Today was a short ride.
2.7 miles in an hour.
It started out with extreme FOG, so bad on Hwy 154 that climbing up and out of Santa Barbara it was pea soup and a hazardous route. But it is just the typical May Gray, soon to be followed by the June Gloom, and is something the locals take in stride.
Especially when we know that all we have to do is crest over the hill and we will be in bright summer weather.
So yes it was lovely and warm and ....wait a minute, what does Tobe see?
Here's a zoom that approximates the eagle eye of the Kentucky Mule.
The wild bucking horses!
Right there, just across the riverbed, are a group of the wild mares that live on the property. The story goes that several times a year they are herded up, and taken off to buck in rodeos, then they come back and live on these beautiful 9,000 acres.
They are not the problem.
The herd has a stallion, and he is a problem.
So two ladies came by on their horses and said howdy and asked about the wild horses, and I gave them the advice not to get too close, lest they incur the wrath of the jealous stallion. A few minutes later they came back saying there didn't seem to be any way around the mares, and so they joined us for a stroll around the Live Oak Campground.
By going up through the camp and then through an open gate in a fence we got down into the riverbed, all rocks and no water at this time of year.
Tobe and I were ready to go exploring around in the rocks but the rest of the gals, not so much. We understand, mules can do things horses would rather not, delicate flowers that they are.
So we climbed back up into the camp area, and went for a stroll, poking around to see what is there.
The Western side of the campground is corrals and an arena that function as the annual gathering point for the Rancheros Visitadores, an exclusive social club of power elites who throw one heck of a party that travels a 60 mile journey northward across ranchlands. There are a fixed number of members and new ones must be recommended and then can only join when an old guy dies. It goes without saying it is an all-male bohemian club, and while the men travel on horseback the servants scurry to set up their tents and gourmet meals to be ready for their arrival at the next campsite. Much alcohol is consumed, and tall tales are lived.
But today, it was a ghost town, and with the exception of the bucking horses we had the place to ourselves. Well, there were a group of crows arguing about something in the shade of this oak tree
But we didn't ask what the fuss was about.
Since the group wanted to explore, we took a random route.
That led up to an overlook and a view of the valley.
And looking back toward home from that vantage point, there was the FOG that we had to penetrate to come to this lovely bright summer day. We know we must descend through it to get back to the beautiful little town on the Edge of the Continent we call home.
Turning looking West, that's what used to be the lake.
If you drive by on Hwy 154 now it is simply shocking, 15% of capacity, and fast returning to the valley floor it was before the dam was built in the 1950's that transformed it into a popular lake.
But funny thing, the golf course greens that border the Camp are green again, they are getting water from somewhere.
We ambled along, angling back toward where the rigs were parked.
Then we came to a locked gate, and a conundrum. How to proceed? One of the gals noticed that a downed tree seemed to have pushed over a fence, so I asked Tobe to find a way through. We pushed aside the undergrowth, went down a slope, and blazed a trail for the horses to follow.
Here's one of the horse riders emerging from the necessary detour. If you need an all-terrain equine, call a mule.
But she was riding a Rocky Mountain horse, what Tobe's mother was, so she had a steady ride.
And yet another Rocky was along in the group, so Tobe represented the design improvement hybrid of this most excellent breed.
The Rocky, on the right here, displays the classic coloration that often marks the breed. On the left is Woodrow, a foundation Quarter Horse, a steady Southern Gentleman who is growing into the California lifestyle.
Woodrow's gal Molly is the only professional in this group. You can tell a Southern Lady by her shiny horse with the pretty tack.
And the last rider had this very unique animal, from a rare breed I had never heard of, the Canadian Horse. A heavily muscled horse with feathered feet, this mare was on her first trail ride after a career as a brood mare, and she did very well.
Turned out her rider is the owner of the company that makes the new Resistol RideSafe
equine helmet that looks like a cowboy hat. You just never know who you are going to encounter on the trail!
But all good trails must come to an end, and we bade goodbye to the new trail pals we had made, and Tobe and I were glad to see the Burb and the BrenderUp safe under the trees, waiting to ferry us back down the mountain to the sea.
Another lovely day on the back of a gaited mule.
What's better than that?
Tobe says getting back home to a well-earned treat of carrots and apples sounds pretty darn good to him!