Yearly Archives: 2017

“Goat Vacation” Day 9 – The Ghosts of Erbie, Arkansas

Our last day in Arkansas was more exciting than planned. We looked at our map and found “Goat Bluff Trail” near the old ghost settlement of Erbie. It sounded like an easy, scenic loop. So far our National Geographic Trails Illustrated map had not let us down (I’d consulted it constantly on Tuesday’s long trek). The map showed an improved dirt road from Compton to Erbie, and at first it looked very nice. But as we continued along, we realized it had not been “improved” in many, many years. That’s when I also realized that our map was made in 1992, and although it was updated in 2007 I don’t know that anyone bothered to look at this particular road. Soon we were crawling along in 4WD low, thankful for high clearance, and hoping we didn’t encounter a huge washout that would require us to retrace our route in reverse, because there weren’t a whole lot of places to turn around! The goats had a very rough ride, and it took us a long time to cover four miles. When we finally arrived at our destination, we saw this sign in our rearview mirror… gee, if only they had thought to put one at the other end!

I believe I mentioned that there are a lot of spiders in Arkansas. One of them liked Sputnik’s view and decided to build on the unclaimed real estate between his horns. She started before we left our cabin and was still working away an hour and a half later when we arrived at the trailhead.

Our destination:

Goat Bluff Trail was pleasant and wooded and ran along an old farmstead fence. If it weren’t for his orange packs, Sputnik might have been lost among the speckled rocks and dappled shadows.

Goat Bluff: Naturally, Finn has to lean over the edge and take a look around.

Sputnik prefers a more cautious approach.

If it weren’t for the purple halter and orange pack you’d never see him.

After Goat Bluff Trail, we hiked down into the river bottoms where we encountered “Farmer’s Farmstead”. I thought it was a funny name and wondered whether this was the owners’ last name or whether it was given a generic label because no one knew their name. First we explored the spacious old barn. It looked in better shape than some of the barns I’ve used over the years!

Not far away, although difficult to see through the dense brush, was the farmhouse.

The cellar door was broken and I found many empty glass jars still on the shelves.

And there was ample evidence of wild pigs! I thought they were deer hoof prints at first, but deer don’t live in dark, underground places. I’ve never hiked in wild pig territory before.

I found this little medicine vial on the porch. I wonder what it once contained?

The interior of the house was in tatters and looked like it had last been occupied in the 1960’s or 70’s. There were pieces of glittering formica backsplash in the kitchen, peeling floral wallpaper, and cracked linoleum tiles on the floor. The sole inhabitant (other than the transient wild pigs in the cellar) was a bat hanging from the living room ceiling. I took many photos because abandoned houses fascinate me in a sad sort of way, but this picture stuck with me because of the leaf pattern stenciling on the door. It’s the personal touches that made this house a home to the people who once lived in it, and it’s sad to think that a house once full of warmth, happiness, and family has sat cold and abandoned through the years. So many events occupied these people’s minds–things that at the time were so important but are no longer remembered–a sick calf, a church picnic, an early frost, a dance, a washout in the road, a new foal. Everyday things put color into our lives but are forgotten with Time, and those who come after can only imagine them.

Right next to the main “Farmer” residence was a completely collapsed house that Phil called the “man cave” because of the large easy chair still standing among the rubble.

And then there is the necessary house. This one looks ready for action and is double-seated for maximum efficiency.

I’m not sure what this shed was for. It was leaning at such a crazy angle that I wasn’t about to step closer and investigate. Sputnik was foolhardy enough to take a peek despite my protests, but he wouldn’t tell me what he spied through that door.

After Farmer’s Farmstead, we hiked up the hill to Cherry Grove Cemetery. It was shady and quiet and the perfect spot for a rest and a picnic lunch. The last person was buried here in 1971.

Here we found the answer to our question about the “Farmer” farmstead. It was a last name after all. Here lies James W. and Sarah E. Farmer.

Next to them are buried two of their children who died in infancy.

If yesterday’s river tromping adventure was Finn’s day for photos, this one was Sputnik’s.

I love how solemn he looks.

