Saturday, September 24, 2016

Romeo and Juliet

Last Saturday, I overlapped online again with that same buddy who bought back Phoenix the Paso Fino. (Phoenix seems to be doing fine there, by the way.) This buddy happens to be quite into Paso Finos at the moment, and she bought a pack of regular horse tokens so that she could create a few in her favorite colors. I admired her first creation, a grulla mare named Storm, and this led to us checking out all the colors of Paso Finos together in the BBB. She was most seriously considering a flaxen liver chestnut or a blood bay as her next one, which are both lovely. My two personal favorites on the Paso Fino are red roan and red dun. They not only look cool in their profiles but also have unexpectedly bright avatars - their bodies are an intense pinkish orange!

red roan
red dun
Then our buddy asked us if we'd like a token of our own to make a Paso Fino with, since she didn't need all of hers. I couldn't refuse - none of us have ever had a horse token before, and I figured it's an experience we just couldn't pass up!

So, I bought the token. Yeah, I know I then had the freedom to create whatever horse I wanted, including either Bethany's dream Florida Cracker or my dream Manga. But I didn't want to have to choose between them, and our buddy specifically had Pasos in mind. So a Paso it was! And obviously, it would be a mare, for maximum long, wavy mane visible and to help out our mare:stallion ratio.

Our buddy and I decided it would be really fun to get a mare-stallion pair of the same color. 
While I was busy debating which color we should get (she left it up to me), our buddy went ahead and bought a red roan mare. Well, since I wanted to have the mare of our pair, that took red roan out of the running and made the choice obvious. 

Our buddy created her red dun Paso first. Here's how her Romeo turned out:

Pretty cute, right? I really like how his leg markings alternate in height. He wasn't super tall, so we were a bit nervous that my mare would end up taller than him. XD

I carefully used Pepsi's token then, all 3 of my sisters watching over my shoulder. Here's what the screen looks like for regular tokens and what my selections were:

I figured I'd better have her be easygoing so that she could put up with Romeo's bossiness, and to play it safe I selected "short to average" for her desired height. 

Here she is, the beautiful Juliet!

Yay! Lots of pretty markings and a good two inches shorter than Romeo. She is 6/6 and +35, which is slightly better than average when you consider the best stats she could possibly have had would've been +60 and the worst would've been +0. (She has Romeo beat - he's +22. Don't tell him that though, lol.)

Somehow Juliet ended up as an easygoing Drill Sergeant, which wasn't exactly what I had expected. (It is quite appropriate, though, come to think of it, since our first equine, Ophelia, also has the Drill Sergeant persona.) Ha ha, what a power couple these two are! Good thing Romeo's brave and social, because I doubt Juliet would ever have dared approach him on her own.

And here Pepsi is riding Juliet for the first time. As you can see, compared to chestnuts, she has a definite pink tinge!

Juliet and Tabasco, our chestnut pinto Grade Pony retiree
Finally, here is Juliet in all her tack! I tried a bunch of different colors on her. Even though "Juliet" makes me think of red or pink for some reason, neither color looked nearly as nice on her as sea foam green.

Here's hoping that this Romeo and Juliet have a long, happy romance rather than a tragically short one! XD Overall I am really pleased with how Juliet turned out, and I am so glad to have a Paso of my own again!

What a month of firsts this has been! We bought our first horse for our herd from a ranch store, we sold a horse from our herd for the first time, and now we've created our first horse with a token!

In other news, these two finally have names! Let me introduce you to Parallax and Myth!

I've chosen Parallax to be mine. Parallax is a term for when an object appears to be in different places depending on the point of view. I think it sounds cool, and because of the last syllable it seems to suit a very lazy horse like him. 

In the end, we decided that "Myth" suited this guy better than any of the other names we came up with: simple but still special. We're still not sure which one of us will be his owner, but we are sure that he is staying!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Flight of the Phoenix

Back in June of 2015 (who'd have thought we'd mention it twice in one day?!), we added the handsome, impressively experienced Phoenix to the herd. Our buddy was eager to sell him, and we were happy to help her out there. Phoenix came with his three companions, which we affectionately named Hermione, Missy, and Antsy, respectively. He settled into the herd quickly as one of my horses. 

This week while I was playing HI2, after over a year of me getting attached to this little guy, our buddy asked if we would sell him back to her. This is the first time something like this has ever happened - nobody's ever asked for a horse back before! I didn't know what to do. I didn't want to part with him. Not only am I quite fond of him, but selling him would also mean totally screwing up the careful numbering and naming system we have going for our horses. It wasn't easy, let me tell you, but in the end I figured I'd better be a good buddy and let him go. Our buddy has plans to increase his experience way more than the mere 20 exp per day our ranch was giving him. I think he'll be happier getting more attention. So, I took some final screenshots and said goodbye to Phoenix and his companions. 

