Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Making New Friends

On Monday, the second day of our trip, Jeremy and I woke up early(ish), packed a lunch, and headed out to ride some horses! I’ve never ridden a horse in my life. Here’s something I learned about Jeremy this week: He loves horses. He wants to own one. For some reason, he never talks about it, because he thinks people might think it’s girly. But then he said, “Any guy who thinks loving horses is girly has never ridden a horse.”

The trail we rode is in a town called Troutdale. We got lost, then we thought we got lost but found out we were going the right way, after we stopped and asked directions from a man mowing his mountain sized yard. He told us to turn around and head back the way we came, and we “couldn’t mee-iss it”. Well, we had in fact missed it once already. When we finally found it, we saw Doug (the man who owns the horses) hiking out of the trees to fetch us. We waited for another group that was also riding, a mom and her 14 year old boy and girl twins. Once we were all there, Doug led us back through the woods, across a pit of black mud and a creek with slippery rocks. He held my hand when we crossed and chided Jeremy for crossing without me.

When we got to the clearing, we found a red horse trailer with 7 horses tied to it, and Doug’s brother Billy camped out in his sedan waiting for us. “I’m not sleeping, I’m just waiting!”, Billy told us. Doug sized us all up and paired us with our horses. He looked at Jeremy, then at a horse. Looked back at Jeremy, then at another horse. He finally told him, “You get on Fluffy, here.” Fluffy was the biggest horse of the lot. He was also chubby, blond, and turned out to be gassy. Coincidence? I think not. He led me over to a black horse with skinny legs. He must have sensed my penchant for monochrome. Billy helped me mount, and I asked him, “What’s his name?” He responded with, “This is Killer.” Well, that inspires confidence. Turns out he was joking, and my horse’s name was Rambo. Which really doesn’t seem much better when I think about it.

Rambo and I, about to hit the trail
 Billy and Doug helped everyone else onto their horses, giving us instructions like, “His mouth is sensitive- all you’ll have to do is tug on the bridle real gentle like”, and “Keep your horse off of Tess’s back... she likes to kick out if you get too close”.

I knew the second I sat in that saddle that I was in trouble. Now, I wouldn’t call myself scrawny by any means. But my butt it as bony as Jack Skellington’s. No cushion, whatsoever. Sitting in the saddle, it felt like it was nothing but skin stretched over bone. Doug told me not to worry, that I’d “go numb after about an hour”. Well. Lovely. I gritted my teeth and made up my mind to have fun regardless of any saddle sores I might end up with.

Doug led the way, with Jeremy right behind him, and me behind Jeremy. I bonded with Rambo... I could read him like a book. For instance, I knew he was pissed that he wasn’t leading. He kept shoving Fluffy’s rear and huffing when he wouldn’t move. He was clearly frustrated being third in line. Doug told me that the horse he was riding and Rambo take turns leading, but lately he’d been letting the other horse lead. Rambo was clearly disgruntled by this fact.

 We rode for 2 hours on a trail that was a train track in a former life, used for hauling logs out of the logging camps. My extroverted husband chatted with Doug the whole time. I mostly just enjoyed the scenery, but I caught snippets of their conversation- I learned that Doug’s wife passed away 10 years ago, after “35 good years”... that he has a slew of grandkids, and he calls all his granddaughters “cowgirls”, and that he had 60 horses but they got too expensive to feed so he sold a couple of Appaloosa foals, and now he has 43 horses (I want an Appaloosa foal!!). I also learned that he was planning on picking the wild blackberries we saw growing on the trail and going home to make a cobbler to go with the ice cream he already had churning at home.

Above and below are pictures of my view
for 2 solid hours.

When the tour was over, it was kind of hard to say goodbye, for some reason. We hung around and talked, and laughed, and took pictures:

The two blonds- JT and Fluffy

Our horses' rear ends

Doug and I

and Jeremy promised that we would come back. We picked our way back across the creek, and hopped in our car. We got back out on the road and drove about half a mile, when Jeremy suddenly slammed on the brakes and said, “Oh! There it-! Wait! You have to see this! Get the lunch box!” He parked the car and led me off the road, down a steep trail to this:

We sat and ate lunch here, took pictures, and just talked and relaxed. It was wonderful- until we tried to leave, and we realized how wet the rocks really were. Jeremy slipped and fell... and when he got back up and tried to help me down, I slipped and fell... and slid 10 feet down the slope. We’re all about one-up manship, folks, remember? I landed on my elbow and then my butt... but thankfully my camera was safe!

When we got back to our cabin, I immediately took some pain medicine for my injured bum, and fell asleep for 3 hours. I woke up so stiff and sore that I was groaning with each step, but it was worth it. I went out on the back deck while Jeremy started prepping dinner... and made friends with these guys, who happened to be our neighbors:

Also, this guy, but he was more of a friend from afar:

He was corralled in a separate pen at the bottom of the hill, and he HATED- I mean, HATED- that the other two came up to visit us. He wheezed, and huffed, and neighed. I never figured out whether he was warning them (as we all know goody-two (four?)-shoes are wont to do), or if he was just pissed off that he couldn't come visit too. Whatever the reason, he made me giggle. He spent every single one of their visits like this.

I learned, about an hour before we left to come home, that our buddies' names are Huey and Farrah (I never found out pouty horse's name)... but I called them Neville and Bellatrix up until then (She looks like a Bellatrix, doesn't she? If you could have seen her hair...). Huey, the donkey, especially loved Jeremy. He would come and visit every half hour or so, sauntering up to the fence and braying until Jeremy would come out and pet him and talk to him. They were one of the highlights of my trip.

Right on the other side of the cabin, we saw these guys:

But they didn’t want to make friends. They mostly ignored me.

All in all, our first full day away was a huge success. Aside from the getting lost, acquiring saddle sores, and sliding down a waterfall, that is. Even those ended up being part of the fun. Except the falling part... that hurt. My elbow is still swollen. But the new friends we made were definitely worth rubbing swollen elbows with.

More to come!

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