Jo Ann Tomaselli ~ Visual & Verbal Reflections

The clouds in the colorful sky at sunrise look like the sails of a boat SAILING

Jo Ann Tomaselli ~ Fine Art Photography

On this particular morning the colorful clouds at sunrise swept across the sky and formed, what looked to me,
the angular shape of a boats’ sails.  The long exposure added a dreamy movement to the sky & water
and I felt I could peacefully sail-away wrapped in the beauty of the day.

Sometimes the landscape brings to mind a particular song which inspires the image title.
On this morning I found myself humming the Christopher Cross song ‘Sailing’

Well, it’s not far down to paradise, at least it’s not for me
And if the wind is right you can sail away and find tranquility

It’s not far to never-never land, no reason to pretend
And if the wind is right you can find the joy of innocence again

Well it’s not far back to sanity, at least it’s not for me

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“A Morning Hike”


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Silence is a loud sound I notice as I tread quietly on the soft mossy trail, that my headlamp lights up in front of me. Much different than the trails I’m use to in the Rocky Mountains back in Colorado.

Soft Trail


I stop to rest and found once I quiet my mind and opened my senses that I was able to hear and feel the silence, and it wasn’t so silent after all. I could hear and feel the lite mist falling, I can hear the slight breeze stirring the branches of the trees, causing the heavy drops of rain to fall and hit the ground make a quiet splattering sound. And when I really listened I could hear the distant sound of the waves hitting the shore and in the background I hear the mournful sound of the buoys letting the ships know where danger is.

Then I realize the light is starting to change with the coming of the day. I curse myself for hitting the snooze button too many times. I hasten to reach my destination before the sun is up.

Soon I reach my destination, Spruce Cape, on Kodiak Island, Alaska, only to find that at low tide it exposed a long distance of  the rocky floor of the cove, and to reach the water where the waves are crashing on the rocks, I’ll have to navigate a long ways of wet slippery seaweed covered rocks, stepping over many starfish and other creatures of the sea, who are laying dormant waiting for the incoming tide. I found myself looking for the stones that are covered in barnacles for they provided tremendous traction. I silently apologize to them as step on them. After numerous close calls, and some wet feet (which is the norm for this photographer) I reach the waves. I was late for the sunrise, but it didn’t matter as the dreary clouds only brightened in their grey color as the sun rose.

But it didn’t take away from the beauty of what I was witnessing. Using the dim light I was able to play with some long exposures,Turbulent Waters then as the sun continued to lighten up the sky, I just kept on speeding up my shutter. I watched the waves crash in, every one of them hitting the rocks, splashing up into the air in different patterns no two alike. Reminded me of how there’s no two snowflakes alike, just like these waves.Splash

Hitting The Rocks












I watched fishing boats heading out all in hopes of a successful journey of a bountiful catch. I can see the bows of the boats rise and fall as they go thru the waves.

Out To SeaThen the realization that it is getting to be time to go but I don’t want this moment to end. But pangs of hunger start to set in, and I can smell the wonderful aroma of a hot cup of coffee even though it miles away. I think of my wonderful two daughters who are awaiting my return.

I say goodbye to the ocean, goodbye to the morning, thanking them for a wonderful time, even though I know it can’t hear me. I turn to start my tricky path back to shore when I spot something moving! It wasn’t another human, as I had the whole cape to myself with the exception of the passing boats. For once I had the right lens attached to my camera, I use it to look thru and see a deer, a doe who is navigating her way thru the same slippery rocks that I had done earlier.

IMG_0119 She looked so out of place to me. Where was she going? I wondered. She seemed to be walking as if she was on a mission of going somewhere. But where? As I watched and took some pictures of her, she reached her destination, she stood there and looked around like she was taking in all the beautiful scenery much as I did.

After standing for a bit, she turned around and started back towards the shore. Was she confused? Did she reach the waves only to realize that she went the wrong way? Or did she do as I did, just wanted to see the beauty of the morning. That’s what I decided she did, like me, she just wanted to see the start of the day.

Soon she left me behind, as she had a much easier time with the rocks than I did.

On my way back I came across an old military bulldozer that had either fallen off the cliff or had been dumped there many years ago.

Remains Of A Bulldozer


It reminded me that back in World War II, there were many military bunkers built throughout all these islands as there was a big fear that’s where the Japanese  could and would attack. Many of the bunkers are still there, One of them is being used to house a really neat museum, at Abercrombie State Park which is by the City of Kodiak.

Actually the Japanese did seize two  islands, Attu and Kiskafor  back in June of 1942 (part of the Aleutian chain of islands) and the battle lasted a little over a year to August of 1943.

I took a few images of the old bulldozer then headed back to the main trail to go back to the car. Made a quick stop at Mill’s Bay for a last few images of the morning.

Evening at Miller's Bay

Miller’s Bay

Another wonderful memory of a glorious morning, that will live forever in my mind.

Steven Reed


F.R.E.S.H. Perspective…

Fascinating work by Sharon Cummings!

Abstract Art by Sharon Cummings

ImageOne of the things I love about abstract art is the that it is incredibly versatile. It looks good in modern, contemporary and even in some traditional spaces.  I originally listed this piece in a horizontal presentation, but decided that I liked it vertically as well.  Seems to have a lot more energy this way and makes me want to party!

What do you see?










