That thingy with the Arrow that Points North

A while back, I bought the cheapest Compass that was hanging on the rack at REI. It was this little thing that hung off the strap of my backpack that didn’t have dials or anything. It just gave you a direction. I figured I could at least use it to get myself north, south, east or west. Sounds easy enough!  If I keep walking West, I’d eventually hit the Pacific Ocean and then I’d know for SURE where I was. Of course I’d probably die before I got there and never see the Ocean. So I bought a map.  A large fold out piece of paper of shades of green and tan with a gazzillion squiggly lines and numbers.   I look at the map then at the compass, look at the map, then at the compass.  Hmmmmm..   Nothing made sense.

So, I did what every person thirsting for knowledge does… I go to YouTube. It’s there I learn from some fine compass reading YouTubers that I have to account for Declination in order to use the map with the compass. Something about the curvature of the Earth, True North, Magnetic North.. WHAT?  THERE ARE TWO NORTHS?  What the hell is going on here?

I needed to get to the bottom of this Two Norths thing (sounded hoaxy to me) and signed up for a class from REI.

Now, I can read a Topography map (sort of-need practice) and read my compass and I know the difference between the “Norths.”  Oh, and I learned something VERY IMPORTANT.  I had to keep “Fred in the Shed.”

Epic Rains = Wildflowers on the Ranch

After very big rainy winter, the wildflowers have gone NUTS on our ranch. We get to enjoy them for a short while before they die. Unfortunately, we have to mow a lot of them before they dry in preparation of fire season which will start in just a few weeks! Then our ranch will turn into a hot, brown dust bowl for 6 months with not one green blade of grass to be seen until winter!

 

Oh and Rebel the ranch dog goes swimming for the very first time EVER in his life!  It took him a while, but he just couldn’t stand not having his ball any longer and finally jumped in!

 

A Water Wonderland! Feather Falls

HAPPY EARTH DAY EARTHLINGS!

WOW what a hike. This is what I said all day on Friday.  WOW, WOW, WOW!  The Feather Falls trail is about 26 miles east of Oroville CA.  This year it’s spectacular with the abundance of water coming out of the mountains (which are still deep in snow) and the wildflowers in every color of the rainbow!  I have feeling this water will be flowing for quite some time – well into early summer.

This trail is just a little over 9 miles up and back. It has a good hill to climb just before you get to the falls, but the trail is not that hard, just a little rocky and uneven footing in places.  If you are a beginner, just take it slow and you will be rewarded at the end with some serious Water Fall eye candy!  And the sound.. oh the sound!

Sit back and enjoy the hike!

 

 

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Sesame Street in the Woods? What?

In this episode of Twylalword, we go on an 11 mile hike in the beautiful foothills of Northern California near the town of Foresthill. This is a GREAT hike and has very nice ups and downs and is the perfect interval workout. This trail is shared with mountain bikes and horses. Beautiful in the Spring!   The trailhead is 3.7 miles from the center of the Foresthill Bridge on the Auburn/Foresthill Road. (Gate 118)  You will need to display your state park poppy pass, or pay 10.00 for the day to park.

We come across a weird ode to Sesame Street, a GIANT tire in the middle of the woods, and we get to hear the story about a guy dubbed “sticky pants”!

Sit back and enjoy the scenery!

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When Dead Sharks Attack

Sooo…. we were just strolling along the Crabby Joe’s pier in Daytona Beach Florida, after having a fabulous fish sandwich (great restaurant by the way), when we ran across a guy that just caught a Blacktip Shark in about 2-3 feet of water.  From what I have read, the Blacktip shark is typically shy and leave the swimmers alone. However, there ARE instances of swimmers getting bit. These sharks can get pretty big, up to 9 feet!

From Wikipedia

Blacktip sharks showing curiosity towards divers has been reported, but they remain at a safe distance. Under most circumstances, these timid sharks are not regarded as highly dangerous to humans. However, they may become aggressive in the presence of food, and their size and speed invite respect.[1] As of 2008, the International Shark Attack File lists 28 unprovoked attacks (one fatal) and 13 provoked attacks by this species.[31] Blacktip sharks are responsible annually for 16% of the shark attacks around Florida. Most attacks by this species result in only minor wounds.[2]

What I DIDN’T know, and wouldn’t have believed if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyeballs is that a dead shark with its guts completely removed can still bite you!  It’s nerve reflexes are still quite active!

WARNING GRAPHIC AND BLOODY 

And if you’re like me, this warning will make you click the watch button even faster!