Finn and Sputnik made themselves very cozy between a couple of Buchanans.

We ended up spending a lot more time in this graveyard than originally planned because reading the headstones was so entertaining. While it’s easy for us to take our education for granted in this day and age, I’m sure it was difficult to get formal learning in these remote areas back in the 1800’s. Unfortunately, the grave carver chiseled his lack of education (and sometimes perhaps his inebriation) in stone. In case they are hard to read on your computer screen, I have added translations above each picture.

I don’t know why there is a period behind every word, but it seems to be a common (though not consistent) theme with this particular headstone carver. The spacing is rather interesting as well. Didn’t this guy ever think of penciling in the letters before he started carving? If he did it all freehand, I’m impressed with his skill, but not with his forethought.

“Wele. cross. the. river. of. Jordan. hapy. in. the. lord.”

“gods. childorn. are. gethering. home. to.die. no. mo re.”

“blesed. ar. the. ded. who di. in the lord”

This was our favorite:

joseph M. Buch.
anan .was Born.
a prile. the. 9.18 27.
was killed BY
Mrach. the. 5 1864
whilst. in. the.
service of the
natianal armey
as a Recruiting

I can forgive misspellings, but how does one make a typo while carving in stone? “Mrach”?? And if you’re going to misspell in stone, why ADD letters (“aprile”, “armey”)? I can’t help but think that this man might have had a little help from the jug down cellar while chiseling out his masterpiece. I love how the “r” in “Recruiting” was squeezed in afterwards.

My favorite part is that it is carved into a headstone with books adorning the top–a shrine to education. This headstone is indeed a masterpiece. I only hope mine will be this memorable.

This headstone was unique in that I’ve never seen so much age detail given on an adult’s headstone.
Margret. Farmer was
born oct the 9day18  58
an died nov the 24 1882
age 24yers 1month an
15 days Born in Newton

Lest we laugh too immoderately over the dead, I bring us back down to sobering reality with this infant’s gravestone. Many youngsters were buried here. It appeared that one couple lost at least five or six babies and children. Quite a few women died in their 20’s and 40’s as well. I wondered if many of them died in childbirth. I’m sure doctors were scarce here back in the 1800’s and their medical resources limited. It was not an easy life, and I admire the brave folks who, despite incredible hardship, carved out a place for themselves in these steep, rocky valleys.

After we left the cemetery we came to a rather difficult river crossing. It was wide and almost waist deep. Going around was not an option at this point–we’d come way too far. So we took off our shoes, held them over our heads, and waded in. Sputnik’s panniers floated for a few seconds and then filled with water. Good thing we’d already eaten most of the food! I kept the camera over my head and hoped I wouldn’t slip and fall on the uneven bottom. I had some close calls, but since Sputnik was on a leash next to me I was able to grab onto him for balance a couple of times. When we got to shore and replaced our socks and shoes, Phil noticed that his ankles were once more covered in seed ticks. Yuck!

We soon came to a newly mown hay field and another old barn. This one was big and beautiful with a long grain storage area down the center, many box stalls for horses, areas on the side to keep equipment, and a huge hay mow up top. Sputnik is standing in front of the grain storage. I liked the slanted boards.

Around the corner was a beautiful farmhouse that went with the big barn. We couldn’t peek inside because it was all boarded up, but the outside looked as nice as if it were ready to welcome new occupants.

The Erbie historic church was a little further on, and there we encountered a bevy of park rangers because the church was undergoing restoration. I was a little nervous that they might say something about our goats. After all, the locals had warned us that they might not be welcome in the National Park. But while the rangers were surprised, they were not hostile. They were mostly intrigued, and I told them they ought to look into using packgoats to help with trail maintenance in the non-horse areas of the park.

When we arrived at our truck we considered going the long way home on the well-maintained 2WD roads that the park service had used to access the church. But since we’d already conquered the rough road coming down, we decided it would be just as well to take the same way back. It wasn’t so bad now that we knew what to expect. We had just enough daylight left to take a quick jump in the river at Ponca before heading back to our cabin for one last soak in the hot tub and packing up. It was a grand four days in Arkansas, and our only regret was that we got so many seed ticks. My ankles are still itching two weeks later (although they’re finally starting to get better). Next time we’re using the waterproof bug repellent and we’ll be spraying under our socks as well as above them!

