Horse Power!

Photo by S.W. Cosgrove

Another action shot from the World Equestrian Festival at the CHIO Aachen, Germany.

Here’s a magnificent four-in-hand team in the Combined Driving Event, which tests the driver’s ability and the horses’ obedience, speed and athleticism in three stages – Dressage, Marathon and Cones.

This is the Marathon stage – very fast and exacting. CHIO Aachen competitors come from all over the world.

Full disclosure: I am a lifelong equestrian. I competed on the West Coast of the U.S. in single horse Combined Driving Events and Pleasure Driving for several years with my Morgan carriage horse, Gem, rest her soul. I’ve never had more fun!

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Photo by S.W. Cosgrove

Columbus

– Written by Noel Brazil
– Performed below by Mary Black

Better keep your distance from this whale
Better keep your boat from going astray
Find yourself a partner and treat them well
Try to give them shelter night and day
’cause here in this blue light
Far away from the fireside
Things can get twisted and crazy and crowded
You can’t even feel right

So you dream of Columbus
Ever time the panic starts
You dream of Columbus
With your maps and your beautiful charts
You dream of Columbus
With an ache in your travelling heart

See how the cormorant swoops and dives
Must be some thrill to go that deep
Down to the basement of this life
Down to where the mermaid gently sleeps
Not like here in this blue light
Far away from the fireside
Where things can get twisted and haunted and crowded
You can’t even feel alright

And as tide must ebb and flow
I am dragged down under
And I wait the livelong day
For an end to my hunger

So I dream of Columbus
Every time that the panic starts
I dream of Columbus
With my maps and my beautiful charts
I dream of Columbus
And there’s peace in a traveling heart
I dream of Columbus

Airborne at CHIO Aachen

Photo by S.W. Cosgrove

Airborne at CHIO Aachen, the World Equestrian Festival at the Imperial City of Aachen, Germany, where horses fly.

According to legend, Charlemagne’s horse discovered Aachen’s hot springs when pawing the ground with its hooves, which led to establishment of the Imperial Palace and City of Aachen at the site of an ancient Roman settlement. Charlemagne is buried at Aachen.

Opera has Bayreuth – equestrian sports have Aachen.

The Wild Pacific Trail at Ucluelet, British Columbia

Take a pictorial walk with me on The Wild Pacific Trail at Ucluelet, a tranquil village of about 2000 on the Ucluth Peninsula of Vancouver Island’s far west coast.  It’s about 288 kilometers northwest of the provincial capital, Victoria.

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Its location supports Ucleulet’s motto – “Living on the Edge” – as the peninsula is almost completely surrounded by water, making it more island than peninsula.  The Ucleulet Harbor provides easy water access to the ethereal mists of Barkley Sound to the south, featuring the Broken Group Islands of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.  To the west is the thundering Pacific Ocean.

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It’s on this western shore you can walk The Wild Pacific Trail, which clings to the coastline as you meander the trails and boardwalks amid an old-growth coastal rainforest – a labyrinthine wildwood of trees, ferns and moss.  Without warning, the trail bursts onto spectacular views from the rocky shoreline of the roiling Pacific Ocean, Barkley Sound, and the Broken Group Islands.

The trail is an easy, relaxing hike, with two large parking areas, easy access (including disabled), and well-signed trails.  When I was there, signs instructed you on what to do in the unlikely case that you found yourself sharing the trail with a bear.  Sadly, I didn’t see one.

Photography by S.W. Cosgrove.

Looking south from the far end of the peninsula, towards Barkley Sound and the Broken Group Islands.  In the mist on the other side of the sound is Bamfield, a tiny resort hamlet that is best reached by packet boat from Port Alberni or by float plane.

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Here is a very engaging Blue Jay, who decided to accompany me.  Chatty bird, and quite friendly.

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Hidden in the woods on the other side of the water is the lodge that I stayed at.

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Following is the view from the private patio of the studio apartment I rented in an elegant new wood-built lodge that a young couple shared with visitors.  It was in a very quiet location, situated just a few steps from The Wild Pacific Trail.  Reasonably priced, very comfortable, with an oversized soaking tub.

The last afternoon, a storm blew in and rain pounded windows and deck.  Then, a half hour later, the sun came back out and dried everything off.

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Ucluelet Harbor

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Photos: Ocean Shores coastal winter weather changes over one hour

This week before the Winter Solstice 2017, we spent a few days at Ocean Shores in the state of Washington, USA, to absorb the marine air off the mighty Pacific Ocean.

