Thursday, August 16, 2012

Tracking wild horses

Yesterday was supposed to be an "administrative day" in which we would take care of ordering our absentee ballots, getting fulltimer RV insurance, doing various paperwork odds and ends. It was going well for most of the morning, with breaks now and then to snuggle Baby Snooks and try to make friends with a homeless cat.

We have had RV insurance all along, but our carrier, 21st Century does not insure fulltimers, so with our policy about to expire, we researched alternatives. Full time RVers live in their RVs, so need more coverage than folks who live in a stix 'n' brix house and only use their RVs part time. So, we chose to return to Progressive where we had insurance once before (we had left for a reduced rate veterans deal). Progressive has amazing claims service!!

I was happily completing the transaction online, claiming no tickets or accidents in the past 3 years for both of us, when a red flag stopped me, saying I had an at-fault (chargeable) accident and a ticket on 2/11/2011... NOT TRUE! So very, very not true! In fact, I had just had aortic aneurism surgery and was bed-ridden then!

All righty then, I tried to get the details from the Florida DMV... To get is fast, you pay over $20! And then all it gives is the date and violation. I spent most of the afternoon on this before Richard suggested we Pray about it, go exploring and let YHVH begin to work all things together for good. So, we gathered our tourist pamphlets and took off.

We decided to track wild horses at the Chloride Canyon herd management area west of Cedar City. In 1971, congress passed the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act to manage and protect these wonderful animals on public lands. There are 23 wild horse herds in Utah, and 201 herds in ten states. The best viewing areas are somewhat remote and the maps imprecise. More info about this program is on the BLM site.

On the way to seek out the horses, we saw a sign for the Old Irontown Ruins where one of the state's major resources (iron) was mined. At its peak, over 2500 pounds of iron was mined every day. The colony was abandoned in 1876. Today, there is only one intact building, the kiln, but many foundations and a very nice self-guided tour as well as facilities. A relaxing and informative side trip for us.

As we followed a sketchy map to the Chloride Canyon herd management area, we were blessed to encounter a BLM employee who gave us more specific directions... and we needed them. The road became a trail, rocky in places, muddy in others and at times almost nonexistant. There were gates now and then. We opened and closed each one. For miles we saw no sign of horses. We took a side road but had to turn back. We are driving a sissyfied little car with little clearance, after all. 

9 wild horses
Then I spotted some dung, and then more. Soon, it was on the road and fairly fresh! Richard was the first to spot some horses of the herd. Three white dots, moving slowly in the distance. My cheapo camera didn't magnify enough to help. We pressed on slowly, knowing that late in the afternoon as it was, the herd was coming down from the mountain... these were only the first.

Continuing to head north, we were blessed to see a group of nine, closer now, but still a ways off.
Then we saw a lone stallion grazing right beside the road ahead. We stopped and watched, then slowly approached. He let us get quite near before turning to walk, then run away a short distance. Turning to look back at us, he stood stock still. Then off he trotted, tail in the air, running wild and free. It was incredibly beautiful!
Running wild and free
The Bachelors
Thinking we had seen the highlight of our trip, we praised YHVH and picked our way carefully up the road which was getting worse all the time. Finally, we came to a gravel road with a name, Antelope Rd. and drove a few miles before stopping so I could shoot the beauty of mountains in the haze across a vast field of sage brush. When I returned to the car, I thought I saw a horse... no, just a rock. Then Richard said "Isn't that a horse?"

Yes! It was, and another horse was nearby. Two young bachelors on rather poor grazing grounds seemed impervious to us and continued about their business, so we left them to their dinner and headed home. 

Slow Elk
On the way, we drove through open range and were blessed to see some not-so-wild life. My father in law called them "Slow Elk," but you probably know them as cattle. They, too, did not interrupt their meal to bother with us.

Wow, what an afternoon we had yesterday! Makes me want more.  I'll deal with the DMV next week. Today, maybe we'll go see some petrographs.

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