“Goat Vacation” Day 8 – Magical Rivers and Unicorn Forests

Tuesday’s long hike had us all tired and footsore. Phil and I slept  late the next morning and so did Finn and Sputnik. When I opened the trailer door at around 10:00 Wednesday morning, both of them were curled up in nests of straw and didn’t look as though they had moved all night. They reluctantly got up when I came in and both of them moved  stiffly. They looked like old goats as they slowly limped out of the trailer, but within a few minutes they had stretched and shaken the soreness out and were happy to browse around the cabin. I’m pretty sure it was the sand that made them tired and sore. It was some hard slogging in those river bottoms.

After our late rise, Phil and I opted to stick close to Ponca and not hike any trails. The day was deliciously sunny and warm, so we put on our swimsuits and headed to the Buffalo River. Sputnik would have been happy to stay in this flower patch all day.

But instead we went river-tromping and the goats had to come with us so we would have something we could photograph gratuitously. We took something like 250 pictures that day!

I love the water reflection on the stone behind the goats.

Sputnik and I found a really cool tree to climb.

Phil spent a lot of time skipping stones. This place reminded us a little bit of Darien Lake State Park out in western New York state where we spent our third anniversary. We spent that whole day wading in a dappled, lazy river skipping flat stones, and later that weekend we found Cuzco at a farm nearby. Anything that reminds us of that wonderful third anniversary is like experiencing a little piece of heaven.

There were huge slabs of rock in some places that made it feel more like walking in a swimming pool than in a river. Swimming pools, however, do not usually contain water moccasins. We saw one dart out from under a ledge and wriggle its way across the river and under the riverbank right around this spot. It was more terrified of us than we were of it.

Bear with me while I indulge in posting an unreasonable number of “Finn” photos. He’s so photogenic I just can’t stop clicking the camera!

Finn knows he’s gorgeous too.

The light and shadows and reflections on the water made us feel like we were in a fantasy tale.

As if the river didn’t feel magical enough, we saw a dry riverbed open to our left. The entrance was covered in blue butterflies, most of whom fluttered away at our approach. But a few lingered behind to be caught in Phil’s lens.

We stepped into a world of enchantment. It felt solemn and mysterious. These were unicorn woods I could tell. We didn’t see the unicorn, but I’m quite sure she saw us.

Finn is not only incredibly photogenic, he’s also incredibly huggable.

We all became drowsy as the shadows lengthened.

Sputnik could almost be a unicorn on this rock.

As colorful as he is, it’s amazing how much Sputnik blends in with his surroundings.

The last light before eventide.

“Goat Vacation” Day 7 Continued: Adventures along the Old River Trail

And the fun didn’t stop!

Goat Trail was only a there-and-back detour from the Centerpoint Trail, which we continued down for a couple more miles to Granny Henderson’s homestead, reluctantly abandoned when the Buffalo National River was established. Poor Granny. She was kicked out by the National Park Service even though she and her husband had built this home together in 1912. She was told she could stay but only if she gave up her livestock. She felt the same way about her critters as we feel about ours and decided it wouldn’t be home without them. She packed up and left in 1978 but died shortly afterward from the stress of leaving her home and animals. I think she would have loved Finn and Sputnik.

From there we hiked on to Hemmed-in Hollow, which at 250 feet is the tallest waterfall between the Appalachians and the Rockies–when it’s flowing. We caught it during a dry spell, but I can imagine it would be spectacular when it’s running. We had a nice lunch break here and unsaddled the goats for a while so they could take a break.

After lunch we decided to take the “long loop” back on the Old River Trail. I’m not sure if that was a very good idea, but at low altitude we felt like warriors and decided it would be somewhat feeble to retrace our steps.

I loved the root system of this tree.

The Old River Trail turned out to have something like eight or ten river crossings (I eventually lost count).

