Our last day starts cool and misty. That mist adds a nice, secretive quality to the forest, and the deer that graze through it.
Since we’ve got a trail ride midday, we opt to clean up the grub we have in the cabin. I’m not after much as I feel like I’ve grazed like a deer since we got here.
BW comes back from a drone excursion with a story. He met Kyle, a rancher, and the buffalo (bison if you’re technical) are his. The big black steer who hangs with the white steer and other cattle is Tyrone, a beefalo. Tyrone was the result of a buffalo and cow getting through the fence to each other (true love!) and mating.
I’d never heard of a beefalo, but apparently it happens. Hey, you love who you love, right?
It feels cool enough, not unpleasantly so, for layers for that afternoon ride. But by the time we walk down to the big paddock for our horses and wrangler, it’s warmed enough I tie my jean jacket round my waist. Jason does the same with his hoodie, and BW ditches his vest.
Evan will be our guide, and after a few minutes of getting-to-know-you, and asking about our riding experience, he chooses our horses. So many pretties hanging out by the paddock fence, most just dozing the afternoon away.
BW gets Traveler, a big white dude for the tall dude. I get Doc—another white but not so big, and Jason gets the pretty paint, Lonnie. Right before I mount, Evan let’s me know Doc has a heavy mouth and likes to eat on the trail, which means I’ll have to haul his head back up.
I discover truer words.
Mounted up, we head out, and Doc lets me know pretty quick he wants snacks as we ride. I let him know pretty quick that’s a no, I’m going to haul him up. We have this little war of wills throughout.
Other than that issue, Doc is as comfortable a ride as I could ask for. Sure-footed on the narrow, rocky, often steep trail, and steady as he goes. I start out beside Evan as Doc would like to be lead horse—nope, I say, settle for second place.
It’s warm and beautiful out as we cross the road, head up, up, up into the forest to wind through it. Evan, like everyone we’ve met on the resort, is knowledgeable, friendly, helpful. He works here summers, so will—like many others—be leaving Monday to go back to college in Missoula.
Our horses are really sweet and sturdy—Doc and I continue to pit my will against his greed for grass. He’s a strong one, so I feel I absolutely got my resistance training in. Jason’s Lonnie plods along, a bit slower than the rest. At one point Jason said he wondered if Lonnie went to sleep climbing up a slope.
We can see parts of the ranch below, smell the pines surrounding us. Steep climbs up, steep climbs down.
Halfway through I switched from Western style one-handed reins to English so I could use both arms to drag greedy Doc back up. I had a lot better luck.
We ride down to a pasture where a mama and her new foal graze. Our mounts either like to visit or know they’re soon heading back to doze as they all break into a trot.
We’re not to let our horses get too close to the fence, Evan tells us. Mama won’t like. But the baby seems happy to see us, whinnies even as he sticks close to Mama.
A more level ground ride now, warm, sunny, picture perfect. Traveler has edged Doc out of second place. And Lonnie is content to bring up the rear.
At one point Doc tries to nibble at a rock. I point out to him, That’s a rock. His answer is to turn his head toward me and try to nibble on my right boot.
I think he grinned.
Back we ride, with everyone but Doc stopping by the water troughs to drink. He just wants to get back into the paddock.
When I dismount, he’s content to let me pet him until it’s time for Evan to lead him away.
In the paddock now are two kids—a girl of maybe eight or ten, a boy surely no more than five or six. Both are mounted and know what they’re doing.
The little boy’s horse wants to go to the fence, but his pint-sized rider just pulls him back.
We take more pictures, bid the horses goodbye. I wish I’d thought to take a picture of this beauty that belonged to one of the wranglers. When I commented, Evan said it’s called a Gommoragh (sp) Paint.
We walk back home to relax a little (or pack a little) before our last dinner.
Experience tells us it’ll get cool—very—before the meal’s over, and since we’re going to eat outside, to bring jackets.
Alice is our server again tonight, and has reserved a pod (cabana) for us with nothing but that beautiful view in front.
After we order, we decide to try one of our family panoramas in The Yard. A little staging, a bit of blocking, and we have another tradition in our bag.
Dinner, wonderful as always with a sky that finally gave us at least a little of the fabulous Montana sunset.
Now it’s cold, even with the heater in our pod. Inside we go for all—but me—to order the final dessert.
No one leaves hungry or disappointed.
A ride back under a 3/4 moon.
More packing before bedtime.
No working out in the morning on departure day. More packing, checking, organizing, packing. We’re leaving with more than we came with—and I’m astonished when I find I can actually pack my new boots.
We opt to take the evil puzzle apart and leave it for the cabin or the staff.
Kat and BW have their last breakfast, bring back some bacon. I do the Mom Check on the cabin probably a dozen times. Pretty sure we left nothing behind.
The driver and the transportation supervisor (she needs a ride into the airport to pick up a van) arrive so we can load up. LOTS of loading.
Another pleasant, informative trip to the airport. We learn for Christmas, the resort goes all out, even putting antlers and a red noses on the Kias, Christmas trees in every cabin, white lights on the outside trees.
That’s the spirit!
Unload at the airport, load onto the plane.
We’re flying home as I write this, should land in MD in about two and a half hours. Supposed to finally be clear weather at home. Reports are that it rained nearly every day while we were gone.
It’ll be great to see our dogs—and I know Kat and Jason missed their cats. It’s always nice to settle in at home again, even after an absolutely terrific vacation.
And this one surely was.
In the final #randomkatness for this vacation:
For everyone who has asked, our intrepid travelers stayed at The Resort at Paw’s Up.