Monday, July 25, 2011

Quick Post and Update from Redding, CA

Whiskeytown Horse Camp near Redding, CA
What a day.  Zak is waiting for me back at camp (he decided to join the herd a couple of days ago), so I don't have much time.  I came to Redding, about 10 miles from where we're camped in "Whiskeytown" a National Park with a beautiful lake.

Maggie in Morro Bay 
Loving on Magic

My mission was to get the tires rotated and get a much needed mani/pedi, and a few other far less important tasks.  I bought my tires at Discount Tire in Fort Collins last November, and the purchase includes free checks and rotations.  It was time, so I called and the fellow told me to bring her right in.  I arrived 15 minutes later, and waited in line for 20 minutes.  I was supposed to be called when it was ready.  2.5 hours later, I went back to see what was taking so long.  The truck was ready finally, but they informed me they had broken a "stud" and that I would have to go get it fixed across town at a mechanic's place.  I called the mechanic and learned that they "might not" get the work done for a couple of hours.  Drat.  I dropped off the truck, and was able to pick it up only 90 minutes later.  No charge, the tire shop will fix what they broke, so that's cool.  But that takes up the rest of the day, so not much time for the blog.


Here's a few more photos to bring you up to date.  Next time, I'll be writing a blog about the awesome horse bed and breakfast you can visit in Point Reyes....

Zak the mountain man...

In summary, Zak joined me after a 3 day/2 night pack trip into the Point Reyes National Seashore with Cal, an artist from New York (Woodstock) that I met in Montana de Oro, just south of Morro Bay.
Midnight takes a nice roll after a long day in the trailer

Zak and I spent a night with the lovely Karin (rhymes with Marin) at her awesome spread on a hill overlooking Nicasio Reservoir, near Point Reyes.  I met several people on my return to the Bear Valley Parking lot after our pack trip.  Karin offered us a place to stay with the horses, and the next day, we enjoyed a spendid gallop together on the beach.

Running and Rolling - favorite activities for the boys

We left the coast and drove to Napa, where we were able to stay at Skyline Park, a horse friendly park in wine country.  We arrived at nearly dark, and left the next morning, but it looked like there would have been excellent wilderness trails to ride there, and the local park only charges $15 per night, so it's definitely a place I would come back to again.

Midnight on the run
Chow hounds
Sweet Horse Camp at Whiskeytown

Zak settles right in with the herd.

From Napa, we headed through Vacaville, where we stopped to stock up on horse feed.  The fellow there was most informative, and encouraged me to add probiotics to Om El Akhiel's (Moonlight's) rations.  He's slow to gain weight, and I'm willing to try anything, so I forked over another $50 and we'll see if it helps.  I also bought forage pellets, Safe Choice complete feed, and a few other needed items.

Down the road we went.  Stopped for fresh peaches, corn on the cob, honey, and olives at a roadside stand along the way.  Zak used Yelp and located the Whiskeytown National Park.  We found it to be a very lovely campground for the horses, and woke to warm sunshine and lots of grazing for the herd.

I'm heading back there now, and plan to head north again tomorrow.  I have an idea to stop north of Klamath Falls tomorrow night, and perhaps near Bend OR the next night.  Then it will be an easy day drive to Dayton, north of Walla Walla, for the Buck Brannaman clinic.

Whew.  Better run....

Equine Yoga at Montana de Oro south of Morro Bay

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Reply from Bill and Cathy in Anza

Bill and Cathy when I met them at Anza Borrego
I was given permission by Bill to post his reply, which has some interesting info about Bert and Bari, my fun riding companions from a couple of days ago:

Hi beautiful,

I just got done reading your latest postings.  I spend a week a Montana de Oro several years ago on my way to Yosemite for a trail ride.  I love it.  ETI Corral 22 in Burbank normally has a group ride there every summer.  I also went with them on one occasion.  It is great to ride on the beach.  My oldest horse, Dufuss, learned to go into the ocean when I was there.  What a kick.  I’m glad you were able to see this area in your travels.

