Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Cyclonic course changes

Last year it was snakes. This year, tornados (Kansas), typhoons (Japan), and hurricanes (Norfolk). What next?


Mucha lluvia hoy

Studying out on the porch today, listening to the latest henhouse gossip.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Nearly unhorsed!

Heart-pumping times here at Valhalla Ranch tonight. 

Some irresponsible driver slid through the corner on Greggsville Road near the ranch entrance and -- for the third time in memory, the recently promoted stewards tell me -- crashed into and knocked down a section of fence, and then drove off.  that keeps the horses from wandering onto that same roadway. Alerted by a neighbor of the damage to the barrier that keeps the horses from wandering onto that same dirt roadway, the two stewards borrowed my Ion and raced out to contain the situation.

When I followed them out, I found one consoling the horses -- who were likely wishing they had been taken south to Florida as originally planned -- while the other person who struggles to keep this happy place out of entropy's grip worked in the glare of the Ion's hi beams, knocking enough of the rails back together to keep everything under control until morning.

My suggestion to increase the ranch's defenses by adding Jersey barriers seemed too passive. Real horse people, our self-proclaimed farm girl said, would have stayed to protect the animals, or at least come to the house's door to alert and apologize.

I suspect the former Royal Marine who named the ranch would have spoken of more active options for repelling invaders. I am also sure that many an un-Christian thought turned to the deities after which our erstwhile canine guardians Thor and Valkyrie were named.

Monday, September 14, 2015


Very good final stop for this adventure at Assateague Island! Cold front induced storms that limited recreation in Delaware had cleared away, leaving a Milky Way-viewing starlit night in exchange for a chilly sleep.

So. There are two herds of ponies, and neither of them swam to the barrier islands by a sinking Spanish galleon. One herd swims to the mainland, where colts aremauctioned off; the other is controlled using contraceptive darts, but otherwise allowed to live as wild animals.

This apparently includes brazen raids on camground picnic tables, undeterred by human visitors who would rather not have the remains of the evening's repast strewn across the sand.  No, I did not get photos, I was too busy rescuing a plastic bag full of trash from a docile but stubborn cousin of a mule. Grrr.

Sunrise was beautiful.

As a final bonus, a bit of Delaware goodness was waiting in a Salisbury mall food court : Jake's Wayback Burgers! Oatmeal Cookie shake, recommended.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Southbound on US 13

On the road this morning to Assateague, since the weather has finally cleared up.

Maryland Seafood Festival was enjoyable, if a bit rainy. Photos follow.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Changes happen, like them or not

Thunder, gusts, and outright downpours here have chilled kayaking plans. The new GoApe! zipline activity at Lums Pond also seems a poor fit for the weather. 

(A zipline in Delaware -- what, from the top of the WSFS tower to the base of Caesar Rodney's horse? No, it actually runs across the pond and through the treetops of Lums Forest, and looks like it would be very enjoyable on a dry and lightning-free day.) 

But, lightning storms were in the forecast. So, out to Brandywine Creek State Park for a ramble along trails we all knew well.

Old Rocky Run Bridge

Except. Very sad to report, the Poohsticks Bridge (aka the Rocky Run Bridge) is down! A local said it was demolished before the deteriorating underside brought the whole thing down into the stream with a co─║lection of runners, strollers, bikers, and park maintenance vehicles.  

Our tribe often gathered there to play the Winnie-the-Pooh inspired game of dropping sticks off one side of the bridge and then rushing to the other side to see whose stick came out first. A new steel beam bridge is being rushed into place, but --being sturdier and safer -- it just won't be the same.

Rocky Run is still cheerily pushing stones out of its way, though, even in the bend where a trio of young engineers tried to block its path a few years ago.

Rocky Run, upstream

Stopped into Charcoal Pit for a grilled cheese, tomato and onion sandwich with a root beer float, much the same as it has always been. About a hundred yards north, though, there's a shop with another well known name getting ready to open:

Concord Pike

A Claymont Steak Shop in Talleyville? Unimaginable! 

Change. It's just around the next turn in the trail ... right up there, see?

Brandywine Creek trail

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Lums Pond

So, this Delaware version of a yurt is another example of riding the line between feeding the urge to reach back to days gone by and meeting modern expectations. 

