Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, both male and female reindeer grow antlers. Although adult males grow the largest racks, adult females can have some very impressive antlers making it difficult or impossible to distinguish the sex based on antlers alone. Bulls generally shed their antlers in winter between November and December. Pregnant females will retain their antlers until after they have their calves in late April and May.

Therefore, according to EVERY historical rendition depicting Santa's reindeer, EVERY single one of them, from Rudolph to Blitzen, had to be a girl.

We should've known…...

only women would be able to drag a fat man in a red velvet suit all around the world in one night and not get lost.



Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wild Windy Wednesday

While many of you in the lower 48 are experiencing below normal temps, the Matanuska Susitna Valley is in the throes of a nasty high/low wind battle. We are being battered by hurricane force winds and the temps are in the teens. What snow fell last weekend has all been blown away.

From the National Weather Service: ... Wind and damage reports from the Matanuska Valley...

Strong winds affected much of the Matanuska Valley late yesterday and
today. Damage reports received so far include a semi-trailer truck
blown off the Road near Wasilla Lake... several signs blown down or
torn off buildings in Wasilla... and scattered power outages
throughout the Valley. High winds have also been reported to have
damaged area home roofs and blown covers off airplanes at the Palmer

Below are the highest reported wind gusts from this event as of
4:30pm today. With the winds gradually subsiding throughout the
valley tonight... these numbers will likely stand as the highest
recorded winds from the event.

Location wind gust time
-------------------------- ---------- --------
between Wasilla and Palmer 87 mph 6:00am
Palmer Airport 81 mph 10:53am
Wasilla (public report) 78 mph 12:35am
Wasilla Airport 63 mph 4:56am

The trailer above is at our local Walmart. This is a known wind tunnel. When the Walmart was under construction several years ago, a contractor parked a flatbed of rigid board styrofoam insulation in this same spot. The insulation was strapped down but not tarped. As soon as one board broke it created a chain reaction and soon the woods behind the trailer were full of pieces of styrofoam. This is not the first time a trailer has been flipped in this exact same spot.

This tractor trailer was a double with a flatbed trailer behind the van. The flatbed was on it's tires and the company hauled it off quickly. The van and the trailer stayed there all day. Just before this accident there was a full size pickup truck camper upside down on the same side of the road.

Briar and I drove out to the Wasilla airport and found one light plane standing on it's nose. Pilots here are pretty smart though and many of them had parked a truck in front of their plane to disrupt the airflow.

Voosh and the Mare have stayed in their barn all day. Hailey doesn't have a real good wind block but she wears a heavy winter turnout blanket. Unfortunately when she turns her butt to the wind the blanket rucks up around her neck.

The sheepies have hunkered down in the pen. Their wool is at least 4" thick. Not much bothers them.

This wind was supposed to have stopped this afternoon. Now the weather guys are saying *maybe* Friday. I can deal with the cold. This wind though is the pits.

PS - OS: It was the competition, not one of your guys.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Out My Office Window

It snowed on Saturday and that means I had to go to actual "work" as opposed to sitting in the office. We have a couple of commercial parking lots that have to be plowed when the snow reaches a depth of 2" and before they open in the morning. On Saturday we started plowing at 5 am. The picture above was taken at sunrise - about 10 am. It was my fourth parking lot.

I don't remember where I was for this picture but it is typical of the side roads I have to travel to get to the residential driveways I plow. Sometimes I get the driveways plowed before the State or Borough gets the roads plowed. Then I have to rerun my route and get all the berms out of the way.

This is heading north in Palmer, Alaska. My daughter's guitar teacher is in the building to the right and one of the best Italian restaurants I have eaten at is in the building on the left.

We have really short days here until my favorite day of the year - December 21. This was taken about 11:30 am.

This picture does not do justice to what a beautiful sunset it was. For a phone picture though it's pretty good. Sunset is at 4:00 pm or so. We are down to less than six hours of daylight.

My poor sheep get so confused this time of year. I feed on a 10 am to noon and 10 pm to midnight schedule. They are used to being fed when it gets dark. That's great in the summer but about 4 pm it gets real noisy in the sheep pen. So now I feed the sheep and the horses three times a day - hay morning and night and mash for the horses and more hay for the sheep about 4 pm. In three more weeks the sheep will get grain in the afternoon because they are due to lamb in February.

