God’s Country Ride

Where do I even begin. I truly am not even sure. The Monday blues were real and hardcore on the struggle bus yesterday.

Years 1, 2, and 3 were all so different and this year was, well, no different! It was indeed the best year in my estimation and I believe in several others’ as well.

I suppose starting at the beginning is the natural way of things. It just seems so long ago!

I was able to skip town pretty early on Friday. I already had my things packed and Merle with me at the office. All I had to do was drop him off (more on that later) and I was off scot-free! Well, as scot-free as one can be in Friday traffic, but hey, I was on my way!

There were only a few stops I needed to make on the way for necessary long road trip things. Shavings for Ronan and Lito in the trailer and breakfast kolaches (both sausage and fruit) to go and nacks (that is ‘snacks’ for all you people without a cute niece) for R and me.

R and Ro made it to the farm Friday evening with just enough time to get Ro settled and for us to get into town for a Mexican food dinner. We were both starving and decided loading all of my stuff could wait till the morning.

Morning came quick enough, as it does, and there was plenty left to do before we could leave, but we got it all done in not much time or having to rush too badly. After loading Ro and Lito and before pulling out, R warmed up the sausage kolaches while I turned the rest of the horses out.

Our farm cat, clearly a bit miffed that he was going to be missing out on the fun and the kolaches, decided he would take matters into his own paws by snagging and eating our fruit kolaches off of the truck dash. He clearly enjoyed them! After having a good laugh, the first of many, we were on the road by around 10 AM. 

Lito in his road gear. Am I ridiculous? Maybe, but I do not care.

The drive was going smoothly enough.

Long time horse people never actually think that thought though because it is just a matter of when something will happen, not a matter of if.

Is that not so subtle foreshadowing you read?

Spoiler alert, there were incidents.

This was the first incident. Blown tire.

Doesn’t that just look like a party?

There are several great things about this incident. Both the horses and us were just fine. We had all the things we needed to change the tire. AND, go figure this, a friend just up the road to help. We were on the road in very little time at all. By all accounts, this part really could not have gone any better.

That was the first part.

Once we got to the next town about 45 minutes down the road, we spent the next hour trying to find someone to check the rest of the tires and replace the blown one. After trying three places, we finally got the others checked and decided to get on down the road. We started the drive with two spare tires and knew we would have better luck replacing the one in a bigger town or come Monday morning.

Feeling pretty alright about our good fortune, but still someone shaken, we drove on.

I will spare you some of the details of what happens next, but we almost got in a bad wreck…Like slam on the breaks and horn and basically come to a stop on a major freeway bad. And feel the horses get smacked around in the trailer behind us bad. All because someone was not paying attention and was entering the freeway incorrectly! (Let us all make a pact to help educate people on driving the road with horse trailers, OK? Thanks). It could have been much, much worse. I do not want to focus on that.

The point is, we were and are still OK.

I have shown you this cross before.

I can tell you one thing, we were praising the Lord during and after this drive.

Us humans were pretty shaken by the day’s events and we have never been so happy to unload horses in our lives. Oh, and bless these two boys of ours. They unloaded calmly and seemed to comfort us and not the other way around! I think at that point we would have been happy to never leave that hilltop ranch. At the end of the day, the drive took about twice as long as it should have.

We put the horses in their pens to settle and went to settle ourselves. That later on included an evening stroll with the horses before dinner with some of the other early arrivals.

Lito wanted to make donkey friends, but they were not so inclined.

The Sunday sunrise the following morning was stunning as per usual. R and I climbed on top of the trailer with our coffee for a better view. This basically set up the rest of the day.

I stayed in my pajamas until 11 AM. This will likely not be a shock for you to learn, but I never do that. Ever. It was glorious. I probably had four cups of coffee too.

Lito and one of his many girlfriends, Jazzy.

The longhorn wanted to make friends too.

Later on, in real clothes, we went for a much needed ride.

I have shown you this cross before too!

We then watched the sunset before heading down the hill for dinner in town with friends.

At dinner, our great friend and hostess read that day’s devotional aloud.

Boy howdy, if that did not speak right to me, I do not know what does.

It was a great evening and we all awoke on Monday morning rested and ready to make it to our final destination for the main event! …Sans incidents!

However, R and I first needed to replace our blown tire which took some time. This was actually kind of nice because we got to have a nice breakfast in town while we waited. Once that chore was finished, we went back to the ranch, loaded up (again, I praise these boys that loaded very well despite how their last trip went!), and headed out!

I am happy to report that we made it without any problems and got our ponies all settled for the week of fun!

And fun we did have in a big way.

Fun. Fellowship. Sisterhood. All with our horses. I can not share too terribly much because it is all, you know, secret and stuff, but here is a little taste of what went on.

Just look at my cute boy. He looks happy, yes? He had this face on pretty much the whole week.

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We enjoyed a movie out on the lawn after dinner the first night, complete with popcorn and candy…under the full moon! It took me right back to childhood and camp. We watched The Man From Snowy RiverGreat movie if you have never seen it!

