All-Time Favorites – A Debut Drive On The Wild Side = Highway 89

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I almost choked on my coffee this morning. I had to read the latest post published at WordPress’s Weekly Photo Challenge twice. They casually announced that this is the last challenge. I can see that it would be a lot of work hosting a challenge of this size, hundreds of participants weekly, but it’s WordPress we’re talking about. They should be able to handle that? Or is it about stopping leaving us wanting more? Get a huge debate going, so that their challenge get even more attention?

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This weekly photo challenge have followed me through several blogs, until I finally found my niche. I’ve posted an entry almost every week, and made many new friends through the challenge. I even mentioned it in my Purpose page for this blog. I hope they will reconsider ending this challenge. If not, Thank you WordPress for hosting it for so long. I really enjoyed it!

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Last Sunday was the first day of the season that the scenic Highway 89, through Lassen Volcanic National Park was open. Its was a grand opening. I expected nothing less. We drove up to the northern entrance, in the morning. There was a traffic jam there! It took about 30 min to get in. I’ve never experienced that before. It was well worth the wait.

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The first drive through the park for the year is always spectacular. It’s like getting reacquainted with a special, old friend. Even though I’ve been snowshoeing in the park during the winter months, I have not seen all the majestic beauty there is. I rephrase that, it is not possible to ever see it all. It would take several lifetimes.

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Sulphur Works; Lassen Volcanic National Park’s most easily accessed hydrothermal area. It features boiling mudpots and steam vents. It smells a little, but not too bad right now. Last time I passed Sulphur Works (in the photo,) everything was covered in snow. That was about a month ago.


My daughter have a love-hate relationship to this place. She always wants to go here. She is fascinated, and disgusted at the same time. It doesn’t exactly smell like our rose garden. Lol.


Nature is blooming right above the hydrothermal area. We decided to take a hike towards Ridge Lakes, above Sulphur Works.

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This hike is rated as hard, and it starts out going straight uphill, right from the beginning. The landscape was extremely beautiful. Like something from another galaxy.

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In the beginning it was reasonably easy to follow the trail, even though it completely lacked any kind of markers. The trail was supposed to follow the creek, so we followed the creek. There was more and more snow on the trail. After a while we took a wrong turn, and ended up hiking up to the ridge to the left, of the ridge that we were supposed to take, if we wanted to see Ridge Lakes. It might not look very steep in this photo, but believe me, it was. You had to dig your boots into the snow, and make your own stairs to get a grip, and climb up. ..and we’re talking about an elevation about 8000ft. The air is thin, and you have to take it slow. I helped my five year old quiet a bit during this stretch. Since we gotten this far, we really wanted to get to the top of that ridge above us. I can be very stubborn..and I used it to get us all up. I know for sure that the rest would of turned around if it wasn’t for me. It’s Thursday today, and I can still feel the climb in my whole body. I love that!

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On the top of the world! I love feeling alive like this. The tracks we made kind of disappears in the photo, that is how steep it was. Half of the hillside beneath me is out of the picture, even though it’s right under me. What do you say about that view?

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It was very windy at the top. I estimate it to around 25-30 mph winds. The baseball cap I was wearing to protect myself from the strong sun, blowed away. I found it later. My daughter took her off. (I know.. she’s the smart one.)

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Some more vistas from the top of this unnamed ridge.

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The grand opening of highway 89 for the season of 2018, was a day to remember a lifetime. Are you tempted to take a drive on the wild side? Conquer this stretch of highway 89? Even if you just follow the highway, and stop at the different, well marked, vista points, you’ll have an incredible experience.

Cheers to a mind-blowing last episode of The Weekly Photo Challenge!



Ms Zen




Weekend Coffee Share 

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Good Morning, (or good day/afternoon/night?) it’s 5.30am here. I’m sitting with my first cup of coffee. I’ve actually been up for almost an hour, but just took my first sip of the black gold now.  Morning is my favorite time of the day. It’s true, it is Saturday today, but my body is so used to get up early, that it doesn’t really care about what weekday it is. A few times a year, if I’ve been up very late, or working extra hard, I sleep in until 6am. That is rare. Ghost (my horse) will expect me in about 30 min. If he doesn’t see the light come on in the feed room at 6am, he will wake up the neighbors. I wrote a post about Ghost earlier this week. 

