Hot Rods Of This And That On HRCG!

Hot Rods of this and that on HRCG is another segment of photos taken the last few years and it may explain the Hot Rod Cowgirl name of my blog.

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If you are a serious car guy you will love this post…you can double-click on my photos and they will enlarge:)

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In this post I want to share some of the restored vehicles that my hubby has created for our customers.

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I hope you enjoy seeing a few of these incredible restorations, custom builds and amazing rides.

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Hang on and here we go…Zoom Zoom!

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We attend many car shows during the year to display our workmanship and to showcase the vehicles. This is our display at the Portland Roadster Show…we often showcase some of the recent customer vehicles to show the quality of the restorations we do…and people love to walk through our 30′ car trailer as we have photos displayed inside of various cars we have restored and built. We run videos of the vehicles through out the restoration…some restorations have 1000 hours in them from start to finish.

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Portland was the beginning of many large car shows to follow…

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As well as summer shows that are held in smaller towns with a sense of community and country fun…often the shows attract well over 350 cars with the show held in the downtown area which is nice, we women can shop!

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The photo above is one of my favorites. It was taken at the Portland Roadster Show the year we took 10 of our customer vehicles that WB restored…every car you see was restored and rebuilt to perfection. We brought home 12 trophies that year!

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The first year we attended the Portland Roadster Show, we took three of our restorations to display etc. I had been diagnosed with bc a few weeks before the show…WB said no we can not go…I told WB nope we are going to the show! This is the part of the business that is my part, I had approached the Roadster Show about coming…and it was an honor to be chosen to display our work and we were going!

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Only the vehicles which show complete perfection are selected to attend…so in a way you have already won to a degree if you are chosen to display your cars. We had six customer restorations displayed at the 2010 Roadster Show…we won six classes and brought home six trophies!

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 WB is giving me “The Look” as  he does not like me taking pictures of him….ha! The cars right behind him were our display that first year…1931 Blue Ford Tudor…1948 Red Chev. Pick Up…1946 Ford Tudor with the flames. Guess what? All three vehicles won Best Of Class in their respective classes and that is out of 550 cars, it was the 50th Portland Roadster Show! We were so pumped!!!

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I love this 1946 Ford Tudor, it’s a go fast and has all the comforts of today’s car, plus WB’s flames…and Wild Bill is famous for his signature flames!

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 Mr. Blue has won six times at the Roadster Show with us over the years…this 1931 Ford Tudor is incredibly cool!

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Another one of my favorites and I would LOVE to drive it:)

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TV interview day in the Secret Lab with Wild Bill! I love this…my entire married life to WB I have waited for this to happen! I love seeing WB get credit for the work he has done over many years….and I love seeing him talk…hee-hee…he is not a talker and was a nervous wreck!

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My hubby is MacGyver to the car world as he has the vision to see a rusted pile of junk restored into a regal vehicle.

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The first night of set up at a smaller show of 200 cars….we took the Ford Tudor to display and also some of our flame plates. Wild Bill does a lot of flame plates for the customers in their choice of colors so they can see the color and decide if it is the right one for their car.

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I am planning to do a post on one vehicle with before photos and during photos…

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This GTO had major rust and the quarter panels had to be changed as well as the floor of the entire vehicle.

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And after photos so you can see the process…as it is amazing!

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Hang on as we are going to switch gears grabbing more horsepower!

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Whew this tire cleaning is hard work and I need a break…

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Ahhhh…just what I needed:)

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Have a great weekend! HRCG over and out for now…but never for long!

Photos Of This And That On HRCG!

Photos of this and that on HRCG is me sorting through over 3000 photos.

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Minnie Mouse telling me….”Ahhhh Mom, don’t worry I am with you…I will be your nurse and your heart…I will make you smile as you recover from BC.” And she did:)

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Remember you can click on all my pictures and they will enlarge:)

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Annie’s time…hooking on with son Curt!

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Pat and Jack…

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Dasher and Kiah!

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My sweet Melody:)

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Solitude…

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Incredibly quiet and beautiful!

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Wishing you a fun-filled week wherever you may be!

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Stay tuned as I did not make a dent in the 3000 photos:)

The Sounds Of Country Silence

The sounds of country silence are…profoundly silent…incredibly quiet…and filled with a very still solitude.

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Living in country silence is my daily world. Sometimes it is more than hard to take as I love being around people while going, doing, and seeing life but my life has always been country quiet.

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Silence so still that some nights you can hear a train 10 miles away…silence so still you can hear your neighbor’s telephone ring on a summer night and they live a mile away over a hill!

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You learn to value the tick-tock of the clock for company and if you listen closer you can hear the hands move a bit with each tick…and if Minnie is close to me and she always is, I can hear her snore ever so softly or her stretching from her nap making a squeaky sound…I often listen to the refrigerator running and the ice maker filling…I recognize my neighbors pick ups as they drive by and always know the cattle trucks hauling cattle out of Juniper to the mountains…I know who it is before I see them.

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These are only a few of the sounds of my days…the old house creaking last night and today in the windstorm…the owls at night…hawks overhead…coyotes howling…the sounds and presence of our outside dogs…and the same with Ellie who is my inside dog…the sounds of nothing…the sounds of silence…the sounds of my life.

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My day begins with Minnie Mouse waking me with her wake up call “Yeowly Meow and Good Morning:)” Then WB gets up, I try to snuggle back down but one of the dogs outside barks and I wonder if it is a neighbor? I can hear the horses and the sound of their hooves running back and forth, waiting for their breakfast and I’m up.

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Making my way to the kitchen, I can smell the coffee brewing…WB is already out the door headed to feed horses and check water…then off to the shop…now it’s me and Minnie and Ellie. I get out my cup while looking out the same kitchen window I have looked out of forever, as I listen to the morning sounds…the tick-tock of the wall clock, the howling winds outside and the coffee pot hissing a bit.

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Today the wind is blowing out of a different direction as it howls and moans against the house, giving me different house creaks and groans to listen to. I love the sound of rain on the roof which is soothing to my soul…when it rains at night, it lulls me to sleep with rain drops falling ever so softly on our lives here, bathing the house and watering the crops, it’s always a beautiful sound to my ears.

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Some days I talk to myself just to hear a voice…and I write, talking the words on to a sheet of paper or to my blog which helps me feel connected to the world.

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It is the quiet life I know and love…and I will never take for granted. I know how blessed I am to experience life as I know it!

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The song, Sounds Of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel, was going through my head as I was writing….go to iTunes if you don’t have it as it was a great song.

“Hello darkness my old friend…I’ve come to talk with you again,

Because a vision softly creeping…Left its seeds while I was sleeping,

And the vision that was planted in my brain,

Still remains…Within the sound of silence.”

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Wishing you a Fabulous Fantastic Fun Friday and a wonderful weekend wherever you may be!  Spring is coming…my camera is ready and waiting to go:) HRCG over and out for now but not for long!