I had late night and early morning hangouts with my guy.

Lito striking a pose while looking for the strange animal that made a scary noise.

We rode the hills together.

Those are my friends R and H. And Lito’s friends Ronan and Chica.

We crossed a lot of water and we loved it.

We rode through the shady, idyllic groves.

We hung out in the river and watched the fish.

Lito took many naps. I did not. I did not sleep much all week!

We saw, experienced, and felt God’s creation from the back of God’s gift to us. It could not have been any better.

We caught the sunrise each morning and the sunset each evening.

I felt transported to a different place at times. Which was much needed.

I do believe my Lito had as good of a time as I did.

My horse. My Lito man. He was amazing and seemed to be very happy (even if he did get bored and frustrated when we were going too slow or stopping too much). He wanted to be friends with everyone. I could not be more proud of him. He is not the horse for everyone, but he is for me. We have our own thing.

I lost count of how many times I laughed until I cried with my fellowship and horsemanship sisters. My stomach and my eyes hurt! Y’all have no idea how much I needed that. How much we all needed and still need that.

We rode together. We prayed together. We laughed together. We cried together. That is what it is and was all about. That is what IT is all about. AHAmoment. They call the Hill Country God’s Country and it sure did feel that way!

Now I can not share any more about that! BUT. I do have one more thing for y’all.

Did you wonder about my Merle while we were away? Well, wonder no more. He was in excellent care. I had to board him because all of my people were busy or out of town. He did not seem to mind and clearly had fun! Does he look like he is practicing his face for Halloween, missing baby teeth and all?!

By the time we got back to the farm and unloaded, I wished R a good safe rest of her drive, took a much needed bath, and then took a two hour nap (another thing I do not do).

I still have not caught up on sleep! We are all happy to be safely home even though we were not quite sure we wanted the trip to be over. This week is major catch up and now I just want to go back!

Walk in love, dear readers! I sure missed y’all!

 

Teaser

Y’all. I just can not help it. I have a little teaser for you. OK, maybe not so little…I am sorry I am not sorry! Just a little stroll down memory lane, if you will.

It is just that…

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We will be headed to our yearly ride in a little over a week and I just want to go through photos and memories until we are on the road! So, I am going to bring you along with me!

A photo summary of year 1…

Year 2…

Year 3…

How will I make trough the next week???

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I am so excited to see what this fourth year will hold. A little older. A little wiser. And no less in  need of it!

Lito is just as excited as I am, even if he can not tell me so in English.

Walk in love, dear readers!

 

 

 

 

Weary Travelers

Best laid plans, right? Long time no talk. Apologies for what is likely to be an interestingly written post.

Here is the thing. I have been sick. For DAYS. Since Monday. And not Monday as in a few days ago this week. I mean Monday as in LAST MONDAY.

You read that correctly. I was a deep voiced balloon head with mucus everywhere. That is probably too much information, but that has been my reality.

I guess I should just start at the beginning. This is probably a spoiler alert, but let me just say that we had been watching the weather and knew that we were going to get some rain coming into our ride. Now if you have seen any of the news, you might know some of what I am about to say.

But first, back to the beginning of the story. Let us not get ahead of ourselves. This was the sunset Friday night that officially kicked us off on our ride vacation. When R and Ronan arrived, we got him settled and decided to just enjoy ourselves and have dinner with my parents instead of loading all of my stuff. We put that off until Saturday morning.

The following morning of loading took longer than normal as my stuff was less organized than I have had it in the past. However, we were in no real hurry and had plenty of time.

We loaded the horses, pulled out of the farm, grabbed kolaches for breakfast from town, and hit the road to make the almost four hour first leg of the trip.

I made Lito wear all the things and he still loves me for it. Although, he did not really need any of it other than the mask since this trailer is so big. Unlike ours.

Once we arrived, we unloaded and got the horses settled before going to find a late lunch for us in town. I swear every time I take Lito somewhere he not only grows, but he loses weight.

Always with the doe eyes.

Telling me how he really feels about me making him wear all the things. He said, “I am a real horse, I do not need to wear all of this.”

The rain had already started and stopped a few times at this point, but we were no worse for wear. We were staying put till Monday anyway. Even though there was a good chance for rain on Monday, we figured we could get up and out and get there before it really started.

Lito made a bunny friend. We think she had babies hidden somewhere near by. I also believe she was sick.

One of the pretty and clear moments of the weekend. Promising and hopeful.

A moment of being tired of the rain and being stuck in the stall. That is Scooter back there.

Lito being a grumpy gandpa telling the others to quit their shenanigans. Funny that he was the youngest horse. Ronan was very upset about something out in the trees.

This was Saturday night’s sunset. It was beautiful. That is kinda when it all started to go downhill.

This is what we woke up to on Sunday morning. Ominous looking out there, but oddly peaceful at the time on top of that hill.

