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.


Saturday, January 18, 2020

2020/1/18 Pure Purisima MeetUp & SYVR

A lucky seven group of riders invited by the MeetUp and the Santa Ynez Valley Riders convened at La Purisima Mission in Lompoc, CA, to take a stroll through the Mission grounds. Once one of the chain of California Missions established by Fra Junipero Serra in 1787, it is now a beautifully restored educational center and a fine place to ride.

Recent rains made this a good choice, the land is very sandy. We were on the trail for exactly 2 hours and covered 5.59 miles. The average walking speed was 2.8mph, but a few times I asked the Trail Boss's permission to rack Tobe on ahead and the GPS monitor said he was going 6mph. That's a land speed record for Tobe Mule!

When I went to fetch Tobe Mule his paddock was filled with a bumper crop of psychedelic psilocybin mushrooms.
What kid of trail ride would this  be?

Fortunately he seemed like his usual self, not psychedelicized, and ready to be my trusty Centaurian lower half and carry me into the wilds.

The ride started with a pep talk by La Presidenta of the SYVR, giving us the common sense rules of the trail, and then we headed off to climb up to the water tanks and see the view.
We were ready!
We started the trail at the interpretive center, which seeks to educate visitors about the culture and history of the native Chumash Indians and their experiences here with the Mission Fathers.

 Equines are not welcome within the grounds of the restored Mission, so we headed up the valley.

There are quite a few of the original buildings still in place, in different states of restoration.

Pretty soon it started to feel like a Drivers' Ed training movie,  with obstacles like baby strollers, bicyclists, maintenence crews in jeeps, bicyclists and joggers darting into our path. Mule keeps it cool.

The central valley of the property is edged with irrigation channels, and I believe was where the assembled congregants grew their crops.

 Sometimes I like to let things remain a mystery, so I have never asked what this monolith is a remnant of.

The higher we climbed to the Mesa above the valley the more we saw evidence of fires that have burned through here in recent years.

 and whether you call them chemtrails or contrails, the sky above was filled with them. Vandenburg AFB is very close by, so these could have been the sky tracks of jets soon to be part of the Space Force.

The landscape was the typical spring lushness of coastal sage chaparral, but the artistic forms of bleached bones manzanita rose above the greenery.

And the eerie look of Spanish Moss draped over the trees camouflaged burn scars.

Finally we could see our goal above, massive blue-green water tanks on the Mesa.

Tobe and I gaited on ahead to  be able to turn around and catch this snapshot of the group ascending the hill.

Then, dagnabbit, he almost broke his ears! Those vital echo-locating mechanisms must be kept in the alert and ready position!

 But it wasn't his ears that alerted to these coyote tracks in the soft sandy dirt, it was his superior sense of smell.

Finally we made it to the top of the hill,
and I took portraits of all the riders.

Hooray for technology that brings people together for such a nice excursion, and for blogging which gives me a way to share these pleasant equine adventures.

And most of all thanks to my Tobe Mule, whose companionship makes these escapes from the urban world possible.


                         ****PATFISH *******FIN*******