I have wanted to post my trips with Bill since I started going with him but it wasn't appropriate, especially if my blog was public. Our first trip was NASTR in Nevada on May 25th. He sent me a text saying he wanted to steal me away for the day and throw a camera in my hand to help him shoot. What warm-blooded endurance riding foolish WOMAN wouldn't get all mushy with that??????? I went.
I took Sage & and at 4:30 am promptly dropped my phone in his toilet before we left. Of course I didn't know til we were out of his driveway but weirdly 5 minutes later it still worked. This was good because I didn't have to call from another number to tell T that my phone went swimming in another man's toilet. But let me say.....W.T.F.......I was so done. HUGE chunks yanked out of my heart for years and I had finally bled to death so I didn't care much. And I don't write this without some emotion. Ending a long term relationship is not easy for anyone, unless they really don't feel.
That day at NASTR it was the start of a wonderful series of adventures I spent with Bill (& Sage Brush). I might have laughed more than I have in YEARS. Donna said my Laughing Bank was seriously depleted and it was luckily, slowly filling up again.
We found a spot Bill has photographed riders before and we set up to shoot. I was a little nervous that my photos would really suck, not that I haven't photographed before, but I didn't want to get fired on the first trip. If I took photos of horses heads cut off I really didn't care. . . I had come HOME. And, I will say this again in future posts.
We shot riders on the 30/50/75 miler, then went into the nearest town to develop photos. Since I had been seriously SECRETLY stalking my favorite photographer for um........2 years, but maybe 3, I was getting an inside view of his job. And I got to stalk much, much closer. I felt special, but I also gained an even bigger appreciation of what Bill & Rene do for us. I got to begin to know this man first hand who had piqued my interest for so long.
I have known of Bill for about 6 years, but of course never got close enough but to buy photos, and he was not available at the time, nor was I. 2 years ago he dropped off my Tevis Cougar Rock enlargement photos and I remember standing on the porch of my house talking to him for 30 minutes as he showed me photos of the Tahoe Rim Ride he had just shot. I wanted to do that ride with Aura as her first 50, but that was the year I got kicked in the leg so it changed my plans a bit. Anyway, he dropped off the enlargements and I asked if he had shot Tahoe Rim, which was on my Bucket List. He showed me photos like a little kid and I felt such love for his work I lost myself for a bit. Love for work. Awesome. No matter what you can say about someone, if they love their job, they are glowing. You don't see that too much. I kept my feelings to myself for a long time and maybe over a year later, only Donna knew I had a crush on my favorite photographer. Bill had no clue.
At the end of March Bill & I kept bumping into each other. The first event was The Tevis Talks with Linda Tellington Jones speaking and T didn't want to go. He didn't want me to go either, but it wasn't my problem and I secretly wished he wasn't going anyway. I didn't want my evening restricted as T always had a way of doing. (And T wouldn't talk to me for 2 days after the event because I DID go.) I drove to the Fairgrounds while SECRETLY and sincerely wishing that my favorite photographer was going to be there. In all my born days I have never bumped into him except passing him by on the rides with his camera and under his photography tent later at Ridecamp. I drove up to park behind a vehicle and he got out of it. Is this a SIGN??? He was wearing tight Levis and cowboy boots and I nearly lost myself with girlish GLEE.....Inside the building I busied myself with getting wine and acting non-chalant, meanwhile trying to figure out how to talk to him. Finally I went over to him and we talked for about 15 minutes. Enough to know I wanted to talk to him again. Over the next 4 weeks, there were more strange "meetings", that only I can say, someone somewhere else had a hand in. Donna originally suggested we meet on a specific day to ride, rather, she said we needed to "commit" to this day. But she had no idea, really that what she was suggesting was helping my case. Little did I know either that it was his day to run, as he has been for some 14 years. I have been frequenting this place for several years and NEVER saw him and all of a sudden he's on my trail....or I was on his..... It was very strange and after about 3 weeks of bumping into Bill I was thinking it was the place to be ~ and every time it happened I'd slap Donna and say "SEE it's a SIGN!!!". She was my Wing Man and I will be forever indebted to her.
