Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Horses, Horses and Burros Too!

Anyone who knows my better half knows that she loves horses!  Having lived with her for over 36 years, I am very aware of this passion… Actually, when we first met, she owned a horse named Ranger, but after we looked at our finances at the time, I convinced her to sell him.  For some unknown reason, she still married me!

So… We were in central Nebraska just a little west of Kearney.  I’d turned north at Elm Creek from US Hwy. 30, (Lincoln Highway), onto US Hwy highway 183 and I’d driven a few miles.


After leaving the Platte River valley…with some rolling hills showing up along the way…Laurie said that it would be great if we would see some wild horses galloping across the plains.  As we passed this field of corn…we came across a sight that she hadn’t expected!


The surprise worked!  When I turned into this federal government property…the Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse and Burro Facility, she was more than a little excited..!

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is an agency which is a part of the United States Department of the Interior.  The BLM administers American public lands, totaling approximately 247.3 million acres, or about 12.5% of the total landmass of the country!  In addition, the Agency also manages 700 million acres of the subsurface mineral estate underlying federal, state, and private lands across the country. With approximately 11,600 permanent employees and about 2,000 seasonal employees, this equals roughly 21,000 acres per employee.


These signs at the entrance describe the nature and source of the facilities feral residents…the wild horses and burros.  They also provide the necessary information, i.e., a starting point for anyone who wants to adopt one of these ‘surplus’ animals…


This is an overview of a few of the corrals or pens for the wild horses/mustangs that have been removed from federal lands…

By definition, a mustang is a free-roaming horse of the North American west that first descended from horses brought to the Americas by the Spanish.  Mustangs are often referred to as wild horses, but there is debate over terminology.  Because they are descended from once-domesticated horses, they can also be classified as feral horses.  In 1971, the United States Congress recognized Mustangs as "living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West, which continue to contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people."  Today, Mustang herds vary in the degree to which they can be traced to original Iberian horses.


Laurie captured this photo of one of these magnificent horses at his watering trough… You will notice that he is in terrific shape!  She observed that the horses were very well fed, and were being provided with the best hay, oats and Omolene. 

There wasn’t a puny or run-down looking horse among the hundreds of horses being housed at this BLM facility.  We talked to one of the workers who told us that he’s employed to come by to feed and water the horses a couple of times a day, seven days a week.

The BLM manages all free-roaming horses and burros on public lands across 10 western states.  They classify these animals as feral, but are also obligated to protect them under the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971.  As horses have few natural predators, populations have grown substantially. The BLM estimates that as of 2009, there were nearly 37,000 horses and burros on BLM-managed rangelands.  Purportedly, that is 10,000 more animals than can exist in balance with other public rangeland resources and uses.  I was amazed to learn that The Bureau of Land Management holds about 32,000 additional animals in long-and short-term holding facilities, adopting out several thousand of them each year.


Have no doubt…these horses are wild!  This group was eyeing Laurie as she took their picture.  They were huffing and snorting at this strange being who might represent a threat in their eyes…

This facility is wide open for visitors.  There is a rudimentary road around the facility past all of the holding pens.  Laurie spent a lot of time outside the car by the fence line taking photos and talking to the horses and burros.  We were told that with the advent of the Internet, fewer visitors actually stop by to check out the horses.  Most adoptions these days are apparently initiated on-line.


In addition to the hundreds of horses, the facility is also home to a handful of wild burros.  While most of the animals at BLM Elm Creek were wary and unapproachable, these Sicilian burros were quite friendly and not at all intimidated by their human visitors.


Actually, they were looking for a scratch and a snack if one was available! 

The first donkeys/burros to reach what is now the United States may have crossed the Rio Grande with Juan de Oñate in April 1598.  From that time on they spread northward, finding use in missions and mines.  Donkeys were documented as present in what today is Arizona in 1679.  By the Gold Rush years of the 19th century, the burro was the beast of burden of choice of early prospectors in the western United States.  With the end of the placer mining boom, many of them escaped or were abandoned, and a feral population established itself.

FYI…a burro is a small donkey.  One source indicated that there are less than 5,000 feral/wild burros in the USA, with Arizona, Nevada and California having the largest populations of these attractive former beasts of burden.


This was the only horse that was in with the wild burros.  Where we live here in East Tennessee, many burros/donkeys are employed as guard animals for cattle and horses.  They are fearless and will raise the alarm and attack any predator that intrudes on or threatens their ‘herd’. 


