Weekend Update

(Doesn’t that title just bring you back to the days of your youth when SNL was funny? Or at least when you were young and THOUGHT SNL was funny?)

In no particular order:

  1. Dixie is on strike from beet pulp.  I am refusing to negotiate with terrorists.  Well, ok, I’m negotiating to the extent that she gets a much higher % of hay pellets and a much lower % of beet pulp… for now.  :ominous glare at horse:
  2. G has rented a fabulous house for us in Daly City.  It’s huger than we need, it costs a bazillion dollars, but most importantly:  pets ok.  Yahoo!  Move in on the 19th.
  3. I have someone coming to look at renting this house on Tuesday.  Fingers crossed!
  4. My unspeakably fabulous purple and blue fringed half chaps have arrived.  No, you may not see pictures now.  You must wait for ride pics.
  5. I have been doing yard work pretty much nonstop since Friday and I filled up 21 bags.  Dead tumbleweeds, dead weeds, live baby sagebrush.  Now the yard looks like a barren rockpile instead of a weedy rockpile.  Improvement?  
  6. I haven’t ridden my beast since last Saturday.  Que sera, sera.  I think she’ll be ok.  Hoping to get out for a pleasure cruise with the Cersei-dog tomorrow afternoon.  
  7. I am oddly zen about Washoe.  It appears that I am focusing all my worrying on moving instead.  Hopefully this means we’ll have a delightfully fun 10-hour ride.  
  8. The Former Dr. Seuss room is entirely full of packed boxes, except for enough room to open the door.  The garage is de-junked.  The cat room needs sweeping and scrubbing, and the blue room is now the Other Room of Boxes, but the rest of the house is clean and airy.
That is all.

The Sword of Darwin

I haven’t posted in a while, because everything here alternates between ennui and icky gross ~feelings~ about moving that I don’t want to talk about. But today I killed a spider, and I thought, well, people blog about even sillier stuff than this, why not? Also, there’s precedent.

I am in the minority about spiders in the house. Most people, I think, kill all spiders on sight. But I try to live in peace with spiders. Unlike yellowjackets or cockroaches, spiders have a place in the world. That place is outside, or up in the rafters of a barn, and preferably not inside my house. But if they do come in, they are welcome to stay if they follow a few simple rules.

  1. The spider must be no larger than a quarter (preferably, no larger than a nickel) with all its creepy bitey arms outstretched.
  2. The spider, if it is a web-builder, must create and maintain a web at ceiling level.  Corners are best.  Corners near lights are ideal, so the spider can eat the little bugs that fly in and buzz around the light.
  3. If it is a wolf spider, it must FFFFF STAY THE HELL OFF OF ME.  Nothing makes me scream and do the Spider Dance like a damn nickel-sized wolf spider running across me on the couch.  

The Tub Spider this morning broke all the rules. I first noticed Tub Spider when it was behaving properly – up in the corner of the bathroom ceiling, not too large, chilling out. It seems paradoxical to approve of a spider in the corner of the bathroom ceiling, considering one is often naked in there and the spider could snap and leap upon you at any moment, but think about it: you’ve got all your weapons at hand. If you’re in the shower, the water protects you. If not, you’ve got the makings of a protective Toilet Paper Mitt at hand. And if all else fails and it does go all rabid-dog on you and you panic, there’s something you can squirt at it from the cabinet under the sink. Bathroom spiders are safe spiders.

But this morning the Bathroom Spider had molted, grown to the maximum permissible size of a quarter, and had moved house to spin a web in the tub. No sir.

It should be obvious that I don’t like to kill things, even large uppity spiders. But I consider myself to be acting as the Sword of Darwin. Nature is red in tooth and venomous-fang. Creatures that are evolutionarily unsuited to where they end up get killed. If I kill every spider that migrates from the ceiling corners to the bathtub, eventually over many spider generations I will help create a less-than-quarter-sized species that ONLY lives in the corners of the ceilings. They will eat gnats and mosquitos, thus allowing me – and YOU! – to sleep better at night. I am doing a service for the world.

So I calmly grabbed a dustpan, dispatched the spider, made a small toilet paper glove, and threw it away. I didn’t scream even once.

Now, if I can just keep it together when I have to crawl under the house and turn the swamp cooler water line back on…

25 in Galena: a novel-length post

I cannot figure out what to call this post / this ride. We went up Thomas Creek to the trailhead, then over to Jones/Whites Creek, then over further to Galena Creek Park. So I’m just going to call it the Galena ride!

“You wanna do what?

