had her padded.  Since her feet grow so slow anyway - her angles were still good, but it was a relief to get those pads off & find that her hooves were still OK under them!
Back to my roots~
We pulled into Roxi's on time, I have to say I've not had the motivation to ride that I should have.  Years of riding alone & pushing for miles has taken away some of the glow.  Possibly age has something to do with it too...  But - now - having a friend to ride with - really makes a difference.  Farah is so happy to be moving out again, she & Roxi's mare seemed to get on fine.

Once we were out on the roads, it was almost like I was a kid again, riding out from Grandma's & seeing how far I could get before it was time to turn back.   Grandma would ask where I'd gone & one day when I mentioned the name of a very small town - Spalding - she said;  "What?!  You were all the way over there?!"  :-)   It was riding all those road miles that hooked me on distance in the first place.
This little baby Raccoon -  was crying at the bottom of the tree~
We just cruised right along - the County had recently rocked one of the roads - we had no choice but to take it easy & stay on the shoulder.  Of course the Big Tractor was out with a huge mowing blade working on the shoulders.  (Are there small tractor's in IA?)  Farah did better than I expected, it was nice that Dejets took the lead - handling the noise & dust with total aplomb.
Tough, solid & watchful!
We moved out the first half of the ride, then walked some of the way back.  As I keep telling Roxi, it's not the gold girl that needs conditioning - it's her rider!  :-)  It's crazy how much I feel like I've lost of my own condition - but determination must count for something!
Wild Roses~
The wild roses above literally lined the road for miles!  I'm bringing a shovel next time & bringing a start or two home.  
Out & back
We covered ten-miles & again - once I'm in Farah's saddle - the world becomes a brighter, shinier place~

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

It's Been a Long Time Comin'

One of our favorite ways to either start or end the day - has been to sit out~
Our view~
Last evening - for the first time, we could sit out & watch the rain!  With Butch working almost full-time between two jobs, we asked around for recommendations & were lucky enough to find John.  His reputation as the best is well deserved!  I had a few special requests - one - to have the railing high enough that when seated - I can see under it!  Having started on the 15th - even with the challenges that the weather created - John said today that he will be finishing up tomorrow!  The deck chairs will finally come out of storage!
Red Fox~
  As we were admiring the view, I saw a fox dart across just behind the swing!  He's the second one we've seen so far.  Butch saved us some money by tearing off the old raised deck.  He started by pulling nails to salvage what decking materials he could - but soon I heard the chain-saw start up!  That made quick work of what was left! 
Butch doing demo - 94 degrees!
We'd hoped to start with the front porch, but had to apply for a variance & are waiting for a positive outcome before we can start.  Since the house faces north - having covered entries will be a huge improvement.   Luckily - John stopped the materials delivery for the front in time & replaced it with a new order for the back!
Walnut & Honeysuckle~
To say it's been a beautiful month is an understatement.  In WA - my favorite months were always May & Oct.  I think here - it's going to be the same.  The bushes that line the backyard are Honeysuckle & the smell has been incredible!  The air absolutely rich with their scent!   How sad that I find they are an invasive species & almost impossible to eradicate.   The four younger trees that we were worried about - they were so late to bud - are Walnuts!  Our big one out front is just now opening it's leaves!
Wall of Honeysuckle blooms~
I can't see myself investing the years of energy to attempt to remove the Honeysuckle.  The bird population is so large & seems diverse here - they bring in the unwanted seeds.   Instead - I'll try to control their spread & plant what natives I can.

In the meantime - we're thankful to have a new favorite outdoor space.  A place where we can enjoy the ever-changing views - created by the incredible variety of deciduous trees!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Movin' Out!

Today dawned cool, clear & beautiful.  The coolest day in the next few to come.  I was on the road for the farm fairly early to pick Farah up.  We were meeting up again with Roxi & Sandra at Waubonsie.  It's so nice to have the trails there open, since they are the closest & have enough hills for a decent workout.
Farah enjoying the grass~
At the stable, Farah was covered in mud this time, the rain & the fact that her run had only been partially scraped clear.  Debris everywhere - that trapped the rain water - creating more mucky areas & depriving her of the spot where she likes to roll.  We pulled into the park early - lots of grooming & finally saddled by the time Roxi & Sondra arrived.