This is a little summary video clip from the whole weekend. It was quite fun until Monday rolled around.

We were able to take the horses down the hill to a flat area on Sunday evening to get a longe session in. They all needed it. Between all the things we were doing and the rain, fitting in an actual ride just did not happen. So, for your mental math, the horses rode in the trailer for about four hours and then were basically stuck in a stall for the rest of the time till Monday.

I had the pleasure of also longing Scooter, the blaze face bay horse in one of those pics. He was basically a horse kite.

One day, Lito may grow into his hips. His shoulders are starting to finally fill out.

Lito acted like he was fine with the whole being stuck in a stall thing. He was straight up lazy on the longe and really just wanted to graze. Grazing goes a long way so I let him.

This is when everything kinda starts to run together. Literally and figuratively. At some point Sunday night or Monday morning…or maybe some other time, I am not quite sure…It started to really rain somewhere. Here. There. Everywhere. All the creeks, streams, and rivers started to fill. Monday morning rolled around and we were not sure we were going to be able to get to our final destination for the week an hour and a half down the road. Or that we would be able to get back to where we were if we tried.

I also woke up that morning with that tell tale feeling of getting sick.

A lot happened on Monday. None of that really matters. What matters is the AHAmoments…Wait. Do not be in a hurry. Wait for data and facts from reliable sources, non opinions. Keep your emotions low and do not worry about what you can not do anything about. Difficult in this kind of situation? You bet. That is life.

The long story short. We found a window that afternoon when it was not raining, the roads were clear, and we knew we could go. So we went and got there safely. Who cares that we were later than planed.

Then it rained some more.

Then Tuesday morning rolled around. And it rained more. Everything started flooding again. The barn became a flash flood at some point after this video and the below photo.

Water, mud, muck, and shavings everywhere is the gist. I would not quite use the word disaster, but…

I stopped taking pictures and started trying to move water and get as much as we could off the ground.

When the rain finally quit, we took the horses and tied them up at the trailers for the rest of the day to do what we could to remedy the situation. Dig more trenches. Shovel out shavings. Try and get the ground to dry.

Lito’s stall got bad, but not nearly as bad as many of the others.

By the end of Tuesday we were all wet, muddy, and tired.

By the time Wednesday rolled around…I felt like…um…bad. Really bad. And decongestants make me feel even worse. I was weak and tired. And the horses had been in stalls, dry if they were lucky, for two more days at this point.

We only got to ride for a couple of hours on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday each because of the conditions. And honestly, I do not think I should have ridden more even if we could because of the way I felt. It was still pretty though.

Lito had a couple of young horse moments. One because I was honestly too weak to even mount up on Wednesday and another on Thursday when we got buzzed by a plane. He really did not like that last part.

There was more rain coming at some point Friday evening into Saturday with more possible flooding. We decided it would be best to pack up and clean up early on Friday so people could leave that afternoon or first thing in the morning on Saturday given what the beginning of the week was like.

R and I left with the horses on Saturday morning as early as we could with the rain. And it rained on us most of the way home.

Needless to say, Lito and I were happy to be back at the farm, even if we had to unload most of my stuff in the rain and wind. I was going to stay at the farm Saturday night, but I was so tired, wet, and crummy feeling. I booked it to town to stay at my parents house with my dog since she was there.

Not quite the report I wanted to give, but such is life! We made the most of it and had a good time together (even if it does not quite read that way!). We are all stronger for it. Albeit a bit tired as well, but stronger and closer.

If the rain story ended here, that would be lovely with all sunshiny roses and rainbows.

The thing is, the whole of central Texas has continued to receive buckets upon buckets of rain. All up river from the farm. It also got pretty dang cold in there somewhere setting more records, but that is secondary to the rain.

All that water is coming our way and hopefully not flooding.

I went out to the farm yesterday after work for my midweek visit and went ahead and moved the cows up into the horse pasture so they can all get to high ground just in case.

I have spent every evening since getting back on the couch in sweats, wishing I had a fire place while hacking all the crud out of my chest.

Do not even ask me about my laundry. I have not even looked at the mountain.

Go walk in love, dear readers. This gal is happy to be high and dry at the moment!

 

 

The French Countryside: La Fin

I last left you after having experienced the best day on the trip so far, riding along the river and enjoying my finds from the local farmer’s market with everyone. The memories of this day will stay with me forever and I could have gone home happy then.

But, I still had a few days left and they were going to be busy ones. They may have been the last days, but they were certainly not the least ones.

After a Friday of eating croissants and baguette with magic butter and resting up (I did eat other foods…), I took a day trip to the coastal town of Pornic on Saturday, Bastille Day, with a few of the other house guests. We stopped in the city of Nantes on the way so I could peruse through a tack store there. I bought some things I did not need, but I was in France, so I bought them. Why not, right? Side note, this city looks to be pretty cool and has many things to do. If you are in the area, it might be worth looking up. Food. Shopping. Entertainment. Close to the coast.

