End of an Era: Farewell Sweet KK

by doug 16. January 2014 03:58



Wednesday January 15, 2014.


Today was KK's last day. After nearly 34 years (an amazing run for any horse) her old body was shutting down to the point where the inevitable was becoming obvious. The last few months were certainly a cue but the final weeks, as you might suspect, were an indication that it was (sigh) the beginning of the end.


Poor KK. Her old body was failing from all directions. Too much happening at once.  She knew. Virginia knew.  God knew.


KK has been in Virginia's and (sister) Lizzie's life for 20+ years. Where were you in 1979? Think about that to get the sense of history and the countless rides in Griffith Park with Ally, the other horse they had together.




Before we were married,  I was introduced to KK and discovered their special bond right away. Decades of companionship and attentive care connected them in ways unseen by the rest of us.  It's the same for any pet you pay attention to over years and years. You know them intimately and they'll surprise you by how much they've been paying attention to your habits.  KK knew which pocket of Virginia's to stick her nose in to sniff out carrots and treats, the most basic of her tricks.


Of all her years and years, she was only in discomfort during her final weeks, as best we could tell. Just a sliver compared to the rest of her happy days. Virginia looked after her in every detail.  As a horse, how do you get to live so long and be so happy? You have Virginia and Lizzy caring for you, that's how. The sisters did very well for her.




In reality not all are treated as well as she was.  So many horses are mistreated, ignored or abandoned completely. More now than ever. It's nice to think that in some way her abundant care made up for all the less fortunate animals out there. She had a very long and very happy life. Lucky, lucky girl.


So now we begin the transition to KK, the memory.  It'll take some time, some tears and a big adjustment.  We know she's in a better place now. Pain free, running and bucking with all the carrots and wild grass she can eat.  Good for her. 


With that in mind we are able to move forward just a bit easier.  Farewell KK, we'll miss you always.




Did You Know?
• KK is short for Khemera
• KK is a pure Arabian breed
• Her grandfather (Khemosabi) is a world famous Arabian champion: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khemosabi


Video:  KK and Me from 2009


More pictures:






Ha ha ha, Jalama Beach. Very funny.

by doug 4. August 2013 18:03

Tony and the kids came down from Portland (OR) to visit us and the rest of the family in L.A. GREAT to catch up with them, we had fantastic visit. Seriously fun.


One weekend we packed up all  the beach gear and headed back up to Jalama State Beach for some easy camping, relaxing, perhaps some smores around the campfire – all that fun stuff.


Yet we were reminded that mother nature makes all final decisions during these outings. Oh we were treated kindly at first, but then . . . . .


THANKS to TONY for putting together this hilarious video of our unforgettable family adventure – featuring Virginia, Tony, Tommy, Lizzy & Chris, Elder, Elise, Jesse, Amber and of course our hero: Poncho!




The kind strangers that helped save our vacation . . .

by doug 29. July 2013 06:04

"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans", so the quote from John Lennon goes.  And so it went for us on the first day of our multi-day camping/backpacking Yosemite adventure.  Little did we know that the adventure would start with a blown radiator on a very hot day in the Owens Valley.
Between Bishop and Mammoth Lakes along Hwy 395 is a section of road called the Sherwin Grade.  Going north, it ascends roughly 2500 feet in elevation in a 10 mile stretch.  On any summer day this will test the cooling system of your vehicle.  Ours failed on the way to Tom's Place (a small town with lots of campgrounds) where we had planned to tent one night at the East Fork campground.
Given that the (original) radiator in our 4Runner was fairly clogged, I was pushing uphill speeds around 60 mph in a loaded car and had the A/C going, the Sherwin grade had an easy win that went like so:


Just after I noticed the temperature gage pinned beyond the red, I pulled to the shoulder as a loud "POP" sound could be heard from under the hood, steam and boiling radiator fluid gushed violently from the radiator's reservoir container.  Life was happening, that's for sure.
Cars whizzed by in their own struggle battling the grade, non stopping for us. Can't really blame them.  So there we were:
4 PM on a Hot Saturday afternoon
No cell service, courtesy of Sprint
Not enough water to refill the iron hot radiator.
The engine smelled horrible and I wondered if there was more damage than just the radiator.
But sometimes there are delicious silver linings that go along with situations like this.  For us, they came in the form of generous strangers and just dumb luck:
• With no cell service, Virginia tried dialing 911 anyway.  The call wouldn’t connect but after pocketing her phone for about 15 minutes somehow the 911 operator was able to connect back to her phone.  We started hearing a tiny voice from Virginia's shorts.  "Hello? Do you still need help?" Hello??" Virginia took the call and we got connected to the local AAA towing service out of Bishop. How did this happen? We really don't know.

• While we waited, a friendly CHP officer pulled up and offered to stay with us until our tow arrived in about an hour.  We said we'd be fine, but thanks anyway.

• After he left, storm clouds covered us in blissfully cool and breezy shade while Sam, the friendly AAA tow guy showed up and prepped the car for the tow back down the grade to Bishop.

• While the 3 of use rode in the front of his Ford F450 Super Duty tow truck,  Sam took a call from his cell phone (AT&T). It was the CHP officer making sure we had our ride and weren't still stranded. Nice.

• Sam took the car to Bishop Radiator and Auto Repair, which unfortunately was closed for the day (Saturday) and are not open on Sundays. We'd have to find a motel near by for (at least) one night. However, Sam gave us the cell number of the radiator guy.  "Call him tomorrow morning. I'm pretty sure he'll be able to help you." I was thankful for the tip, but truly skeptical.  Sunday auto service in Bishop? I wasn't so sure about that.

• As the tow truck pulls out from the radiator shop, we're wondering how far we'd have to lug our stuff to the nearest motel.  We look down the street about 100 yards to see a Motel 6, Best Western, Vagabond Inn and a Denny's. Nice.  We got one of the last rooms available at the Best Western and settled down with some cold beer and the Sierra channel for the evening.

• In the morning I walked back to the car, called the number and left a message.  While going through more stuff in the back seat I was trying to figure out how to deal with all the scenario's that could play out.  We'd probably have to wait until Monday for a repair, which meant we'd forfeit an expensive reservation in Yosemite, and be late to the next reservation after that.  Or perhaps we'd have to rent a car while a major repairs were done. 

• A friendly black cat appeared at my feet and I got a little distracted while scratching her neck. Just then, my phone rang and I had the biggest silver lining moment of all.   During a short conversation with Christian, he informed me that he'd be down to the shop in about 25 minutes, had the right radiator in stock, and the job would take about 2 hrs.  We'd be on our way before noon. Wow. I couldn't believe our luck.

• During the repair we took a swim at the motel pool while the valley temps started their daily climb. We then took a early lunch at Denny's,  checked out of the motel, walked back to the radiator place, paid the bill and bam: back on the Sherwin Grade with a fresh suit of armor to claim revenge on yesterday's loss.


So a big thank you to all these kind strangers that help us in our hour of need. Especially Christian at Bishop Radiator. Sometimes angels come with dirty fingernails, and that's just fine with me.
A tip to all my friends who travel U.S. Route 395:  If your vehicle is running hot or acting up near Bishop or you can get towed to Bishop, here are some resources that we found invaluable and trustworthy and you shouldn't hesitate to put these in your contact list:
Bishop Radiator & Auto Repair

1280 North Main Street

Bishop, CA 93514



Christian or Jose will hook you up and get you going. You won't be disappointed.  A special thanks to these guys - especially Christian who opened the shop on a Sunday morning to get us on our way.  A more pleasant mechanic, you'll hardly find anywhere!


Mr. K Automotive

24Hr AAA Towing and Auto Service

175 W. Grove St.

Bishop, CA, 93514

760-873-7149 or 760-872-7611



These guys work out of Mammoth Lakes and Bishop. Sam or Bob know where to tow your vehicle for the service you need.


And if your phone shows "zero bars" yet you're really stuck, try dialing 9-1-1 anyway. Somehow they can connect to your phone on a magic frequency to get you help.


Have you ever been saved by the kindness of strangers?  Let me know, I'd like to hear your story.


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