All these parks are in the foothills of the Sierras, just north of Mt. Rose Highway, southwest of Reno. A short 40 minute trip from my house, and we actually rode out from C’s house! C rode Diego, S rode Taz, I was on Dixie, and despite our best attempts, Jess The Dog busted loose three times to come with us, so C let her come.

We went exploring on the way up – we followed the singletrack along Thomas Creek, then detoured off of that and explored some fire roads, but we couldn’t find a horse-safe way to cross Whites Creek. There were some lovely little trails, but they meandered back and forth across 12″ wide footbridges. So we kept ending up on boring fire roads and eventually made our way west to the trailheads. There’s three trailheads, pretty much in a line running north-south: Galena is the biggest trailhead, with decent trailer parking, just off of Mt. Rose Highway. North of Galena is the little Whites Creek trailhead – good for cars, but not really trailer parking. And maybe a mile north of that is Jones Creek trailhead, which also has trailer parking.

So there’s three major trails that run west from those trailheads, along the three creeks then switchbacking up the ridges. There are shorter north-south connector trails between the three creek trails, and there’s a few spur trails higher up. We rode south, to the Galena trail, and followed it west and up into the mountains. Our plan was to take the trail over the ridge and then follow the Whites Creek trail back down most of the way to that trailhead, then cut north again to Thomas Creek and follow THAT all the way back to C’s. That’s probably clear as mud – it’s so hard to describe!

The first 10 miles were all new to me. We got to the first good water spot at 10 miles, and I vaguely recognized it – I’d hiked part of this trail, a week after we moved out here! I know you will find this hard to believe, but there was a time when I didn’t blog every damn thing I did. 😮 Anyway, here’s some good pictures of the trail from August ’09. A lot of this:
Down the trail

The water spot was a creek crossing, ankle-deep on the horses, with some logs for people to walk across. Dixie didn’t want any water. I didn’t even try to coax her to drink. A ride like that is the perfect opportunity to let her learn from her mistakes – we weren’t going fast enough or far enough for her to REALLY get hurt, metabolically speaking, by not drinking right away.

We tackled the climb to the top of the ridge. About 2 miles of switchbacks, not too steep but certainly not easy. (I sure as hell didn’t hike all the way up it in ’09! Oddly, now that I’ve been here for two+ years, I think there’s plenty of air to breathe, but back then I was gasping just walking across flat ground.) Jess The Dog does not have a firm grasp of the third dimension and was pretty confused by the first couple of switchbacks. Taz would round the hairpin and head on up the trail, then Diego, then Dixie, then Jess would turn around at the hairpin and start back down the trail. I proclaimed her to be The Simple Dog, but after a few switchbacks she figured it out and I had to take it back. She’s the Not So Simple Dog.

S and Mt. Rose

Near the top, there’s a spur trail that leads off to a pond about a mile away, then the main trail continues over onto the north side of the ridge and down to Whites Creek. Dixie was licking her lips and acting pretty regretful on the big climb to the top, so we took the spur toward the pond. There was a little snow patch that the horses calmly squished through, then a slightly bigger snow patch with a hiker on the other side. He said it was only 5 minutes to the pond so we headed across… like dumbasses.

That 50′ of snow on the trail was very quickly belly-deep for the horses. It was Taz in the lead, then Dixie, then Dig, and the horses were too close together – once Taz was committed there was no way to stop Dixie or Dig and turn them around. They went leaping through the snow like giant antelope with us trying to keep them where we thought the trail was and somehow we made it to the clear patch safely. We immediately realized we’d fucked up and decided to turn around, but Diego was having none of it. Every time C turned him to face the snow he was like “oh hell no I’m not going back in THERE” and he’d spin back around to face his buddies. The trail was way too narrow for me to try to squeeze Dixie past a spinning Diego, and I don’t think any of us really wanted to RIDE it again anyway, so we got off. C lead Dig slowly through the snow – slowly, because if you stepped in the horse prints you sank past your knees, and if you stepped on the tops of the snow you sank slowly to your calves.

I followed, trying to keep Dixie on the trail and not get stepped on, and S brought up the rear. She let Taz go when he started leaping, so I let Dixie go as she got panicky, and both horses charged past Dig and C at the end of the snowbank. I grabbed Taz’s lead on his way past me, and S went off at a fast walk toward Dixie. She went about 20′, then changed her mind and came back toward us and I snagged her lead too. GOOD HORSES.

Looking east to Little Washoe Lake

We checked them over. Everybody’s boots stayed on – Dixie had a toe strap undone. Dixie had one nick halfway up her rear left cannon, but that was it. We were so lucky to do such a dumb thing and get away with no injuries.