Happy Valentines Day My Wild Bill!

 I hope you all had a wonderful Valentines Day…this is late but heart felt:)

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February 14th is an anniversary for us as Wild Bill and I met 38 years ago on Valentines Day.

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It seemed by chance, but God had it planned…we knew we had found our soul mate, our life partner and best friend…it was one of those times in life that clicked, you knew and your heart knew.

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We were married eight months later! And 38 years later we are still making beautiful music together and one in heart…except when we dance as Wild Bill can not count time! He can count the time and beat of horsepower but not music! I am a natural in counting double time or time and a half or just time in the beat of life that you can hear in the beat of music! I love it!

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This is Wild Bill’s dance beat and I love this beat with him too…this is “Jagged” WB custom built this 1928 Dodge Coupe and installed a V-12 Jag motor in it…they said there was no way that he could use an American carburetor on the V-12…he said oh yeah? The rest of the story is yes…he did it!

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Music has always been part of my life, listening to the verse, the bass, the lead, the chords, and the rhythm, songs that tell the story often tie into my life or what I am writing about or the photo that I am taking. Funny how both the beat of life and the beat of music actually fit together…throw in a few chosen words and you have a fit and hopefully a hit!

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I have shared many of our songs with you…this song is written by Buddy and Julie Miller and truly wonderful. I wish I could include the simple beat of the song as they sing it…it makes you want to dance with your significant other, while the music speaks straight to your heart. If you want to hear this song, go to iTunes. Put a search in for Buddy and Julie Miller…and their songs…look for”Holding Up the Sky”…and enjoy!

Holding Up the Sky

By Buddy Miller & Julie Miller

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When the night has stayed too long…And tears won’t keep

When the sun beats down too strong

Our love runs deep

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And our love will hold up the sky

when the rain comes down too hard

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It’s a cord that will not untie

It’s a promise the angels guard

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It will always be your name

written on my heart

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You are inside my heart

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Baby our love was meant to be

it’s from Gods hands

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Even when dreams turn to memories

Our love will dance

I hope you all have a wonderful new week ahead…until next time, HRCG is over and out!

The First Breathe Of Spring

The first breath of Spring is elusive here in Juniper and yet, can it be?

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 Is it Spring? I felt her brush my cheek tonight as I stood outside taking pictures without a coat or shoes…I saw magic time colors…grabbed my camera and out the door I went…lucky we have a nice patio that accommodates feet with or without socks!

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When we went to bed Saturday night, the snow was beginning to drift and blow…

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And when we woke up Sunday morning,

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We had drifts blocking various roads and doors…and fun photography shots!

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However, some of us were getting a bit perturbed…ok darn right cranky!

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Bitchy, Grumpy and Sweet Melody…aw my Mel, you are so sweet!

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By the time we went to bed Sunday night…the great thaw had begun!

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Spring is coming…hang on…tell Groundhog Phil he needs a new gig!

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Over and out from HRCG and Minnie, the cat who knows where it’s at!

The Tale Of A Wyoming Buffalo On Top Of Pinon Ridge…

The tale of a Wyoming Buffalo, up on top of Pinon Ridge is one of those stories you live for and live to tell. I know it’s long but it’s worth it! Many of the photos that I have are not digital so the quality is not great…but the heart is:) Most of the photos will enlarge if you click on them…I added several landscape photos with incredible views so you can see the Wyoming I knew and loved…

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I was not ready to pose for a picture when WB snapped this…looks like I am saying huh? He took this photo of me with my hair blowing to show the Wyoming Noon Express also known as the Wild Wyoming Wind! I had hurricane strings on all my hats when I was riding my horse or out and about…so hang on tight as here we go…with the tale of a Wyoming Buffalo up on Pinon Ridge.

It was barely daylight that late July morning when I unloaded my partner out of the horsetrailer, Lottie was big eyed as she looked around taking it all in, this was her third ride with me up Pinon. She had been in Wyoming about six weeks…the first month she was corralled until she was acclimated to the altitude. Then we took many slow and easy rides to build her stamina and overall health…she was doing great and she loved gathering cows!

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We planned to meet where the Green River begins at the base of Square Top Mountain and Green River Lake (above) with our fellow cattle ranchers and neighbors to gather cattle for the twelve ranches we represented.

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The ranches we rode with belonged to the Green River Drift or the Upper Green River Cattleman’s Grazing Association. A grazing association is a group of cattle ranchers who have permits to graze their cattle on public land for the summer months. Each ranch provides a cowboy for the summer to stay with the cattle once they reached the high country. The cowboys check the cattle daily, looking for illness or injury etc. and on this particular morning, we were meeting up with the cowboys to move the cattle to higher pastures up behind Yellowstone Park.

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I tightened up the cinch and checked my gear out, while WB was saddling his horse next to me and doing the same. Lightning was dancing and flashing all around us as the thunder cracked overhead, playing crescendo after crescendo with ba-booms that drummed into  a “Wild Wyoming Rumba In The Sky!”

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I looked forward to the day as WB was able to ride with me gathering cows, however when your hubby is the ranch manager/foreman things can happen…one of our bosses arrived with several Argentina kids that were visiting the US to play polo at his ranch, in Jackson Hole. I looked at WB and then we both looked at Bob, who was the elder cowboy on our outfit, and before I could ask him, he looked at me and said “GO, get gone girl and get going…hurry up go, before you get stuck here, and miss out on riding and gathering!” I took his advice quickly as Lottie and I trotted off to join the group…I didn’t know our neighbors that well yet but Lottie and I caught up with them and we were off for a new adventure, new scenery, incredible scary weather and treasured memories of living on a cattle ranch in Wyoming, at the base of the Continental Divide!

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Lottie and I, heading out to check cows here in Oregon on our mountain ranch…she was an amazing horse…so pretty and smart…calm, dependable and laid back but give her a cue and hang on as she moved like a cat when it came to cutting cows. My Dad would get so tickled and laugh at her as she would be in the pasture moving cows by herself so she could cut them out of “her” herd!

Wild Bill watched as our group rode up Pinon, climbing around 1500′, with lightning strikes all around us, it was something else to see! He saw jagged strikes hit the ground starting several small fires…about the time he was ready to call attention to it, the falling snow put out the fires as fast as the fire had begun. As we pushed on, the snow began coming down harder with a slight breeze that was blowing snow in my face…I pulled my Wild Rag up higher to cover my face up to my eyes, and pulled my cowboy hat down. I could not see the perimeter around me, due to the intensity of the snow, I could only see the cattle in front of me and Lottie’s ears.

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I didn’t know the lay of the land or where we were going, I figured the cows would know where to go as they had summered here before so we stayed with the cows as we disappeared into the clouds of brilliant white lightning and snow, with rumbling cracks of thunder that boomed above us. WB and Bob took the Argentina group for a trail ride away from us so they would not accidentally spook the cattle we were gathering. Fortunately they were low enough that the storm and blizzard missed them, they had a little rain but not much.