Mardi Gras Art Prints For Sale

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"Time after Time"

“Time after Time”

I open my eyes. It’s still dark out. As my eyes focus I realize where I am. I look around I can see the soft glowing lights of some electronics. I can hear my wonderful wife breathing deep next to me. I’m in bed, I pull up the covers some more, and wonder, “What time is it?” Just then the alarm goes off. Now I know what time it is I say to myself silently cursing the alarm clock. I reach over and hit snooze, just a few more minutes please! But, no, I swing my legs over and get up to start my carefully choreographed timed morning routine. A bit later I realize I spent too much “time” working at the computer, so now I hope I can “time” traffic lights so I can get to work on “time”.

"Chains of Time"

“Chains of Time”

“Time”  What is time? Is it a unit of measure to document the passing of our lives? Time is infinite, but yet it’s finite. It’s goes on, as the saying goes “Time marches on” But yet we only have so much “time.”  Time is constant, But yet time can speed up and time can slow down. How does this happen? I remember as a child when time was forever. Just watch some children playing at a park and the parents say, “It’s time to go” and you hear the kids whining and asking “Just a little bit longer?” And the parents, “alright, but just 5 more minutes.” You would have thought the parents just given those kids the world! The kids are like “alright! 5 more minutes! We can still play for 5 more minutes!” To them, it was a long time, for us, it’s a blink of an eye.



But I remember things like waiting for Christmas. It will never get here! And the closer Christmas was, the slower time went! I remember on Christmas mornings, we were not allowed out of our room until they were ready! What torture! What were my parents thinking! You talk about minutes turning to hours! I can hear them walking up and down the hallway,,, oh,,,,come on Mom and Dad, get done!!(I don’t know why I would be so looking forward to opening my presents, all I ever got was socks and underwear!) Of course I’ll never forget the time I ran out of my room and by the Christmas Tree was a bike! At the time the bike “Stingray” was the cool bike to have, especially a 5 speed, the one with gear shift. That’s what I really wanted! But (sorry Dad) here is  this over sized attempt at making a “fake”  Stingray. My Father had lovingly sanded this frame, painted it red. He bought a banana seat, that barely fit on the oversize frame, he mounted slightly high rise handlebars. But then, the hand grips, had these frilly plastic streamers, or kind of like pom-poms. How embarrassing. Then to top it off, he had mounted a  rear view mirror! I was horrified! Boy did I get teased! How could my father do that to me! But knowing what I know now. My father spent hours in the garage, putting that bike together, sanding down the frame to paint it! Now I feel bad about my reaction! He meant well! Oops, sorry I went down a road of memories there, back to my main topic of time! See? Time got away from me there!

"Apple Time"

“Apple Time”

I remember it was going to be “forever” until I hit double digits on my age! I couldn’t wait until I was 10! Then I couldn’t wait until 13 so I would be a “teenager”! Then it was forever to get to sixteen so I get my driver’s license! Then I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to be on my own! Then 21 so ! would be officially be an adult! But then something something happens, You start wanting birthday’s to slow down! Why was I in such a hurry to get older? What was I thinking? As a child I was taken care of, didn’t have to worry about bills, putting food on the table, cleaning the house (other than my room, and then only when I was forced to by my parents! slave drivers!) Didn’t have to mow the grass until I was a bit older. the biggest thing I had to worry about is when Billy couldn’t play on the weekend! I remember how it was forever for the school year to get over? Or even how long it is until the weekend? Now to me “time” just flies by. Weeks, months and years just fly by. I’m getting out the Christmas decorations, looking at them saying to myself, “Didn’t I just put these away? I pack away all my camping equipment, just to turn around and get them back out! The seasons just fly by. I just start complaining about it’s too hot, then it’s right to days are too short and too cold! To me it’s amazing how time can speed up, but yet it can slow down. Like when one is standing in line, time can go slow. Or waiting on news about how a loved one gets thru a surgery, that can feel like an eternity.



One always hears about how time speeds up the older you get. How true it is! I wish I would have taken the “time” and  listened more.

But there’s still enough “time” to smell the flowers, to enjoy each and every sunrise and sunsets.  And there’s especially enough time to enjoy every minute of being with those I love. That time is “priceless”!



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Memories, isn’t that what life is? Memories, Old ones, New ones. Making new ones. Reliving old ones. I have found as I’ve achieved an “older age” that to me. That what life is. And one never knows, is today going to be the day, or the story that I will remember the rest of my life? Is today’s story going to be retold many times in the future. One never knows.
Here’s s story, that was told to me over coffee. On an early foggy morning. But first a bit of background about the main characters, Fred and Marjorie.


Fred was a 74 year old who’s retired, bought a commercial fishing boat the “El Mirage” in the Gulf, somewhere in Texas I believe, he heard of the good shrimping that was going on off the Oregon coast so he sailed the El Mirage thru the Panama Canal up the west coast to it’s current location, Galveston Port, Coos Bay Oregon. His wife of many decades, came with him. His boat is how I came the know Fred and Marjorie, As I worked on the boat, and for Fred as a “handy man” during the off season.

Fred and Marjorie:
I’ll never forget this day, I remember it so clearly as if it were yesterday. It was a very foggy morning, I had driven on the road that’s called “Seven Devils Road” on my way from Bandon, Oregon, where I lived, to Coos Bay where Fred and Marjorie lived. Their house sat on the bay, with a beautiful view, one can sit in their Kitchen and watch the ships come and go. Large ones, small ones, Freighters, tugs, commercial and pleasure boats. It was delightful view. This is what I was looking forward to, a cup of coffee, and listening to Fred, and watch the action on the bay.