I have always been amazed by how small the horse world really is.  Bert and Bari Bonnett are longtime friends of Cathy and myself.  I have been a member of the High Desert Trail Riders since the mid-80’s.  This group puts on a week-end ride the first week-end of every month.  Bert and Bari are members and I have ridden with them multiple times.  In 2001 there was a ride at Heart Bar by Big Bear for the group.  Bari showed up by herself to lead the Saturday ride she and Bert had sponsored.  When we asked her why Bert didn’t come she stated that he couldn’t come because he had broken his foot breaking a new 2 year old Mustang!!!  Bert is known throughout the western horse world and has had many articles about his life published.  You got to meet and ride with one of the greatest horsemen you could ever expect to meet.  It’s interesting the Bari had a horse which gave her trouble.  Typically she rides a energetic horse but one which she always handles easily.  It’s Bert who typically is riding a semi-wild horse.  Very seldom have I ever seen him riding a totally finished and trained horse.  He loves to ride and train and typically would be riding a learning horse.

You pictures posted a beautiful as always.  You know how much we support your travels.  It kind of makes us feel we are along doing what we would love to be doing.  Keep it up.

Love,  Bill and Cathy

Monday, July 11, 2011

Montana de Oro - Again!

Midnight at the Oasis
Montana de Oro State Park
I am back at one of the most beautiful places I've been so far, near Morro Bay, north of Santa Barbara.  I'm camping by myself with my family of four horses at the horse camp in Montana de Oro State Park.  I had a beautiful day yesterday and rode with two groups.
Riding the trails at Montana de Oro
Lynn, Sue, Susan, and Bobbi on their fine steeds.

The first was a group of 4 gals from the desert who had come to get out of the heat.  I loved their cowgirl camp - now that's some luxury living!  They each had a big rig, and they rounded up the wagons so to speak and had themselves set up with tapestry rugs, tables, and some serious comfort.  They invited me for drinks and food, and were very hospitable.  The next day, we rode a ways together.  I enjoyed taking photos of their "get-ups" and their beautiful horses.  We hung out a second night, and I loved their stories about their experiences with men, horses, and rodeo riding.  I'm hoping Susan will find a way to write a book about drill team exercises, cause I know there are some gals in Altadena that would love to learn from her!

My rodeo galfriend, Susan.

Bobbi and Sue
Lynn on her fine horse.  Check out those chinks!
Headstall Detail.  Serious bling!
Lookin good girlfriend!  (Love the pink boots)
Love the pink boots!
The other Susan.  Beautiful Horse!
Nice Chinks.  Custom made.  Notice the tiny silver details?
Also very nice chinks.  These girls know how to dress!
My Favorites.
Heading to the beach...

Later in the afternoon, I rode with Bert and Bari.  Bert is 101 years old folks, and I was really impressed with his clear mind, his ability to mount and really handle a horse, and his capacity for conversation and a "toddy" in the evening.
Bert.  101 years old, and still riding!  Pretty impressive...
Bert and Bari.  Quite the couple.
Bari's horse was acting up a bit, so we switched and she rode Maggie.
Of course she fell in love with her...
Bert still sits the saddle well, don't you think?  We rode for 2 hours!

When I asked Bert what his secret to long and healthy life was,
he said "Pretty women, good whiskey, and fast horses!"
He sure got that right with Bari.
I want to be able to ride in places like this when I'm 101...

Bari and he have been married more than 25 years, and she does an amazing job of taking care of him, ensuring his opportunity to ride.  They are both my heroes!

Here's a photo of Bari on the cover of the Mule Magazine, 1999.
She won the costume prize 9 years in a row!
My idol.  I wonder if she'll help me fix a costume for my Zorse?
Bert had several sips of "Toddy" (VO) on the trail.
A touch for the heart...
The smile says it all.
Live a good life, and life will be good to you.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Fourth of July, Near Disasters and Stupid Mistakes

My friend Grace takes a ride on my Zorse
Happy Birthday America!
So, part of my "transparent life" is to not only report the exciting, wonderful, exquisite fun of life on the road with my equines, but to also fess up to stupid mistakes and less than wonderful happenings as well.  It's not all fabulous fun, but more and more as time goes by, I find myself appreciating the challenges and problems and blessings as they come.  I'm finding as I connect more deeply with my heart's true calling and desires, the universe provides me with amazing guidance and opportunities.  What I might imagine is going to happen can change in a flash, and sometimes what I thought was going to happen, just doesn't happen at all, and instead, I find a new and even better path to traverse.

