Sombrero Ranch in Estes Park

This fall we did the breakfast ride at Sombrero Ranch in Estes Park Colorado. It involves about an hour of riding through the mountains to an outdoor dining area, breakfast, and about an hour ride back. The cost was $65 per person.

We arrived around 7 for the 7:30 ride. We filled out the releases and paperwork which included rating your riding ability as poor, fair, or good. I’m not sure if that determines what type of horse you get or whether it just lets the staff know who may be a bit overconfident in their riding skills. The two other members of our group decided that since they had never fallen off a horse, they should be rated fair. It wasn’t clear if they thought having taken a fall would push them up to a “good” or down to a “poor.”  Everyone was offered helmets, and kids under 12 were required to wear them. We were on the horses they had selected for us by 7:20.

Our guide Zora had finished her degree in animal science that spring and was spending her summer as a “wrangler” as a “bucket list” job. She led us up the mountain. Coming from Kansas, it was a bit different riding horses on slick rocks, but they did well and you could tell they had been on the path hundreds of times.  The kids were directly behind Zora with Haley and I behind them and the other two members of our group behind us.

We wound our way up the mountain on private land that offered an incredible view of Estes Park. The air was cool, but not uncomfortable as the horses plodded along following Zora and her horse Yellow. There was a bit of biting and kicking between Haley’s horse and my horse, Murphy, but not anything that made it feel unsafe or uncomfortable. Later when tied up together the two horses were acting like best friends.

At the breakfast area, a worker was making pancakes, eggs, and sausage. He took a coffee pot and swung it in a large circle three or four times to get the coffee grounds into the bottom of the pot. They also had orange juice available. I spotted the fattest chipmunk I’ve ever seen peeking out from behind the structure that sheltered the cooking area. The cook heard me comment on his size and said, “Oh that is Oscar. I’m extremely proud of how big he is. He should be good for 2 or 3 winters even if he never eats again.” The extremely overweight Oscar seemed like he thought he was in heaven as he watched us from behind one of the building supports.

The breakfast area had a large water tank with hand sanitizer and towels to wash your hands as well as a port-a-potty and an old outhouse. There were enough tables to hold quite a large group, but the only people there were our group and another group of 3 people and their guide that arrived a few minutes after we did.

After finishing breakfast, we mounted back up on the horses and began the trek back to where we had started. The ride back was a different path, and beautiful though sometimes we were riding fairly close to a housing development as we headed back toward the town. 

After arriving back at the base we dismounted, talked to Zora for a few minutes and then headed back to our truck. Everyone enjoyed the ride and I think everyone would have voted to do it again the next day.

2017 Eclipse

As the 2017 eclipse approached we were debating whether it was worth driving North to get directly in the path of it. Haley and I both remembered a partial eclipse from when we were kids and it had been a pretty big let down. The day before the eclipse, we decided to head to Hebron, Nebraska based on the weather. 

The day of the eclipse we further refined our position heading to Davenport, Nebraska to find a break in the light clouds. We weren’t disappointed. The difference between an 80% eclipse and a full eclipse is significant. When it finally got to 100% it was a very weird experience. It felt like dawn and dusk at the same time but evenly lit in all directions.

It was well worth the effort to go see it. We were in a pretty rural area with very few other people around. I think it might have been more interesting to watch it in a large group, but that would have meant dealing with a lot more traffic that we were specifically trying to avoid.

The next full eclipse in the US is going to be in April of 2024 traveling on a path from Texas up through Maine. I’d highly recommend trying to get directly in its path if you can.

New Vocabulary Word

Our four year old continues to learn the meanings of words–often by trying them out.

Katy: “I told the sunday school teacher I was allergic to strawberries.”
Haley: “Why? ”
Katy: “Because I really like strawberries!”
Mark: “Being allergic to something means you can’t eat them.”
Katy: <long pause> “Oh…..”

Maria & Clayton

Clayton was a former youth pastor of Maria.  Maria’s brother, Michael, had worked with him at the church in Pittsburg.   MIchael and Clayton became close friends. `

Maria went to college, traveled internationally, and then taught school in Chicago and then in Tulsa, while Clayton taught school in Pittsburg, worked in management in a business and then became manager of a teen homeless shelter in Wichita.

An interesting coincidence….

during those years, while Maria was climbing mountains in Wyoming on a 40 Days in the Wilderness adventure,

Clayton was hiking the Appalachian Trail.  Hmmmm!  Some common likes of the outdoors.

Last July, Maria and Clayton renewed their friendship at Maria’s brother’s (Michael and Chrisi’s) wedding.

Clayton was a groomsman.

For the first time, Clayton attended part of the Shead family’s Thanksgiving.

Clayton and Maria spent some time with the family, guests, and each other.

Shortly afterwards, Clayton asked Maria’s dad if he could pursue a special relationship with her,

and in December, they spent some time together with the Shead family and friends at Silver Dollar City.

They also took in  the Rhema lights with a group of family and friends.

They were able to spent some time with his family and with the Shead’s during Christmas vacation.

They found much in common spiritually and of course, were growing in their relationship.

For the next few months, they spent time with one weekend in Tulsa, and the next in Wichita, getting to know each other’s friends and families.

A couple of weekends they got to go to the farm where they joined in the work and fun.

The whole time Clayton was praying and pondering when it would be right to ask her to share the rest of their lives with each other. (Yes, that is Clayton in the picture).

Maria, having patiently saved her emotions all those years for  the person she felt God would have her marry, spent a lot of time contemplating the wonderful idea that it was Clayton and her time was coming.

Clayton and Maria saw eye to eye on the idea!

They are one happy couple

who both know that Jesus needs to be the center of their relationship and their entire life.

Now they are anxiously and fervently preparing for the soon coming wedding on July 17th. The hour hasn’t been chosen but may be a mid-morning wedding so that it won’t be so hot.  Have any of you ever seen a breakfast wedding cake, possibly an elaborate stack of pancakes?