How is your week? What’s the weather been like? We’ve enjoyed an unusual spring. We actually had a spring. Most years it goes very quickly from winter, straight to summer, with maybe a few days of spring. This year we had several pleasant weeks of actual spring weather in the 80’s (a few days in the 90’s,) and yesterday we had rain! My daughter and I enjoyed the rain very much. Rain is a treat when you live in a place that had a severe drought for many years. Hopefully the pasture can become at least a little bit green again. That would be nice. 

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My dog Gretchen loves that I spend so much time outdoors this time of the year. She is usually seen within a few feet from me.

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My daughter is helping to care for a rescue tortoise. Shelley has been living with us for a couple weeks now, so I thought I’d share a photo of her. She is a Russian Tortoise, and rather social. If she hear someone talking, she moves in that direction. I think she’s rather cute. What do you think?

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I love sitting under the twisted branches of my fig trees.

My garden is doing great, and I expect a growth spurt now after the rain. I’ve spent a lot of time mulching my garden the past two weeks. As a preparation for the heat to come. I’ve been using organic matter that I have around the property. You can see it clearly in the first photo 🙂



One funny thing happened. A few weeks ago I planted some lavender in a big container. I usually buy the plants, but this year I figure I was going to plant some seeds. I did. At least I thought I did. I bought a seed package with lavender seeds, planted them in a pot, I glued the package to the pot directly after planting it, so that I knew what I had planted in the pot. I’ve been watering the lavender, and they started to come up a few days ago. Since I never planted them from seeds before, I didn’t know what to expect. While walking in my garden the other night, I thought to myself that looks a lot like basil!  They also smelled like basil..and tasted like basil. For the first time in my life I didn’t reap what I sown…or thought that I had sown. I thought it was kind of funny. You can never have too much basil, so that’s OK. Have you ever discovered a different kind of seed in a package, than the seed you actually bought? It never happened to me before. 

I did have one other funny episode including seeds, several years ago. Not so funny when it happened. I found a seed package in the freezer, of a rental house that I just move in to. I had no clue what kind of seed it was, but decided to plant them come spring. I did. Several healthy plants came up. Not being a native Californian, I did not recognize them at first. When I understood that it was marijuana plants, I got scared, not that I’m against the use of marijuana, but I knew that back then you needed a prescription by a doctor to use, or grow, medical marijuana. I ripped the plants out and threw them away. I remember being so scared to get in trouble for it. I understand now that it’s very unlikely that anything would of happened, but I didn’t know then. I was just picturing all the trouble I would of got in where I originally come from. jail time.

I’ve been contemplating wether to add citrus trees to my container garden, or not. I’ve been doing a lot of research in the matter this week. I’m still undecided. I really would like to have a variety of citrus trees, but they require a lot more extra care and water, compared to the pomegranates, and figs I have in my container garden now. I’m sure I could do it, but do I want to have trees that require that much care? I think I do, but I’m going to think a little more about it. I’ve already decided to build a greenhouse for my container trees this fall, so I do have a place to store them during winter. 

Talking about fruit trees, do you remember my experiment with different ways of cultivating fig tree cuttings? The cuttings that I started in mini greenhouses, are starting to sprout new leaves. That is a sure sign that they are growing roots.



I can’t see any growth on the cuttings I just placed in pots, without a mini greenhouse. The cuttings that I used the experimental method I found on youtube is growing an abundance of roots, so that one is really working. I tried to take a photo of what’s going on inside the plastic bottle, but it was difficult to show. I’m going to let it grow  little more, and then open it, and show you, before planting it in its own pot. 

I think I’m going to grab another cup of coffee. Do you want one? Now it’s your turn, tell me about your fun plans for the weekend. Are you having a three day weekend?



Ms Zen




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If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know my horse Ghost. The four-year old, half Arabian gelding, that I purchased in January. He lived the first years of his life in a big pasture, with limited contact with people. Of all the horses I’ve met throughout my life (hundreds,) he is the biggest challenge, including the wild mustangs I’ve gentled. Ghost is a gentle, very kind soul, with a high level of flight instinct in him. If he get scared, he will be out of sight in a blink of an eye. (Motion footage of him. To give you an idea of how fast he is.) Then you have nothing to work with, which makes things a little complicated. No method, or technique in the world can be successful if there’s no horse in sight (partly why I named him Ghost.) It’s all feel with him. It is both extremely frustrating, and rewarding, at the same time. I need to be 100% grounded, otherwise I have no horse to work with, period. 