Here are my photos of just one hour of coastal weather change from the vantage point of Protection Island, or Damon Point State Park, a 544-acre natural area adjacent to the Washington State Game Preserve.  A sand spit best crossed on foot at low tide connects the island with the mainland.

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Rows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I’ve looked at clouds that way
But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way
 I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It’s cloud’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all
~ Joni Mitchell, Both Sides Now

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Walking on the Western Edge of North America – the Washington Coast.

It’s autumn, when the Pacific Ocean coastal skies may be sunny or turn dark, ushering in the magnificent storm season.  Either way, it’s a perfect time to explore the westernmost edge of the North American continent.

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So my German Shepherd, Jack, and I headed out from our home on the Puget Sound to spend a week in the historic seaside resort town of Moclips, which was originally a village of the Quinault Indian Nation.  Spaniards were the first Europeans to come ashore here at Santiago beach, adjacent to the Moclips River, which runs to Point Grenville.

Moclips was homesteaded in 1862, and in 1905 it officially became a town when the western most terminus of the Northern Pacific Railway was completed at Moclips and the first Moclips Beach Hotel was completed.  Vacationers came to the beach by the thousands on the Northern Pacific.  No trains run to Moclips these days and most remnants of the the railway’s existence have faded away.  Click the photo below for more Moclips history.

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Today Moclips is a sleepy little seaside town with pristine beaches that stretch to the horizons.  The Moclips River flows from a natural riverine rain forest on a bed of agate rock.  You can see the remains of the train bridge trestles in my photos.

I stayed at the Hi-Tide Ocean Beach Resort, a peaceful and well-maintained collection of very comfortable, fully furnished and tastefully appointed condos with patios facing the ocean, the river and the setting sun. Hi-Tide welcomes dogs!  You can arrange rental on the Hi-Tide Resort website. 

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During our visit, we had a full compliment of weather: sun-drenched shorts and sandals weather at the beginning of the week, with marine air moving in, then darkening skies, wind picking up and rain by the time we left.  It was, in a word, a perfect autumn week on the Pacific Northwest coast.

Here are some of my photos of the journey. If you use them, please attribute.

Hello from Jack!

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The Man From Snowy River. The Poem.

You may have seen the critically aclaimed 1982 movie, but have you read the original poem?

Australian bush poet A.B. “Banjo” Paterson (author of Waltzing Matilda) wrote “The Man From Snowy River.”  Paterson grew up in the Outback and knew it well.

The mythical ride is set in the Snowy River region of southeastern New South Wales and eastern VictoriaAustralia, on the eastern slopes of the Snowy Mountains near Mount Kosciuszko.

“The Man From Snowy River” was first published in The Bulletin, an Australian news magazine, on April 26, 1890. In October 1895, it appeared in a collection of Paterson’s poems, The Man from Snowy River and Other Verses.

In this video, Jack Thomson narrates Banjo’s poem, set to scenes and music from the movie.

The Man from Snowy River

 By A.B. “Banjo” Paterson

There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around
That the colt from old Regret had got away,
And had joined the wild bush horses – he was worth a thousand pound,
So all the cracks had gathered to the fray.
All the tried and noted riders from the stations near and far
Had mustered at the homestead overnight,
For the bushmen love hard riding where the wild bush horses are,
And the stock-horse snuffs the battle with delight.

There was Harrison, who made his pile when Pardon won the cup,
The old man with his hair as white as snow;
But few could ride beside him when his blood was fairly up-
He would go wherever horse and man could go.
And Clancy of the Overflow came down to lend a hand,
No better horseman ever held the reins;
For never horse could throw him while the saddle girths would stand,
He learnt to ride while droving on the plains.

And one was there, a stripling on a small and weedy beast,
He was something like a racehorse undersized,
With a touch of Timor pony – three parts thoroughbred at least –
And such as are by mountain horsemen prized.
He was hard and tough and wiry – just the sort that won’t say die –
There was courage in his quick impatient tread;
And he bore the badge of gameness in his bright and fiery eye,
And the proud and lofty carriage of his head.

But so slight and weedy, one would doubt his power to stay,
And the old man said, “That horse will never do
For a long and tiring gallop-lad, you’d better stop away,
Those hills are far too rough for such as you.”
So he waited sad and wistful – only Clancy stood his friend –
“I think we ought to let him come,” he said;
“I warrant he’ll be with us when he’s wanted at the end,
For both his horse and he are mountain bred.”

