Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sleeping Ute

Miles from Boise to Hovenweep: 729
Cost of two nights in the campground: $20
Number of suppurating cedar gnat bites: 10,000 (estimate)
Being the first to look out of your tent each morning to make sure that the Great Warrior God is still sleeping and hasn't risen to help fight the Ute's enemies: priceless

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Something Warm, Dry, and Tingley

If I'd known they were going to stop making them I'd have bought a lifetime supply: that special type of men's Texas Steer work boots from Kmart. No other boots fit me like they did. I loved my last pair into wads of crumpled leather and lopsided soles.

I wore Texas Steers while milking cows, driving tractors, collecting insects in cotton fields, riding a motorcycle in West Africa, backpacking, and trying (unsuccessfully) to learn to rope cattle from the back of a horse. My Texas Steers could handle a pair of spurs as well as a pair of White's Farmer-Ranchers can--at a fraction the cost.

The spurs in the photo belonged to Tim, the cook at the Everett Ranch in Salida, CO 15 years ago. Tim didn't do much riding the week I spent at the Everett's cow camp. He didn't do much walking, either, until that Thursday when he'd had enough of being laid up and sawed the cast off his right foot.

Tim made the first biscuits and gravy I'd ever eaten. They warmed me on the frosty summer mountain mornings when the hummingbirds were too cold to fly and sat on the perch at the feeder between sips. And I'd guess that Tim made 95% of the Velveeta and white bread sandwiches I've ever eaten. The four other guests and I tucked them into our saddle bags before we left for a day of bouncing on our horses and trying to stay out of the cowboys' way while they worked.

The horse I bounced around on that week was named Shavano after the nearby fourteener peak and a historic Ute chief. My Shavano was an equine bon vivant and indefatigable optimist. Every morning he thought that this just might be the day that I forgot to tighten his cinch again after he let his breath out. Any sighting of the horse trailer raised his hopes that he could get in and catch a ride back home to his pasture.

Two decades before I strapped spurs on my Texas Steers, I tucked them into Tingely barn rubbers and milked cows in them. After milking, I peeled the rubbers off and hopped on a tractor with my clean, dry boots.

Now I live in the Sagebrush Sea, where spring means mud. All our rain falls in the winter and the soil doesn't dry out until late May. It was time for another pair of Tingleys: I ordered a pair of Women's large rubbers, as I'm now wearing women's boots from the thrift store.

Sadly, my lovely new rubbers were too small--no amount to pulling could get them past my toes. When I called Tingley to exchange them for a "queen-sized" pair, the woman I spoke with said, "Oh, no need to send them back; we'll just send you another pair."

I promised her I'd find a good home for the Tingleys. If you'd like a pair of Ladies large rubbers (8-9½--although they seem to run small, as my boots are 9½s), POST A COMMENT BELOW and tell me why you'd like them.

Last fall/winter/spring in Boise was eight months of rain interrupted by a month of snow between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The weather warmed just enough after each snow to turn it into ice before cooling again to hide the ice with a dusting of ball-bearing snow. I found that my Tingleys were just the ticket for dealing with the treacherous stuff.

This year, after our record La Niña winter, I may need my Tingleys until July.