– Grab life by the reins –
As my Grandpa used to say – “We woke with the squirrels” at 7:30 AM. I’m not sure that I know what Grandpa really meant when he said that he woke with the squirrels, but I like to think it meant that he got up early.
Kelly and I had each brought food and other ingredients that we would use to feed our cowgirls lunch before we left on our first trail ride. Being that we are both ‘foodies’ and avid and enthusiastic eaters, you can imagine the level of organization and forethought that went into planning this menu. I love to cook and the thought of a picnic lunch that would be hearty and different was fun to plan. Kelly was (as always), the voice of reason when our preparing started to go a little overboard, keeping us from turning our picnic for 10 into a feast for 50.
For our lunch we had locally grown vegetables with a hummus and sour cream dressing, as well as home-made banana chocolate chip muffins. For dessert we had cherry cheesecake in little individual mason jars. For the main course we had big fat Kaiser buns filled with lettuce, cheese, and some amazing slow roasted locally grown chicken that Kelly…..oh wait…..just a minute, Kelly forgot something….what did you forget Kelly?? Oh, no big deal – just the chicken. That’s right, no need to panic we simply forgot the main ingredient of our main course for our first ever picnic at our first ever Cowgirl Yoga Retreat.
Good thing we are so resourceful. Kelly had thrown in some cans of freshly caught Pacific Salmon. This was salmon that her husband had just recently caught and had canned on his fishing trip with Langara Fishing Adventures on the West coast. I have no idea why she put these in her cooler, but what a good thing that she did! The salmon, along with some left over roast beef that my mother in law had made the night before set us up well to provide an alternative main course for our picnic. The beautiful slow roasted chicken was left cooling in the fridge at Kelly’s house.
Finally, the preparing was over and our fellow cowgirls arrived at TurtleLake.
We enjoyed our picnic on the lovely cement patio that Murray had built for his wife a few years ago, and then we mounted up and headed out. Our trail ride started off with a blast – of flatulence – when Murray’s horse let one rip right at the trail head and spooked the horses behind him. The laughing started then, and it didn’t end for two full days.
The day was hot! 29 to 30 C makes it easy to work up lather and settle any nervous energy into a slow and easy temperament….and the heat made the horses sweaty and well-behaved too!
Our trail guide Murray took us on a ride that was approximately 11 miles long. We travelled through fields, back roads, ditches and little trails until we came to an old abandoned homestead in the bushes West of Turtle Lake.
Here we found a picnic table to enjoy a quick drink of water and Kelly’s home made granola bars. Murray happened to find an extra cold beer in his saddle bag, which was enough to send one of our cowgirls running and crashing through the bush, spooking the other horses, to snatch it from his hand. It was really hot out….but she may have done that in a blizzard too. I hope she would. That’s one of my favorite memories of the day.
On the way back to the Kopp ranch we were fortunate enough to see a mother bear with her three cubs. The fortunate part is that they were approximately ¼ mile away from us and were running the other direction across a field. Also, there was a guy riding his bike down the road near us, and I felt pretty sure that we would be able to outrun him on our horses. Some of the horses noticed the bears, but by this time they were all well seasoned trail horses with far too much experience to freak out about something as simple as four bears…..and it was really hot. This was in stark contrast to the three or four horses who were frightened by a fart at the beginning of the ride.
With such a beautifully hot day, the lake was too inviting to pass by without dipping our toes a little. It took little to no encouragement to get the horses to cool off in the water.
After the 4 hour trail ride we had just enough time to go to our cabins and change out of our wranglers for our first yoga class. I ran to my room and changed into my yoga gear. When I reappeared all decked out in the clothing that I had carefully chosen, Kelly asked “What are you going to change into?” I took this to mean that the skin-tight leotard that I had chosen was perhaps somewhat inappropriate and changed once again into some boring old sweats and a t-shirt. This time Kelly seemed to approve. I realized that I had some stiff competition in the wardrobe department when I saw the 1980’s parachute pants that one of our fellow cowgirls had pulled out of the mothballs for her first foray into yoga.
The yoga class, led by Nancy Steiger was fabulous. We were introduced to moves that most of us had never even considered trying, stretching parts of our bodies that had rarely been stretched before. Nancy taught us that ‘with every breath there is the chance for change’. When she told us this, she was referring to using our breathing as a way to encourage our bodies to stretch a bit more into a pose. I hear it as a good lesson and something to keep in mind as we go about our lives – with every breath there is the chance for change.
It was difficult to focus in the beginning. After so many hours spent together laughing it was problematic to try to block out some of the distractions that were evident while doing yoga on a golf course. The most obvious distraction is of course the golfers, but this was late in the day and there weren’t many of those. Thankfully, no one yelled ‘fore!’ There was also a fountain in this beautiful park-like setting. The fountain didn’t make me have to pee, but it made me want to tell everyone that it did so that they would laugh….which made me want to laugh….which made me have to pee. There was also a donkey who became very vocal when we were receiving instructions from Nancy, along with a cat who would come and wind his way around your head when you were in a compromised position. None of these distractions were as bad, however, as hearing my cowgirl friends giggling and whispering “look at Terra” while I was trying to perfect the Happy Baby position. That was distracting….and funny.
Distractions aside, we left the yoga class feeling very relaxed. It should be noted that during the evening, as well as the following morning, we noticed that we felt less sore than we would have expected after trail riding for as long as we had.
We were now welcomed into the newly developed restaurant and home of Brad Gitzel at Blueberry Hill Golf Course. Blueberry Hill Golf Course is a recently renovated and upgraded facility on the West side of TurtleLake. The grounds there are beautiful and the food is fabulous!
We started with a tomato garlic loaf that Brad had baked for us that morning, paired with our choice of red or white wine.
The home-made bread was followed by home-made jalapeno poppers. Amazing.
The main course was a platter of steak, served with chicken skewers, garlic toast, stuffed potatoes, vegetable kabobs, Caesar salad, and fruit.
The food, atmosphere and service at Blueberry Hill were better than we could have ever expected. We can’t wait to go back and spend another day with Brad and Brenda.
After having such a relaxing and delicious evening we waddled back to our cabins to settle in for the night.
Some of us decided to shower, but were concerned and confused by this sign in the public shower facility…..
Did this mean we had to go undress in the office and walk naked across the road to the shower building?? We decided to risk breaking the rules and simply changed in the shower stalls rather than in the office.
A restful sleep was no problem this night. The dog had finished having her puppies, and after such an eventful day we were all ready for some shut-eye. All of us except for one cowgirl who chose to prowl the campground in her pajamas. She came back to our cabin with news that she had met some guy out there in the darkness who was going to join us on our trail ride the next day….it doesn’t matter how many times I re-write that last sentence, it still sounds wrong and bad, which it wasnt – but also funny, which it was.
“With every breath there’s the chance for change.” – Nancy Steiger