Marjorie greeted me at the door this day as she always did, with a warm smile, always a twinkle in her clear blue eyes, looking at me over her wire framed glasses. She said Fred was in the kitchen, but then with a worried look she told me that Fred wasn’t quite his self. I walked thru the front room which is filled with old artifacts both from the sea, and some from the old west, as Fred and Marjorie had lived thru both. I got to the kitchen, Fred was at his usual spot, but today he had his colt 45 and holster out on the table, he was polishing the 45.  I noticed that he had his Winchester rifle out as well, it was leaning up in the corner. These were some of his prized possessions. I thought to myself why did he have them out? I sat down, in my usual spot. Marjorie brought us cups of coffee and set them down of the table. I remember the steam coming off the coffee, and oh the wonderful smell of freshly brewed coffee. Fred set down the 45 and took a sip, didn’t say a word. I sat quietly, sipped my coffee, looked out the window into the fog, I could hear fog horns in the distance. Marjorie sat herself down, smoothed out her brilliantly white shawl she always wore, to keep the damp chill off her.  She lovingly patted Fred’s hand on the table, and took a sip of coffee.


Fred finally started to speak. He said we weren’t going to work that day, it was too cold and damp. He kind of sighed, picked the 45 back up, and said, “Did I ever tell how I got this?” I nodded no.

He started to tell me about a time long ago, before he owned a car, or a horse, he had walked into the valley of Las Vegas, long before there was a town called Las Vegas. He didn’t really like horses he said, they were a pain in the a-s, always having to watch after them, feed them, take care of them, and protect them from being stolen. He felt he could make better time without. So he walked. He carried the Winchester, for hunting, didn’t own the colt 45 until later. He decided to homestead in the valley, he claims he was the first to do that. (I don’t know if any of this is or was true, but I listened)

Eventually a small town was built, he didn’t say what the name was, (I wish I would have asked) With the town, came the ruffians, he called them, that’s when he decided to purchase the colt. Not for him to carry he said, that would get you killed. But his wife Marjorie carried it under her shawl, and she knew how to use it! No one would ever expect her to have the gun under her shawl.  She was such demure quiet little gal with lovely blue eyes.  She got him out of more trouble than you could imagine, Fred says. Marjorie just sat and quietly smiled. My guess she was remembering a time or two where she had pulled the gun out.

He talked about having trouble with cattle rustlers, and he would go into town when the Marshall would travel thru and complain about them. The Marshall would just look at Fred and tell him “You know what to do about them Fred! Just bring them in, dead or alive, I don’t care how!” Fred snorted with bit of laughter, his eyes brightened up as he was lost in his memories.


Marjorie refilled our cups of coffee, then Fred continued.He then talked about how the town grew, and changed, how he gave up ranching, and went into construction. He was one of the early construction companies and his company grew as the town of Las Vegas grew. He talked about the corruption that can with the growth. How he got a contract with Department of Defense. (no corruption there he said, he was just the lowest bidder) He would build buildings that the Defense department would blow up in testing the atomic bombs, then he would go back in and build them again. That’s how he got his dose of radioactivity. He said he and his men should be “glowing green” he laughed.” Here I am 74 years old and no side effects!” I think he told me that in the films of the atomic blasts, the ones that would show the homes and other buildings be destroyed were ones he built. But I could be wrong there.

Eventually, he sold his construction company, moved to Texas and retired. He bought a boat, and fished the gulf for some years, then bought the “El Mirage” and brought it to Oregon. The last few years before I met Fred had been rough on him financially, fishing was off the last few years, and it was taking it’s toll on him. He was contemplating putting his cherished guns up for sale. I suggested to him not to sell, to hang on to them. That he had plenty of other things to sell, such as some of the rental properties he had. Looking back, I think Fred was just depressed at that moment. I like to think, that maybe, just maybe him talking to me that morning helped.

I never knew if he kept them or sold them. A couple of days later, I was “let go” as a handy man, (which I knew was coming) for I am not a “handy man” (just ask my wife) Fred was just trying to help me out at the time as he knew I didn’t make any money fishing that year either. He kept me working for a bit, doing these odd jobs until he realized he wasn’t getting much of a bang for his buck with me.

NCBCH 069-1

Not long after this, I had to leave Oregon myself, back to Colorado, where I could find work. I saw Fred once more, when I went back to get some more of my stuff. he had re rigged the “El Mirage” to fish for “bottom fish” he had hired a whole new crew. He had to fiance the re rigging so he was taking a big gamble.

I never knew if Fred kept or sold the guns, my guess is he kept them. My biggest regret was not listening more or listening better, as I had no idea that would be the last quality time spent with Fred and Marjorie. I wish I would have asked more questions, wrote down the stories, but I didn’t. At least I have a little bit of them documented here.

Now, did Fred expect that day, to be a day, that I remember the rest of my life? I sincerely doubt it. So one never knows, what they do, what they say during a day, may last forever in other persons memory.

“A Bull and I, have a Face off!” Part two of a true story of “How I started a Stampede all by Myself” My adventures on a Cattle Drive.


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"How I looked on Ellie, in my dreams"

“How I looked on Ellie, in my dreams”

Where I left it in the last chapter……I had triggered the stampede, my horse Ellie and I were off galloping after the stampeding herd with me desperately hanging on to the saddle horn for my life.


