Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sonoran Desert National Monument

This weekend we headed west of Maricopa towards Gila Bend. Much of that stretch of road is bordered by the Sonoran Desert National Monument a piece of Arizona set aside to protect the unique ecosystem of the Sonoran desert from the incursions of the modern world. Further closures have limited the access to non-motorized uses only. Perfect! Scouting around the country though I managed to find a spot where we could get our rigs in and a few miles off the highway. That allowed us to saddle up and head into the wilderness area. Amazing how when the motorized access is restricted there seems to be a lot less garbage and empty beverage containers strewn around the country. It was a beautiful ride without the constant reminder that somebody who couldn’t give a damn for the beautiful surroundings was wandering around the countryside also.

Well enough of that rant and onto the ride. We left our camp in the morning and picked up the old trail across the desert just a little south of our site.


Although the new highway travels a little further south this area has been a highway of sorts for hundreds, and probably thousands of years. It was not hard to envision the Indians and settlers winding their way through the pass or the rattle and thunder of the Butterfield Overland Stage coach as it raced it’s way from St. Louis to San Francisco. Can you imagine bouncing your way over that 2800 mile route in 22 days. Those coaches were on the move night and day stopping only to change teams and grab a bite to eat.


Although we had a lot less ground to cover we also keep on the move except for a brief stop to break some bread with friends.


We covered 21 miles altogether on Saturday riding parts of the Butterfield Stage route and then back through another pass to meet up with the Rock Cairn trail and back down a wash to the flat desert. Once we hit the desert we used that modern GPS technology to run a beeline back to camp as Brenda’s knee was kicking up. That and we had some pretty fine eating to get done once we got unsaddled and got our fire lit. Well actually we had such a great bed of coals from the fire Friday night that tonight's fire started itself once we put the kindling on the pit.


“K” deserved his rest by the fire as he had a big rock to hold out of the way for the rest of us to scramble by as we came down the wash into the desert.

"K" holding the rock up while the rest of us scooted by!

Brenda’s new horse, Wink, had another great test and once again passed with flying colours. She has a couple of things to work on but that just makes it more interesting.


You can follow this link to see the pictures of our Sonoran ride.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Wink Goes to South Mountain

Over the last 8-10 days we have been busy doing what we do best, hmmmm, not sure what that is but the time is sure flying by while we do it. Brenda has been consulting with Taylor McKinney on the decorating of her new room, and doing some shopping and lunching with her. As well as heading in and doing some shopping with some of her local cronies. Lots of laughing and a little shopping I guess. Me, I have been doing the square root of nothing, but have actually accomplished a few things without even meaning to. We got our Irrigation Infrastructure Project completed, nothing to show, it is all underground now, so I was able to hook up all the automatic waterers we have gathered here over the last two years. So fresh clean water for the ponies without the clutter of hoses all over the place.

When we left you last we were looking for a new horse for Brenda and I am happy to announce that “Wink” has now come home to Dogpound South. She is good looking little bay mare from up in that Fort St John, BC country so she knows how good she has it down here in the sunny south.

We have been out to the wash here at Dogpound South with her a few times and have drug Kathy, the owner, along to give us some guidance on her training. That sure has been a great idea and the mysteries of a new horse are all revealed as the riding goes on.

Today we along with our friends Teresa and “K” Rogers headed towards South Mountain Park right smack in the middle of downtown Phoenix to give her a taste of some more technical trails. It is pretty important, on the trails we ride, that a horse is capable of thinking before reacting and you just never know until you take them into the fire. Let me tell you she passed with flying colours. One tight spot Brenda sent her on ahead by herself and she just picked her way through like a cat. She obviously understands that foot placement is pretty important when you are clinging to the side of a steep hill or navigating your way down through slick rock. I think we will keep her.

There are some pretty nice trails up here, not the usual haunts of horses but we managed to pick our way through most of the places although there were a few tight spots that had us searching for work arounds.

Hmmm, don't think we will fit there Boss!

As usual I got a lot of pictures some good and some not so good but if you want to have a look at them follow this Wink Goes to South Mountain link.

Here is a shot of the trail we followed today, and although this park is smack in the middle of town, you see nothing of the city except for a few overlooks.

