Saturday, June 16, 2012

Pony Express Re-ride.. Part 1

I have to admit I was really nervous about this event. Not only was it my first one ever, the event took place just outside of the park, while other events took place inside the park! Also, I advertised this event to take place on the other side of the park, but at the meeting last week, I discovered it had been moved to the main side of the park, along the Fort Churchill Road. Oops! So I spent a lot of time re-advertising the new location and making and hanging flyers and signs to announce the new location!

The Pony Express re-ride happens once a year, alternating between east and west. This year, the riders took off from Sacramento, CA and headed the almost 2,000 miles towards St. Joseph, Missouri. I love the Pony Express, so as nervous as I was for this event, I was really excited for it too.

National Pony Express Association members wearing the traditional "uniform."

I advertised the event to start at 4 p.m. with the Civil War Volunteers and Nevada Calvary kicking things off. 4 p.m. came and went, with no one showing up. The Pony Express Association members were coming back and forth, letting us know when the mail exchange was to happen, so when we got word that the rider was only 4 miles away I started moving people towards the Fort Churchill Road. Some drove, some walked the short distance through the gate outside the park.

We got word that although two riders were thrown from their horses, the riders were an hour early so instead of the mail exchange happening at 6 p.m. (as advertised) it happened around 5 p.m. I was SO worried someone would show up at 6 expecting to see the mail exchange and the programs scheduled but everyone apparently took my suggestion to show up early, as horses don't carry watches! hahaha

My pictures of the re-ride itself are at work so I will have to post those later...meanwhile, here are some others. I was asked to give a history talk about Fort Churhill and fire the cannon. After my talk, David Kittle gave a talk about the history of the Pony Express. I will post more about his speech when I post my pictures of the re-ride because I think it will have more meaning.

Me, with the National Pony Express Association members!!

A spur-of-the-moment decision was made to induct two new members into the association. I got to see a swearing-in ceremony for the first time. SO cool!

Not the best picture of me, but I was giving a talk to about 35 people and PRAYING the cannon would go off for me! It worked and everyone was happy!

David Kittle, giving his presentation about the XP history.

Local photographer capturing women in period costume...

I really like seeing people in period costumes. I did feel bad for these women dressed in such heavy clothes in this heat though!

Another ...interesting....picture of me, but this is Richard Massey, the park's photographer.

Fernley Intermediate School Special Olympics

A while back, I got an e-mail from our region manager, Bob. He said he's not usually in the habbit of volunteering people for things, but he was talking to the person in charge of the Special Olympics at Fernley Intermediate School and my name came up. She wanted people from as many different agencies as possible to set up a booth at the Special Olympics to provide as many different opportunities for the athletes as possible. He volunteered me because I have a background in interpretation and I've also got supplies like animal skins and replicas of animal tracks and scat.

I brought a map of the Carson River Watershed and some examples of animals that live along that watershed. Bob gave me some junior ranger stickers and I handed them out to the athletes and their helpers. There were over 40 schools involved from 10 counties in Nevada. The school that came the furthest was from Hawthorne. There were over 400 athletes involved and each athlete had a student helper to take them through the games and events.

The man standing to the left is the principal of the school...cheering everyone on. I heard some of the most motivating speeches that day. They did an awesome job with this! Last year they only had a little over 100 participants and that grew to over 400 this year. I was impressed.

The event started with a parade, with all the athletes walking around the track holding banners that represented their school. Like any parade, they had a police, fire truck and ambulance escort complete with lights and sirens. My picture didn't quite work out but they also had a crane with the American flag and Nevada state flags represented. We started with the pledge and a performance of the National Anthem...which I couldn't hear because a couple of men standing nearby had a very loud conversation... but the rest of the experience was totally positive :)

I also got to hang out with Bruno Bighorn! I think he was a mascott for one of the local basketball teams...I don't remember, but he was the cutest "guy" I've ever seen!

Side note: it's not a good idea to wear shorts with winter-white legs and forget your sunscreen! Very bad idea....

Loneliest Highway in America

Highway 50 is called the Loneliest Highway in America. I drove it on my trip out to visit Dave when he started his job at the Kirch Wildlife Management Area, about an hour south of Ely, NV. I decided to take the day to drive out there, starting with breakfast in Fallon and continuing through. Highway 50 goes across the middle of the state and follows a lot of the old Pony Express trail. The Pony Express to me is fasinating, even though it only lasted 18 months, from 1860 to 1861. I've got at least two posts covering the Pony Express, so that's all about it for now...except a couple pictures of an old station.

One of my first stops was an area outside of Fallon that had some rock art. I'm hoping to get out there more as soon as I can!

I do miss Moab's rock art, but I'm happy to know that Nevada's got some too!

I missed one Pony Express station outside of Fallon, near Sand Mountain, so I made sure to stop at this one--New Pass Station. I was kind of sad to see it surrounded by chain link fence, but I know it would probably get vandalized if it wasn't protected. There is an old station between Fort Churchill and our region office. I have pictures of it at work, so I'll have to post those soon. It isn't protected with a fence, but it's so remote that to get to it you have to know about it. My previous supervisor pointed it out to me one day and I finally made the trip over to it.

Ward Charcoal Ovens

When Dave first started his job outside of Ely, I drove out there on my days off. I decided to take the whole day to drive out there, then we drove back the next day after he got off work. I'll post a few pictures of the drive soon, but the 2nd day I was there, I went to a couple state parks nearby in the morning.

Ward Charcoal Ovens was the first park I went to. It's a state historic park like Fort Churchill. It also has a campground and hiking trails.

The ovens were used to produce charcoal. Nearby trees were cut down and stacked inside. They were then lit on fire and slits in the walls (visible near the bottom) were used to control the heat and speed of burning. They didn't want the wood to burn too fast, because then it would produce ash instead of charcoal. These ovens were used from 1876 through 1879 and use stopped when the available timber ran out. After they were no longer used to produce charcoal, they served as shelter for prospecters and eventually outlaws like Butch Cassidy.

A really good friend of Dave's, Allen Wooldridge, is the ranger at Ward Charcoal and Cave Lake State Parks. They are so close together, the same supervisors and rangers patrol both parks. Allen lives at Ward Charcoal. These are his chickens!

Allen also "bribes" local ducks to live at his pond so they clean out the algae. He has some pretty good-sized fish in there too. I wish I'd had my camera, instead of my cell phone for pictures because that area is beautiful! I don't have any pictures yet of Cave Lake but I definitely want to go back.