Here a few more curious wild horses checking Laurie out…

Back in 2009, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar proposed a new approach to restore the health of America’s wild horse herds as well as the public rangelands that support them.  His proposal included the possible creation of "wild" horse preserves on the productive grasslands of the Midwest and East.  The proposal also included changes which would make adoptions more flexible in order to encourage more people to adopt horses.  It appears that like most other legislation in front of Congress, nothing has been done with this proposal!


To say that the BLM’s role in managing the wild horse and burro population under the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, is an understatement.  There have been suits and countersuits, claims that horses have been sold to investors and ended up at slaughter houses, passionate efforts to expand available lands for these animals, population control through sterilization and also to increase adoptions.  To learn more about this topic, you can go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wild_and_Free-Roaming_Horses_and_Burros_Act_of_1971.


This horse seems to be saying, “Please adopt me so I can run over green fields and pastures!”  It was nice to see that the BLM was taking such great care of these horses and burros, but it was a bit sad that they are penned up and can’t really run across the grasslands as they would like.  I know that we fantasized about buying several hundred acres of land and adopting a herd of these wild horses and burros and letting them run free…

Interesting in learning more about these horses and burros?  Perhaps you’d like to adopt a horse or burro… Check out the possibilities at  https://www.blm.gov/adoptahorse/.  On this site, you will find excellent and extensive photos of the horses and burros that are up for adoption.  The site contains many beautiful photos!  Apparently, on-site adoptions are not available at the Elm Creek facility.  The BLM site lists 15 locations where interested parties can go to adopt a horse or burro.  Unfortunately…and counterintuitively…only one facility is located east of the Mississippi… Adoption facilities are located in Arizona, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Nevada, Oklahoma, California and Mississippi.

To quote a well-known truth: “Happy wife, happy life!”  I’d earned my brownie points for the day!  Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by to check out this interesting stop along the way!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


Monday, September 29, 2014

Bar-B-Q in Blue Springs Missouri

Following the quickest route for our drive from St. Louis Missouri to Omaha Nebraska, we passed through the outskirts of Kansas City Missouri.  Having lived in St. Louis and having worked for both Venture Stores and Montgomery Ward, I’ve been to the Kansas City market many times.  Laurie and I actually honeymooned here...many, many years ago!

In any case, if you are in the KC area, a Bar-B-Q break is a must!  There is nothing like Kansas City Bar-B-Q!   With some exceptions, we prefer it over what is offered in other markets across the country…


Since it was time for lunch, as we approached Kansas City, I looked around for a Bar-B-Q opportunity that wouldn’t require any major deviation from our route.  Then I remembered Zarda’s Bar-B-Q in Blue Springs Missouri.  I’d never eaten here before.
 
T.J, an associate/friend from Venture Stores and I had eaten right across from Zarda’s a couple of times back in the mid to late 1970’s.  That restaurant was called Bert’s Bar-B-Q and it’s long gone.  The encouraging thing was that Zarda’s is still in business!


Zarda’s Bar-B-Q is a spacious restaurant…and they’ve been in business since 1976.  In addition to the Blue Springs location, they also have another restaurant over in Lenexa Kansas.

At Zarda’s, you order at the counter and they call you when your food is ready.  We had a hard time figuring what to order and a very helpful employee guided us to our choices.  The staff at Zarda’s was very pleasant and friendly.


Laurie ordered the Rib Plate.  Her ribs came with those pickle spears, white bread to sop up the sauce and 2 sides. ($13.99) She chose the baked beans and potato salad for her sides.  The ribs were very good and she enjoyed the beans and potato salad as well!

Note: We both appreciated the fact that our meals were served on real plates…and not paper or cardboard facsimiles! 


Since we had quite a bit of driving left before we got to Omaha and carbs tend to put me to sleep while driving, I just ordered a pound of Burnt Ends. ($15.50) I thought that they were a little pricy but they looked good on the plate.  However, I guess that I’m a bit out of touch.  Back in the day, burnt ends consisted of burnt ends…i.e. bits of meat mixed in with grizzle, pieces of meat on bits of bone, etc.  You had to ‘work’ to eat and enjoy your meal.  Zarda’s burnt ends consisted of little chunks of Bar-B-Q ham and beef…all meat.  My meal was OK but in my opinion, some character and flavor was lacking when compared to the BBQ pork burnt ends of my memory.

Note: I thought that Zarda’s Bold and Spicy Barbeque Sauce was very good!

We would stop at Zarda’s Bar-B-Q again.  I would just stick with the ribs or perhaps I’d try the brisket.  Zarda’s Bar-B-Q is located just a little south of I-70 at 214 North Missouri Highway 7 in Blue Springs.  Phone: 816-229-9999.  Website: www.zarda.com.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…


Thanks for stopping by for a little Bar-B-Q!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, September 26, 2014

Family Moved - Cleveland OH to Omaha NE!