The herd was thundering down the draw! Ellie was galloping after them with me bouncing on her back like a 50 pound sack of potatoes! I’m panicking, I don’t know what to do but hang on! The cows are scattering out branching into all these thousands of trails, that I saw earlier. Ellie picks a group of cows and decides to chase after them. Were galloping at full speed down a narrow trail thru the tall brush when I see ahead of us that the trail turns into a tunnel, thru the bushes, there’s no way Ellie and I can fit! Well Ellie, maybe, but with me on her! No way! I somehow, sort of, leaped forward in my saddle (don’t ask me how, or to do it again) I grab Ellie around her neck I’ve totally slipped out the saddle. So if you could picture this, we are galloping at full speed, me looking now like I’m some sort of trick rider, riding while hanging on Ellie’s neck, off the left side, (I’m no longer on the top of Ellie at all) my head is up even with Ellie’s, one leg over her, just ahead of the saddle, I don’t even know where my other legs is. One arm is over her neck my other is under her neck and I’m probably choking her, hanging on so tight. My head is so for ward, that I remember looking at her directly into her eyes. I feel the branches beating me on my back trying to knock me off! We pop out of the tunnel into an opening in the brush, the trail splits into two, I have no idea where the cows went, not that I’m even thinking about them at this point. Ellie panics (probably because she can see me along side of her!) She instantly stops and rears up! Notice I said “She stops” not we stop. When Ellie came to a quick stop, I however did not! I went flying forward into the bushes, I remember coming down hitting the ground and then looking up I can see Ellie rearing up! Her hooves clawing at the air, I didn’t know what to do, I scrabble sideways out of the way of her hooves and as quickly all this started it stopped, Ellie snorted her ears are back, I grab the reins I tried to calm her by talking quietly to her. She snorted a few more times, to let me know she was displeased with me. But allowed me to walk her back thru the tunnels and back to the draw, where all this had started.

Me, falling off my mount as she was chasing the cows.

Me, falling off my mount as she was chasing the cows.

Once we were back in the draw I heard others had come to help. They had heard the stampede and figured that “Steve” had found the herd first. They were laughing about it. I wasn’t laughing at that point, I felt like I had narrowly escaped death by the narrowest of margins. (maybe not, but it felt that way) I felt bad that I had the herd then lost it by triggering the stampede! I just wanted to crawl into a hole. But they assured me, no problem, it happens all the time and that the main part of the herd was just a head all quieted down and that what the herd usually will do in that situation.

Real cowboys showing how it's done.

Real cowboys showing how it’s done.

So we slowly headed the cattle down toward an area  but not out on to the road yet. First they wanted to capture the bull, Apparently last year, while they were driving the herd down the road, their bull spooked and bolted into a huge thicket of trees, and they could not get the bull out of there for four days. So this year they had the idea of “towing” the bull down the road. They were going to hook up a “leash” to his nose ring, tie it to the back of a pick up truck, and slowly “tow” him down the road, and hopefully all the cows will then follow the bull. Great idea! they thought, but someone had to hook up the leash to the bull’s nose ring. They all looked at me! “Noooo!” I said, “No way!”  but they said they do this all the time. It takes two people, one to actually hook the leash, but the other one, the part they wanted me to do, is to just calm the bull. And all it takes to calm the bull is I was to walk up to the bull slowly, carefully and quietly, and when I reach the bull, calmly talk to it, touch and stroke it’s neck, then reach over it’s neck and carefully grab the horn then slowly with my other hand, grab the other horn all while you calmly talk to bull. I said “Nooo way!” again, but they assured me it was a great honor to do this. I looked at all of them. They then said the other guy Rusty actually had the dangerous part of hooking the leash, and I had the easy part. So, dumb little ol me said “Okay” It’s amazing what peer pressure will get you to do. I mean, I didn’t want to appear to be the scaredy cat from the states. I can man up! I’ll show them I can do this!! (dumb me)


They had the bull corralled in the a small make shift arena. They again tell me what to do and how to do it! Rusty is already getting into position.  I hop off the fence and into the area. It’s quiet, so quiet I felt like I could hear the dust that I stirred up with my boots  settle back on to the ground. I hear my heart pounding in my chest. I look back the the fence they are all standing there,  leaning on the other side of the rail, some are sitting on the top rail. All just looking, watching, no one is saying a word. I turn back around to see the bull. He’s just standing there, not moving, it doesn’t even seem like he sees me. Maybe it ‘s because Rusty is slowly moving toward him from the front. Rusty stops and motions me to continue. I take a breath and say to myself “Yeah I can do this!” I slowly move towards the bull, time is standing still. I get closer, I begin to realize just how big he is! They’ve told me he’s just a small bull, and maybe he was (and looking back at my recollection of this adventure, he was a “smaller” bull) but right now, he looks huge, and with each step he gets bigger and bigger. Still the bull doesn’t seem to mind me, he’s keeping an eye on Rusty though. I reach out and touch the bull talking softly. I can’t remember what I said, or if I even talked out loud. But I stroked his neck, he still didn’t move! I slowly moved my hand over his neck and touched his horn. Sweat dripped off my chin, I couldn’t breath, I was too scared to breath. There, I have one hand on the horn, I move my other ever so slowly to the other side of his  massive set of horns. There I  did it!! I’m holding on to a bull. I can barely reach over his huge neck but I’m doing it! I suddenly realize that it doesn’t matter that I’m holding this bull’s horns, he could do what ever he wanted to and there’s nothing I can do about it! What a time to figure that out! Mean while Rusty is moving in, closer, and closer. Man I wish he would hurry up, but yet I don’t want him to. Don’t want him to scare the bull, while I’m hanging on to!