Since Phil and I did not bring water shoes, we spent a lot of time taking our boots off and then finding some dry place to put them back on again.

The goats were not particularly cooperative at the first crossing and made me go back over and fetch them. Normally our goats don’t have a problem with water, but I think they had to get us back for making them swim the day before. After that we cut to the chase and put leashes on them before each crossing just to make sure there was no funny business. We didn’t have time for shenanigans–we had something like eight miles to cover before dark and it was already late afternoon.

But I did take a moment to snap a photo of this cute little fellow hiding among the river rocks.

Phil loved this gnarled old tree, but the lighting was so bad I had a hard time photographing it. The hike along the river bottom was interesting. There were many old homesteads and even a school here in the early 1900’s, but they slowly faded away in the 1950’s and 60’s as post offices in these remote areas were closed and school districts were consolidated. Then the Buffalo National River was established and the last few homesteaders were pushed out and their farms turned back into wilderness. It’s hard to imagine all this forest as farmland.

From here we could see Goat Trail from the bottom.

You can even see the ledge where we walked across the bluff.

There weren’t a lot of flowers, but I thought these were spectacular and they matched Finn and Sputnik’s halters.

The goats were getting pretty tired at this point. There was a lot of sand in the river bottom which made hiking difficult for them, especially since Phil and I were keeping up a pretty quick pace.

“Are we there yet?”

“Is this the last crossing?”

No, it wasn’t the last crossing, but there weren’t many more. We eventually made it to Steel Creek, which was a massive and perfectly groomed camping and staging area with real flush toilet restrooms which we happily made use of. I wish I’d gotten some pictures of the area because it was quite beautiful with its well-kempt lawns, and it felt eerie because no one was there except two Forest Service horses snorting suspiciously at our goats. The stabling area was massive with spacious pastures and corrals. I wondered if the campground were ever filled because it looked like it could accommodate hundreds of people and dozens of horses. It reminded me of the magician Coriakin’s island in the book Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

After that we had a steep hike up Chimney Rock Trail. I’m not sure why it was so named except that there were a lot of rocks of the sort you might use to build a chimney. It was nearly dark by the time we arrived at our truck and all of us were very tired. It had been a wonderful hike and although it remained completely cloudy all day, we only got the tiniest bit of drizzle on us as evening approached. Phil, however, was covered in spiderwebs and also, it turned out, with seed ticks. They were all over his ankles. It took us a long time that evening to get them off. I had a couple dozen as well, but Phil bore the brunt of them. When all was said and done, it was very nice to get back to our cabin for a long soak in the hot tub. Finn and Sputnik put themselves to bed immediately and didn’t make a peep all night

“Goat Vacation: Day 7 – Bugs and Spiders and Goat Trail

We decided that our second day in Arkansas would be our “Big Day”. I had read about “Goat Trail” and obviously had to take our packgoats there. It looked like there were several other interesting trails that connected to the same area and I chose about a 10-12 mile route. We woke up to a cloudy day wrapped in fog so we wore warm layers and packed rain gear on the goats. It ended up being the perfect weather for what turned out to be a 15 mile hike. It was comfortably cool and the flies and other biting insects mostly stayed in hiding.

Other insects, however, were not so dissuaded by the cool temperatures. We found this fellow moseying across the trail. I moved him off it after we took the picture because he blended in too well with his surroundings and I didn’t want him to get crunched.

Our second lesson about Arkansas (the first was about burrs if you remember) is that it is covered in spiders. They’re not mean, biting spiders and they’re kind of neat to look at, but they are everywhere and they build webs across all the trails so the person walking in front feels like he’s in an Indiana Jones movie. Phil, being our fearless leader, spent the whole day wearing and inadvertently eating spider webs. By our last day in Arkansas he had figured out the trick of waving a stick in front as he walked, which eliminated most of the problem.

Goat Trail to Big Bluff: How can you take packgoats to Ponca, Arkansas and NOT take this little detour.

Not far down the trail, the terrain took on a drastically different look and began to remind me of Utah but with a lot more trees.