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And for those who are wondering Willow is getting better each day and we are hoping that with some rest she will be back on the trails in not to long. Not sure what was wrong in the end but I have been putting a sweat on her every second day and either that or just the support it gives seems to be helping her.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Lone Rangers Christmas Ride

We headed out on Friday morning to meet some friends up near Wickenburg. It is the annual Christmas Ride for a group we ride with here in Arizona, the Lone Rangers Single Riders Club, yep strange group for us old married folks to ride with, but we have friends who were members and they invited us along last fall for a ride. Since then we have frequented their rides so often that they have accepted us as pseudo members. These folks love to ride and show us newcomers the trails of Arizona and we love to follow them around. They ride once a month over the winter months and we manage to join them on a majority of their adventures. December is the Christmas ride and this year, as last, they gathered in Wickenburg and rode, ate, and exchanged gifts.


We sat around the fire, shared stories, most of them at least in part true, and a lot of laughs as well as great food. As I have said many times before “we are not part of a riding club, we are an eating club that rides.”

Saturday we rode out under the capable leadership of Dave Modahl and headed towards the “Wheel of Life”. a medicine wheel type of rock art in the desert,

1-DSCF1356I have no idea how this came to be built here in the desert but have no doubt that it was a labour of love and meant a great deal to someone as there is an incredible amount of work that went into it’s construction. On the way out to the Wheel of Life we had to pass a crested saguaro alongside the trail and as usual we got some pictures while we were there including this one of Linda Modahl and her mule Annabelle.


We had lunch at Pete’s Windmill, told a few more stories, then headed back to camp. Brenda and Meg were back in camp as Willow is still lame and we haven’t closed the deal on a replacement yet.



A fellow might not want to slip a little on that trail in the photo above, but Blue is pretty sure footed and getting better and better about watching where he puts those feet.

Here is a map of our ride on Saturday and although it shows some roads on it most of them are only in the mapmakers imagination so don’t try to drive there without a lot of investigation. Our trail is the red one and black trail that joins it is our ride track from last year.

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Sunday morning we were up bright and early and headed back to Dogpound South, had to check on Willow, while the rest of the group headed out on another ride before breaking camp and heading home.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Picket Post Mountain

Last weekend I loaded up Blue and headed out east of Apache Junction to the Picket Post Trailhead where a group of friends who are members of the Copper State Trail Riders were gathering for a couple of days of riding through some beautiful country. Of course as I have said many times we are not really a riding club but an eating club that happens to ride between meals. Brenda didn’t make the trip with us as Willow is still a little lame so Friday night I snuck up on ‘K’ and Teresa’s camp in the dark and helped myself to some green chili chili and some green chili cornbread that Linda brought along. Our good friend Dave Schmidt always says “It’s a damn poor bush ape who can’t feed himself”, I think Dave meant cooking for himself but I have found inviting myself to dinner with others works just as well, and the food tastes better. While we sat around the campfire after the meal the full moon was rising over the ridge to the east.


The next morning while I was cooking breakfast there was a full eclipse of the moon also but it didn’t photograph so well.

Saturday morning we headed off on the Picket Post trail, and Suzi, our leader, had found a great ride and even managed to make it into a loop so that for the most part we didn’t have to re-ride any portion, although on this ride that would have been no sacrifice as it was beautiful both coming and going.

There was a lot of gradual climbing on the way out from camp so the turn around point was high on the mountain SW of Superior, Arizona at a point where you could over look Superior and a little farther along see the whole Valley of the Sun.


The Valley of the Sun and its 3 million odd residents are behind me as I took this picture but the haze kind of made the photo useless.

Sunday we headed out on a ride going the other direction from camp along part of the Arizona Trail. Within a mile or two we had to cross through some concrete culverts underneath Highway 60 and then it was off into the desert.

Another great ride in the opposite direction of Saturdays adventure and seeing new country with every stride.


Yesterdays view point in the picture above was directly under the ‘t’ in Yesterday to give a little perspective of the amount of country we were covering. In total the two days of riding covered about 33 miles so old Blue was pretty happy to hop back in the trailer Sunday night and head back into the Valley for a week of leisure and loafing.

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Here is a map with our two days of riding on it for those who are curious.

This week we have Ray and Paul working around Dogpound South on an irrigation project so it is a world of trenches here. Almost anywhere you go you have to hop a trench to get there. But when it is finished it will be nice as we will be able to supply the horses with fresh water and plant a bunch more trees without having to run hoses every which way around the place. That will make Brenda a happy camper.

Along with the irrigation project we have been visiting with our friends and doing a little looking around for a new project to undertake, hint below, details to follow next week.


This weekend we are headed for the Constellation campground across from the Wickenburg Rodeo grounds to join another group that we ride with for a day in the desert up that way.