Continuing our journey to Pornic, we took “the scenic route” trying to get out of Nantes as they were already barricading many of the streets for the Bastille Day celebrations. We all had a fleeting thought that we might not be able to leave! Every time we tried to turn,  we could not and our GPS kept telling us to u-turn. We gave up on the GPS and just started to follow the traffic hoping we would end up somewhere where the GPS would recalculate our journey. Eventually, after much honking and swearing and laughing, we did find our way and continued on.

The kids in the car were starting to get hungry at this point and we still had a ways to drive to our destination. One of them had a fascination with trying McDonald’s in France and it seemed like a good plan to get them some food while we held out for a cafe in Pornic. We asked them if it tasted the same as back home and their comment was that it tasted a little funny. We thought nothing of this and continued on.

We pulled into Pornic, found a parking spot, and set off on foot to the busy harbor. It was a hub of activity and there were people all around with the set up for the night’s celebrations and cafes and shops. If we were not so far from the farm, it would have been nice to stay for the fun, and indeed the original plan was to stay for it. However, after much deliberation, we decided it was best to not stay that late and planned for a nice late lunch, look around, go find the beach, and then head back before it got too late.

Lunch at Le Cap Gourmand was wonderful. A couple glasses of prosecco. A goat cheese galette with honey, nuts, and delicately dressed mixed greens. So simple, yet absolutely fabulous. Sitting outside under an umbrella next to the canal. Good company. It was lovely. After our leisurely meal, we walked through some of the shops before grabbing some sorbet at Glacier Pornic, which was also a knockout. Current and lemon. So so good.

After some trial and error on where and what this beach actually was (the non rock cliffs with crashing waves), we found a good parking spot and made our way down. One of the kids mentioned he needed to use the little men’s room, so our first stop before the actual crowded, teeny tiny patch of beach was the public restroom. Or rather, right outside of said public bathroom with Turkish toilets.

Here is where I might should mention that one should not eat McDonald’s in France. But. S*** happens and it indeed happened that day. In spades. That poor mom and kid! They were both troopers in, dare I say it, somebody stop me, a s***ty situation!

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It was character building! That kid took it all in stride is going to be somebody great!

All is well that ends well, as they say. After the McDonald’s episode, the kids swam for a bit in the ocean before we decided it was time for us to cut our losses and head back to the farm early. These adults needed some wine. We would put our feet in the pool and pretend we were on a beach somewhere with less people and more sand and zero McDonald’s.

We had some good laughs on the way home and after we got back.

Sunday, World Cup day,  began with more croissants and more laughs followed by a ride on the Top Girl in the fields to start the day off right.

Then some of us thought it would be great to meet up with a newcomer to the house at  Chateau Des Vaults to try some wines. Wine tasting in France is fun. I liked the wine and the grounds were just beautiful. So lush and green. You can walk around the gardens and then up a hill to see the vines. I highly recommend it. We all bought some bubbley rose to take home.

That would have been a good enough day right there, but France was playing in the final game of the World Cup that afternoon so we loaded up some snacks and headed to a packed park in Chateau Gontier to watch the game on a jumbotron and drink some beer with a bunch of French people. If you do not know, France won and everyone commenced to celebrating in the streets.

On Monday, the newcomer to the house (who we tasted wine with) and I went off to the coastal town of Concale. It is a lovely, quaint town. We went there specifically to go to Epices Roellinger  (a great spice shop I could have spent hours in. There are others around France, but this is THE one) and a bakery called Grain de Vanille. I bought all the things. Seriously, y’all should go here.

After lunch the coast and crepes for dessert, we drove over to see Mont Saint Michel Abbey. I wanted to go in, but we were too late in the day, and to be honest, I was quite tired by that point and we had a long drive back to the farm.

Tuesday was a relaxing last day on the farm. We had a lovely lunch in a nearby town and then I had one last ride on the Top Girl before leaving on Wednesday.

Wednesday was an early and long day. It is a long story, but I missed my train to get to the airport and we had to make the three hour drive to Paris instead…which put me at the airport less than an hour from the scheduled take off. Fortunately, the flight was apparently delayed. I however, did not know this until after I frantically ran through the airport, almost slipping and falling on my behind in the process. I half expected my shoe to break.

When I finally got on the plane and settled, I ordered a cocktail like I needed it more than my next breath.

Always dress for a run through the airport, kids. You just never know what can happen, whether or not you eat McDonald’s! Ha!

Walk in love, dear readers, and I hope you enjoyed coming along on my trip with me! Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

The French Countryside: The Best Day

The only thing I knew about Thursday when I woke up was that there was a local farmers market happening in Chateau Gontier and I wanted to go. I love markets. Especially with other people who also love markets.

We skipped the croissants at the house in favor of having one near the market so we could get there early and find all the things we wanted to find. Namely mussels to prepare for lunch later that day at the house.

