A Walk in the Woods Before Leaving Paradise

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September 16th 2006
Published: September 21st 2006
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Last night, we arranged with Ranch Manager, Susan, to eat a late breakfast. Our plan was to sleep-in since we are leaving today. Ranch dog, Dharma, had other ideas as she barked our wake-up call around 7am.

This morning’s sky is solid blue, not even the hint of a cloud can be seen. Alan and I sit in the gazebo with our coffee and watch geese glide on the lake. A light breeze sways the beige cloth panels that hang on the corners of the gazebo. Birds twitter as they fly by. Relaxation doesn’t get any better than this!

Breakfast is an omelet stuffed with portabella mushrooms, artichokes and goat cheese, toast with marmalade, a mix of fried potatoes and sweet potatoes, plus coffee and juice. We need physical activity to walk off this delicious food.

Susan says, “Why don’t you hike the nature trail before you leave?”

I reply, “We would love to, but the grass looks high and Alan and I are wary of snakes.”

“Dharma will go with you. She’ll find the snakes before you have to worry about them.”

So, it’s settled, off on a hike we go. The trail travels through a portion of the 400-acres of Sunglow's woods and meadows. Mainly level, the path is marked by pink ribbons tied to tree branches. A couple of creek crossings require careful attention as we hop on rocks almost covered with water from the heavy monsoon season.

Soon Dharma disappears. She bounds off on her own hunts leaving us to fend for ourselves. So much for snake guard duty! We try to keep an eye on her as she disappears up a hill or around the bend of the trail.

“Dharma,” I call wondering what we’ll tell Susan if we come back without her dog.

A slight movement in the woods catches our attention. “Look, a deer,” Alan says. It’s one of three that we see on our hike.

A rustle in the woods makes me jump but it’s only Sunglow’s resident horses and burros coming to greet us. They make a friendly approach until the animals realize that we have no food for them. No food—no interest—we are ignored as they return to their morning munchings of grass and leaves.

Sometimes the trail is clear and at other points, the grass is high enough that Alan and I raise our hands over our heads. A case of poison oak or ivy is not the way we want to remember our trip. Alan stops to take pictures where the woods are colored purple, red and yellow from wildflowers.

Cicadas buzz and crickets chirp, the only sound we can hear other than the singing of birds in the trees. At a turn in the trail, Dharma is wating. It seems that she has been the one keeping an eye on us.

Too soon, the 3.3-mile walk ends. After packing the jeep and saying goodbye to Susan and Dharma, Alan and I drive out the ranch driveway. Stopping at the gate, we look back at Sunglow’s idyllic setting, our paradise at the end of a dirt road.

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