Sunday, February 23, 2020

2020/2/23 MeetUp & LPTR at La Misión de La Purísima Concepción de la Santísima Virgen María

A fine day to climb to the higher Burton Mesa area of La Misión de La Purísima Concepción de la Santísima Virgen María. From there we had a view of the entire Lompoc Valley.

We  started by walking up the central valley of the lower Mission acres, before going off onto the trails.                             Eventually we covered        6.31 miles in 2:20 hours.

The dirt access road still has the system of stone cisterns alongside that were used to bring water down from a spring to the main Mission buildings.
Today with the cheerful bright sunny day it was still eerie to see all the Spanish moss draping the trees.

                                                                This tree obviously scarred by fire had a ready made home for a small creature.
Our goal, visible on the upper horizon, was to angle on the access roads toward the tanks, and then return by a more circuitous route through the single-track trails.

The trails are overgrown, but we cheerfully bashed our way through them, knowing full well that we could be knocking ticks down on ourselves. 
I'm quite sure that after a couple of weeks just hanging around his paddock Tobe Mule is as happy as I am to be out in the landscape. 
And today he earned himself a lot of extra carrots taking us up to the top of the Mesa.

Once there I asked all the gals to line up their animals for souvenir photos. Always a nice memory to share.

Jamie Buse on Mosca the Thoroughbred

Jo Benko on JohnBoy Mule
Lisa Bullock on Shameless the Rocky Mountain Horse

Nancy Moore on Jugueton the Paso Fino

Stormy Knight on Pico the Performance Arabian
Bunnie Dunstone on Greter, 3/4 Arab and 1/4 Quarter Horse
Deborah Thorsen on Carbon Del Peru the Peruvian Paso
and of course
Pat Fish on Tobe the Rocky Mountain Mule

Then it was time to head down the trail towards the rigs and home.
Tobe and I followed a bit behind the group, letting their dust settle before we brought up the rear.
No rush. 
This landscape was once teeming with the padres and their congregants, the captured local Chumash Indians. Now only their ghosts remain, and we are free to explore the chaparral and the views.

" Stick to your dreams 
and determine that you're going to make them come true."
- Ronald Reagan

#####FIN### PAT FISH #######

Saturday, February 8, 2020

2020/2/8 MeetUp takes a Live Oak Stroll

The Horse and Mule Trail Riders in the 805 MeetUp took a lovely stroll, starting at the Live Oak Campground access to the trails around Lake Cachuma.

We were out for 2.5 hours and covered 5.44 miles. The day was bright and sunny, the animals were all happy to be out and about, and a good time was had by all.

Access to this wonderful resource costs $10 a day, or normal citizens $100 a year, us old ladies $50 a year, and they've recently dropped the annual pass fee for veterans to only $10!
The first order of business was to cross the Santa Ynez River. At this time of year it is shallow and scenic, and we left the parking area and entered into the wilderness.
The Google Earth map above showing our trail is presently quite inaccurate. It shows the lake as it looked during the recent great drought. This is a more presently accurate aerial photograph, with the lake returned to being a lake.

I started the MeetUp because I like to ride with people,
but truth be told
I'm never alone
when I'm with Tobe Mule!

As soon as we top the first ridge we look down onto the lake. Having watched it become a mud wallow over the past decade, it is a special joy to see it sparkling blue again.
So I chose it as the back drop to take portraits of the people who turned out for this ride.
Jamie Buse on Woody, the Quarter Horse Paint
Lisa Bullock on Shameless the Rocky Mountain Horse
Nancy Moore on Jugueton the Paso Fino
Bunnie Dunstone on Greter, 3/4 Arab and 1/4 Quarter Horse
Kathy McFarlane riding Cache and ponying Sansa, both Arabs
and of course Pat Fish on Tobe the Rocky Mountain Mule
From this point we dropped down into the plateau, and started to be on the lookout for wildlife. We were not disappointed! A small herd of deer made their disorganized panic display, running first one way and then the next, a fascinating sight for the equines.
There are several herds of wild bucking horses that graze in the area, today they stayed their distance away.

And then there was the small herd of cows that saw us and looked like they wanted to be told where to go.

We abdicated any responsibility for their movements and slowly they shuffled off.

A lot of the oak trees are struggling after so many years of little rain. Some are making a come-back, some are gone.
But even if they are bare silhouettes their stark beauty against the sky is lovely to see. Leaving the urban life behind, walking through nature at the 2mph pace of a 4 legged.
So here we all are, posing in a happy line-up, and then it was time to reverse course and start heading back to the rigs.
I appreciate that when I go out riding with people they listen for me calling out "Photo Op!" and wait while I line Tobe's ears up for a shot. It helps me make this blog, and preserve our shared memories.
I never tire of coming to this special place, where you can look North-East out across the mountain ranges and see a vast expanse with no humans in it. 45 minutes from the hustle and bustle of downtown Santa Barbara, today blanketed in a coastal fog so dense it almost felt like rain, and here we are, in the Land of Summer, walking on Centaur legs.
And as always credit is due my fine Tobe Mule, without whom this world would remain hidden from me.