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We kept on climbing with our heads down and eyes squinting, gathering and pushing cows as we climbed higher. I continued to look both right and left for my neighbors…all I saw was a very serious snow storm with lightning strikes way to close!

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This photo was taken earlier in June, it is about a quarter of the way up Pinon…looking back at Square Top and Green River Lake and the Green River flowing below…the country in Wyoming was HUGE! Amazingly huge!

The further we climbed, the harder it stormed and boomed! I found myself in a surreal world with near white out conditions, in the middle of summer…the end of July no doubt…while back home in Eastern Oregon my family was in wheat harvest and it was 105 degrees!

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It was a total mind trip as I wondered if I had ridden into a parallel universe or something? I kept moving cows, hoping to break over the top.

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Thankfully we rode into a lush green meadows up behind Yellowstone Park, the sun came out, the clouds parted and disappeared…just like that, we were out of the storm and my neighbors were either there or right behind me! Lottie and I sat looking at the incredible scenery and the cows we gathered…we had gathered a large bunch despite the storm. It was about 10:30 in the morning as we all sat on our horses drying out, basking in the warm sunshine while we watched the herd. One of my neighbors rode over to introduce himself and talk a bit and dry out…and then he said to me, “Hey look, whats he doing?”

I looked and said “Who and what is he doing?”

My neighbor said, “Hey, yeah…it’s Sam, (who rode for our ranch) and he’s chasing after a buffalo in the herd.”

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“WHAT?” I figured it was tease the newbie from Oregon…ha-ha…so I carefully asked him “Oh come on, are you sure its a buffalo?”

“Yep, I’m sure!” He figured it to be a young, maybe 3-4 years old but still sizable…we watched as Sam roped the Buffalo, while a bunch of cowboys and cowgirls gathered around to see what he was doing…and then my neighbor said “Hey, let’s go see what’s up.”

Sam had the Buffalo roped and down. A few cowboys helped him by catching the heels and several cowboys got off their horses to help, as now they had the Buffalo strung out. With the risk of Brucellosis developing, it was felt that the Buffalo had to be castrated to protect the cattle herd. No one said a word…not one word. I sat on Lottie watching the story unfold…wishing I had a camera and something to write on! Silence fell like a veil on us and time was suspended…finally one of the neighbors got off his horse and said “Look, we can’t do this, I’ll come unglued if you do this.”

Without a word, the cowboys dropped their ropes that held the Buffalo down…the Buffalo was a good size and he was mad! I knew what was coming…I asked Lottie to roll back and turn, moving it like “Sue Sally” as we galloped away!

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I looked back over my shoulder wishing I had a video camera as it was a “Real Life, Charlie Russell Painting!” Once the Buffalo was free from the ropes, he got up snorting and madder than heck…he began charging towards the horses, and the cowboys yet on the ground. Several horses took off dragging lasso ropes, spooking themselves as well as other horses who by now were bucking and running to get away from the beast while the cowboys were running on foot as fast as they could away from “Psycho Buffalo!” Lottie and I galloped out of there in record time heading for the high country…at 11,500′ how much higher can you go? I didn’t know or care as we ran fast and thankfully escaped the crazy chaos!

About 30 minutes later we all gathered back again in the meadow and rode off the mountain quietly…thinking of our day so far…it was noon and we were headed for home, back down Pinion Ridge on that crazy day the end of July.

About half way down Pinon, one of my neighbors said “You know, I was born and raised here in Wyoming and that storm this morning was the worst one I have ridden through!” I could not believe it! I figured the storm must not be bad as no one said a word, they just buckled down and rode through it like me…ha! We made it through one of the worst storms on the Upper Green…me and Lottie. I miss her, she was my girl and my partner…we were a team and had a great time together in the 20 years I had her. She was a triple bred Leo mare and she was incredible…a deep red sorrel, except for her white blaze on her face, and three white socks. I would love to find another one just like her.

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Once I made it to the trailer and my man, Wild Bill, I hopped off Lottie and hurriedly told WB about the Buffalo and he rolled his eyes and hooted on me. He thought I was teasing him so he would not listen to me…I said “No it’s true!” He said “Oh sure, I don’t get to go and you see a Buffalo” and I said “Yes I saw a Buffalo” he said “Yeah right”….so I marched over to my neighbors and said tell ‘em….and they did, while they were hooting and laughing at both of us!

The reason for the concern about the Buffalo, was due to disease. Buffalo will breed cattle and they carry a deadly disease that can wipe out your entire herd of cattle called Brucellosis. We called the Fish and Game as soon as we made it home that day…and they dealt with the angry Buffalo up on Pinon Ridge…all on a typical day, gathering cows in Wyoming in one of the most beautiful places on earth!

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A few footnotes on Sublette County and the Upper Green River Drift:

We lived in Sublette County which was the least populated county in the United States…Wyoming was the least populated state in the United States and we lived 8 miles from a very small town!

Local ranchers have grazed cattle on public land for more than a century in the Upper Green River Valley. Each spring, cattle are driven north to their pasture allotments and when it gets cold in the fall, the cattle begin to drift off the mountains to head home for the winter. The twice a year cattle drives have become known as the Green River Drift.

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Ranchers who are members of the Upper Green River Cattle Association can be found moving herds of cattle south down the Green River Lakes road during the fall months, to the staging area next to Trapper’s Point monument area about 5 miles west of Pinedale. The large groups of cattle are then moved to the cutting grounds where each rancher’s cattle are sorted out by brand into their respective herds, to be driven in smaller cattle drives back to the home ranches. Our ranch where we lived was down on the flat meadow ground that you see as that was my view of Gannet and the Wind Rivers.

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In the 1890s, the first cattle associations were formed in the Upper Green River Valley as a result of extremely harsh winters that decimated local cattle herds. The Big Piney Roundup Association was formed in 1890. In 1916, the Upper Green River Cattle and Horse Growers Association was formed. The name was changed to the Upper Green River Cattle Association in 1925. In the 1930s, the association added driveways which allowed them to bypass private land and more easily funnel cattle to desired pasture areas. For more than a hundred years, local ranchers have worked with government entities to manage the range allotments and cattle use with the best management practices possible. The Green River Drift, cutting grounds, and driveways have been a part of the valley’s history for so long now some people have suggested they be considered for historic recognition and designation.

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As I close for now, here is where the Green River begins…it flows out of Green River Lake…and begins its winding way to the Colorado River. Square Top mountain is in the background…I often rode above it and could look back and look down to find it as it was so level. Pinon Ridge represents a pivotal ridge due to the three main water ways it represents. Depending on which side the waters flow from rain drops or snow melt, it will either flow to the Columbia River or the Colorado River or the great Mississippi River. Some call it Three Waters Mountain or Ridge…I first heard this the first time I rode up Pinon and it was raining! I loved it!!!