This blog could be a very long one because for one thing, it's been a while since my last entry, and for another, a lot has happened, as usual.  But I am limited by time and circumstances at the moment.  I am sitting in a McDonald's in Santa Paula (they're trying to beat out Starbuck's I think and get this:  a FREE mango slushie and free Wi-Fi - how cool is that?), the horses are sitting in the trailer outside (at least they are parked in the shade) in the parking lot, and I really want to head to the beach!

I just learned of a new place I can ride the horses on the beach.  I'll be heading just north of Santa Barbara on the coast to a little place called Isla Vista.  Down Glen Annie road, to the beach.  I hope...

My plan is to take all four horses - it's Moonlight's first trip to the beach, so that should be fun!  If I can, I want to ride Maggie, lead Moonlight, and let the boys run free.  Stay tuned for photos...
Moonlight's first sunset on the beach.  I think he liked it, don't you?
All four feet off the ground!  Yippee!
If you look close, you can still see his fading zebra stripes.

So lets see.  What were the big lessons?

Well, first of all, I keep being reminded to live in the moment.  Every time I make plans, something else comes up and they change.  I am really committing now to staying open to what comes to me, and release disappointment for things that were not meant to be.  That being said, I still do have a bucket list, and I keep trying to tick things off.  New things come on that list faster than things come off it however...

One of the coolest things to happen lately was seeing the movie "Buck" with Lauren and Erica, my wonderful new equestrian girlfriends from the Stable in Altadena.  We laughed, we cried, we were inspired by the many messages of the movie.  If you are a horse person and you haven't seen it yet, you really should make every effort.  I went twice, because an old friend from North Dakota, David Magnusson showed up with his friend Monique and I made them go.  They were glad though....

I made a decision after my second viewing of this movie to find a way to study with Buck ASAP.  Turns out, he has some clinics in the near future and I'm going to try to sign up.... (update - signed up for July 29- Aug 1st in Washington State - can't wait to see him in person!).

Sunny Day in Malibu Creek.
Did I remember Sunscreen????
I also had a wonderful time returning to the hills of Malibu Creek State Park last week.  My excellent students Fen and Raymond joined me along with Karen, their buddy for a warm ride to the top of the mountain.  We had some adventures - went by the MASH film site, and climbed in the blazing sun to the top for a mountain view.  It was in the 90's and the breeze up there was good.  We took a wrong turn on the way down though and ended up what Chuck Peterson calls "tube locked" on the edge of cliff.  Had to climb back up and go back the way we came.  Note to self?  Bring twice the water you think you need.
My Most Improved Student, Fen.
Riding Magic with grace and elan!
She's an excellent personal trainer at Equinox in Pasadena
My new friend Karen.
I love the new buffalo hide saddle!
Thanks Karen - come and join me on the trail again...

We were so thirsty by the time we got back that we turned to strangers.  Karen even asked one young man for a sip from his fountain drink!  The look on his face was priceless, but she was serious, and he was a gentleman, so he turned it over and she slugged it back.  "Sorry, but thanks, I was dyin'!"  I saw two guys in the parking lot wheeling a big cooler and asked if they were heading home.  When they said yes, I asked if there was anything to drink left in the cooler and Hoorah!  They had icy cold water that we chugged like Clint Eastwood in one of those sweaty old westerns.  Best drink of my life!

Raymond riding Moonlight and Karen on Magic.
Both Karen and Raymond made generous donations to my travel fund that day, and Karen gave me an incredible buffalo hide vaquero style saddle.  It fits Moonlight perfect!  Thanks so much to both of you for helping my dreams to come true.  I hope you'll join me on the trail again anytime you can.  Next time we'll make sure to have plenty of water, right?

OK.  Here's the first near disaster story:

As I was leaving the park, the fellow that had given us water came running alongside to point out that the trailer door was open and the Midnight and Magic were running down the road, chasing the trailer.  I stopped and loaded them all up again, but how did this happen?  I'll just make it simple.  I didn't double check the closure on the door.  The pin was in, but not through the whole clasp.  It came open.

