Monday, August 25, 2014

Week 33

Only 19 more weeks and the year will be over and I will go back to random posts and not this weekly post thingy.  I think I will enjoy looking back over the year, weekbyweek, but I find it difficult to make the posts somewhat meaningful.  It is likely to just turn into, 'I did this, we did that, yada, yada, yada.'

Well, the biggest highlight of this week was this little dog going backpacking with us.

 (I kind of hate that it usurps our photographer friend's visit.  But it did.  Check out his work here.  He travels the globe in search of beauty.)

Yep,  our girl Shadow takes the cake this week. (Not the pickles I made or the one new calf.)   Shadow is just so darn cute out on the trail.   It was her second time on an overnighter although we have taken her on countless day hikes. She loves to run and scale straight up huge granite rocks. She is tireless.  She is like a ninja with super power strength. 

She's always a good girl and returns quickly to a whistle, but most of the time she just jets ahead a bit and then comes back to check on us.  But not on Saturday.

I thought this was her last photo.  Ever!!!
Just after I shot this she went missing.  Disappeared.  I whistled after about a minute or two  of not seeing her on the trail.  And then whistled again, and again.  We hollered.  We listened.  Nada.   We looked for her little footprints and didn't find any up the trail.    Mark thought that maybe she ran off trail and got her collar or bandana snagged and couldn't make noise, or heaven forbid, was dead.  Choked to death or broke her neck.  Egads!  What a way to go.  
 We began searching the heavy brush besides the trail in the location  of her last footprints.  We searched and searched through the brambles.  My legs began to bleed, but I thought I heard her whimpering and continued on.  We must have looked pretty ridiculous to the group of guys that came by.  Mark told them our plight.  They said they'd keep an eye out for her on up the trail. 
We didn't think there was anyway she went on up the trail.  We have covered a lot of miles with this little dog and we trusted her.  We were convinced. She always came back.  We were sure if she did go ahead she would backtrack when she realized she lost us.  We kept looking , I cried a bit and realized it was a hopeless search.  After 2 hours of choking she would be dead and didn't need us anymore.   
Then a new thought entered my head.  What if she wasn't dead?  She would need us.  What if she did something unusual,  out of character?   What if she went ahead or went back to our previous night's camp?  Hope entered my heart and a plan was made. 
 Mark was to go ahead to the next lake and I began backtracking.   Our plan was to meet up at dark at the trail junction.   
One little dog in a huge wilderness.  I prayed for a little miracle.  Mark says he did the same, but he really thought she was a goner. 

It felt good to be doing something besides climbing through brush and I strided up the trail,  whistling periodically.  After about 30 minutes I hear someone calling my name and a sweat drenched Mark appears.  He met a man coming down from the lake  and Shadow was there howling like a coon dog.  
Mark and I both took off running back up the trail towards our little dog.  We wanted to hurry in case she left that place and ventured further into the unknown.  It was tough.  Mark quickly pulled ahead of me.  The trail climbed about 1000 feet in a couple miles and it was midday and hot. There was very little tree cover.  I had to keep reminding myself to drink little sips of water.  My shirt became drenched and I started worrying a bit about Mark.  Would he go too fast and get heat exhaustion? By the time I reached these sheer granite slabs I was moving at a crawl and decided to shoot a photo.  My adrenaline was depleted.
  I eventually reached a little stream and met up with the guys we met earlier.  They said they had seen her and tried to catch her, but she was freaked out and FAST! 
I kept following the rock cairns, on this trail that is labeled a scramble, and eventually came to the lake and found Mark and Shadow.  We were all exhausted and jumped into the lake with our clothes on.  And then we crashed. 

