Saturday, November 30, 2013

keep those wagons rolling

What should it be called?

If tourists in Mexico get Moctezuma's revenge, what do we expatriates suffer when we come north?  President Polk's revenge?

It will have to do.  I was rather careful on my portions for dinner yesterday (with the exception of a deceptive piece of apple pie).  But I suffered most of the night and today with some type of gastric distress.  Even an incredible amount of sleep (over 7 hours) did not chase it away.

But it was not bad enough to keep me from doing something I always enjoy on these trips to Bend.  My brother lives in a crazy quilt neighborhood of pocket ranches.  Whenever I am up this way, and a bit of solitude is required, I take a two-mile hike along his road.

You can see why people have built their ranches out this way.  The view of the Cascades is spectacular.  Our own version of big sky country. 

I almost retired over here in 2009.  But I thought my mother, brother, and sister-in-law would soon be joining me in Mexico.  That didn't happen.  So I visit them on as many holidays as I can.

I have been waking up to 10 degrees mornings.  That is a bit cool -- even for me.  But the red-shafted flickers are more frustrated with those temperatures when they discover the bird bath is doing its impression of Rockefeller Center.

By the time I took my walk, the temperature had climbed to 50.   I tossed my coat back in the house and enjoyed the invigorating enviroment that only short sleeves in the high desert can provide.

There are always a few quirky sights on the trip.  Such as, these llamas.

You know you have stumbled on a gentleman's ranch when the sole livestock are a herd of well-tended llamas.

At one point, it was possible to see herds of llamas in the surrounding paddocks.  Just waiting for Americans to develop a taste for llama wool sweaters loomed in crofter cottages.  It did not turn out well.  The rump of the herd linger on as pets. 

I don't remember hearing anything about llama burgers.  I suspect that fate was reserved for the equally bad investment of emus.

Jiggs despised llamas.  That is, if dogs are capable of such a complex emotion.  He may simply have seen them as prey.

Whatever the level of emotion, the llamas shared it with him.  Whenever he would visit my brother's place, Jiggs and the neighbor's llamas would have a stare down.

He was fortunate that a fence separated them -- because the llamas instinctively knew how to deal with a canine critter.  They would walk backwards -- forming a "U" formation.  Obviously, hoping to draw him into the "U" that would then become an "O" as the llamas closed the circle.

The predator had just been invited to the equivalent of a GI blanket party.  That is why llamas are often used to guard sheep from coyotes.

Just a few steps from the llamas, I re-discovered an object that sums up Bend's western libertarianism -- as well as its artistic soul.  I laugh every time I see this mail box.

The US Postal Service (as is its east coast establishment wont) has some rather strict rules on what a mail box must be.  I suspect this metallic homage to wetlands does not quite fit those regulations.  Nor does anyone here care.

I have never been able to decipher the code for placing the saw blade -- to let the postal driver know when to stop for mail.  It is simply Bend at its best.

Thanksgiving is a traditional day for ski lifts to open.  I don't know the status this year.  But any pioneer slogging along the Oregon trail would recognize what these clouds held in store.

Snow is on the way.  The timing is not the best.

I had hoped to be on the western side of the Cascades before the passes start filling with snow and ice.  But I am not certain if I will make it.  I have some financial and dental matters to deal with here in Bend on Monday.

Until then, I can take my walks and enjoy the retirement life I could have had.  But in installments.

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