Welcome to our ranch near Canada's west coast in Beautiful British Columbia's West Chilcotin mountain region. Where calling the vet means hollering back at the house to bring your kit, new friendships are formed from the back of a horse and true fun for a five year old is getting a machete for Christmas. Where 'cutting the dinks off' has a totally different meaning than what first comes to mind, Muck Boots are a household name, a hand shake still means something and the coffee is always on.

Saturday 14 December 2019

Scenes of Winter

Newly weaned young'uns learning to eat grain with Daddy Red.  Out of five babies, four are roans.  They are from a light pink color to a dark brown/black.  Beautiful....we have a pretty flashy string these days!

This was a beautiful day on Anahim Lake, skating with friends.  Kappan Mountain is on the left and the Little Rainbows on the far right.

Jackson and his trust dog Rawsy, helping move cows to the bottom end of the Five Mile meadow.  Cold but beautiful.

Yep, that's the boss on a horse.  Feast your eyes people, its a rare occasion (unless he is guiding a hunt).  
There were a couple of bulls spotted in a meadow a couple hours ride from home.  I had tried to get them earlier in the fall, but the ground was frozen just enough to make the iced up mud horrible on horse legs and beyond the first sighting (I was walking my horse and spotted them from 100 yards away), I never saw them again.  The second time I went after them, I came upon a few strays first....3 pair and an orphaned calf.  I have no idea where they had been, but I'm pretty sure they were stuck in some nasty little swamp until the ground froze enough that they could get out to where I found them.  They were healthy enough, but certainly no one was packing any extra meat on their bones.  I tried very hard and carefully to get them to cross a frozen creek (that I had ridden my horse across) and head for home.  But oh no!  Despite the excellent entrance, and solid ice with a good skiff of snow for traction, they were convinced it was much too dangerous and would not go.  At one point I finally had them all quietly tippy toeing across, proud as you like.  Then my lead cow stopped to sniff at my horse track about 3/4 of the way across (it's not far, I could easily throw a rock across it!), slipped a foot just the slightest bit and that was it.  Fully justified in their worry now, they all whipped around and panicked their way BACK to the wrong side of the creek.  Sigh.  Seriously.  I got them re-rounded and standing in place again, all stubbornly staring across the creek and then left them to keeping looking for my wayward bulls.  I eventually came upon them in a good spot and they acted calm enough that I was feeling pretty confident we were just going to walk on out of there, as we should.  The best laid plans, right?  The terrain in that area is tough, the trees are either so close together that you can hardly push through, or there is so much windfall you end up spending huge amount of time going around it, or trying too.  Anyhow, they got a bit goofy and quick, which is not necessarily a problem if they are heading in the right direction.  Which they were not.  They ended up splitting up, forcing me to follow just one around in huge circles, trying to find the other.... It eventually got dark enough I was just hoping I'd get them to where the cows were.  But even that was not to be, much to my annoyance.   I can tell you that was a long cold ride home in the dark for the fun of it.   We even walked the whole way as I wanted Schmoose to dry out (from the snow and sweating) as much as possible.  It was -14C when I got home, so I even dug out a horse blanket because of course her outer coat was still wet.  I'm sure the other horses made fun of her for it, but I'm equally sure she appreciated it!  Brought back memories of her stable days!  Haha.....how far she has come.  
Anyhow....the next day, Eli ended up pushing and cutting his way through the huge amount of windfall along an old road to where the cows still stubbornly waited.  They were sure happy to see the bale of hay and salt he brought them!  A couple of days later, Eli, mum and myself all suited up and headed out again.  This time we took the cows with us up to the bulls and very quietly held them until the bulls were happy to be part of the 'herd'.  And then everyone walked back home (and across the frozen creek which had a bit more snow by then) as easy as you please.  Eli has already warned me that he will not forget how he had to come help me 'cowgirl', since I couldn't get it done myself, and how easy it all went with his expertise along. (insert eye roll here...)

Five Mile sunsets are hard to beat.