Roxi had filled me in on the day's training pace & I was game.  Farah was more than game - she absolutely loved it :-)  The first set of loops, my friends rode bay mares, I kept Farah back & since we were moving out - Farah was fine with that.  I didn't take pictures!  I was too busy riding :-)  We finished the first set & our second time out was with the grays!
Roxi in the lead~
At one point, Roxi said;  "Watch for the tree." on a sharp corner with a steep hill coming up.  I lost a stirrup - Farah felt it & gave me a 1/2 stride to recover it - before blasting up the hill!  :-)  Such a good girl!  I've been riding without my 1/2 chaps, just long socks under my tights.  So far - no heat rash & really no rubbing either.  Of course today was far from hot & humid - so we'll see how it goes as things heat up.
Speeding along~
I just had to pull out my camera & get a photo.   We did well over 12-miles, with a really great average moving speed.  The fastest & farthest we've gone since moving here.  Our elevation gain was over 1,700 ft. - which I would not have believed possible.  I used to get that at Victoria over about the same distance.
Sondra & Roxi
I was determined to get a photo of these two & had to laugh when I saw this one :-)
Our route~
It felt so darn good to be riding so hard!  Farah has amazed me with the way she's held her condition.  I wish I'd held mine as well!  :-)  When we got back, she emptied a bucket of water, rolled & enjoyed me sponging her down.  I think it was her breakfast that was in her feed bucket when we returned to the stable.  She scarfed that down & had another big drink of water.

I came home the most pleasantly sore & tired that I've been in a very long while & it felt darn good!  Having great riding partners who enjoy the same sport I do has sure helped.  I may find myself doing some endurance in the mid-west before the season is over.  A tired, happy wife makes Butch's life a bit easier too :-)

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Crusin' with Friends~

The weatherman had promised a slightly cooler day today.  Roxi & I had planned to ride, so even though I worried that I would melt - I was determined to get Farah out.  At the barn - Farah had heard the trailer & was standing with her head over the stall gate when I arrived.  She was even clean - not nearly as dusty as she was a couple days ago!  She followed me to the trailer on a loose lead, loaded right in & stood like a lady while I closed the door.
Farah enjoying the grazing~
Arriving at Waubonsie early - we both enjoyed our quite time together - we were the only ones there.  I took my time saddling up & then let her graze.  Roxi & Sondra pulled in & soon the three of us were on the trail.  Roxi let me choose the pace, I was looking forward to a faster ride.  Farah enjoyed the lead - not a single spook & she was all business.  We trotted, galloped & had a blast cruising around on the soft dirt trails.  Sandra, who rode bareback, saddled up when we decided to go out again.
Tree still across the trail~
Even if hot & getting hotter, it was so beautiful in the green, dabbled shade of the trees.  I recognized the red Columbines that were blooming in several places.
Native Columbine
We were well into our second go-round when I heard something happen & the word snake!  Oh yuck - I've now heard lots of rumors about the snakes here & how big they can get!  I had to go back for a look though!  :-)
Black Rat Snake
He was big - I'm glad I've now seen one & will certainly be a little more careful when walking along the creek!  If they eat rodents - they can't be all bad.
Glorious Greens~
Toward the end of our final set of loops - I asked Sondra if she wanted to go in front.  I should have asked long before & of course she did.  What fun we had cruising around together!   Following along -  reminded me of what a consistent training pace is :-)   One of my favorite quotes;  A horse never runs so fast as when he has other horses to catch up & outpace.  -- Ovid 

It's so easy to backslide when you don't have a training partner & we've not had one in years.  It was part of my concern when trying to condition Farah for what ended up being our yearly endurance ride - but she managed just fine :-)  We finished with a gallop up & back into camp.
Farah enjoys the day~
Roxi & I have known each other almost 20-years & it was our first ride together!  I'm sorry that I didn't get a photo of us - but we were too busy having fun :-)  (A mutual friend in WA who'd purchased Butch's horse in the late 90's - had introduced us at a ride.)  After our friends headed home, I washed Farah down & let her loose like I used to during our lunch breaks.  She rolled, rolled some more, then gave a hard shake before wandering off to graze.  I sat at a table in the shade eating my nuts & grapes.  
Even if very warm, mid-80's - with the air fairly heavy - it was a picture perfect afternoon.  The haze preceding the promised rain already moving in across the sky.  It was just under an hours drive to Farah's barn - where I fed her the last of the carrots & put her in her stall.
Our route~
By the time I pulled in at home, the Bronco had logged a 95-mile round-trip.  Not exactly close, none of the riding places are - but it was Grand to move out & enjoy such a fun ride!  I was bitten yet again by the endurance bug - he's a nasty little critter that as I get older - I've had mixed emotions about.  Very hard with a horse like Farah~

Sunday, May 7, 2017

The Little Things~

It's finally warming up!  The weekend was beautiful, if very warm, at least for us!  We worked outside most of both days.  Butch dug an old rose bush out of Clara's yard & in return Lloyd gave us three tomato starts!  They went right into the ground when we got home.  He also planted three zucchini plants - I'm pretty sure I'll have plenty of produce to make Zucchini relish!