Monday, November 26, 2012

What’s up with Willow

When I left off a week or so ago Willow was lame, well not much has changed here with regards to that. The vet was out today and it appears that she may have some soft tissue damage on her left fetlock. We have her set up with a sweat wrap and she is on a regime of anti-biotics and some bute so hopefully we will see some improvement over the next couple of days. It seems that maybe she has a cactus puncture or some bruising on the bottom side of the joint. We are hopeful that it will work itself out given a little time. But as I find out you will find out, so on to what we have been up to.

This weekend was gymkhana weekend here in Thunderbird Farms and seeing as how Willow is my secret weapon, she actually knows the barrel pattern, I was horseless for that event. I did take old Blue up and get him a little exposure but as it appears the timer in the arena times things down to the thousandth of a second but has no calendar feature so we opted out of running any of the events. So the photo’s below are some of the quicker folks who ran there.

As I was proof reading today’s offering I noticed that the young lady in two of the above photo’s was TACCs Queen and coincidentally Sundays ride captain, CC.

Sunday was TACC’s Poker Ride so Blue and I headed out to join that ride for the day. Took us about three hours on the ride and then another hour for eating the great pizza lunch they brought in.


We rode out Vekol Wash and back from the arena so we didn’t have to use the trailer as Dogpound South is just a five minute lope away from the start.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Alamo Lake State Park

This Friday we were off to Alamo Lake State Park to join a bunch of our AZBCR friends on a little ride on the weekend. It was a pretty long haul out there, took about 3.5 hours. This park is pretty close to the middle of nowhere here in Arizona but there seemed to be a bunch of bass fishermen heading here to. We found our spot and got things set up so the horses were comfortable and then sat back and watched the rest of the folks pull into camp.


Brenda had whipped up some of that good Taco soup and we shared a bowl or two with the Rogers and Modahl’s as the sun set over our camp.


Saturday morning we were up early and enjoyed watching the sun rise before getting ready for our day’s ride. Then life intervened, Brenda’s horse Willow was a little lame so riding was out of the question for her. I stripped the saddle off her and put her back on the highline.


Here she is looking like she is being left behind

Brenda decided to stay in camp and Blue and I had a training ride as he gets a little agitated when his buddy is not there. Took a couple of miles to get him settled down but eventually he straightened out and the rest of the 19.5 mile ride was pretty enjoyable. We saw a lot of country and went around the lake crossing the NE end at coincidentally “Brown’s Crossing” and heading back along the north side looking for a slot canyon we had heard was over there. We ran out of time before we found it and had to head back to camp for another great potluck dinner, this one with a little Thanksgiving flavour, turkey, ham and all the trimmings.

Here are a couple of pictures of our friends “K” on the paint mare

"K" and Delta Dawn

and our leader of the day Dave and his mule Earl.

"Hmmmm, I'm their leader, I wonder where they went?"

Sunday with Willow out of the lineup we let the others go on a short ride while we broke camp and headed back to Dogpound South. Looks like Willow will spend a little time on the injured reserve list and we will have to see how things turn out before our next ride.

For those who like to look at all the pictures of the ride here is a link that should take you there.

Alamo Lake State Park ride

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Beaver Creek Trailhead

This weekend we headed north to Beaver Creek, just a few miles from Sedona. We were meeting a bunch of our horse folk friends there and planning a ride out on Saturday. The forecast was for cool and rainy weather, but luckily we got the rainy part out of the way, for the most part, on Friday evening while we were sleeping.


Saturday morning dawned without a cloud in the sky and not even a breeze blowing. We got saddled up and ready to go and although it was a cool morning we looked to be in for a great day. Our trail boss, Frank, led us out onto the Bell Trail and over a saddle into Beaver Creek and the headquarters of the V Bar V ranch. We passed up that beautiful valley and then took a hard left onto the White Mesa trail. It was a fairly steep, especially for our slightly fat horses, and rocky trail that led up another beautiful draw. Eventually we scrambled out onto the Mesa. It looked like a great spot for a ride, scattered junipers and long grass waving in the breeze. Well pretty soon the sun went behind the clouds, the breeze picked up speed and became a pretty stiff and cold wind and that grass was growing in a bed of rocks and cactus that made for tough footing for the horses. We headed generally back towards camp looking for an old trail that would lead us down off the Mesa. We did manage to find a warm sheltered spot to break some bread and once we warmed up a little we got back on the move. Eventually we did find that old trail, although we had to ride through a short snow squall, and started to drop down into the valley again and out of the wind. It was a little warmer but by that time Brenda had got quite a chill so she spent the rest of the day trying to thaw out. Great scenery and wonderful company as usual though!