As William Blake said:
"Great things are done when humans and mountains meet."

                    ######## Pat Fish ######FIN#######

Saturday, January 25, 2020

2020/1/25 Chinese New Year of the Rat ride in Nipomo with LPTR & MeetUp

 If you squint your eyes just right you can see the Pacific Ocean in this first photo, right between Tobe's ears, looking from our staging area across Hwy 1 and vegetable fields to the edge of the continent.

Today to celebrate the first day of the Chinese New Year of the Rat a group of 6 riders met up in Nipomo to take a stroll around the Mesa, the highly developed Trilogy zone that was once, in the lifetime of several of the riders, entirely vast forests of eucalyptus.
We rode for 6 miles in 2 hours, following the trails that weave through the manicured landscapes and the remnants of the forest.
Every ride starts with the gathering of the tow vehicles and trailers in the appointed spot. Here we see my SubUrban and the BrenderUp trailer that Tobe travels in. The boat winch on the SubUrban is how I lift the very heavy and wonderful Australian saddle onto Tobe, and the hay in the bag will be his lunch later.

The best parts of riding Nipomo are the stands of giant trees that are still left, lining the roads, and the horse and human trails that have been carefully built into the landscape.

It is certainly not wild, but it isn't entirely civilized yet, either.

It was disturbing to see many signs advertising large plots of land for sale, and clearly time is running out for the grasslands and trees.

From every path there were houses visible, and golf courses.

 WAY out on this golf course we saw a white heron strolling placidly, avoiding the flying balls.

That little blip is a man sighting down his next stroke.

Because their movements are erratic the golfers are fascinating to Tobe. 

Recent rains have caused a fine crop of mystery mushrooms to spring up.

I once ate every toadstool my Russian adopted grandfather harvested from random lawns, I proceeded with faith. And at one time I thought of myself as somewhat of an accomplished amateur mycologist. Funny how you change... there's absolutely NO chance I would taste any of these!

Tobe and I just give them a look, and leave well enough alone.

Even on the forest trails the fallen trees are evidence of how fragile  their 100+ year old stands are now.

Nice there wasn't much wind today. It was warm and sunny, just like we prefer California to always be.

 The trails adjacent the "planned community" are quite pleasantly landscaped. It was a  pleasure to see dog walkers out for a stroll. There are shared trails, and ones separated for walkers and riders, and bicycle paths as well.
I rode Tobe up ahead a bit so I could turn back and capture a group shot coming along the trail. What a fine mackerel sky!

Then I saw  this absurd velociraptor in a yard and went up an embankment to take a photo of it.
Which was not a smart idea, since the hill was extremely soft, and Tobe's feet sunk in it and it was dangerous.
Stormy & Pico came to help us down.
Then around the corner another of the Disney-look Trilogy details. A water feature to mark a crossroads.

Then it was back to the paths between estates that have vineyards for lawns.

The problem is
that every inch of the flat land has been filled with stucco houses that look as if they are meant to last 2-3 decades at best.
I look out and try to imagine that the strip of forest on the horizon fills the whole valley. I am sad for these ghosts of trees I never knew.

But no point in being nostalgic,
I'm happy that as they transformed the landscape they worked hard to incorporate the equestrian trails, and make it easy for the inhabitants to walk their dogs and ride bikes.

And I'm glad we are welcome to come and roam around and experience it all.

Then it was time to end our ride, so I asked everyone to pose in front of a stand of eucalyptus for a souvenir portrait.
Here is Jamie on her Quarter Horse Woody.

And Stormy on her Peak Performance Arab Pico.

And Jo on her cantankerous mule JohnBoy.

And Nancy on her Paso Fino Jugeton.

Lisa on her Rocky Mountain gelding.

And Tobe Mule and I, happy to have spent the day in good company.

But are we forgetting something?
The symbolism of the special day?
The beginning of the Year of the Golden Rat needed a visual.
And what could be better than Jamie's chihuahua who stayed guarding her tow vehicle as we rode out.
Rodent Dog!
Happy New Year!
Feliz Año Nuevo de El Miguelitó Rattón!

2020 Chinese New Year is on January 25, 2020. That is the 4717th Chinese year. The zodiac sign of 2020 is the Rat. According to the Chinese zodiac calendar, 2020 is the Male Metal Rat year. The color of Metal in Chinese Horoscope is connected to white or golden. Therefore, 2020 is called the year of the White Metal Rat or Golden Rat.