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June 18th 2019
Published: June 18th 2019
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Saturday at the Heart 6



Our plan was to take a 4 hour horse ride at the Heart 6. This is the same dude ranch we have been to in the past, that we really like. The horses are not just horses that walk trails all day - they can do other things too and that is what we have liked in the past.



The day started out super cold, snowing, and windy - not ideal riding conditions for sure. But we layered up, put extra gloves in our pockets, and with our wet weather gear on we were off. There was one other couple on our ride - their only other riding experience had been a trail ride in Las Vegas, they did not have the right clothes on, the lady was intent on filing her entire ride on her phone, and she was thrilled that her horse was named Skittles and was pretty. Our wrangler for the day was Lauren, and she had decided to ride Poncho for the first time this year today. We should have known then that this was going to be a ride to remember.



The first step was to get everyone on their horses. This is generally not a hard thing to do because each horse has a wrangler with him, and the ranch makes you use a mounting block to get on. Then the wrangler checks the length of your stirrups, and you should be ready to go. This is not what happened today. We all got on the horses more or less OK, but the other couple was having trouble getting their horses out of the corral. Skittles decided that he did not want to go with the group, and took off in another direction - his rider was having trouble filming and driving the horse - so Lauren went after them to bring them back. Once we were all together again, she talked to the lady with the film about how to ride the horse, and how she needed to put her phone away. Now we started uphill into the back country where the ride would be - Skittles wanted to eat grass instead of walk, and our videographer again was having trouble balancing her filming and riding the horse. Her partner was also having some trouble, but his was mainly getting his horse to turn and stop - there was no phone involved. Dave and I both agreed that these 2 should always be right behind Lauren, and that we needed to give them plenty of space. Eventually we got up the hill and over a stream, and were now crossing into a high pasture. We were probably a quarter of a mile from where we had started, and it had taken us probably 30-45 minutes to get this far.



As we crossed the gate into the high pasture, Skittles with her still videoing rider, took off at a smart trot down a lane that we were not going on. Lauren goes after the horse and rider and brings them back - again stressing that the phone needs to be put away. Lauren decides that she should check everyone’s girth to make sure the saddles are still tight as long as we are all here. So we get that done, and then off goes Skittles again. Lauren is off her horse at this point, so she goes again after the lady, her phone and the horse. When she gets them all back, she is adamant that the phone gets put away, and it looks like we will get the ride on track. But not so, the horses are all a little agitated from the weather, and all of the commotion with the phone lady and even her partner, who still can’t turn or stop his horse. Poncho is still it totally turned on to this ride either, and has been giving Lauren some trouble as she has chased Skittles down over and over again. When Lauren goes to get back on Poncho, he bucks and she has to settle him down. On her second try, Poncho seems calmer, and she gets her first foot in the stirrup, but as she is swinging her leg over him, he bucks again, and sends her flying into a tree.



Wow. It happened so fast. Lauren is not moving, may not even be conscious, and she is hurt. Dave and I have the other couples full attention now, the phone is away. We decide to send the couple back the quarter mile to the ranch for help - and I get off my horse to see about Lauren. She really is hurt, looks like she was knocked out, and she is holding her ribs moaning. We get her backpack off her, and decide that we can’t rely on the other 2 to get help. So Dave stays with Lauren, and I carefully get back on my horse to ride down for help.



It doesn’t seem like the ranch really had a plan for something like this. First they send two wranglers up on horse back, they come back without Lauren. Then they send up 2 gators, they come back without Lauren. Dave walks down on foot. I am not sure how they managed it, but eventually we get word that she is on her way to the hospital. And then it starts to rain, sleet, and hail in earnest.



The other couple leaves after stating that this was nothing like the ride they took in Vegas, and that they had been put on horses that were way too advanced for them. Dave and I stay around to give statements on what happened. We both agree that we are not going to ride anymore today.



We did get a chance to talk to some of the other wranglers. One is from Minnesota, ones dad just retired from the Army, and one is a former professional ballerina.



It was probably 2 before we got back to our hotel. We met Matt and Carrie about 4 and picked Dan up at 9. The group going to the airport did see an elk in the Elk Refuge, so that was our animal sighting of the day.



Sunday in Jackson



It was a much better day today ..sunny and pretty warm. We are staying right by the Snow King resort - you know the one with the Alpine Slide and Cowboy Coaster, putt putt golf, a maze, and a ropes course ... the kids did that all day.

Dave and I got a 30 mile ride in out to the Moose Lake Welcome center, and did a couple of the rides with the kids. A very fun day ... and we are all tired. We do have some pictures for today as well. Tomorrow we move into Yellowstone and have to get Dan a fishing license, maybe look around Jackson a little more too. Luke and Ryan are loving having Uncle Dan here.





Monday

Today is the day we head up into Yellowstone. We will be there until Friday morning before we come back to Jackson for a possible whitewater rafting trip, a final night in Jackson, and we all head home.



We spent the early part of this morning getting Dan a new phone to replace the one that just up and died. Then Dan needed a few fishing flies that were certified Yellowstone. Luke and Ryan began their junior ranger training in the Grand Tetons and we headed up through the Grand Tetons into Yellowstone.



We saw 2-3 female elks in a grove of trees by Jeremy Lake - but we saw an elk herd of 10 just inside Yellowstone. The kids were so excited. Stopped and had cocktails at Jackson Lake Lodge, and saw a number of elk bedded down in some thickets. It was an elk bonanza today.