Rusty moves closer, I can see the sweat on his brow, he licks his dry lips, he moves in again. Now he’s about 5 feet away, he looks at me then back to the bull. Suddenly he yells out Boo! And jumps towards the bull! (this is where time stands still ) I panic but can’t move! The bull moves back and swings his head, I’m hanging on to his horns now I’m afraid to let go, he swings his head again and I go flying! I don’t know how long I was in the air, but it felt like forever! I hit the dirt rolling! I don’t know where the bull is! I can’t see him! All I can see is the fence, it seemed so far away. I ran, just waiting to feel the horns gouging in my back. I couldn’t run, it seemed like I was running in sand, the faster I tried to run the slower it seemed I went. It was like I was in slow motion! I can hear a bunch of hoopin and a hollarin! but had no idea what they are saying. I’m just a running! The fence is so far still, I’m just waiting to feel the ground shaking from the bull whom I’m sure is baring down on me, with his sights set on me. Like I had a bull’s eye painted on my back! I hit the fence, I leap and dive over it, I fall to ground on the other side, I jump back up expecting the see the bull smashing the fence trying to get to me! The bull’s not there! He still standing in the area, right where he was when he tossed me, like I was nothing! I look around and everyone is busting out laughing, and I mean rolling on the ground type laughing! Rusty is still in the area holding his sides laughing! Rusty then just walks up to the bull and clicks on the leash right to it’s nose ring! It all was a big joke, and I fell for it

This is what I thought the Bull was ready to do to me!

This is what I thought the Bull was ready to do to me!

I’m sure this story is still being told at night around the campfires, about the time they talked a kid from the States into hanging on to a bull’s horns.

“How I started a Stampede all by My Self” Part One of my True Adventure of being on a Cattle Drive.


The warm late August sun beating on my shoulders, I can feel a drop of sweat starting run down my back. It’s going to be a hot humid day. I didn’t know that Canada could be so warm. Even my horse Ellie can feel it. Good thing we started so early in the morning.

I survey my surroundings, trees every where I look, in between the bands of trees is a scrub oak bush of some sort. The bush is thick and tall, and the cattle that I’m looking for have formed thousands of tunneling trails through the bush. I could ride right by and if the cows didn’t make any noise, I would have not idea they were even there. Fortunately for me, cows usually aren’t that quiet. I calm my breath and listen, it’s so quiet, all I can hear is the buzzing of some insects and the breathing of Ellie, who seems to be inpatient to get going.  I have no real idea of where I am, as I have never been on this 100 acre plot of land before, that’s just north of  Riding Mountain National Park of Canada and south of the town of Dauphin, Manitoba.  I know where I’ve come from, but don’t know where I’m going. I just know I’m out here looking for a herd of about 120 cows who are out here somewhere. Ellie senses that it’s time to move on and goes with out me even telling her. I was told she’s a good cow horse and knows just what to do. That’s good cause I have no idea what I’m doing myself.

"How I looked on Ellie, in my dreams"

“How I looked on Ellie, in my dreams”

I’m just a novice rider just coming off a summer of working at various summer camps for kids. Just finished three weeks at my last camp of the summer, where I was a “stable hand” and cabin counselor. That was pretty much all my experience of riding a horse, except for some lessons I took when I went to camp in Colorado, called Woodbine Ranch. So needless to say, I was a raw rookie, and here I am participating on a real life “Cattle Drive”!

"Again, what I looked like, on this cattle drive, in my dreams"

“Again, what I looked like, on this cattle drive, in my dreams”

When we were saddling up, they had picked out Ellie for me, she was a gentle horse, but also was a very good cow horse. I asked what do I do if I find the herd?They laughed and told me just let the horse do the work, she knows what to do. Looking back, I think they were laughing at the shear thought of me, finding the herd first? Hilarious in their eyes, how could a kid, from the “States” find the herd first!

Then we mounted up, my heart beating fast with anticipation of the adventure in front of me. They started telling who to go where to look, Some they paired up as teams. I figured and assumed they would pair me up with someone, someone who knew where to go, how to get there and back. Someone who knew the land, and where their land ended and their neighbors land began, as there were no fences. (which was a new concept to me, I mean in the states we fence everything, claiming this land as ours, and not yours and you better stay off my side) Wrong!! They sent me off my myself!


I’m back in the draw, just riding and listening. Thinking to myself, how far do I go? Am I still on even the right property? I had no idea of how big or small a hundred acres is. Why did they send me off by myself? Oh well, I have a job to do and really, what is the chance I’ll find them first anyway? In reality I’m Seventeen years old and I’m just on a big trail ride, by myself in a foreign country on a piece of land I’ve never been on before. No big deal. I can handle this. (right?)

I relax and continue on down the draw enjoying the scenery, the horse, and where I was. Just hearing the sounds of the horse making her way. Not thinking about the fact I didn’t have enough money to get home to Colorado. I wasn’t worried about the fact my VW Bug was on two very bald tires, (no spare, that was already on the car) and a dead battery.  Everywhere I went, I always parked the Bug on hill, or a spot I could push it, get it going hop in and pop the clutch to get it going. Hopefully I can earn enough, to fix that and have gas money. But I wasn’t in a hurry to go home, I was out of school, no job waiting for me there. Maybe something would work out here. I  didn’t mind the thought of working on a ranch, or helping with the harvest on a farm. People here were very friendly, welcomed me everywhere I went. I had so many places to visit from friends I’ve made over the summer, I could spend a year visiting all of them, on my way back to Colorado.


Suddenly I’m snapped out of my thoughts, I hear something, I stop and listen, yes I can hear some cows! They sound far away, but definitely cows! I head the direction of the sound. Surely someone else has heard them and is already there. I head further down the draw and around a bend, and there they are! Some are lounging under a group of trees, others are grazing. I don’t think it’s a 120 cows, but it’s a bunch. I don’t see the bull hanging around, they told me that the last they’ve seen him, he was hanging around the cows too much. I hoop and holler trying to get someone attention that I found them! No one answers. I guess I’m on my own. In my head I started thinking, wouldn’t that be great if I brought the herd in? I could see the looks of awe on their faces when they see me, the 17 year old kid from Colorado, bringing in the herd all by himself!