This is a big change!  Our son David II, his wife Amy and our 2 grandsons, David III and Emmett Lee moved from the eastern suburbs of Cleveland Ohio to the west side of Omaha Nebraska!  What was previously a 10.5 hour drive is now a 14.5 – 15 hour drive for us…

The good news is that the move was for a better career opportunity for Amy.  Also, as I mentioned in a previous posting, Laurie’s family is in St. Louis Missouri, just a little over halfway to Omaha on the fastest driving route.


This is a sun-glare impacted photo of their new home in Omaha.  For the first time since the boys have been old enough for it to matter, they are in a neighborhood with sidewalks and with homes close by… In addition, just about any convenience, store or restaurant they might want or need is within a couple of miles from their home.  This is a big change/improvement from their previous location in Ohio.


One big selling point for this home…especially for the boys…was the swimming pool!  The view isn’t too bad either.  That’s a neighborhood soccer field behind the house and both boys love soccer and are on teams!


The family is still unpacking…as they moved into the house just a couple of weeks before we arrived to visit.  Their new kitchen is well laid out with a good island to work on, a counter with bar stools and lots of storage space.
We assisted with the unpacking a bit… Laurie organized several of the kitchen cabinets and I unpacked several boxes of books and put them on shelves.

David II has been completely occupied with the job of settling the family into their home. (Painting, contractors, unpacking, utilities, etc...all of that fun stuff that comes with a family move) Then will come a search for a position with an Omaha law firm... 

    
This is a photo of one end of their new family room.  The challenge is to find just where to hang all of their art work!  Most of the paintings in this photo were painted by David II’s grandmother Elizabeth and his uncle Bob…my mother and brother.  These are just part of the total number of paintings and drawings that need to be hung.

Did I mention that David II called us when we were about 4 hours away from arrival at their new home?  He told us that there was a ‘little’ problem.  Their HVAC unit had “died” and they didn’t have Internet service either!


This is the gazebo on their deck at the back of the house.  We spent a bit of time relaxing there, glasses of wine in hand!

As for the HVAC problem…based on the age of the equipment, David II had purchased a warranty on the unit when they bought the house.  After some back and forth with the insurance company, a new HVAC unit was installed about a week after our visit.


For an electronically based modern family, no Internet Service was almost as traumatic as the defunct air conditioning unit!  Fortunately, service was back up and running within a couple of days after we arrived… This is Emmett Lee’s home computer station.  Note the Chicago Bears mug on the desk!



This is David III’s computer station… He’s all about gaming and he may even use his computer for homework as well!  In addition to the 4 family computer stations, David II set up a table and a laptop computer for my use during our visit so I could keep up with my blog site.


The family room in the lower level isn’t set up in its final configuration yet but that didn’t stop Emmett and David III from competing is a hot NFL electronic football game!  Emmett is truly into football…and he knows more about the players than most adult football fans.


Amy and David III had to go down to Kansas City for a soccer tournament… David II had to stay home to wait for the Internet provider to make a service call.  So Laurie and I took Emmett Lee over to Lincoln Nebraska for a soccer match.  As you can see from this photo, there was some doubt that we’d actually get the game in.


However, after a 30 minute delay for a little thunder and lightning and some light showers to pass, we got to watch Emmett play soccer.  He is really fast and focused when he plays!


It was the end of the Labor Day weekend and it was time to watch a movie.  The family has a blow-up screen and a projector with a sound system.  While the boys were in the pool, we watched a Superman movie!


Here we are with our grandsons…David III (13), Nana (Laurie), Emmett Lee (10), and Papa (yours truly) The boys are posing in their soccer uniforms… We have terrific grandsons!  It was a great visit and it was really nice seeing the family’s new home! 

Just click on any of the photos in order to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!


Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Joey B’s Restaurant – St. Louis Missouri

In my last posting, I published family photos from Laurie’s recent family gathering in St. Louis Missouri.  I kept that post ‘pure’, totally sticking with family photos… But now…for the foodies among us…this posting is purely focused on the food and the restaurant.


Laurie’s sister Bonnie had arranged space for our family group at Joey B’s in Concord Plaza on the south side of St. Louis.  In the press of getting 24 or so people together for our dinner, I neglected to take an exterior photo of the restaurant.  As a matter of fact, this is the only interior photo I took…other than the people and the food!  Busy place isn’t it?  Keep in mind that this was on a Wednesday night!


