So this weekend I wanted to do something really cool and really relaxing for our 5th year anniversary.
I kidnapped my husband and whisked him away to the mountains to stay at a bed and breakfast called "Once upon a Mountain".
The B&B was situated not on a mountain (as advertised) but on a huge hill. Nevertheless, it was GORGEOUS!
The room I booked was called the "Queen's Suite". The reason I booked it? It had a two person whirlpool bathtub. = ) It did not disappoint.
So we get there Friday night and are greeted by our Innkeeper (Christa) who is from Germany, has a french last name and can speak with a southern "twang". We were also greeted by her two dogs...Willie and Mr. Mac.
Christa gave us a tour of the house and invited us to join her and her visiting family for dinner (they're also from Germany and speak English well enough to have about a 3 minute conversation).
My mind was on one thing....the two person whirlpool tub. We politely declined the free meal and I jumped into the tub. My honey decided to lounge around the room and then joined Christa and her crew once they finished dinner and started a bonfire.
The evening was wonderful.....I got pruned and he had smores. What more could you ask for? =)
The next morning I woke to the fabulous aroma of freshly brewed coffee.
Christa told us she would have coffee outside our bedroom door by 7a.m.
I opened the door at 7:15...and there it was....a beautifully set tray with coffee, mugs, sugar, milk and spoon along with a note..."Please enjoy a cup of coffee in bed...."
People....there is no other way to start the morning. Seriously.
Breakfast was served at 9 a.m.
Now, I don't consider myself anti-social...but I was hoping to just sit somewhere on our own to eat and relax...but this was a family type setting where we all sat at the same table and were served at the same time. I didn't like it at first. I felt awkward like when you're in grade school and you're invited to your friends house for dinner. You don't know what manners to pretend to have...you don't know the house rules. I've been to friends houses where they don't drink anything with dinner. What's up with that? I've also been to friends houses where they only got one plate of food and lord help them if they asked for more!
So we started eating (the food, by the way, was amazing) and it was quiet for a little while and then the Germans starting making small talk with us.
What kind of work do you do? Where are you from? What brings you here?
The conversations were short and awkward.
They would ask us something...we would respond and then they would proceed to have a 5 minute conversation with each other in German. I can only imagine what they were saying. It actually felt like we were foreign exchange students or something. We only understood when they said "no" to each other. =) Other than that, we relied on Christa to translate.
After breakfast, we decided to head out to actual "mountains" for a bike ride.
We drove to an area known as Taskers Gap in the George Washington National Forest. The trails were amazingly hard to ride. There were rock obstacles, mud obstacles, nat obstacles (those annoying small bugs that don't bite but will fly into your eyes, ears, mouth and worst of all...your nose!) and funny enough, ATV obstacles. Apparently the trails were really meant for them, but mountain bikes were allowed to make use of them as well.
We had to jump to the side of the trails a few times to let the ATV'ers go through, but at least the revving of the engines gave us some warning.
After the bike ride we accidentally happened upon a horse stable. We decided to give it a go.
Now this wasn't my idea of typical horseback riding. There was no running through beautiful open fields of green...no galloping down a flower-covered hill. No. We were still in the mountains. This was rough, slow, raw riding up and down steep trails, over slippery rocks, through a small creek, inbetween trees and through thorn-covered bushes.
The last time I'd ridden a horse I was about 8 or 9. It was in Hawaii at Kualoa ranch. I had just made the height requirement. =) I climbed a ladder to get onto this gigantic white horse. He was massive. To this day I still don't understand why they put little me on that big animal. Anyway, on the trail ride, my horse decided to go off trail on his own. I had no way to control him. When the trail guide rode his horse over to grab him and lead him back, my horse decided to run. Yes....run. I held on for dear life and thought I was going to die. He only ran maybe 50 feet before the guide caught up to us and my horse got a reprimanding I'm sure he remembered for all of 5 minutes.
That was my first and last experience on a horse.
Now, as we waited in line to get on our horses I kept thinking about that ride.
"You'll be riding Captain," the ranch foreman says as he brings out this beautiful brown horse. I like Captain immediately. He's not massive.
"And you'll be riding Outlaw." the foreman says to my husband. "You know the difference between an outlaw and a mother-in-law don't ya?"
We both stand there waiting for him to deliver his obvious punchline.