So what do I do now? I recall what I’ve seen in the movies and on TV. That’s what I need to do! So I nudge Ellie and start trying to round up the cows that are away from the herd. She’s not really cooperating with me, and I’m not sure why. Her ears are back telling me she’s not really liking what I’m doing. Then I remember they told me just to let the horse do the work, the horse knows what to do. So I look at Ellie, and think, how do I just let her go? The thought finally hits my head and I loosened my grip on the reins, and off she went. She started  circling the cows, gathering them up. When one cow and her calf would not cooperate and head off in a different direction, Ellie would take off, and head the cow back towards the herd. It’s working, they are gathering up, and starting to move back up the draw. I’m starting to think, oh yeah, I know what I’m doing. Here I am, I have the herd gathered up and moving! Oh yeah, I’m a cowboy, (visions of me looking like John Wayne) bringing the herd in! Still with nobody’s help, just me and my horse Ellie. This is great! A few cows try to wander off, but away Ellie and I would go and chase them back to the herd. It’s funny how Ellie would know which cows to go chase, and some she would just leave alone. But by now, I’m starting to think that I really know what I’m doing. And I start trying to tell Ellie what to do, we go after a few strays and bring them back to the herd. Oh Yeah, I’m the man! I know what I’m doing!

"Yup, I know what I'm doing, in my mind"

“Yup, I know what I’m doing, in my mind”

Until, one cow and her calf strayed away, well I’m going to go bring her back, I nudge Ellie to head after the cow. She doesn’t really want to, but reluctantly goes. We catch up to the cow, and cow just stands there looking at me (hind sight, I think she was daring me to do something) She wouldn’t move like all the others did. So I circled her again, she just looked at me some more. Then I nudge Ellie to get closer to her, straight at her. Ellie ears were back but I didn’t pay any attention to that. After all, I know what I’m doing now. I nudge her to get closer to the cow, then it happened. That cow suddenly jumped the ran at full speed straight back into the herd! She panicked the herd and off they all went!

Stampede!! The whole herd was off and running at full tilt. I’m now panicking myself. I can’t hardly see due to all the dust being kicked up by the stampeding cattle!

Ellie and I off at a full gallop, before I started to fall off.

Ellie and I off at a full gallop, before I started to fall off.

Ellie heads after them at full gallop! Now remember I’m not the best rider, not really even an intermediate rider. I’m just hanging on to horn of the saddle (I know you are not supposed to do that) but it was all I could do to stay on Ellie. My legs are just flapping away like I’m trying to fly like a bird! My butt is bouncing up and down on the saddle. So picture this, a kid, legs are a flapping, butt is a bouncing, both hands grabbing on the horn of the saddle, I have no idea where the reins are! I’m sure it was a great sight!

More of what I must have looked like, but I  wasn't wearing cool cowboy duds.

More of what I must have looked like, but I wasn’t wearing cool cowboy duds.

Next post.  “A Bull and I, have a Face off!”  Part two of a true story of “How I started a Stampede all by Myself” My adventures on a Cattle Drive.

“When the Waves turn Minutes to Hours” Final Chapter of “Riding the Storm”


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oregon trip '02 00024“When the waves turn minutes to hours” Yes that’s exactly how it felt trying to stand on the bow of the boat, as it wildly thrashed thru the monstrous waves in the dark.  I was “leashed” to the boat to prevent me from being washed overboard, and also to prevent me from being slammed into some of the equipment on the deck. I check for the millionth time, making sure I still had my knife, in case I need to cut my safety line. I catch a glimpse backward, I see the lighted wheelhouse with the captain hanging on to the wheel, spinning it one way and the other, trying to keep some sort of control. The first mate is hanging on with one hand next to him, some how holding a cup of coffee in his other hand. I imagined that I can even see the steam coming off the hot cup. He sees me looking, smiles, and points to his cup, laughing and then taking a sip, just as we slam into another wave. The power of the water smashing me down onto the deck and just keeps pounding  me, I fight for a breath but can’t breathe, I can feel the boat tilting downward, I’m totally submerged under water, for a moment I feel like I’m floating, the boat keeps heading down. Thoughts run thru my head in micro seconds, when is it going to stop? Come on boat, come back up! Should I cut my line? Amazing thru all this chaos, I can hear and feel the boat groaning as it twists and fights the weight of the water. There, I feel the downward plunge slowing down and the vessel fights back to the surface, I can breath again! I scramble to get back up as I have a job to do, I try to fight my way just the few feet to the bow rail, but it’s difficult as now we are climbing up the side of the wave, I feel like we are almost pointing straight up in the air, I can’t make it, the deck is too slippery and it’s too steep! I’m just inches short, but it feels like miles. As the boat reaches the crest and levels out I can now grab the rail and look over it, down into the gloom of the other side. No boat is in our way, I quickly flash the “thumbs up” to the captain and first mate that tells them our course is clear. then it feels like the boat just holds on the edge of the wave, not wanting to go down, it hesitates then down we go, this time I’m going to duck before we crash into the bottom and into the next wave. I try to sit and brace myself and wait. I know it’s only a few seconds, but it seems like forever. Then we hit, I grab my breath and wave crashes over me. slaps me even thought I’m braced. Thankfully my safety rope is short so I don’t go very far. When I reach the end of the rope it jerks me hard, but I’m so numb from the cold water, I can’t feel it. How did I get here? How did I get this job? How am I living out this adventure that I longed for, and end up fighting for our very existence?


