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Well, my fourth season at the Kay El Bar Guest Ranch in Wickenburg, Arizona is down to six weeks.  The time has been zooming past.  I had already decided that this will be my last season least for awhile.  Just time to keep moving on.

There were a couple of firsts for me this season so far.  An all-day ride was happening on a day that I wasn't waiting for a delivery or had an appointment scheduled.  I rode Preacher out on the Bootlegger ride.  It's amazing how many natural washes, along with time-warn trails you can take a trusted horse on in the public BLM land in the Sonoran desert.  It's called 'bootlegger' because there is a small cave where during prohibition days there was a still cookin' up some 'licker' for the area's taste.  After a couple of hours of riding, you can hobble your horse and take a walk down a ledge in a canyon to get to the cave.  It doesn't look like a natural was most likely an abandoned mine from an even earlier time.  There's a bench in it, along with a dummy and a little booklet telling about the place and many signatures of those that have visited.  The still itself was tossed down the side, you can see parts of it if you look down hard enough.  We ate a sack lunch and stopped at a couple of other abandoned mines before returning to the ranch.

Another first, but not as fun:  We have free range cattle in the area.  Most of the time no big deal.  They're sometimes on the road to the ranch, especially in the evening.  This one time I was out for a walk and on my return there were several of varying sizes...two were quite young.  Usually...they just move out of the way.  If they just look at you, a magic flash of light from your hands is usually enough to scare them away.  This time..I'm assuming because of the young ones...two of the large ones decided to come towards me with their huge heads and horns swaying.  I was trying to find the file in my brain of what to do about a possible charging bull...grizz, no; black bear, no; moose, no...bull--where clown make-up and jump in a barrel or don't go in the arena.  Good help that is.

Just then a truck came up the road and they decided to move on.

The weather which dominated most of last year's season has pretty much been a non-issue this year.  It has either been 10-15 degrees warmer or 10-15 cooler than 'normals', but other than that rarely even thought about.

Other than that all day I haven't ridden much this season.  Preacher and Nip have been my favorites.  Nip's age is catching up with him.  He's now semi-retired.  If a guest comes and really wants him, he'll still muster up the effort and give it all and do whatever the rider asks.  But you can tell later when you see him that it's taken a bit out of him.  I might do one last time with him before I'm done, but for the most part he's definitely earned his keep.  I really like Preacher, too.  But he never received many requests.  And he was always a bit high strung.  One of the reasons why I liked him was because if I could ride him that meant my riding skills had improved enough to be considered a beginner.  He also moved on...he's a big guy and will be hauling quite a bit of gear on pack trips.

After the end of the season I have only six days again between gigs.  And to think before I started I was worried about what I was going to do with all that time between seasonal opportunities.  This summer I'll be working at the Grand Canyon over on the North Rim.  I'll be one of the assistant deli managers. And yeah, I'm thinking about where I'll be the next season already.


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