On Tuesday morning, I snapped this shot… so peaceful… gorgeous. A perfect environment for… B-E-A-R-S!!!
Yup. BearS (plural)
Not one, 2.
The first one was only little (which made me wonder where Mama was…) but I was told that this little cub was right behind my cabin. I wasn’t there at the time, thank horsegod. One of my new ranchfriends snapped this photo.
We came across the other bear during our trail ride.
Uh huh. On the trail.
Here’s how it went down… Our group came upon another group who was just standing there, ogling something.
Being humans, we stopped and ogled, too.
Sky and I heard the cry of “BEAR!” and we looked at each other with huge eyes!… If at that moment either of us had flinched, I think we would both be in Cleveland by now…
SKY (getting all sideways and dancey on me) “Should we make a break for it?”
ME: I can’t even see it… where is it? If it is anywhere near us, I think we should make a break for it.
ME (calling out to the crowd): WHERE IS IT?
Crowd: It just jumped in the river and it is swimming across! Isn’t that terrific?! How lucky we are to see a bear, let alone a bear who is swimming so closely to us!
ME: Uh huh. Is he on the other side yet? (Clasping my hands together in prayer.)
Crowd (cooing): Awww, look, he just got up on the other side.
SKY (back-pedaling and bumping into the horse behind us): Is it gone? Should I bolt? What is everyone looking at? What’s a ‘bear’ anyway?! I can’t see! YOU are making me very nervous, Human, with all of your praying and twitching! Stop it!
Me (sheepish after being chastised for being skittish by my skittish horse…): What??! We’re good. C’mon…
Yup. A bear. A bear was on our path but evidently he was more upset to see us than we were to see him. He was so upset, he ran into the river and swam across.
I had just finished reading BEYOND THE BEAR, which didn’t help.
…By the way, when we saw the bear, our wrangler pointed out wolf tracks…
“Probably why we aren’t seeing any elk…”, he said dryly.
OTHER LOVELY BEINGS WHO LIVE HERE…
Another new and kind ranchfriend sent these shots to me… She is a photographer (the kind with the big camera and really long lenses) who seems to be at the right place at the right time.
I’ve seen nothing except the above bear and a zillion ground squirrels. But for her, in one outing, she saw a band of elk, deer and the river looking mysterious.
Here are her shots:
One of the many convenient and accommodating amenities of the R Lazy S Ranch is the ability to choose how much and how often you’d like to ride.
For me, I’ve chosen to ride a lot and often.
So, Tuesday was my first All-Day Ride. They told me to show up to the barn at 9:30.
The horses were already loaded. I swear, this place is a well-oiled machine!
As I waited to load myself into the truck, I noted all the kids awaiting their rides for the day.
As an aside, I gotta tell you, the Kids’ Program is incredible. Kids aren’t allowed to have any devices on the premises (in the cabin is OK). And, every minute is filled with fun activities – trail riding, tag on horses, kickball, talent show, rodeos, gymkhana, inner tubing on the river, fishing, a trip to the lake… it goes on and on. All the kids eat together in their own dining hall… they have their own wranglers and counselors… it is incredible! The kids are dirty, tired and happy at the end of the day. Exactly like summer vacations should be…
ALL DAY RIDE (To the top of a very tall place…)
Four of us plus a Wrangler piled into the truck hauling the horse filled trailer and traveled somewhere inside Teton Park. We parked.
Wrangler Maureen offloaded the horses and prepped them for us. Everything went smoothly – except for Sky.
Um Hmmm. MY HORSE was putting up a fuss about being bridled. Probably because his nose was sunburned – but poor Maureen was doing the bridle dance backwards, for a long time, as we all held our breath trying to figure out if we should jump in to help or if that might just make a larger heap of bodies in the end…
Finally, he let her win. Atta Boy!
And then he started hollering. And hollering. And hollering.
Poor Sky. He is new to the ranch and new to the herd and he just feels insecure. Kinda like me. And, the Arab in him was front and center. Well, not all front and center since he was still standing there, but at that moment, his quarter horse portion was not in attendance.