Hope you enjoyed take my blogger friends to work day!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Something to Share.....

Winter in Alaska can be dark, depressing and dreary. I have made it a point each winter to get outside and DO something. But when it gets dark (at 4:30 pm) I want to get into my jammies, stoke up the fire, watch tv and munch on whatever goodies I can find. I was determined last winter not to gain the 5 pounds I usually did.

I didn't gain 5....I gained 10!!

My Wranglers were just a little too snug. I had a difficult time getting on my horse, especially on the off side. I rode almost every day this summer, bucked hay, worked with the sheep, and general farm stuff. It didn't make any difference.

I lucked on to from several different blogs I follow. What a great source of information and inspiration. Because of my particular lifestyle I was able to incorporate some of the tenents of primal eating. I already did many of the "exercises" as work around the farm.

Long story short - I've dropped 20 pounds. My Wranglers are loose. We rode Sunday and I could step up (both sides!) on my horse easily. And I feel good too!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Quick Update

The weather here has been crazy.

First it snowed about 2" on October 23. We frantically got the plow trucks ready to push snow on our commercial parking lots. At 2 am when we left to plow it was all melted. The asphalt was still warm enough to melt the snow.

Then it snowed another 2" the first of November. We plowed the commercials but not the residentials unless they had a paved driveway. I learned the hard way that you DO NOT plow a gravel driveway/parking lot until the third or fourth snowfall. When you drive over the snow and pack it into the gravel, you set a base so that when you drop the plow on the gravel you don't plow the gravel off the driveway and into the lawn. Many hours raking gravel off the grass and back into the driveway taught me that lesson.

Now we are dealing with freezing rain and ice. Monday there was a temperature inversion and the snow that was falling through the warm air turned to rain and then froze when it hit the already icy ground. Schools were cancelled, the bases had only mission critical people at work, and my sanding truck ran 12 hours on Monday and another 12 hours on Tuesday.

I had not cleaned the horse pens so they had some traction. Voosh and the Mare stayed in the barn but silly Hailey stood out in the freezing rain. I had Briar put her blanket on then switched it our for a polar fleece cooler. Hailey stayed dry. The blanket was more for me than for her. She has a shelter but chose not to use it.

I'm sitting in the office with a lot of invoicing to do and procrastinating by catching up on blogs, Facebook and just dinking around. I hate paperwork with a passion and will do almost anything to get out of it. Unfortunately I'm the only one that can do the invoicing and the banking stuff. Since this is my income you'd think that I'd be getting it done sooner than later.

I'm not cooking dinner for tomorrow. My friend's husband works on the Slope and he left today for two weeks. She is an excellent cook and loves all the hoorah. So Briar is off to spend the night with her and they will cook for tomorrow. Fritz and I will just go over when it's ready to eat.

Forecast is for two and poosibly four inches of snow. So it looks like I will be plowing on Friday.

Hope your holiday is peaceful.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Road Trip!

A couple of weeks ago Briar, Christy, Lyssa and I went on a road trip to Anchor Point, Alaska. There was a horse we were interested in for Briar. His name was Shorty but that didn't deter us from heading out for a 5 hour (each way!) drive on a beautiful day in October.
Briar is 15 now and has her permit so I let her drive part of the way. We were hauling the stock trailer so she didn't drive in any traffic. As you can see we pretty much had the road to ourselves. Above is Turnagain Pass. By December there will be feet and feet of snow and the parking lots will be full of campers and snowmachines on the weekends.
This is Cook Inlet and the range of mountains you can see through the haze is part of the Pacific Rim Ring of Fire. There are several active volcanoes including Mt. Redoubt that erupted in 09 and Mt. Spurr that erupted in 91 or 92.
The wildlife is amazing. We saw about 50 swans on this trip. Many of them were on Potter's Marsh just south of Anchorage. These are in a pond at the junction of the Seward Highway and the Sterling Highway. We have so few major roads in Alaska that they all have names.

Here we are almost back to Anchorage. Briar snapped this picture as we were zooming along so it's kinda blurry and really doesn't do justice to the beautiful sunset.