Ghost is very sensitive to pressure, and I’m not talking about physical contact, I mean the pressure of your eyes on his body, or your intention of doing something. That said, if he’s relaxed, he is very social. Loves to hang out, and he often showers me with kisses. As a bonding exercise with him I spend time every day hanging out in his pasture, doing nothing, or doing something, that isn’t work. I often bring a chair, and a book. One of his favorite things is to stand behind me, while I’m reading, with his muzzle gently resting on my cheek, or shoulder. He can fall asleep standing there. If I’m in the pasture doing something (cleaning up, fixing fences, cleaning water troughs etc.) he always grazes nearby. If I’m in my garden, next to the pasture, I can feel his eyes on me, at all times. If I’m in my bedroom, in the house, I often see him standing in the pasture looking at me. He is a very special horse. Some days he is scared of everything, and certainly don’t want to have his halter on. Especially those days, he looks for reassurance, a lot. He is a very verbal horse, he calls me out to the pasture, just to have me sit with him for a while, stroke his neck, and speak softly. After a few minutes, he draws a deep breath, sighs, and all is well in his world. Some days he need reassurance many times. I’ve noticed that if I don’t pay attention to this, he takes it out on my mare Fancy. That is when we get these problems of him biting her, that I’ve mentioned my concerns about a few times.


His beautiful summer coat have revealed some unique, twisted, spiderweb like, markings on his legs.

Ghost had lots of changes in his life this year, and I’ve realized that he wants me to slow down on my expectations. We may, or may not go riding this summer. I’ve told him over and over that it is not that important to me how fast things go. As long as he can be reasonably happy, and not hurt Fancy. For a while I felt that he distanced himself from me. I took it as a sign that he was jealous of my time with Fancy. That might be the case. I don’t know. Or maybe he felt too much pressure. I’ve limited our sessions in the round-pen, and increased time we play together at liberty, and just spend time grooming, hanging out. We spend a lot of time together every day, and I can see that he gets more comfortable by the day. That makes me incredibly happy.

Yesterday I had a barefoot trimmer out to work on Fancy’s hooves. Ghost have never had his hooves done in his whole life, since he haven’t been handled enough to be comfortable with that. He pretty much grew up like a wild horse. However his hooves are of excellent quality, some of the strongest I’ve ever seen. His Dam (mother) is an Arabian, and his Sire (father) a Mustang. Both breeds known for good hooves, endurance, and a wild spirit. Ghost is usually very reserved around people he never met, even people he met several times can usually not get close enough to touch him. That’s how flighty he is. Yesterday he approached Donna, the barefoot trimmer several times. He closely watched her work on Fancy, checked out her tools, smelled Donna’s hair, and even let her pet him. It was wonderful to see. Donna is a very soft, kind, and knowledgeable horse person. My smart boy surely realized that. It’s great news, because it’s going to make his first trim so much easier. His hooves are getting a little (not terribly) long, and he is going to have them trimmed, as soon as we can do it without him getting to upset about it.

Earlier this week I found Heather Binns amazing blog, Horse Magic. I don’t remember exactly how I stumbled upon it, but I am so glad I did. It was soon obvious that I’ve started to read in the middle of a long, interesting story, about Heather’s experience with a horse trainer, that I’ve admired for many years. I even went to a demonstration he had in Europe. I’ve read all his books. This was interesting! I quickly found my way to the first post of this story, and I read post after post, I just couldn’t stop. I made a few comments here and there. I really appreciated the honest story. Heather is an animal communicator, and I asked her if she wanted to see if she could pick something up about my horse Ghost, if I sent her a photo of him (the first photo in this post.) She was willing to try. With her permission I’m sharing what she picked up from him. Thank you Heather for allowing me to share this.

The first thing I pick up about this horse is there was something amiss in early developmental stages –  something he missed out on – or some trauma that happened. He can become confused and get frightened if something isn’t quite right.  He likes a good routine.  If things go smoothly all is okay.  If something upsets him it can take a long time for him to feel right again.  I think lots of understanding and going very slowly is the way to go!!!  He knows you understand! 

– Heather Binns, Animal Communicator 

This made a lot of sense to me. He did have a trauma as a very young colt, being part of a bad hoarding case. I do feel that he isn’t as mature as your average four year old horse, he often acts more like a yearling. He does thrives on routine. It makes him feel safe. If he feels like I break his trust, it takes forever before I can touch him again. It makes me feel good to know that he knows that I understand him. I do love this horse so much.

Right now we’re being together in the moment. No pressure at all. Just being. Enjoying. Breathing together. Feeling good together. 



Ms Zen