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May you all have a blessed week wherever you are! Minnie is having a Mommy and me moment! HRCG over and out…10-4 good buddy!

This is a special mountain: at its summit converge three major watersheds. Every year during the late spring or early summer, a pile of snow at a certain place on this mountain melts into three distinct basins. When water from one basin finally reaches the ocean, it will be well over a thousand miles distant from the mouths of the other two basins. – See more at: http://www.usends.com/Explore/Elevations/3WM/index.html#sthash.0BimcudI.dpuf
This is a special mountain: at its summit converge three major watersheds. Every year during the late spring or early summer, a pile of snow at a certain place on this mountain melts into three distinct basins. When water from one basin finally reaches the ocean, it will be well over a thousand miles distant from the mouths of the other two basins. – See more at: http://www.usends.com/Explore/Elevations/3WM/index.html#sthash.0BimcudI.dpuf
Meltwater eventually trickles into Fish Creek, which is a tributary of the Gros Ventre River, which flows into the Snake River, which in turn flows into the Columbia River, which enters the Pacific Ocean near Astoria OR. The far side of Pinon Ridge, however, drains into the Roaring Fork, which flows into the Green River, then the Colorado River, which empties into the Gulf of California, which meets the Pacific Ocean way down somewhere between Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico – some 2000 miles down the coast from Astoria. – See more at: http://www.usends.com/Explore/Elevations/3WM/index.html#sthash.iupIQ4SI.dpuf

A Day In The Life Of Hot Rod Cowgirl For Oregon Dayshoot 2013!

A day in the life of Hot Rod Cowgirl begins in the dark dawn of July 15th for the Oregon Dayshoot 2013! The Dayshoot first began 30 years ago in 1983 to depict life in Oregon on any given day of everyday life. It’s a way to record Oregon history and what our lives were like in 2013 compared to the first Oregon Dayshoot in 1983.

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It’s 4:30 in the morning on July 15th and I am excited to be a part of Dayshoot 2013! I’m ready with my camera…a nice clean card, along with a spare one and extra batteries too. And its time to begin as I step out to capture the sunrise…it was well worth it but I wish the stars had shown up in the photo too!

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Yard sprinklers were doing their thing…I lightened this photo up so you can see the drops of water! A fun time of day to be up and taking pictures of life in Juniper Canyon!

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Here comes the sun…I do truly love this time of day anymore…used to not be crazy about it but then I got into photography and I love the sunrise and the sunset…the two enchanted times of light and capturing images with hues of color that knock your socks off!

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Yard Bath or Showers! We have had the sprinklers only 1 year and I love them. It is so much easier to water the yard with a switch instead of dragging around hoses all over. WB said too he thinks all our gophers have left due to the water!!! Yeah!!!

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Finally daybreak…I am the only one up and I need coffee soon…it is now 5:30 in the morning! And its going to be a beautiful day! I love it as it is so quiet and speaks deep to my heart of God’s beauty all around us if we will look and observe.

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 Annie was up and wanting her hay breakfast…”Morning Mom, dayshoot or is it dayhoot-cares…I’m hungry and yeah yeah about taking pictures…just gimme my hay and I will pose for you later ok.”

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And here’s Pat and Jack putting in their two cents since Annie got to. “Well really Mom, you need to sit down here and pet us, rub and love us and feed us treats!” I miss Jack so much as he was beautiful inside and out!”

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“No way Mom….what are you doing outside at this time of day….get in here and I need treats too and lots of pets and kitty loves!” “And who cares about this dayhottenany or whatever it is called!” “Humph!”

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As the day slowly wore on, it was over a 100 degrees and too darn hot to be out very long. After lunch I figured I would go check out the shop…WB said to come down and grab some photos of the guys working for fun! So here I am in Wild Bill’s shop wondering if I can catch some sneaky action photos of the guys working on cool cars:) And I LOVE Corvette’s!

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Here’s Bryan working away but I think he is hiding…Hey Bryan…quit hiding and smile!

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Come on Clay, look up and smile at the camera…geez! Clay is working on a very cool 1935 Ford Pick Up…it is going to be very classy when it rolls out of the “Lab!”

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“Ahhh HA! I caught you Wild Bill! Smile for me and what are you doing now? Hmmm, well I am having trouble getting the guys to smile like they are having fun with all these super cool cars to work on!!! At least you will smile at me if I try to capture you working on one of the cars right?”

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Apparently not…and hmmmph…hey WB come on and look up!!!! He gets all obsessed over Corvettes too like I do! This is a 1976 Corvette…hey WB LOOK UP Dang It!

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I know maybe Nathan will look up and smile….by the way this is a 1958 Metro…cute huh? Nathan likes to draw and he drew the smiley face on the Metro and at least it is smiling, and looking at the camera!

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I know what they are saying….”Here she comes again, so look like we are discussing something very serious” “Ok Terry and WB come on and look at me you ding-dong guys!!!”

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And one last picture of Bryan working on a 1949 Chev. Pick Up…

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Guess I will head back outside to see what is going on….Hey heres Jagged, our 1928 Dodge Coupe! WB likes louvers can you tell?

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The landscape view in bright light of day! This is the view of the sunrise photos I was taking at dawn…looks way different huh?

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Typical scene outside the shop…lots of kooool custom cars in front of our old-fashioned service station!

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And the day is winding down…horses doing the nuzzle after their dinner

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Hey Dash what do you think? Hmmm…he not looking at my camera either….geesh!!!

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Enjoy the summer as soon…it will be gone…and big fat WAH! I LOVE nice warm 80 degree days and the sunshine! Have a wonderful weekend and peaceful night wherever you are and a Simply Sunshiny Sunday! Smile and…click click click!

Talented Country Orchestra Performs Nightly Symphonies!

Talented country orchestra performs nightly symphonies where I live!

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The gifted musicians give their all with award winning music that fills our country nights, as it drifts into our open windows with a soft canyon breeze that gently caresses the night air. As the day begins to cool off, the symphony begins, singing me to sleep with an orchestra of various cricket musicians…they are on the first movement and it is truly beautiful to hear…with an occasional deep-toned rib-it from the frogs…and then silence…as the second set of musicians adds drama to the night.

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Hearing the screech of a hawk passing overhead, begins the second movement…as one of our dogs follows with several barks…and then our pack of dogs head out to give several more barks…setting off the coyotes, howling with different pitches to make it interesting…and on cue, night owls begin hooting on the hill behind the house in one of the trees…and then, silence once again….out of the stillness of night, one cricket will begin with one chirp, then another cricket follows and soon the symphony begins again.

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A few summer nights each year, the night does not move with the usual rhythm of sounds. Often when we have a storm coming, the crickets stop…it seems darker and eerily still…no breeze…just the sound of a deep silence…you know something is up! It becomes an odd kind of night but knowing the signs of our animals and country life…we usually know when either a storm is coming or someone or something is sneaking around.