At the AR 50 in April, after vetting with Melissa for a day and a half, she out of the blue (after hearing the long-winded story of T & I and how I wanted out of my relationship), said that my favorite photographer was a nice guy and I should call him. I almost fell off of my chair and spit out BBQ chicken all over my lap. I had not mentioned a word to her about him even though, apparently they were good friends and I knew it. Another Wing Man. I told Melissa I needed to handle things at home as it wasn't appropriate. But I couldn't get it out of my head what she said. It seemed to be yet another SIGN in a series of many. 2 weeks later I showed up at Cache Creek to ride a 25 miler and get photographs and I got to spend more time talking with Bill. Even though there has been nothing smooth about this breakup with T, it was the right thing for me to do. The breakup in my mind had started seriously for me at the 2012 American River 50 where T got mad at me for doing a 15 minute pre-ride with a male friend. It was after the Friday afternoon vet checks and he was so rude to me in ridecamp I was horrifed to know him. And this wasn't the first time he had gone off on me in public. When I got home he asked for my ring back which I gladly gave him. Then I had to call up Sue at 9:30 at night to see if she could help me at 3:30 the next morning to move my rig from Ridecamp to the 1 hour hold/end of the ride. T had taken my ring and tossed it into the rocks (or so he says) but gave it back to me after I got home. Stupidly I put it back on. My next blowup with him was Bridgeport last year and it really was a precursor to this year's Mother's Day breakup. This year I was determined to make it permanent. I. Was. So. Done.
When I kept having these strange meetings with Bill I got the courage to do what I needed to do. Timing was everything here. Bill had told me anytime prior to us getting together was not the time, that he had just started to be open to the idea of dating again.
So my adventures with him started. Our first "date" was for him to help me sight in my Ruger. We spent the day together shooting pistols and I got to see his "etchings".........all his beautiful photographs from rides past and some landscape photographs. Being an artist this has been a treat for me. One artist to another.
At NASTR, I suddenly was on the other side, not riding my horse and seeing endurance rides from a photographer's perspective. It was interesting and refreshing ~ not to mention easier on the body. Bill & I were also getting interesting looks (and smiles) from many endurance friends. After the day was done we left Dayton, NV to go home. Besides shooting horses, I told him we had to stop and get sage so I could bind it up and help "clear" my house of bad mojo. Sage, as you serious blog stalkers know, it one of my favorite scents. At Cache Creek, the ride I decided at the last minute, went up to ride Ali'i in a 25. Bill did not know I was going there, but at 7 pm on Friday stole me away (for the first time) to go check out the lighting for a wedding that was going to be held after the endurance ride the next evening for friends of ours. I was just leaving for the ride meeting when he showed up at my trailer and asked if I wanted to go up and look at the spot. I always go to the ride meetings, but that night, it was an easy choice to give it up for some time with my new friend. It was highly romantic and I really was there to get to know my favorite photographer.
On our little venture, Bill learned that I had a crazy affection for the fragrance of sage and he said he had never met anyone that felt that way as he did. It's always funny the things that will bind people together. That was one of ours.
When the weekend was over one thing I knew, is right or wrong, I was going home to tell T we were really, truly over. I was ill about having the talk, but he was already pissed I went (and couldn't talk to me because of no cell service) so the conversation was already in the works before I got home.
After NASTR and several more day/date outings with Bill we went to Cooley Ranch to shoot 2 days. I finally met Rene, officially as someone other than an endurance client. The weekend was fun and crazy and it became evident that Bill & I were a couple, at least to a few people including Rene. I felt like I was in my element but also feeling a little like a slacker because I wasn't busting my butt to ride a 50, or a 2 day 100. Ugggg....I could get used to this......
Driving thru Napa. Road trips ~ I may have found my match.
The Taj Mahal ~ I was sooooo excited to be camping!! The last time may have been with Pierre at Mineret Campground with Kaia & Zoe. Remember "HOME"?????? My heart was beaming!!
