|Very good Pinot|
When I last blogged about an hour ago, I explained how my wife always surprises me. Well, at dinner tonight, celebrating my ---birthday, she has cards and a gift for me to open. The gift was the cowboy shirt which she had bought me earlier in the day. I helped pick it out, but thank you dear. Two cards, one from her parents, (who are very generous), and one from her. I open her card, which is VERY generic, and inside is a piece of paper. On the paper is a reservation for the Alisal Guest Ranch in Solvang, California. Three nights.
Let me explain. Go on "Google" and look up the "Alisal". You'll see why I'm excited. Annette and I went there about 7 years ago for her birthday. It was fantastic. At first glance it may seem expensive, but add in what you get for two people, and it's not bad. Beautiful rooms or cottages with a fireplace, no TV, fantastic dinners and breakfast, (2) two hour horseback rides a day, (on really good horses), golf on your choice of 2 private courses, or tennis. Alisal is a 10,000 acre working cattle ranch, one of the top-rated guest ranches in the world. It's near the coast of Central California. When we ride, we usually go in the advanced group, (because Annette is advanced and I just follow along). Many times we have our own private wrangler, and we'll spend 2 hours loping across green hills, through herds of cattle, and totally off trail. The scenery is unbelievable. We will see new born deer, eagles, and mountain lion tracks. We went 7 years in a row, but not last year because I had a knee replacement and was not riding. We never like going back to the same place twice, but Alisal is different. When I pull into the entrance, I totally relax. Nestled among 200 year old sycamore trees, a creek and lush green grass, are cottages where people stay. Across the driveway is a lush pasture where the owner's horse has two acres to himself.
The "head" wrangler is Tony, a true western "western" cowboy. Tony has gotten to know us over the years, and because of Annette's riding ability, always assigns us horses that are special. One year Annette was allowed to ride the owner's horse, Rusty, who even the other wranglers are not allowed to ride. I got to ride Malcolm. Malcolm could not be caught that day, and when Tony found out, he was ticked to say the least. He "ordered" Malcolm to be brought in immediately. Great, I get to ride the pissed off Malcolm. It worked out alright. One time Tony put me on "Wedge". Wedge was a cross between a draft and a quarter horse, but was rarely ridden because even the wranglers didn't like him. I spent the entire two hours keeping Wedge from loping and taking off with me. By the end of the ride though, Wedge and I became friends and he even trusted me. When we got back Tony smiled and asked how Wedge was. I said he was a little bit of a handful. Tony laughed and said, "Wedge has lope on the brain". Tony and the wranglers are great though, and they do a fantastic job of matching rider with horse.
This year Annette didn't book our usual cottage. She got us an upgrade on the creek. Lord am I spoiled. Also, she is trying to make one of my dreams come true. I've never had a "bucket list", but if I did, it would be to ride Flash at the Alisal. I asked Tony about this two years ago, and he said the policy was no, but that since he knew how well Annette rode, anytime we wanted to bring our horses we could, just let him know in advance. We would have to pay for our own private ride though. I would be in heaven with the three things I love; Annette, riding Flash, and the Alisal. She's emailed Tony, just waiting for a response back. I'll keep praying.
The bottle of wine is gone; the wind is howling, the rain is pelting, the dogs are yelping and the horse are, hopefully sleeping, dreaming of Alisal like me. Thank you for the very special day Annette. Enough compost for the night.