SUMMER

It’s mid – summer, 22 July. Have been back a week or so from spending the first fourth of July in the States since 1992. Now I’m paying the price! Lots of work to do and only twenty four hours a day.
I get back just in time for most of the farriers around here to go on their vacation, around two or three weeks, so my mobile phone is busy. “My horse lost a shoe and my farrier is on vacation, can you help me?” is the call. I’ve received many of them, but one thing I’ve come to understand – I CAN’T SAVE THE WORLD!
Summer is tough for a farrier. Flies are the worst enemy I got. It’s even hard for a good horse to stand still. Here we got these small gray flies, they bite and hard! My other enemy is the humidity. It starts early in the morning and continues all day. Sometimes I feel it is around that 500%, but I know it never goes that high. Growing up in Idaho, we had a dry heat and summers were hot when it got over a 100 degrees (F) 37,7(C), then summer was getting hot, but it was a dry heat. Here in Denmark it is very humid. When it is around 82 degrees (F) (28 C) it is hot and heavy. After twenty two years I still haven’t gotten use to the heavy wet air.
Mornings start out with sunrise early. I love the fresh cool air and make the best of it. I got some customers who will let me show up around six or so, which makes life easy for me. As the day moves on, so does the sun in the sky. This summer has been a little dry and warm. I can deal with the dry hooves, but the flies are something else. I also take a stack of extra shirts to change into.
Showing up to the next place in a wet dirty shit from the last place just isn’t professional, besides keep myself a little dry and clean also helps to keep my van a little cleaner as well. Today just happened to be a 5 shirt day, the one I started with and changing 4 times in between. Not only is it better to show up clean to the next customer, but it also freshens me up a bit to have a dry shirt on.
But the best part of summer is some of the customers I got. Many of them think of me and how I deal with the heat. Many of them bring out cold water to drink as they know I don’t drink sodas. Sodas just make me more thirsty than when I begin to drink, water is the drink of choice. Another thing, coffee is good any time of the year, but the problem with coffee is I go to stop and piss more because of the caffeine . I also find I dehydrate more by drinking coffee, but hey, I love a good cup of coffee and there’s no two ways about it, a good cup of coffee is hard for me to turn down.
Well I’m a little older now, thus the crazy old man. One thing I have learned is if I don’t take care of myself, no one else will. So in this summer of heat and flies that bite me as well as the horses, I’ve learned what my limits are and how much I can do. I’m not as young as I used to be, but I can hang, just so long as I can plan my day. So all you sun lovers, when you’re out sitting on the beach, roasting in the sun, just stop and think a minute of guys like me sweating like a whore in church, fighting the flies and still getting the job done.!

GETTING READY TO FLY

I just got back from a trip to the States. Flying today is a real trip. Sometimes I shake my head at the stupidity of people and the change of times. Other times I am amazed at what happens.
I remember the first plane trip, it was from Boise, Idaho to Kansas City, Missouri. We showed up at the airport, checked our baggage in, went to the assigned gate and when the time came we got on the plane – much different from today! Also Dad had to be sure to request non-smoking seats. At least that’s one good thing, no more smoking on planes, but so much more has changed.
We all know after 11 September, 2001, when the terrorists (or whoever was behind it) got done, things changed dramatically. Even before I remember the first time I flew to Europe in the early ‘90s, I landed in England to change planes, I saw police patrolling the airport with automatic weapons, had never seen that before in the States, yet now tough security is demanded. I know past Presidents have said the terrorists will not win, but they have. If you fly on an American airliner, you are no longer treated as an “adult”. You are now issued the “good plastic” to eat with, you are searched and most of the time patted down (would be better is a good looking gal did it), off with the shoes. You almost got to get dressed twice that day. Once before going to the airport and once after the security check. Then you get to do a full body scan. I wonder what they see? I bet they got a lot of good tales to tell!
All this has been going on for over a decade now, so no surprises when one gets to the airport. It’s really amazing with all the signs posted about the procedures how stupid people really are, especially when the lines are long and you need to process through security quickly to catch you next flight.
Before I get to the security line, belt comes off and in my carry on. Next I have a plastic bag I put all my loose change, pocket watch and any small things in my pockets in then place it in my carry on. Next my hat comes off and I do a final pat down on myself to make sure nothing has slipped through the cracks. Since I started to carry my laptop, I am prepared to pull it out and place it in a separate inspection bin, and boom – I already to go. If in the States off with the shoes, if traveling in Europe I don’t bother as they have already been scanned with the body check(the States hasn’t figured that one out yet).
I look ahead and watch many of the airheads waiting until they get to the inspection site where an officer needs to remind people to do all the things written on posters around the walls preceding the inspection. And if you can’t read, there are usually pictures of what to do, yet so many people fail to get it done. It’s as if a large case of dumbness falls over many and they no longer can process information which is so clearly posted. And I don’t know anyone who’s been in such a remote place that they haven’t heard of the security measures required now days.
It was so funny, I was in Amsterdam’s airport waiting in the security line and the guy in front of me was one of those dumb downed people. He had to be told to take his belt off, to take his jacket off, then he needed to take his laptop out of his bag. Did he check his pockets – NO. The officer had to remind him to get all the stuff out of his pockets – all of this wasting time. If he’d automatically done it as required, those few minutes could have been saved. If everyone prepared before, lots of time would be saved.
Then there’s carry-on baggage! I was on one of these flying cigars, not much room, but enough for people to be sensible. Yet here comes a guy with a large carry-on bag (it was within correct size), he also had a computer bag with stuff, and a small day pack as well! If every person did this, there wouldn’t be enough room in the plane for the people! I know for some people it’s a crime if they have to check in their bags, but come on, let’s get real! What if all the airlines got together and said one carry on period? Whether it’s a bag or a computer or a day pack, each person only gets one. Holy Cow boarding and getting off would go so much better and smoother as so much time would be saved! Or maybe say if you wanted to take more than one carry on, then it costs. Airlines now charge for so many things now that once were free.
Anyway next time you’re headed for a flight, stop, think and just watch all the people around and see how the stupidity factor comes over people when they get ready to go through security or board a flight. Just make sure you’re prepared before you start shaking your head!

