Sunday, March 27, 2011

Thoughts on Traveling

If you've been following my blog, you might get the impression that I'm a Traveler. I'm really not. But I do like to see new things once in awhile and traveling is therefore a necessary evil. Having just returned from a whirlwind tour of the Grand Canyon via Amtrak, I thought I'd talk about that experience. When David and I went to Washington DC we traveled via sleeper car. Going to the Canyon, we took coach. The difference between the two is dramatic and anyone considering Amtrak should weigh their options carefully.

I feel like if traveling by bus was 2 (scale of 1-10, 10 being best), then Amtrak coach is 4 while Amtrak sleeper is more up around 7, maybe 8. There are several reasons why. In coach, you don't have nearly as much privacy and control of your surroundings. The coach seats themselves are fairly comfortable, but I never could find the right balance between the leg rest and the foot rest. There's no center arm rest, so you end up dangling that arm unless you set some luggage on the seat. If you have a seat partner, they'll limit your seating position. You can move to the view car and ride comfortably, but you'll also have to deal with noisy conversations and maybe conversations that you don't want to hear. Your meals are not part of the ticket. And lastly, the coach bathrooms can be really bad as they don't seem to be maintained nearly as well.

Your intrepid blogger in Coach.  Note use of pack as arm rest.

In the sleeper, by contrast, you can control your surroundings so much better. Want privacy? Just shut the door and pull the curtains and you can ride along in total isolation and darkness, if you want. There are arm rests on both sides and since your companion sits across, instead of next to you, you have a lot more freedom of movement. Face to face is more conducive to conversation, too, at least for me. In the sleeper, you have all the coffee and water you want, and your meals have already been paid for. Yes, you paid dearly for the sleeper, but it's nice not messing with expenses on the train. Walk up to the view car for an hour or two and then retreat when you want. Sleepy? Drop the upper bunk and one person can stretch out and totally sleep while the other person reads or writes down below. Both parties can be comfortable at the same time. And because the larger sleeper compartments have a private bathroom, a lot less people are using the community bathrooms, plus there's a car attendant whose job it is to keep these things in good condition. I never saw a mess in the sleeper car bathrooms (except right after David threw up...). Don't forget the shower and dressing facilities in the sleeper, either.

All in all, the sleeper's advantages really stack up. We boarded the train at 3 am coming back from the Canyon and I really considered getting a sleeper for that leg of the trip and skipping the motel for the night. If I'd have known of a place to hang out until 3 am, I would've done just that. If I were to do it all over again, I think I would pop for the extra $200 or so and get the sleeper anyway.

One other thing about riding to the Canyon is that we were on the train for a long time. When David and I went to DC we were on the train for more hours, but those hours were broken up by sleep. We boarded at 5 pm (7 pm because the train was late), ate supper, hung-out, then went to bed. We woke up, ate breakfast, chilled, walked around, ate lunch, napped, and ta-da... we were in Chicago. Every leg was like that- board, eat, sleep, eat, free-time, eat, un-board. But when we rode to the Canyon, we boarded and then rode for 11 hours. We didn't get that big sleep break. That made a difference.

But, on the whole, it was still a fun experience. I mean, I drove for an hour to get to the station and then I went 1400 miles w/out ever driving again. If you're considering an Amtrak trip, just consider my experience and apply it appropriately.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

In Search of The Wild Peregrine

As you may know, I'm a falconer. That is, I hunt wild game with a trained falcon. I've suppressed this activity for the past several years for several reasons- kids, ranch work, guitar work, whatever, but have recently felt the urge to pick it up again. Here in New Mexico we can now take wild peregrine falcons, and I was fortunate enough to draw one of the 2 available permits. Therefore, we are on the hunt for an active peregrine site. There are quite a few of them here in the state, but that doesn't make finding one an easy job. And once you've found one, there's no guarantee you can get to the nest site. Either the cliff will be huge, or it'll be crumbly rock, or the nest will be under a ledge, or the site will fail before the chicks are ready, or... you get the idea.

But we're going to give it a try and so here I am in Taos NM. It's a 4 hour drive from us to here and instead of getting back home at 8-9 pm, we decided to spend the night here. I got us a room at the El Pueblo and that was a good move. This is a old-fashioned motel with large rooms, real furniture, and- get this- a fireplace! The boys came along for the trip and they were fascinated by the fireplace. We had a lesson in fire building and maintaining and they stayed up until 10 pm watching the fire.