Since we were at the top of the ridge anyway, we checked the trail heading down the north side, but we almost immediately ran into a tiny patch of snow on the trail and decided OH HELL NO. So back down the switchback, back to the creek crossing, where Dixie decided that the water was DELICIOUS. A loose stray dog, a pack of day trippers, and a guy on a mountain bike weren’t enough to stop her from drinking.

(Another ’09 picture)
No bikes past this point

Dixie led on the way down the steep bit of the trail. She’s got a nice fast downhill walk and she usually watches where she’s going quite well. Except once, where she tripped on a tiny rock and almost went down. I put out a hand on the dirt to roll off (to the right, for once), realized she wasn’t going all the way down, braced everything and leaned back, and up she came again. I sort of shook out my shoulders and thought “did that just happen?”, but yes, it did happen – S and C saw it.

We took the same route back north to Whites Creek, then headed west up the Whites Creek trail toward the cutoff to Dry Pond and Thomas Creek. The signs said 0.7 miles to the Dry Pond turnoff, and we’d gone about 0.6 when we saw some hikers coming down. We asked them how far they’d gone, and they said they’d just turned back at a big tree across the trail and they hadn’t passed the Dry Pond turnoff, so we turned around.

Back down to the paved road, a quarter mile or so to the Thomas Creek trailhead, a stop for a drink in the creek, and we headed down the singletrack along the creek back to C’s house. Once Dixie started drinking, she drank at every opportunity. All the horses enjoyed the early grass. Taz lost a lot of boots going up the switchbacks at high speed, and Dixie lost one for no discernable reason a couple miles from the trailer. We all got pretty sunburned. Jess the Not So Simple Dog was still chasing rabbits at the very end of the ride!

A lovely ride with great company. I got 23 miles on my GPS, but I didn’t start the timer immedidately – S got 24.something on hers. So glad I went!

Like short rides? Go somewhere else.

I posted what yall said – that 20+ people would be interested in short rides – and the mailing lists exploded with hatred for the idea. (And for the record, it wasn’t my idea to begin with, and I’m not a RM so I wouldn’t profit from it!)

I don’t understand the LD hate. 25 mile rides are not endurance. Nobody inside the sport currently tries to say they are. (Maybe they did in the past?)

The thing is, I don’t see it as a zero-sum game. If I spent the next 20 years doing nothing but LDs, that’s not going to decrease the accomplishment of anyone else’s 20 years of doing 50s, or 20 years of doing multidays, or 20 years of doing 100s, or 20 years of FEI racing. But that’s not how many, many people in AERC see it. They insist that LDs are a threat to the very foundation of endurance. Shorter rides are the barbarians at the gate.

What gets me is that those same people say they’re deeply concerned with the decline in membership. Apparently they only want new members who are committed to riding 50s on Arabians. I was so excited to try endurance ON MY HORSE. Doing it with the horse I already had, in the breed I preferred, was a huge draw for me. Knowing that if we couldn’t hack it at Real Endurance ™, we could still participate in the lower levels of the sport in LD rides was the icing on the cake. I totally fell for the bullshit about “almost any horse of almost any breed can complete 50s.”

If the only real goal of the sport is riding 50s, and my horse can’t do 50s, am I no longer welcome?

I’m not giving up, but I’m really disillusioned. The furious posters I read today are not the endurance riders I’ve come to know online and in Nevada. Maybe the other Nevada riders DO feel that way, but they’re nice to my face. I’ll tell you this much: I vote with my wallet. I didn’t like that FEI ride and I won’t go back. If I go to a ride I haven’t been to before and get the feeling that LDs or non-Arabs are second class citizens, I won’t go back. But I will keep going to rides. I will keep riding my own ride, and when I finish, I will have won. That’s the motto, and until they change it, I’m living it.

Hopefully this is the most emo blog post I’ll ever put up!

I hate blogger so much, or, where’d my comment go?

I’ve had comment moderation on, ever since the Russian spammers found me a year ago. In that time I have blissfully accepted like a bazillion comments and “marked as spam” like 100. Until tonight. When I clicked over to blogger and clicked the check box and clicked the button next to it and DELETED FIFTY DAMN COMMENTS aarrrgggghhh. There was no “are you sure” confirmation box. There was no “deleted 50 comments, did you fuck up? undo?” box. Just gone. I “rebuilt” them from the comment notification emails I get – if you’re subscribed to the last three-four posts I put up, you’ve gotten a lot of emails about it. But if you’re reading this months later: no, I didn’t go on a comment deletion/reinsertion spree. I just pushed the wrong button.

Google, I can’t believe you did me like that. I may have to break up with you. First the horrible unreadable word verification, then the two-“word” verification, and now you ate 50 comments? I hate you.

Posted in nhr