Once we got back we got the potluck dish ready to go and then headed down to Frank’s camper and his propane campfires, no woodfires allowed here, where we had a feast as usual. Folks think we are a riding club but we are really an eating club that rides. Who knew that there would be so many fabulous cooks amongst all those riders.


Sunday we hooked up and headed home and boy that heat felt good as we came down the hill into Black Canyon and the north end of the valley. Now to get loaded up for next weekends adventure.

On the non-riding front I found a pool in Chandler that is open for a couple of hours a day just for lane swimming so I am managing to get in a swim or two every week.

If you would like to have a look at all the photo’s I took on our ride this weekend follow this link

Brocket Trailhead to White Mesa

Monday, November 5, 2012

Week One @ DPS

Well I left off last week as we ran out to get some dinner and connect to the internet down the road at our local Bar and Grill. After using Rand’s internet and devouring our dinner we headed home for a good nights rest. Monday was time to get ahold of our own internet provider and get things rolling there. We also brought in some feed for our horses to hold them over the winter. We had some trouble with our Canadian Satellite dish so had the Directv folks hook us up to their system. Holy Smokes! After only having the TV hooked up for a couple of hours we were already sick of the political commercials, I can’t imagine our friends having to watch that nonsense for months on end. Makes a fellow appreciate the short election cycle back home. Maybe the best reason ever for non-fixed election dates.

Halloween night we delivered some candy to our neighbours kids and then headed down the road to Paula and Harvey’s Feed Store for a little community gathering, great food and even better visiting with our Dogpound South friends.

The rest of the week was spent just loafing about and getting a few miles on the horses.

Friday we got our Canadian Satellite up and running so now we officially have 500 channels of TV from two of the wealthiest countries in the world and still there is nothing worth watching except maybe for Heartland on Sunday night.

Brenda has been scouring the country for “bargoons”, as our friend Rick calls them, and managed to find a trunk that we couldn’t live without from Tanya’s 4G Ranch and a morning spent hitting the garage sales with Jill and Stasia brought a few more things to our place. Our home is looking a lot homier now and we have re-homed a bunch of stuff that we apparently couldn’t live without.

Sunday our riding friends the Modahl’s and the Roger’s arranged for a little ride through Desert Hills to help with our conditioning. Pretty flat but a little sand, some rocks (it is Arizona), and some fellowship. The horses handled it fine and I am sure that now Brenda has a new hat she will be better next weekend when we head north to the Red Rocks of Sedona for another ride.

Last night a disaster of epic proportions hit our place and Brenda’s Macbook up and quit. No big deal I thought, we have a spare PC netbook along with us, so I figured no problem, WRONG! Apparently if you are a Mac person you are unable to transition up to the PC platform without a lot of wailing and remonstrations. After discovering that the Apple store is closed at night and doesn’t have an emergency service number, the nerve, we managed to wait until the door opened at 10AM this morning. We were there at opening and luckily they were able to fix it up and get Brenda back on line without to much delay.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

On the Road to DPS

We headed off on our annual migration to Dogpound South last Wednesday. The last couple of years we have stayed at the Horse and Hound a place just out of the Coutts, Alberta border crossing the night before we cross. We have to stop in Sweetgrass, Montana for a vet inspection of our equine friends and first thing in the morning is the best time to do that as they have a lot of liner loads of cattle there as the day goes by.

Thursday after the vet check we headed for McLeod, Montana and our friends, Mike and Janna’s place. They live up the beautiful boulder valley, an absolutely stunning location, populated by the rich and famous and many thousand deer, as well as some elk and a few antelope, and by a few I mean that only in relation to the number of deer as we must have seen a few hundred antelope during our visit.


Once again we enjoyed our visit with these fine folks and especially Janna’s fine country cooking.

Friday they took us for a drive over the West Boulder road to Livingston where we stopped at the Rib and Chop house for some more great food, after a stop at a local wine store where we picked up some balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Below is a picture of our hosts at one of our picturesque stops along the way.

1-Mike and Janna

Saturday morning as the dawn broke in the valley we slipped down their driveway and headed off on the balance of our journey. That journey took us through beautiful southern Montana and across the foggy flatlands of southern Idaho and then into the central basin of Utah and past the Great Salt Lake, and it’s neighbouring city of Salt Lake then after 11 hours on the road we stopped for the night in Fillmore, Utah. After the long day behind the wheel, once we got the horses fed and watered as well as bedded down in some stalls at the racetrack there, we hit the rack ourselves. Once again morning came early and we were off on our final leg of the journey. This led us through the high desert country of southern Utah and across the extreme northwest corner of Arizona then down the Virgin River gorge and into the desert north of Las Vegas. We passed this colourful establishment in Boulder City, Nevada


The temps were rising from our morning temperature of 26F to a high of 91F by the time we were well into Arizona and getting into the Valley of the Sun.

