MONGOLIAN PONY EXPRESS RACE ~ The Fabulous Stuff of Adventuring


(photos by Charles Van Wyck, The Adventurists. Blue text in quotes from National Geographic , August 6, 2014, by Ashleigh N. DeLuca)

A photo of five riders on horseback finishing the Mongol Derby in 2010.BE STILL MY HEART………….Hello Genghis Khan, Mongolia’s Wild Horses, Centuries Old Postal Run, and a test to the body and spirit of 21st Century Riders.  On a wing and a hoof and a prayer, $14,000 entry fee, you too (if you pass muster)  can sign on……………

A photo of three riders on the Mongol Derby stopping for water with their horses.

In 2009, a UK group called The Adventurists brought back, to life and contest, the pony express run of 600 miles that Genghis Khan began in the 1200’s.  “At the postal route’s zenith, a letter could cross from Kharkhorin in the east to the Caspian Sea on the far western edge of the empire, a distance of some 4,225 miles (6,800 kilometers), in two weeks (an average of about 300 miles, or 480 kilometers, a day.”

The Soviets, in efforts to erace Genghis Khan from history and memory, stopped the mail carriers in 1949.   “Further complicating the challenge, the widely varied Mongolian landscape is difficult to prepare for: high passes, wooded hills, river crossings, wetlands and floodplains, sandy semiarid dunes, rolling hills, and dry riverbeds, as well as the famous wide-open grasslands. Of course, all of this terrain is navigated while adjusting to the erratic temperaments of a new semiwild horse every 25 miles.” A photo of a line of horses awaiting incoming riders during the Mongol Derby.

“But more riders are signing up every year. Last year, A photo of Lara Prior racing in the Mongol Derby in 2013.  (photo, Richard Dunwoody, the Adventurists)

Prior-Palmer (pictured above), a 19-year-old British rider, won the race in seven days, making her the first female rider to win the Mongol Derby. This year’s field includes riders from 16 countries, including Germany, Switzerland, Australia, the U.S., the U.K., Iceland, China, and Ireland.

Rose Sandler, a 32-year-old biochemical engineer from Pipersville, Virginia, has been preparing for the past four months. She was a last-minute addition to the competition when a place opened up unexpectedly. “I’ve been told that it breaks you down to the basics of human existence,” she says.”

30 horses are used along the trail by each one of the 40 plus riders who sign up.  This year over a thousand horses were made ready. They are stationed along the trails with Mongol herders, to whom horses are a profound cultural presence. They are well-paid for their skills during the races. 

 “High Asia is where horses were first saddled and tamed and ridden, so it’s one of the oldest equestrian cultures, and they really admire and respect the horse in a kind of spiritual way,” Willings explains.  “Every ger, the herders’ portable yurt-like homes, has ropes made from the tail hairs of its owner’s favorite horses, and the countryside is littered with rock cairns called ovoos where herders have placed tails or skulls of particularly beloved horses.”

“Herders write songs for their horses and serenade them as they watch over them or when they are milking their mares. The national drink of Mongolia is fermented mare’s milk, also known as airag. Besides riding for the title of the 2014 winner of the Mongol Derby, the winner also gets the honor of drinking the first bowl of airag.”

A photo of a woman caring for a horse during a break on the Mongol Derby. (photo credit, Quentin Moreau, in National Geographic)

“….the riders are weighed wearing their riding clothes, an empty pack, and an empty water container, while holding their Mongolian saddle and bridle; in total they cannot weigh more than 187 pounds (85 kilograms). They are allowed an additional 11 pounds (5 kilograms) in their packs after being weighed.”

The horses remain part wild, newly caught, tamed barely enough to be ridden if you’re strong of limb and heart.  Riders are thrown often, riders break bone and rip flesh, some sustain punctured lungs, broken pelvises, torn ligaments. 

This year’s winner, Sam (Samantha) Jones, Australian who’s been riding since her teens.

SAM JONES MAKES THE FINISH.

“I got lost several times, I was quite good at that but I always found my way back. I never got  really sick, there were times I thought i might vomit, & there were times I thought i might poop my pants, but that’s what you get when you do something as extreme as this, but I never got really sick. I had my share of aches and pains but my body got better and better as i went along & I adapted and yeah, I could happily keep riding. Give me another horse and I’ll go.

