Last week, I left the city life behind me (for several hours, anyways) and headed for the foothills of Mount Diablo for a 3+ horseback ride at Isabella Farms. It's amazing how within a one-hour drive one can completely leave the city, traffic, and freeways and find oneselve out in a rural area where two-lane roads, silence, wild turkeys, and horse farms are the norm.
Isabella Farms is a beautiful ranch, complete with a little over a dozen horses, two goats, chickens (yes, cage free!), two cats, and a young Doberman Pinscher pup named Daisy (whose job is to keep away the coyotes and bob cats; okay, as a 5 month old puppy, she has yet to grow into this role, but one day will). Once there, I headed out to the pasture to round up my trusty steed for the journey: Justice. And he was one high-spirited and magnificent horse who did justice on making me work hard on my horsemanship skills! As it turned out, I was the only one who showed up for the trail ride (how nice!). And I couldn't wait to head out on the ride with my guide, Lindsay.
The clip-clop, clip-clop of the horses' hooves on the ground, the snorting sounds coming from Justice, the swishing-sound of the horses' tails as they tried to chase away the flies...it quickly brought on a feeling of peace and tranquility. Of course, the landscape didn't hurt either. We took a trail through the foothills that first started out with a canopy of trees covering the wide path. With poison ivy and poison oak lining the path. Then, the trail significantly narrowed to a very tight line that led us through open, rolling, grassy areas dotted with low, stubby trees; this part made us feel as if we were riding through Frodo's homeland of The Shire (while dodging more poison ivy and poison oak).
But the truly breathtaking part of our journey was when we reached the ridge and had a bird's eye view of the valleys below us and Mt. Diablo in front of us. And it literally was a bird's eye view -- as I looked to my right I was level with a crow that was about 40 yards away just hovering and soaring in the wind. Speaking of wind, this was also the windiest part. And the coldest part. Sitting atop our horses, we could see the wind rippling across the tall grasses. It reminded us of big waves way out at sea moving through the ocean.
After some steep descents, more grasslands, and more poison ivy and poison oak, we were on our way back to the ranch. It was an amazing day with amazing views. And Justice was well served. And I don't know what surprised me more: waking up the next morning with no poison ivy (which I was certain I had) , or waking up with no sore bones (which I was certain I would)!