Blog .:. June 2013 4 Entries
I went camping a few weeks ago. I say “camping,” but I’m not sure how much pitching a tent next to a parked car counts as camping. I mean, my neighbors on one side had enough tents to make a small village, and they were only outside for as long as it took to zip and unzip the netting. The neighbors on the other side spent their days playing video games and watching TV.
But I went camping. Because I wanted to go hiking. Which was a laugh, because most of the trails were crushed gravel, and that’s not hiking. That’s a nice stroll in the park. At least it was a change of scenery, right?
So there I am, in 90 degree Texas heat, setting up my tent, and I discover several important things:
- Aluminum stakes bend as soon as you look at them. I don’t remember them doing this the last time I had the tent out. Maybe the ground is harder in Texas?
- My inflatable mattress wants to be a slip and slide. It slid all over my tent floor with wild abandon. I poke and prod it a few times, trying to remember if it did this before, and give up. Maybe it will stay in place while I’m sleeping? I can weigh it down?
- I forgot my pillow. I blame this on packing for car camping: since you can kind of just throw everything in the car and organization is optional, it’s easy to forget the really important things. Like pillows.
Never mind, I think. My tent is pitched and I’ll go for a
Ten minutes into my walk, I discover the route I want to take is closed. However, the path forks here and I can take another route. Because I treat planning and directions as optional bonuses, I have no trail map and no idea where this trail goes. This would be worrisome if I were, say, in the wilds of Canada, but I’m pretty sure I can’t get lost and die in this park. Probably.
I was right on that score, and it’s not long before I find a map of the trails and establish a new plan. A couple hours later, I am looping back on what I expect to be the last section of trail, and then my campsite, and then dinner.
That’s when I run into the alligator:
I apologize for the photo quality. I brought my regular camera, but I forgot its memory card. This was taken with my phone camera on max zoom. If you think I actually got this close to the alligator, you’re insane.
The bike you can see in the background belongs to someone who biked right past the alligator without seeing it, hit a “Trail Closed” sign, turned around, and went “Oh, shit.”
His son was with him and freaking out a bit, but after a few minutes they both slipped past the alligator safely and went on their way. I went on my way, too, resigned to adding an unexpected additional mile or so to my hike.
But hey, I thought, at least I would sleep well.
As it turns out, my air mattress continued its slip and slide imitation all night. The only time it wasn’t sliding out from under me was when it was deflating.
If you think I should have just given up and slept on the hard ground, I refer you to the list above. The ground was so hard it was bending my tent stakes, and I didn’t even have a pillow to help things out. Retrieving and reinflating my mattress every few hours was much better than doing nothing at all.
The next morning, I decided to get a quick 3 mile walk in before getting in the car, to loosen up after my rough night. I had somewhere to be so was on a timeline, but I knew I could get the walk done in time.
I refer you to the above statement, re: maps and directions.
The walk was supposed to hit two trails. I had an image in my mind of those two trails that turned out not to be at all how the trails went. And so, after about 2.5 miles, when the trails were not doing what I expected, I got nervous. If I was going to make my appointment, I was going to have to turn around very soon to have time to hike back 2.5 miles. But if the trail would just loop back like I expected, I would only have another .5 mile to go.
Compounding my doubts was that the name of the loop I was on had been unfamiliar to me when I took it. Was that because memorizing the names of things has never been my forté, or was it because I had taken a wrong turn and was on the way to Timbuktu?
I did the “one more bend” thing a few times, but there was just more trail.
I turned and hiked the 2.5 miles back, going as fast as I could and mentally congratulating myself on packing up the campsite before I left. Even allowing for a quick shower, I ought to be on time.
As it turned out, I was probably within a few hundred yards of the loop hitting the main trail again, meaning I walked an extra two miles for no good reason. I guess that’s what I deserve for not reading the map better.
I did see a few deer on my powerwalk back to my car, and I nearly ran over an adolescent alligator on my way to the showers.
For a first time out in a few years, it was not a bad trip. I mean, my tent didn’t leak or anything. Wait… it didn’t rain. Well, all the parts of the tent were present and accounted for, anyway, even if a bit bent.
I have some new tent stakes to replace the worst of the bent ones and a new mattress to replace the slip and slide.
Next time I’ll try to remember the memory card for my actual camera, which doesn’t take the best ever pictures because it’s over five years old now and the digital revolution has long since left it in the dust. But it’s still better than my cell phone camera.
So next time I run into an alligator, maybe the photo will look like an alligator.
I am cleaning out my closet and have a For Sale page now (link also in the menu above).
