Monday, June 30, 2008


I am not sure why, but my posts posted in the wrong order. The first one is supposed to be the last one, and the last one is supposed to be the first one, so if you get confused while reading them, that would be why!

...And Now For the Grand Finale!!!

I promised you some muscle, so here is some muscle! I wanted to get some pictures of Brad with the other "really hot guys" of the log show, but I didn't want to look like some kind of groupie! Don't ask me what Brad was doing here, but I think that it is the same relay that I have pics of Eric doing last week. Remember though, that Eric had a plastic chainsaw, and in this pic you will notice that Brad has a REAL--and running!!--one.Again, these loggers amaze me! For this event, they stand on a really thick section of wood, and chop away at it as hard as they can. Brad does well at these upper-body-strength events, because he has some big guns! I do not know how they do not chop their feet off...I probably would (lol)!Go Brad, go!! Look at that sawdust flying! Amber will probably KILL me, but I had to post this picture of her. Doesn't she kind of resemble Katie in her baseball pics? They both have that same "lost" look...hee hee hee!!! In Amber's defense, she was scanning the stands for bids, while they were auctioning off some items.
One last pic of Brad and his beloved "hot saw."
So the results are in--I double checked in with Trailblazer Martha to make sure I did not post the wrong info this time (lol)! --and Brad, along with Martha's son, tied for fifth place, out of 62 guys, for All Around Logger. Not bad boys, not bad at all!!!

Ma and Pa Double Bucking

It's during times like these, that I wish my camera had a better "zoom!" Amber was able to partner up with Brad this year, for the Ma and Pa double bucking event. It looks and sounds kind of easy, but-- you guessed it!!--it's really hard to successfully accomplish with another person...especially when that other person outweighs you by 80-100 pounds!
Right after they got going, their saw jumped out of its track, and they had to quickly reset it. Here you can see Amber smiling while Brad was probably going " Hurry up and get your side of the saw back in!!! They succeeded in getting in back in, and they finished with huge grins on their sweaty...I mean silly, faces. I was trying to shoot this picture from across the arena, and it did not work very well, but here we have Trailblazer Martha and her hubby competing in the Ma and Pa double bucking event. They are REALLY good at it, and they ended up placing 3rd out of 22 teams. Way to go!!!! I am not sure where Brad and Amber placed...probably somewhere in the middle:)

You Might Be a Redneck If...

...Your local town's parade consists of about 45 minutes worth of watching loaded log trucks, dump trucks, flatbed trailers, and fire trucks full of kids, slowly parade down Main Street!!!! I know, I know...kind of hokey, but it is fun:) My point and shoot camera is so slow, that I was not able to get a pic of Eric on the fire truck, but here is Katie--with her usual,big, smile!--waving at someone from the back of the antique fire truck.Here is a pic of one of the loaded flatbed trailers after it went through the parade. When the parade is over, all of the various equipment parks out by the highway--causing a HUGE traffic jam from all of the Lookie Lous!--and you are then able to walk around and look at it. I never did make it back over there...oh well. This is some kind of log grabbing, limb stripping, machine. My husband will probably chastise me for not remembering its name:)
Similar to a traditional rodeo, the loggers rodeo has a rodeo clown. This year was the first year for Timber the Clown, as Gyppo, the longstanding rodeo clown, retired last year. We were standing in line to get lunch, when I looked up and saw him perched way up in the tree above us.... for the opening ceremony, the clown zip-lines down into the arena for a tree. I did not realize it at the time, but Timber was looking down and waving at us. "Hi Timber!" He was probably wondering who the gorgeous, blonde, model was (LOL), that was taking his picture. "I didn't know that Heidi Klum came to the log show," he was thinking to himself!These guys make this look so easy! Don't you all wish that you could climb up and down a tree like Spiderman???This long-legged fella happens to be Trailblazer Martha's son, as he is descending in the 88 degree heat. It was REALLY warm during the log show, and I do not know how the poor contestants did not all drop dead from heat exhaustion! I was out in the sun form 9:00-6:30 on Saturday, and I now look like a lobster.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Watchful Eye