We were sitting out on the back deck later than usual last evening - it was cooling down - dusk was upon us & suddenly I saw what I thought was a flash light - on the far side of the creek?  Just a second later it had moved faster than anyone on foot could have!  Was I seeing things?  I asked Butch if he saw something & yes he did!  Lightning Bugs! I was so excited - it was like a gift that you never expect to get - but appears as if by magic!
Iowa Firefly~
Even Nika saw them & of course - started barking!  She was running from one side of the yard to the other - trying to figure out what was going on :-)  After doing a lot more reading on the subject - I'm sending a letter to our power company - to ask what they can do about the street light that is oh so much brighter than we need.  To actually still have this colony living here at the edge of town is so wonderful.  It would help if that light could be dimmed - giving the Firefly's a better chance of communicating.  The light show lasted most of an hour - one coming within a few feet of our deck!
 This morning & went out for my usual walk along the creek & noticed these large leaves, actually similar to a Trillium.  Closer inspection revealed it to be one of the wildflowers that I tried for years to establish in the Homestead Woods, Jack-in-the-Pulpit!  There were two areas where they seem to be flourishing in the dappled shade.
A true beauty~
Butch weed-whacked the whole area along our side of the creek & I've been knocking things down, such as the Stinging Nettles that you can see coming up around the wildflower.  I think that getting all the grasses down, gave the flowers a chance to really flourish!  Now, I'm going to get little flags to mark their location - so we won't disturb the bulbs.

The part of Twinkle Creek that we border has been missed by the usual burning, trashing, dumping etc., that I've seen has happened so many other places.  Not that I don't pick up at least a couple pieces of trash on every walk.  Gradually though - I hope to enhance as much of it as I can~

It's the little things after all~

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Time Passes~

It's almost like remembering us in a different world - to think that a year ago we were riding the dusty, wide open spaces of central Washington State.  It was our second trip to Ancient Lakes, with three very good friends & riding buddies.
When the phone rang in the early evening hours & I saw Scotts name on the display - I knew what the call was about...  Sure enough - it was Barb, with Scott & Linda.  She asked me if we were ready & yes - within a few minutes we were.
After our toast~
Our last dinner out just before we left WA - we agreed to call each other - Scott, Barb & Linda from our old camp at Dave's - Butch & I from wherever we were, which happened to be sitting out in our backyard.  (Our horse camping trip to MO, was cancelled due to the flooding.)  On speaker, we opening our bottles of Cave B iced wine - clinked our glassed together & toasted our friendship & the amazing rides we all enjoyed.
Barb & Scott at Cave B, Linda's reflection in the window~
 We brought back these bottles in our saddle bags.  Ours came all the way to IA with us in the refrigerator of the camper.  I can say that the wine was even better than I'd remembered, but the toast was bittersweet...
Sunset over the Columbia River~
I'd spent the day with at our weekly bible study -  today was the National Day of Prayer, designated such just a year after I was born.  Our small group did our part in sending up prayers for our children, town, Country & leaders.  I sent up a few personal prayers of my own...  Prayers of thanks for the friends who support us - both those of long-standing & those that have made us welcome here~

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Pierce Creek Recreation Area~

