Labor Day weekend is traditionally the end of summer. We celebrated the weekend by renting out a campground in a state park for our group of riders. Fifteen living quarter horse trailers arrived with their horses, dogs, camp chairs and toys and went to setting up horse pens, awnings, and makeshift patios. Friday was a relaxing evening of conversations and sharing stories of summer activities.
We enjoyed two long rides in the park on Saturday, and with such a large group, we found ourselves breaking into groups....the early morning riders, the gaited horses, and I went out with a group of gals who were single or not with their husbands for the weekend. We enjoyed the smaller groups, and were able to do more loping and trotting that we can do when we are in a long line in a big group.
There is a river that we ride along, but due to a steep bank, cannot ride down to it except in one spot, and that has been made difficult by a large tree lying across the entry. Recently, we noticed someone had cut a gap into that huge tree, so we attempted to go down the bank. Bart went first, and carefully picked his way down the steep incline with the rocks and logs. He arrived safely at the river, where the other riders joined us. One rider sent her horse down, which we caught, then she scrambled down on foot and re-mounted.
We rode in the river and went all the way around an island and the horses were wonderful. The weather was a breezy, sunny 80 degrees and the day was one for the memories.
The evenings were grilled dinners and a campfire with stories and laughter until our eyelids would not stay up any longer. The evenings cooled down to the 60's, so it was perfect for sleeping with the windows open and listening to the sounds of coyotes, owls and trees whispering in the breezes.
Sunday morning started with the big Cowboy Breakfast made over the campfire in a huge fry pan. Everyone supplied the eggs, sausage, bacon, cheese, mushrooms, onions, peppers, cheese, hash browns, and our expert chef combined them all into an anticipated delicious breakfast that stuffed our tummys (to our horse's chagrin!).
We had two wonderful rides on Sunday and one more earlier ride this morning. The trail leader today took us on some more remote trails that I hadn't ridden before in this huge park, and were breathtaking in their beauty with the rolling hills overlooking the lakes, the narrow trails through the huge oaks, and across the waving meadows. Most of us agreed that this weekend of camping was the highlight of the summer, and today was the best ride of the year. It was so hard to pack up, wave good-bye to friends who I wouldn't see again for a long time, and to pull out of that park on yet another beautiful breezy day.
Now the horse has been returned happily to his pasture, the trailer has been unloaded and parked, the dog and I have had our baths and supper, and I am relaxing recalling such a perfect ending to the end of summer. Tomorrow I will head back up north to attend a funeral, then look forward to spending next weekend with my sisters for a last good-bye get-together before I head to the Black Hills on a ride, then back to Arizona. It has been a summer full of riding, golf, fishing, time with family and friends, and lots of time on the road. I almost didn't come up for this summer....and maybe won't again next year....but this one was wonderful. Now for that beautiful season of colorful leaves and first frosts......