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Minnie Mouse is taking in all the night moves with us, as she loves the night sounds too….she likes to sleep in the windowsills at night so she can smell the night smells and see whatever her eyes can see and listen to the various sounds…once she has had enough, she curls up next to me on the bed sleeping in peace, as she dreams of magical kitty memories, exploring warm summer nights. I do the same thing…as memories of growing up come back to my mind, going outside barefooted, walking through grass wet from the dew, looking up and seeing a million stars overhead…softly saying, star so bright, star so light, first star I see tonight…closing my eyes and making my wish.

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I still run around barefooted, walking across the gravel if necessary to capture a great photo opportunity or just to go see a horse….WB thinks its weird that I can do this but he does not have country calloused padding on the bottom of his feet like me. His feet are prettier as numerous horses have stepped on my toes…breaking several that healed crooked and look gnarly from being squished. I’m always barefooted in the warm summer months….inside or out, as I love the feel of my bare feet on the old wood floors in our house.

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Summer nights in the country are created for us to sit outside to be part of the miracles of the night. I love the front porch swing, gently swinging as we watch the stars….trying to figure out the constellations. “Did you see that?” A falling star or a satellite passing by…as the heavens of spring and summer are incredible…and then fall comes and brings on occasion the Northern Lights…what a WOW experience the first time I saw them here! I could not fathom seeing the curtains of colors and lights in the dark night sky…I was struck with awe! God created beauty all around us if we will just stop…shhhhh…listen and wait…there…did you see it, the falling star?

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Look for God’s blessings in your life…I know you will find them!

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God brought Minnie into our lives as a little kitten, that needed a home. She was a little over 4 weeks old and I fell in love with her sweet face, her eyes and her soft mews…she has been our constant companion and my shadow, for 18 years now…we celebrated her 18th birthday on Mom’s Day weekend. She is a gift from God in our lives, having gone through loosing parents, surviving surgeries and living the ups and downs of life to the fullest…she is our nurse and often our clown. Tonight she sleeps curled up next to me, gently snoring, dreaming away.

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My hubby of 37 years adds his own input on the nighttime symphony…softly warming up for a good night of snoring, that begins with a soft clicking sound in his throat that builds to a crescendo of rumble, roar and then he SNORTS! Waking himself up, he clears his throat and drifts back to sleep…silence…finally I begin to drift off myself…ahhhh…and just as I was about to drift into sleep…Minnie begins snoring too, keeping it amusing for me! I have a nighttime symphony on each side of me and out the windows too:)

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The soft breeze tonight is telling me that soon in a few more weeks…the wheat will begin to turn from green to a reddish gold as the heads will begin to dry. I love the smell of it in the night air…harvest memories will flood back into my mind filled with days of old, good times and fun times. These are the sounds of country silence and the sounds of the nighttime symphony…they are the sounds of an ordinary country girl’s life.

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Have a magical, musical, country night! HRCG over and out…..

Days Of Our Lives Drifting Through My Mind…

Days of our lives drifting through my mind…life is forever…right? Our lives were running out of time with only seconds left…run…run from what? Wait…what? RUN NOW!

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Looking back now, the images seem almost surreal. Everything that happened to us, happened in a matter of seconds. We were all players, fulfilling our roles in this real life and death drama…only it was our life and death drama and it was very real. We survived the unusual flash flood, the timing of us all being together was a blessing from above. The flood went down in history due to the massive amount of water and debris, calling it a historic 100 year flash flood.

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This post is a bit different as it picks up where the last one left off but I have added more photos of the flood’s destruction. I will tell part of the story and add a picture, describing what the picture is…hopefully you will be able to follow along as I pick up the story where we left off.

As soon as son Greg went out to see what Mike was talking to Wild Bill about, Travis and I began searching for the fuse box as our power was surging, and we worried about our computer and the microwave. We located it in the center of the house, at the base of the stairs, and we were discussing which was the main switch, when we heard Wild Bill yelling at us, something about “Get out of the house NOW!” For maybe half a second we looked at each other and Travis asked me if I knew what Dad said? I said no but whatever Dad said it is serious and we have to get out of the house as fast as we can!

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As we ran back through the house to the mud room, we grabbed our boots and ran down the long hallway into the garage, finally making it outside, running in our socks which were now wet and muddy. The above photo is the flood damage to the back of the garage we ran out of…as the flood hit the garage less than 15 seconds after we ran out…blowing the back out. Wild Bill was frantic as he yelled for us to “HURRY UP”, the pick up with WB, Mike and Greg was about 50′ away from Travis and I. Mike was in the driver’s seat of the pick up with it in reverse, Greg was on the flatbed of the pick up and WB was at the passenger door waving his arms and yelling for us to run! The moment was total chaos.

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Wild Bill had seen a wall of water, coming directly towards us…150 yards from the house…he figured we had seconds to escape sudden death. The only reason that our RV Trailer and my pick up Della did not float away was an abandoned satellite pole that wedged them up against the garage. You can see the same hole in the back of the garage…seconds mattered for all of us to survive. The amount of debris in the flood waters was as deadly as the water was.

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I remember running and feeling the pain in my stomach and the rocks under my wet and muddy feet, with Travis running beside me and the panic we felt. I saw the fear in Wild Bill and Mike…I still had no idea what was wrong. I just knew it was a life and death situation. Finally we made it to the truck, which was parked about where the red three-wheeler is in the picture above. Mike already had the truck in reverse and was moving it as we reached them, Bill was yelling at Mike to not leave us. Travis bailed on the back of the truck with Greg, and I bailed into the front seat between Mike and WB. In the split second that I bailed into the truck, I saw what we were all running from. It was the most horrible sight I had ever seen! A wall of water rolling towards us that was huge, muddy and very wide, in a blink of a second it was now bearing down on us…hitting the front of the pick up as we were backing up and out of the way. In one more frantic effort, Wild Bill tried to reach for our puppy Hank. He was right by the door of the pick up…Bill missed and I figured I would never see Hank again as I choked back tears.

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In the above picture, the ranch had a full set of working corrals, built to last using railroad posts set in concrete to anchor them into the ground…the power of the water not only took the railroad posts but also the concrete. There was a concrete runway poured and built for the cattle to go through and it was gone too…all the concrete was scrubbed off the face of the earth and only deep muddy mud and debris was left.

Mike kept backing the pick up until we were up above the water in the hay stack area, just above the road. He slammed on the brakes and we all just sat there watching this massive wall of water engulf everything on the ranch before our eyes. I don’t know how long we sat there in silence…we eventually got out of the pick up and stood there watching the horror of it all. I remember trying to pull on my boots over wet socks…I was in a panic. There are two kinds of panic…one is the panic that you react and do something…but this was a panic that you felt frozen in, unable to do anything.

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In the above picture you can see our white four horse trailer, the red and yellow bale wagon, our flatbed trailer with my horse walker on it…WB’s welding trailers…balers and lots of expensive equipment. None of it was parked out there when the flood hit…all the equipment was parked at either the shop or the house about a 1/2 to 1/4 mile away.