Moving some of the younger cows to new feed.  I don't set out with intentions to ride in the dark, but the dang days are so short!!  Everything is looking really good.  There is plenty of feed for them and the mineral tubs we put out ensure they are getting everything they need.  As long as the weather stays as it is (not terribly cold and not too much snow), they will be quite happy.  Which is a good feeling considering how much hay we've already had to buy this year!

The Christmas Parade in our little town.  Lots of fun, and well attended!

Mr and Mrs Claus, some helpful elves and Gingy!  Oh, and the Grinch, who may have been the cause of a few pretty spooked kids, but nothing a candy cane couldn't fix!  

The gingerbread contest.  Ours (on the right) was based on our hunting cabin.  Seemed like a good idea to do it all from scratch...but next time I think we will start a few days prior!

Every old horse dreams of having a little girl of their very own, right?

Dreams coming true, times two!
A pretty awesome pairing for our retired friend Tiffany and our favorite four year old! 

Merriest of the Christmas Season to you all!

Wednesday 20 November 2019

Fall Riding and Shipping Out

Yeah, it's been a wet ones.  Wettest anyone can remember.  But you know all that, I've complained before.  Thought I'd share a few photos tonight of our fall round up.  It has gone very well actually, which is a real blessing.  With this much water around, if we had gotten a wack of cold weather, we would have been in trouble.  The cows won't travel and the horses can't.  As it was, Eli and I did more hiking than either of us would prefer, simply because taking a horse wasn't an option, as it usually is.  And no doubt we ask more of our horses than most.  They spend more time than they would prefer breaking through ice and slugging through frozen mud.  Incredible animals, again, I'm grateful. 
In any case, the weather temperature is decent enough, though it still hasn't stopped raining.  Our driveway......ugh, let's talk about something else.....

Ah, but the calves look outstanding, and I think even better than usual.

A month has passed since I started this post.....

Well, it still hasn't stopped raining, but I'm done talking about that.  Pretty redundant.  

Instead I'll find some photos for you, and maybe there is a story in there somewhere too.  Although it is likely a wet one.  

Nice photo of Kelsey doing a good job riding a young horse on the range.

Bringing a few more stragglers in.  We were sure lucky with the weather for gathering this fall.  It stayed warm, for the most part.  It's so incredibly wet that even a little ice is a huge problem for the stock to travel.  Nothing wants to move, and rightfully so....

That's a large number of moo's right there.

This last photo was taken as we were doing the final gather from the hay meadow to bring them down to start sorting in the corral system for shipping.  This means separating all the calves and cows, separating the steers from the heifers, separating the replacements from the heifers to be sold, separating anything that won't go because of lameness etc, sorting, sorting sorting. I can't begin to explain what a huge morning/day that is, but I do know that I dread it.   As we need to do so much in such a small time period, we try and be as organized as possible, and anticipate any problems, fixing  any broken rails, prepping paperwork ahead of time etc.  Knock on wood, generally everything goes very well.  But it is still super stressful and so many decisions need to be made too quickly.  So much potential for disaster...and when your whole years paycheck is bawling in the pens, as well as the potential for coming years, you best be making sound decisions.  And quick, since those trucks are not cheap and get paid by the hour.
With the mud this year, it was extra difficult.  We had some exceptionally good help and sure appreciated the expertise they brought.    
I have to mention that on several occasions, I also appreciated the amount of time and effort we put in to having easy handling stock.  When you are nearly knee deep in cement like mud, there is simply no possibility of "quickly getting out of the way".  You can't hardly get around at all, having to consciously move each leg to just get across the alley.  If you did move fast, it would be one single move, leaving your boot behind (or just flopping to the ground with your feet still in place), and then you'd be stuck again.  It was truly unbelievable, utterly exhausting and honestly, pretty darn dangerous.  Having cattle that are quiet but responsive and that respect your space made that day even possible.  I was sure glad when all the animals were loaded and out without incident to them or us.  To be sure, we all slept soundly that night, with no one feeling the need to head to the gym.   