It's a whole new adventure for him. That's how I'll try to think of it. He's been renamed "Magnus Bane" and re-accessorized in the few days since. Here's a look at him now:

Less sentimental Lily was quick to point out a silver lining in this, that I've helped balance out the stallion-heavy mare:stallion ratio in our herd. I guess she's right, but I'm still hoping our buddy doesn't decide she'd like any more of the horses she's sold me back.  *Pats Landslide, Kaleidoscope, and Fanta.*

Now what to do about Phoenix's empty slot... He occupied slot #75 and was my 19th horse. My sisters have agreed that I can have either the buckskin Quarter Horse or the white Appendix Quarter Horse to make things even again. Bethany and Felicity were all for me just sticking whichever one I choose into slot #75, but Lily cringed at that idea. So, I guess we're going to be doing some extensive renumbering in the near future. XD

Option 1
Option 2
Another snag: I need to choose a name that starts with the letter P for whichever horse I choose. So far I'm stumped - nothing I can think of that starts with P is just right for either. Inspiration will probably strike soon! It's bound to, as many name-related websites as I've been visiting. ;^)

Dream Come True

Last June, Bethany wrote a post about our HI2 dream horses. Mine was a Hanoverian something like this one, a mare with one or more white feet and a star-stripe-snip combo:

I've been patiently holding out for one (I'd have been happy with a nice Hanoverian of any color, really) but it hasn't happened. I did actually see a 6/6 sooty palomino Hanoverian stallion in a ranch store once in 2015, but he was a he and also pretty expensive, so I passed him by. 

Then our buddy Gem mentioned in a letter that one of her buddies was going to be selling her sooty palomino Hanoverian stallion. No more details than that. Hmm, I thought. Maybe. But we heard no more about it, so I figured I'd missed out.

Well, on Tuesday this week when I logged onto HI2, guess who was there waiting for me? =D

It turns out that on Sunday, Bethany checked the ranch stores and noticed this guy for sale for $150k. She, Felicity, and Julie decided to buy him for me as an early birthday present. <3 Thanks so much, guys! Right color, tons of white, great stats and personality... Wow, great job! And it's fine he's a he - it made choosing his name easy!

Here Pepsi is riding him for the first time:

And here he is on sand. His flaxen hair is a close match! Good thing for its highlights!

One more, this time posing with Aslan, our ranch's sooty palomino Salernitano retiree. The Hanoverian is definitely more dramatically flaxen! =)

Finally, here he is in the pastel blue tack I've chosen for him. Sky blue is my favorite color, so it only seemed right. I've named him Forte, the musical term for playing loudly. I can't explain why exactly, but it just seemed to fit him in my mind.

Looking great, buddy! <3

Saturday, September 10, 2016

A Weekend Up North

The weekend before Labor Day weekend, Mom left us behind again. *Sighs* Maybe someday we'll get to go somewhere interesting. Poor Bethany has never even left the yard.

But anyway, we have collaborated again to give you the scoop on her trip. At least we can live vicariously through her journal entries and photos, right?

First we'll give you a visual of just where they went. The group consisted of Mom, our aunt, our grandma, and our lighthouse-loving great aunt. And they really went, didn't they? XD Talk about a whirlwind weekend.

Thursday Evening: Driving North

Stop 1: Kalkaska

They stayed overnight in an older but adequate motel in this quiet small town. Note the Kleenex dispenser mounted in the wall. =)

Friday: 3 Great Lakes in One Day!

Stop 2: Presque Isle Lighthouses

Everybody woke up early to drive to the Old Presque Isle (pronounced "Presk eel." Don't ask us why.) lighthouse on the shore of Lake Huron right when it opened. They toured the inside of the keeper's house and climbed the spiral staircase to the top of the lighthouse. The lighthouse is supposedly haunted by the ghost of a former light keeper - the light has been known to go on when nobody's there. Mom said it felt anything but haunted on this bright, beautiful summer morning.

The view from the top
From there they drove down the road to the New Presque Isle Lighthouse. This lighthouse is the fifth tallest in Michigan and the tallest open to the public to climb. Naturally, Mom had to climb to the top.

This lighthouse felt more possibly "haunted" to Mom. Mostly because of the slightly eerie music playing in the house that can still be heard echoing at the bottom of the tower, and also because the wind kept moving this creaky door at the top.

Yes, mildly creepy
The view was gorgeous, though!