Everything that we do around here, is under the watchful eye of Mt. Rainier. Alot of natives to this area--including my husband!!--wonder why I would ever want to leave this place, with its humidity, mold, and hem...I mean its mountains, rivers, and woods!!! The mountain is beautiful to look at, but when we had a rather significant earthquake, about seven years ago, the first thing I did was to run outside and see if the mountain was erupting...and I wonder why the horses are so paranoid (lol)!The scary thing about living in a valley beneath the foothills, is that when/if the mountain does erupt, the resulting mud flow will come rushing down several of the glacier fed rivers--like the ones my previous posts!!--and kill us all...I mean cause a lot of damage!!
It is a beautiful sight though, and I feel blessed to be able to see it on a daily basis; when it is not raining, or just chronically overcast, as is frequently is around here. To give you an idea of how close we are to this monster...I mean the "crow flies," it is about 42-50 miles away.
The above picture was taken on the cross/side street next to ours. We live on a dead end street, that has a big patch of trees, which block most of our view during the summer months. There are those darn trees getting in my way again:) We can see most of it in the fall and winter...when there are no clouds that is!!
On another note...I spent ALL day at the logger's rodeo yesterday, so stay tuned for some pics of my big, bad, brother-in-law!!

Friday, June 27, 2008

I Just Figured Out How To Add a Title...After It Has Been Posted!

Yesterday, I took the kids for our first ride without another adult, and I was actually riding with them...Yeahhhhh!!! We only rode for about 45 minutes, and we stayed off the trails, because I do not think that either of my kids are experienced enough, as riders, to expose them to the possible hazards that we encounter on the trails around here; mainly motorcycles, quads, and the occasional elk herd. I do not worry about Bo, as he is a seasoned trail horse, but Sienna has been a cart pony her whole life, and I really do not know how she would be in a tricky situation with a rider on her back. She is really good on trails though, because Amber has always ponied her out with the big boys. It was pretty warm yesterday afternoon, and while the horses were happy to see us, they also looked tired and sleepy form the sun. They were all hanging out around the water trough, and Bo seemed to be saying, "You have GOT to be kidding me!" as Eric walked toward him with the halter is his hand.Waska actually posed--somewhat!!--for the camera, and you can at least see his non-pissed off look here. Because they had not eaten since breakfast, the kids and I let everyone out to eat grass while we brushed them.Who's that little cowboy out there? Eric looks really tall in this picture, don't those of you who know him think? Or maybe Bo looks really small...I guess it could go either way:)Here is Waska looking happy again. Uh oh! He might give away his true persona if he keeps this up! Everyone will know what a big softy he is! By the way, those are NOT Waska's ribs in the picture. It must have been the way the sun was reflecting off of his coat. It looks like he has tiger stripes! Waska is really long and lean's that Saddlebred coming out again! It looks weird to be taking pictures of Bo's hiney, as I am usually riding him and taking pictures of Waska's! Waska was unsure of the sound of the shutter on the camera---you can tell by his ears--and he actually stopped and turned around to look at me.
"Whatcha' doin' back there Mel?" Waska asked me. Honestly, he did!
Bo, being the piggy that he is, quickly took advantage of Waska's stand still, and drug Eric over to a big patch of grass...he knows he can get away with that when there is an eight year old on his back!
Thankfully, we arrived home in one piece, and I snapped a pic of Eric as he was removing his helmet. I still do not know how I feel about helmets, because I rode for over 20 years without one, but now that I am a mom, and my husband is a volunteer firefighter who has seen ALOT of trauma, and insists that we all wear them, I do. Eric wants to get into roping and reining, and my husband and I argue about wearing helmets in competition...although when I used to ride huntseat and dressage, I always wore a helmet. I don't know...the jury is still out on that one!I snapped this one of Bo, because I thought he looked cute. Poor Bo, he is NOT very photogenic, but neither am I, so I totally understand looking goofy in pictures! For those of you who have not seen Bo since Amber had him five years ago, can you believe how white and how flea-bitten he is? Look at his cute, fuzzy forelock too. Bo NEVER had a cute, fluffy forelock, or long, thick mane, before. It's probably because he was never groomed!! I love you anyway BO...I don't care if you are not the most beautiful Arab around!!! One day, I will have to share the story about how Amber leased Bo. I will also have to open up about my "soul mate" horse--Hi Pony Girl!--Shadest (pronounced Shuhdest). Well, I am off to help my husband set up the pool, and then Amber and I are going riding...Yeah!!!! Tomorrow is the big log show, so I will get some pics from that as well. Hope you all have a happy Friday:)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Biking and Hiking