On a more positive note (besides that we got through shipping without anyone getting hurt) is that I found my radio after loosing it in that mud in the alley way.  Can you imagine?  It had about a hundred cows run over it and several hundred calves before I happened to notice just the antenna sticking up....  I realized I'd lost it earlier and stopped the whole operation to look, but no luck.  When I did find it, my delighted amazement turned to sorrow when it appeared to be working but I couldn't hear what was being said, even at full volume.  Then I realized the speaker was chock full of mud, cleaned it out and...haha! All good!  Icom's are tough, I'm hear to tell ya.

Our calves were very well received at the sale yard and sold well for the most part (although I wouldn't be a rancher if I didn't wish prices were a tad bit better....like they were the week before.....)  The weights were near a record high for us.   

Fall riding.  Usually my favorite time of year.  
Ah, who am I kidding.....my favorite time of year is the view between these ears.

Alright, just another goofy meme but I nearly blew coffee through my nose when I saw it.  This.....my kids.  They laughed nearly as hard, and agreed with me.

Forced to sell.  These girls are on their final trip from Five Mile to Six Mile to be loaded on the big trucks.  Selling them will allow us to buy enough hay (along with what we were able to get up) for the rest of them.

Country girls in the big city.  

I missed the best photo when all the cows were looking up at the auctioneers as though a grain bucket was being shaken.  So strange and funny, this never happens.  Almost like they were saying "make sure you tell potential buyers about...."
Was sure sad to see them go, but I know the majority went to good local ranchers who will benefit from having them.  We've already gotten several compliments on how quiet they are.  I have to mention....there MAY be one or two in there that are not so quiet.  "Bye-bye Cleo.....I won't miss you!!"

Cheers all,

Sunday 13 October 2019

A couple of video links for you

So as I mentioned in the last post, we got our nice warm rains in June and then early July brought massive flooding.  About the time the irrigation was all coming off, Mother Nature turned on the tap and did a much better job of soaking us than we ever could on purpose.  The amount of water was staggering, and slightly terrifying.  With every puddle, pond, creek, spring and swamp filled to the max, even a little rainfall over the summer would put us back in to flood mode.  (And there was plenty of rain!)    
We thought 2016 was bad....this year we are not even able to drive a tractor on to more than 50% of our hay land, let alone create a bale.  
I'll show you a video.....  

What does this all mean?  Buying hay and selling cows.  Not really the position one wants to be in when building up a ranch.  But it is what it is.....

Boys being boys 

Ah, but it's  not all bad and we have much to be thankful for!  Here is another video link to our calves for the season.  I make this video every year and it is shown in the auction ring while two loads of our steers are sold.  They won't actually be delivered until later in October, when we will sell the heifers and the rest.  So sadly, we will also be forced to sell the majority of what we would normally keep as replacements.  
But they look amazing, don't they?!  

The big upside to the summer was another great season of trail riding with wonderful guests, repeats and new.  Overall, we were quite lucky with the weather in the mountains, although a person didn't want to get too far separated from their raincoat.

We did have a really crazy trip down in to Pan Valley the one day.  The weather that morning started out good enough, we didn't even put our rain coats on until about an hour in to the ride.  But as we got to the top of Pan Pass, the thunder crashed and boomed and lightning flashed.  Like seriously....it could not have picked a worst time.  Things got worse before they got better, the britchen on a young horse broke (a piece of equipment that drops over the horses hind end to keep the packs/saddle from going to far forward), and things were about as exciting as you could dread, headed down a narrow shale trail in a thundering rain storm.  Everyone held it together, the britchen got a temporary fix with my knotted bandana and we started off again.  It's a steep rocky trail to get down and not a lot of fun at the best of times.  I would prefer to walk my horse down, as the guests do, but that's pretty much impossible when you are leading three packhorses.  Usually I'm riding a colt too, which brings a whole new level of fun.  Haha.  This time I was riding a seasoned champion, Vicky, who is normally used for packing.  I was really happy to have her solid body under me, especially with my dogs both in a near panic and trying to climb up in the saddle with me with all the thunder slamming around us as we skidded down the trail.  Anyhow, I started this story out just to mention how incredibly beautiful the ride was, even during the storm.  The rain brought out all the most vivid colors, and the sun shone though to bounce the craziest light off the rocks.  I really regret not digging out my camera at the time, but I knew that in reality, I really didn't want to take on one more challenge at the moment.  Unfortunately, I think everyone else was thinking about the same, so opportunity lost.  (But everyone arrived safely and smiling at the bottom (as the rain stopped!) so it was a win overall.    