Inside a Lums Pond yurt
I mean, who hasn't wanted to set up a skin-covered dome in the fresh grass-scented air of the steppes, sleep together wrapped in furs, horses breathing heavily outside ... on the ground, with no insect screens and No Air Conditioning? And I suppose I can do without WiFi for a day or two, but how am I supposed to keep my cell phone charged?

The Delaware Air National Guard did its best to make up for the missing horses, sending a C-130 during the day and a flight of helicopters in the evening. Not the same, somehow.

Lums Pond boat launch
The Park does provide a courtesy kayak with the yurt, so I hurried out last evening to paddle about before they closed the lake at sundown. A familiar boat ramp, some egrets and herons about, but the tree where flocks of the white birds came to nest at sundown was not occupied. Marie called it the "Christmas Egret Tree" ... still too hot here, perhaps, maybe by the time the annual holiday music assault hits the malls.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A few more photos of Dolly Sods

From the camera of K. Elowsky, the hike leader.

Old Roads

180501 on the odometer, out past the horses. Good bye, they tell me you might be gone before I get back. Sorry I missed the chance to make friends with you ...

I'm told that the only animals left besides humans and spiders will be the chickens. Sigh.

Wading around the Washington beltway, then out US 50, over the Bay Bridge and up through Delmarva farm country on US 301, WXPN playing. Old roads for me. I know most of the turns, the best lanes to use, the areas that law enforcement officers use for revenue enhancement. A little less stressful to drive (except the Beltway), a little safer -- but also underlaid with a feeling of going in circles, wasting time and gas going nowhere.

Listening to an NPR interview on WAMU, Joyce Carol Oates talking about her memoir, The Lost Landscape, growing up in a farm north of Buffalo, discovering books, real books with binding and unique fonts, in a few sent to her by her grandmother. Her lifelong favorite: an original version of Alice in Wonderland, complete with the first published drawings of the animal characters. She wrote, and wrote, and drew, discovered libraries, went on to college (including a mock Ivy League university in upstate New York), became a prolific and famous author. Sounds like it will be worth reading! 

NPR then shifted from the sublime to the tedious: talking Beltway heads. They filled their airtime wondering whether Congress will avoid gridlock or in fact do anything, what Clinton will say to the quasi-permanent Benghazi committee, and hoping Pope Francis won't use his time with Congress to lay about with a rope and hold them accountable for their stewardship.

One of the heads suggested that His Holiness would surely leave his jawbone with the Archbishop of Chicago, though, and avoid sensitive issues when he addresses Congress. Could be, but the man hasn't shied away much yet from speaking truth to power. More than a few of us will be rallying to his side if he does as the reactio -- pardon, the conservatives -- try to hustle him him off to a secret tribunal.
A caller spoke clearly and to the point on the gridlock question; the budget showdown has become an annual festival of sorts to celebrate Washington's dysfunction, she said.  Agreed. Several voices talked about changing the system, instead of just electing new names. Also agreed, cautiously, but hoping we won't be fooled again ...  Change stations.

301, WXPN playing. Announcer chattering about the possibility of rain tomorrow,  badly needed to break the heat wave ... but not another downpour if possible, it seems like the weather just swings between too much and too little these days. Ayup, I think to myself, that's the climate shift. I recall the same kind of weather in Arizona; very good for expanding deserts, it seems ... now it's on the East Coast? To think, I ran away from home in '72 to dodge the economic impact of water shortages.
Old roads ... and some like the Washington beltway seem to spin frustrated drivers around every day, subordinate human activity to their will rather than serving it, and swallow enormous amounts of property, money, and time while they do it.
To quote from an old MAD Magazine poem about an unfortunate baseball team --
Someday fans will have their fill
And ship the team to Louisville.
Or Leavenworth, may be.
Fleetwood Mac, Never Going Back, on the radio. Well, I have before and I'm back now. Delaware state line, 180762.


Hope everyone is enjoying these posts. I hear that adding comments is still a problem since Google tightened up security,  and I'll keep working on it. I have added a place where anyone who wants to sign up for updates can add their email address -- fair warning, I have not looked into removing addresses from the list yet. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Virginia rain

... is good, it cuts the humidity and grounds the flying insects. Briefly.

Valhalla Ranch, from the sunrise deck