Nobody got hurt, but my angel are letting me know to be more complete in my "road Check", and from now on, I not only put in the pin, but tie the door shut with a lead rope for a second safety check.  The humor of course is that they ran after me, "What?  DON'T LEAVE US!" expressions on their faces.  Good grief, I shudder to think what might have happened if I'd pulled onto the freeway...

Luckily, everyone was safe.

4th of July Parade
Riding my Zorse!
Then came the fourth of July Parade.  16 Riders from the stable rode a few blocks to participate in the Pepper Street Parade.  Everyone put a lot of effort into grooming their horses and themselves and darling, we did look fabulous! My own horse I painted to look like a zebra, and people actually believed it!  What a gas. There are many photos on Facebook of this event, but here are a few of my own:

Preparing for the Pepper Street Parade, July 4th 2011

My buddy Paul.
There are not enough beers in the world to thank him for everything he's done for me:
Food, Lodging, organized my tack room, fixed my truck bed cover, stored my stuff, washed my clothes,
ran support wagon on the PCT, and on and on and on.
And just being my friend would have been more than enough.

You are the man Paul.  Much love to you!
My Darling Donna.

Words can never describe how much this woman's friendship means to me.
Her grace and beauty and loving care surrounds me even when I'm far away.
The best wish I can give to anyone is that they would have a friend like Donna.
With Paul, she gives to the world in amazing and selfless ways.
Her art, her love, her gentle kindness folds over everyone in her sphere.
I intended to stay 3 days, and spent 3 months because I could not get enough.
Thank you for all your amazing gifts of the heart my dear!

I love you more than you can ever imagine!

When I left LA, I stopped in Castaic, to visit my new friend Henry, who has an empty corral and a spare bedroom.  More important, he has a great personality and is fun to visit with, so I spent the night on my way north - thinking I was heading to the Sierra.
My friend Henry, and my lover, Jackson.

While there, I got online and read an email from my sponsor, John, at EponaShoe.  He invited me to participate in the filming of a professional video to promote the fabulous Eponashoe.  How could I say no?  They have thus far been my only sponsor, and have been rock solid there for me on my unfolding journey.  So I changed the plan, and headed to Chacuma Lake instead, in the general direction of Pasa Robles, where the headquarters for EponaShoe is located.  The filming doesn't take place until Thursday July 14th, so I have some time for more exploration in the area.
Magic and Midnight on the Beach in Goleta

I decided to stop in the lovely town of Santa Paula to buy horse feed.  I stopped first at a Mexican Cowboy Clothing store to ask for info, and saw the most beautiful boots of my life.  Hecho in Mexico.  Leathers of Sting Ray (my favorite), crocodile, snakeskin, ostrich, in a rainbow of colors.  I tried several pairs on, but the styles weren't quite right, so I got directions to the feed store and made myself leave the boots alone.

I found the feed store on 12th street to be well stocked and the fellows there very helpful.  I bought feed (this time Purina Equine Senior), special shampoo for Moonlight, and a couple of 110 pound bales of hay.  All set!

My plan was to head to Santa Ynez, to visit the Om El Arabian ranch, where Moonlight (aka Om El Akhiel) was born.  I spoke to Janina, (pronounced Yah-nee-na) and got an invitation to visit this fabulous ranch!  Check it out for photos of Moonlight's relatives:

One of the many fine stallions at Om El International

Janina was friendly and welcomed me to bring Akhiel "home" to visit and to meet his cousins.  They were hosting a Chinese delegation coming to see the horses that day however and she suggested the next day would be a better time.  She suggested I might be able to camp at Cachunga Lake, but when I arrived there, the ranger told me that while there were trails to ride, no horse camping was available.

He directed me back to Rancho Oso, where we had all camped in April.  I arrived there in late afternoon, after climbing a very steep hill outside Santa Barbara.  I had to stop 3 times to let the truck cool down.  The horses did fine, and the four of them ride very well in my 3 horse trailer.

When I got to the gate, I discovered I had lost my wallet.  The gatekeeper was so gracious - he let me in anyway and allowed me to camp by the river.  I met very nice people, including Anika and her mom, and Lela - a female LAPD sergeant who rode the trails with me all day, and showed me a great place to swim in the river.  I will have to blog again later and add photos though - I just have to get going!  The beach is calling...

