We did a scenic 6 mile loop, mostly sticking to the ridges of the canyons, so lucky that the Santa Ynez Valley Riders are friends with the ranch owner and allowed to traipse about on this very private place.
Then Mrs Brown and their ranch tenant the local veterinarian Ingrid Wolf came over while doing their morning constitutional with their dogs.
So we headed out with just the five of us riders, to explore around on the ranch roads and look for the views we know await us.
Lance Brown declined to accompany us. He says he spent enough decades in the saddle, he's pretty well done with it.
Having never worked cattle or anything else from my mule, all my time spent aboard him is purely for the pleasure of seeing landscape I could not get myself to on my two legs.
Four legs good!
This one took up a protective stance and we quite sensibly stayed on the road and did not challenge his authority.
Well, actually, we did slow down enough that our riding companions sped on up the trail.
We don't mind. I never want to ride alone, but by "riding drag" Tobe and I get the best of both, solitude on the trail and safety in numbers.
The chaparral woodland in an unbroken progress to the horizon.
And I got a nice one of my stalwart pal Jamie on her feisty Mosca the HorseFly.
At this point there was a trail off to the right that Tobe kept telling me was the way to go. He and I have ridden here twice before, and he never forgets anything.
So we followed the trail boss even though we disagreed.
But there is nothing like a mule who is becoming exasperated that his non-verbal suggestions about which trail we should be on is being ignored.
He kept looking at me and then looking at the trail on the other slope, like a dog staring at your dinner dish trying to get a treat.
Which was, in fact, a little ravine with water and oaks, a nice change of pace.
Most of the Brown Ranch seems like it is just like it has always been, but clearly the pressures of making the land productive are transforming the neighborhood.
The Los Olivos District is a designated American Viticultural Area situated in Santa Barbara County, California, approximately 30 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean. There are 12 bonded wineries and 47 commercial vineyards with 1120 acres under vine.
And THEN off we go to join the 101 freeway, which is already in progress.
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