This may have been our favorite part of the trail so I’m going to post too many pictures of it. The trail passes along a narrow shelf of rock overlooking the Buffalo River.

It’s a long drop so we took the precaution of keeping our goats leashed (except for the part where Sputnik got away while I was fiddling with the camera).

I loved this little window.

“How high up is that?”

The trees on the cliff gave you a false sense of feeling like it wasn’t a high bluff, but it’s a good 350-foot drop. It’s not straight down–you’d bounce a few times before you hit the bottom.

“Goat Vacation” Day 6 – Hawksbill Crag and Swimming Lessons

We took it easy our first day in Arkansas. The lady at Lost Valley Canoe & Cabins was very helpful with trail suggestions and sent us to Whitaker Point, also known as Hawksbill Crag. It is one of the iconic hikes in the area but not very long or strenuous–perfect for warming up. We saddled the goats even though there was nothing to bring on such a short hike. We figured it would make them look a little more “legitimate” in case anyone gave us grief about bringing goats into the National Forest (we’d heard rumors that the park rangers might be uptight about them).

Although devoid of any heart, this tree was still thriving with no more than a half-shell of outer bark to support it. Yes, I’m sticking my hand (and foot) through the tree and Sputnik thinks I’m a complete idiot.
“I don’t know her.”

“Aw, you do too know me, Sputnik. Just admit it and gimme some sugar.”

There were some cool alien rocks along the trail. Or maybe it’s the fossilized tentacle from a giant squid. See the suction cups?

Some of the rocks were anti-gravity!

“What’s over there?” Sputnik never did quite match my enthusiasm for this hike. Or maybe he didn’t match my enthusiasm for Phil’s camera. Either way, he appears very long-suffering.

Fake Hawksbill Crag. Or maybe “practice” Hawksbill Crag. Either way, it’s a nice place to take a brief pause before the real thing.

Finally, the real Hawksbill Crag! Phil and Finn checked it out first. I had a hard time getting pictures of them because people kept walking into the camera view and I was too far away to ask them to please move back.

They cleared out for me and Sputnik. Not sure why. Maybe we needed a bath.

Yeah, we might have gotten a little bold there, but it didn’t look as scary from where I was standing.

We got back to our cabin early enough to take a dip in the Buffalo River near the bridge at Ponca.

The water was a delicious temperature (probably near 80 degrees) and so crystal clear it was difficult to gauge the depth without stepping in.

We made the goats practice their swimming skills in a deep hole near the bridge. They weren’t real happy with us, but I feel it’s important that they are at least familiar enough with swimming to negotiate a deep crossing if they have to. Last time Sputnik went swimming was over two years ago and he kept threatening to drown himself if I didn’t hold him afloat. He was much more proficient this time and didn’t scream once, but he still didn’t like it and was happy to run ashore at the first opportunity.

“Goat Vacation” Day 5 – Ponca, AR

I still don’t have the video or photos of the chariot race and cart rides in Millington, so I’ll skip ahead to Sunday when we drove back into Arkansas for the actual goat packing part of our trip. Laundry snafus got us off to a late start, but we were in no rush.
The gas prices in Arkansas were phenomenal.

Our photo, alas, cannot capture the sheer grandiosity of this enormous American flag. This display of patriotism pretty much dwarfed everything on the horizon, including several billboards. I’m pretty sure this bank does not need air conditioning because of the shade cast by their flag.

Late in the afternoon we stopped to stretch our legs at a trail near Marshall, AR which was part of the Buffalo National River system. This homestead was built in the 1930’s and the goats were rather suspicious of it.

A short hike took us to an overlook where we enjoyed a lovely view of the Buffalo River valley. By the time we got back from our hike, both goats were completely covered in burrs and they weren’t happy about having them removed. This was the first lesson we learned about Arkansas: There are burrs everywhere and they come in all shapes and sizes. The only thing that was fairly efficient at removing them was a stiff-bristled brush I had in my tack box. That brush came with us on all future excursions.

