Thursday, May 26, 2011

Paddle, Saddle, and Soak

When I say that this Colorado trip was a "dream come true," I am not being cliche. It's true. Tim and I shared a deep mutual desire to experience this place together and with our boys. You see, we've been ten times separately, but never together. And our boys have heard tales of our Colorado trips so often that they're a kind of family legend. So, what a thrill on Wednesday to make our way to YoungLife's Frontier Ranch, where Tim and I have attended seven Ransomed Heart retreats.

Summer camps had not begun, so we were able to meander around the ranch on our own. It was fun to show the boys where we stay, eat, worship, and also tell tales of some of our adventures.

After leaving Frontier Ranch, we drove into the mountains to the ghost town of St. Elmo, population 3. This town once boasted a population of 3,000, but now the owners of the bed and breakfast and the general store are its only year-round residents.

On Wednesday afternoon we checked into the Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Resort, just down the road from Frontier Ranch. We quickly moved into our beautiful cliff-side room, donned our bathing suits, and headed for the natural hot springs. Built into the side of hill bordering a mountain stream, these pools are fed with hot, HOT mineral water. The snow-melt feeds the stream, so this cold water mixes with the mineral water to make the steaming pools bearable (it is that hot!). Ahhh, what a way to end our day!

Thursday began bright and early as we reported to Noah's Ark Whitewater Rafting. This 10-mile rafting excursion was the boys' first ever, so we had some adrenaline pumping. The boys were great, though, managing the Class 3 rapids we encountered on this sometimes wet, chilly ride. Seth helped me paddle in the front of the raft, while Tim and our guide manuevered the middle and back. Reed sat shivering in between Seth and me up front.

After our four hour float down the Arkansas River, we headed over to Mt. Princeton Stables for a two hour horseback ride. This inexperienced group of riders (Reed's first; Seth's second; and my first in 25 years!) saddled up on our assigned horses: Reed on Jazz, Seth on Buttercup, Tim on Dawn, and me on Tequila. Yes, that's right: TEQUILA.

I'd like to say our ride started as peacefully as the above photograph indicates, but that would be a lie. Before the stables were out of sight, Tequila had already picked a fight with a horse in the corral and bucked into the air (kudos for me hanging on!). Soon into our ride, it was clear that Tequila intended to ride with his nose pressed into Buttercup's backside. This resulted in occasional kicks from Buttercup and frequent concerned glances from Seth.

In the end, the boys managed their horses beautifully, I kept Tequila from lurching off the side of the mountain, and Tim learned to keep his equestrian suggestions to himself (poor guy).

After our two-hour ride, this cowgirl was happy to return to the hot springs for a long soak in the steaming mineral waters. Just what her sore saddlebag needed and the perfect ending to an adventure-filled day in Buena Vista.

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