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I’m starting to get worried by the relevance of the song titles I’m finding out there.  Again, given one of the group was leaving and it was a Friday, it’s an incredibly suitable title.

Our friend was leaving at about 2 in the afternoon and check out at the ranch is 11.  The issue was, would they be able to fit in one last ride.  A lot depended on whether they would be able to use their room after the fast ride to freshen up.  Again, this is a sign of how the ranch treats its guests and how the guests come first.  I suspect that the room not being needed right away helped.  The ranch said it wouldn’t be a problem, so an extra ride was squeezed in during the morning, before one final lunch together and then a sad goodbye.

We were also lucky in that the photographer the ranch used had to come back for some more photos due to a problem earlier in the week, so we managed to get a group photo out in the desert, as well as some individual shots.  The ride itself was slightly different from the normal fast ride as it also involved another mountain pass.  This one, reassuringly called ‘Suicide Pass’.  Having been reassured by my horses sure footedness on the previous mountain pass, I was less worried on this ride, though the name made it clear it wasn’t an easy ride.  Going up was relatively easy, but coming down was far more challenging.  There were a few miss-placed steps, but nothing too serious and the horse was quick to adjust and my balance kept me upright.  Slow and steady was the name of the game.  One of the wranglers mentioned that the new horse she was breaking in was a bit too keen to come down and compared it with ‘skiing’ down the pass.

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The afternoon activity was a choice between another fast ride or some more team penning.  However the team had just lost one of it’s members.  The three of us that remained all agreed that we could do fast runs on the Saturday but not the team penning, so one final go at the team penning was in order.  We did however need an new member.  Fortunately we were able to find someone who was only staying a couple of days and needed to join a group.

This is one of the nice things about the ranch.  While most people stay for a week (possibly two) and arrive and leave on a Sunday when the horses are rested, this is not the case for everyone.  People stay for varying lengths and are arriving and leaving all the time so everyone gets in the habit of welcoming and chatting to newcomers almost everyday.  This makes friendship groups easy to form and no one gets left out.  It all adds to the atmosphere.

The team penning was the usual fun and highlight of the day and with our new member we even managed to set our best time of under 30 seconds.  (Yes I was amazed at that as well).  We were clearly getting better and one of the wranglers even commented on how well we had worked as a group to get the three cattle into the pen.  It was our last go at the penning and one of the few times that one of the owners was on a horse at the same time as us, so a good photo opportunity as well with the ranch’s photographer still on site.

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Dinner was the usual slap up affair, though I had worked out that it was far better if I limited what I had.  Difficult as the food was so good, but I was pleased with my level of self control.  The evening entertainment was some stargazing.  One of the advantages of being in the desert is the clear skies during the day and during the night.  While it might lead to big changes in temperature (less of an issue while I was there), it does mean that such an activity can be run without too much of a risk of cloud.  I’ve always felt the sky at night can be a beautiful thing, especially when you are somewhere you can see the stars clearly and can see the Milky Way stretching out before you.  The ranch had both of these.  It was the first time I’ve ever had the chance to look through a half decent telescope.  I felt there were mixed results.  Sometimes all I could see was a blur (the expected result apparently) which was nice to look at objects so far away, but a little underwhelming, however the best bit was looking at a dual star set up with one star blue and the other white.

The evening had its usual end, but we were very much aware that tomorrow would be our last day riding.

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