All for now, 

Tuesday 10 September 2019


Such a great calving season for 2019.  Felt like we'd finally caught up after the nasty rains of the 2016 season, which caused us no end of grief.  Finally the cows are on a good cycle again (we had a huge percentage of our herd calve out in just too weeks!  Lucky the weather cooperated!!)  Dry ground (for Anahim Lake!), good help, minimal sickness and healthy momma's producing plenty of milk.   
We sure appreciated the difference in calving out all our own cattle, as compared to the year before when we had bought heifers.  Good attitudes, lots of maternal instinct, and healthy, correctly sized calves.   No complaints!  

Pocket and her wee filly, just born that morning.  Nothing sweeter.  

Going through photos to do a blog catch up, and I couldn't resist posting this one.  This is the decorating on a CAKE....everything edible and delicious.  By Amy of course, the Food Artist.  

After quite a dry spring, the rains finally came.  A series of massive downpours really flooded us in early July.  And the rains kept on a coming....  in fact, they are still coming.  That's not meant to be a lake in the distance....that's our hay meadow.  

Beautiful hay crop on the way at Four Mile.

The one thing I have to say....we do get the most amazing sunsets here!

Photo from our colt starting clinic in early June.  This is Howie, a real nice little two year old.  He came with us to the mountains for a couple of trips this year and was a rock star.  

Zip keeps a close eye, as usual.  As much as I love and appreciate her, she is a true example of how border collies always need a job and/or to be super active.  She never, ever, quits.  

Pocket's baby is growing up, plus another new addition.

Kelsey supporting the newly started four year old "Hudson" after getting him to climb aboard a rock.  

Taking cows to summer range up the side of the hay meadow.  Now, if the damn rain would stop and let things dry out.......

Rodeo Time!  Photo credit to Steven Dubas
We had another incredibly busy but very successful rodeo this year.  All of us organizers felt better about it (we learned some lessons last year!) and it was a good weekend all around.  Might even do it again next year.... 

Well, this was a wreck.  As you can see, some sick and sad heifers.  They have been eating (we think) a shore buttercup, which has caused contact dermatitis (blistering their noses, tongues, throats) and causing photo sensitization in some.  Crazy they were eating it at all, with tons of lush green grass around.  The offending buttercup is a low growing plant....they almost had to search it out.  But did.  We've never seen anything like this before, nor had anyone we knew.  They were pulled from the pasture and offered the barns and plenty of timber for shade.  They all came around eventually but it remains to be seen how the preg check will go.  

Summer Range

Cheers all!  

Monday 15 April 2019

On the Front Page

I haven't left the ranch for weeks, literally.  Calving came on hard and fast this year (yay!) and there was time for nothing else.  More on that later.  Then came a meeting notice (via Facebook) regarding caribou management in BC and I happened to need to renew my drivers license.  The calving had slowed so in to Williams Lake I zipped (a mere 3.5 hour drive......) A quick (and always expensive) run around afternoon and then the meeting started at 5:30.  It was an interesting meeting, informative and frustrating, and the topic has certainly has generated some heated conversations all through BC.  
A couple days later, I'm on the front page of the local newspaper and mum and I were both quoted.  Yuck, no where I want to be.    
This is the resulting letter.   