Friday after the ride meeting someone gave me some wine and somehow my stalking came up while I sat on this picnic table. I actually was making fun of all the men (and the Head Vet drooling over this very pretty girl and her horse getting vetted. None of these men could talk as they watched to vet go over her horse. I think her pre-ride exam lasted longer than any I have ever seen. Like 45 minutes. Eventually the vet finished and came over and sat with us and drank wine and heard me talking about the pretty rider and all the testosterone flying, and then my long term stalking came up. One thing led to another and all I know is there was a LOT of laughing going on and the head vet wanted to know who I was and more details on my relationship (for 3 years ~ at least in my mind) of my object of affection. Seems this evening has painted me as some crazy, wild, sex-stalking sage brush loving endurance rider who got her man, even if it took a while. Because it was dark, I don't remember who all was there, except I keep meeting them at rides I go to..... and get the o'l "Oh.....you're the one that was on the picnic table at Cooley........". So I laugh some more. And Rene, & Bill & the Head Vet laugh.
At the rides, we either leave at zero-dark-thirty from home to get to a ride in time to scout and shoot horses, or we get up early out of the tent and jump on the quad or take Bill's truck to a pre-determined location. Since he's been shooting some 18 years, he's got most of his rides figured out ahead of time, as far as location, sun light, time riders first show up, etc. I just jump on the back of the quad, hold on and enjoy my ride.
Cooley Ranch Day 1. I have never gotten up so early on so many weekends since knowing Bill.
Bill has a hunter's eye and sees things that I never see. I'm familiar with this talent because Pierre was the same way. On this quad trip up to our location (which we had scouted the evening before) he points out wild pigs. Not a couple, but like 50 or so. Little, wild pigs. I took some video but they were too far away to be interesting, but it was still fun to see.
Bill & Rene figuring out the cameras. We went to another location about 15 minutes further to shoot. Rene stayed at this site.
Bill and I always take photos of each other at every ride we've been at where we are close enough. I love this one because like usual, he was making me laugh. I seem to never have enough clothes to wear in the early mornings but he brings enough for me. So I love his Cabela's sweatshirt.
Bill is always smiling. I love this about him.
We finished shooting by about 11:30 am and were off back to camp to grab Rene and get the photos developed. We drive some 30 miles to the nearest town and most of the Walgreens know these guys. They print 100's of photos at their One Hour Photo outlets as best they can. This particular day we were in town probably 4 hours. Keeping the photos in order is key to lining them up later at Ridecamp with 2 (or 3) photographers who shot different angles/places. After the photos are dropped off we go to breakfast.
Rene looking at his iPhone. Many of the ridecamps have no cell service. So when we get back to civilization after 12-24 hours of no service it's what we do. Pathetic, really how dependant we've become on our phones.
Bill done with his phone.....ready for coffee. I seriously want to eat, the brush my teeth, wash my face and put on MAKEUP. But Bill & Rene don't seem to give a shit. And this is what I love about them.
We waited several hours in Bill's truck for the photos. Once they were done, we were back up to Ridecamp and began the separation of photos. This is when Bill gets very serious. It's funny to me, because he usually is so easy going 99.99% of the time so when he gets like this it makes me laugh. I kinda want to ask him to eat a zebra......once the photos are up he's back to his regular self.
No matter where these guys shoot, riders know them. And riders want their photographers there. I have learned the names of many of the riders so each ride, it gets a little easier for me to recognize them. I have enjoyed this and the rides become bigger than just shooting and selling photos. It's a huge family and rather different than the dog show people. Most riders are NOT in competition with others ~ far from it and that may be the difference. I love the sport.
A rider looking for her photos. Most of these riders grab their photos, then hang around for quite a while afterwards. They love their ride photographers and some go back YEARS. Bill & Rene have seen young children started and are now adults. Pretty special to be a part of a group in a sport that spans several generations.
Bill on his quad waiting for riders on the second day. He was being bad.
