We just made another major milestone…. we crossed the Sacramento River! Rio Vista has been our target as we have navigated around the northern side of the San Francisco Bay – and we finally made it! As you may have guessed by the title – our horses took their first boat ride ever! (This is for my father who was worrying – no, we did not decide to swim! We were planning on crossing on the bridge and had recruited some bicyclers who rode by us to go home and get their car to follow us with flashers over the bridge. They had the brilliant idea to call the ferry boat operator to see if they would allow the horses – and they said ok! So thanks to these guys, we took the somewhat safer route over the river and took up almost the entire ferry with our horses. The operators weren’t sure if they should count us in their “vehicle” count or not! The horses were a bit nervous, but they managed to keep it together and we made it safely across.
We are making better time now that we are out on the flats. We are averaging about 15 miles per day on this terrain and we will do our first 4-day-in-a-row stretch this time. The horses are definitely getting in better shape, but they are still sore. It reminds me of how a backpacker feels when they are getting used to their pack and the sore spots where the strap hits. We are managing their soreness as much as possible, but it seems that some discomfort is simply unavoidable. This too shall pass. (We keep telling ourselves that too – our butts are none too happy either!)
As for the scenery – we have been riding mostly through farmland that goes around the air force base. We have seen fields of cows, sheep, vineyards, grass, and even buffalo. We have been completely on roads for the last few days – which we thought, according to the map, that they would be quiet back roads. We found out that the road we were on had a dump on it, and so the horses had no choice but to deal with all the big rig trucks that drove by – and I mean a LOT of them! We then proceeded onto another rather busy road with a lot of big rig traffic for the ranches- many hauling cattle. I am thankful I had a lot of road riding experience as a kid so it gives me a gut knowledge of how to time the traffic, the narrow spots, the driveways to duck into when the REAL scary ones go by, and when to simply walk in the middle of the road and just make people wait! We are very glad we thought to bring along a reflective orange vest. And to top it off, we rode next to a busy railroad track for a few miles too! The horses did really well with the trains as they had never seen them before, but I think that riding day with all those trains and big rigs was more than enough stimulus for them (and us)! We were quite thankful to see a couple coming down the driveway of a boarding stable to invite us to stay the night there! It was rush hour and we were more than ready to get off the road for the day.
Tonight, we are staying at the home of a nice family who met us when we were talking to the bicyclists. They invited us to their home and it was right on our planned route, so it worked out perfectly. The horses are currently resting comfortably in their yard.
As for the night at the body shop and the goat pasture- the horses did just fine… the goats didn’t mingle much with the horses – except for one that played chase back and forth with Fiddle. And we, well, we slept just fine in the shop buffered from the noise of the train!
American Discovery Trail, here we come!