Saturday, October 8, 2011

Hand Cars & Wild Horse Drive

 Actually, the day's events could be listed similar to Dwight Yoakam's Guitars, Cadillacs, & Hillbilly Music. Except our list is more like Hand Cars, Launching Boards, & Hillbilly Music (are you singing it yet, kids?) I can't hear a Yoakam tune without thinking immediately of little 4 year old Eli-o and his tiny guitar rockin' out to Little Sister. Like you, Abby, I'd love to be able to add a clip from our home movies.. maybe some day!

So.. on to the Festival! We got lucky and, after a cold start, the weather turned beautiful for this weekend's travels. Before we even arrived at the old Railroad Depot for the Rails To Trails event the parking spaces were packed for blocks. Taking a chance -Papa was sure we could get a closer spot- we drove on past the depot & up the hill in what became a single car wide track due to so many vehicles parked on either side of the little street. And then we did find an ideal spot right pretty dang close AND under a shade tree! Way to go Papa =)

The idea behind the organization of Rails To Trails is taking old un-used railroad beds, sans railroad tracks, and turning them into hiking, biking, and horse-back riding trails. There's just such a place outside of Redding where Papa and I like to go bike ride during winter when it's freezing at home and in the low 70's down there in the valley. The trail runs along the Keswick Dam water-way that makes for good winter kayaking as well (I haven't done it yet but Ben & Papa have last winter).

So, always happy to lend support and encouragement to a worthwhile and fun event ;) Papa and I were looking forward to checking out the activities intended to benefit the upkeep on the old Bizz Johnson Trail.

Music was playing, crowds were thick, and chili and salsa scents were on the air! There was a candle booth, too, so those delicious scents were oddly entwined with the savory. No complaints here, though. It was all good. We weren't tempted by the chili and salsa contest/tasting booths, having already eaten lunch, what we were after was a glimpse of the rail hand car races. And that's exactly what we got.. a glimpse. We weren't able to see much until the cars were almost right in front of us zipping down the track.

After trying to figure out how people could view it all better we decided they could do with a couple stands of bleachers from the local high school playing field. There was one small 3-tier one at the sidelines but too short to do much good. Papa & I stood on the side of the tracks and had a better vantage point, but only just a little.

The last of the racers was a typical 5-person team running against just two guys. But these two were the National (who knew there even was such a thing!?!) Hand Car Racing Champions. So I guess you could figure what the outcome was to that one.. yep. Team of two won it easily :)

As we wandered through the arts and crafts booth area there was a clever homemade kids game going on. It was at the Campfire Girls (and boys!) site. These 3 little kids were completely absorbed in the activity. Someone had taken a small plank of wood and screwed (or glued) on a 1-inch or so cross-beam near one end of the board (instruction link uses a dowel).

Placed on the ground with the beam side down you stomp on the raised end and launch a beanbag (or beanbags!) into the air and try to catch them. You can also cut out a small circle in the far end of the board so a ball can balance there before sending them flying. Good little game out on a sidewalk, but I was thinking how fun it would be during the long cold winter months inside, too.
The cute little guys were delighted to pose for some 'action' shots
I later learned, thanks to some internet sleuthing, that 'launch boards' aren't so unknown as I'd originally thought. And they've been around for years. Here's one way to build 'em. Sheesh, why didn't I think of making these when you kids were growing up? Oh well, then. Guess we'll have to do it for the next generation :)

What really made this Festival, though, was the awesome bluegrass band they had. Reminded me of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band quality of Blue Grass. These guys had their own great name: Wild Horse Drive. They were warm, friendly, and personable fellas. 'What's the difference between a fiddle and a violin? A fiddle is a violin played correctly' ;) ...that's a line I heard in one of their videos and gives you a feeling for the laid back easy-going group they are. No fiddles at this event but apparently they have it at others.

It was way fun listening to their music; excellent harmonizing and tight, coordinated playing. The tunes just rolled out beautifully. I guess it doesn't hurt that I'm a huge fan of the banjo and mandolin... absolutely love watching and hearing those instruments played.
Washed-out pic but vivid sounds ;)

When I went up to tell them how much we liked their music, mandolin-player-Dan visited for a minute and then, as he shook my hand, asked where we were from and what our name was. He got so tickled he just kept shaking and insisted on bringing Chad-the-banjo-picker over to have me repeat it. I did and Chad said, 'Hey! that's his name, too!' No relation, but it made for some great rapport anyway =)

I said they belonged in an appreciative venue like Quincy or Chico or Humboldt County and wondered if they ever played the Tahoe area. Affirmative. They had just been to the Incline Village Bluegrass Festival and were opening next week for Lacy J Dalton. I congratulated them but said I could do without the country music and would love to hear them play instead!  Take a listen, especially to the tune titled Wild Horse Drive, and see what I mean. Next, be sure to click on Who's Going Downtown...this song was the last in a set before their break and made Papa and I laugh right out loud at the line about the gal from the south with the tight braids :)

The other two highlights of the day were:

1.) getting the ingredients for the Sausage, Potato, and Kale soup recipe I'm going to try on this upcoming predicted rainy Monday


2.) purchasing our totally (dude) cool new desk. Pics to come after Ben & his truck go over with me next Friday to pick it up!


  1. Hey concert buddy! We must be related or something! That's cool about the rails to trails being out there! I've heard about them back east I didn't know they were a nation wide thing :)

  2. Wow! That's Amazing! (thank you Fozzie Bear - can you still say it in sign language?) We truly MUST be related. Concert goers -and in tandem, too! (same day, 2 states away ;)

    Ya, we've just recently learned about the Rails to Trails organization ourselves. Did you know they've been campaigning for one here on the old McCloud/Burney Falls rail line? They're calling it The Great Shasta Rail Trail.