Forecast to be the last day before rains move in again - I was badly in need of some saddle time!  It's so much handier to have the horse trailer home.  Butch had me hitched, I went out to get Farah & we were on the road.  Joyce had given me great directions...
Pierce Creek
  But...  just as we were approaching the corner that goes to Malvern on Hwy 34, I saw flashing lights ahead!  The highway was closed & we were being diverted toward Malvern.  I hadn't planned any secondary route - so ended up parking on a side street - thankful that I had enough phone service to look at Google Maps.  I ended up taking a longer route, but once I picked up Hwy 59 - the directions got us there!
I wanted to be sure to park in the correct area.  I'd thought that there were separate entrances for day use & camping - but both were accessed through the same drive going in.  There is no fee for day riding - just a charge if you camp overnight.  This park took years of work, the dedication of many volunteers & numerous grants from a variety of sources to accomplish. 
Bronco & Trailer~
To say it was a totally stellar day isn't saying enough.  I was so glad I'd decided to make the trip.  Upper 50's with a nice breeze was perfect.  Farah was excited, grabbing mouthfuls of grass at every opportunity.  I thought about lounging her - but just put a foot in the stirrup & we were on our way.
Every amenity!
To see signage welcoming Equestrians - is so Wonderful & rare these days!  Maps were provided on the informative signage right at the entrance - but anyone who knows me - knows my directional challenges :-)
First views~
 I just decided to find a trail - any trail & take it!  We ended up at the west shore of the lake & following it south - soon saw the dike.
South end dike~
Joyce had mentioned crossing the dike to find the forested area where she plans to put in another trail - so we headed that way.  Farah didn't like the sound of the outflow - I dismounted to get her past it. 
Huge home under construction near the SE corner of the area~
Just across the dike - the house above loomed over the area.  I have to wonder who's building it & why so large - it would more than rival any of the homes on the Eastside of Lake Washington in Bellevue.
View from the east side~
Once across, we found a 4-ft. wide mowed path along the shore here too.  Joyce had explained that they keep the trails 4-ft. wide to distribute the wear across a wider area - avoiding the erosion that a narrower trail can create.
Farah looks across~
Finding a fence line - I decided to followed it north.  My plan - if you could call it that - was to find the farthest edges of the park.  I'd taken a good look at the layout - via Google Earth.
Heading north, along the east fence line~
It was just beautiful here - I was thinking to myself - that there would not be many trails, but was still hopeful for a few miles.
North boundary~
Before long we came to the north boundary & turned west~
Going west~
There were many mowed trails over the top of this hill, we took several, ended up near the bottom, then turned & came back up to the top.
Toward the northern end of the lake
About the time I was wondering if we'd find a way across at the northern end of the lake, we came to a corner giving us the option of turning to the north again!  
We ended up here!
These trails were Beautiful!  Like riding in Narnia - for SW Iowa anyway!
On the trail north~
The footing was perfect - just perfect.  Dry & Farah moved into a trot on her own.
We hear something!
I'd stopped to take a photo when we heard a truck horn?  Then again?  Then a voice; "Connie - is that you?"  Joyce had found us!  I told her that she reminds me so much of my friend Linda - who could find me anywhere :-)  We followed her direction & met up at the picnic area accessed off 140th.  So great to finally meet in person - soon we hope to ride - so I can see trails that I missed today!
Wonderful trees~
We'd managed to find our way into what I think is the most beautiful section of the area!  I can't say how much it did my soul good to be out in such a gorgeous woods.  Farah trotted, then broke into a nice hand gallop - all on a loose rein.
Wild Honeylocust (Gleditsia triacanthos
The tree above is a native species.  Not one I would plant & I cut several small ones down this last week.  I was amazed at the lack of invasive plants here.  At least that I can recognize so far. I only saw one wild grape which I've also discovered is a native & has been used as source rootstock for several cultivars.  I did not see Greenbriar - the new shoots of which can be eaten!
Back up on the SE hills~
We took the trail through this NE wooded area & were sorry when it ended.  Soon we were back in the open country & the lake was again in view.  This time we took a different trail back to the south end of the park & came to the fence along the road there.
Checking out 150th.
We followed this trail back to the bottom of the dike, then up & across it.  Joyce said we'd missed some trails in the upper NW corner - so we went that way.
On a lower trail~
When we were lower on the trail, we'd heard a truck leave from the dock & soon came to the road.  A trail sign was across the way, we were happy to find it! 
Across the road to the dock~
We found another covered picnic area at the top of a nice long trail along the northern edge.  Farah flew up it & I had one of my first opportunities here to yell "Yippee"!  :-)
Picnic area~
More nice views here too, we could see back at where we'd been on the far side.  Turning once more onto the trails, the one we were on circled us back down to where we'd crossed the road.  At one point during our ride, Farah was walking along so wonderfully, I looked down at my Garmin to see that she was moving at an effortless 4.7mph.  
Rolling prairie~
I could tell by the sun that it was getting later in the afternoon & knew we had an hours drive back home.  Here, it's not the traffic that takes the time - it's actually the miles to get from here to there!  :-)
Back in the Equestrian area~
There was a water spicket & hose - what a nice amenity!  I offered Farah a bucket of water which she ignored in favor of grazing.  I decided to wash her down - some sweat mixed with dirt from her daily rolls...

As I asked her to load up - she started playing a new game...  jumping back out of the trailer!  She did this three times, before I got my rope out, tied it to the big door & managed to pull it shut with her still inside!  I think she just wanted to stay & graze - heading back didn't suit her.  Riding untied is a privilege - next time she pulls this - she will find herself tied in!
Our route~
I called Butch - he was home - so we picked him up on the way back to Farah's stable.  She was an absolute angel unloading for Dad! :-)  Dinner at Toby Jacks was a great way to end a perfect day of riding!  My only wish - would be to have this wonderful place (even any Equestrian place...) closer to home~