Thursday, September 7, 2017

Rodeo recap and few of my favorite things 9/07/17

If you find yourself in Ellensburg, WA at the end the August and in need of a pair of cowboy boots, may I suggest checking out the local Goodwill? On a tip from a friend we went and found the scene pictured above. One of the employees shared with me that the year prior, they sold around 2000 pairs of boots. My husband found a great pair, but sadly the womens boots were all too snug for me and the mens boots were all too big (story of my life). (If you're looking for brand new boots, I understand the recommended place is Old Mill Country Store.)

The big Ellensburg Rodeo and Kittitas County Fair was this past labor day weekend. My sister and her family traveled out from the "westside", (Seattle- west of the cascades) and it was so much fun to experience together.

On Friday afternoon, we all went to the county fair. Walking the rows of booths, we shared a fair specialty, an "elephant ear": it is an enormous fried sheet of sweet dough, doused in cinnamon and sugar. It was quite a sight to see my husband walking towards us with both arms supporting the width of the treat. After sugar-ing up, we took our two-year old niece, Amelia, around the barns to see all the animals: horses, chickens, sheep, goats, cows, and bunnies. Local kids work hard raising and caring for the animals themselves and they proudly stand in front of the animal pens to share about the particulars. In one barn, I met a young man who showed off his sheep with nubby tan and black fur and big eyes. I asked him how much bigger the sheep would get and he matter-of-factly answered that "pretty soon she will be going to freezer camp, so she won't get much bigger than this." I did not ask for the details of "freezer camp". As someone who has lived a long while separated from the reality of what stocks my grocery store cases, it is going to take a bit of adjusting on my part to get used to the idea of living so close to food sources. I know that local farming like this is the most healthy and responsible way but it was an interesting experience to look at an eight year old and realize he had a better handle on the food chain system than myself. (As part of annual tradition, the junior raised livestock is auctioned off each year and this years sales were over $460k. Read a little about it here.)

On Saturday morning was the rodeo parade. My sister, Amelia and I were invited to watch with some new friends. Their family gets up early to secure seats right downtown and generously invited us to join them. The parade was wonderful- entries were from all over and the parade itself last for about an hour and a half. From floats, candy was thrown to onlookers but some parade entries were more creative: one passed out bottles of water and another, shiny large Washington apples. The pacific northwest potato chip company, Tim's, had a handful of employees handing out snack sized bags. One of my favorite moments was seeing the parade participants from Yakama Nation, dancing in their gorgeous beaded regalia. From Tacoma, WA there was also a band of bag pipers, whose music always makes my sister and I cry. There were, naturally, lots of horses in the parade, and although I know nothing about them, even I could tell these were some extraordinary animals- coats gleaming, heads held high, and manes and tails tossing as they marched down the street to cheers and claps.

In the afternoon, my sister and I walked to the Rodeo. A friend generously gifted us tickets and passes to the Gold Buckle Clubhouse and I am afraid we are now forever spoiled by the experience of hanging out on the shaded clubhouse porch, drinking gin and tonics and watching the rodeo events. The Ellensburg Rodeo is considered one of the top 10 in the country and draws world-ranked participants. I think it is a pretty great to be introduced to a sport by such accomplished athletes. In particular, I was floored by the speed of the barrel racing.

In the evening, we all ate chicken caesar salads in our tiny rental house (I cooked chicken breasts in the crockpot until shredded and whipped up Julia Turshen's dressing. It really is the best) and then it was our husbands turn to head to the rodeo to watch the bull-riding competition. Elizabeth, Amelia and I picked up bubbles and ice cream bars at the grocery store and, in the waning light, played at the park by the Yakima River. Amelia did not want her ice cream bar, so I got to eat two.

It was such a fun weekend and we've already determined to make it a family tradition. For those of us familiar the crowds of Disneyland or the largesse of an LA County Fair, the local Rodeo and Fair are just about the right size: large enough to draw talented participants and special exhibits, but small enough to feel hometown and not commercialized. I am, admittedly, in my honeymoon phase of living in a new place, but still, it felt pretty special.

In other goings on, we are experiencing a terrible wildfire just to the northeast of us. The air quality is so poor that some local schools are delaying their start and we've stayed indoors most of this week. The pups are getting a little stir crazy but our inconvenience is nothing compared to folks whose property is threatened and those tasked with fighting the fire. Hoping all is resolved soon.

From around the web, here are a few of my favorite things:

For all the fuss about cooking from scratch, here is a list of things Bon Appetit says they will not make homemade. Do you agree? (I would never attempt homemade tater tots)

A friend survived a recent plane crash in Alaskan waters. Along with the pilot, he and three other passengers swam to shore and were later rescued. Here and here are interviews recounting the ordeal. This line gives me chills: "The feeling of stepping, or just kind of sliding out of the plane into bottomless water, it was a feeling I won't forget."

This takes some serious dedication and talent to accomplish.

At night, if I can't seem to turn my brain off, I love to watch these clips (#7 may be my favorite).

Finally, for those of us who enjoy a well-placed cuss word, "The Social Benefits of Swearing."

Happy Thursday Friends!

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