The raging water looked as wide as the Columbia River. It was a torrent of water, that bubbled and boiled over everything in its path. It was deep and was moving very swift. The sound was a deafening roar…and it kept coming and coming. It appeared to be about 200′ feet wide and 8-12′ feet deep. We saw the D-5 Caterpillar tractor with the blade parked down into the gravel, come bobbing out of the equipment shed, floating along with all the other equipment…bale wagons, balers, pick ups, horsetrailers, welders, welders on trailers, and trucks, the water kept coming and sweeping everything away in front of us. The Caterpillar floated/bobbed along about 20 yards…with the water going underneath it…moving it and then dropping it. I saw the horses behind the equipment shed go under the water as the water went over the top of the shop roof…I saw the five yearlings next to our house get tossed away with the powder river steel panels…they were gone along with several other young horses in the corrals behind the yearlings. When the water hit them, it hit so hard that it swept the horses upstream…up the Crooked River.

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The house would be to the left of this photo…where you see the green grass with the yellow tin etc. next to it is where we set up the individual horse stalls with our steel panels, for the 5 yearlings that I was working with. When the force of the flood hit…the yearlings in the 5 paneled stalls, and the other horses in the corrals behind them vanished…I did not know if they would swim out or if they would be lost.

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Then we noticed the big 50′ by 50′ barn was gone, none of us saw it go down…it was completely disintegrated. All the vehicles were floating, our crew cab flatbed one ton pick up was floating and our crew cab one ton dually was floating with it….our four horse horsetrailer was gone already and on the way to the Crooked River. The water washed one of the Freightliner semi trucks some 200 yards and it took the bale wagon, flatbed trailers, welding trailers, balers, tractors, the huge cattle trailer…everything on that ranch either moved or disintegrated. Three 500 gallon barrels filled with fuel were tossed about like they were empty….

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The entire corral system was gone…cement foundation and all. The two chutes that were set in concrete…were gone like it had never been there before. The force of the water wrapped the powder river steel panels around the harrow bed…if you are not familiar with powder river or noble steel panels, these are heavy-duty steel panels and gates made out of steel, the water was so powerful, the force of it bent the panels around various things like toothpicks. We watched as the ranch owner’s 12′ by 24′ tack room, that was built on skids, float away….finally coming to rest on the banks of the Crooked River…a good half mile from its original place.

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I was worried that the house would go anytime. It was a 100 year old house that was not built on a foundation. It was now surrounded by swirling, deep, muddy raging water. If the house goes we loose everything….all our family heritage…our life of photos and special things that made us a family and made us who we are. And our kitty cats Zoo and Morris and puppy Hank…they were part of us too.

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By now every horse I was taking care of was unaccounted for, about 16 horses, except the two we owned. They were in the pasture next to the house and the road was between us…I could not reach them as the road was on lower ground and under water…they kept moving closer to us as they were belly deep in the water now. They were looking and searching out of instinct for higher ground but it was nowhere to be found. It was so very hard to be so close to them and yet so far away. My mare Lottie just kind of took it in stride as to what was happening but Bill’s horse Odie was younger and was trying to fight the water…he kept spinning around in it until finally he settled down with my mare and they found a high corner close to us that gave them higher ground with more security and comfort being closer to us.

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None of us said to much…the water was making a roar and was hard to talk over. I was crying quietly, as it seemed like the end of the world had come and we were all alone, nothing made any sense. With as much water that we were seeing, we thought that one of our water reservoirs had broken up-country above the main ranch…as we had not received much rain. The fear we were all feeling now was that if the reservoir had broken, the young family that worked on the ranch lived right below it, and would be in grave trouble, as they had two small children. And the young couple breaking the polo horses staying above us at the Red House…all we knew at that point was that we had alot of deep water hit us and there were people above us that likely had been hit with it too. At that time the water over the main road was over 3′ deep and we could not get up-country to check on them yet.

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I don’t know how long we stood there trying to figure out what to do. After about an hour or so, the water receded enough that Bill and Mike decided to go back over to the house to check on things. I was not in favor of them going because the water was still mid-thigh deep. I don’t know why they went, I think it was because they had to do something and not just stand by. The boys and I waited, I don’t think we said much as there were no words to say.

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By now there were many neighbors and people gathered out on the main highway watching, I knew they wanted to help us but they couldn’t get up to where we were because the road was still covered with water. I remember how I wished I could get a message to them to get someone up in a plane to fly up-country to check on the people up there. I felt numb and cold, afraid and in shock, panicked and so deeply mortified by what I had seen. I realized then that we were very lucky to have gotten out of harms way. Things were crazy around me but for that one small moment, I was very thankful that my family was safe and we were alive.

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This is the D5 Caterpillar we saw bobbing in the flood waters bouncing and dancing out of the shop, when it was parked with the blade down in the gravel. This tractor is huge and gives you an idea of how forceful the flood waters were.

WB and Mile came back after a few minutes. They said the house appeared to be alright, but the water had blown a hole through the cement wall in the garage…the garage and mud room were under water and mud…and the front porch was full of mud. The only thing that saved the house from going down was the various pieces of equipment that had washed up against it…balers, tractors, shop equipment, trailers…and lots of shrubs.

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The large stock trailer hooked on to the red semi, to the left of the picture, had been carried with the flood water into the front of the house where it wedged itself and diverted the water splitting in two directions instead of the water hitting the house full on, as with no foundation the water hitting the house with full on force would have brought it down.

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Bill found Hank, our puppy, who was floating on a pile of debris scared to death…but safe! Kalamazoo was okay and so was Greg’s cat Morris! This picture was taken about three months after the flood…both pick ups were back on the road and good as new…thankfully we had insurance and WB knew how to clean them up and replace what needed to be replaced.

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The deck at the back of the house…can you see those tiny marigolds in my old Hitachi pot that was my Mom’s…despite the destruction…horror and grief…those flowers survived…they had not moved either as that was where I placed them the day before the flood. Seeing the flowers in the chaos gave me strength and hope that even though our lives were in chaos we would get through this flood just like those beautiful flowers.

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We found some of our steel panels…many we never saw again and some were beyond saving as they were twisted into an unrecognizable object. As you can see we had mud and debris to clean up for months…and then rebuild the ranch…fences, barns, corrals, irrigation lines etc. and bring new life into the painful memories of a 100 year flash flood.

The only loss of life was the young man who was passing through with his fiance’ for a few days of rest and also training on some polo horses from S. California. Like us, he was caught off guard when the water hit and he tied himself to a pole fence with his rope in order to swim/walk out in the water to reach three of the horses trapped on an island in the middle of the raging flood water. He was able to reach the three horses on the island and had got on one of them when the fence broke due to the force of the water and that was the last he and his horse were seen. The other two horses swam out and were okay. It was very hard on all of us but especially his fiance’ and his family…he gave his life in the true cowboy way by thinking of his horses before himself…he did not know the power of the water and tried his best and gave his all.