On their way out, they paused to view these objects from an unfortunately named lifeboat, the S. T. Crapo. XD

And then they continued on their way north. The journey took them across the Mackinac Bridge... 

Mom's sister drove them on the windy grate lane! AH!
....and along the southern coast of Michigan's Upper Peninsula for a while before they turned north again.

Lake Michigan <3
Stop 3: Pictured Rocks Lakeshore, Lake Superior

They arrived in Munising, MI in plenty of time for the sunset cruise out to see the Pictured Rocks. They rode a boat very similar to the one pictured below, only theirs was the oldest of the 4-boat fleet, the "Miners Castle." Because they got there so early, they secured prime seats on the top deck.

Lake Superior is pretty incredible in and of itself. It's the largest freshwater lake in the world in terms of surface area and the third largest by volume. It's by far the largest of the Great Lakes. If you took out its water and dumped in the water of the other 4 Great Lakes (Michigan, Huron, Ontario, and Erie) you still wouldn't have enough water to fill it - you'd need at least 2 more Eries to get close. And that water you took out of Superior? You could flood all of North and South America in a foot of water. Crazy, right?

But the pictured rocks are very impressive too. The sheer cliffs are made of a soft, porous sandstone. When water seeps through the rocks, it takes minerals with it. The minerals are left behind, forming colorful streaks on the sandstone. Copper = blue-green, calcium = white, manganese = black, and iron = rusty orange.

Yep, they look painted, alright.

Those hunks of detached stone remind us of the tablets of the 10 Commandments
"Indian Head"
Up close it looked like he needed a Kleenex.
"Battleship Row"
"Flower Vase"
"Chapel Rock"
The tree perched on top lives on even though the rock has eroded. Its roots stretch across the gap to connect it to the cliffside, so it can still get nutrients and water.
Stop 4: Grand Marais

That night they stayed in a cute little cabin. It was incredibly dark by the time they finally got there. Mom says the night sky was spectacular - she'd never seen so many stars!

Saturday: More U.P. Adventures

The cabin by daylight
Before leaving Grand Marais, they stopped to see the Grand Marais light. Nobody attempted to climb this one for obvious reasons.

Stop 5: Tahquamenon Falls

They visited the upper and lower falls. Even though it was raining a bit, the forested trail kept them from getting very wet. The upper falls are much more impressive and are the only ones pictured here. We think these should henceforth be referred to as the Iced Tea Falls.

Stop 6: Whitefish Point

Whitefish Point Lighthouse is the oldest operating light on Lake Superior. Despite its presence, this area of Lake Superior is called "The Graveyard of the Great Lakes" because more ships have sunk here than anywhere else on the lake. One such ship was the famous SS Edmund Fitzgerald.

The group went in the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum first, which documents many wrecks and displays artifacts recovered from each. It's home to the bell that was recovered from the Edmund Fitzgerald. (A new bell engraved with the names of the 29 crew members lost has been put in its place on the wreck, which is actually in Canadian waters.) We were surprised to learn that so many of the wrecks were caused not by monster storms but by boats running into each other.

Sadly, the line was too long to go up in the lighthouse itself, but they did tour the keeper's house, which was complete with creepy life-size wax figures. XD

Lake Superior was certainly behaving itself that day.

Nobody else wanted to get sandy, but Mom walked down to the beach and picked up these beauties.

Stop 7: Mackinaw City

The group drove back south then: back over the Mackinac Bridge into Mackinaw City. They could see the top of Mighty Mac peaking out of the trees from the little balcony of their 4th floor hotel room. After supper, they bought a bit of Mackinac Island fudge for dessert. :P 

Sunday: Lake Michigan's Coast

Stop 8: Fisherman's Island State Park

This beach may just look sandy from far away, but it's actually quite rocky. Mom quickly became engrossed in the rocks. XD

She found a few Petoskey stones as well as many other cool rocks. Here they are in a little water so that you can see them at their best:

The Petoskey stones are the cluster of gray stones in the center. They are a type of fossilized coral - the distinctive hexagon pattern of the coral gives them away. Some of the gray stones on the edges are other sorts of fossilized corals, plants, and shells.

Stop 9: Point Betsie Lighthouse

Farther down Lake Michigan's coast, they visited one last lighthouse. The sand dune setting of this one make it especially picturesque.

A volunteer was waiting for them at the top of the tower to point out various sights. It's probably good they were told beforehand he'd be up there. XD

They toured the museum (a separate building) until it closed for the day and then spent a few minutes admiring the beach and the sun sparkling on the water. The sand gave way to a water's edge made up entirely of small stones. Then it could be avoided no longer - it was time to head the rest of the way home.

Goodbye, Lake Michigan. <3