Archive for the ‘rodeo’ Tag

Single-image Sunday: The Super Bowl!   7 comments

It’s Super Sunday!  That day when nearly everyone in America gets together with friends or goes to sport pubs and watches the last two football teams standing duke it out for the championship.  It’s also the day when everybody overeats and quite a few drink too much.  This year it’s the Denver Broncos vs. the Carolina Panthers.  The storyline is that Peyton Manning, the veteran quarterback who owns most important records for that most important position, is likely retiring after this game.  And even if he decides to stay one more year, this is almost certainly his only chance to go out on top.

Peyton has been one of the best QBs to ever play the game, but his skills have diminished somewhat because of age and a devastating injury to his neck 5 years ago.  He still has what it takes from the neck up, but arm strength is not what it used to be.  His counterpart on the other side is the complete opposite of Manning in every respect.  Carolina’s Cam Newton is young, just coming into his own.  He is the odds-on favorite for most valuable player this year.  He runs and passes with devastating effectiveness (most QBs do not run much).

Newton is 6 feet 5 inches and 260 pounds, an unusual size for a QB and a nightmare to bring down.  He’s capable of running over a linebacker on one play and then throwing the ball on a rope into the end zone on the next.  His personality couldn’t be more different than Peyton’s, with his old-school business-like manner on the field.  Cam dances and plays to the crowd, and obviously loves the camera.  He’s gregarious and demonstrative, and this rubs some fans the wrong way.

Newton is also black, and while there have been plenty of black QBs in the NFL for years, it still seems to be an issue for some.  I think his dancing and other antics are absolutely no big deal.  It’s not my style, but I’m not him and you can’t argue with the way he plays.  As long as he doesn’t taunt the opposite team (and he doesn’t), I really don’t care how much he dances.  Others are really bothered by his style and personality, and some commenters point to race as the reason for this.  I don’t believe that either.  Other than the relative few but typically noisy outright racists, I think most of the criticism of Newton arises from an age/personality conflict.  Peyton, by the way, is white.

A bronco throws a panter, I mean a buckaroo! Small-town rodeo, eastern Oregon.

A bronco throws a panter, I mean a buckaroo! Small-town rodeo, eastern Oregon.

My team is out of it, but I’m definitely rooting for a team.  Can you guess from the photo which team?  I’m like many fans outside Carolina in that I want to see Peyton go out with a Super Bowl ring.  Also, the Panthers are favored and I normally go for the underdog.  Finally, the Broncos are a western team, and I’m a western boy.  In order to win, most agree the Broncos will need to run the ball well, play stellar defense, and not turn the ball over.  Peyton will also need to have a near-perfect day.  Carolina has a strong balanced team and can run the ball well.  Denver’s defense has been the league’s best for most of the year.  It will probably need to force two or more turnovers in order to win.

Okay, let the game begin!  Go Broncos!



Wordless Wednesday: Bullrider   2 comments

I know you’re not supposed to say anything, but I’d like to note that this is my first post for Wordless Wednesday!  I like the concept.

Bullrider at a small rodeo in Oregon glancing back at the bull that just threw him.

Nicaragua II: Omotepe   Leave a comment

The volcano Concepcion on the island of Omotepe in Lake Nicaragua is often shrouded in clouds.

I continued south through Nicaragua.  I only spent about 2 1/2 weeks in this country but a lot went on during that time.  I took the boat out to the island of Omotepe, in the middle of Lago Nicaragua, the largest lake in Central America.  This island is deservedly popular with tourists, but it isn’t a touristy place.  Instead, it’s a world apart, one of those places you occasionally run into that seems to live in its own time frame.  There are quirky characters, some from North America, who’ve settled here alongside longtime farmers.  It is gorgeous and has a great vibe.

The island is shaped like a dumbbell, because of the two large and potentially dangerous volcanoes that make up the island.  I only spent time on the larger, northern bulge of the dumbbell, where the volcano Concepcion dominates many of the views (see image).  I stayed a few nights at a nice family-run place, Charco Verde.  It is right on the lake and not at all expensive.  Small cabins start at around $20.  I worked a deal where my room and all the meals were free if I did some photography for them.  Most of that photography was at a big fiesta I was invited to.  The area is very rural, with a simple lifestyle.  I watched locals coming to the lake to bathe themselves and their animals as the sun set over the beautiful lake.

The peaceful shores of Omotepe Island in Lake Nicaragua basks in the fading light.

The whole family plus their friends participated in the party, which took place in Altagracia, the island’s main town.  Everyone rode their beautiful dancing horses.  Most of these are arabians, so being the owner of two arabians I liked that.  But these are certainly better trained than mine.  They perform a sort of dancing dressage, which is part of the romance of the Nicaraguan cowboy.  If you have a good singing voice and a dancing horse, there is no better way to woo your beloved.

It’s a dance party on Omotepe, and the horses are getting in on the action.

A pretty Nicaraguan girl from the island of Omotepe pauses in front of her horse.

After the parade featuring the requisite religious icon, everyone repaired to the beach and proceeded to get drunk and do some dancing.  All except me; I was on the job.  Another one who did not drink was one of the families daughters, who I fell hopelessly in love with (see image).  The day ended with a raucous rodeo, the wildest and least organized one I’ve ever been to.  They were using an American flag, upside down, as a lure for the enraged bulls (see image).

A truly wild rodeo on the island of Omotepe in Nicaragua.

Omotepe had been truly fun and relaxing.  I can’t recommend it highly enough.  But it was time to go, and I had chosen the more adventurous way to move on from the island.  As the sun set, I boarded the overnight ferry that heads down the lake to its main outlet, where the Rio San Juan heads east along the Costa Rica border on its way to the sea.  This route, Central America’s longest river, was originally proposed for the canal between the oceans, before Panama was ultimately chosen.  The canal would have likely been shorter and easier here, but the number of active volcanoes eventually nixed the idea.

I hung my hammock on deck and soon felt the strong breeze that presages a thunderstorm.  And boy was it a doozie, sweeping with fury across the lake.  Next up is the Rio San Juan and the final installment of my Nicaragua adventures.

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