To be continued with the final chapter…

I’m Gonna Climb That Mountain High…I’m Gonna See What’s On The Other Side!

Climbing that mountain high took a few months of packing our lives up for the move of a lifetime! Moving from our home here to a new home 300 miles away was a huge undertaking…not only did I pack my entire life…I also packed memories and dealt with many mixed emotions. Never living far from home before, created a traumatic journey at times and yet…it was a wild at heart chapter of pure adrenaline in our spirits! Relocating our life by moving to an area, rich in cowboy culture and steeped in buckaroo tradition, was an exciting opportunity, as we would be managing a large 35,000 acre cattle ranch, doing something we both loved and knew how to do. We had many new adventures planned ahead…while some adventures were unexpected beyond belief.

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Parts of this post may be a bit repetitive from my Split Seconds introduction post a few weeks ago…please bear with me as I felt there were some blanks that needed to be filled in on our life before the flash flood and specifically the day of the flash flood.

Moving day dawns…and the epic day of moving my lifetime begins!

“I’m Gonna Climb That Mountain High” was blaring from my stereo, as I pulled up to the familiar stop sign, at the junction of Highway 37 in my truck “Della” (we name our vehicles around here), pulling my horsetrailer just as dawn was breaking into a brilliant red sunrise as I sang along with Reba…

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“Red Sun A Rising….Oooover That Hill” “I’ve Had Enough Of This Desert To Last From Now Until”….”This Could Be The Day I’ll Finally Find My Way Out!”

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Tears ran down my cheeks as I sang in a quivery voice…I had just hugged Mom and Dad as I left the house…I wiped my tears and blew my nose…telling myself “It’s time to put my Big Girl panties on!” My parents would be fine…but I missed them already, and I was only 10 miles down the road…but they would come to visit! “Now darn it MJ, be a Big Girl!”

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Giving “Della” the gas, I pulled onto Highway 37, and continued singing with Reba..while my kitty “Kalamazoo” laid beside me on his comfy blanket on the front seat..he was 11 that year…solid black, with just a bit of white on his tummy, he was my green-eyed Manx kitty with no tail of course and he had quite the “Cattitude”…he was my baby, Zippy or Zoo (as we called him) and he was given a tranquilizer shot from our vet early that morning before he left for the trip with me as he hated riding in the car…he equated it with going to the vet and he hated going to the vet!

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My trailer was loaded with our much loved horses, my 10 year old red sorrel mare Lottie…oh how she loved to cut cattle and work them! She could dance and boogie down anytime and I hung on! She was beautiful and I do still look for Leo bred horses as she was a triple bred Leo mare…incredibly smart and when you did not need her fire, she was laid back…and always was a joy to ride…she trusted me and I trusted her. In later years when my Dad was ill and in a wheelchair we would go outside during the magic hour on a summer evening so he could watch Lottie herd a small bunch of cattle to a corner and then stand and wait to see which one would try to break away and she would go to work cutting them off and herding them back…Dad laughed and got such a kick out her…I miss her and I miss her…someday I know I will see her again.

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(We had matching red hair and temperament too!)

And Odie, who was WB’s 6 year old black gelding…he was beautiful with his big eyes, very refined for a gelding and such a sweetheart! We raised him out of one of our best AQHA mares, Sally, who was a beautiful colored Grulla. Odie was a character much like Wild Bill! He set his own rules as he was due in early May and instead he was born July 9th! Both Sally and Odie had me up every night checking on them for months! His birth was normal and all was well with both mom and foal…we called him Odie for Overdue:)

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My trip to our new home took about 9 hours driving, as I had a heavy load pulling my horsetrailer and I drive slow and easy when I have my horses behind me. I stopped along the way to let them out to stretch while offering water to them and Zippy…walking them around a bit to keep them balanced and happy. I started out the trip on a two lane country road leaving here…traveled about 80 miles of freeway before climbing up out of the Columbia River Gorge to Highway 97 which was two lane all the way to the ranch…but I made it and got the horses out who had big eyes and then Zippy who had even bigger eyes…and then we began to unload more boxes. Oh my gosh, I even brought 20 years of The Quarter Horse Journal…which is a heavy, monthly, horseman’s bible…when we moved the next time, away from the ranch, I donated them all to the AV ranch!

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Moving into the historic white two-story 100 year old house above in the picture was an interesting ordeal as furniture now a days compared to 1900 furniture was a bit bigger…the house had lots of character and charm which I loved. Close to the house was a large 50′ by 50′ barn that you can see to the right with the pitch to the roof line and it also had the ranch tack room in it, where we kept several of our saddles and all of our horse tack…the smaller barn, was closer to the house and was called the Milk Barn, and we had lots of various corrals, the loading chute and a few smaller buildings, along with a small 100 year old ice house that we used to keep our vet medicines in. The historic ice house had thick walls and was without windows since its original purpose was to store and keep ice. All the corrals, barns and buildings were built on and around a dry creek bottom, called Newsom Creek.

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As you turned into the ranch complex and crossed the cattle guard, the ranch house was to the left, with a small pasture next to the house and yard, where I kept our two horses Lottie and Odie…and to the right of the turn in was the equipment shed, with the shop joining on to it and straight ahead was where the barns and corral complex sat. In front of our house was an irrigated hay field and pasture that eventually led to the Crooked River. The ranch house and headquarters complex sat back about a 1/2 mile from the main highway, where you crossed the large bridge over the Crooked River to reach the ranch.

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 The above picture was taken in 1915 of the AV Ranch, at the time it was owned by Wallace and Ida Post…whom Post, Oregon was named after. The large two story house you see in the picture is the house we lived in…and looked pretty much the same except the balcony was gone. By the way, if you get an Oregon map out, draw an X from corner to corner, Post, Oregon is right in the very center of Oregon…and it was a small post office combined with a small grocery store, when we lived there.

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 It’s taken me several years to write about the flash flood, and even today I find it hard to talk about. It was a life changing event to me, as it was the most fearful experience I had ever felt. There was nothing that I could do…there was nothing anyone could do. It was overwhelming to witness the power of the water and the course of natural events caused by it. We barely escaped with our lives…one young man wasn’t as fortunate…loosing him and his horse was very difficult for his fiancé and his family…for us and our 15 yer old son, who found him a day later. The power of the water carried his body 8 miles and took his horse 16 miles…for many months there was a cloud of heaviness over the ranch and grief in all our hearts.

