Pendleton Round-Up, I hardly knew ye. Of all the weeks to move here, I picked a doozy.
This is my first week covering sports at the East Oregonian. When sports editor Lance Ogden first asked me to cover the Round-Up, I thought he meant weed killer.
I don't like to throw around terms like "city slicker," but the only thing I learned to ride had training wheels, and before I knew what "Let 'er Buck" meant, I thought the Let 'er Buck Room was just a silly name for a post office.
Boy, was I wrong about that.
I grew up in Rainier on the banks of the Columbia in the shadow of the cooling tower of Trojan Nuclear plant.
My stepdad plies the river as a tugboat captain, in a town steeped in maritime tradition. Rainier isn't much for rodeo, and I'm not too proud to confess that the Round-Up was my first one.
Please, contain your surprise.
I know, it's hard to believe that a seemingly ace rodeo reporter wouldn't know a brahma from Brahms (or Bach, or Beethoven, for that matter).
It didn't take long for me to realize that I was a bit out of my element. On the first day of the Round-Up, I dressed in my rodeo best: jeans, western shirt, boots and a new felt hat. In the arena that afternoon, I went to deliver a message to a couple of EO photographers.
Belly laughs ensued, and I'll admit that the Indiana Jones comparisons were not unfair.
In my defense, I have no fear of snakes. Broncos, on the other hand ...
Yes, I'm new to this whole rodeo thing. But I'm learning.
I know the electrifying, hair-raising tension of eight seconds. I know the fearless cowboy attitude. I know not to jump in terror whenever I get within 10 feet of a horse.
Well, maybe I've just observed that fearless cowboy attitude.
Some Round-Up highlights:
Watching 18-year-old cowboy Clayton Foltyn win the bareback title just four months out of high school - from the safety of the elevated press area.
Seeing renegade bull Dirty White Boy bust through the fencing during the bull ride Friday and spook the arena crowd before being corralled by four pick-up men - from the safety of the elevated press area.
Cheering all-around champ and Hermiston cowpoke Brad Goodrich during his victory lap on Saturday - from the safety of the elevated press area.
Watching the harrowing, death-defying, side-splitting wild cow milk - from the ... you get the idea.
I might have a few things left to learn, like why an overall score is called an average and what exactly happens when a steer roper breaks the barrier.
And I might not be totally devastated to be getting my first crack at Pendleton prep sports next week, with a full slate of soccer, volleyball and football on the way.
But my first Round-Up was a kick in the pants, and me and my Indiana Jones hat will be ready for the next go-round.
Let 'er Buck, Pendleton.
Sports writer Tyler Roush can be reached at 966-0825, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.