Although there are a number of TV’s mounted around the walls, this restaurant can hardly be termed a sports bar…either in atmosphere or most certainly in its food offerings.  Not to say that one couldn’t party at Joey B’s!  This is just one page of the restaurant’s alcoholic specialty drinks menu.  Just a couple of White Gummi Bear or Dragon Berry Bomb shots…and you’d be flying…at least in your mind!


Joey B’s is all about comfort food…especially Italian comfort food!  To start us out, a few appetizers were ordered for the table. (Note: With 24 people grabbing for the food, our appetizer photos show what’s left after the plates have been savaged by the hungry crowd!) 

This was what was left of one of the orders of Joey B’s Fried Onion Rings…and they were excellent! ($8.99 for 10 of these monster rings)



I requested 5 orders of the Cheese Garlic Bread for the gathering. ($5.59 each) It was plenty cheesy and the garlic wasn’t lacking either…and all 5 orders were consumed in record time! 


Someone else ordered the Fried Pickles with Spicy Ranch Dressing. ($6.99) They were good but in my opinion they weren’t particularly distinctive.  Never the less, they too were quickly devoured!


Pizza was a big item at our family gathering… However, for the uninitiated, you should know that a St. Louis pizza is different from other pizzas that you find around the country.  Whereas most pizza has mozzarella cheese on top of the tomato sauce, in St. Louis its provel cheese!  The taste is completely different…but good luck in finding anyone other than a chain pizza restaurant that sells pizza covered with anything other than provel…

Also, square pizzas are the norm in St. Louis.  This one has pepperoni, Italian sausage and green olives. (Small Cheese $12.59/Large Cheese $13.99)


This version was loaded…bacon, mushrooms, green peppers, sausage, pepperoni and maybe more! 

FYI… Provel is a white processed cheese particularly popular in Saint Louis.  It is a combination of cheddar, Swiss, and provolone cheeses.  Provel has a low melting point and, therefore it has a gooey and almost buttery texture at room temperature.  According to a St. Louis food critic, provel was developed to meet perceived demand for a pizza cheese with a "clean bite" that is one that melts well but breaks off nicely when the diner bites down”.


This humongous bowl of pasta was what I had for my entrée… It’s the Pasta Carbonara…penne noodles in butter and cream sauce with bacon, parmesan cheese and eggs. ($13.99) This was a great entrée…with way too much pasta for even me to finish!


Someone else at the table ordered something that I’d never seen on a menu before.  This is the Ravioli Prosciutto. ($14.99) This house specialty consists of beef ravioli in a rich cream sauce with prosciutto ham, fresh broccoli and mushrooms.  It was yet again another winner!


Variety is indeed the spice of life.  Another family member ordered the Pasta Tutto Mare…shell noodles in cream sauce with shrimp, crab meat, clams, mushrooms as well as both provel and parmesan cheeses. ($17.99) Thumbs up!


One member of the family doesn’t care for pasta…and he’s not allergic to glutens either.  So he went with the 12 oz. New York Strip Steak with mashed potatoes and gravy. ($22.00) He was a happy camper!


Since his wife never gets to have pasta at home, she ordered the spaghetti and meat sauce. ($12.99) Like the other pasta entrees, the portion was huge and she was happy to have pasta for dinner another night!


One couple ordered this pizza…my favorite!  It’s 'Grandpa Joe’s Favorite'.  Meat, meat and more meat!  This pizza was topped with sausage, bacon, pepperoni, hamburger and ham… ($17.49 small/$19.99 large) The good news is that I can testify that this was an excellent pizza...even though I’ve been away from St. Louis for so long and I’m not used to the provel cheese anymore.  “Unfortunately”, the pair couldn’t finish their pizza.  When they offered it, I grabbed at the chance, put it in our cooler and finished it the next day at our son's home in Nebraska… Yum!

Joey B’s at 189 Concord Plaza in St. Louis Missouri is 1 of 3 locations owned by the Gianino family. (Phone: 314-843-2121) They also own 3 other Italian Restaurants and a catering business.  This was a great place for us to gather.  This location was casual, big and the food was both plentiful and very good.  We’d definitely eat here again!  To learn more about Joey B’s and the families’ other restaurants, just go to http://www.joeybsconcord.com/index.html.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!


Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Monday, September 22, 2014

A Family Gathering – St. Louis Missouri

Our son, his wife Amy and our 2 grandsons, David II and Emmett Lee recently moved from Cleveland Ohio to Omaha Nebraska.  The bad news is that they’ve moved further away but the good news is that Laurie’s immediate family live in St. Louis Missouri…which is right en-route on the fastest way to drive to Omaha from East Tennessee. 

So…when we go to visit family, we may be gone a bit longer, but whenever we drive, we will have a chance to spend some time with our families in both cities!