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The deadly flash flood began 20 miles above us, on top of the Murray Mountains. During the afternoon the clouds continued to build and collide,  producing a cloudburst of water and energy, it was estimated that 6″ of rain fell in 20 minutes on top of the mountains behind us…which began the run off of the water down the dry canyons. And instead of absorbing the water into the dry dirt, the water ran on top of the dry earth, taking juniper brush and logs with it, along with boulders and rocks, building the deadly energy of the water into a roaring wall of water and debris that was headed down canyons that converged into Newsom Creek, about 8 miles above us. Down at the ranch headquarters where we lived, we had very little rain. By the time the deadly wall of water hit Newsom Creek it took everything and anyone in its path…there were no warnings and it caught both man and animal off guard. We had no idea waking up that warm summer morning, that all hell would break loose that afternoon and by nightfall, our lives would forever be changed.

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August 5, 1991 dawned like any other day that summer. It was hot with humidity and was hazy from the mixture of heat and dust. The summer had been unusual for us…as we were still settling in after moving our life to the ranch…I had spent the last two months unpacking, which was a huge task for me as it took time to figure out where to put things. By the 5th of August I was finally feeling like the end was in sight and the ranch was beginning to feel like home to me. I was able to look around and see our things here and there…I felt content as now I could concentrate on living the life of the ranch, helping my husband and getting to know the vast land we were on. I felt a new hope and anticipation for a new life with Wild Bill. I was finally back on a ranch doing what came natural…I loved waking up to cows and horses each day…it was pure heaven!

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We were busy getting in the last of our hay crop for the coming winter months of feeding cattle. Wild Bill was running the bale wagon in one of the hay fields, which means he drove it and it picked up the hay bales loading it, then he drove it carrying the load of hay back to the haystack yard where he unloaded it into the stack. Youngest son, was swathing or cutting hay in another field and our oldest son Travis was bailing hay into hay bales in another field. We had one more issue to contend with…rattle snakes! They often would be wrapped up in the bales with their heads sticking out of the bale still alive and they could bite…so you had to be careful.  The fields were spread out along the Crooked River for several miles and that day, Bill and the boys were all in different fields. In 1991, we did not have cell phones or two-way radios as we lived where we could not get a radio signal due to an iron mountain that was close to the house, so we had no way of communication on the ranch.

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After everyone got up and got going that morning, I decided it was time to  clean the house, doing my regular dusting and vacuuming, washing clothes and in general spiffing up the place. I was in and out of the house moving the water in the yard, watching for snakes as well, as the yard was a nice cool place for them to be! I had our two horses in a pasture next to the house, which I loved and they enjoyed the big trees to stand under for shade and being able to visit me. I often took turns on the horses, riding each of them out to find where Bill and his crew was for the day or the afternoon.

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The ranch owner had several horses that summer that needed work and training so I was working with the very young ones getting them ready for the horse trainer who lived at the ranch for the summer. I had five weanlings in five separate steel paneled pens that Bill and Mike had set up for me the week before next to the house and close to the big barn. I also had an assortment of yearlings and two and three-year olds in the corrals next to the barn and was taking care of two aged mares of the owners in the pasture behind the equipment shop/shed. I was in horse heaven delight! My only complaint was a sore tummy from a horse kick a few days before but it was a long ways from my heart…an old saying that I heard growing up.

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Bill and the boys came into the house at noon for lunch…I fixed them some sandwiches and we ate outside on the deck because it was a hot humid day and we had just bought a patio table and chairs a few days before. It was our first patio set and we all enjoyed sitting on the deck looking at the mountains, our horses and the cows…mostly we enjoyed the peaceful scenery and the quiet. As the guys were getting ready to go back out at 1:00, Bill said “You boys better pay attention to the sky this afternoon, it looks like we’ll see some lights in those clouds coming in. If you see any lightning, come into the house…don’t stay in the field. I remember thinking that Bill was right…I also thought that the clouds looked odd and appeared to be a different kind of cloud. They were moving in a swirl of sorts in a funny rotation. It looked like we were getting clouds from two different directions, and weather systems were colliding over head from the South and the Northeast. After Bill and the boys left I got busy again cleaning up the kitchen. It wasn’t long before I heard the wind picking up…never failed that after I cleaned we would have a dust storm…we lived on a gravel road as well, with lots of log trucks and traffic, as the road was a short cut over the mountains to Brother’s, Oregon.

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About 2:30 a car drove up to the house, it was my neighbor from over the mountain. She had tried to go up the road down farther from us and ran into a bit of flooding ten miles up-country above us. She called her home to let her husband know that she would be taking a different route home. I asked her if we should be alarmed about the flooding…she said “No, the storm would pass…that it was just a little run off…nothing that doesn’t happen every once in a while.” I offered her a cup of coffee and we sat at my kitchen table talking about my great view of the meadows and made our acquaintances We had never met before and meeting other ranch wives was so important as you needed each other so I was happy to have made a connection to her. She left about 3:00 for her home and by then the wind was picking up with severe lightning and I was beginning to worry about Bill and the boys. I went outside to see what was happening…it was pitch black overhead and not because of dust. I sensed something very wrong about this storm…the clouds were almost a vortex of sorts and there was a funny feeling in the air…it had a strange color to the skies above and felt eerie…by now I was really worried. I remember praying for my neighbor to make it home safe and sound with her little girl.

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Just as I was about to take the pick up out to look for my family, Travis, came in from the baler. We were standing in the mud/laundry room talking about the storm, he said it looked really bad up-country in the mountains behind us as they had been shrouded in black clouds all afternoon. I told him about our neighbor stopping in and taking a different road home due to the flooding on her usual road. We were starting to get a few sprinkles of rain by then but not much, except a nasty lightning and thunder storm. I was now feeling more panic as to where Bill and Greg were, so was Travis. It was roaring outside as the wind picked up blowing in bursts along with the thunder…it was black as coal out like it was 8:00 at night instead of  3:30. Greg came blasting through the door about then, looking frightened and said he saw the bale wagon sitting by the shop and figured Bill was with us.

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We were all feeling on edge by now and didn’t know where to look for Bill. We finally decided to make a run for the shop and the barns to see where he was and what he was doing. No sooner had we decided that…then Bill burst in through the door. He had been hiding out in the little building we called the Ice House or vet medicine room. It was a 100 year old ice house that we converted to a vet/medicine room out in the corrals where we worked the cattle. He had been waiting for a break in the storm to make a run for the house. Luckily, he came in…as that little building was the first one to disintegrate when the wall of water hit…it had no windows, so Bill wouldn’t have been able to see the water in time to escape with his life.

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Mike, the horse trainer, pulled up in the driveway about 3:45 getting out of the pick up with a serious concerned look, so Bill went out to see what was up. The boys and I were still standing in the mud room…when the lightning hit our phone on the wall with a loud popping sound and the phone was smoking…Greg started to walk over to it and I said “Don’t touch it”. He decided to go out and tell Bill and Mike about the phone. In a split second our power was surging…Travis and I decided we had better find the fuse box fast before the surging hurt our computer and blew our microwave as it was beeping away. Looking back I think it was warning us that all hell was about to break loose….

Stay tuned with me as we travel back to moments between life and death, with the rest of the story…to be continued.

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