We have had a really fun and busy first week of no school, with bike riding, hiking, and horseback riding. You know the old railroad tracks that I occasionally mention riding on in my posts? This is what it looks like through town, where it is maintained by the county. You can still ride your horses on it, as there is a small, dirt path on either side of the pavement. We will often ride our bikes, walk, run, or roller blade along the paved part. See how versatile we are? I wonder what kind of horses we would be if we were horses...does that even make any sense?The kids and I like to ride our bikes down to the flume and play in a small creek/wetland area, that is caused by run-off from the flume. There are lots of frogs and salamanders there, and this time of year, there are also lots of tadpoles. In case any of you are wondering what a flume is, it is a man-made tunnel/creek--at least around here!!-- where water is diverted from the river and is directed into a giant lake. It is all tied in to the local power company somehow, but it gives me a headache to even think of how, so I am not going to :)Looks like we are not the only family that has been down here. I should mention that besides frogs and stuff, there are also lots of deer, elk, and eagles...probably bears and cougars too!! Now I am starting to sound like Waska! Tee hee!
We forgot to bring something to aid in catching the tadpoles, and here you can laugh at...I mean see, the kids while they were desperately trying to catch the elusive tadpole. There are literally hundreds of the little suckers, but they are fast, and the kids came up empty handed every time. Just so you can see what it looks like, here is a picture of the flume. In other areas, it looks more like a giant irrigation ditch that runs through peoples fields, and behind their houses.
...And here is the mighty river were the flume begins. This is actually a picture of the fish ladder--for the spawning salmon--but it looks like it did not do so well during the floods this past fall/winter.We decided to go for a nice hike this morning, and we are lucky to have a great trail/mini mountain nearby, which is perfect for a quick hike. There are three--well actually, there are more, but we do not usually hike them--main trails that you can use to get up this mini mountain. Because it was really warm out, we chose one that is not to difficult, and that has a lot of shade. Here the kids are about 1/2 way up.Eric always has to walk/run up this old fallen log. It makes him feel "cool;"to cool to be seen with his mom and his sister!I love how the old roots make "steps" up the mountain. If you look close, you can see Katie quickly disappearing up the trail...why am I always the last one?I don't know why the kids are still smiling here, but they are! Anyone who has hiked this trail, knows how tiring it can be. It's basically a series of switchbacks that run straight up the mountain for a little over a mile. Doesn't sound to hard you say? Try it!We also went riding today, but I have to go make dinner. I will post pics from that later!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I Stand Corrected!

Last night Amber came over, and while reading my blog, noticed that I mentioned Brad (her hubby!) as once holding the esteemed title of "All Around Logger." "Brad was never dubbed an All Around Logger," she said matter-of-factly to me. In my defense, she admitted to telling me that he is thinking about going for All Around Logger this year. I knew that I was putting the two together for some reason!
Tonight, Trailblazer Martha also e-mailed me to let me know my error as well...sorry you guys! :) It seems that Brad has just been dubbed one of the BEST looking loggers around!!! (lol!)
Eewww...kind of gross! He is my brother-in-law after all! I will have to post a pic of him competing in one of his events and let you decide for yourself.
Also worth mentioning....Trailblazer Martha competes in an event with her hubby, and one of her sons is going for his eighth straight win in the speed climbing event. You remember those 75 foot poles? He literally flies up them!
Good luck you guys!

Lions and Tigers and Bears...Oh My!!!