I recently attended the Caribou Recovery meeting in Williams Lake (along with several hundred other people), but have found myself quoted and on the front page of the Tribune.  I’m generally a low profile kind of person and public speaking is not my forte.  I’d prefer to tell my own story however, rather than be quoted without the context maybe being clear.  
I first want to comment about the poor prior notice of both the meeting and intentions of the meeting.  Having two businesses that we run out of the Itcha Ilgatchuz Park (guide outfitting and trail riding), having range tenure in the immediate area, being a director of the Anahim Lake Community Association, member of the Anahim Lake Round Table and secretary of the Anahim Lake Cattlemens, one might think that a notice of meeting might have made it my way.  But no, I found out on Facebook.  Along with the frantically “shared” announcement of the meeting were many comments, mainly the general public panicking about what kind of new restrictions and closures were going to be announced and what that would mean for both recreation and industry.  People were (and are) spooked and angry, and rightfully so.   

Needless to say the cliché talk at the meeting of “collaboration with local government and stakeholders” was not well received and there was more than one horse type snort in the crowd.  Perhaps the meeting was better announced on government websites…..oh but never mind….our own Caribou Chilcotin Park Supervisor didn’t know about the meeting until the Friday before.  Clearly there needs to be some more work on the whole “collaboration and transparency” piece. 
I also want to clearly point out the wealth of knowledge available from people who have or currently are living on the land.  (And not everyone has Facebook.)  I realize the information is ‘anecdotal’, but it is very relevant.  The history that has been passed down and been lived is interesting and important, especially since any official studies and statistics from this area (and much of Canada) are relatively recent.  This cannot be stressed enough.  Local knowledge should be sought out, not brushed by or ignored all together.   
What I write now is in regard to my own experiences in the Itcha Ilgatchuz Park region as a third generation rancher, mountain trail riding guide/packer and big game guide outfitter.  I cannot speak of other places where the herds are threatened and I would hope the government will look at each area individually, and LISTEN to the residents, rather than blanket us all with new policy.          

When I was a kid growing up out here, there were 120 plus students in the school.  There were many small holdings in the area, just big enough to support a family.  Most everyone, including First Nations people, had a few cows, plenty of horses to get around and make hay with, trapped through the winter and often guided in the fall.  People lived off the land because there was no choice, and made do with what they had (which often wasn’t much).  Everyone ate moose meat and caribou.  And there were plenty of them.  It was usual to see 40 to 60 moose and that was just in our main hay yard, not even the neighbors.  In the mountains, we got so used to seeing hundreds of caribou as we rode through, we’d hardly bother to stop.  What there wasn’t lots of, was wolves.  A wolf control program was in place.  And to a trapper or hunter, wolf pelts were prized and was worth good money.  There were still wolves around but they were shy and rarely made a presence.       

So now our human population is way down, with less than 40 kids in the school.  Although we have our share of ‘feral horses’, the numbers are actually down from the working herds that once were common.  Very few people live ‘out in the bush’.  Bigger ranches have taken over the smaller holdings, but the actual cattle numbers are similar.  There is next to no trapping done anymore and of course the guiding outfitting is essentially gone too.  Caribou hunting has recently been shut down all together (although even the experts agree that harvesting the mature bulls per regulated guidelines makes zero impact to the larger herd).  Moose are becoming a rarity and many people having given up hunting all together.  We have fewer snowmobilers than ever before and these days we can ride endlessly in the Itcha Ilgatchuz Park and area and not see another human or horse track.  Increased human presence is not one of the local challenges. 