The plan today (it now being Saturday morning) is to head north to another place, then around to a different place and then home. Staying in Taos saved me a long drive out to these places and gives me a full day to look for nests. This part of the NM hasn't been surveyed as much as the parts closer to ABQ, so I'm pretty much exploring here. Looking for peregrines involves a lot of looking at cliffs, waiting for birds to do something. Right now the adults should be displaying and getting ready for nesting, making them fairly visible. Once the female sits on eggs, nothing much will happen in front of the cliff. When the chicks hatch there will be prey deliveries to the nest, but the female will still be sitting on the chicks much of the time. It's not until the chicks hit 20 days and older than they get vocal. However, you then have a very narrow window of time in which to take one, thus this pre-breeding groundwork is crucial to success.

Potential Peregrine Places

And, unfortunately, yesterday we came up blank. Our guide, a guy that's been surveying peregrines informally for 11 years or so said that he's never come up blank in this area before. Even so, I got to get a feel for New Mexico peregrine cliffs. Most of my peregrine work has been in Montana and Wyoming. Hopefully today we'll see something because after today, I need to get to work getting ready for incoming cattle. I'll need to finish cleaning stock tanks and make a run around the fence. I might be able to make trips but time is getting short as the birds will pretty much be nesting by mid-April.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Ridin’ On That Midnight Train (*)

 Well, almost.  The reason I titled the last blog “Déjà vu” is because I was once again doing some plumbing just before leaving on a train trip.  After my first trip to D.C. with my oldest son, I got hooked on Amtrak travel and wanted to infect my beloved wife with the disease so that we would have something to do in our “golden years”.   I figured the easiest way to do this was to get her on the train for a short trip.  Casting around in Amtrak literature, I hooked the Grand Canyon.  I’ve never been there.  She’s never been there.  We celebrated our 25th Anniversary just a few weeks ago.  A plan was hatched, reservations made, and tickets paid for.

The plan was to arrive in Williams, AZ, spend the night there, and then ride the Grand Canyon Railway to the canyon itself.   From Williams on was part of a package offered by the GC Rail (  It was going to be a little more expensive than staying in Flagstaff, getting a rental car, and driving up ourselves, but for the reduced hassle factor, I figured it would be worth it.

Since we’d be leaving Raton at 11 am and arriving in Williams at 10 pm, I booked us in Coach instead of getting a sleeper car.  That was part of my plan to experience more of what Amtrak offers.  Monday found us boarding Amtrak’s Southwest Chief, heading west this time. 
Leaving Raton in the broad daylight

The ride was good and we got to see a lot of NM from a different perspective.  Even though we’ve been up and down I-25 a hundred times, we saw new parts of the area.  We ate lunch on the train and Georgia was pleased with the meal.  Had supper and she liked that even better since she got the steak.  I had salmon and rice and it was good.

Some fat old guy on the train

NOAA had called for 2-4” of snow Monday night and right outside Flagstaff we hit it.  That’s when I was really glad we were going Amtrak instead of driving!  On the train, we just cruised right along, arriving in Williams Junction at around 10 pm.  Awaiting us was our shuttle bus and again, I was glad to have them dealing with the 4” of snow and not me.  The junction is sitting out the woods about 5 mi from town and it was kind of interesting driving along in the dark down a snowy AZ woods road.

Williams Junction, 10 pm.

The hotel was nice and after a good night’s sleep, we were up for breakfast.  Then it was on the Grand Canyon Railroad and off to the Canyon.  I’ll talk more about that later on, as well as the coach Amtrak experience.  A little over 2 hrs later, having seen some nice AZ country, as well as elk, pronghorns, and numerous raptors, we arrived at the Canyon.  There are free shuttle buses that’ll take you around and we headed for one of those.  That’s where we got our first taste of “survival at the Grand Canyon” as the line for the buses was LONG.  We quickly figured that we’d be in line for 30-45 minutes and that would eat into out time too much, so we decided to walk.  That was a good decision and I’ll talk about that more later, too.