Mark told me how it took nearly 30 minutes for her to calm down enough to come to him.  She kept howling and hiding behind rocks.  I didn't even know she knew how to howl.  Mark sat still and talked softly and slowly she came closer, peeking around the boulders as she progressed.  Eventually, he said, she caught a good whiff of him and leaped joyfully into his lap giving him little dog kisses all over his face. 
Apparently our little dog isn't too smart and we gave her more freedom than she could handle. 
One couple camping at the lake, said she arrived at about the same time a bear and cubs did.  Perhaps she followed their scent trail, as we did see bear tracks along the way.  Perhaps she had difficulty following her scent trail back as she was wearing all 4 mutt luck booties for the first time.  We will never know.  We were just glad that we found her.  All's well that ends well.

And she spent the rest of our trip on a leash.  As her owner/friend it's my responsibility to watch out for the little simple minded, neurotic dear.  ( I always joke that we are twin sisters of different mothers.)   
 I just can't trust her to stay with us anymore.  I grieved that loss for a while hiking along some beautiful trail and thought about human relationships and how important it is to keep trust intact.  It is hard to rebuild  and never the same once its been broken. 
On another note, to add insult to injury. 
She got attacked by a big dog when we hiked out.  I kept her out of reach of the deadly jaws by swinging her around on the leash.  Eventually Mark flanked the dog and the owner told his dog that "her behavior was unacceptable".  Yea.  Right.  I told him to get a leash.   
 Then when we got home, Shadow jumped out of the car all giddy only to be attacked by one of the cats that had wandered in and had kittens while we were gone.  
The little dear spent most of today in our bed asleep.  


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Week 32

Our week was sweet. We ate a lot of corn. You gotta love a summer garden.

Today the Southern Humboldt Technical Team (ropes and rescue) had training at the falls.

They spent the whole day in training and finished it with a bit of recreating.  They created a rope swing from the long line they had set up across the bottom pool.  Mark gave it a go first and got a nasty rope burn.  A knot was added to the rope and all was good. 

Life is good.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Week 31

A fairly calm week and then a whirlwind weekend.  Still on the road heading home as I finger type this on my iphone.

Mark worked off the ranch part of the week and fought more thistles and hauled more hay on the ranch.  

I got the privilege of introducing our friends' 11year old grandson to horses.  He ended up coming out to the ranch 3 times to ride.   We had fun.

We also got invited to his family's lobster feast overnighted from Maine.  I'm allergic but Mark sure enjoyed them.

Some of the sunsets this past week were exceptional because of all the fires raging in the area.

Mark had Friday off and our weekend began. 

Left our home early Friday morning with a coastal fog river blowing through.

Heading south on the 101 we entered thick smoke from the Lodge fire.  Oh boy, the acrid smell brought back bitter memories of the fire on the ranch in 2003. We toured through the wine country and across farmland to my sister's place near Sacramento.   We had a fun filled Friday with her and her husband. 

Saturday had us heading up to Lake Tahoe to do a shuttle service for backpacking friends.  The mountains were lovely and the conversation sweet.

After dropping them off at their car at Ebbetts Pass, we drove down the mountains and eventually into the small, historic town of Jamestown where we browsed the shops and did a wine tasting.

It was fun being road trippin tourists with the music loud and the sunroof open.  We were cruising.

Rolling through the now golden foothills of the mighty Sierra mountains. 

We ended our day at our son's house in the San Joaquin Valley, the bread basket of California.  Flat ground, fields of green and blue sky.

This morning we enjoyed playing with our grandson Zane. Later, we stopped by Mark's folks house and had a nice visit.    His dad recently had surgery, but was in good spirits despite the pain.  

Now we still have a long tour north.   Up the big valley, then across San Franscisco Bay, through the vineyards, then the smoke and redwoods and up the hill to home.   Mark has work in the morning and another week will begin. 

Gratitude for time and family and strong coffee.  Lots of strong coffee ahead as we are both tired and have about 6 hours of driving to go.  

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Week 30

It was one of those days that lingers.  On and on.  It's hot.  Really hot, even hot in the shade.  It seems like we don't get much done.