Amber and I got to go on two lovely and wonderful rides this past weekend. I was so excited to actually be on the back of a horse, and to not be shooting pictures from the ground up, and Amber was happy to be out riding with an adult too--remember she has her step-daughter over right now. She is great though--hi Cheyenne !--but not an experienced rider, so Amber has had to curtail her riding a bit to accommodate that. Take that kidlets!!!! We got to run with the wind in our like we were on the heals of a storm...well, maybe run like we were being chased by a bear or a cougar, which is what I think the horses were thinking!!!
OK, back to the main story. Sorry! Little did I know--so much for my smugness about being on horseback!--but on our ride on Friday evening, we would spend quite a bit of our time dismounted and investigating the trail ahead. We decided to check out a five to seven mile part of an old railroad track, that was recently cleared to a small footpath, for some relay runners two weeks ago. This trail runs alongside a creek, and Amber had heard that there were some washouts and difficult places to navigate, so her and Cheyenne actually walked some of it earlier in the day, to make sure it was safe to take the horses on. She also heard that a local "backcountry" horsemen, had recently followed it down to the small town where the trail becomes maintained by the county, and that there were some "icky" areas, but that he was able to get through on his horses. Hmmm...we would see about THAT!
I had to take this picture of Sienna's beard for my family. Sienna always has a beard, until at least July, unless you clip it off. Even when she was younger! She is a little miffed at me here, because I shut the gate in her pushy little face. She wants to go out and eat lots of grass, so that she can founder...she never has foundered, but that is because we know about piggy little ponies! Poor thing. I understand the need to eat large amounts of food too!

For some reason, Waska always looked pissed off in pictures. He is actually a really expressive horse, and he always looks at you when you talk to him...unless you have a camera. He looks really thrilled to be going out for a ride, doesn't he?
The horses were both quite on edge along this trail, and I have a feeling that it was because we were in prime bear and cougar country. Waska's eyes were bugged out the WHOLE ride, and Bo insisted on jogging the WHOLE time. You can see how lush and green it was. Surrounded by salmon berries and gorging bears! Bo had one ear nervously cocked back on me the WHOLE time. Did I mention that this was about a two hour ride? "It's OK Bo Bo. I will protect you from the bears and cougars...well maybe not the jumping cougars!" There were lots of old growth tress with limbs that hung over the trail. Perfect for a hungry cougar to attack from. Now I am starting to sound as paranoid as the horses look!!!
Eeeeek!!!! What is this? This was an area that was washed out along the creek/river. It left us about a two foot path to walk across, and it only dropped off about five feet--it was not straight down either--so we dismounted and walked the horses across it.
See Waska's eyes now? Doesn't look so bored anymore, does he? I was standing next to Bo, and holding Waska, while Amber was checking out an area where a small creek ran into the big creek. There was a bridge that was made of two, two-by-fours, and the OTHER horseman had actually crossed with his horse. We know this because of the tracks in the mud. Mud never lies!So...Amber walked upstream a little bit an found a good place to cross...once again though, we were dismounted. Clippety clop, down the trail we went. Well, the sound we heard wasn't exactly "clippety clop," because we were either in mud or in moss. Moss covered trails are beautiful! We felt like little fairies out for an evening ride. We did not see any live beaver, but there were plenty of trees that some beaver family had worked over at one time. Here is a picture of one. It's really impressive to consider that they chew through HUGE trees. If you click and enlarge the photo, you can see their teeth marks.
Baaaaaad picture, but I wanted to show you the end of the trail for us...once again dismounted:) If you look down at Bo's feet--those are the reins, not his legs!!--you will see a six inch board. This board ran along the river, for about 150 feet, and you guessed it, the OTHER horseman rode, or walked, his horse along it. "It," was the board that was bordered by the creek on one side--about six feet down!!--and a muddy hill on the other. I do not know HOW he crossed it with a horse, but he did. We did not, but rode down into the creek to see if there was another way around this area.Waska STILL looks worried, even in the water! There was no easily discernible way around this area of the trail, so we turned around and high tailed it home.
We did let the horses graze for know, as kind of a payback for making them venture deep into "death" territory! Even while eating though, they never quite relaxed. You can tell by Bo's ears, that he is zooming in on the rapidly approaching predator!Much to the surprise of Bo and Waska, we made it back in one piece, and made plans to hit the trails the next day as well. Aaahhhhh...there is nothing like a good role in the dirt...when you are covered in sweat and itchy!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Of Kids and Loggers...and Rodeos!