COMING HOME (Part II)

The first day I back in Salmon Idaho, I took a drive down river – just had to make sure water was still running west. As I drove out of town, memories started coming back, but then some things had changed as well! Just before North Fork, what use to be an abandon camp ground was now up and running. Left turn at North Fork and I remember the sign – 46 miles to Corn Creek, the end of the road. Yea it was a long trip, I wondered if the road was the same.
It was great to drive the river road again. The first part is paved until a little ways before Shoup, where it turns to gravel. I had a problem watching the road because the blue rippling ribbon of clear Salmon water can somehow hypnotize a person. Just down river from Shoup, on the far side is an old cabin, was glad to see it still standing. I had to pull over and do the tourist bit and take a picture. All the trips I’d made down the river years before I’d never stopped to take pictures, but now I needed to. I felt somehow I needed to prove I’d been there. Snaking my way around the road, passing the old mine where one can still take tours I got surprised – a new bridge across the river. I could see it was just on the up river side of the old bridge and WIDE. I thought this was a job getting it put in. It looked like the Pine Creek rapids hadn’t been effected so I guess float boaters would still have a good ride.
On the paved section I had zipped down the road, now I was driving much slower and a little more careful as on the gravel road, places my car had a tendency to slide a bit sideways. All of sudden on the road ahead of me I saw some fairly large objects in the road. As I got nearer and could see better – chukars! It was a pair and a fairly big hatch, looking like about ten to fifteen. Great, they looked in good shape as I slowed down to almost a stop so they could figure what they wanted to do. They must of either just come down to drink or were going back up. Going down the river I came to a spot I remembered very well. All those years ago I was headed out in my pickup, not really paying attention to the road when all of a sudden small rocks in the road, I slowed to go around but then – HOLE! I came to a sliding stop just at the edge of the hole. Getting out I looked in front of me to see a hole big enough to almost swallow my Toyota 4×4. I looked at the hole for a while then looked around for the rock, didn’t see it so I walked to the edge of the road, looking over I was a gigantic bolder in the water. I shook my head in amazement. I went back to the hole, climbed down to the bottom, I am two inches shy of six foot and that was the depth of the hole. Climbing out I walked back up the road a ways where I found part of an old tree next to the road. I dragged it out, setting it on some rock to make a sort of a barrier to warn other drivers. The other side I got large rocks and put them around the rim to warn those coming from the other way. On my way out I stopped at the Forest Service office and let them know it was there. But today one would never know that event ever happened. I wonder how many little stories about this part of the county have gone untold?
Chukars, chukars everywhere. I have never seen so many and it was good. After crossing the other new bridge, I was now back on the north side of the river. As I’m driving, really not much had changed. A tree here or there was gone. I did notice some fires had burned in a few areas. Passing Owl creek, I wondered about Fred Porter, someone told me he had died. Fred was a fighter pilot during WWII and drove jet boat on the river. Fred always had a smile on his face. I really enjoyed being around him.
The usual bighorn sheep were scatter along the way. Slowing down to give them a chance to find a good place to get out of the way, you always got a good look. Just up from the Salmon River Lodge was a very large rock in the river, making a large hole under it. Now, this stage of the water, the hole wasn’t as large, but it was big enough one had to really pay attention to it.
The road slowly made a bend to the left and began to climb, I knew I was almost to the Lodge, a place I called home. As I came to the top, I looked across, there it was. It had been remodeled, but it was there. I got out and opened the phone box. This hadn’t changed – the old army TA/312 field phone. I didn’t have to read the directions on how to use it, as I’d done it so many times before. I talked to a gal on the other side explaining who I was and how I’d like to come over and wanted visit my old stompin grounds. “I believe we can arrange that”, she said. So I hung up and headed to the Corn Creek camp ground and parked the car. I had to wait a while, but soon I heard the roar of a 454 Ford engine. Looking up I saw a boat coming down. I couldn’t believe it, it was the Bentz boat. I was surprised they still had it. The boat docked and off came a young guy, offered me his hand and ask if I was the guy who called I replied yes. He jumped off and I climbed on. As I entered the boat, “Hello Mike.” I took the hand offered me and looked into the face of a man about my age. Lot more hair than me, but a graying beard like mine. I looked through this older guy and say a younger guy my ears were telling me was: “Bill, how ya doing?” Someone knew me and I knew him. Yea, I felt like I was home.

