Thursday, July 8, 2010

Day 14 - Pocatello to Idaho Falls - Tragedy at an Idaho Farm

Today was an intense day!

We watched a tragedy unfold at a farm along our bike route.

This is so much more than a vacation...

We have the physical challenges...

Mountains straining our muscles....

Desert parching our lips

Winds whipping our legs as we pedal across rivers

We experience our country with every sense...

The salt water of the Pacific

The chill of the breeze

The dry beauty of the desert

And we see incredible beauty...

From the grandeur of the Cascades

To the sweetness of a flower

This is an amazing journey...

And today we witnessed an event we will never forget...

But let me tell it from the beginning...

I start the day worried...

I'm still weak, drained from the day before.

As we leave I stop for extra food to carry with me.

I decide I have to go at my own pace - slow - and stop often to eat.

But I cruise out of town behind the others...
wrong turn...

The day is not starting out well.

I don't even stop for pictures for the first twenty miles.

So dull to bike past these farms without composing pictures to tell the story.

But I feel bad holding the group back every day.

Finally mile 20 - I stop for a break under a farmer's tree.

Good biscuit.

I need the salt.

I've given up doughnuts.

Did I tell you I'm worried about my family?

Husband Tom was flying with the kids to Tahoe today.

Kids got on the plane.

Tom didn't.

So I had family separated - winging across the time zones.

I call Tom - he's made it to Denver.

The bike miles are long, but it's my favorite landscape...

Farms with their subtle beauties like home.

It seems less arid.

I still pedal with the chatter of irrigation in stereo beside me.

But they are less common.

And outside the pumped water are trees -

even willows!

And cows standing in flooded fields.

Still, the horses fight over the last green thistle left in this dry pen.

The need to pee leads me to a Mormon church this bright Sunday, July 4.

So charming to see the families dressed so fine.

They are fascinated by the story of my bike ride...

...but their dog growls beneath his breath.

I have to stop at this farmer's house to enjoy the garden...

...and the modern wind mill gathering energy above his house...

I've seen several of these modern windmills.

I begin to see more houses...
nearing a small town.

The SAG is waiting for me.

I'm glad to see there are other bikes there.

I'm not the only one holding back the SAG wagon.

But look! It's Katie and Al!

They have waited for me!

And I'm not the only one hurting from this extreme challenge.

Katie is nursing her Achilles tendon as is my friend, John.

And Mark from Maryland has been borrowing my Flexor patches for his knee pains.

But we feel good now.

And it's so nice to have these charming girls to chat with as we spin down the road.

But not for long...


Al gets a flat tire.

We call for help, but she sets to work herself.

Wheel off...

Tire removed to get to the tube.

By then Deb arrives to help find the culprit...

a tiny thorn...

But it's given me a chance to enjoy my chocolate chip cookie...

and Katie to rest her ankle.

Crisis solved - we're back on the road.

Oh, look, cries Katie  - that horse is giving birth!

We slam on the brakes!

We'll get to see the moment of the foal's first steps...

But something is wrong...
It takes too long.

Farmer drives out to the field and the horse, head down, walks to him for help while his wife shoos away the other horses.

The farmer tries to help with the birth, but can't get the baby out.

The mare is struggling.

She falls to her side.

Other men come to help.

They bring forceps as long as my bicycle.

A crowd gathers on the roadside to watch the drama.

We slowly realize the foal must be dead.

The farmer's stance tightens.

Now he is trying to save the Mother.

Should we call the vet? - we can hear them when the wind blows our way.

We stand tense by the fence.

I'm never getting pregnant - says Al.

I wonder if she knows her baby is dead - asks Katie.

I wonder how they must feel watching this.

I can feel a difference in our reactions based not on my medical training and experience -

I have, after all, delivered a baby, seen a dead newborn, witnessed tragedy...

But our differences are more set by my experience as a mother.

I have been pregnant...
felt a child move in my belly
labor pains.

More men come to help.

They remind me of Iwo Jima as they work side by side to help the suffering mare.

Finally, with straining arms, farmer Randy pulls the remains of the baby from his Mother.

The foal lies in a heap as attention turns to the collapsed mare.

I think she's dead, but I can see her belly move with a shallow breath.

We see two finely dressed young men cross the field.

They must be vets pulled from the local church service in their Sunday whites.

We can catch a few snippets of conversation...
Forceps too early...
should have called sooner...
......did all that you could.

I can hear him say...
"if she doesn't get up by the evening..."
but the wind takes away the rest of the words.

The farmer pours water on the mare's head.
She weakly looks up.

As we straddle our saddles to continue our ride, we glance back and see him kneeling by her side to give her water.

Our ride back out our thoughts are spinning.

We don't even notice the miles or the turns as we decompress the events in our heads.

It is so good to have these young women to help talk out the intensity of what we've seen.

We hardly stop - but wait - what an awesome treehouse!

We have to get a picture.

And as we shoot skyward - a shadow overhead...

a large bird...
white tail..
dark brown body and wings..
white head...

A perfect view of our national bird.

We suddenly remember it's the fourth of July.

What a day, Katie says.

What could beat this?

We arrive at Idaho Falls, flush with excitement.
No time to recover before dinner.

Our friend sees us coming in late.

He's all rested and showered and laundered...

All that matters is we all got in safely - he says...

but there's so much more...

We've had an experience we will never forget...

On a vacation  we will remember forever.

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