Aside from great skiing Colorado has much to offer all year round. We visited the Grey Wolf Ranch in Victor, Colorado, not far from Colorado Springs. It was a lovely drive up to the horse ranch. We drove along a straight highway that looked like it went right into the horizon. The drive felt like a time warp into the wild wild west and we were pale riders venturing deep into Cheyenne territory. We passed by Cripple Creek, a mining town complete with casinos and saloons, beyond that was a ghost town which was very eerie and utterly deserted, and finally we even passed an old gold mine where you could literally see the earth stripped bare. We pushed on up the mountain until there were only dirt roads and finally arrived at a gate that seemed to be on top of the world. When we entered we were greeted by a Bernese Mountain dog named Takota. The boyos took to him immediately. We settled down in our cabin and unpacked our food and supplies. As I finished unpacking the car I noticed that Blessu had snuck out of the cabin, when I found him he had just finished swallowing a wad of horse manure and had this wild, satisfied, guilty look on his face as only dogs can! I was shocked as Blessu is more of a gourmand, eating crab cake and scallops, not dung! I castigated him for it but throughout the trip, as soon as we took our eyes off him, he would eat more like a newfound candy addiction. We dubbed him Blessu the poop-eater. I reckon it was the fresh mountain grass in the horses’ diet that attracted him.
The following morning we woke up bright and early and, with coffee in hand, I opened the door to the porch to find three horses grazing not five feet in front of me. I felt like I was in an ad for Marlboro or Folgers. We walked up to the main barn where we met the proprietor, a very nice gentleman who loved his horses as much as we loved our boyos. Lucy and I are experienced riders but we still took the refresher course and helped groom the horses. Since I was the more experienced I was given the wild stallion named Braveheart. Within the first five miles of our trek Braveheart had a disagreement about who was in charge and for about nine seconds my trail ride became a rodeo and he won. As I dusted myself off I saw Braveheart at a full gallop making a B-line back to the ranch, no carrots for him. After I got on a new horse I quickly caught up to the rest of the group before they really started trail blazing through the brush.
The riding experience at Grey Wolf was like nothing we expected. We went far, we went wide, we went high, low, and fast with total autonomy. It was a bit chilly at that altitude but it just made the sights and sounds all the more glorious. On returning to the ranch we washed up and changed for the drive down to Cripple Creek for the All You Can Eat Seafood Night at the Casino. Admittedly we were skeptical of the quality of food we would encounter there, especially since Colorado is nowhere near the sea. Surprisingly we had the best fried shrimp ever and all the “fixins” were also excellent. We bought some extra food to go for the boyos. When we fed them that night we found out that Shuie really likes broccoli, almost as much as Blessu loved that horse manure. Over the next few days it was rinse and repeat with the exception that we did a few gallop polls, as in races against each other, and took in some more instruction on western riding tips and charted more and more new, otherwise untouched, territory.
The last night up on the mountain we had a bon fire ceremony and plenty of smores. As we were packing up to go, one of the larger horses, and I mean this gigantic creature named Charlie, was standing next to the car. Shuie, by now, knew the drill of tinkling before getting into the car and decided that Charlie’s leg, which must have looked like a redwood tree to him, was a great place to go. Charlie didn’t seem to mind but shifted his weight suddenly and the look on Shuie’s face, oh my, it was somewhere between bewilderment and sheer panic before he jetted off into the car. Blessu was still trying to sneak in some nuggets to go. We drove off the way we came in, with Takota escorting us out up until the point where he always sets off after his girlfriend at a neighboring ranch.
Worst part: no cell phone reception. Best part: no cell phone reception; and being so high up in altitude that there were no snakes or bugs to worry about!