The Grand Canyon Railway Train

On the way to the Canyon

Let’s talk about the canyon!  First, it’s a cliché’ but pictures and video do NOT do it justice.  This thing is, literally, and in the true meaning of the word, awesome.  The depth, the colors, the levels, the sheer size of some of the cliffs… awesome.  It’s one of those things that you really do have to see for yourself.  I have a lot to say about getting there, staying at the motel, eating food, etc, but when it comes to the Grand Canyon, there’s just not much more to say than “awesome”.  The fresh snow added, if possible, because it really showed the depth of the canyon.  We had snow on top and down below it was getting quite green.  

Tourists at Canyon (click for full size)

We eventually made it to the bus by walking around the rim trail to the next stop.  Then we rode the rest of the route, saw mule deer and elk, more incredible vistas, and made our way back to the depot, getting in some more walking and bird watching on the way.  Another train ride back, another good meal, and then it was pretty much off to bed, being that we were going to have to get up at 2:30 am to be in the lobby by 3:15 to catch our train in the woods at 3:50 am.  At 2:30 we called Amtrak and they were running about 45 min late.  Of course by then I was awake so we just went down to the lobby and hung out.  

3 am

The trip back was a little longer due to some more delays and just to the fact that I was tired and you can’t sleep very well in coach.  But, we did get some rest and by the time we hit Raton at 6:15 pm (an hour and half late), we were feeling good.  After Weds night Bible study, it was home.  I slept good.  On the whole, it was a fun trip.  I learned a few more things about Amtrak, saw an awesome canyon, ate some good food, and spent some quality time with my dear wife.  What more can you ask for?

Next Adventure:  in search of the wild peregrine falcon.

(*) Ralph Stanley

Friday, March 18, 2011

Déjà vu All Over Again!

I spent Thursday driving around the countryside looking for peregrine falcon nest sites.  I’ve been a licensed falconer for close to 30 years, but have never a) rappelled into a nest site to take a falcon chick, b) taken a wild peregrine.  (A) is because most of my falcons have been captive bred, with 1 taken in the fall as a “passage” bird.  I did take 1 older chick about 5-6 years ago, but that was a stroke of fortune.  I was checking cattle in mid-June and as I entered an area on our ranch with a nice cliff on it, I saw a female prairie falcon leave a little bluff opposite of the cliff.  From her wingbeat and attitude, I immediately thought “She’s got chicks!”  So, I turned my ATV toward the cliff and drove right up to a bunch of prairie falcons chicks almost ready to leave the nest.  It’s rare that you don’t have to rappel down a cliff to get falcons, but on this nest there was a vertical crack running almost up to the nest.  I figured I could shimmy up that crack and get close enough to either flush a chick or grab one.  Plan worked and I was quickly chasing a young prairie falcon down the almost dry creek bed, catching him when he tried to cross a small pond. 

I’m standing there with a male prairie falcon in my hand and I’d rather have a female, but a bird in the hand, right?  I got back on my ATV, turned it to head out, and there, standing right in front of me was… a female prairie falcon chick.   I think she’d already fledged and was probably hiding under the rocks at the base of the cliff.  So, I did the logical thing and grabbed her.  Now I had two birds in the hand!  But just for a second or two.  I climbed up the cliff as best as I could w/ a prairie falcon in each hand and carefully tossed the little male up the crevice to a ledge.  He quickly scrambled up higher and was safe.

Now, the whole time this was going on, Georgia and the kids were in the truck out in the pasture waiting on me.   I was late and knew they’d be getting concerned, so I tucked the falcon in and rode up and out.  When I approached, I found out they’d been having a discussion.  The kids opinion was that I was hunched over because I was hurt, but Mom was wiser- “He’s got a bird.”  Prairies can be very bad tempered, but this one turned out to be a very sweet and calm falcon.  Unfortunately, I really wasn’t prepared pigeon-wise or mentally to fly her and I ended up mostly just feeding her for nearly 3 years.  Finally, one nice spring morning I removed the bars from the hawk house and let her free.  

A great female praire falcon

This didn't happen the way it does on TV.  She sat in her hawk house for hours and I finally got worried that the cat would try to attack her or something, so I finally lured her out with a quail.  She took that and sat on top of the hawk house for another couple of hours before disappearing.  I disappointed myself with that falcon as I should have flown her, but I just mentally wasn’t there.

Part B of “Why I haven’t taken a wild peregrine” is because they haven’t been available for falconry take for 30+ years.  After being taken off the Endangered Species list, though, a group of falconers put in a lot of hard work and about 4-5 years ago we got a wild take in New Mexico.  We can only take 2 birds total from the state and this is decided by a drawing.   I got drawn this year and I intend to put in as much effort as I can toward getting a bird.  Hence my day spent in the mountains driving around looking at cliffs.  

