This photo of Mike was taken over my shoulder while riding my bike.
Kids do not try this at home.
Can I just say, "Saturday was awesome!" Mike and I and our friend Doug rode in the Moab Century Tour. A "century" for the uninitiated (and probably far less foolish) is a 100-mile bike ride with support stations along the way that offer cut-up bananas and oranges, Power bars, salty snacks, energy drinks, water, and other treats. Sometimes the really good stops have a full-on make-your-own subway sandwich bar with potato chips and ice cold Coke. (What a great sport this is.) Also, many "century" rides offer shorter options of roughly 20, 40, 60, or 80 miles.
Mike checking out the snacks.
If you pedaled the full 100-mile ride in the Moab Century Tour you got to experience a climb called the "Big Nasty"---a 3000-foot ascent over seven miles. That sounded a bit steep to me (a bit?), and when I looked online at the description there were points along that climb called Little Nasty, Tom's Misery, and Stairway to Heaven. Hmmmm.....
Not wanting to christen a spot on the course called Leslie's Misery, or be knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door, I opted for us to ride the 65-mile "rolling" course. It featured a couple of pretty good hills, too, but they weren't notorious enough to get scary names.
Oh. My. Goodness. Sometimes I forget how truly beautiful Utah is. The ride began at 7 a.m. and paralleled the Colorado River for roughly 34 miles to the turnaround point. In the morning light, the red rock canyons seemed more vibrant; the green brush seemed more lush; and the river rippled past us like foamy chocolate milk. Absolutely stunning.
There is often talk of "runner's high." I'm pretty sure I had "biker's high."
I couldn't quit commenting on how beautiful it was. I took a few photos but they don't even come close to what I saw with my eyes that morning. Breathtaking.
Stannie first came into our lives as a 3-month old paraplegic kitten. The family who brought him in to my veterinary clinic had no idea what had happened. He was fine when they had let him outside, but when they went to let him back in he was dragging his hind legs behind him. Nothing abnormal was seen on the radiographs. There was a chance he would recover via the magic of prednisone and time.
Or...it could be permanent.
The family was pretty much overwhelmed by the whole thing and asked to have him euthanized. About this time my (then 18-year-old) daughter Natalie showed up. She instantly fell in love with the little handicapped kitten with the white moustache and green bug-eyes. The family ok'd the adoption and he was ours. Or rather Nat's.
At home, we introduced him to our dogs Maggie and Frank. He, at first, would hiss and lunge at them swatting with his front paws, and at the same time, dragging his back legs. He was really quite pathetic, but it gave us a hint of his attitude towards life. In short, he wasn't going to take anybody's guff.
It only took a few days for his legs to return to normal. The only real deficit he showed over the rest of his life was rather than land softly on the ground like most cats dropped from waist-high, he landed with a hard thud.
Stannie soon grew to be Nat's best friend, little buddy, and constant companion.
When Nat was a student living in Provo he wandered away one night. Nat searched for him thru the night and called us early the next morning with the distressing news. She printed up and distributed about 1700 flyers (no exaggeration). We had a couple of false alarm responses from people who thought they had him, but no. It wasn't him. We even brought Frank to Provo to serve as a sort of bloodhound to try and sniff out Stan. But Frank didn't understand his duty. We, also, hoped that maybe Stan would recognize Frank and come to us. (By this time, Stan no longer hissed and lunged at Frank. In fact, he found him quite tolerable).
As children of the 70's and fans of "Dragnet", as well as other cop shows, Mike and I were well-acquainted with stake-outs. We walked the neighborhoods going door-to-door talking to people (also, a "Dragnet" tactic) we were told about dumpsters where lots of cats would congregate at night. That's when we came up with the idea of a stake-out. We brought cans of cat food---the smellier the better---and lined them up in a trail leading to what seemed to be the most popular dumpster. Mike and I sat in our old red Jeep Wrangler. Waiting. Now that I think of it, we should have brought donuts.
We watched over a span of about three hours as several cats came to sample our wares. But none of them were Stan. The sun was setting and it was getting cold. Our scheme didn't seem to be working. We started up the Jeep and began to pull out of the parking lot. Our headlights shone on a set of green bug-eyes. They were staring right back at us. Could it be?
I immediately flew out of the passenger side of the Jeep and ran (right in front of oncoming traffic) towards him. Of course, he saw this crazed woman running at him and...took off running himself. Nat says to this day she didn't know this old gal could move that fast, but I wasn't going to lose him now.
He ran around the corner with me in hot pursuit. Nat came running also. I can still hear her calling, wanting to believe, "Is it him?" He was hiding under a car and I called to him softly. He walked up to me and I snatched him up and would not let go of him until we had him safely in the squad car, I mean Jeep. (I think if I had handcuffs it would have been just perfect).
Stan has been by Nat's side for the last ten years. Others came and went. But Stan was always there for her. Waiting to snuggle. He showed that attitude sometimes though. When he was done snuggling, that was it. He'd hiss in your face and walk away.
When Nat would come in her apartment door from work she'd call, "Stannie, I'm home!" and he would come to greet her, ready to be scooped into her arms to hear how her day was.
Stan was a very important part of our family. We will love him and remember him forever.
In July, five friends and I rented goats for a week-long backpacking trip to the Uintas.
"They just follow you", we were told.
"They go 10 or 12 miles a day", we were told.
Let me introduce you to.....GOAT TRIP FROM HELL.
Within a half-mile of leaving the trail head we'd already lost a goat! Lost. Replacement value $600 for the goat, $600 for the gear.
Half an hour later I found him standing in the trees. We should have headed back to the trailer and called it good then. When the heavens give you signs like that you should listen.
We pulled, prodded, poked, begged, pleaded, cursed, and sometimes the goats would go. And sometimes not. When they would go they would average one mile an hour! And that was when they were going pretty good. At one time we figured it had taken us 90 minutes to go one mile. We kept saying that it was like herding cats. Ridiculous. And exhausting. At least if you had a pack-cat and it wouldn't go you could pick it up. By the end of the day we felt like we had gone 10 or 12 or 50 miles. Really we had gone 4.5.
So that was only part of it. On a steep, boulder-y slope (about 7-miles up the trail on the second day) a gigantic wind came up. Seriously, it had to be like hurricane gusts or something. It knocked over Karen, Joy and Sarah. Sarah broke her arm. So now Karen and Sarah had to hike off the mountain and it was late afternoon when they headed down. At one point they were hiking in the pitch black dark.
They went to the ER in Roosevelt to get Sarah's arm set. Sarah's son came to get her, and Karen headed back up the mountain after sleeping in a church parking lot for the rest of the night.
Meanwhile back on the mountain, there were four of us trying to wrangle five naughty goats and Betsy had not only HER backpack on but Sarah's strapped on her back, as well. She looked like a double-wide trailer.
Just exhausting. And very stressful.
We topped it off with a trip to the mechanic in Roosevelt because Sarah's truck was smelling hot. The gauges said everything was ok but there was a strange burning smell coming from the engine.
Actually, I'm amazed that we got out of that trip with only one fracture.
We weren't slated to come home until Saturday, but we couldn't take anymore.
Oh yeah, I left out the goat stampede.
Believe me when I say we considered a goat barbecue. We headed instead to Fish Lake for two nights.
Goatee and I during a lull in the pandemonium.
Saddling Goatee. Looks easy enough.
Karen giving Vulcan a little, uh, "guidance."
Joy dragging encouraging Cooper across the creek.
Goats HATE water.
Sarah with her splinted broken arm about to hike out 7 miles.