For those of you who do not know, the small town that we live in is nestled in the foothills of Mt. Rainier, and has a heritage that is deeply involved with logging. Because I do not want to get all political on you, let me just say that while I am saddened that the profession of logging is near extinct, I am also glad that the forests are not being eradicated as quickly as they used to, and that my son will not be tempted to work in one of the most dangerous lines of work, other than crab/deep sea fishing: logging. Some of you may watch the reality show on the History Channel called "Ax Men," and if you do, you will know why I want Eric to be a doctor, or a lawyer, or an engineer, or....whatever! Ambivalence aside, the lack of available logging jobs has caused a major change in the way of life for many of the local families and businesses around here, and that is never matter what my thoughts on logging may be!
OK, back to the story at hand. Our town puts on an annual "loggers rodeo," that is very entertaining, and it has done so for the past 35 years. Next week is the actual rodeo, and it has several events that range from climbing and cutting competitions, to log rolling and relays. An all around logger is picked at the end, based on his scores in several of the events. My brother-in-law, Brad (Amber's husband), has held this esteemed title, and Trailblazer Martha's husband and son also compete.
Yesterday was the Jr. Logger's Rodeo, and my son actually competed in the events that were held for his age group...thanks Brad!!! Now Eric wants to be a logger again:) Eric got first place in choker setting and the ax toss, in the eight year old division, but did not place in the obstacle bucking. I was a bad mom and missed the first two events, but was able to catch the last one. (Sidenote: Choker setting involves placing a large cable around a log and hooking/clasping it onto the log. Loggers use this technique to hook onto and drag the fallen logs up a hillside to their tower and waiting log trucks.) His daddy was really proud of him, because he used to be a choker setter, waaaaaayyyyy back when he used to log. Yes, I am married to an ex-logger! Shocking, I know!
When I finally decided to haul my tired hiney out of bed, take a shower, eat breakfast...I headed to the rodeo grounds, and this is what I saw: Eric sitting complacently upon a five foot log. If you click on, and enlarge the photo, you can see his "I'm to cool to say 'hi' to my mom," look.
Eric likes when he hangs out with "the guys," doing things like wood cutting and hunting--hunting opens up a whole other can of worms with me, but I will discuss that when it is hunting season!!!--because he can wear the clothes that I will not allow him to wear to school, or when he is out with me...I'm kinda snobbish that way:) Here he is right after he received his trophy for the ax toss. He has never tossed an ax, but he does archery and plays sports, so I think he did so well because of the whole "hand-eye coordination" thing...something that I struggle with (lol!).
This is a picture of Eric competing in the obstacle bucking event. Before you call CPS on me, just know that he is holding a plastic chainsaw, not a real one!!! Next week, the BIG boys will do this event while running, and their chainsaws are real and turned on
"What are these stripped poles, and why did I take a picture of them?" you may ask. They are two 75 foot trees, that the loggers climb in a timed competition, as quickly, and as safely, as they can. The kids at the Jr. rodeo do NOT climb to the top, and they are not really kids; they are teenagers. This is the most dangerous event at the rodeo, and it is probably one of the toughest. The guys wear special boots with spikes in them--they allow them to dig into the tree--and they use a rope that is looped around the log, as an extension of their arms. The real danger of tree climbing is on the way down, because if there looped rope falls below their feet--something that can easily happen--the climber can flip over backwards and fall to their death. Of course, at the Jr. rodeo, the kids are also tethered to ropes that are being held by REALLY strong, and experienced, loggers.
See, here is some poor kid hanging on for dear life...I mean resting, on his way up. You can enlarge this photo to see how he is hanging...I mean climbing, up the tree.Go boy! Go! There is also one girl who competes in the log climbing. You go girl! I once put on my brother-in-law, Brad's, climbing gear, and huffed and puffed my way--about 15 feet up--a tree. It is NOT easy, and it is scary on the way down...especially when Brad yells, "You have to listen and do exactly what I say or you will break your neck!" Thanks Brad! Maybe you should have told me that BEFORE I climbed the tree!!!
Lastly, there is/was a log roll competition. The log roll is self explanatory, but let me tell you that the water was freezing cold--it had just been filled that morning by my husband and the other volunteer firefighters--and that the sun was NOT shining. Poor kids! You can see Eric longingly gazing at the log. He is the second kid on the left...the one with the red shirt and camo hat. He was not allowed to compete in this event, because the kids have to be at least nine. I told him that he should have lied about his age!Once the log roll was done, the announcer told all of the kids that they could jump into the pool. Here is Eric after he got out and realized that we did not have a towel, or a change of clothes, for him! Thank goodness we live like one minute away...if that.Here the little champion is at home. I said, "Let me take a picture of you with both of your trophies, Eric," because I felt guilty about missing him compete:(After next weekend, I will post some pictures of the official logger's rodeo, so stay tuned.