All of the eager market goers hopped in the car and set off. We parked and set off on foot to a bakery for the first order of business.

We were all suffering from croissant withdrawal and we needed to remedy the situation. What we found in this bakery was a basic gold mine. If only I could remember the name of it. Everything was beautiful and looked as though it actually tasted as it looked. Each pastry was an individual art piece. While we all acted like we had never been in a bakery before, a few people jumped in front of us in line to order because we could not figure out what to do. At the end of our ogling, we each ended up getting multiple things to sustain us throughout the day. With our buttery, delicious finds safely tucked away in a bag for later (we were too excited to eat them just yet), we continued on our route.

As we approached the beginning of the market, I began to get giddy.

We passed by the bird and rabbit section rather quickly to get to what was happening farther down. We were not in the market for that kind of dinner or in need of any breeder stock.

This is where the action was happening. The fresh produce, goods, and all the people! So many sights, sounds, colors, and tastes. I am not typically a fan of crowds of people, but that is part of what makes a market a market.

All the locals were catching up and sharing stories. Smiling. Playing music. It was fabulous. Did I mention the weather was fabulous? Because it was. It reminded me somewhat of the markets we would go to in Mexico while spending summers there growing up. Not quite the same, but similar.

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I spied some beautiful cherries and circled back around to buy a kilo of them. I said si instead of oui. I had actually done this multiple times already, but who is counting. Spain was not all that far away, right?! What can I say, old habits die hard.

We opted to start our walking breakfast of croissant as we continued on. I had to quickly stop as I realized how good this croissant was. Seriously. I am not kidding in the slightest. This one croissant was seriously the best one I had enjoyed yet (and was the best one the whole trip).

Once I was able to walk again, I found something to really got excited about. Local goat cheese! I LOVE goat cheese. Well, any cheese, but put goat cheese on anything and I will eat it. The same can be said about queso and vanilla ice cream. Anyway. Her case had already been depleted and there was a line, so you knew it all had to be good.

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I purchased a round of plain and a round of fresh ground pepper corn crusted to take back to the house. I said si to her as well.

At this point, we decided to power through to the other side where the mussels were to make sure we got some and then stroll back through the rest.

The powering through only lasted so long as we had to stop at this stand with all kinds of dried sausage.

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Anything you could imagine as a sausage, this man had it. Someone in our group bought some kangaroo sausage, just to give you an idea. One of the things I love about these types of markets, is the tasting. They all have little delicate tastes of their offerings to passers by. This man had slices of pork sausage with walnuts to offer. Naturally, I had to try, and just as naturally, I had to buy. I already had the goat cheese! How could I not!? Then I saw something even better. Pork sausage with figs! Do you want to know what I also really love not only in addition to goat cheese, but with goat cheese???!!! FIGS. So I bought some of the fig sausage as well.

We continued on and bought some potatoes and the mussels we came for before turning around.

On our stroll back through the rest of the market, I kept an eye out for the local honeys I saw at the beginning to go with my goat cheeses and sausages. All of that combined with a fresh baguette, I was going to create the best cheese board some time in the next couple of days.

We found a lady with different kinds of honey and she was willing to let us taste them all. This was a very interesting and enjoyable experience. If you like honey, and maybe even if you do not (you might find you indeed do like honey based on how different honeys can be), I recommend you try doing this. They were all really different. We tried four or five different kinds based on what the bees were pollinating on. Some were lovely and balanced and one in particular was straight up medicinal (in which all three of us made a face after we tried it). After deciding on a honey we thought would go well with the cheeses and sausage, we made our way back to the farm.

A large, late lunch and a nap had us all ready for the evening’s activities.

A ride along the Mayenne River at sunset.

Y’all, I can not imagine that I can fully describe this experience in words, so I figure I will let the photos do most of the work. This ride alone was worth the whole trip.

There were five riders and two horses, so we took turns with two people riding and three walking. The plan was to ride from the trailer to a cafe down the river where the rest of the non horsey part of the group was enjoying dinner, at which point I would hop on and ride with one person past the cafe, turn around and come back. Then I would ride with another person from the cafe to the trailer.

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I turned around while I was walking to see this chateau.

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When I hopped up on Top Girl (which was comical because I have not had a leg up in many years), she was ready to go. That Top Girl has top, big girl walk when she wants to! She was happy to be out and about, and so was I. Just another reason we got along so famously.

France loves their hedges and so do I.

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The part from the cafe to the trailer was really and truly fabulous.

A great horse.

Stunning scenery.

A nice new friend and good conversation about horses.

We trotted for a little bit and if I thought Top Girl’s walk was nice, her trot that day could have gone into any ring and won the blue ribbon.

The money shot here. Not surprisingly, this was the best sunset of the whole trip.

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As if all of the above was not enough. The evening just continued to get better.

All of the horse group met at the horse trailer to head back to the farm while the non horsey group finished their meal at the cafe.

