Happy New Year

2015-12-31FinalSunset4103

A final Sunset. Normally this would be an opportunity to have a big blow out and celebrate the end of a good year and the promise of a better one to come. But instead it feels like it would be best to just ease on out of this one for a lot of reasons both defined and undefined, and see if we can’t do a little better next year. So I’ve elected to put up a sunset image taken from the deck here at blog central, to say good-bye to 2015 and wait for the dawn tomorrow to see what the sunrise brings.

Not to be all doom and gloom, there were plenty of good things happen in 2015. Things like, being in Washington DC to visit family and go to the space museum to see the airplane they named after my old pickup truck, the Enola Gay. Getting to spend time with new friends in the Blackfeet and Crow tribes up in Wyoming and Montana. Visiting Yellowstone yet again, not once but twice, Like how good is That. I was invited to shoot several rodeos in the area this summer and that brought back memories of when I was younger and could jump the fence with all my gear like a young gazelle, instead of staying up in the press box and using a long lens.

There were new people to meet. Some of them became good friends, one was very special. I got to oversee how The Institute came through the year, who got promoted (nobody) who got fired (mostly everybody), who lived, (most of who you wanted to) who died (most of the ones that needed to, some who didn’t and should have), all of the projects they managed to undertake and somehow manage to get through even with that clown show that normally operates there.

There were some milestones. The blog broke the record for the number of countries who visited and hopefully read some of the posts here as well as look at the pictures, but hey, looking at the pictures is cool. I can’t read Estonian or Cambodian, let alone understand it, so I’d be looking at the pictures too if I went to see their blog. This past year 2015 we had visitors from 76 countries. The year before that we had 66. We even had one visitor from North Korea, but then, as we got hacked, I don’t know if we count that as a plus or a minus. Our readership has more than doubled, but as many of our favorite visitors are lurkers, (but nice ones) we don’t have an accurate count of how many people were here. Scads of them, though. More than ‘scads’ actually. One scad equals maybe 100-150 or so, which makes ‘scads’ up in the thousands, even with a conservative count.

Even with all the good stuff 2015 felt like the kind of year you just want to get away from, like that guy who stands too close to you while you’re trying to put your pin number in the ATM.  It was itchy feeling. There was enough bad stuff to satisfy even the folks from Depression Anonymous, but lets not go there. We don’t want that sticking to us as we scoot out the door into 2016.

I want to take some serious time here and say Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of my friends and readers, from home and from all the over the world, and to say may you have a year that fulfills you, allows you to prosper and live free of fear and be as joyful as you allow yourself to be. Because you have the final say over that. Exercise it often as you need to. Peace and Contentment to you all.

Dwight Lutsey

P.S. Come visit us all the time in 2016. Don’t forget, put it in your calendar. “Go visit BigShotsNow today.” See you then.

The Bachelor Boys

2015-12-30BachelorBoys8886

It is early fall at Great Sand Dunes National Park. The temperature is finally cooling down and the foliage is well on its way to completing it’s fall colors. The dunes are located down in southeastern Colorado and a few weeks ago you could have fried eggs on the rocks along the river bank. Actually the river that runs through the park and in front of the dunes is called Medano creek and is completely dry on the surface during late summer and fall. If you dig down a few inches though you’ll find damp sand any time of the year. In the spring it starts to flow again on the surface and you can easily wade across it without getting your pants wet.

It is surprising cold in the early morning at this time if year. I mean really cold. If you camp out you’ll want a pretty heavy sleeping bag and you’ll probably find frost on it when you wake up. That’s mainly due to the cold air flowing down from the snow-covered Sangre De Cristo mountains that border the dunes. By mid-morning though the heat starts to build up again but you’ll still need a light jacket.

These guys have already put on their winter wear and find the shade to be more comfortable than walking around out in the sunshine. They’re also conserving their strength as the rut hasn’t started yet. These are Mule deer and they grow considerable size antlers due to the mineral content they take in while they feed. It won’t be long before these friends will be battling each other for breeding rights and they won’t be hanging out together like this again until their antlers fall off in late winter. Right now they’re all buddies and will be until the blood starts rising in a few weeks.