Quick summary of the rest of the crazy stuff?

My wallet was found in Santa Paula, at the feed store.  I left Rancho Oso with a promise to send them a check.  By the way - that is an awesome place to camp and ride with horses.  Swimming pool, cabins, tent spots, arenas, rental horses!  Check it out!

I camped last night at the Sespe Trailhead.  Just as beautiful as the last time I was there...The horses enjoyed a huge corral and I slept in the open on top of the truck as it was 75 degrees and the stars were a shining carpet above me.

This morning I drove through Ojai (I may want to live there one day - LOVE that town!) on my way back to Santa Paula to retrieve my wallet.

I stopped at the ranger's station for info, and as I pulled out of the driveway, the trailer came off the ball on the hitch and I had to drag the trailer with all four horses across the street, gouging the blacktop for about 20 feet.  I was sure I had wrecked the hitch, as the whole thing was nosedived into the pavement.  I went back in the ranger station and the nice lady working there called a tow company who arrived in about 4 minutes.   Christian became my savior of the day, and in no time had everything operational again.  The bottom line?  The ball on the hitch was too small, and I have been driving with it for thousands of miles this way.  Christian drove me over to the Napa Auto Parts store and I got a new ball and now I'm safe.  It freaks me out that it could have popped off anywhere, but my darling angels made sure that it happened in town, in a location where sweet Christian could help me out.  Go figure.  Scary stuff though.  It's a good reminder of all the risk we take on and how important it is to be double checking on everything.  I had no idea that ball was too small....
Christian checks out the situation.  Not good.
Notice the gouge in the street from the hitch?
Near Disaster...

Hero of the day.  Christian came to the rescue and had me back on the road
with a safe new ball hitch in under 30 minutes.  $50.00 - what a deal!
Thanks Christian!

Ok, that's it for now - I'll have a lot more to add next time.  On the agen

Friday, July 1, 2011

Malto the Amazing PCT Hiker

Here is a link to one of the PCT hikers I met in Warner Springs:

 His trail nickname is Malto, because he consumes 8000 cals a day, often including Maltodextrin for a portion of the calories.  He is a lightweight speed hiker - often hiking 30 mile days, carrying a very light pack of only about 10 pounds of gear.  Imagine hiking in wilderness with only 10 pounds of gear!

One of the strongest hikers on the PCT this year, he plans to hike the whole almost 2700 miles in 100 days, and by golly, it looks like he'll make it!  Despite grueling conditions in the high Sierra and near death adventures, he is pretty much on schedule.  His journal is amazing to read - check it out.  He writes clear, short, daily entries, some of which are death defying feats.  One day recently he was lifted off his feet in swift water in the Sierras and had to swim for his life in the freezing water.  Quite the stories, and makes it very clear that the PCT is no place to be with horses in the high country this year of record snows.  See how it all works out?

I hope to hook up with Malto when I get up North and find the PCT again in horse friendly parts.  Best wishes to you my friend!  We're all rooting for you!

Hope to see you later this summer Malto!
Back at Warner Springs when I met Malto....
This is the Magnificant Mario - a trail angel who provided us with a place to stay on the way out of Warner Springs.
What a sweetheart!  And providing help to hikers even though he had fallen off a roof and could barely
walk with his own injuries.  I enjoyed fresh boiled eggs for breakfast from the chickens in his coop.  Malto
also met Mario and enjoyed a stay at the Hiker's shack.
Tending the wounds and poor hooves on poor Moonlight.
This was the day outside of Anza when we realized he wouldn't make it any further.
He wasn't in condition for the PCT, but one day, he will be!
I predict by the end of this summer he will be in the best condition of any of my herd.
I am fully committed to helping him be the healthiest, strongest, and most fit he can be.
He was born to be a strong athlete, and deserves to be loved and cared for.
Neither one of us deserved to be deserted on the trail, and it gives us a special bond.
 I will make sure he makes a better than full recovery, and he is now my life partner.
Stay tuned - Moonlight will be a shining star!
Maggie at rest on the highline in our last PCT camp for awhile.
We will be back on the trail July 5th.
She does well because she knows how to rest when she has the chance.
She is one of the loves of my life.