(Warning… This is a family orientated posting and if photos of other people’s family tend to put you to sleep, I’ll post another item to my blog site in just 2 days!)

We arrived in the St. Louis area in mid-afternoon… Our first goal was to visit Laurie’s Aunt Lois.  She’ll be 101 years old in January and she still regularly wins at various card games.  She also has a better memory, long or short term, than either Laurie or me!  (Laurie took this ‘selfie’of the three of us.)


Following our visit with Aunt Lois, we headed off to a family dinner that Laurie and her sister Bonnie set up.  This is Laurie with her niece Kasey (Bonnie and Bill's daughter)…at the restaurant.  
  
Laurie’s sister Bonnie knew the manager of a very popular local restaurant on the south side of St. Louis named Joey B’s Food and Drink and got reservations for our group.  We put the word out to the extended family and invited everyone to a family gathering…

(I’ll post information about Joey B’s Restaurant and the food separately)

 
It’s a good thing that we had reservations at Joey B’s!  The restaurant was extremely busy but we were good to go… This photo shows part of our family group.  We start out on the left with the 3 girls…Regan, Cate and Abby.  Then we have Katie and her mother Linda…who is Laurie’s 2nd cousin) Next are Rose and Johnny, Katie’s grandparents.  Bob is to the right of the photo… He’s the grandfather of the 3 girls across the table.  Unfortunately we missed getting a photo of his wife/Laurie’s sister Karole.  Sorry Karole! Where did you go?


This photo was taken by Laurie down at the other end of the table… From the left, there is yours truly, next is Bonnie, then her granddaughter Avery, Bonnie’s husband Bill, granddaughter Delaney, and finally parents Kevin and Kasey. 

This is Laurie’s sister Glenda with her husband Ken… After living in their home for many, many years, they’d just moved into a retirement community.  Not only have they shed all of the maintenance and other miscellaneous pains of home ownership, but their former home was purchased by one of their 5 grandsons, Stewart and his wife Sarah!  They have two young sons, Isaac and Liam...so the house stays in the family!


This is Tanya, Laurie's niece and her boyfriend Van.  Tanya has 2 children who couldn’t attend, Taylor and Alexander.  Tanya also has 2 sisters, Tammy and Tracy and their father is Laurie’s brother, Bobby.


Johnny is at the left.  He's one of Laurie’s cousins…actually one of Aunt Lois’s 3 sons, which also happens to be Laurie, Bonnie, Karole, Glenda and Bob's "double cousins".  Doris (Laurie, Bonnie, Karole,Glenda and Bob's mother) and Lois (son's Johnny, Alan and Jim) are sisters and they married Robert and John who are brothers!  Yes...very interesting …and Johnny is sitting next to John, niece Judy’s husband.  Aunt Lois’ other sons were unable to join us for this gathering. 


This is Judy in a “Thinker’s” pose… She’s the niece who’s married to John in the previous photo… She and John have 3 children and 2 grandchilden as well!


Here’s another photo of Laurie’s niece Kasey with her husband, Kevin.  Her brother Kyle, his wife Melissa and their 2 sons were unable to attend this gathering as they live out in central Missouri and it was a weeknight…


This is another photo of Laurie’s youngest sister Bonnie and her husband Bill.  They are a pair of doting grandparents, that’s for sure!


This is Tammy… She’s married to Marc, one of Laurie’s nephews and one of Karole's 3 sons.  Marc was out of town at a corporate conference.  He’s in the retail business and some of his stores are located up in the Ferguson Missouri area…which as you know was recently been hit with racial strife. (Sorry for the blurry photo!)

  
These are Tammy and Marc’s daughters… Cate is the youngest, Regan is next and Abby, the tallest, is the oldest.  Karole, another of Laurie’s sisters, and her husband Bob are the girls’ grandparents.


The youngest generation was well represented at our family gathering… Avery and Delaney ended up sitting with the other 3 youngsters at a kid’s table when our group ended up growing larger than expected.


This is another photo of Katie and her mom Linda… Katie’s sister Sarah was unable to join us for dinner, as was Linda's husband Greg.

All in all, by my count, 24 of Laurie’s family members, including in-laws, managed to join us for this work night/week night family gathering.  Not bad! Plus, there was a storm we all had to contend with!   If everyone from family that lives in the St. Louis area had been able to attend this little soiree, we would have needed a larger facility!  The total would have been at least 40!  We all agreed that it was a fun time and we should all do it again!

We hope that the family and any patient visitors to my blog site enjoyed the photos.  Just click on one if you want to enlarge it…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave (and Laurie)