We got to our cabin early in the evening and the goats made sure to inspect the porch first thing. It met with their approval, but they were not allowed to linger. The cabin was surrounded by woods and undergrowth, so our boys were happy to be allowed to putter around sampling the various tastes of Arkansas.

Finally, this photo can’t hope to show anyone what it was actually like, but our cabin had a steep gravel driveway with a hairpin turn on it. We were advised to leave our trailer down near the country store, but stubborn Coloradans that we are, we had to at least try to park our trailer next to our cabin. Although our trailer has a lock and our goats would be just as fine 1/8 mile down the road as they would be outside our bedroom window, we hovering goat lovers feel better when our “babies” are within yelling distance. So I braved the driveway.

First of all, I had to put the truck in 4WD low to make it up the steep grade without spinning. In fact, the road was 4WD even without the trailer. The hairpin turn was interesting. We could just make it without having to back up, but the ruts in that section of driveway were almost too deep for our low trailer. However, we made it without scraping metal and then the real fun began. There is a nice flat parking area big enough for a trailer to back in, but backing in a bumper pull trailer with a long bed truck was a real picnic. The driveway turned off to the cabin, but the road continued its steep trajectory above and behind the cabin, so I pulled well up it, then cranked the wheel hard over and basically jackknifed the trailer to get it around the tight curve. We made it about halfway before I ran out of room to maneuver the truck. The trailer was now stuck in a sideways position across the driveway–right angles to where I wanted it. Had it been a fifth wheel we’d have made the turn easily, but bumper pulls are not so forgiving. I jammed down the parking brake and I got out so Phil and I could have a conference. If we unhitched the trailer, I believed I had just barely enough room to squeak past it in the truck. Then I could back down the driveway, turn around, and come up backwards to re-hitch and push the trailer into position from the downhill side. It was worth a try, and long story short, it worked! We had our goats snugly settled in their mobil home right outside our bedroom window at night, and our truck was unhitched so we could properly explore Ponca, AR.

“Goat Vacation” Day 3 – The Arkansas Packrat

Our trip from Kansas City to Millington, TN was not entirely devoid of adventure. We cut through the northeast corner of Arkansas on our way to Memphis and came across a roadside “antique store” that we could not pass up. There were signs plastered across every building, and there were a LOT of buildings! It was impossible to capture the entire spectacle in a photograph, but let this one small shed speak for the remainder.

It was called “Dear Crossing”. I’m not sure why.

There were a lot of artifacts from old garages and gas stations. Inside the “main” building we found an enormous collection of matchbox cars from the past five or six decades in addition to a lot of old junk labeled “antiques”. The man who ran the shop was a character and he let us wander around his property with our goats in tow.

He also had these set pieces from the live action “Flintstones” movie made in 1994.

Phil and Finn were very disappointed that this lovely vintage restoration project was “Not 4 Sale”.

6th Annual Hassey “Goat Vacation” – The Journey Begins

On this particular trip, the journey there and back was half the fun. We got a late start on Wednesday, September 6th and drove well into the night. Although we captured no photos, watching the full moon rise in front of us as we headed east across Kansas was breathtaking. There were windmills on the horizon and the blades cut black and sharp across the enormous orange globe as it came up.

The next day was a lot more fun for us, but I’m not sure about Finn and Sputnik. They adamantly refused to drink any water during those first two days of travel even after I added a strawberry flavor packet to it. But the days were very cool and they had plenty of hay to eat and straw to lie down in, so riding in the trailer and waiting there while Phil and I made a couple of tourist stops was not unpleasant for them even if it was somewhat boring.

The first stop was totally impromptu. I saw a billboard by the highway advertising “Moon Marble Company”. Phil began collecting marbles soon after we got married so the Moon marble factory and museum was a necessary detour. It turned out to be a wonderful hour-and-a-half diversion in which we were given a personal tour of the marble factory by the owner, Bruce Breslow.

Turns out he has similar tastes in interior decoration as Phil and I.

We got a photo of Bruce and Phil standing with some of Bruce’s personal art marble creations. Phil and I bought one to take home.

The shop was not devoid of goats either! Not only did I purchase a small goat figurine to bring home, we also saw a vintage “Old Hogan’s Goat” marble game among the museum pieces.