A captive bred peregrine falcon that I had just prior to the prairie

 The Déjà vu part of this post, though, is that I found myself today working under a sink.  This time, though, it was proactive and I installed a new faucet in my daughter’s bathroom.  I once again used the Sharkbite connectors and PEX tubing and it went well.  I’ll do the utility sink before too long as it has 2-handle faucets and I much prefer a single handle faucet because you can tell by the position of the handle whether your water’s about right for hand-washing or not.  And if you have soapy hands and find the water too hot/cold, it’s so much easier to slap the one handle over a bit than it is to try to adjust a round knob that you can’t turn w/ soapy hands anyway.

Under the sink.  Again.
I’m sure y’all’un’s are just fascinated by this mundane stuff!  I do have some exciting news, though- our youngest son is getting baptized on Sunday!  He requested it, so I asked him some questions about what baptism is and what it means.  I liked his answers and we’re going to do it. 

I have some more interesting things coming up, but you’ll just have to wait and see what they are!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Septic Systems, Stock Tanks, and Summer Squash

We had a busy day here at Chavez Mountain Ranch.  To start with, I finished tanning a bobcat that youngest son and I called in and shot back in Dec.   Bobcat hides are worth about $300, but this was my first bobcat and I decided to have the hide tanned and keep it.  Jan came and went, Feb flew by, and March was upon us with the cat still in the freezer.  Rather than send the hide off and spend nearly $100 having it tanned professionally, I decided to try it myself.  Cabela’s sells a tanning kit for $20 and after I applied my points, it was free.  The tanning process went well, the skin is soft, doesn’t smell (except for a lanolin oil treatment), and it looks pretty good.  The cat isn’t the prettiest I’ve ever seen, but there it is.

Tanned bobcat hide

After this, I worked a little on our septic system.  Several years ago we had major problems and I ended up putting an “Infiltrator” system.  You can  Google ‘em… They worked fine until this winter.  Georgia was doing something outside and decided to check the water levels (via an access pipe).  Much to our horror, instead of recording the typical 2-4” of water, she got nearly 2’ of water.  We tried some treatments and nothing seemed to work.  There was nothing to do but dig down and see what’s up.

Now, we have a backhoe here on the ranch, but ever since I seized it driving back from a neighbor’s (working on HIS septic system…) it hasn’t run well.  Big surprise there.  I’m surprised it runs at all!  I got the thing fired up and managed to do a pretty good job of uncovering the end of the Infiltrators and then dug a long narrow ditch past that.  When I popped the end off the Infiltrator (using the backhoe), water gushed out into my overflow ditch.  After a few days of draining (and it drained well), I decided to extend the drainfield.  At first I was going to use more Infiltrators but then I figured that all I really need is some overflow water drainage and I decided to just use standard perforated 4” pipe and plug it into the Infiltrator end (there’s a cut-out for that purpose in the end panel).

Behold!  The Yellow Peril!

Before the deluge

A ditch well dug
Could it Be?!  It is!!!  The Cave of Caerbannog!!!  Careful...

Before I could add the new pipe, though, I needed to dig a little more right at the Infiltrator end so that I could put 1-2’ of coarse lava rock underneath for better drainage.  After manipulating the backhoe into position, I did my digging.  I needed to get something from the house, so I left the backhoe running and did that.  When I came back, the backhoe was smoking.  A quick look told me that the fan wasn’t moving.  Fortunately, it was a cool day, but I needed to get that backhoe off the hole fast- there’s nothing worse than trying to move a dead backhoe!  I pulled every thing up and made a run for the parking space.  Made it.  Then I noticed the broken fan belt…  This is not an easy fix on this tractor.  You can’t just slip the belt over the fan, but have to remove a hydraulic pump first.  Messy job.  I know it will be.  So, the backhoe’s been incapacitated, and I honestly don’t know if simply replacing the belt is going to breathe new life into it or not.  I guess we’ll see.

