Friday, November 13, 2009

The Feminine: Power to Move Minions

It is no secret around here how much we detest the lack of common sense. Nor is it a surprise that we despise Government's cultural tendency to fall into the temptation of tyrannical turpitude.

St George is busily building a replacement airport behind the ridge line that separates it from the Little Valley where we live. From the moment we moved here in 2001, we have playfully ridden, hiked and crawled all over this ridge. Watching the airport come together from this vantage point has been particularly fascinating for our whole family since they began construction 1 year ago.

Early this morning, Brother Mike, Neighbor Brad Griffith, and my Sweet Wife joined me on a round trip ride that takes us over the ridge in view of the airport. It had rained overnight and St George had that wet-desert smell which consists of a recipied blend you find nowhere else: creosote, mesquite, sage, and red-sand mixed with a hint of Pine Mountain's heights. Getting outside was irresistible.

On the final leg home, we crossed over the only road currently open to the airport before coming off the ridge on the single track trail that gets so heavily used. Brad and Brother Mike went across first, about 30 yards ahead of Chantra and me who were moving a bit slower. As Brad and Mike continued along the road's shoulder, and we approached our crossing, an official St George City truck topped with yellow lights, came up from below. The young city employee who was driving stopped along side of Brad and Mike, leaned out the window and declared in an authoritative voice, "Hey! You shouldn't be up here on this road!" (Not true, plus we crossed at a safe, visible intersection in this still remote, right of way.) He waited for us to cross and angrily shook his head at me while giving me a black look before turning to Chantra who followed behind.

Descending the hill, Brad, Mike and I laughed out loud, wondering what it is that makes a low-level government employee throw the weight of his ASSumed power around like some sort of stooge, as if we had committed high crimes and misdemeanors. From behind, a somewhat perplexed Chantra declared, "I didn't realize he was mad...? He just stared at me and SMILED as I rode by."

Remind me not to leave you home anymore, Hon.

(The irony? Today's paper warmly invites the public to ascend this road and watch the airport's progress in an effort to grant full governmental transparency.)

Monday, November 9, 2009

I Almost Lost My Ass

My Ass nearly fell off a cliff today. In fact, it was closer than nearly.

The Haslem trail is hard work for horses and mules, but for a jack, it is nigh impossible. The valley floor and most of the ascent to the mesa top is covered in deep, powdery red sand. With his small, narrow hooves, Rusty negotiates the Warner Valley sand dunes like a transvestite in stiletto heels. By the time we hit the top, he was dog-tired and fagged-out. I had even gotten off to lead him most of the way up the steep parts of the trail. The going was slow and my partners waited patiently, sometimes helping to push/pull Rusty over some of the technical spots.

Dr. Steve Carr, a Spokane, Washington Veterinarian and his two brothers Tyler and Jeff wanted to experience the high-angle thrills of the Haslem trail. They drove up from some meetings in Las Vegas this morning for the outing. I have known Dr. Carr since my missionary days in Boston, and we studied together for some of our undergraduate work at BYU. Little Preston and Jim Wallick (who helped build the Haslem trail) were along too.

After lunch at the top, we started picking our way back down the honey-combed sandstone ledges. The trail skirts a short, rocky outcropping and scampers over three boulders that overlook a tapered drop off below. Crossing the boulders is the only way down. Rusty decided he wasn't going to traverse the boulders or step over the fissures between them no matter how much we cajoled, pushed, pulled, or cussed. Finally, he tipped over onto the gently sloping edge of the cliff--tired, weak from fighting us, and breathing heavily on his side. After a rest, I gave a mighty pull on his lead rope to help him get up. Before he could get his front feet firmly beneath him, Rusty's back feet slipped against the rolling downward edge and he fell back on his side--this time gravity prevailing. Rusty slipped off the edge. Every single muscle in my body screamed with agony as I gave them all to the lead rope in my hands. It was a tug of war with life and death. Somehow, with strength not my own, he stopped. Only his head was topside, his body hanging against the vertical side of the cliff. And I had exceeded my limits.

Thank goodness for Jim Wallick and the Carr brothers. At the moment I thought I couldn't hold on for another instant they rushed over and grabbed the rope. It took all five of us pulling in unison, just half an inch at a time, to pull Rusty back up on top. After hauling him to safety, we all stood in welcome relief. Rusty just laid there groaning.

Back on his feet again, all five us us dragged, lifted, and pushed Rusty over the 3 boulders. For the rest of the trail, he was a perfect gentleman and after leading him off the steep stuff, I ended up riding him back across the sandy valley floor to the trailer. It was a near death experience for Rusty, and the sight of him falling to the cliff's rock strewn bottom still feels real in my mind's eye hours later.

So, following such a tale, I need to certify here that no animals or asses were harmed in the creation of this post. But it was close. My ass has never been in such a tight spot.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Grand Canyon Tricks and Treats

So Preston, how would you like to go trick-or-treating in the Grand Canyon this year? I know a line-cabin where we might find some candy. "But Dad? There won't be very many houses down there..."

The only time we like dense neighborhoods around here is when we are trying to maximize the candy return on a costume investment. But for Preston and me, it was going to be the Mud Springs line-cabin for Halloween, and it is about the only game in town for countless miles of Grand Canyon Country. Mud Springs cabin is an old prospectors haunt where the Hughes and Snyders layover as they move their cows in and out of their winter range in the lower elevations of the Grand Canyon. After 80 miles of tortured dirt road in an old truck and stock trailer, and another 10 or more miles down the vertically-indulgent Dan Sills trail on mule, the saddle bags better be laden with candy for the trip back home.

We were there to round up last spring's calves and bring them back to town for weaning and sale with Dan Snyder. We spent the weekend helping Dan fix the spring that had stopped filling the stock tank, gather the herd, and pushing them back up the Dan Sills trail to his ranch on top. Preston did a mans work on his little mule without much complaint. Minnie Pearl took good care of him, even when he fell asleep in the saddle.

It was a pretty good trick to find a bag of Halloween treats in the lower reaches of the Grand Canyon. It was an even better treat to spend Halloween cowboying with my little pard.