In typical Midwestern fashion, it took us one night to switch from air conditioning to furnace! I didn’t really turn on my furnace, yet, but I sure wanted to! Cold and rainy this morning, but the sun finally came back out this afternoon.
My weekend: Saturday I packed up Bubba & myself and drove to Rock Creek Station for an overnight trail ride with my saddle club. It was about a 3 hour drive – 3.5 if you count the stop at WalMart to buy the stuff I’d forgotten to pack!
Rock Creek Station is a sate park just west of Beatrice – I had never been to Beatrice before that I remember. Saturday’s weather was very rider-friendly – just the right amount of sunshine and a mild breeze. A dozen of us spent a fine afternoon riding the trails through the trees and rolling prairies of the other areas of the park. At one point, they have a replica of log cabins that represent a bunkhouse, a blacksmith shop, a barn, and a Pony Express Station, which is located on the site of an actual Pony Express Station. There were also several covered wagon replicas. There were also several sections of split rail fencing. Wandering through that little spot on horseback gives a person pause as to the hopes and dreams of the long ago people who settled the area.
Saturday evening, we shared a supper of grilled steaks and salads and such. At about the time the sun went down, the wind picked up. I crawled into my sleeping bag and settled down for the night. The wind kept up a steady stream all night – so much so that the family of 3 who were my neighbors for the night, abandoned their tent, fearing it was going to be blown down, and spent the remainder of the night in the cab of their pickup. I didn’t notice the temperature drop until it was time for the dawn to break- which it didn’t because the wind had brought in a grey cloud cover, so the sun came up and immediately hid behind the clouds. It was the first time this year that I’ve felt the need for a sweatshirt.
Our group was reduced to eight by the time we saddled up for Sunday’s ride and we went out for about 3 hours and then our trail boss – the only guy with a trail map – decided he and three others wanted to take the long way back to camp. Four of us elected to take the short way (only 5 miles) back. “Just stay on this path,” the man said “and it’ll take you right back to the Visitor Center. You can’t miss it.” Do those sound like ‘famous last words,’ or what?
All went well until we came to a fence line and had to choose to go either left or right. With the sun hidden, we had no way to tell which way was north, so we made our best guess and - well, the rest of our trail time was spent wandering the draws and hills, trying to keep the Visitor Center in sight and wondering where we’d gone wrong. It was then I came to realize that, if any of our pioneers had a sense of direction comparable to mine, all immigrants to this country would have wound up back in Europe or maybe at the North Pole. It’s hard to say which. Fortunately, my companions had a better memory of Saturday’s ride than I did and a better sense of direction, so I soon found it best to keep quiet and bring up the rear.
In our wanderings, we had to cross a small creek several times – I’m not sure you could actually call it a creek, since it was only a couple feet wide in most places. Bubba decided he’d rather leap it than step in it, so I got my fill of jumping practice. My friend Julie’s horse did the same, only her horse made the leaps in a much bigger way – in fact, she looked for all the world like a Lippizanner! She (the horse) is even white with grey points. After about the 7th leap, Julie and I had both had our back bones jarred enough to turn the muscles around it into jelly. I can only imagine how the horses’ backs must have felt.
At long last, we located a trail that the other 3 ladies recognized from the day before and we finally wandered back through the Rock Creek Station log cabin area; where we encountered two Charolais cows and their calves. And we thought WE were lost!
My complete lack of an internal compass was proven again on the drive home through Beatrice. I came to the intersection of Highways 77 and 136 and if it had not been CLEARLY marked which was north and which was south, I would have turned south onto 77 and would probably be Oklahoma City by now!
What an adventure! I am definitely requesting a compass for my birthday.