“The 40 year old mining operator chose to ride alone for most of the race. She took the gamble of camping out past HS26 yesterday evening, with only 45 minutes riding time left in the day; despite the knowledge that bad weather was forecast and a lost horse would certainly cost her the race. It was bold decisions that earned her victory as much as speedy riding and good navigation skills.” (From The Adventurists)

(click here for the full National Geographic Article)

This is quite some bunch!    READ MORE ABOUT “THE ADVENTURISTS”  click>>>HERE<<<<,

Gypsies of Coney Island ~ the Mood Seers.


THE MOOD SEERS OF CONEY ISLAND

Angel Snake GirlMy chiefest Coney Island thrill was the characters around every corner, off any curb, or smack in front of you demanding explanations,  spare change,  a kiss, or a shot at their gaming booths for 2 bits.  I flesh them out in my novel NOISE….Satellite Bob, the loony tunes ice cream thrower. Oklahoma Mary and Just Plain Mary at the ticket booths. Louisa running the carousel weepy redeyed at the chance her husband wasn’t coming back (a mafia hit-man, she never knew). Jazz and his Penny Arcade, his dreams of Circus Circus Vegas. Nelson who did stand up ballet on speeding Go Karts steering with his knees at 25 mph. People at the end of their rope who didn’t know it, or did too keenly and wore a dangerous edge.  Bums and heroes, the shifty and hallucinating, hard workers at the start of something big, romance in the air.  And the hopeless souls given up on endless tries, embracing failure.

And then there were the gypsies.  Brooklyn born but east Europe swathed in brocades and satins and velvets and fringes, wheels and deals, alert to every shift in the breeze, and combat ready.  They occupied four trailers at the far reaches, the empty lot at the border of the amusement park.  There was one well heeled, oiled up, Hollywood camera ready gorgeous guy who strutted his stuff in black satin shirts and slacks, embroidered cowboy boots, in charge of myriad women and children under his protective wing and not concealed .45 on his hip. He ran the store fronts where fortunes were told and taken in equal measure. 

One day he called me over to paint a sign on their window.  He told me what he wanted, I quoted a price, he said go to it, and I laid on.  The door was open to hot summers.  Inside, curtains were strung uneasily across parts of the room, saturated in incense.   Costly consultations got you into a private back space of more curtains, a candle or two,  a card table covered with a tapestry, a crystal ball, and one of the highly made up, bejeweled, ebony tressed, black-eyed fortune teller women.  I tried not to listen. Curiosity got the better of me. 

After two days of painting I heard a pattern in the soft-spoken low down that filled the room with hope, warnings, and tales of unimaginable prosperity. Change. Change was afoot.  Change was guaranteed.

Which is why I thought to write this out today.  I’ve been in a mood, not yet putting the finger on what’s off in me.  So…..We all go through ups and downs and varying miasma in a life.  I don’t much believe in the trendy business of attention deficit or polar stuff.  To me, that’s the human experience and if we get used to that as normal we can better handle the rises and falls of being alive one day to the next day. 

Back to Brooklyn.  I’d be painting the front window, dodging busy foot traffic along the sidewalk.  I’d hear through the open door, past the thick curtains, those steamy summer days.  I’d hear the gypsy seers absolutely nail the visitor’s travails.  Not by knowing what was wrong with the individual on the opposite chair so much, but by having figured out what was wrong with mankind. 

It went like this.

“You are having trouble with your job.” 

“Someone at work is trying to hurt you.” 

“The person you love has been distant, for the last three days….looking at you funny…making you afraid.”

“You have a terrible pain, right there, for a week now….”

“You want to find new work but nothing seems to be working out right, so much bad luck.” 

“Your landlord is being unkind, threatening.”

“Something is wrong with your car but you don’t know what.” 

“You need money.”

Then,

“Good fortune is headed your way….on Tuesday!”  and

“Play the numbers 6 and 17.  You will have good luck.” and

“Tonight…tell her you love her!”

It didn’t hit me til later in my own life that what I overheard in the fortune teller’s decisive proclamations were the universal truths of the trouble with living. The fortune tellers were never wrong. The visitor nodded:  Spot-on ~~~ all of it!  Yes!  You’re right!  Yes!!  How did you know! 

It applies, in varying degrees, to every one of us. 

Whatever we’re facing with waking up or by the time we hit the bed, it’s likely on the gypsy list of prognosis, prospects, and cures.  If we go ahead and solve the car, landlord, job, sweetheart, and pain problems,  well, I guarantee we’ll all have good fortune starting Tuesday.  It’s the way of the world.  Chin up. Damn the torpedoes.

