Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pony Windfall

Yesterday, after a frantic start where we forgot to set our alarms, and nearly slept through waking up in time to get Skip to school (High School was in session, Middle and Elementary schools were off), I realized that our whole day stretched ahead of us, and it was only 730am.


What to do... what to do...?

I made a quick, executive decision, and we rushed into the van and headed over to the coast to see if the weather was any good at all for a beach ride.

As sunny as it was at our house, it was even more brilliant at the coast, even though the evening before, it had been thick with cold, biting fog:

(why yes, I did take Kelly and a friend back over to the beach on Sunday afternoon to check on the decomposing whale... why do you ask?)

But look at the sunny day yesterday!

I dropped Kelly off at the ranch, and after an initial breakdown in communication (my Spanish stinks) where I thought the first ride of the day had already gone out, when really, Kelly was the ONLY person that showed up for it, Kelly got kitted up for a solo ride.

Samurai was sleepily standing on the line, not even saddled up. Oh, but that would change.

And in the early morning light, they headed off.

Nate and I ran a few errands before we headed down to the beach. First, I bought him a Starbucks breakfast (as a bribe, because really, the trip to the coast is most fun for Kelly), and then we went to the local drug store, hoping to find some beach/sand toys. Fortunately, they were clearing out all their summer stuff, and we got two actual REAL garden trowels for $0.29. gotta love 90% clearance.

When we got to the beach, we discovered that they're turning the parking lot into a pay-to-park lot. Oh well. But how, exactly, do we pay?

There were very few people on the beach that early in the morning. we pretty much had the place to ourselves.

But before we could get down to business, here comes Kelly and her guide.

"Mom! He's letting me lead the way, and he keeps asking me if I want to go faster! This is great!"

And then the guide cantered off down the beach, and Kelly had to race to catch up.

It was nearly high tide, and the waves were nearly up to the crest of the beach. Good thing Samurai doesn't really care if his feet get wet.

And then Nate and I got down to the business of digging in the sand and chasing the waves.

Apparently, the water is colder than it looks.

Oh, and look, here comes Kelly and the guide. He is such a mystery man.

Oh, but he's taken off, and now she's got to race to catch up to him.

A pair of little stubby bulldogs came along the beach at one point. They were so cute. The boy waddled up to me, leaned against my leg, and took a nap. The little girl was more adventurous, and went exploring the waves.

We almost had to rush into the waves to rescue her, as she kept chasing the outgoing waves, and then not having enough time to get out of the waves' way when they came back up the beach. One of the waves actually tumbled her, but her low center of mass (and great mass) probably helped her not to get towed out to China.

She found Nate thoroughly enchanting, and I think he was only a little bit afraid of her.

Because of the little adventure with the bulldogs, we stayed at the beach a little bit too long, and had to rush to get back to the ranch.

Whew, no sign of folks, so we must have beaten them home, I thought, as we pulled in to the parking area. But then I saw the guide toting a wheelbarrow around behind the barn. Um... Kelly? Where are you?

I quickly got out of the van, and went over to the guide, who was now with the ranch manager, and apologized for being so late. "Oh, they were early. They must have raced home." said the ranch manager, Your daughter is back breaking down alfalfa bales and feeding the working horses. I put her to work. She's a good worker."

And there she was, behind the tack shed, feeding a few horses that needed extra attention.

I broke out the carrots (I always travel with a 5 pound bag. Don't you?) and we gave most of the horses a little surprise treat. It was VERY quiet at the ranch. So far, Kelly had been the only customer, so I guess they didn't mind the company.

After the carrots were all doled out, we were getting ready to leave, when the ranch manager came up to us, his phone to his ear. "Hey, can Kelly stay?" he asked, "There's a girl coming down to ride, and they don't want her to ride alone." I hesitated. While the early-bird special is affordable once in a while, the regular rides are pretty pricey, especially after just shelling out two weeks' pay on the ride she just finished. "Um, I don't know... we can't really..." I began, and he must have read my face, "Oh, it would be free. She'd be doing us a favor, actually."

Kelly's face lit up like a Christmas Tree. Even I couldn't believe her good fortune.

And so that's how she ended up getting Samurai ready to go out again, not half an hour after returning from her first ride of the day.

(yup, it was much warmer the second time getting on the horse)

And that's how Nate and I ended up on the beach... again.

The surf was a little higher. The waves a little bigger. The wind a little stronger. Above, Nate is just running over the crest of the beach. Everything to the left of him had been completely dry sand, but you can see that a big wave has just pushed over the crest, soaking the dry sand. I should've taken a photo of the people sitting on the picnic blanket just to the left of this frame. Hah! Surprise!

Anyways, look! here comes Kelly... again.

And just as I took this shot... I turn around, and...

But he is not fast enough, and we look down to see Nate's shoes being washed inshore by the wave's foamy push.

Oh well. Kelly and her new friend ride off into the breeze.

And when the girls got back to the ranch, they "got to" make the oat/hay/molasses porridge for the horses before they left.

Once again, in her eyes, the best day ever.

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