After our tour of the Moon Marble Company, Bruce came out to meet Finn and Sputnik.

We left Moon Marbles and drove on to Kansas City, MO where we ventured downtown (always harrowing with a horse trailer in tow!), miraculously found someplace to park, and then took a two-hour tour of the Arabia Steamboat Museum. The pictures we took are not worth sharing, but it was an incredible display of wonderfully preserved pre-Civil War artifacts. The steamboat Arabia, loaded with merchant goods, was headed to the frontier in 1856 when it struck a submerged log and sank very quickly in the shallow, muddy water. The top deck remained above the river so no lives were lost except that of an unfortunate mule which was tied on the lower deck. The steamboat sank completely by next morning so none of the goods were ever recovered. However, the legend of the steamboat loaded with Kentucky bourbon continued down through the years and several unsuccessful recovery efforts were made before the Arabia was finally uncovered in 1988. It was half a mile from the current course of the Missouri River and 45 feet down in a place where the water table is only about 15 feet below the surface. Water pumps had to run round the clock during the dig, but the steamboat was brought to light with all its treasure intact.

No bourbon was found (it was probably on the deck so the barrels would have floated away), but many other things came to light that were still as new as the day they were packed in crates and barrels for the journey. Hundreds of pairs of boots, tools of all kinds, nails, dishes, washtubs, pickles, ketchup, preserves, perfume, saddlery, glass for windows, medicines, buttons, beads, flatware, coffee and coffee grinders, bolts of cloth, coats, hats, and even the materials for a “pre-fab” house were on the boat. All the bottled food items are still as good as when they were first put down in jars. The cotton and paper goods did not last, but leather and woolen items remained intact. It was a fascinating display, and at the museum store Phil and I bought a couple of replicas of the bells that were found among the Arabia goods. They have a very pleasant, cheerful ring and are the perfect size for goats to wear.

Veni, Vidi, Vici

Well, we were so busy we didn’t get many photos today, but we had a great time! First off was the much-anticipated Chariot Race.

There was some confusion as to where the race was to be held. The program said we would race in the “Kid Zone”, which was on the baseball field and the historical location of the race back when it was still run. The lady in charge, on the other hand, said we would race in the horse arena. Phil and I were pretty skeptical about that–the arena had panels set up and was full of cows and hay and a lot of cow pies, and horse arena footing is not suitable for driving goats at speed. We were game, but we felt it would be “the world’s slowest chariot race” if we ran (or plodded more like) around the horse arena.

After a bit of back-and-forth, Phil and I suggested we run on the smooth gravel road behind the arena. It was a nice straightaway–not too short, not too long, and the packed footing was excellent for goat hooves and smooth rolling for chariot wheels. Because of the confusion we did not get a huge audience, but the folks that were there cheered enthusiastically.

It was a tight race. Sputnik got off to a faster start and led from wire to wire, but finished by only a neck. With a bit of hollering from Phil (er, Thor), Finn kicked into gear and began to overtake Sputnik about halfway down the track. I hollered at Sputnik with little result, but as Finn began to sail past us I tickled the tip of Sputnik’s tail with my finger and he put on an extra little burst of speed to maintain his lead across the finish. It was a good race. It probably helps that I’m a good 25 lbs. lighter than Phil.

Sputnik and I with our First Place trophy.

Phil and Finn with their Second Place trophy.

And although it’s completely unrelated to goat chariot racing, we had to put this one in here for Uncle Steve. Phil totally rocked this pink tractor, wouldn’t you agree?

After lunch, Phil and I harnessed Finn and Sputnik up again so we could do cart rides for the kids. The goats were a huge hit, and between them they hauled around somewhere in the vicinity of 140 kids. We posed for a lot of photos this afternoon, and the boys were ver patient. They never balked or complained or got cranky. I wish I had photos of the cart rides because we had Finn and Sputnik’s horns done up in striped wraps, but we were much too busy to take photos of each other.

I hear there will be a video of the chariot race available soon, and when that comes out I’ll make sure to post it.