************************************************************

Postscript:  When I was almost through painting the window sign and pictures for the gypsies I was starting to wonder if I’d get cash for my labor.  Indeed, 3 letters short of HAVE YOUR FORTUNE R…., everything else completed and looking rather spectacular, the patriarch appeared, brought out, proudly held up for inspection 2 chickens (alive and squawking)  as my pay. I declined.  I want cash, right now, uh, in case I can’t find you later, thanks ever so.  Possibly not wishing himself bad luck from the unknown powers of the itinerant street painter, he paid me in full and even smiled.  I smiled too.  I not only held the deal, but had the cure to the human condition illustrated before me.  Not bad.  Ah, Coney Island.  Amusement is only a part of you.

top ‘Snake Girl’ photo credit:  Louis Tracciola;

Click here ~ fabulous Tracciola website of old & new NY

LAUREN BACALL ~ Bye Baby


  Lauren Bacall didn’t know it  (and I could kick myself for not telling her) but I adored her from the day I was born….or at least could read and had figured out the difference between Betty Furness selling Fridgidaires and Mrs Bogart selling paradise on the glossy pages of Life and Silver Screen.

The second best thing that ever happened to Betty Perske ~~ after falling in love with Humphrey B when she was 18 ~~~ was that she was born in Brooklyn.  She’s quoted as saying that growing up in NYC, riding the buses and subways, you find out fast:  The world doesn’t owe you a damn thing. Bless her heart.  She may have been attached at the hip to fabulous Bogie, but she maintained a glorious sense of independence, a radiant kind of wholeness that Katherine Hepburn also had, nobody’s fool, hard-working, smart, sexy. 

Bacall says she virtually ended her career marrying Humphrey Bogart (wouldn’t have changed it for the world ~~ happiest years of her life) after the success of Hemingway’s To Have and Have Not;  made a couple of stinker movies after Key Largo, and spent the next ten years proving she could act.  And never stopped working, loved the theatre, loved what she did and we loved her doing it. 

I was probably most touched to read (excellent NYT bio by somebody who loved her, not just an empty page) that she said she’d lived a magical life.  She knew she lived a magical life.  Hoorah, Lauren !!!

She sparkled in it.  By Hollywood excesses she lived modestly, and happily. When she gives her: ”You know how to whistle, don’t you Steve?” line to Bogart, watch the camera cut to his reaction when she exits the room.  The man loses it,  he’s floored, he’s laughing at his own stunned, totally impressed adoring that altered his senses. That’s a drug worth taking. It’s called feeling, and sensing and responding and being alive and in love. Thanks for that.  Both of you. We all felt it. Sweet.

Lauren Bacall   September 1924 ~ August 2014

The Robin’s Gone ~ 7/21/51 ~ 8/11/14 ~ Robin Williams, RIP


 

Oh Robin.  Living a life by impulse is good.  This was a bad one.  Thanks for Popeye.  Thanks for Moscow on Hudson.  Thanks for Mork. 

It’s been good to know ya.

 

CONEY ISLAND RIDES          photo Empty Coney Island, Jim Lee 1973

Cattle Call


All the world loves

a good tune and by God we can use one in these times.

Keep your eye on the horizon…..Winning performance: Derek Klingenberg, 35, from Peabody, Kansas, merely puts the brass instrument to his lips and blasts out some upbeat tunes - a favorite being Royals by Lorde - before the cows come flocking

Caught on camera: In a bid to prove the bizarre phenomena, Mr Klingenberg recently filmed himself in action

 Quite a sight: Indeed, at the beginning of his video he is seen sat in an empty field but as he continues to play cows suddenly crop up on the horizon

A farmer’s ingenious approach

to a round up. 

Cow chorus: They are heard mooing along to the melody, seemingly enjoying the performance

Meet  Derek Klingenberg, 35, American Farmer~ Peabody, Kansas.

And a herd of his buddies.

And his trombone.

Novel idea: Herding cattle has never been so easy for one farmer thanks to his trombone-playing skills

Did Hopalong Cassidy, John Wayne, or Rowdy Yates know about this? 