And this is Shorty. We hauled him back to Wasilla for a week trial period but he really did live up to his name. Briar is about 5'7" so she really needs a taller horse. Shorty was a good horse but just not a fit for Briar.

There's another horse we looked at though. That story will follow soon!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

For Funder

This is the container that we used for Briar's cow, Alice. I have 9 more just like this one and one that I have already modified for the rams.

My plan to to put two cans together with the open ends facing with an alley between them. Then we'll roof that alley way so I can put their feeders under cover. The fiberglass sides will be cut out (leaving the aluminum supports) and the sheep will be able to use the cans as three sided sheds.

The weather in October has been beautiful except for one weekend of 100 mph straight line winds that had many people without power for up to 2 days. We have a generator, wood stove, gas lanterns and a gas cook stove as well as several stock tanks full of water so the power being out didn't affect us. The sky in these pictures is what we have had for the past week. However, the downside is that the high temperatures are in the low 40s and it's been below freezing every night. Termination dust is slowing marching down the mountains and we will have snow on the ground in less than a month.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Where has the time gone?

We are frantically getting ready for winter. There is so much to be done in a short time. First all the landscaping jobs we have been contracted for must be finished. Then the equipment can come home and begin working on getting the snow plowing stuff ready.

My sweety's plow truck has been stored all summer behind 8 cargo containers from Alaska Airlines. They were not air worthy so the containers were going to be crushed. They will make perfect sheep houses so I drug 11 of them home. To get his plow truck out from behind them we have to clean up where the chickens were and build a gravel platform for the feed shed to be moved so we can clean that area and move 2 containers to make a shelter for Briar's cow Alice. The 2 sheep pens need to be cleaned and platforms made for 4 containers to be moved for sheep shelters. The other 2 containers will be spotted in the yard as storage for my big Ferris mowers. All that work to get his plow truck out and ready for winter work.

The winter horse pen will be built as soon as the ground freezes. Then the horses will come to the upper lot for the winter. I must say that I really enjoy having the horses 27 feet from my front door. It makes feeding at 40 below much easier.

"They" say there are three seasons in Alaska: winter, getting ready for winter, and road construction.

Lots more going on. More posts to come with pictures!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Back in the Saddle Again!

Whew!! The Alaska State Fair is finally over. While it was not without it's share of drama and awful weather this year's fair was worth attending. I took my 4 month old lambs for the open shows and the 4-H shows. Pepper (the ram) took first in his class, Rigby (the ewe) took first in her classes, Floyd (the wether) took first in his open class and Best in Division. The three lambs were also shown in Get of Sire and received first place. I got second in sheep showmanship.

In the 4-H shows Floyd and Briar took 4th in the market class. Briar was second in sheep showmanship. She also showed the 2 wethers and a ewe in the get of Sire class and won first. She was allowed to show Pepper in 4-H because he is under 6 months. He took first in his class as did Rigby in the ewe lamb class.
This is the Get of Sire entry. Floyd is on the left, Wolly is in the middle and Supreme is on the right. They are all the same age but Wolly's dam and Supreme's dam are crossbred Suffolks and much taller than the registered Suffolks I have.

In the market lamb class Wolly was Reserve and Supreme was Grand. The young man showing Supreme chose to market his turkey instead of the ewe lamb. She's coming over to be bred this month.

Now that the Fair is finally over I can get back to "normal" life. I haven't ridden since the middle of August but have a ride planned this weekend if the weather cooperates. We had no summer to speak of this year and I'm afraid that we will go directly to winter. The days are much shorter and I'm putting on a heavier jacket to do chores in the morning. No ice in the stock tanks yet.

Hopefully I will be back to posting more often. Thanks to everyone who checked in while I was gone.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Rain Rain Go Away

Sorry I haven't been around but we are in the process of building an ark. July 2010 was the seventh wettest July since records have been kept in Anchorage. My horse "dry" lot is a muddy, mucky, nasty mess. Over half of the first cut hay is still standing. The poor sheep are almost to the point of shrinking.