What we have seen is a steady increase in wolf sign, remains of wolf kills and literally wolves everywhere, including in my back yard.  At the meeting, someone made some very interesting comments about humans hunting wolves throughout history and thereby helping to control numbers.  He is correct.  As human pressure on them has decreased, so their numbers have increased, and quickly. They are a very efficient and effective killer, and are thriving in this new world where they are king.  The same can be said for the grizzly bear, but we are not going there this time.
So in the near past, with the wolves under control via a program and human pressure, the moose and caribou flourished.  With no control program, easier access and little human pressure, the wolves have thrived and moose and caribou numbers have dropped accordingly and alarmingly.  I’m sorry folks, but it’s hard not to understand that math.  I’m well aware that there are other underlying issues, some we may not even know about yet.  But the basic facts ring loud and true.
Now don’t get me wrong in this, trust me, I’m the original bleeding heart, often to the disgust of my family.  Who else do you know that nurses coyotes back to health, or relocates baby beavers?  But even I can figure out that the cold hard reality means reducing wolf numbers and regulating predators in general.

Because what other “changes, restrictions or closures” can be done out here, with already a smaller population and much less individual human activity on the land for both recreation and living?  Certainly there is local impact from the pine beetle epidemic and fires. Certainly, logging and subsequent lack of road closures have made big changes in many areas, increasing access where there was once none.  Thoughtful land use planning is essential for multiple reasons.  However, there is still plenty of excellent habitat and protected areas here, and our numbers continue to drop. 

Controlling the wolf population DOES make a difference for the caribou and moose populations.  This has been proven by both history and science.  While I realize and appreciate that it is unpopular and may not be the ideal single long term plan, it is what needs to be followed up on first, while we still have something to protect.      
And that is the point I was trying to get across with my bumbling and mumbling at the meeting. :)  
Terra Hatch      

So there you have it.  My opinion, for what it is worth.  

On the homefront, we are looking at the tail end (no pun intended...) of our calving season.  Overall (knock on wood), it has been a good one.  Cows and calves are healthy and happy and we have had good luck in general.  I'll get back to you with a story or two in the near future.  

The best to you all,

Monday 25 February 2019

Another Cycle

Sometimes when I'm thinking about writing, I feel like I could just re-post from my first year of blogging.  I was pretty dedicated for one thing, and really, the seasons just keep going around.  This time in 2015, I was writing about sorting cows for calving, vaccinating and retagging the first time mommas.  And you'll never guess....but we are in the midst of it all again.  The biggest difference is that we are on "D" names now, instead of "Z" names.  

At the grain troughs.

But not to start off on a sour note!  All is well as can be.  Mother Nature could certainly do her part and turn up the thermostat (!) but overall we are in good shape.  The cows are in excellent health, strong and sassy.  The feed has held out well and proven to be of excellent quality (hence a strong and sassy cow herd).  We are nearly plowed out around the ranch, barns are prepped and we've got good help lined up.  The first and second calvers are sorted and processed and ready to go.  Tomorrow we will move the main herd up to Six Mile and start sorting them.  Not a quick or easy job there.  We will pull off the ones we feel are closest to calving, and keep them at the ranch site.  The others will be taken back out to the feed grounds.  This process happens at least once a week during our calving season.  It's time consuming but well worth it as, for the most part, we are able to have all calves born in a clean dry area, with access to help from us if necessary.  

For now, I'm consciously enjoying each full night of sleep in my own bed.  That will all very soon come crashing to a halt as these last few days will be the calm before the storm.  

This is our first wee fella, born much earlier than expected.  Luckily mum spotted his momma starting to calve when she was feeding.  We snuck her in to the hay yard and waited until she finished the birth and had a few short minutes to clean him off.  The wind was howling and it was about -15.  I took him back to the house, got him good and warm and fed him some colostrum.  Once relatively dry, I snuggled him in the blanket as shown and we rode the snowmobile back down the meadow to his mother.  He was super happy to look for some breakfast, but quickly started to freeze up again (temperature was dropping fast), so I wrapped him up and took him back in to the house for the night.  The cats were utterly disgusted, especially when he got free of his makeshift pen and walked into the kitchen while we were making breakfast.

All right folks, speaking of my bed....it's time.  Never know when the next full nights sleep will happen.  

Cheers and stay warm!

Saturday 9 February 2019

There and back again

Well, the Hatch family has safely returned home.  And home sweet home, it is.  (Despite the fact that it was -31 last time I checked and still dropping.....)