Now, I could have done without dinner that night, but why would I do that?! I had all this cheese and sausage, so after settling the horses in their paddocks, we all went up to the house to enjoy some wine and my finds under the starlit sky, around the outdoor garden table. Good food, wine, horse talk, and laughter.

I do not like to use the word perfect, as you well know, but this day was rather perfect.

Walk in love dear readers, and stay tuned for more!

 

 

Paris Part Deux: Glacees, Cafe Creme, Croissant, & Horses

I forgot to turn the ringer off of my phone before I finally fell to sleep Friday night. I was rudely awakened at some point in the middle of the night by some unknown Texas phone number. Probably one of those bogus scammers or something. I could not even tell you if I answered it or tried to hit snooze thinking it was my alarm, but luckily I figured out what was going on before I threw my phone across the room.

When my alarm actually did go off for real, I could only open one eye. I forced the one eye into focus as I scanned all the texts on my phone. Side note, international service does not appear to be worth it and the last thing I want to do is get on my phone with them to try and get them to sort it out.

I had some touristy ideas to fill the morning, but the idea of spending the time I had left leisurely sitting on the walk of a café with coffee and breakfast, watching and seeing the city seemed much more appealing. I was tired and it was going to be a late night, so there was that.

Internally agreeing to the idea, I took a little nap and then forced myself out of bed when the need for caffeine, carbs, and butter took over like I had never known before. Good thing I was in France. All of those things are in quick and easy supply.

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R was right. The coffee is better here, way better, so I ordered another cup. I will not lie and tell you I did not think about ordering another croissant, because I totally and actually did think about it. I almost went through with it, but I reminded myself that I have plenty of time to eat all the croissants and gain all the weights.

The time fast approached for my friend, D, to pick me up to explore Chateau de Chantilly, so I strolled back to the hotel to collect my things and check out.

While I explored Chantilly, D went to go pick up a couple of other friends of his before retrieving me so everyone could go and enjoy the Grand Prix back in Paris together.

I toured the stables and horse museum first because, hello, it is me. Horses. The stables are beautiful and there are actual horses there. Practically a jackpot for a gal like me. The minute I walked in, I felt at home. That all familiar smell and feel brought everything right back to the heart. I felt at peace, connected. Not like I was in a foreign land so far away from home. I did not even notice I felt that way until I walked in.

This buckskin Lusitano made me miss my dun duo.

There are signs on the stall doors that say do not touch the horses. Well. I touched this gray one. I could not help it and he was bored. He must have been new. All the other horses ignored me. In the short time I was there I saw two other girls break the same rule. They at least had the decency to look around sheepishly before they did it.

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Then I took a turn through the gardens with an ice cream, or glacee conveniently located in a cart, and then the chateau.

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After meeting the newcomers to the party when my ride arrived, we all made our way to the Eiffel Tower to watch the Grand Prix and do some shopping.

If you would like to see more and better photos, go check out the Facebook page for this event.

I tried yet again to find something to buy and I was again unsuccessful. I consoled myself with the promise that we would later find a tack store somewhere that had more things to choose from.

We left Paris after 9 PM and did not arrive at the farm until after midnight. The house was quiet when we walked in with most everyone already long asleep. Naturally, we all sat at the kitchen table, opened a bottle of wine, and had a couple of glasses. Then we ate chocolate mousse. When in France, right?

The need for clean feet and a bed finally over took me close to 2 AM and I excused myself to go upstairs.

Walk in love, dear readers!

And if you were wondering, this is what my Darcy Doolittle does when I am gone.

I do not know what I would do without my parents to send me updates on my animals.

Paris Part Un: In Which I Did Not Sleep

My plan was to sleep on the plane, but we all know how the best made plans can go…I got nada. The flight was pleasant enough though. I watched a couple of movies (one bad, one good), listened to some music, stared out the window, twittled my thumbs. Normal stuff.

After a quick flight change in London and a jump across the pond, I arrived in Paris at my hotel around 12:30 PM local time. Still with no sleep, but honestly, who has time to sleep. I was strangely not even tired. I kept thinking about what a friend told me once. “I can rest in the nursing home!”

I stayed at the Hotel Eber Mars and quite enjoyed my stay. You should look it up. Conveniently located, wonderful staff, quaint, and full of stories.

I took a quick shower after checking in and set off exploring. With only about 24 hours to take it all in, it was hard to determine what exactly I wanted to do. I fit in as much as I could before dinner.

My hotel was right by the Eiffel Tower. That was easy.

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I zig zagged my way through the streets from the Eiffel Tower to the river and walked all the way to the Lourve. I ate a croissant and watched all the people. It was very busy. Everywhere. And everyone had dirty shoes and feet.

I stopped at a café across the street from a packed bar of some sort where there were several people enjoying the afternoon and the World Cup game. There were no seats left on the sidewalk, so I settled for one right inside, close to all the action. I had a couple of glasses of bubbly and a cheese tray while I watched and listened. It was fun to hear all the shouts and cheers throughout the game.