As of this posting, items for sale include the following list. The For Sale page includes prices and a link to my Facebook albums where you can view pictures (the albums are public, so you do not need to have a Facebook account to view them):
- 17.5” W Passier GG dressage saddle
- 17” Bates Caprilli H/J saddle
- Navy Blue Toklat Microsuede Bareback Pad
- Two Cashel Crusader fly masks without ears
- Brown Collegiate fancy stitched bridle, likely cob size
- Black Fleeceworks classic half pad, 22.5” along spine inside rolled fleece edge; 26” along spine including fleece edge
- Medium Fleeceworks classic half pad, white with natural color fleece. Rolled edge along front only
- Regular size hind Regal galloping boots from Classic Equine
- Brown Tory nylon-lined stirrup leathers
- Brown Wintec elastic girths, sizes 44” and 48”
Other items will be added as I continue to go through everything.
By Andrew Barton Paterson. First published in the Antipodean (1893).
It was somewhere up the country, in a land of rock and scrub,
That they formed an institution called the Geebung Polo Club.
They were long and wiry natives from the rugged mountain side,
And the horse was never saddled that the Geebungs couldn’t ride;
But their style of playing polo was irregular and rash—
They had mighty little science, but a mighty lot of dash:
And they played on mountain ponies that were muscular and strong,
Though their coats were quite unpolished, and their manes and tails were long.
And they used to train those ponies wheeling cattle in the scrub:
They were demons, were the members of the Geebung Polo Club.
It was somewhere down the country, in a city’s smoke and steam,
That a polo club existed, called ‘The Cuff and Collar Team.’
As a social institution ‘twas a marvellous success,
For the members were distinguished by exclusiveness and dress.
They had natty little ponies that were nice, and smooth, and sleek,
For their cultivated owners only rode ‘em once a week.
So they started up the country in pursuit of sport and fame,
For they meant to show the Geebungs how they ought to play the game;
And they took their valets with them—just to give their boots a rub
Ere they started operations on the Geebung Polo Club.
Now my readers can imagine how the contest ebbed and flowed,
When the Geebung boys got going it was time to clear the road;
And the game was so terrific that ere half the time was gone
A spectator’s leg was broken—just from merely looking on.
For they waddied one another till the plain was strewn with dead,
While the score was kept so even that they neither got ahead.
And the Cuff and Collar captain, when he tumbled off to die,
Was the last surviving player—so the game was called a tie.
Then the captain of the Geebungs raised him slowly from the ground,
Though his wounds were mostly mortal, yet he fiercely gazed around;
There was no one to oppose him—all the rest were in a trance,
So he scrambled on his pony for his last expiring chance,
For he meant to make an effort to get victory to his side;
So he struck at goal—and missed it—then he tumbled off and died.
* * * * *
By the old Campaspe River, where the breezes shake the grass,
There’s a row of little gravestones that the stockmen never pass,
For they bear a crude inscription saying, ‘Stranger, drop a tear,
For the Cuff and Collar players and the Geebung boys lie here.’
And on misty moonlit evenings, while the dingoes howl around,
You can see their shadows flitting down that phantom polo ground;
You can hear the loud collisions as the flying players meet,
And the rattle of the mallets, and the rush of ponies’ feet,
Till the terrified spectator rides like blazes to the pub—
He’s been haunted by the spectres of the Geebung Polo Club.
Andrew Barton “Banjo” Paterson is one of the best-known Australian Bush poets. While “Waltzing Matilda” and “The Man from Snowy River” are his most anthologized poems, it’s worth picking up the entire The Man from Snowy River collection and reading his other poems. The poems are a bit rough and rolicking, much like the people he writes about, and will give you a sense of not just the characters and scenes but also the spirit of Australia in the late 1800s.
After six months of not riding at all, and almost a year of not riding regularly—and certainly not riding well, even when I was in the saddle—I’m starting over. Again.
I’ll be taking some lessons and doing some catch riding for a while. I may look in to half leasing later this fall, although for various reasons I’m not going to buy a horse again for a few years.
At this point, I’ve been back in the saddle a few times. Unfortunately, my grand Come Back party was not nearly as well attended as I would have liked.
Hip Alignment sent its regrets, in the form of Duck Feet.
My hands showed up, but they were flighty and tended to freeze at the worst moments.
My seat didn’t even respond to the invitation. I’ve heard through the grapevine that it is denying allegations that it ever knew me.
But as if to make up for all that, Leaning Forward and Collapsing Through the Rib Cage not only showed up, they brought beer hats, deep-fried cheetos, and foam fingers to cheer me on.
And Staring At the Dirt announced it had found some property it liked and would be putting in an offer.
So… clearly I have my work cut out for me, but I’ll admit there is a part of me that is just so happy to be back in the saddle again that I don’t mind if all my habits and I are riding around like drunk monkeys.
On the other hand… my willingness to admit such things may be why my seat is applying for the Witness Protection Program.
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