Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A Journey of 2,919 Miles Give or Take, Leg 1--Roughing It

 We started off our big summer adventure in the hills where I grew up, just south of Twin Falls, ID.
There is something about the basalt and the sagebrush and the chokecherries that makes my heart soar every time I see them.

And we did them the way I remember--in a tent and on horseback.

The South Hills were greener and more beautiful than I ever remember in late June, and the usually hot weather was tempered by clouds and dusts of raindrops.

My dad is a living, breathing cowboy, and there's no one I'd rather ride with.
My kids could barely wait for the horses to get saddled. Micah spent his downtime doing this:
Can you see the book in his lap? Had to finish Allegiant. And he was NOT happy with how it ended. Not happy at all.

Hyrum and Evie helped and got in the way.
My baby girl can be quite a chicken, but I was surprised by how much she loved and trusted the horses.
We nicknamed Grandpa's new horse Snoozer instead of his given name, Cruiser, because he didn't care if he was last and lagged far behind. Once he realized that everyone else was too far ahead, he'd trot to catch up, and each time he did, Eve would laugh and declare running her "very favorite part."

Hyrum rode Cheyenne one day and Quana the other. Here he is on Cheyenne, his favorite horse. Cheyenne is a wild mustang that my dad broke and trained--that's why he's got those markings just below his mane.
Micah rode Cheyenne the second day, but the first day he rode Rango, and he's declared Rango his new favorite steed.
What beautiful days we had to ride.
This photo was snapped just before the lens somehow became detached from my camera body and fell to the ground. Luckily, the body is fine with no dirt inside, but the lens is buggered up now--won't focus sometimes, won't recognize the lens sometimes, and on occasion just projects white to the sensor. I used it the rest of the trip, but I'm afraid I'll have to replace it sometime soon.

The boys had what Grandpa calls "rodeo experiences" this trip. While riding tied together, Cheyenne got his leg tangled in the rope, and as he tried to kick his leg free, he kicked Rango in the nose, spooking both Rango and Micah, his rider. Hyrum, although securely seated on Cheyenne, also got a little flustered. It lasted less than 30 seconds, but I'm sure the boys both thought they were goners. Grandpa quickly got the horses untangled, and we proceeded down the trail.

The next day, Micah was riding Cheyenne, who decided his thirst was much more important than doing what Micah wanted him to do, and he lumbered off toward the stream--which was in the opposite direction of the rest of us. Micah listened to Grandpa's directions, and between Micah listening and me grabbing the lead rope, we got everything back in order. These "rodeos" remind me of little experiences I had growing up, and I'm glad the boys weathered them well.

Riding and the mountains make you hungry.
 Even mountain cooking can't stop chocolate chip pancakes.
 We did a little hiking and exploring.

And the kids learned what rough, waterless, mountain toilets smell like--and that they don't flush. Eve was not a fan. But when the alternative is not using a toilet, she plugged her nose and stopped complaining . . . almost.

 I don't remember ever seeing so many Rocky Mountain bluebirds all in one spot before, and this group flew in and out of our camp all week.

 Eve told me that they're all cousins, that's why they like playing together.

They didn't even mind the kids playing so close.
For one night's dinner, my sisters and their families drove up to join us. We were so happy to get more time with them.

Uncle Matt R was patient enough to teach Micah how to use his birthday present.
 All you need is an empty soda can, a few pointers, and some practice.
Didn't take Micah long to figure it out. He shot that gun every chance he got and wore out every can he could find.
 Thanks, Uncle Matt!

It was a good trip, and when I ask my kids what they liked the best about our camping experience with Grandpa, they say, "Everything! Except . . ." Each one of them (and I) have the same glaring except.

This picture below illustrates the only issue we had, and it was a doozy.  Can't guess from this picture?

Look at Rango's tail, then look at the peanut butter jar below.
I can't even tell you how many FLIES there were in the mountains that week. I don't think I saw a single mosquito, but one of the biggest negatives of traveling with horses is the pests they attract. My kids were so frustrated with them that oftentimes they would seek shelter in the tent or the Suburban in order to escape swarms of flies.

Don't think they could be that bad? Look at my dad's head. I count eight (look closely; they're almost the same color as his hair)--and there's another blurry winged pest headed his direction on the left.
Whenever you sat still, they would swarm you, and repellent didn't deter them. It was awful.

We had planned to stay a night or two longer, but I needed to head back down to civilization in order to FaceTime Brad and Lily before they left the country.

(What? I forgot to mention that Brad and Lily are on the trip of a lifetime to Dubai, India, and Pakistan? Oh, yeah. They are. After an extended layover in Dubai, they are working in an orphanage and a leper colony in India and then headed across the border to visit a friend in Pakistan. You can check what they're up to on Brad's travel blog, here.)

At the small store at the foot of the hills. These poses with carved statutes became a necessity throughout the trip.

Micah got a little too close to an oozing pine tree which shared some its sap with him while camping. The sap ruined one of his shirts and embedded itself in his hair--only solution was to cut it out.
 Can you tell I had been wearing a hat for three solid days and hadn't showered yet? Yeah, I thought I hid it well, too.

Washing the hair off. He can't stand to have hair on him after a haircut. Didn't care that the hose was freezing--at least the offending hair was gone.

Best part of coming down from the mountains early was that we squeezed in a couple more games with Grandma. Any time she can find someone to play a game, Grandma is happy.
And so were they. And when the entire shelf of games and quilts came crashing down, Hyrum and Eve escaped unscathed. Grandma was thrilled to organize her games after that accident, I'm sure.

I have lived in Arizona much longer than I ever lived in Idaho, but no matter how long I'm gone, I still consider the Magic Valley of southern Idaho to be home.

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