“He hails from Snowy River, up by Kosciusko’s side,
Where the hills are twice as steep and twice as rough,
Where a horse’s hoofs strike firelight from the flint stones every stride,
The man that holds his own is good enough.
And the Snowy River riders on the mountains make their home,
Where the river runs those giant hills between;
I have seen full many horsemen since I first commenced to roam,
But nowhere yet such horsemen have I seen.”

So he went – they found the horses by the big mimosa clump –
They raced away towards the mountain’s brow,
And the old man gave his orders, “Boys, go at them from the jump,
No use to try for fancy riding now.
And, Clancy, you must wheel them, try and wheel them to the right.
Ride boldly, lad, and never fear the spills,
For never yet was rider that could keep the mob in sight,
If once they gain the shelter of those hills.”

So Clancy rode to wheel them – he was racing on the wing
Where the best and boldest riders take their place,
And he raced his stockhorse past them, and he made the ranges ring
With stockwhip, as he met them face to face.
Then they halted for a moment, while he swung the dreaded lash,
But they saw their well-loved mountain full in view,
And they charged beneath the stockwhip with a sharp and sudden dash,
And off into the mountain scrub they flew.

Then fast the horsemen followed, where the gorges deep and black
Resounded to the thunder of their tread,
And the stockwhips woke the echoes, and they fiercely answered back
From cliffs and crags that beetled overhead.
And upward, ever upward, the wild horses held their sway,
Were mountain ash and kurrajong grew wide;
And the old man muttered fiercely, “We may bid the mob good day,
No man can hold them down the other side.”

When they reached the mountain’s summit, even Clancy took a pull,
It well might make the boldest hold their breath,
The wild hop scrub grew thickly, and the hidden ground was full
Of wombat holes, and any slip was death.
But the man from Snowy River let the pony have his head,
And he swung his stockwhip round and gave a cheer,
And he raced him down the mountain like a torrent down its bed,
While the others stood and watched in very fear.

He sent the flint stones flying, but the pony kept his feet,
He cleared the fallen timbers in his stride,
And the man from Snowy River never shifted in his seat –
It was grand to see that mountain horseman ride.
Through the stringybarks and saplings, on the rough and broken ground,
Down the hillside at a racing pace he went;
And he never drew the bridle till he landed safe and sound,
At the bottom of that terrible descent.

He was right among the horses as they climbed the further hill
And the watchers on the mountain standing mute,
Saw him ply the stockwhip fiercely, he was right among them still,
As he raced across the clearing in pursuit.

Then they lost him for a moment, where two mountain gullies met
In the ranges, but a final glimpse reveals
On a dim and distant hillside the wild horses racing yet,
With the man from Snowy River at their heels.

And he ran them single-handed till their sides were white with foam.
He followed like a bloodhound in their track,
Till they halted cowed and beaten, then he turned their heads for home,
And alone and unassisted brought them back.
But his hardy mountain pony he could scarcely raise a trot,
He was blood from hip to shoulder from the spur;
But his pluck was still undaunted, and his courage fiery hot,
For never yet was mountain horse a cur.

And down by Kosciusko, where the pine-clad ridges raise
Their torn and rugged battlements on high,
Where the air is clear as crystal, and the white stars fairly blaze
At midnight in the cold and frosty sky,
And where around The Overflow the reed beds sweep and sway
To the breezes, and the rolling plains are wide,
The man from Snowy River is a household word today,
And the stockmen tell the story of his ride.

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Pacific Ocean Cabins With a View

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All photos by S.W. Cosgrove

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At the north western edge of the continental United States, with the Pacific Ocean at your feet, lie a handful of cabins – Iron Springs Resort.  They are arranged on a bluff overlooking a vast horizon that stretches westward to the edges of what is visible, then dissolves into what is not visible to mere mortals.

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As you walk at the edge of the pounding surf, the sandy shores seem to stretch to infinity from north to south.  Keep walking – for hours if you like – and you’ll never reach the end.  The sand, the surf and the springs and estuaries that feed into the ocean recede and dissolve until they exist only in your memory.  As the tides come in and go out at the resort’s Boone Creek, where fresh water meets salt water, you can watch the fresh water rise up over the more dense salt water, while the salt water beneath pushes its way upstream along the bottom.  But as you walk, beware the incoming high tide, or you may find it difficult to return to where you began.

