We rode out of Austin at 3:30 in the morning on Richard’s birthday. I sung him happy birthday a few times during the day and secretly tried to coordinate a special surprise for him. The ride was enjoyable, as we were able to take a dirt road to bypass the dangerous and windey section of road that went over a small mountain pass.
Our water stop part way through the day was at “Frontier.” It used to be a bar and restaurant pit stop, kind of like Middlegate, but now it has only one residence. He has a whole town named after his house! The man who lived there was very nice and let our horses drink his water.
After riding through a long flat stretch ( another valley between the mountains) we could see our destination for the night- the only trees around. Just before we got there, we were surprised by a special visitor who pulled over on the road and recognized us. It was Tom Mayes and his wife, the man who helped us figure out what was wrong with Apache! He had family in Ely and was heading back to California after a visit when they saw us and had to stop. His passion for healing horses as well as his generosity was evident once again. Without prompting, he started checking out Apache – with all his gear on- right there on the side of the highway! Before we were done visiting, he had worked on all four horses, including Tiska’s sore shoulder, simply out of the kindness of his heart. They also gave us their family contact information in Ely and suggestions for routes to follow. Once again, we are grateful for his help.
When we got to our planned campsite, Richard had yet another surprise. Ruben and Sissie, who decided to personally make sure we got to Eureka without a problem, had dropped our buckets of water and hay as well as a cooler full of goodies! So Richard’s birthday dinner was special after all. We had hot dogs, pizza, popsicles, carmel popcorn, and birthday cheesecake- which we stuck a burning match in for a candle! He was so thrilled that he didn’t have to eat ‘slop’ for his birthday as expected.