I won't go in to all of the details as I do have to get some sleep tonight, but I will touch on a few major points.  

We went to Disneyland.  That was cool for the kids for sure.  Not positive it was ever on my bucket list, but it is now surely off.  Perhaps the best part is that it was raining buckets both of the full days we were there.  Some may consider that bad luck.....we considered it PERFECT.  Because there were virtually no line ups at all and we did all our favorite rides at least twice.  We went with Eli's sister and family, and that was also a huge part of the success of the time spend.  They have gone several times and know all the 'in's and out's', best rides, places to eat etc.  All in all, it was good fun.  

Then off to much more my style of holiday.  We had rented an airbnb home about 3 hours from Los Angeles.  Oh, should I get in to a traffic report about that city?  Ugh, no....let's not.  

Anyhow, the home we stayed in had plenty of room for everyone (9 for a couple of nights) and we enjoyed cooking for ourselves.  The area is absolutely fantastic and literally impossible to describe.  I'm pretty sure that only had we landed on the moon, would it have been more opposite from our home.  We spend several days in the Joshua Tree Park and I would highly recommend it.  The rock formations are incredibly cool and fun to hike around in.  The climate wasn't super warm (they were having a 'cold spell'), but it was pleasant enough.  As an added bonus, the rains really got the desert blooming.  Perfect all around.  

Anyhow, for tonight, I'll just add a few photos.  

These photos are all from the Joshua Tree Park.  Such an incredible place.

The desert began to bloom.....

A truly incredible place, The Painted Canyon

The Ladder Canyon Hike.  You literally used ladders to crawl up through the rocks and walk along through narrow paths cut and carved through the centuries by water.
Probably the most unique place I've ever visited.

Exploring the Lava Tubes of Pisgah Crater.

We were fortunate to have our good friend Cheryl join us for part of our trip.  Do you see a smiling face underneath her?  


Another hike in the Joshua Tree Park.

The famous Skull Rock.

Love this photo!  I had to turn it black and white as it was zoomed in and not clear, but the effect is great.  

Heading back in to Los Angeles.  LOOK at all the freeways we were navigating.  When I say 'we', I mean "Eli....."
Thankfully the car rental guy took pity on us and gave us a vehicle with a navigation system. 

Visited a huge beach not that far from our hotel.  Plenty of people there, but only two Chilcotin boys actually out playing in the waves!!  
The air was warm, but the water was dang cold.

So our story turns here a bit.  To shorten it up, we managed to get Ben's eye specialist appointment changed to somewhat coincide with the end of our trip.  So he and I skipped the last plane and stayed near Vancouver, mostly visiting friends we've met through trail riding.  To shorten another long story, the 2nd specialist we saw decided to do the necessary surgery as soon as possible.  Great because it meant 'two birds with one stone', but not so cool as we were both starting to really chomp at the bit to get home.  But all good.  Some more lovely visits to family/friends I wouldn't normally get to visit and I think I'm finally getting the Skytrain, Bus and Ferry system figured out.  
(Sorry to those I didn't touch base with...your turn to get dropped in on next time.....!)

View from Saturna Island

I have to say, the people of Vancouver and area were all great, from the bus drivers to the waitresses to the RCMP (one member bought Ben a donut and wished him the best of luck for his surgery), to the nurses etc.  Not a cranky face to be found and everyone was super helpful.  And of course the Childrens Hospital was amazing, as always.  And very humbling.  Feeling whiny about a quick day surgery or not being home when you thought you should, gets put in to perspective pretty quick when you are there and seeing what other families are going through.    
Ben was a champion through the surgery, had an excellent follow up appointment and very nearly a MONTH after leaving the ranch, we happily arrived home again, jiggidy jig.  

It's been an amazing adventure, but I'm quite certain we are now right back where we belong.  

Moving horses to 'greener pastures'.
Not gonna lie, it was a chilly ride but I was still grinning from ear to ear (under my scarf!) to be looking between equine ears again.

All the best,