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I considered going straight back to the hotel and crashing, but I could not let myself do it. Instead I walked through a quiet, pretty neighborhood enjoying the long shadows of the buildings until I found a decent enough spot for dinner.

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Interestingly enough, the Longines Global Champions Tour just so happened to be in Paris at the Eiffel Tower for the Paris Eiffel Jumping during my short stay. (If you happen to be coming to this region this weekend, the next stop on the tour is Chantilly, not very far!) After dinner I walked straight to the show grounds to have a look see. I could not help it. The plan was to go Saturday evening to watch the Grand Prix, but I just had to go sooner than that.

I sat and watched the warm up for a while. The warm up is my favorite thing to watch at competitions. Then I grabbed an ice cream from one of the vendors as I checked out all the things for sale. Trying with all of my might to find something I had to have. Something I could not live without. Try as I might, I could not. There was nothing for me and I was extremely disappointed. Perhaps I would have luck tomorrow.

I made the short walk back to my hotel, took yet another shower, and fell fast asleep around 10 PM.

Walk in love, dear readers!

When A Texan Goes On Vacation

She eats Mexican food no less than three times in the week before like there might be a chance it won’t be there when she gets back.

You may think I am kidding, but I am not. I hope the clothes I packed still fit!

Last weekend was great with my Aunt M and Cousin W out for a visit and the whole thing went by in a haze…an African Haze of African wind and dust.

But first, can we please admire Darcy’s paw hair blowing in the wind?!

I took care of some lingering chores Saturday and riding got put on the back burner. I did hop on Cheetah for a quick minute after sunset. Lito came over for a visit.

Sunday morning was greeted by two bright, dun faces and a unique, hazy sunrise. They wait for me at the gate most mornings.

I then had a great ride on Lito before I headed back to town for the crazy week ahead.

This week has gone by in a flash. Monday and Tuesday were non stop getting work situated for my absence. By Tuesday at 1 PM I started to get this old familiar feeling. A feeling I have not felt in years.

Can you guess?

It felt like the last day of school before summer. Just without the movie watching and parties. A permanent smile was forming on my face as the end of the day approached.

The plan after work was to get my nails done and then get packed and organized so that today, all I had to do was go to the farm. You knew I had to get out here to see the horses and get my fix before I leave.

I convinced R to go with me on the nails. Then that summer time feeling was still there and one of those much needed Mexican meals was calling my name. I had to comply, I had no choice. I gave a good pitch and convinced R and a couple other friends to come with. Never a hard chore when Mexican food is involved.

After a bucket of salsa, enchiladas, and margaritas, the last thing I wanted to do was organize, clean, and pack. So…I didn’t.

Procrastinating, I am good at it.

I woke up this morning and made myself pack. And clean. And organize. It was helpful that it was raining basically all day. Everything, unfortunately, also took most of the day. Those things always take too long, so I didn’t make it out to the farm until after 4.

The whole region received quite a bit of rain and it was still raining when I pulled up. I walked out in the drizzle to see the horses after a quick survey. They seemed to be glad for break in the heat and to have the rain cleanse their coats of salt.

So, now here I am, covered in wet horse dirt and hair, happily cuddled up on the farm couch, writing to you.

All in all, a pretty good 4th of July. I always seem to have a good day on the 4th of July. Just look at this pic of me and my Lito from a 4th of July past. A little younger and a little smaller. Still my Lito.

I am leaving for France tomorrow and could not be more excited.

I do hope you will stay tuned for news from my trip! I can not wait to share it with you!

Walk in love, dear readers!

Hey Howdy!

Did you miss me? Shh, I know you did.

I have missed you!

This past week has been a whirl wind, but a fun whirl wind.

In short, it was fun and Lito was amazing. By Friday he was more than ready to come home, but he did better than probably any other young horse that has never been exposed to anything close to this.

Saturday morning greeted us with a beautiful sunrise and ample time to do what we needed to do before we left. That included a quick water line repair. Again…let us not talk about that…and a shower glam session for the Lito man. Can’t be traveling when you aren’t looking your best. That’s what my mamma says.


He rode in a new to him trailer. One that he actually fits in. Even though he still likes to rub his head on the ceiling. He just has to work harder to do it. Lito got to ride with his bro for life, Ronan. I rode with my gal pal for life, R.



We drove to a friend’s place for the weekend before we made the shorter haul to where we were to stay and ride for the week on Monday. We were with 3 other ladies and their horses and we all had a grand and relaxing time.


He is the cutest.

Sunset.

Sunrise.



A much needed cocktail. All the excitement got to me and I needed to level out.

But what I really needed was this. An evening ride on Sunday and stumbling upon this at sunset. Serendipitous. Something I really love about the hill country is that it really puts life in perspective. Gives you a true sense of scale and how small we are. Similarly to how the mountains make me feel. I swear there is a cross somewhere on EVERY hill out here. When you get to the top of one, you can see forever and yet not see much of anything else besides what you are felling. Hard to explain.