Just a few weeks ago I was unemployed, getting down to my last few dollars. I was living in a tent outside of the Charleston Port. I had been laid off from the “Golden Nugget Casino” in Reno Nevada. The summer tourist visits were off that year and I was the last one hired in the kitchen there, so I was one of the first 150 people they let go. Which was fine with me. I didn’t really care for the job, although some aspects of the job was neat. I can say, I cooked for some then famous people the short time i was there. I cooked for the Oakridge Boys, Sigifried and Roy, Susan Anton, and my favorite, the old comedian  Red Skelton (I hope you know who he is) All the other performers just hid away in their suites until it was time for thier show and their food was served to them via “room service” Red would eat the in casino’s coffee shop. I just happened to be filling in that day at the coffee shop. He would come down and put his name on the waiting list for the next available table. The hostess would always tell him that she would put him at the top of the list and that he would get the very next available table, and he would tell them “No, you put my name at the bottom of the list, just like everyone else” then he waited, pestered by the people, hounding him for autographs, and pictures. But he loved it! He had the biggest smile, and said so many “God Bless You’s.” I don’t know how he ever got any food eaten, but he didn’t seem to mind. I didn’t get his autograph, as I felt he was already hounded so much. Today, I wish I had, I would have loved to give that autograph to my father, as Red was his favorite comedian.

Oops sorry got carried away there by memories. Anyway the casino laid me off I decided it was time to leave Reno, I wasn’t really enjoying it, I wanted to go to the Pacific northwest somewhere, hopefully finding a job somewhere. So I stuffed all my belonging’s into my Volkswagen bug and headed out, with only about 120 dollars in my pocket. I stopped in towns looking for work, but not finding any. I will never forget when I stopped in at a Sambo’s Restaurant, in North Bend Oregon, and asked for an application, the gal just looked at me kind a funny and said “Sure, I can give you an app, but I’ll tell you we haven’t hired anyone here in two years.” I told her that I was just applying for dishwasher or a cooking position. She just smiled and said she was sorry. I caught a glimpse in to the kitchen thru the swinging doors and saw the dishwasher, he looked 30 or 40 years old. I thought to myself, he been washing dishes for two or more years. the gal went on to explain, there just aren’t any job as all the lumber mills were shut down, so  from running three shifts a day, seven days a week, to nothing. There was one rumor that one mill was going to open one shift a day, but it was  just a rumor. She  smiled again and said she was sorry, and maybe I should head to Portland. I didn’t have enough money for gas to get to Portand. Frustrated, angry, scared, I didn’t know what to do. So I headed back to go walk the docks at the Charleston Port, I really enjoyed doing that, it gave me peace when I would walk the docks, or the beach. So  I went there and thought I would at least walk it one more time before  heading out and go as  far as my money would go. I walked the docks, by all the parked fishing boats, wishing someone would see me and offer me a job. Some of the boats there were fisherman working, fixing things, but no one offered me a job. Dejected, with my shoulders slumped I climbed into my packed bug, to head out. As I was driving around the block to leave, I sort of ran a stop sign, and this guy in a truck honked and yelled at me, and he kept hooking waving for me to pull over. Man, I must have really pissed him off! I pulled over, got out expecting a fight. he climbs out of his truck, and I remember thinking shesh, he’s big! I’m in trouble, he walks across the street, I clench my hands preparing for the onslaught. He comes up to me, looks at my packed Volkswagen Bug, and looks back at me and says “Are you looking for a job?” (really, I’m not making this up!) It was how I met Joe, the first mate on the El Mirage. Fast forward back the storm.


I’m slammed to deck for what felt like the millionth time. How long have I been out here? It feels like forever, it was supposed to be 45 minutes shifts, they must have forgotten about that as I’m sure I’ve been out here for hours. Again, slammed by yet another wave and again it feels like we are sinking, but some how the El Mirage fights it’s way back to the surface, I fight yet again back to the rail and look into the abyss. Wearily waving the thumbs up again just before getting smashed by yet another  wave. Suddenly in all the chaos, Joe is fighting to stand next to me, relieving me from my duty. He yells into my ear to be very careful going back to the wheel house. I timed it so we were again on top of a wave and I dash to the safety of the galley. Once inside, I see the chaos the has caused, utensils, once hanging on walls are all over the floor, other pots and pans have managed to get out their storage places, and well as most the pantry items. What a mess, but not to worry about it now. I head to the captain to help him if I can. I’m worn out, no strength left, should hurt but I’m still numb from the cold. But I reflect, I’m not as cold as I was when I was sent over the side to check the propeller one morning. Probably cause this time I’m numb, when I went overboard to check the propeller, I was in shock.

