Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Open Trails and New Friends

It rained here Monday ... a LOT. It was the most rain we've had in months. We really needed it, so no big deal, but generally the day after such a storm means bike lanes and paths full of leaves, dirt, and other assorted debris. So ... with that in mind and the weather forecast of "Windy & High Surf Advisory", my plan was to get out yesterday for a brief ride to go see the aforementioned high surf and then come back to do some work that's starting to pile up.

Well ... you know how it goes when you "plan" something.

The "high surf" wasn't really all that high. It was nice ... beautiful as always ... but not exactly the "wow, look at that" I was expecting. I rode on ... down to the other beach area, and was just about to head for home when I thought I'd take a look at the path entrance at the far end of the beach. If you remember from a previous post (along with its subsequent but still previous-to-this-one post, when it rains, the path entrance is usually flooded, like this:

Previous visit:  Flooded from recent light rain ... no passing without waders.
Since the rain yesterday was rather heavy, I was fully expecting to see a massively flooded path entrance. To my great surprise, I found this:

Yesterday:  NOT flooded after heaviest rain in months ... ummmm, huh?
Well ... since the path was open for the first time in over a week, I felt I just had to continue on. After all, who knows when it will be flooded again? The ride felt good, even with the fair bit of wind that was semi-accurately predicted by the weather-predicting people ... so I thought I should go a little farther to see what was happening with that path lane closure I wrote about in another previous post. If you remember, it was supposed to be open after December 30, but was still closed on January 5, and STILL closed, PLUS demoted from "path" to "lane" on January 10:

January 5 ... still closed ... with concrete

January 10 ... demoted from "path" to "lane" ... and still closed
Just imagine my grin as I approached the path lane closure area and found this:

Yesterday ... Open path ahead!  Well, I assume it's now called a "path" again ...
Hot diggity! It was turning out to be a good day! First, the path entrance was NOT flooded ... and then the path lane was NOT closed! Of course this meant that my original plan was now rendered null and void, as the newly opened path lane, to which I have now restored its former title of "path", was calling me to visit those places I've not visited for so long.

And visit, I did. I rode through the underpass and on to the old route I used to ride often ... where there are trails and animals to see. I didn't take a photo of the cows ... because they looked a little sad in the muddy area they were confined to as a result of all the recent rain. But they were there, just as I remembered (except for the mud). As I continued on, I greeted the first group of horses:

Hello, Fuzzy Horses!
I'm no horse expert, but I'd have to say this one is ... fuzzy. They, too, had a muddy corral. Still farther up the newly open path ... crossing a few roads ... through a park I haven't seen in years ... I reached another set of horse stables. There were many horses here ... some just hanging out in the sun:

Just hangin'
Others were involved in some form of horse aerobics:

Horse treadmill?
For the most part, they gave me a brief glance and then went on with their day. I understand ... they have stuff to do that's more important than some dude with a camera. But there was one horse who seemed to be rather interested, and immediately came toward me as I approached the corral:

"That sure is a funny-looking horse you're riding, Mister ... got any carrots?"
I felt it might be rude to ask, and even more so to take a visual inspection, so I don't know if this fine-looking animal is a "him" or a "her". It doesn't really matter, though, as it was just very warming to the heart to have this beautiful creature come to greet me from the far side of the corral.

"Would you like to be my friend?"

"Maybe you could scratch my head ... and pet my nose ..."
Those big eyes seemed to be holding some deeper thoughts than possible to physically express, and I took a few minutes to offer some head scratching and nose petting ... all returned with a nuzzle of thanks and a nod of happiness. It's hard to beat the smile of a horse ...

"Dude ... check out my whiskers ... they're awesome!"

"Aww, gee whiz ... leaving so soon?"
It was hard to walk away from this beautiful animal who didn't want me to leave ... but since I was only planning a 30-minute ride and had already been out for over an hour at the half-way point of the ride, I really needed to head back home and get to work. So I offered one more scratch of the head and one more pet on the nose ... and promised to return with carrots. I rode away, trying to not look back ... and followed the wonderful newly-opened path back to the beach, and then up the hills to home. I'm so glad I brought the camera ... just in case this horse is not there the next time I ride that way. You can never have too many pictures, especially when they capture the meeting of a new friend.

Days like this are why I love riding a bike. Exploring new (and old) places, being in a more natural environment, and getting to see the variety of animals along the way. Hope there are clear trails and paths where you are ... and new animal friends to meet!

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