|Waking up inside the Bailey's tipi.|
We ran into town in the back of Bobbie's old pick up with the dogs and Jeanna. Bobbie drives just as you would expect from a tough and spunky cowgirl. She has won more awards for equestrian sports than anyone in the county and will talk horses for days. Just like her dad, she says nothing uninteresting and tells it like it is. She told us about the time that she stumbled upon a swarm of angry bees. A stick had gone up her pant leg and held the cuff open so that she got stung by bees "in places that few have seen!" The whole family chuckled.
Amy told Jay that he should take the weed whacker to the thistles that were growing near the horse pasture, but decided to take matters into her own hands, hungover as she was, and took out a shovel and hacked away. Jay began another tale;
"A friend's young daughter, sweetest little blue-eyed, blond haired thing, about this big," he held his hand at the slender waist of his long frame, "she held the blue blossom of a thistle in her palm and looked me straight in the eye and went thwap and stuck it to my shirt. I told her that wasn't very polite. She said nothin, took the thistle, and again, thwap, threw it at me. This time it stuck right in my nipple. Well I took that little thing by her ankles and tossed her upside down into the horse trough. I asked her the next day how her bath was. She looked at me and said 'Mr. Bailey, it was divine.'"
Jeanna asked us questions about if we were going to have kids and how long we had been married and listened attentively. I told her that we had been married a year and that our anniversary was tomorrow or the next day. Brenton pulled out his phone to check, and said, "Nope, its today!"
The boys talked guns and knives and Jay got out his cowboy gear to show Brenton and encouraged him to put it on. He had chaps with a knife holster, thick leather wrist cuffs, and a belt lined with bullets. To top it off, he brought out his 44 caliber horse gun and brought Brenton out back to shoot it. Brenton had his cycling knickers on, which are knee length pants, and Chaco sandals, and then all the wrangling gear. Jay told him to come out of the front yard dressed like that or "people will think there's a queer here!" I had to laugh at the ridiculous site of Brenton shooting the gun from his hip, as it was meant to be shot, dressed like a bicycling cowboy. Jay laughed too.
We chatted about the horses and Jay showed us his beautiful palomino that he called his Barbie horse due to its stunning blond mane. It looked like a horse out a children's story book, flawless. Jay buys wild mustangs from a huge ranch that "only has one tree in the middle." The Barbie horse had never been touched by a human before two weeks earlier, when it was trailored and brought to the Bailey residence. We wanted to see how you train a wild horse, and Jay offered to show us. I hid my excitement, but really wanted nothing more than to touch this amazing animal.
We helped to round him up, and Jay brought him to the ring. He directed him in circles left and right. He asked if I wanted to help brush the horse because he wanted to see how the Barbie would react to a complete stranger, and I did. I was a little bit nervous because I was in the ring with the mustang by myself and could hear Jay telling Brenton all about how wild these horses can be. Brenton asked what would happen if you just went up and jumped on his back, and Jay told him to go do it. Brenton wanted nothing to do with riding a wild mustang and said so many times, but with some goading and a little mocking, he was coaxed into doing it. Brenton, who has only ever ridden a trail horse, was nervous and was given a leg up on top of the big animal, which protested a little as Brenton nervously balanced bare-back with his palms against the broad tan shoulders. I told him to grab on to the mane and he said "but I don't want to pull it." Jay helped him out and got him a grip on the mane but as the horse moved, Brenton tensed and the Barbie was soon trotting nervously and began to buck a little, and Brenton bailed. It was my turn.
I have never ridden a horse bare back and hadn't ridden at all since I was a little girl at my aunt and uncle's ranch, but I secretly wanted nothing more than to ride this untamed beast. Jay gave me a leg up and the Barbie protested immediately with little hops and bucks, but I held on, and he calmed down quickly. I rode in circles for quite sometime and the mustang and I grew quite comfortable with each other. I finally dismounted feeling like I had just spent my anniversary at a dude ranch resort.
Grandpa pulled up in his truck and we loaded up the gear. He is as friendly and talkative as the rest of the bunch and he looks like the sheriff out of an old western, hat and white mustache and all. We thanked Jay and Amy profusely and could not begin to express our gratitutude, and then we were off to Idaho with Grandpa Bailey.
He told us that he is a volunteer fire fighter and that his wife is blind, with the same affliction as Jay, and so she has a guide dog. We learned of his perils as a school bus driver in the winters of Montana. He told us about horse races he has been in. One year they made him race to one end, put on a petticoat and dress, and then race back to the other side. He told it like the hoot it must have been, and many other such stories.
Before I knew it, we were over Look Out Pass, which may not have been as bad as as it had been described, but we were still very grateful for the ride. We thanked Grandpa Bailey some more, and then were left with our gear at the trail head of the bike path that would take us clear across Idaho to the Washington border. Brenton and I stood in silence for quite some time, and then looked at each other in disbelief. It was nearly exactly 24 hours from the time that we had met Jay Bailey and the first dull and quiet moment since then.
We rode a rather short distance through touristy towns and ski resorts and rode right passed a carnival where they were having elephant and camel rides so close to the bike path that I could have reached out and slapped a camel as I rode passed. The surreality of the day seemed like it would never end, but it did as we pulled into our campsite, cooked dinner, and collapsed into our sleeping bags for yet another night of deep, exhausted sleep.