I’ll never forget that morning. During the night we just let the boat drift and that morning we found a length of rope had gone  under the boat on one side and coming out from under the boat on the other side. The thing we didn’t know is, was it tangled up in the propeller shaft? The captain was afraid to fire up the engine, and possibly tangle it up some more, and cause some expensive damage. So someone had to go down under and check. They are saying this as they are all looking at me. They told me it’s quite simple, just jump off the stern of the boat, get down as deep as you can, and go under the boat to the propeller, check it and the shaft. Cut the rope if necessary and come back up. That’s all! Then the captain mentioned the water temp is only 42 degrees and we have no wet suit or scuba gear, but we did have some swim fins and goggles! So dummy me I said “Ok, I’ll do it” We went to the stern, they gave me some last minute instructions that I have to go down about 8 feet or so, then under the boat about another 10 feet or so, and they would be watching me if I had any trouble. So I stood on the stern rail, made sure my knife was firmly strapped to my side. (I should say the knife was clenched between my teeth, and seems so much more manly that way, but I would be lying, it was strapped to my side) I jumped! I hit the water! Have you ever watched a cartoon where the cartoon character jumps in the water but never touches it cause they are out of it so fast? I swear that’s what happened! I hit the water and the shock of the cold water was so intense that all I could think of is getting out of the water as fast as I could. I was out of that water and up hanging on the railing so fast, that the captain and the 1st mate were still looking overboard at the bubbles looking for me. And here I was already out of the water, my arm over the railing looking at them. I’ll never forget the look on their faces when I startled them by saying “it’s sooooo cold!” They turned from looking down to looking at me with disbelief! Then the 1st mate said “what the …….(heck)are you doing there? Your supposed to be down under the boat!” “itttt’sssss soo  ccccccolddd” I responded. “Well, do it again!” They replied. So I did, this time I stayed in the water, I remember grabbing the back of the boat to pull me down far enough then under I went. By this time I was already out of breath, in that cold your body uses all it’s oxygen rapidly, and my lungs were already feeling like bursting. As the boat would slowly rock in the water, at times it was pushing me even deeper, like it was hell bent on drowning me. I swam as quick as I could towards the propeller, by now my lungs feel like they are going to explode, there it is and I grab the propeller to a quick check. No rope!!! Yea!! But by now my mind and body are panicking, my lungs hurt, I want to breath but can’t, I got to get out of here as fast as I can, things are going gray, I remember literally clawing on bottom of the boat which is covered with barnacles, (which I found out are really sharp) I didn’t care, I need air!!! I burst out from under the boat and shot up through the water to air! Wonderful air!! but my arms are so weak and numb I can’t grab to climb up the side of the boat, I’m choking and gasping, then I hear a splash, and am suddenly lifted out of the water to the captains arms who grabs me and throws my over the railing onto the deck. Joe had jumped in after me, and somehow lifted me high enough for the captain to get a hold of me. They wrapped me up in a blanket and guided me into the galley, I’ve never shook and shivered so hard in my life. It took me hours to warm up, and then I was so worn out. Later I counted over 150 small cuts (like cat scratches) on my hands where the barnacles had cut thru my thin gloves, by me scrambling against the bottom of the boat to get out. I told them there wasn’t any rope tangled up, but they weren’t sure whether or not to believe me. Finally the captain decided to take a chance and fire the engine up. No problems. But I also will never forget that once we were back in port, he hired a scuba diver, to go down the “make sure” I was a bit pissed that he didn’t believe me, although looking back I would have done the same thing. Back to the present.

I manage to get the wheelhouse and stand next the captain, getting my turn to watch Joe get bashed around by the waves. I’m amazed by the pounding he’s taking. Fred the captain tells me I was only out there 30 minutes, not the full 45. And here I thought I had been out there for hours! It’s only 2am, daylight is still hours away. I quickly calculate how many more times I’ll have to go back out. Three more times! I don’t know if I’ll have the strength to do it, but I’ll try. Then Fred says the storm should be weakening and we are getting further away so maybe it won’t be so crowded and the chance of coming across another boat is lessening. So he thinks I won’t have to go back out.! Music to my ears!

After a few more hours, daylight begins to creep in, never gets very bright, but hey, I wasn’t complaining. We are heading back to the port now, our radar is still out, but at least we can see. The waves are definitely  getting calmer. The Coast is still escorting ships in past the jetty, so we wait our turn. Finally it’s our turn, just 14 hours since my “shift” on the bow of the boat, we are escorted into calm waters. The captain guides the El Mirage into it’s slip. We’re home! Safe and sound! I remember climbing down the rope ladder and stepping back on dock. My chest was puffed out, I had survived a severe storm on the ocean! I turned to follow the Captain and the 1st mate up the dock, tried to copy their cocky jaunt, but promptly fell over, I didn’t have my land legs back yet, I swear that dock was moving just as much as the boat was out on the ocean. That was one of the hardest walks up a dock I’ve ever done! I was stumbling and tripping just as bad as my first time trying to get a cup of coffee to the captain.

I helped paint the “El Mirage” black, when I started work on it, the vessel was white, with black letters? I did the white letters you see here.
I helped paint the "El Mirage" black, when I started work on it, the vessel was white, with black letters. I did the white letters you see here.

I helped paint the “El Mirage” black, when I started work on it, the vessel was white, with black letters. I did the white letters you see here.

I had many more adventures on the El Mirage, and my time in Oregon.  Maybe someday, I’ll put it all in a book. But all good things have to come to an end. The captain was going broke, as the shrimping industry in that area was collapsing. He eventually had the El Mirage re-rigged to bottom fish, instead of shrimping. He let Joe and I go, while he was doing this. We didn’t make enough money in the season, so I had to go back to Colorado, where I could find work. Some day, I want and need  to go back, with my camera, to photograph where all this happened, where I lived at the time, from the campground to the trailer with no electricity or plumbing. Plus of course, to capture all the other beaches and scenery the Northwest Pacific Coast has to offer.

oregon trip '02 00008

My next blog, I think I’ll tell the story of how I started a cattle stampede, all by myself, an excerpt from my adventures in Manitoba Canada, it’s another one of my wonderful wife’s favorite stories of my adventures when I was younger.