I may not live in Solvang anymore, but this past weekend I got to experience one of the coolest things this little town has to offer: the Alisal Guest Ranch. Imagine my surprise when I found myself seated on a hay bale across from another children’s book author – one who’s book I own! But let me not get ahead of myself…
The Alisal Guest Ranch is ten thousand acres of wide-open spaces that has been in use for more than a hundred years. A working cattle ranch and luxury retreat, the Alisal started welcoming guests in 1946. If you time it right, you can live out your City Slicker fantasies during the spring cattle drive. That is if you aren’t already exhausted from all of the golf, tennis, archery, fishing, boating, hiking, spa treatments and other activities the ranch has to offer.
Most of us that live here never get to see much beyond the resort entrance since you need to stay overnight at the ranch to participate in the activities. And with rooms starting at $500/night in the off season, you can understand why we locals tend to sleep in our own beds.
But this past Saturday we got to join some friends on an all day adventure that started at 7:30 a.m. As soon as we arrived, we climbed on horses for a one-hour ride out to the Historic Old Adobe. My daughter loves to ride horses and has been actively riding for more than a year. My son, well…when the wranglers asked about each of our riding abilities, my son wanted to know if there was something lower than beginner. He even asked if he could ride one of the miniature ponies. “Less distance to fall,” he reasoned.
Fortunately, the lure of an amazing Cowboy Breakfast at the end of the ride convinced him that mounting the horse was worth it. After eating all the eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, biscuits, gravy, fruit, cereal, coffee, hot cocoa, oj and quesadillas we could fit in our stomachs, we rode back to the stables and got on a shuttle that took us out to the Alisal’s private lake. While the men jumped in a bass boat to go fishing, my friend and I got into paddle boats with our kids. We spent the afternoon cruising the lake and learning how to shoot air rifles as well as bows and arrows. What a blast! My middle finger is still numb and the bruises haven’t quite faded, but I think a compound bow and a target range might be on my Christmas list 🙂
As the sun set behind the mountains, we loaded into the hay truck to go back to our cars. Another family got in with us and the mother started talking about books with my daughter and her friend. They talked about The Wish Giver and the woman mentioned that she had written a book called The Wish Stealers.
My ears perked up. “Wait, did you say you wrote that book? It’s actually in the basket by my bed, in my to-read pile!”
Yep, I was sitting across from Tracy Trivas, her husband and two adorable daughters. We chatted for the rest of the ride about children’s literature, SCBWI and the writing retreat I had just attended. And I was reminded once again of just how small the world really is.
As we drove home, my son said, “It feels like we were on vacation for a day.” So true. A vacation practically in our own back yard.