I’M BAAACK…

From: Meridian, ID: I’m pretty sure I won’t finish this version of the Blather today (Sunday). I’m enjoying the view from brother Ron’s beautiful vacation home – Mustang Haven, by name – and with Ron feeling the need for a short nap (we got started gambling pretty early this morning), I found myself with some time on the computer. Figured I might as well get started writing about the trip, even though I’m sure I won’t be finishing before I get home tomorrow. It was a nice drive down, yesterday…definitely a blue-sky day. You should recall that Jan and I have driven the same route many times while on our way to visit Erik’s family in southern California. And on all those trips, we have rarely seen much wildlife. A deer or two, occasionally; likewise, an antelope once in a while. Well, with my having taken up whistlepig hunting this year, I found myself scanning the wide-open spaces for the versions of that little beastie living in Oregon and Nevada. And what do you know…I actually spotted a few! In fact, as I was on the phone with Erik (while driving a few miles north of Winnemucca, NV) I ran over one that was attempting to cross the road. Not intentionally, mind you. (I don’t mind shooting them, but I don’t need to use my pickup as weapon.) But while I won’t swerve to hit one, I won’t swerve to miss him, either. He was a victim of his own poor timing, the way I see it. It was a difficult to tell, exactly, but I’m pretty sure he got safely across the path of the left-side tires…I think it was the right-side rear tire that got him. But although I did see a half-dozen or more (and more holes than that, by far), they were in nowhere near the numbers that live in the desert south of Boise where I have been going over the past several months. Of course I was moving along at 65 – 75 mph, so I’m sure I missed spotting a few that were out. Ya think? Judging by the ones I saw, they appear to be pretty much the same species as those I’ve seen in Idaho. I’ve heard tell they are somewhat bigger in central Oregon (probably thanks to the alfalfa fields), but my route didn’t take me that far west.

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(The colt with the Virginia Highlands band of 6 mustangs.)

(The colt with the Virginia Highlands band of 6 mustangs.)

I came up the “back way” to Mustang Haven, which is situated in the highlands north of Virginia City. That is, I turned south at Fernley, NV and joined US 50 westbound towards Carson City. A few miles east of that capitol city, a state highway runs north from 50, winding its way through several old Comstock days towns, the names of most which escape me, now. All I can recall are: Gold Hill, Silver City and, of course, Virginia City. It took a few minutes to drive through the latter…it appeared there was a motorcycle event in town. I’ll take a guess at several hundred bikes – mostly Harleys, as you might expect – parked in town. The sidewalks were jammed! Before reaching VC, however, I was happy to notice a major construction project underway, aiming to build a modern highway to accommodate the ever-increasing traffic. The continuation of the highway northwest to Reno could use some straightening (and widening), as well, but I don’t know if that work is in the mill or not. As it happens, Ron showed me a different route down the mountain yesterday afternoon, and after that jaunt the current – paved – highway (called Geiger Grade) doesn’t look all that bad. I will not be taking that new route anytime soon, thank you. Not by myself, at any rate.

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(Mustangs visiting Ron's creek.)

(Mustangs visiting Ron’s creek.)

As I was on Ron’s driveway, only minutes from my parking spot, I disturbed the local band of mustangs, taking it easy in the shade of some trees. Not that they are particularly afraid of humans, but they are, after all, wild animals. So they elected to move off when I stopped to take a couple of pictures. I didn’t get a real could count, but I think there were four or five adults and one colt…a cute little pinto (the picture above). At least one of the adults was a pinto, too, so she may have been the colt’s mother. When I parked by the house I notice that the band had already made their way up to the “creek” that Ron had built soon after he bought the place. I would guess it is a regular stop for the mustangs…there isn’t that much water in the area. It’s kind of fun to see these non-native animals once in a while, but it’s just as well they are nomads. They can cause a lot of damage to any landscaping that homeowners up here might put in, to say nothing of the piles of poop they leave as momentos of their visit.

(Ron's private creek, which doubles as a watering trough for mustangs.)

(Ron’s private creek, which doubles as a watering trough for mustangs.)