Our final highlight is that we made it to our cabins at Old Faithful lodge 10 minutes before an eruption. What timing! The kids thought that was pretty cool too. We have never stayed at the lodge or the lodge cabins - so a new thing for us too. The cabins are small, but nice. Scenery is gorgeous and weather was fantastic today.



Tuesday

Another great day in Yellowstone. We walked the geyser basins, saw Old Faithful again, did some sightseeing up towards Madison, and Dan got in some fly fishing this afternoon. We saw a couple of herds of bison of 50+ bison - and baby bison - so impressive. We got to watch the bison walk/swim across a river ... baby bison can swim. Wow! We got some great pictures. Tomorrow we are touring from the Old Faithful area up to the Roosevelt/Tower area, and going on the horse ride/chuck wagon dinner ride tomorrow night. Hopefully the grandkids will think this is as fun as we think it will be. Dan is off to fly fish again tomorrow morning ...this time the Fire Hole.



Wednesday and Thursday

Well, Wednesday was a late day and so I will catch you up with both days now. Wednesday was our horseback ride and cowboy cookout up at the Roosevelt Corrals. This is the only spot in Yellowstone that offers this combination, and so even though it takes about 2 hours to drive up there and back - we did it.



We left about 10 to make our way up there for a 3:15 showtime, and with the stops we made at the geysers and mudpots along the way, and a quick picnic lunch at the Sheepeaters picnic ground we made it with about 30 minutes to spare. Lots of traffics on the road, one bison traffic jam, and a small herd of elk on the manicured lawns at Ft Yellowstone made the trip interesting.



This was Luke’s first horseback ride, and was payback for Dan - number 3 son - for the horse back ride he didn’t get 30 years ago. Also on the ride we’re Dave and Matt. Carrie, Ryan and I rode the prairie schooner out to the cookout site. On our last family trip to Yellowstone, Dan was a small 10 year old who was not tall enough to take a horseback ride - we told him then we would make it up to him - and this ride delivered. First of all, he was tall enough this time. He rode Slim Jim, and it was a two hour ride from the corrals to the cookout site. Right off the bat, they saw a yearling black bear on the trail, who climbed a tree. Then there were coyote pups and bison, and scenery out in Lamar Valley. Just gorgeous. Then they got some thunder, lightning and rain ... so they were pretty wet when they got to the cookout.



For those of us riding the prairie schooner - we had a great time rolling along ... until the thunder, lightening, rain and hail .. then those sitting on the edges got wet. We did pretty well though.



The cookout was good, roaring fire, hot coffee, plenty of steak and a cowboy singer. And the wranglers were keeping things moving to make sure we got back before the rain came again. Ryan was lucky enough to get to drive the Belgium horse team for awhile on the way back - he also knew most of the answers to the wranglers questions about Yellowstone ... because we have been listening to an app that Matt got on the park. It is GPS linked, and tells you things about where you are and what is coming up. It was news to all of us that Ryan was even listening to the commentary, until he started answering the questions.



Luke did great on his first cowboy ride. He rode Walker.. get it? Luke skyWalker... he handled the horse well, and didn’t get spoked with the rain, cold, thunder or lightening. So far it is his favorite thing we have done.



Matt and Dave also had fun seeing the scenery and being with each other.



Friday

We closed out the week seeing a mama grizzly with a cub just as we were leaving Yellowstone. They were just hanging out, eating, and being bears. So the only large animal we didn’t see was the Bighorn Sheep - but those are so hard to find.



The Jackson Hole shoot out in the street is still on the same corner in Jackson, but it has gotten way more elaborate since we were last here 20 years ago. The Jackson Hole playhouse actors put it on, and they are mic’d for sound, there is mood music, lots of shooting, and even a plot! Carrie loved it, and it was good fun. We spent the afternoon walking around and enjoying the town and the great weather. We decided earlier in the week that a whitewater trip was just going to be too much ... so we had the afternoon completely free.



Saturday

We put Dan on the plane early this morning, and said goodbye to Matt, Carrie, Luke and Ryan about 10 o’clock. We are headed up to the Core d Arlene bike trail, and plan on getting to Boise tonight. We decided on the scenic route to Boise, and it was such a good call. So pretty - the pictures do not do justice to what we saw - but it was the best we could do.



We happened upon Craters of the Moon National Park between Arco and Carey. The protected area's features are volcanicand represent one of the best-preserved flood basaltareas in the continental United States. And we found out that Apollo astronauts performed part of their training at Craters of the Moon Lava Field by learning to look for and collect good rockspecimens in an unfamiliar and harsh environment. And the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) has granted silver-tier International Dark Sky Park status to Crates of the Moon National Park. You can also camp there - if we had known all of this, we might have stayed to see the stars ... not sure about camping though. Maybe next year if Connie comes on vacation with us.



But Boise was calling, so we stopped in for a quick tour, and were back on the road. The next interesting thing we passed by was the Jackson School at the site of the old Rattlesnake Station on the Oregon Trail. RattlesnakeStation was a stagecoachstation northeast of Mountain Home, Idaho, and the original site of the Mountain Home post office - Mountain Home eventually up and moved 7 miles to the railway in 1883; the station operated until 1914. Not much there, just a sign, but we travelled along part of the Oregon Trail ... I probably would not have gotten this far based on my previous ability on the wagon pull test.



Pictures will follow ... too hard to upload them here

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