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The sounds of the savage ocean shore are primal, as if from a dream.  The sea birds, screaming at your thoughtless interruption of their dining routine.  The winds, from gentle to so harsh they’ll blister your skin.  And the rhythmic symphony of the great ocean beast itself as it moves ever towards the shore, changing from swells to white capped waves to crashing surf, ending the cycle as a churning but ever thinner sheet of water conforming to the irregular nuance of beach, fragmenting into barely visible ripples that disappear, pulsing and absorbed into the sand, only to reform as rivulets of salt water retreating to the ocean to begin the journey again.

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This is the endless world.  The ocean.  From the beginning of time through eternity.  We have the privilege of being part of the world but for a short time, less consequential than a grain of beach sand that has existed for millions of years.  In comparison, our lives are an almost impercipitible flash of energy, barely noted, lasting an immersurabley short time.

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So you might as well take advantage of it.  Find a place like Iron Springs Resort, with about 25 cabins perched on a bluff stained orange from the iron-filled cliffs, with ruddy cinnamon waters from the nearby Boone Creek staining the beach.  In the 19th century, the area was considered to be a medicinal soaking place.

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The cabins have ocean-facing decks, almost all with stunning sunset panoramas.  The resort has been there for decades, but all the cabins have been extensively renovated, incorporating the original stone fireplaces, with a generous supply of firewood included.  Though the cabins retain their rustic persona, they are equipped to the highest standard for your stay, whether it’s for the night or for the week.  Kitchens are well equipped, with granite countertops and modern appliances, including a dishwasher.   A full complement of cookware and dinnerware is in the cabinets, and there is a nice sharp set of cooking knives – a nice touch.  Fresh linens and towels are included, as well as dog towels to wipe your best friend’s feet.   Iron Springs Resort not only allows dogs, they love dogs.  When I arrived for my first visit, I brought my German Shepherd, Jack, with me the office to check in and they spent more time talking to him than me, letting him pick out a nice tennis ball from the bucket to take to the beach.   Oh yes, dog dishes are also supplied in the cabins.

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The ambience at Rust Springs Resort is serene and congenial.  The cabins are set apart so that privacy is ensured.  Several people I met were repeat visitors, and I later found that many have used Iron Springs Resort as a touchstone for family getaways, reunions, bonfires and clam digs for generations.  There seemed to be a dog or two in every cabin, with everyone respectfully keeping their buddies on the leash.  The exception is the friendly resort dogs, who quite understandably are free to go where they like.

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But once you take the five-minute walk to the beach, off comes the leash, and your dog will enter unrestrained cosmic canine bliss.  Feel free to do so, as well!  My GSD Jack takes off like a shot, with a rooster tail of flying sand behind him, until he gets to the water where he splashes around barking at the waves and chasing gulls.  When he finally slows down, somewhat later, we walk and walk and walk.  By the time we get back to the cabin, he’s ready for chow and a nice laydown, and so am I.  Click here or photo below for video link.

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There is no finer end to the day for me than sitting out on the cabin deck with a glass of wine, watching the sun slip into the ocean.  Every cabin has a barbeque grill on the deck, if you’re in the mood.  If it’s windy or rainy, you just move inside, prop your feet up and enjoy the same view through the expansive glass windows and door.

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In addition to the Pacific Ocean beach on your front doorstep, there are hiking trails in the second growth forest behind the resort, with “wolf trees” that must get their name from the branches that look to me like wolf teeth.  There’s also fishing, shell fishing, bird watching, as well as marine and rainforest parks.  The razor clams are famous.  The Hoh Rain Forest, a world heritage site, is not far away.

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Iron Springs Resort is an easy two and half hour drive from Seattle.  Head west through Olympia towards Aberdeen and then follow the road north to Ocean Shores.  Ocean Shores will be your last chance for grocery and other shopping, and then you keep going north on Washington 109N about another 15 minutes.  After you cross the Copalis River Bridge, keep watch for the large overturned lifeboat on the left, then turn into the parking lot.  Check out of your hectic life and check into ocean time.

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For more information on Iron Springs Resort, including the history of the area and resort, go to their website at http://www.ironspringsresort.com/  There, you will find out one unusual feature of the resort, which is that the beach in front is home to Copalis Beach Airport.  It is the only known beach airport in the contiguous United States and the only stretch of Washington State beach where it is legal to land a plane.  Timing is everything, in case you plan to fly in – the runway and airplane parking area are under water at high tide!  Click here or the photo for the Washington Department of Transportation Copalis Airport link.

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