TRAVELING HOME

I started the drive. It was a very warm July day. My car had air conditioning, but I rolled down both front windows because I wanted to get all the smells of the trip. Right off the bat I was getting the rich smell of mint. Brought back fond memories of pulling weeds out of a mint field, one of the many jobs I did as a kid to make a little money. Many times I just had to follow the signs and not try to rely on my memory for the route as the area had changed so much. So many more houses, businesses, roads changing, for a bit I almost no longer felt like the Treasure Valley had been my home for so many years. Now I was headed to my second home – Salmon, Idaho. I was trying to remember how long it took to drive up. I wasn’t sure, but was figuring I’d be there between 3 – 3:30p.m.
I was just starting to climb out of the valley – past the golf course and then up. So far so good my memory hadn’t failed me yet. Now it was just a straight shot to Banks, turn left up the Middle Fork of the Payette River until I got to Lowman. Turn right and head to Stanley, and then another left down the Salmon River which I would follow all the way to Salmon, Idaho.
I’d come off Horseshoe Bend Hill and going up the Payette River. Lots of traffic from those returning from their Fourth of July outing. I thought traffic was pretty heavy, but this was the first time in my life I was headed up at the end of this weekend, always before we’d been one of those headed down out of the mountains. I saw a big sign stating there were flaggers on the road at Banks – I wonder why they’re doing road work on this weekend I thought as I drove, but then again this was Idaho and many times I wasn’t too surprised. As I rounded the turn I saw banks and the usual crowd of cars – people stopping to get something to drink, but then I got the shock of my life! I looked up and yes there were flaggers, but they were traffic control! I looked up the highway coming from Cascade and there was a line of traffic stopped as far as I could see. I looked at the traffic stopped coming from Garden Valley and it was the same. “My” flagger had his slow sign out and so we kept moving. I turned on my signal light and turned towards Garden Valley. I passed cars where some people were out walking around. I wondered how long the wait was. After about 6 – 700 yards the stopped line petered out and now new vehicles were being added to the line. Then I thought about all the houses and how the population of the Valley had exploded since I have moved to Denmark – So much traffic, so many people. I was glad I had grown up in a time where there weren’t so many people up, yet at that time I thought there were many!
It was an uneventful trip up the Garden Valley to Lowman, except now the road was paved and not the gravel one I remembered. Turning left I now proceeded towards Stanley Idaho. I kept both windows down and was soon smelling the cool mountain air. After a while the Sawtooth Range came in sight. So great to see after living in Flat Denmark!!
Through Stanley and headed north down the main Salmon River. It wasn’t long before I started to really know where I was. Seeing places soon triggered me knowing which town and place I was approaching. I was amazed as I hadn’t driven the route in 22 yrs. Approximately 3:15p.m. I arrived in Salmon, Idaho, just about the time I figured. I soon felt the feeling of being home. After so many years it was great. I’ve only been gone from Denmark six days, but it feels like a month. Guess it means I’m having a great relaxing time!!

LET FREEDOM RING

The fourth has come and gone and it was a good one. It was the first time in twenty two years I’ve been able to spend it home in Greenleaf, Idaho. Most years I am under a horse somewhere trimming feet or shoeing so someone can have some fun. I will think of the day, but that’s about it.
In Denmark I have to get permission from the police to fly the American flag, and then it can only be flown under the Danish flag, or even height if I have two flag poles. I’d get pissed off about it, but I also understand. Denmark is just protecting their own national traditions and customs, which is very lacking here in the States. Especially when a court in California tells students they can’t wear their own national colors on 5th May so another country can observe their day – God forbid we stand up for ourselves.
After the parade of which I was riding on one of the floats our class had quickly done, there was the traditional posting of the colors. A color guard from the Marine Corps was present for this duty. Full dress blues they proudly posted the colors while three very talented ladies sang our national song. I was privileged to stand at the position of attention and render a hand salute, the first time in many years. As the song was completed I soon found tears in my eyes because I knew I had missed this very special moment in time when all are silent and giving respect to our nation and those who’ve kept Her that way.
Living outside the States I miss the things many of you take for granted every day – flying our flag, hearing the national anthem, showing the respect each one of us should show for the luck we have to be citizens of this great nations. I hope that not only today, but every day each and everyone of you will daily stop and think about the freedoms we have remaining and be thankful for them. I hope someday our Leaders will pull their heads from the dark place they are sitting on and start acting like American. Then begin to care about our country to get things squared away. Only when this happens will our country start the climb back to where it should be.
Great 4th of July weekend everyone, and LET FREEDOM RING.