And then I got on.
Dancity Dance Dance, Dancity Dance.
I wondered to myself if he was under control or just about to blow…
Dancity dancity dancity, bucky kick reverse and spin.
Lordy Lordy (as my new Alabama ranchfriends would say…)
We are A-L-I-V-E!
And then we were off! Sky settled in and the ride was gentle, sweet and gorgeous through water, open meadows, single tracks and god’s country. What could be better than traveling on horseback through heaven on earth?
We went to the top and ate lunch.
We came down through lush green forests that reminded me of Oregon.
A perfect day.
TUESDAY EVENING Purdied-up TIME!
People can do whatever they want in the evenings… but it seems that someone always shows up for Happy Hour which is hosted by whichever guests feel like attending. They bring a libation, share, visit and learn about each other.
At exactly 6:30 sharp, the dinner bell is rung (yes, there is a dinner bell) and all the guests make their way to the cozy lodge for ranchgourmet (fancy, good food) dinner served family style.
After dinner, the guests sit on the lodge porch, which looks out to the Tetons, until they are done with wonderful conversation. Last night, they played cards.
I mostly keep to myself after 8pm. I kinda turn into a pumpkin.
But I know that friends are made here – lifelong friends.
In fact, one 25 year veteran of this ranch told me today that when he had an issue with his heart, he called his good friend, the cardiologist, that he only knew from this ranch. They had never gotten together outside the ranch, but the friendship they made here, entrusted one life in the hands of the other.
WEDNESDAY AM TROTTING RIDE (OY) AND PM WALKING RIDE (AHHH)
I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do on Wednesday so I decided on a morning ‘trotting’ Breakfast Ride and then I was going to go on an afternoon ‘loping’ ride.
The morning Breakfast Ride was your typical Breakfast Ride with way better food.
You know, where you meander all around so the guests have no idea where they are – but in reality you end up not far from the kitchen so that hauling all the stuff to the location isn’t a huge deal.
Anyway, gorgeous setting on the ranch. Beautiful. (I’m sounding redundant but I’m running out of descriptors.)
There was a professional photographer there who took shots of us guests on our horses and family shots of the guests with the Tetons in the background.
THE TROTTING PART…
Sky is more fine than most of the horses here. And his stride is shorter.
He desperately wants to keep up with the lead horses – and he gets pissed when he can’t and a horse comes up on his tail. He knows he’s slower but he doesn’t want to be reminded!
That’s all OK buuuuuuuut, his comfortable trot is the slower one. And he won’t stay in that slower trot unless I make him. But I didn’t want to pull on him the whole time so…. I let him trot faster than was comfortable.
For the entire ‘trotting’ ride, I was trying my best to post an equine jackhammer and failing.
Eventually he got tired and forgot about keeping up and the ride was much better but…
I miss my saddle.
THE LOPING PART..
Having concluded that the trotting wasn’t my favorite thing, I decided to save my internal organs and try a loping ride.
So, Wrangler Maureen brought me into the corral to watch Sky and me lope together.
By this time, I had such a headache from the organ reassignment trotting epic ride (and the altitude combined with a glass of wine the night before…), that after I passed my loping test (I ride like an English person trying to be Western – not pretty but it’ll do…), I decided to forget the loping ride and take an easy walking ride.
The walking ride turned out to be an excellent idea; it was gorgeous, easy and both Sky and I were grateful.
We were both tired, Lawd knows! (as the Alabama ranchfriends would say).
AT THE END OF THE DAY OF RIDING
At the end of the day of riding today, the Head Wrangler, Dan, asked me how I liked Sky…
WD: How’s that ol’ Sky workin’ out for you?
Me: I really like him.
WD: That’s good. That’s good. We like him, too.
And as I write this, I can hear Sky hollering in the huge pasture. I wonder if he got separated from his two friends. I hope he is OK and I look forward to rubbing his neck tomorrow morning and telling him, “You’re alright…”.
And, he is all right…this week, he’s my family.
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