Back to the hole... I installed 10’ of pipe on the Infiltrator, placing the new pipe on a 4” lava rock bed. I watched it for a week or two and very little water even made it that far which told me that the Infiltrator system was working well again after being drained.  I installed another 10’ and watched it for several more weeks.  Almost no water made it that far, so today I went ahead and put 20’ more pipe on, again on top of a lava rock bed.  I’m going to wait to push the dirt back in until I get some of the black weed guard you put on flowerbeds.  My hope is that the weed guard will keep dirt from working between my rocks while still allowing some moisture to breathe out.   It can’t … wait… I hope it can’t hurt!

After getting that done, I went out for a drive on the ranch to look at stuff.  I ended up cleaning out a stock tank and turning the well on.  The tanks build up dirt, moss, and cow poo over the summer and it’s a good idea to clean them every year or two, otherwise the “stuff” will build up and reduce the tank capacity as well as harbor parasites.  
Georgia, meanwhile was getting fired up for a new garden this spring.  She tried using railroad ties to create a raised bed, but it just didn’t work well.  Then she discovered using old stock tanks (the bottoms rust out) as a gardening bed.  We have plenty of rusted out tanks, so she’s going to give that a try.  But first, the old “garden” needed to be cleaned.  We spent a few hours doing that, hauling out railroad ties and raking weeds.  Most of the railroad ties went back to their former life as parking space makers in our driveways but quite a few were solid enough to be delegated for use as fence braces.
Ye Olde Garden Spotte
Parking spaces along with a 1980 Toyota pickup that I bought new

We also moved an old camper shell that the boys had been using as a “playhouse”.  They discovered that spiders also liked the camper shell.  Wondering what to do with the shell, I decided that it would make a really good R/C truck jump, so we moved it to our driving area and I used the skid steer to cover it with dirt.  I’ll add some dirt to the sides and we’ll have a fun little “mountain” to drive and jump over.
Soon to be an R/C truck jump!

That was about our day and I’d say it was a pretty typical day in [Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom voice on:]  Life On The High Plains.  [off]

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Thoughts on Missionaries

It's 4:30 am, it's dark outside, and I don't know where...wait, that was 2 weeks ago. I know exactly where I am. I'm sitting in our living room, wrapped in a blanket, sipping a cup of coffee, typing this. I woke up at 4 am, started thinking about the peregrine falcon that I'm hoping to add to my falconry permit and the fact that I was thinking (it's such a rare event) gave me an adrenalin rush so that going back to sleep was impossible. Of course, by 10 am, I'm going to be falling asleep again, but we have to go get started on taxes and maybe the sheer terror of that event will keep me awake long enough that I can fall asleep at a naturally acceptable time tonight. We'll see.

When I last blogged, we were on our way to church to hear a visiting missionary speak. Normally, I speak or our other elder speaks, but we like to have guests, thus Joshua. Joshua is 22 yrs old and has been to Africa several times for several weeks or months at a time. He's quite an accomplished young man. He, for instance, flew his airplane from his home in Artesia NM to our church. I don't know a whole bunch of 22 yr old pilots. Joshua had some thoughtful thoughts for us and I particularly liked the way he addressed what I call “hit and run missionaries”. These are missionaries who go to places, distribute tracts, do some preaching, do an altar call, all that....and then whoosh!!!! Off to the next town! I'm sure God uses them, but the oft quoted “Great Commission” is “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit...” Different parts of this jump out differently to different people, but what jumps out at me are the words “disciple” and “baptizing”. Missionary work thus seems to me like more of relationship building in the name of Christ than it does “hit and run” testifying. Missionaries, at least some of them, ought to stay on the grounds, develop long-term relationships, and grow leaders who are grounded in the faith and capable of continuing sound teaching. Joshua agreed (which is why we liked him, of course!) and had a few things to say about the topic.

The other question I had for him was “which is more important- money to finance missionaries, or bodies to be missionaries? Or are they equal?” I asked that question because some of the missionaries we've had visit say “Go where God calls you” but when you feel called to nail your feet to the floor and go nowhere, they can become critical, emphasizing the “go” part. Yet, many people would consider our little corner of New Mexico to be “the end of the world” (Acts 1:8) and what we're doing here is trying to make disciples and hold down the fort.  Staying put and growing long-term relationships seems to me every bit of a calling as going hither and yonder.  I discussed this with Joshua and as I did, I recalled passages from 2 Corinthians 8-9 where Paul is commending the Corinthians for supporting his travels. In this case we have a Biblical example of a congregation staying put and earning money to support the efforts of traveling missionaries. They are obviously both necessary.

