Friday, August 11, 2017

In search of Rage Cows

I know this will be a shocking revelation to my nineteens of readers, but here it is: on rare occasion, I have a modicum of common sense. RARE…but it happens.  Hence, I looked at the forecast and decided that my 102 mile ride into parts unknown and sketchy water resources would be better undertaken on Sunday, when it’s supposed to be in the mere 80s as opposed to 95 or so. Plus, here’s the key thing: how can I meet Hot Cowboy if I’m tumbled down a ravine gasping for water in the middle of nowhere? I can’t. I figure I need to give myself a couple of decent days of riding aimlessly in homage to Plan A before going rogue.

And NO, I’m not changing my motto to “doing the less stupid things” so you don’t have to. #stillstupidafteralltheseyears

So, today I decided to head out towards the Malheur Refuge, knowing I could refuel at the cafe at the Narrows. As usual, it wasn’t long before I came across my beloved Rage Cows.

Now. I know you all think I (cough) slightly exaggerate on occasion, to which I say, nay! I am merely a scribe, relaying things exactly how they happen. Or how I remember them. Whatever.

So I’m sure all of you out in ReaderLand think I’m MSUing when I talk about the fact that the cows out here HATE ME. Hate. Rage. So much anger, it emanates from them. To the point that if there weren’t fences, I’d be jerky in a very quick moment.


To wit: I’m biking along and see a herd of these fuckers gentle bovine creatures, who start giving me The Stare as soon as I get closer. First one, then another, then all of them. Of course I stop to take some pics.

As I’m taking these pictures, the cows angrily gather, JUST like the villagers in Young Frankenstein. We go from a loose cluster of cows glaring at me, to an entire crop of them, huddled en masse, staring at me. Staring. It’s very Shining-esque, or whatever the equivalent horror movie is with Rage Cows. I’m fascinated, as we’re in a bit of a standoff here. I concede the point to them, however, as I have 60 more miles to ride; as I look back, their heads are moving to follow me as I bike on. Shudder.

Next stop: Malheur Refuge, which is gloriously open! The lovely people who work/volunteer there might, umm, well, they might think I’m a bit of a loon (no pun intended). Our conversation:

Me: So, umm, are there still lots of birds around here or did they mostly migrate on through?
Nice lady: Oh, there are still plenty!  Why, right on the lake there is a heron….
NL: And then on the birdfeeder out there, a yellow-headed blackbird…
NL: And for other scenic views, have you been to Steens Mountain?
Me: Yes, I was up there the last time I was here, it was gorgeous with all the snow!
NL: Well now it’s full of wildflowers and…
Me: Umm, so am I the most ridiculously enthusiastic person you’ve had come through here?
Nice guy: You’re pretty close, we’ve had a few others.

I then start asking the real questions.

Me: So, if I come here in the spring for the huge migration, I know the big event is the second week of April. When should I come to avoid all the people? I hate people.
NL: Oh, the first or third week work just as well. I understand completely.
Me: I mean, I like birds and I have 22 or so birdfeeders or so for the chirping tweeting bastards, but I’m not a snob about it, and I don’t care about running around to up my bird count. So yeah, the fewer people the better.
NG, nodding sagely: That’s the right attitude!

I pick out my souvenirs, then also become a Friend of theRefuge (though after I leave it occurs to me that I think I’m already a member – oh well). I then wander around the grounds, which are beautiful and glorious, and check out the museum, with all its stuffed bird denizens and tons of useful information on pollinators and the scourge of the carp that have taken over the lakes here. I knew the info about how and why our national refuges like Malheur were started (thanks Teddy Roosevelt!), but reading about it again, it reminds me of this rather poignant fact:

People have always been assholes. No, let’s call them sociopaths. More fitting.

What else would you have to be, to be able to kill thousands of snowy egrets to the point of near-extinction, and not give a shit? Or to do the same with the buffalo? Or any other species that mankind has killed for sport or fun, or destroyed their habitat because of unbridled greed, all without giving one single fuck??

And people wonder why I hate people.

I finally head back towards Burns after refueling at The Narrows café, now when it’s blazing hot. And whereas I had to force myself to drink my 2 bottles of water on my way out because it was wonderfully cool, on the way back I’m so parched I’m tempted to stop at a ranch to ask for water.

It really had better be cooler on Sunday.

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