Okay, so the cake got me a little nuzzling, and some handholding, but in and of itself it was not entirely the answer to my romantic dilemma. Please note that I am happy to post the recipe for my cake, but I am unsure of how Trip Advisor feels about recipes. Perhaps someone who is on the boards more than I am can enlighten me. I think I am probably already breaking several rules with these long reports, and I have wondered often how they have not been closed.
We woke up early again today as we had made reservations to go riding at Mendes Ranch and DH was worried about early morning commuter traffic.
DH: “Get up! It’s 5:30. We have to leave in 15 minutes.”
Me: “But check-in is not until 8:15.”
DH: “That’s exactly why we have to leave now.”
Me: “But it’s only a 45 minute drive. We should be fine as long as we leave by 7:00.”
DH: “Better safe than sorry.”
DS: “And if you’re not 15 minutes early, then you’re 15 minutes late.” (Who do you think HE takes after?)
Me: (groaning) “Don’t help!!”
Traffic was practically non-existent, however, so we made it across the island in record time. Having left the house without breakfast, we stopped once again at Sam Sato’s, this time to grab some turnovers to go. The pineapple ones have long been my favorites, but today I discovered I like the apple ones a lot too. Make sure to buy double what you think you will need, especially if you are traveling with a teenaged son, who will eat them all and leave you nothing more than an empty box. (That is, if he doesn’t consume the box too.)
We made riding reservations because DS specifically requested this activity. We chose Mendes because so many of you have recommended them in the past. (Good call!) However, I must admit that this was my ace-in-the-whole in the “romance wars.” You see, I was in the horse business for 14 years before I went on to other endeavors. And DH and I met when the ranch I was working for supplied a load of horses for a project he was working on. And one of our very first dates was a multi-day horse-packing trip. And I rode in front of him and he told me afterwards that the ‘scenery’ was quite beautiful. And I was flattered beyond belief and we then married and lived happily every after. So I thought that maybe seeing me on the back of a horse again would make him realize how much he still loved me.
We arrived at Mendes and I must say that while I had a few very minor complaints, I thought that the people were really great and the horses seemed well cared for. Overall, I would rate my experience as a 9½ out of 10. (And remember, I know enough to be pretty darn fussy, so that’s really good.) I would definitely recommend them to anyone looking for a nice ride.
DH and I were placed in the advanced group. DS, who rode only one summer while at camp a looooong time ago, placed himself in the intermediate group. This made me slightly nervous. “Always ask for a little less horse than you think you can handle,” is my motto. As an adolescent teenaged boy, DS’s personal motto is slightly different. It is more along of the lines of “Look tough, act tough, be tough.”
I should point out here that DS is plenty tough, having belonged to the only teen-based search and rescue group in the country, and often being out in the woods for days on end, sometimes in major snowstorms, with nothing more than the pack on his back. However, I will forever think of him as my baby and if, at the age of 60, he still swims out too far, I will likely be yelling at him from my wheelchair. At any rate, I bit my tongue and crossed my fingers and hoped for the best, knowing full well that if he fell off and split his head open, he would totally ruin the rest of my vacation.
We mounted up and off we went. The ride is spectacular. It takes you up into the mountains, and the guides picked lilikoi off the trees for us to eat. The fragrance was heavenly, the taste slightly tart but very good, and what could be better than riding a willing horse through a tropical paradise while snacking on exotic fruits fresh off the vine? I turned to DS. “Does it get any better than this?” I asked. He responded, “Only if it involves a Vegas showgirl.” Hmmm. I’m going to have to rethink this whole “he’s my baby,” thing. And that is when the guides announced, “At this next turn in the trail, you can gallop if you want to.”
My horse began to dance and champ at the bit. Obviously, this was a regular ritual, and she knew what she wanted. The guides went up and down the line of riders, asking who wanted to run. From behind me, I heard DS give an enthusiastic response. You know me well enough by now to know that OF COURSE this panicked me. But I was at the front of the line and figured that if I could hold my horse to a gentle canter, DS (who would be trapped behind me), might be all right and not fall off after all.
Now here is what I was unaware of. If you do not want your horse to run here, he will not take off on you. You can continue to quietly walk up the trail. However, once you decide that you want to let these horses run, they have only one speed and it is not a canter, nor even a gallop. Rather, it is a flat-out, break-neck, full-speed dead run.
I was able to slow my horse down a bit, to something more along the lines of a gallop, but she fought me every step of the way and was very unhappy. She was still moving fast enough that I worried about DS behind me, but I was too busy controlling her to be able to turn and check on him. Once again, I waited for the screams from the crowd that would tell me that my child was in trouble.
We had two guides with us, and as we moved up the hill, one flashed by me on the left and the other was a blur passing me on the right. Except that it wasn’t the guides at all. I realized this only when I reached the top of the hill to find DS and DH already there, laughing and smiling and enjoying themselves immensely. Not only had DS not fallen off, but DH was suddenly all sweet and happy and couldn’t wait to hold my hand again. Who would have thought that it could be that simple? (Of course, I also showed him my trip reports. And when he found out that the entire Trip Advisor community was waiting for him to do the right thing, he manned up right away.)
After reaching the top of the hill, you head back down, walking your horses all the way to the ocean before being given the option of running up hill a second time. Darned if DS didn’t fall off that time either. My little boy is growing up (and he’ll kill me if he reads that.) Throughout the entire ride, the views are spectacular.
As I dismounted after our ride, I attempted a bit of flirting.
Me: “Are you in a good mood now? Did you enjoy the view?” (I turn so that he can once again admire my backside.)
DH: “I definitely enjoyed the view. (He pauses a beat.) Your horse had a very beautiful butt.”
Me: “My HORSE? What about MY butt?” (I am beyond being subtle at this point.)
DH: “Well one outa two aint bad.”
Okay, I guess that the romance may NEVER return to its previous levels, but I’m happy with what I’ve got. (And you wondered where DS got his sense of humor from.)
After our ride, we went to Paia, where we checked out a few stores and galleries. The art in Island Hands, a local artists’ co-op was my favorite. Alas, Aloha Island Shave Ice has closed, though we manage to score our “N” by ordering shave ice at The Green Banana Frozen Yogurt shop. I know what I said about shave ice being “all good” the other day, but this one was only okay. However, it had two things going for it. A lovely table out on the quiet back porch to sit and eat at, and had we not been playing shave ice BINGO, we could have ordered one of their awesome looking frozen yogurt treats instead. And those looked REALLY good.
On the way home, we stopped to watch a fisherman casting his net from a beach. Though he did not seem to be having any luck, it was fascinating to watch.
Back at the condo, we had BLTs with fresh Kula tomatoes for lunch, then spent an hour apiece in the shower, trying to scrub off the red dust we had accumulated while riding. My advice is to wear sunglasses if you do this ride. You will still be covered in dust, but at least the glasses will keep much of it out of your eyes.
We rested a bit before heading out to the Masters of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar show at the Napili Kai tonight. It was excellent. Back on the mainland, DS is learning to play the guitar and the ukulele, so he was especially enthralled, but we all enjoyed it immensely.
In the end, none of us could swing the extra three days of vacation, so four more days in paradise and it’s back to the real world. Still, it’s a lot more than most folks get, so we are grateful. The wifi in the condo has been on the fritz all day. If I continue to have issues, I may have to wait until I am home to post the reports for these last few days. You have all been so incredibly kind with your generous praise and fun comments. I have appreciated you more than you will ever know. Aloha.