We've been riding - in the rain - and even had a poker ride last weekend. Everything was wet but the rain stopped for several hours during the ride. This ride even had drama. We had two riders go through red "do not go here" flagging and ended up way off the trail. Both are good riders but really unfamiliar with our trail system. They finally retraced their steps and returned to the river. The drag riders (me) had come through and pulled the directional arrows so the two lost riders had to figure out how to cross the river. I didn't pull any flagging though so they were able to figure it out and get back to camp.

The next six weeks are full of things to do. The Kenny Lake Fair, then a Poker Ride close to the Matanuska Glacier, our Alaska State Fair in Palmer and finally PENDLETON! I haven't booked my flights yet but plans are for Briar and I to attend the 100th Anniversary RoundUp with my Unlce Chan. I'm so excited!

On another note: Wild Horse Annie had a really bad trailering accident with her TWH gelding. He has a dropped hip and will require stall rest until October 15. The vets say that if he makes it until then he should be 100% healthy and useable. Please keep them both in your thoughts.

I'll get pictures of the ark as we work on it. August doesn't look any drier than July.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Bald Mountain Butt Buster 2010

I should have lots of pictures and plenty of stories for this post after the CTR I have been working towards since the first of the year. But you know what they say about the best laid plans........

July 10 and 11 I rode the dress rehersal and final timing for the CTR. Vooshka was great - 21 miles on Saturday and 19 miles on Sunday. She rode with horses she hadn't ridden with before and even stayed with me when the horse we were riding with decided to leave his rider at the P&R and head down the mountain. Voosh and I were left at 1200' by ourselves and had to ride down a gnarly deep brush trail in bear country. The absent horse and rider were reunited and finished the ride with us.

At the very end of the ride Voosh came up lame on her right front. We walked home and I didn't plan on riding her until Saturday the 17th. We were supposed to be drag safety rider for the Novice/CP division.

Saturday dawned clear and bright. I was at ride camp by 7:30 am and had Voosh saddled by 8:00 for an 8:30 departure. My trailer was parked right by the timer's tent so there were 50 horses and riders gathered in the presentation area beside us. Long story short, Voosh lost her mind with all the activity and energy level. She did the best impression of "airs above the ground" that I have ever seen. Thank goodness there was someone to take my place as safety rider because there was no way I was getting on that horse.

I actually did ride her later because she couldn't get away with that nonsense. I rode the Mare after lunch for the PM trail.

The rest of the weekend I was camp go-fer. I used the wheeler to set signs and mark trails. I got all the ribbons and prizes organized. I picked up trash. I helped enter data into excel spreadsheets. I brought the judges their dinner (smoked prime rib, baked potato, green beans and corn on the cob, chocolate cake).

Although it wasn't the CTR I imagined, I still got to participate in some way. And I will get to ride more because all the flagging has to be taken down!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Riding in Alaska

So we have this competitive trail ride on July 16, 17 and 18. This past week we have been flagging the trails with bright surveyor's tape in four different colors so that the riders can follow their designated trails. Our Trail Master is super organized and has color coded maps for us to follow. On Monday evening our group of four set out to mark Saturday afternoon's ride. All went well until I couldn't find the field marked "Clover" on the map. So we didn't mark that and continued to the P&R location. The Open ride went one way and the CP/Novice went the other so Christy and I took the novice flagging while the other two riders did Open.

This ride is on trails we only ride on every other year. I don't know all the specific trails and there were times Christy and I backtracked taking down flagging, then re-flagging correctly. We finally met up with the other crew who had the same problem on their Open trails. It was getting late so I said that Briar and I would finish the flagging on Tuesday.

Tuesday was rather hectic and we didn't get on the trail until almost 8 pm. We got to where I thought "Clover" was but the field was full of an excellent stand of timothy hay - not a clover in sight! Thank goodness for cell phones. When I called out Trail Master she said I was in the right place, that the field was full of clover 20 years ago when they named the field. It's a 2/3 mile trot around the field into the P&R. So we trotted!

Then I second guessed myself and unflagged to reflag. I KNOW better than that. So I had to unflag the reflag and put all the flags back. ARRRGHHHH. By this time Briar was tired, my horse was tired and the poor Mare (who is not in shape at all) was tired. We got all the flagging completed and will do a dress rehersal this weekend to see how well we did.