 

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The food at Crabby Joe’s is FANTASTIC and I highly recommend a visit!

Upside Down on a Running Horse

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(yep this is me!)

At 40, I decided I wanted to ride a galloping horse at full speed while hanging by one foot upside down.  This is called trick riding!

Mid life crisis?  Hells yes!   It all started when I saw a photo of a woman riding a galloping horse standing up on top of the saddle! I NEED TO LEARN TO DO THIS.  This sport was huge back in the 30s through 60s, with trick riders performing at all of the rodeos. But for some reason, it started to die out and there were only a handful of people doing this sport in the entire US! There was no one to teach me!   There were no YouTube videos, no DVDs, nothing in Google that showed me how to trick ride.  NOTHING!   The only thing that I found was a book called “Trick and Fancy Riding, 140 ways to break your neck” that was written about 50 years ago.  In this book were stunts that were done on a galloping horse with little stick figure drawings showing the prospective lunatic how to get in and out of each trick!  NUTS!

Then one day, after searching and searching in Google about anything to do with horse stunt riding and finding zilch, I came upon a very crude personal webpage of a man named Rex Rossi about 20 pages deep in the dark reaches of Google.   Rex Rossi is in the Stunt Man Hall of Fame. His trick riding saddle is on display in the Gene Autry Museum in LA. He was a national Trick Riding Champion many times over and performed at Madison Square Garden for 19 consecutive years as a trick rider and trick roper. He had been in a zillion movies and had doubled for John Wayne, Roy Rogers, Clint Eastwood and many others. He was  also a stunt man on TV shows such as Bonanza. He was legendary. I about fainted when I clicked on his contact page and it said he lived only 45 minutes from my house!

I practically had to audition for the man in order to get lessons from him. Once I proved I was serious, he finally let me bring my horse to his ranch.  He was in his 80s at this time and I was lucky to find him when I did. He passed away a couple of years later!

I became a professional trick rider performing at fairs, rodeos and private events throughout the state. I started my own trick riding team called the radical riders. I gave lessons, filmed a trick riding documentary and started the website www.rodeotrickrider.com that had the first forum about the sport before Facebook was around. I have to say that my website brought so many people into this sport and trick riding has made huge comeback. I was also profiled in this fantastic book call Wild Women and Tricky Ladies by Jill Stanford about legendary  and present day trick riders!

In 2008, I broke my arm while trick riding at a rodeo and this led to the end of my performing because my doc said I had bone density issues and I didn’t need to be hanging upside down from a horse any longer.  However, I still gave lessons at my ranch and traveled to other states to give clinics and private lessons.

Today, my chapter in this wonderful world of trick and fancy riding has come to a complete end as I start another chapter in my life. My horse is old and I quit giving lessons at my ranch. The sand in my arena has washed away from the past two winters, and I’m selling my custom trick riding saddle that I had specially made in 2008. That was a hard decision. But, its just sitting in the barn and I need the funds to buy backpacking gear! My new chapter!

What will I do next?  Hike a few hundred miles? We shall call it my golden years crisis!

 

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Rex Rossi!

Art on the Train Tracks

As a kid, we would travel along I-80 through the Sierra and I was always fascinated by the miles of man-made tunnels that hung on the side of the mountain on the other side of Donner Lake.  Back in those days, the tunnels were still being used by trains getting over the Sierra.  Today, the tracks have been removed and the trains have been re-routed.

It amazes me on how many people never noticed them, even after traversing that stretch of freeway a zillion times!   How can you NOT notice these engineering marvels?   If you want to know the history of these sheds is fascinating, even if you aren’t a trail buff.

October of last year, we had the opportunity to take a guided tour of the sheds with a knowledgeable train historian. That was very interesting.  However what I DIDN’T expect to see in these tunnels was the unbelievable art!  It’s not your run-of-the-mill graffiti art. These are masterpieces in my book!  Its dark in these tunnels, so these artists burned up a lot of flashlight battery to get these babies done!

PS,  if you are traversing the PCT, you can take a short side tour of the tunnels. It’s right off of the trail. It’s worth it, and very cool temps in the summer months.

Take a walk with me into the the tunnel of Art.

 

Here is the link to the history of the tunnels.

My Mom, The Woman Who Taught me to ADVENTURE BIG!