All of this points out a few things- first, we tend to do what we like, justify those things, and like people who are like us. Secondly, it's critical to find Biblical examples to use as models. Missionaries who travel tend to encourage other people to travel and pastors who feel called to stay in one place tend to justify their actions. But I think we have Biblical support for both and that both parties need each other. Instead of feeling inferior or instead of judging the other party, we ought to support one another, and I think Romans 14 is applicable to this issue. It doesn't matter much what I think or what I feel, though. What really matters, especially in a church situation, is what the Bible models. This is where I think we so often go wrong- we do what we want to do. But our way is not God's way and His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8). If we are to call ourselves “Christians”, that is “Little Christs”, then we can't rely on our own devices, but must follow the model set down for us. And that model is not a rigid one,either. There actually is a lot of flexibility in the Biblical model. The problem comes, I think, when people try to follow the letter of the law instead of the spirit of the law. They do exactly what the letter says instead of trying to understand what the letter is teaching. This is robotic obedience, not living obedience. I'm basing this thought on Jesus' dialog with the devil in Matthew 4 and the point Paul makes to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15. I'll probably elaborate on this at a later time. Right now, though, the sun is peeking over the snowy horizon, the house is beginning to stir, and I will wrap this up.

In closing, I'd like to point out that yesterday was my 25th marriage anniversary. I've now been married for more than ½ of my life. I would thank my wife for putting up with me that long, but she would said that I need a more positive attitude, so I guess I'll just congratulate her instead. :)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

It Keeps You Running

We have reached an impasse with the Grizzly.  After much tinkering, testing, and trials, I've decided that the starter I pulled off the shelf may indeed be bad.  The bike will turn-over with an absolutely full battery, but only once.  If it fails to start in the first 1 second, that's it.  Click, whirrr, whiz.... I've been talking to the guys on The Grizzly Forum and they've given me some good suggestions.  Of course, I found all this out after I put the bike together again- it did need oil and coolant to run, of course.  New starter is on the way.  They're fairly easy to install once you understand exactly which pieces of plastic have to come off.  Oh, and the carburetor, too.

After fussing with the mechanical horse, I went and rode the flesh and blood horse.  I still like him.  Maybe have some pictures of me in the saddle tomorrow.

For now, it's off to church.  We have a guest missionary coming to visit and we're looking forward to seeing what he has to say.

David's a good mechanic

Putting the side case back on, just one of a thousand pieces of plastic.

Storm on the horizon

And the next morning!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Horses for Courses

I’m back to doing ranch work again.  Ranch work involves dealing with constant emergencies and new challenges as they arise.  For instance, we have a 2005 Yamaha Grizzly 660 that was badly mistreated by the original owners.  I didn’t realize how badly or I probably wouldn’t have bought it.  Never again will I bid on online auctions without seeing the vehicle first.  After riding the bike for 4-5 months, during which it never really ran well, I ended up bending a valve.   This led to me overhauling the top end of the ATV, something I’ve never done before.  It was challenging, but not that bad and the end result was an overhauled top end and a bike that ran so good I did the same thing to our 2002 Grizzly last spring.

But, anyway, the ’05 recently started having trouble starting and today I set out to find out why.  The ’02 had a very unusual problem after its rebuild where the valve tappets loosened and I actually lost 2 adjusters inside the engine.  Both were amazingly recovered and the bike seems fine.  The ’05 was due for a valve check, though, so I started there.  Doing valves… actually doing almost any kind of work on an ATV requires removal of body plastic.  This is a real pain because it all fits together like a puzzle and you have to take it apart in a certain order and take off things that you really don't need or want to take off, just to access the things underneath.  

This is some of the junk you have to remove to get to the real problem.

Drain the coolant, drain the oil... it's messy.

It takes an hour to get to this stage.  Now I can start working!
Long story short, I ended up replacing/exchanging the battery, starter relay, starter, and pulling the side cover.  I finally found a worn negative cable and fixed that.  After all that, the bike started right up.  Let’s hope it stays that way.

Frayed and worn negative battery cable.

On the other side of the fence, literally, I have a new horse here on trial.  We are discussing a name for him, which must mean we’re keeping him.  I like him.  He’s small, well mannered, agile, and I dunno… I just like him. I'm looking forward to riding this summer.  A horse, of course, is a big step for an ex-dirt biker like me.  Life is just full of challenges and surprises, though.

The New Horse

No More Dirt Bikes