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Our flight wasn’t until 11, but we’d been advised that you can never know with the New York traffic (something I would attest to after yesterday’s experience) so we had a start that was far too early given the previous night. To be fair it was too early full stop, but with the previous night it was even more the case. Everything bar the essentials had been packed the night before and with the jet lag still in effect I was able to wake early and be ready in plenty of time.

Now I feel that I should give a bit of an advisory at this stage. Don’t worry, it’s not about to be a stream of bad language. I suppose I should be polite and just point out that a lot of rich food had been eaten the night before and with an early start, flying was not the activity I would have chosen had I had the choice. Thankfully nothing untoward happened, but I’ve had better airport experiences. I’ve also had worse, notably a journey back on the Eurostar from Brussels with food poisoning, but I’ll say no more on that in case anyone is having their dinner.

La Guardia is a small airport. My friend described it as being akin to a bus depot and in some respects they weren’t wrong. Having got there in plenty of time, New York traffic on a Sunday morning having decided that Sunday should be a day (or at least early morning) of rest, there was a lot of time to kill, with not a lot on offer. I’d promised a few NY based postcards, so that filled 3 mins, but there was still a lot of time left. Some was spent due to the repercussions of the previous paragraph, but that, thankfully, didn’t use all the time. Glad of the ipad downloads I was able to pass the time and eventually we were boarding.

The flight down to Dallas was good. We’d got some extra legroom which is always good, and while there wasn’t free wifi, I could at least look at the flight status of some planes. Normally this would be boring and I wouldn’t bother, but I was particularly interested to see what was happening in Chicago. I knew that our original flight from La Guardia to O’Hare had left more or less on time, so was expecting everything to be ok. How wrong I was! While it was true our flight to Chicago was fine, I could now see that the connecting flight to Tucson had been cancelled. What an escape we had experienced. With flights from Chicago being cancelled left right and centre (I think there were hundreds still cancelled on the Sunday), we would have struggled to get to Tucson on the Sunday, and possibly even on following days as well given the number of people that would have been stranded in O’Hare. Counting my blessings that we had changed flights, it was time for a bit of sleep to make up for the short night previously and the jet lag. It was a sign of how tired I was that it didn’t take long to doze off.

I woke shortly before landing at Dallas, the flight being on time and having a good bit of time to kill before the final leg of the journey. Those who have read about my previous visit to the ranch will know that I had a long lay over in Dallas last time, so this time, with a slightly shorter one, I acted as tour guide and was able to point out the interesting things that I’d been shown last time I was there. That used up the time well and after a good look around the international terminal, it was off to the plane for the short hop to Tucson. Journey’s end was approaching.

The flight to Tucson was uneventful and despite having a short doze again, most of the time was spent looking forward to arriving at a time that didn’t involve walking straight into dinner and having time to unpack and relax. It was also nice to be driven to the ranch in daylight for a change and I was able to take in far more of the views from the interstate than I had previously been afforded.

Pulling into the ranch was a pleasure. I’ve said before how great the place is and I’m fast coming to think of the place as a sort of ‘third’ home. (I have somewhere else that is a second home). Despite the large number of visitors they must get each year, when you arrive, you are known, recognised and welcomed in a truly warm way that you wouldn’t find in most places. It’s part of what makes the place somewhere you want to return to time and time again.

There had been a few changes this year and while I was expecting some line dancing after dinner, this was not to be the case. In reality it worked to my advantage as in its place was some artwork classes and that not being my cup of tea gave me a chance to chat with friends old and new before having a slightly early night to be ready for the new day and the start of the riding schedule.