Our at the most two hour ride became a four hour ride. We got home at midnight.

Here's Briar and the Mare. I took this picture with my phone so this is really what it looked like - no flash or artificial light, Can you guess what time it is? 11:30 PM!!! Now do you see why I am so tired in the summer? When it is daylight until midnight or later your perception of what time it is is very flawed. Moms in Alaska in the summertime do not tell their kids to come home when the street lights come on.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Wild Horse Annie is STILL mad at the beavers!

It's worse......much worse. The beavers have extended the dam along one of our trails and the flooding is taking out a trail junction that has been our main river crossing for years. Christy decided to take matters into her own hands after our last ride. She pulled out enough of the dam to create an outflow. We knew the beavers would just rebuild it but hoped that with the pressure of all the water it would at least drop the pond level some. Nope....made it worse.

It is three weeks until our Bald Mountain Butt Buster CTR. The trails have been tentatively set and the goal this week is to finish getting accurate mileage. On the weekend of the 10th and 11th we will have a dress rehearsal with the point and drag riders.

I had dentals done on both horses this weekend. What a difference! Now I feel so bad that I didn't have them done sooner. There are only a few vets in our area and only one who has a special interest in dental work. He is recovering from shoulder surgery and has been unwilling to do dentals. So this week he brought in a woman who has 13 years experience. I've been waiting for a spot in one of her clinics for two years. She was very patient in answering all my questions and letting me put my hands in the horses' mouths to feel just what was going on. I must have the best horses in the world because even with points, hooks and prows of ships in their mouths they have been willing to do anything I have asked. Can't wait to see how they act now!

The theme song this week has been Rain, rain go away. Typical gray, rainy Alaska week. Farmers are doing the no rain dance because it is time for first cut and there hasn't been 5 days in a row with no rain. I'm down to my last seven bales of hay. I do not want to buy outside hay but may be forced to.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


I have been anticipating this 100th post since it seems to be a milestone for so many bloggers. However I couldn't think of a subject "worthy" of my 100th post. And it seems as though there is much sadness in the lives of several of the bloggers I follow.

So I thought I'd just post a picture and tell everyone who reads about my adventures in Alaska how cool it is that people who don't know me read about the things I do. If you want, post a comment and tell me how reading about my life in the last frontier has changed your perception of Alaska. Can't promise a prize but you never know!!

Monday, June 21, 2010

My Least Favorite Day of The Year

This is typical of this summer - black clouds and sprinkly rain. Our ride in celebration of my least favorite day of the year started out this way. The group dithered about riding on the mountain. We've had three days of good soaking rain. It's great for the hay crops but bad for the footing on the mountain trails. Our CTR is in 30 days though so we needed to be sure the trails were clearly marked for riding.

We increased the parking at my under construction shop and lost my arena in the process. However, we can park more rigs there now and since ride camp is 660 yards from here it makes a good starting point.

There were seven of us riding Sunday - two young horses, four seasoned trail horses and one I had not ridden with before. I'll tell you right now I'm picky about who I ride with. My mare is a great judge of character and lets me know her opinion.

The trailboss for the CTR had bushwhacked a new river crossing so the first thing we did was cut moose browse and saplings to create a trail. Then we hauled a log out of the river to make the crossing easier for the Novice horses.

Then we headed up the mountain. At the cabin the younger horse's riders opted for a shorter ride and turned left to run up the Aspen trail. Our group of five then turned right and went out East Baldy.

I've been trying to figure a way to post the map of our trails. Even google earth doesn't show them and I'd really like you to be able to see the scope of where we ride. I'll get it figured out soon.

Our day cleared off to be sunny and nice. The trails were rather slippery and Voosh had trouble negotiating some of the hills. She almost fell a couple of times but managed to scramble her way up. It was good for her though. At the top of the picture above you can see a shiny strip - that's Knik Inlet. The little white dot in the middle is Poka. That's with no zoom.

That's zoomed. I had the GPS with me and forgot to check elevations at this point. Christy and Lyssa are on a trail called Mary and we are checking out the loop called Secret. This time it WAS a secret as we got lost a couple of times bushwacking through ferns that were wither high to the horses. Did I need to remind you that this is bear country?