We oversleep and then laze around in the hot tub reading blogs and news. Mark is off from his "off the ranch" job so he goes to cut firewood and I work in the garden. 

Friends come by with their grandkids and Mark leads a quad tour of the place.  I pull weeds and annual flowers long past their prime.  I wonder if the flowers thought they were done too, all dried up in the sun with most of their seeds already fallen into the soil.  I think the quad riders must be hot and dusty and probably ready to be done as well.   They've been gone a long time.  I hear the roar of engines and soon we are all in the house choosing from iced tea, Gatorade or ice water.  The 11 year old and myself choose the  Gatorade.  Seems fitting.  We chat.  It is cool in our house.  The walls are thick and with the new windows in place it stays comfortable.  It was 105 yesterday and it never got over 80 in the house. Cool.  The friends leave after it is decided that the 11 year old will come back and ride horses tomorrow.   I sit in my granny's old rocker and read while sipping another Gatorade.  Love the kool aid style sweetness.  My granny always made me kool aid in the summer.  I still have the pitcher she made it in. 

I call the TSC store where we have some livestock panels on order.  They tell me they have lots now, so we decide to drive the hour to  pick them up so we can finish the corrals.  The truck won't start.  The battery is dead.  We hook up the jumper cables to the land cruiser and I pull out my book and read from the passenger seat.  Darn truck still won't start.  Eventually it turns over, must have just been really dead.  We head down the road and it's hot in the truck as the fan is broken.  Windows down and hot breeze stirs the dust.  Mark keeps looking at his gages. We are a few miles from home and he says that the batteries aren't charging.  We pull into a driveway and turn the trailer and truck around and head back up the hill to home.  We don't want to be stranded in Fortuna town.  I go back in the house with my book and Mark goes online to try and troubleshoot the truck's  problem.  Eventually he calls around looking for an alternator.  Finds one.  Then he thinks to call the local diesel mechanic who has helped him over the phone before.  He does again.  Turns out it is the regulator that is inside the computer.  After a hard shut down of the truck's computer (disconnect the batteries and put the wires together or something like that)everything is working fine and we are off to town again.  We just have time to get to the store before it closes.

They don't have the panels.  Well, they have one.  Mark is a little upset. Only a little.  Apparently there was some miscommunication on the phone.  Oh well.  Then a man who works there comes up to us and has an attitude to Mark and without thinking I say loudly, "Hey, watch your attitude!"  I shock myself.   I've done this a few times with Mark .  He always just smiles at me and says that I have his back.  The man, who is the assistant manager quickly changes his attitude and we load up the one panel and are told they will call us soon when the others come in.  Alrighty then.  Other friends from town text and invite us to dinner.  Tuna.  Yum.  We load up their kayak for them to take to another friend's private campground.  We notice a sweet sewer smell as we get out of our truck.  Weird.  We hang out around a campfire and talk story. 

Later, under a cover of stars, we stop by our post office  to pick up our mail.  Mark notices that the alternator isn't charging again, so he keeps the truck running while I go in.  Wow.  Sewer smell is really strong.  It  must be from Miranda town.  Yuck.  It kind of burns my eyes as I walk in front of the truck.  Quickly I get the mail and we head up the hill to home.  The neighbor's have locked the black gate so I have to  get out of the truck to unlock it.  Whew!!! The sewer smell has followed us.  Of course it isn't the sewer at all, it is our battery boiling over.  Yikes.  Mark decides we will just book it up the hill to our ranch.  So away we go.  It is actually much smoother when you only hit the tops of the holes.  We park next to the hose at our house and Mark quickly waters the batteries down as I go to close up the hen house.  Mark discovers that we also had a connection problem on battery number two, and were only charging battery number one.

We open the house windows and a cool breeze comes in.  It's almost 11 pm.  We go to bed.   

It may not have been a 'perfect' day, but it was still good. 

Our back yard