This lush scene is located away from the dunes several hundred yards and isn’t the type of view you expect when you’re thinking about the 750′ tall sand dunes just across the river. The sand dunes are surrounded by snow-covered mountains and is exactly the type of habitat Mule deer live in so it isn’t unusual to find herds of mulies roaming all through the park. Right now these bachelor boys don’t have a lot to do and they’re making the most of it. This must be a great time of year to be mule deer.

If you want to see other posts that feature the dunes simply type sand dunes into the search box at the top of the page.

 

Yellowstone The Swan Has Landed

2015-12-29Swan3792

We noticed lately that we have not been getting any mail here at The Institute regarding any of the reporting we have done on our swans. Especially about Tranquility, our wayward swan, who has not been seen since she went to Spring Break with Grace her schoolmate, after graduating from Swan School. Since we follow-up very closely with the subjects of our reports here at The Institute we sent one of our researchers back to Padre Island where Tranquility was last seen to find out how her life has progressed. You can read more about Tranquility here at this post  http://www.bigshotsnow.com/grace-and-tranquility/

We received tragic news. Tranquility is lost. Not as in she can’t find her way home, which sadly turned out to be the truth, but lost as in passed away. Dead. Gone forever. Her life of using bad seed, partying, and general self-destructive behavior was  the prelude to a downward spiral that she could not recover from. We found out that the actual cause of death was from a bad tattoo she got from her time at the Quill and Skin Ink shop that was supposed to cover up the kanji on the side of her neck that was mis-spelled. The Kanji was supposed to be the ideograms for her name “Tranquility” but instead, either due to simple error or a malicious practical joke, read “Hotel Bicycle”. For years she ignored it but finally decided to cover it up after she could no longer take the laughter from visiting Asian tourists. A dirty needle, some compromised ink, and blood poisoning was the result. A once beautiful creature was gone. They said the funeral was beautiful. The other swans gracefully swam out into the gulf forming a ring around her, carefully floating her body between them, until they reached the Gulf Stream and then let her slowly drift away.

We thought that was the end of the story. Then our researcher began picking up the threads of a rumor that perhaps led to another chapter. The last one in Tranquility’s life. After haunting the Tattoo parlors and Seed Shops along the beach the story began to become clearer. Some time before her death Tranquility had been trying to turn her life around. To get clean, perhaps even revisit her previous life. Visit Grace. See Yellowstone one more time. That was when she met a handsome young Cob or male swan, who was down for Spring Break, and after taking him under her wing, so to speak, the inevitable happened and she found herself with gosling.

Realizing she had made several poor decisions in her life, she was determined not to let that be her daughters fate. She petitioned the training nuns of Our Sisters of the Immaculate Plumage for the admission of her daughter, who she named Hope, to their swan school. You can read more about the Swan school here. http://www.bigshotsnow.com/synchronicity/

The nuns ever willing to forgive, accepted Hope into their fold and what you see above is the result of their training successfully completed. This is Hope at her very first performance. There on the wide sweeping bend of the Yellowstone river, at the north end of the Hayden valley, in the glorious colors of the fading sunset, she completed something her mother had never been able to do. Off to the side, out of the picture, are the entire faculty of the order of Our Sisters of the Immaculate Plumage, from the Mother Swanperior to the lowliest acolyte, watching with pride, and a little off in the distance is Grace, older now but as proud as if Hope were her own daughter.

Hope is happy with her new life and intends to be a perfectly respectable representative of the School. A credit to the Sisterhood of Swans. But she has a secret that no one knows and that is, under her left wing where no one will ever, ever see it, is a very small tattoo. In simple blue ink it is the kanji for Tranquility, correctly spelled.

 

 

5 Above And All’s Well

2051-12-28_5Above5474

It gets cold up here on the mountaintop. Not like arctic cold but cold enough you don’t want to leave any brass monkeys out. The colder it gets the harder it is to make a living. Unless that’s what you’re designed for. Many of the birds up here are designed for exactly that. We don’t see them when it’s warm out but let the temp fall below freezing and they’re everywhere.