I love Bill's sense of humor and probably he laughs more at me when I don't get stuff. We walked past this mouse and he said "Mouse!". I of course look beyond at the horses in the corral and think one's ears are showing over the fence like a mouse. I was looking for the bigger picture. So dense........it truly was a mouse, but it made us laugh more than once. I told him in the beginning, getting to know him I just wanted to laugh at stupid shit and he said he was an expert in that area. Just my type of guy.
Cooley Ranch was so much fun. Our next trip was a week in Fort Bragg over the 4th of July. Bill has a long-standing trip there and had invited me early in our relationship. Originally I was going to take Sage & Tirzah but because there was going to be a lot of gunfire all week long, I decided to leave the girls. I didn't want to peel collies off of the Taj Mahal, so reluctantly I left them.
The Fort Bragg week are friends he went to Gun Smithing School with in college and thru-out all the years, they still get together and camp and "blow up shit". I was game, of course. When we got to the camp, the spots he wanted to set up the Taj Mahal were already taken, so we went down a trail and found another spot.
The spot for our tent. I do my best to visualize. Outside of the box thinking. I think that was one of my requirements for a partner.
While Bill whacks the overgrowth with a machetti, I take a pile of wood on a pallet and toss it out of our camp. I am enjoying this even though I left my gloves at home and there were Stinging Nettles. After the machetti, he grabs a lawn mower and takes this overgrowth down even further. I am pretty sure Bill and I were pioneers in another life in the 1800s. All of this seems so easy and natural.
The rake from a prior year missing everything but 4 teeth. It worked quite well. It's all about the journey.
Here is the Taj Mahal a few hours later. I have to mention here that clearing this spot wasn't the only thing that had to be accomplished. If any of you have camped with these type of pole tents, the poles break down into small sections, so you are able to pack them away neatly with the tent. Because this is a family sized tent (2 rooms) there are several sets of poles that are probably at least 14-16' long. Broken down the sections are probably only 18" in length and are held together by a stretchy piece of line. This tent is old so as we were putting the poles together one of the lines broke on the longer of the sections. And the string didn't stay available. It sucked way in passed where it broke. What is that saying about seeing someone's real personality with a pile of messed up Christmas lights?????? I saw Bill's and it was so refreashing. He just figured it out and fixed it. Not right away, but with a few attempts at trying different things. 45 minutes later when it was done, it held, and the tent has been used since with no problems. There was no drama, no yelling, no suggesting we fuck the whole trip and go home. It just was fixed and we went on to do other things. So, the reason I say this is because I think it is a rare quality in a person to deal with things and not blow a head gasket. I was done with that life.
Bill made coffee every morning at our camp, then we'd go and get breakfast at the main camp.
At camp there was a lot of shooting and lots of food & beverages. Every morning we usually showered (in a very primative bathroom) then went to Fort Bragg to either buy more ice/food or explore. The first day we walked on the beach (July 4th) and saw this Border Collie.
He was stuck in this position for several minutes waiting for his toy to be thrown. Bill joked about me not bringing the camera because with a good camera it would have been a beautiful shot with the reflection. He joked because he was the one who opted to leave it in the truck.
I laugh ♥
Then we picked up sand dollars. I'm kinda ignorant about these so I had to gather several in differing sizes. They were so beautiful.
During the week besides all of the gun shooting, there were fireworks on the 4th out on the property of this friend. Another day we took a hike along the coast and took a lot of photos and just enjoyed sight-seeing.
This made me laugh. Don't get mad at your kids and throw them over the cliff.
One of the several dogs ~ the owners of the property had a BC & an LGD ~ very cute and reminded me a lot of Alaska. She was all concerned with us there and made many visits to our camp to make sure we were all in line or we weren't going to eat her sheep.
This fire pit was going 24/7 while we were there. Most people sitting around took it upon themselves to throw huge logs in to keep it going. 2 times Bill went out into the shooting range on one of the many "cease fires" to cut logs with his chain saw and we loaded them in a truck to bring them back to camp.
Fireworks getting started.
I watched kids swing on this all week and finally got the nerve up to do it myself as we were leaving. What a whole lot of fun!!!
The trees at camp in the early evening.
Since this post is getting so long I'm going to end it here and start a new post to continue.