This song reminds me of the hill country. Describes what the hill country makes me feel. We listened to it on Saturday morning, on the top of that hill where we were staying, before we left.


We did not drive like h***.

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When we got to our final destination Monday morning, Lito stayed in a box stall in a tent barn and acted like he was born in there. 

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​A front blew through Monday evening/early Tuesday morning and was quite windy. They ​delayed the ride on Tuesday, but Lito did not seem to be bothered by the wind. We rode every day this week with around maybe 90 other horse and rider pairs. He got a little anxious when the ride went to slow or got too crowded, but he really handled himself well. I had faith in him and I really think he had faith in me. You could really tell he was trying his best and trying to figure it all out. Proud of my loyal boy. He nickered every time he saw or heard me coming to his stall. Made my heart melt. He is such a gift.

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When it came time for everyone to pack up and leave on Saturday, for the mass exodus, Lito thought it was the perfect time for his mid morning nap. My horse is a freak and I love it. Poor kid took up every inch of that stall.

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He sure was happy to be back home in his pasture and with his heard. I am happy to report he strutted his stuff in fine form for everyone.

To spend a week with a bunch of Texas horsewomen in the country, just enjoying Texas, tradition, horses, and fellowship is nothing short of amazing. It was great and I can not wait till next year. Fun times were had by all.

R and Ronan stayed at the farm with us Saturday night before heading home yesterday. I went straight to my parents house to have dinner with them and get my Darcy doolittle dog.

Happy to be back with my Darcy dog, but not ready for reality! But. Reality brought us a cold front this morning. The air is glorious. Straight up feels like fall! I am going to have a fall cooking and baking session with my cousin tonight!

I hope everyone had a great week!

Back to the regular scheduled programming.

Walk in love, dear readers!

 

La Luna

I love the moon. Always have.

Have y’all had a chance to catch a glimpse of the moon the last couple of days?

Pretty spectacular, right!?

No, I do not have any pictures of it because that is hard to do with a phone, but it really has been amazing. It was a full harvest moon yesterday, I believe. Big and bright. Pretty easy to see why they call it a harvest moon. Just another reason this time of year is so special. Makes you think. Harvesting all the seeds you have sown. Giving thanks for that harvest. Who you give thanks to and put your faith in.

I did try to get a photo of the super moon a few years ago while riding Cheetah at night. It was such a super moon, it was practically daylight…even if you can’t tell from the photo. A few days prior to this we found out that she was not pregnant on the first try. She just wasn’t ready I guess. In my memory, she was ready to breed back that day we found out and I took her directly from the clinic to the stud farm. This photo was possibly taken the day I brought her back home from the second try. Pregnant with twins. Lucky us. That was a sad day when we had to do the twin reduction. My sister was with me, pregnant with her first child.

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I have a thing about the moon. Not like I want to go to the moon. Zero desire to do that. I am just captivated by it. Things happen during the full moon. Good things, mostly. Horses can sometimes get a little goofy during the full moon though. Animals of all kinds get active. It has a powerful force.

I did some research into moon phases and its effects on horse births. I was trying to plan when to take Cheetah to the place she would foal out. I asked my vet about this. Full of excitement, as you can imagine. Also full of knowing his response. He was nice about it and didn’t make me feel too crazy, but he clearly does not put much stock into it. Cheetah did not foal during the full moon if you were wondering, but I sure thought she was going to!

I have caught myself riding during a full moon often and generally by accident.

Once with R. We were riding bare back. The moon kept us from realizing how late it was. We got caught on film by the game camera. This was also when Cheetah was pregnant.

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It happened another time with a another friend, K, in early high school I guess. Man that was a great weekend. We literally rode horses the whole time. Only stopped to eat and switch horses. We decided to go on one last ride that day in the big pasture back behind the barn. It was later than we normally would have started for a typical sunset ride, but we figured we could just make it a short ride. The sunset set the sky on fire with every color you could imagine as we set off and we just kept going.

We stopped talking long enough to realize we could not go any further and that it was past dark. Oops. But not really dark. That is when we saw the moon. Lighting our way back home. It was literally a flashlight in the dark. We could see everything and the horses were having as much fun as we were. We would have kept going except for hearing my father’s call to us from the barn when we finally got back within ear shot. Sorry, Pops.

Anyway. Kind of random. Seems to be the theme for the week. I love the moon, but I am glad the full moon is behind us now that we are about to head across the state for a riding vacation! No goofy behavior! Knock on wood. I am all packed and ready. I have a couple things yet to pack for my Lito man, but other than that and loading it all in the trailer, we are good to go! Knock on wood. Fingers crossed Lito still has all four shoes.

We strike out tomorrow morning for the first leg of our journey. I will try to check in at least once before I am out of pocket for the whole of next week. Jealous? I know you are.

Check back for a full photo report upon my return! If you missed last year’s, click here!

Walk in love, dear readers!