When the fair weather birds are frozen solid or down south somewhere, these guys are in their glory. Food for them is pretty easy to find as it simply lies on top of the snow, waiting to be gathered. Plus they seem to like wallowing around in the snow, sticking their head in it, wings fluttering around, throwing the snow up in the air. They treat it like some birds treat warm water. During the day they’re scouting out where the best seed pods stick up through the snow and at night, well it’s unknown what they do at night. Probably sleep.

What they are however is an indicator that life can survive and even prosper during the long cold spells in the dead of winter. That gives one hope that if they can make it we can too. Although I’m not going out there and thrash around in the snow no matter how good those seeds taste.

Gone To Church

2015-12-26GoneToChurch6064

Church goin’ was a big part of a cowboy’s life. He would probably have been raised by a god-fearing family with a mother that made sure he was conversant with what was in the good book whether he could read or not. A few of these cowboys could read some and would check the book every once in a while to see if they was stayin’ on the straight and narrow. Others could recite a few psalms that had been drummed into their heads sometimes with the aid of a wooden spoon, especially if they was wool gatherin’ of a Sunday morning instead of payin’ attention.

Church played a lot of different roles in a cowboy’s life. First if he was a hard-core sinner and had a lot to answer for he could go there and get some sort of relief by the promise of salvation if only he would change his wicked ways. Which he always promised his self that he would if given another chance.

Plus sittin’ in church meant he didn’t have to do any chores at the moment so he could relax and socialize a little. Socializing was always a big part of Sunday morning after the service was over. All you had to do was sit through the Reverend’s sermon and try not to think of what brimstone was. You knew what fire was but brimstone, that must be some damn awful stuff. If you made it that far you was home free. You’d gotten enough salvation that there was the possibility of redemption, or least making it through til next Sunday, plus there was that big feed the ladies of the women’s auxiliary put on. Ham and at least thirty pounds of mashed potatoes with ham gravy and biscuits and all kinds of side dishes. A man could plumb hurt himself eatin’ out there under the cottonwoods.

Course one of the biggest reason to go to church was the side benefit of gettin’ to say hello to several of the young ladies who always came to church. It was a wonder that they came there so often-like, because what horrible kind of sinful life had they been livin’ that they needed churchin so bad. A cowboy you could understand, he was most likely sinnin’ as he walked out of the bunkhouse every mornin’ and that was just the start of the day. A man could pile up a powerful stack of sins in a long day. But what could a young girl do who didn’t even chew, let alone spit that would make her attend church that regular. It was certainly something to ponder throughout the week.

Because you had the possibility of talking with that farmer’s daughter, the one with the blond hair and that one dimple in her left cheek every Sunday, you needed to be looking like a successful cowboy, not one of those down at the heels type that wore his work clothes to church. It was well know that young women could not abide scruffy lookin’ cowboys so if you was any kind of man at all you saved up til you could get some church goin’ clothes, and of course that included a new fancy hat that you only wore to church.

Slicked back hair, new shirt, brushed off boots, and a washin’ out at the rain barrel and you was ready for the day. Course it went without sayin’ that the new hat was front and center as it said who you really  was. His work hat, the one left back at the bunkhouse, sweat-stained, hole in the crown from being thrown through the barb-wire fence out at the line cabin, was a beat-up old felt hat with a Montana Crease made famous by that Texas Ranger Gus McCrae. That one was as good as the best cattle workin’ dog a cowboy could have. It fit, it stayed on, you could use it to fan the fire back up under the coffee pot and it was paid for. This new one was right out of the 1910 Sears catalog and was what they was callin’ back east, a 10 gallon hat. That cowboy turned actor Tom Mix wore one in that movin’ picture show over in Sheridan and it looked pretty darn good. Besides that pretty little farmers daughter had been lookin’ at him wearin’ it and she even smiled a little. So it looked like it was worth the eight dollars he give for it.

Church was only seven days away again. Maybe next time he’d ask the young lady to go for a walk after the meal was over.

 

Merry Christmas

2015-12-25ChristmasCardclick image to enlarge

Merry Christmas to you all. I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all the very best of the holidays with the hopes that you truly have Peace and Contentment in your lives. The holidays all mean different things to different people and no matter how you do, or don’t, celebrate them, it is still a time that draws people together.