We rode to the end of our mountain trail system, joined Christy and Lyssa and headed back down the mountain.

The whole ride was 14.8 miles with a moving time of 5 hours and 15 minutes, average 2.8 mph. It was a little slower than our normal 3.0 due to the footing on the mountain.

Oh yeah....the title of my post? It's Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. Sunrise at 4:21 am, sunset at 11:42 pm, and dusk inbetween. Ninteen hours of daylight! Wait! The downside? The days get shorter, starting tonight, until my favorite day of the year Winter Solstice when there's only 4 hours of daylight but the daylight hours start to increase!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What A Difference......

Remember this? It's the view down my driveway in December. I posted it in the blog about watering the horses.

This is the after! Check out the time stamp. One minute after 11 PM! If it wasn't so cloudy right now it would be this light an hour later. The sun actually doesn't set in the same place each season. In the winter picture you can see the sun is shining from the south. In May the sun actually sets behind those mountains.

I've been remiss in posting. It's not that there has been nothing to post about - I have been so busy with riding, Rally Days and the Colony Days Parade not to mention that I have three crews working now.

Colony Days celebrates the time when people moved to Alaska at the request of the government during the Dust Bowl time. It was 75 years ago that the colonists first came to Palmer. Colony Days is a three day celebration with a big farmer's market, a farm family of the year, bed races, rail hand cart races and lots of other things including a parade. This year there were 91 parade entries. Our 4-H club (Winner's Circle) decided that we wanted to participate. So I hauled the 24' flatbed trailer to Palmer and we decorated it. Then all the petting zoo animals rode on the float and the alpaca, donkey and horse walked behind it. The kids had a blast and they all want to do it again next year. Our position in the parade? 90. We were next to the last. But we staged close to the beginning of the parade and were able to see the entire thing!


I was hoping that I would be able to post about a Guiness World Record attempt for the ACTHA ride. Unfortunately the person putting on the ride in Alaska bailed so there was no official ride here. We rode though and scored ourselves on the ride. Another 10 mile ride on mostly the same trail but counterclockwise on the loop instead of clockwise.

The weather here has been cloudy, rainy and COLD! We had fresh snow on the mountains yesterday morning.

Now I need to do some work in the office so I can go play some more.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Friday, June 4, 2010

Lions and Tigers and.....

Picture isn't that good since I swiped it off my friend's Facebook page. Bear couldn't decide if it wanted sheep, goat, horse or ..... when my friend's husband shot it. Her middle child was standing right where this bear was about 5 minutes before.

Mikey, want to swap bears for snakes?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


are about all I see on our rides since I ride drag.

From my APHA log for Ride America:

May 21 - 1 hour (by myself, a huge accomplishment for me)
May 23 - 2 hours with my husband
May 26 - 1.5 hours with Briar
May 28 - 3.5 hours with friends bushwacking new trails because of beavers
May 30 - 4.5 hours with friends
May 31 - 5.5 hours with friends on the mountain!

On the Memorial Day ride I remembered the GPS. These details are for Funder. I didn't mark waypoints, just the whole ride all together.

10.8 miles, 3 hours 38 minutes moving time, 3.0 average speed, elevation change from 516' to 1008' in about 3 miles

I saddled Vooshka at 10:30 and left my place at 10:45 am to meet up with my friends Nancy and Katie. I rode to the river just upstream from the beaver dam where we bushwacked a new trail to get around those pesky beavers. Nancy and Katie weren't there yet so I dismounted, undid one end of the reins and let Voosh drink. Silly horse stepped on her reins and busted her headstall. Because I carry a lot of stuff in my trail bags, I was able to fashion a repair and continue my ride.

This is the view up the mountain from where we had lunch. My friend Wild Horse Annie's dad lives here.

Headed back down the mountain.

Just after crossing the Little Susitna River. Can you believe tank tops on Memorial Day in Alaska?

Check out the background in the picture above. That water to the right of Nancy just past the spit is the beaver dam. It is so bad now we may lose that river crossing. Six adult beavers were trapped this winter but I don't think we made any progress in getting rid of them.

Hopefully this is the beginning of a wonderful summer of riding. I'll keep you posted.