In fact, mustangs roaming the western states are an ever-increasing problem. It is now illegal to hunt them for either pet food or human food (in Europe, mostly), and they are taking over hundreds (thousands, more likely) of acres of habitat that truly native species should be using. Not that long ago, anyone who wanted to try taming a mustang for use on his/her ranch could simply go catch one and do their best. That, too, is illegal now. In order to maintain some control on the population, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) routinely captures and corrals hundreds of them. These captives can be “adopted” by interested civilians, but it is not a simple process, and the demand for such adoptees is sporadic, at best. I’ve read that while some folks have been happy with their adopted mustangs, the truth is they don’t make very good ranch animals. Ah, well…it is still fun to see them around here every once in a while. Heck, how do you think Ron came up with the name, “Mustang Haven,” for his lovely log house? The creek, as I mentioned, is man-made…a “loop” of water running down the hillside to a pond adjacent to the lower-level patio and then pumped back up the hill to run down again. The horses make good use of it, as do a number of other creatures that live in the area: rabbits, deer, coyotes (probably), and who knows what all? It was a great landscaping idea, and really sets off the all-around beauty of the place.

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As expected, I didn’t finish or post this yesterday. A self-fulfilling prophecy, obviously. Anyhow, I can report that I am now back home, after a drive of 9 hours. (I stopped quite a few times…twice just to clean the windshield! Bugs!) It was another gorgeous day in the west…or at least that part of the west where I drove. The only thing I would change if I had the opportunity is the departure time. Ron had a 6:00 AM departure time at the Reno Airport, so he had to get up at 4:00 AM. I didn’t care to hang around in his empty house for a more comfortable wake-up call, so I asked him to wake me as soon as he got up. Even so, I had to hustle far, far more than I am accustomed to in order to be ready to leave at 4:30. Heck, at home it takes me longer than that just to go to the bathroom. I made up a little time going through Virginia City (streets deserted at that time of day) and going down the mountain. I couldn’t exactly speed, though…it is a very twist-y downhill road, and one with which I am absolutely unfamiliar. Then I lost whatever time I might have made up later on when, north of Winnemucca, I had quite a long road construction delay. But oh well, I didn’t have a deadline, anyway, and, as I said, it was a nice day for driving.

(A range of mountains in Oregon.)

(A range of mountains in Oregon.)

Just after crossing the Nevada-Oregon border, one has a view of a mountain range out to the west of the highway. From what I can tell on the map, it could be the Hart Mountain Range, with Steens Mountain as the highest peak. Whatever it is called, it is quite a nice view from the highway, albeit a bit hazy…at least it was today. I took a picture, anyway. See…I told you it was hazy in the distance. And by the way, there are whistlepig dens out in that sagebrush. They are everywhere!

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(Leveling the underlayment before pouring cement.)

(Leveling the underlayment before pouring cement.)

The crew involved with the concrete pour for the patio project were here when I arrived home. They were working on a different earlier in the day, though, so about all they accomplished here was to get the “underlay” material spread and leveled. They didn’t get the holes dug for the support posts footings, however, so that’s what they will probably do first tomorrow. We have learned by now that they have other projects going at the same time as ours, so it is common for them to work at two different locations during any given day (maybe even three…I don’t know). My point is that I didn’t ask them what time they planned on being here, and the boss didn’t volunteer the information. Of course it’s generally true that even when we are given a time to expect them, we still don’t really know what time they will arrive. :-)

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I had a great time visiting with Ron. We see each much too seldom, in my opinion. Come to think of it, that’s how Jan and I feel about all our family members! We didn’t make much progress on my idea of another website “shopping guide” business…only talked about the feasibility of such a project. I’m going to try to “rough out” my ideas for what the website would look like and what sort of information it might contain. When I get something actually on paper, I’ll send it on to Ron to see what he thinks. So aside from visiting (while we were at the house), we spent much of the time at the Tamarack casino…Ron’s favorite hangout in Nevada. He knows virtually everybody that works there (they all know him, too), and I was able to meet several of them Saturday evening and Sunday morning.. Ron had a couple of pretty big wins while we were playing, so that was fun. I did not have any of the big wins, but I enjoyed myself all the same. And much of the time we were playing machines side by side, so we even got to accomplish some additional visiting. That usually doesn’t happen in a casino…people go there together and (usually) leave together, but often don’t see each other while inside the place. But, as always, it really feels good to be home again. I’m going to sleep well tonight, I’m sure. Bud

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