By four o’clock we were opening the gate at Dogpound South and then it was just a matter of getting our horses fed, watered and settled before we headed over to the Raceway for a bite to eat and a visit with some of our neighbours. Thanks for coming over to welcome us home, Bobbie and Skye.


A panoramic view of Dogpound South, Ray and his crew have done a great job of keeping it weed free.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Packing and Reloading

Over the last week or so we have been unloading and reloading the LQ to get ready for our departure. Up till Friday the weather has been pretty good here. Fall but still light jacket weather. I got a few more rides on the horses and the field work got all done so the farm is looking ready for winter.


Bob was working up the old hay field and brought a scraper in to re-channel an ephemeral creek that usually runs just in the springtime, and causes us to have difficulties getting the crop seeded, so hopefully this will control it a little for next year. Blue and I just rode and watched, our usual activity when the work is going on.

Saturday was a horse shoeing and trimming day and with the eight head we have around here it takes a good part of the day to get them all done. We only have shoes on the two that are heading south, Blue and Willow, but the rest needed a trim to keep them in good shape for the winter to come. That activity was done in snowstorm so we were glad to have our new (2006ish) barn to work in. After we got that completed the majority of them headed back down into the pasture along with Blue and Willow who are enjoying their last few days of wandering around on real grass till the spring.

Sunday morning Brenda headed up to Rocky Mountain House to pick up Ella and Alle and bring them home to spend a night with us before we leave, but they had a birthday party to attend before they could come and that party went so late that she stayed up there and came home first thing this morning. Guess I will have to rely on Lacey to send me pictures of the girls over the winter.

Back last Thursday I had our local vet out to do some blood tests and a health check on our horses so that they can cross the border going south, so that is done and I need to head into the city tomorrow morning and meet with the government vet to get his signature and stamps all in the right places. Once that is done it is haircut time and then I am officially ready to roll. Well except for taking off my long john’s and stuffing some clothes in the LQ or the Jeep.

The plan is pull out of here sometime mid-day on Wednesday and overnight at Coutts/Sweetgrass so we can cross the border and get the vet stuff done there early Thursday morning. Then we are heading south of Big Timber to make sure that Janna has healed up from the bruising she took on the healthcare topic a week or so ago on her blog.

Monday, October 15, 2012

What’s up at Dogpound North

Well it has been a pretty good fall here at Dogpound North. OK we’ve had a few skiffs of snow but nothing that sticks around. And in between those little blasts of winter we have had great warm days. I have taken advantage of that warm weather to try and get our horses legged up a little for their winter in Arizona. What with the trip to London and Gay Paree’ as well as a week out on Vancouver Island, all topped off by Brenda’s knee surgery the horses have had a pretty cushy summer. Today I was finally able to take the latigo extender off my saddle and the ponies are looking ready to hit the sand soon.

A few miles in the sand of Vekol Wash will bring them up to snuff pretty quickly I am thinking.

Other than some riding we are getting all our visiting done before we head south next week. We had the whole family out for Thanksgiving dinner last weekend. Remember us Canadian snowbirds actually get to celebrate Thanksgiving twice, once here at home and once down with our southern neighbours and friends. Only fitting that we give thanks twice cause it is a pretty nice lifestyle (att. Chiklet). When I said the whole family was here I meant for supper, but a couple of them met on the road into our place so we missed out on the big group picture. To date I have got a bunch of those kind of photo’s but there is always somebody missing so we tried a different tangent this year.

Nobody was allowed off the farm till we got some photos of them. I think they turned out pretty good too.

Since that big event we have just been tinkering around getting ready to roll south. Today once I got back from my swim I emptied the storage on the horse trailer and sorted through it, Managed to get rid of a few things but as usual I managed to find a few more things to take their place and I am sure by the time we leave I will have refilled it to capacity.

The last few days their have been spirited discussions in the comment sections of Janna, Rod, and Rick’s blogs and I actually learned a lot from the exchanges and it drove me to do some more research so that I had a better grasp on some of it. So ‘they’ say any day you learn something new is not wasted so I didn’t waste my weekend.

But learning aside I think I enjoyed my time with Blue and Mack and Meg out in the hay field just as well. Sure clears your mind anyway.