Letting Go

Have you ever heard the story of someone being at the bedside of a dying loved one and telling them it’s time to go?  Then at that moment, the loved one takes their last breath?  Have you ever experienced this yourself?  I had always heard these stories and on February 3, this happened to me. My 92-year-old mother had been living in a memory care facility for the past 6 years. It was so very hard to see her deteriorate to the shell of a person that she once was. She eventually stopped talking and was completely bed ridden.  My mother was vibrant, lively and active and if there was a plug to pull, she would have pulled it herself!  She would have never, ever wanted this.  Who would?

When I got to her room, she was breathing pretty heavy and my dad, who is 96, hadn’t arrived yet. I went to my mother’s bedside, stroked her hair and said it was OK to get going on her next journey. It was time for her to leave her old and tired body and go see her parents, sister and other family.  Right then she took her last breath.

We had prayed for her to be let out of her prison, but when it actually happens, the reality sets in that our mother is GONE!  The woman who gave birth to me and my sister, raised us, and helped take care of my son was gone forever. Our mother.

If you had an awesome mom that you lost much too early, I am so very sorry. That sucks and has to be so freaking hard. My mom was 92 and it was still hard.

The American Dream

Eloyce M. Miller (later Cornett) was born in Shawnee Oklahoma in 1924.  When she was 2 years old, mom, dad and her baby sister, Lowetta took a  Model T car over a wooden plank road to California where there was promise of work. My grandfather Pete did many things to keep the family afloat during the depression.  He was a ditch digger, a baker, a miner, a gas station owner, a farmer, a house fixer-upper, you name it. My grandmother Thelma worked right along with him. They moved around a lot!  Northern California (Nevada City, North San Juan, Auburn) then to Arizona. They moved up and down the state of California from Los Angeles to Northern California a couple of times.

Eloyce graduated from Nevada City High School in 1942.  After high school, she worked as waitress, a dime store clerk, a machine shop worker, and a telephone operator. She eventually joined the Army and was stationed in Ft. Benning Georgia as a parachute rigger with the 82nd Airborne Division. It was there where she met my paratrooper dad, Marvin Cornett, who had just returned from the war.  He was a  Jump Master, teaching new recruits how to jump out of planes.  My dad owned an Army surplus Harley motorcycle and they rode in the rain to the courthouse in Phoenix City Alabama and got married by a Justice of the Peace, who by the way, had tobacco stains on his shirt!  In 1946 my sister Marleen was born.  My dad got out of the Army briefly to try his hand in the civilian world. After a year or so, he re-joined the Army and made a career of it for 28 years. The Army moved them all over the place from four years in France to various Army posts in the states. I was born in 1959 in Illinois where my dad was an Army recruiter. We lived in a mobile home and my mother hated every minute of the nine years we lived in snow country.

She  was very happy when my dad retired from the Army and we moved back to Northern California to be close to her family and out of the snow.

In the 1970s, Eloyce worked at McClellan Air Force Base in Sacramento CA as a secretary, an avionics repair technician, and in a warehouse where she worked on a conveyor belt boxing and moving military supplies. She even drove a forklift.

When Eloyce and Marvin retired, they traveled.. They spent several years driving their motor home from Northern California to Mazatlan Mexico and would park there for six months out of the year. They took trips all over the US, Europe, Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong, Alaska, Canada, Panama Canal, and the Caribbean. (I may be leaving out some spots)

Eloyce was a gifted artist (oil and acrylic), craft maker, seamstress, golfer, clogger, bowler, guitar player, belly dancer, world traveler and party hostess. (She loved to throw a party!)

Safe travels Mother!  See you on the other side!

To read my mom’s entire memoir in her own words, click here

There are a ton of pics and it’s a pretty awesome read.

Click here to see the music video to the song I wrote about her mom and dad. The lyrics were taken almost word for word out of her book.

Mountain Winter Wonder Disneyland

I have been a downhill skier for the past 43 years and I thought I’d never give that up!  Sadly its become so darned expensive (100+ dollars a day) to get a few runs in. I just don’t want to pay it.  Oh sure, I could get a season pass, but then I’d have to ski a boatload of times to make the pass pay for itself. Then, the pressure is ON to get up the hill once or twice a week in the 12 week ski window in Northern California. Then there are the winters where the snow is CRAP and I just paid a boatload of dollars for a worthless season pass.

I have now switched over to snowshoeing and possibly cross country skiing. I never understood the attraction of either until last Friday. For one thing, it’s FREE (other than $5.00 parking) and it’s beautiful.  No pressure to get up the hill and use a pass and deal with the crowds, lines and ridiculous price of a lift ticket!!

Take a walk through the winter wonderland of Donner Lake with my hiking buddy John and I.   WHO ELSE has been priced out of downhill skiing?

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