Mooooooooo.

photo credit daviddilworth.om

More on  Klingenberg Farms Studios YouTube   


Raju The Elephant, Freed, Cries Tears of Joy


The Day the Elephant Cried

The rescue took place under the cover of darkness, as fewer people would be around for the dangerous rescue and the animal could be protected from the heat of the sun   This is the incredible story of Raju, an Indian Elephant held in spiked chains for FIFTY YEARS by over 25 different owners, beaten, starved, using Raju to beg.  The North London charity “WILDLIFE – SOS” was alerted by the Uttar Pradesh Forest Deptartment, then they arranged for a secret court order to rescue him, and transport him in the dark of night to a game reserve 350 miles away.  Once rescued, he was loaded into an open-top lorry, given additional sedation and escorted 350 miles to the charity's Elephant Conservation and Care Centre at Mathura  The veterinarian (below) who cut his shackles said Raja cried, Wildlife SOS vet Dr Yaduraj Khadpekar tries to free Raju from the chains which he was kept in for 50 years tears rolled down the elephant’s face when he was freed. Raju knew, the team said, they had come to help him. The long, arduous journey that followed has brought him to safety inside THE ELEPHANT CONSERVATION AND CARE CENTER in Mathura.  And his life begins.  And it happened, they all noted, on America’s Independence Day, too.  Freedom. Freedom is the most essential element of life.  >>>(Full Story, UK Daily Mail)<<<

(UK Daily Mail) “Raju the elephant was left bleeding from spiked shackles and living on hand-outs from passing tourists after he was capured and tied up by his ‘owner’.

Ms Binepal said: ‘The poachers either slaughter the mother, or they drive the herd into traps that are small enough only for the babies to fall into. The mother cries for her baby for days after he’s been stolen – it is a sickening trade. The calves are then tied and beaten until they submit to their owners – their spirits are effectively broken.

‘We discovered Raju’s case was particularly tragic.

‘He’d been poached as a calf and then he has been sold on and sold on. Incredibly we believe he has had up to 27 owners – he’s been treated as a commodity every two years of his life.

‘By the time we found him in July 2013 he was in a pathetic condition. He had no shelter at night, and was being used as a prop to beg from dawn until dusk from tourists visiting the sites of India.

‘He hasn’t been fed properly and tourists started giving him sweet food items and because he was in a state of hunger and exhaustion he began eating plastic and paper. 

But, after 50 years of torture, the animal cried tears of relief after he was rescued by a wildlife charity in a daring midnight operation – fittingly on American

Over the weekend, Raju received emergency medical attention to his wounds as well as a bath and food

Independence Day.”

Safe at last.  Bless the hearts of all who saved Raju:  the 10 Veterinarians and Wildlife Workers of Uttar Pradesh Forest Department of India, the 20 Forestry Officers, 6 Policemen, the Elephant Conservation and Care Center in Mathura, and the North London Charity Team: WILDLIFE SOS.    

Bless Raju most of all.

North London-based charity Wildlife SOS stepped in to save Raju after learning of his plight in IndiaWILDLIFE SOS (London) is hoping to raise £10,000 for Raju’s continued care in the ELEPHANT CONSERVATION AND CARE CENTER in Mathura, India.

 

SPARHAWK PAINTINGS ~~ Now on Tote Bags & Pillows!!


A brand new feature on my fabulous RedBubble~Australia site! 

Trevor's Treasure Island by Barbara Sparhawk

They now offer prints of ALL MY HUNDREDS OF PAINTINGS AND DRAWINGS displayed with them, printed on TOTE BAGS and PILLOWS !! They’re really pretty, sturdy canvas, black handles, and the paintings on both sides.  They’re an excellent price, in the range of $15 – $20.  And of course, there it is, every day you head out the door or to the beach,

Jody's Fragrant Garden by Barbara Sparhawk

the hills or dales, office or playing field, an original piece of Sparhawk Art, totally unique, beautiful colors, and on top of that….practical. 

The Cat Who Loved Flowers by Barbara Sparhawk

(From the Redbubble Site:) “Enter the Redbubble Tote bag.

An especially durable, poly poplin fabric, double sided, full bleed printed, incredibly beautiful carrying device. With a comfortable black cotton shoulder strap and available in three sizes there’s no limit to the exciting things you can carry about. Or the amount of alcohol you can sneak into work.

              

  • Selected design printed on both sides
  • Three square sizes available: 13”, 16”, 18″
  • 1” wide super strong cotton shoulder strap
  • Soft yet hard-wearing 100% spun Polyester Poplin fabric
  • Capable of carrying a potentially infinite amount of exciting things.”

Dragon Fly Paradisio by Barbara Sparhawk

Xena, Yellow Rock Star Lab by Barbara Sparhawk          Lady Bug Voyager by Barbara Sparhawk

 

      Take a look on RedBubble ~ Australia.  Thanks for coming by!

Click here>>>>>SPARHAWK on REDBUBBLE      for a Visit

PS     I’ve been with RedBubble for about 5 years and have never once disappointed in the work they do for me. They’re always first class, totally professional, to be trusted for good products!