The blog has seemed to do that even more so this year. The drawing people in part I mean, as we have had thousands of visitors from here in the States and in 2014 we had over 66 different countries visit the blog. This year we are ahead of that total. So a special thanks and Holiday Greetings to all of our International readers. If I could say thank you in each of your languages I would. However, because of the holidays The Director of The Institute and I, gave our entire Linguistic department plus the rest of the staff, even the interns and other minions, the entire holiday season off. Clear into next year. Yes I know, that is unprecedented, but we just felt the spirit of fellowship and good will this year and let sentiment run away with us.

The gorgeous landscape above is actually from where both I and the imaginary Institute are located. High above the plains in the mountains North of Ft Collins, Colorado. This is where I live and where the more trustworthy of our interns from The Institute pass by everyday when we go down the mountain to get the mail or head out on one of our many incredible adventures. It is a real pleasure to be able to share this beautiful sight with you.

I am Dwight Lutsey the blogmaster, and along with The Director of The Institute, who as always will remain nameless, would like to say Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and the very best wishes to you and yours. Make sure you visit us regularly throughout the rest of this year and the next so you don’t miss a single extraordinary event that happens here at BigShotsNow the blog.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Horse Spinning

This post has been moved to OpenChutes.com. All future postings of Powwows, Indian Relay Races, Rodeos and Rendezvous will be posted there from now on exclusively. So if you’re looking for new images and posts for all those events attended this year, plus all the old posts posted on BigShotsNow.com check out OpenChutes.com. See you there!

2015-09-02CrowFairRodeo9275

We don’t normally repost images here on BigShotsNow but some information that has surfaced and been made public require our clarifying facts regarding this picture. This shot was originally posted on 2015-09-02 and referred to events taking place at the Crow Fair rodeo. http://www.bigshotsnow.com/crow-fair-2015-rodeo/

Originally there was a comment attached to this photo referring to an unusual way to dismount a bucking horse when one tired of riding it. We have to tender an apology as we were mistaken in providing that information. This is not what is happening at all.

What is happening in the image is not a regular or common shot of a cowboy falling off his horse, but is in fact a horse and rider participating in one of the newest and most spectacular events on the rodeo circuit. That event is Horse Spinning. Many of you who attend rodeo events regularly, have known about this event for sometime but have been remiss in sharing this information, (I’m looking at you, Eddie) so we misreported a very important event when it should have received worldwide attention due to its uniqueness.

It is a simple appearing event but that is totally misleading as this event brings into play every skill that the horse and rider possesses. What you see in the image above is the rider entering into position so the horse, who is just stepping into the first part of the circle, can complete a rotation. The horse has to have complete control of its bucking ability as it needs to know exactly how and when to ‘Unload” the cowboy while maintaining enough speed to keep its revolutions up, and the cowboy has to have dexterity and strength and an ability to overcome dizziness similar to what astronauts are tested for, to keep the horse totally focused on “getting his rev’s in”. Where the cowboy places his foot on the side of the horses body allows him to be the pivot man and determines how much strength he needs to have, to pull the horse around him in a 360° circle. The amount of bucking the horse does in his circuitous route around the cowboy and the cowboys ability to remain properly suspended in the proper position while spinning around with his horse, will give him a point rating for the event.

One to three rotations of the pair will give the team a score of two to four depending on how stable the cowboy looked while competing and how the judges viewed their performance. Turning in a performance of eleven rotations or more within the eight seconds allowed for the event will send the team to the National hands down. This team was only able to get one and a half revolutions in the eight seconds and were  ultimately disqualified due to the cowboy letting his left foot leave the horse’s side. His foot must be firmly stuck to the horse’s side throughout the event. One of the rules applied to this competition event is that once airborne, the cowboy’s foot can not leave the horse’s side or use his foot to hook into the stirrup or the team will be disqualified and given no score. That’s what happened here. Tough luck for this team.

It was a bitter disappointment for the team as they were thought to be one of the frontrunners in this event and destined to bring this event to a much broader audience by attending the Nationals. But this is rodeo. One day you win, another you don’t. There’s always the next time when fortunes can change in a heartbeat, or a rotation in this case. Be sure to watch for this event in upcoming rodeos. This will be a showstopper right up there with bull riding. For more information on this event and how to enter contact The Director at The Institute and we’ll send you to the proper people to talk to.