"An outlaw is wanted."
The foreman helps me onto Captain and the guide walks us over to a "waiting" area. She then warns me to keep my distance from the horse in front of me because that horse is known to turn around and go after Captain.
Ok. If you know two particular horses don't get along very well...why in the world would you group them together like that? Common sense people.
"Oh and one more thing," the guide says to me before we head out..."Captain is actually short for Captain poops-a-lot."
"But don't worry...." she continues, "Outlaw has the worst gas ever...so be glad you're not behind him."
My poor husband.
He thought he was going to have the coolest ride, after all, he was riding the mustang...but it turned out, he was riding one of the slowest, clumsiest, gasiest horses ever and happened to be riding behind me and Captain poops-a-lot. The view probably could've been better.
As we start out on our 1 1/2 hour trail ride, I notice that Captain is stomping his foot onto the ground anytime we stop. Maybe his leg was sore, maybe he had something stuck in his horse shoe...but to me...it really felt like impatience.
Anytime I had to pull the reigns back to slow him to a stop, he would turn his head around and look at me like I was some kind of idiot. "Woman..." I imagined him saying, "I know when to stop. I've been doing this gig for years, so let me do my effin job."
I quickly realized that Captain and I weren't getting along.
He would stop when he was supposed to (sort of), but he wouldn't start again when I told him to. I would let loose on the reigns and give him a little nudge on the sides....nothing. I would shout, "Go Captain! Go!" Nothing. I would give him a harder nudge on the sides...nothing. "Please Captain?" No, not even begging worked. The guide noticed that we weren't moving and shouted to me that I needed to really "kick" him on the sides. I don't know about anyone else, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. I can't intentionally "kick" an animal.
So we sat there a good minute or so before I completely gave up trying to get him to move. When I stopped trying, Captain turned around, looked me in the eye and then decided to go. Again, it was as if he were trying to prove a point. "Lady, I understand when to stop, I understand when to go. You don't run the show here. When I want to move, I'll move."
"Captain," I said. "If we're going to do this, we need to understand each other." My husband starts giggling behind us...assumingly because I'm having a conversation with a horse or because his horse is farting so much it seems to be pushing them forward up hill. =)
I start petting Captains neck, hoping he'll realize I'm not a bad person. He swishes his tail up and whips the back of my arm. Ok. Obviously we're not going to be friends.
The ride was long and arduous. I felt extremely bad for making these horses carry us up and down mountains...yet at the same time...I really was enjoying the challenge of working with an animal to get from point A to point B and trying not to piss it off.
Here are a few things I learned about horses for all you "non-riders".
-If there are trees, bushes with really sharp thorns or low-hanging branches with huge scary spider webs anywhere near a trail...horses WILL put you IN them.
-If a horse puts its ears back...he's not happy. You best make him happy quickly.
-If a horse puts his ears forward...he's listening to something. Don't interfere.
-If there is mud, a horse will STOMP through it and get you dirty.
-If the horse in front of you stops to take a poo, you better stand back at least 12 feet. This should be self-explanatory.
-If a horse pulls his head up high while making a sound similar to that of a really good zerbert, he's irritated to hell with you. Leave him alone.
-If a horse stops to pee, get comfortable...it's going to be awhile.
After the ride, we made our way (tired and sore) back to the B&B.
We showered, relaxed, made our way into town for a really nice dinner, went back to the B&B and enjoyed that two person whirlpool tub......again. =)
This morning I woke to that wonderful aroma again.
I had my coffee in bed (again, no other way to start the day) and then we sat down to breakfast.
The conversation at the table was very different today.
Another couple had checked in last night and thankfully, they spoke English. They were not American however. The man was from Uzbekistan and the woman was from Bulgaria. They were a very interesting pair.
We talked about citizenship, the Holocaust, a t.v. show called "Bones", a man in Kenya, cultural barriers, dogs being skunked, speeding tickets, climate change, the strange phenomenon of bees just dropping dead and bi-racial families. It was interesting...to say the least.
Then...alas...we headed back to reality.
Now I'm sitting here (hungry for Christa's lemon ricotta pancakes) procrastinating on unpacking my suitcase and starting the laundry by writing out my weekend experience.
I don't want to go to work tomorrow.
I want to wake up with my coffee in bed....once upon a mountain...