After a shaky start with Christmas night in a hotel room in Des Moines and several delayed flights, I arrived in Sacramento on the night of the 26th. It was all worth it. Steve, Kate, and Claire met me at the airport and we drove back to the ranch. Uncle Ben and Aunt Twila were both still at the ranch, so I got to spend some time with them too. The lodge was all decked out for the holidays, and everything was just as perfect as I'd remembered it from last year. But the very best thing of all has been being with my cousins again. Claire gave me her bed the first night. I was so tired from my trip, so I turned in early.
Yesterday morning, Claire and I trekked out on her pimped up Mule (it even has a flashing light on the top now like an emergency vehicle), and we saw all the new sights. I hadn't met the two new baby horses yet... they were so cute!!! It was cool seeing what all had changed from the last time I was here. The blacksmith shop is coming along, and miles of new fencing has been added. I was happy to see Craig and Julie (the ranch managers) again, and I met some new friends, Randy, Celeste, and Briana, as well. Claire led us on a hike in the afternoon up to the rock slide and a hidden waterfall on the side of the mountain. The dusting of snow glittered on the pine needles, and the tree trunks were covered with soft bright green moss. It was beautiful. The girls and I took the new "Limo" Mule up the mountain to meet Kelly's friends Ted and Brad in the afternoon. They're staying at the guest house, and Randy, Celeste, and Briana are staying at the duplex. Uncle Ben and Aunt Twila had to head home, so after saying goodbye to them, I moved into their suite. We had a great dinner last night, complete with fresh striped bass that Cameron hadcaught that day. Wine, laughter, conversation, hugs... it was the perfect evening. I fell into the big bed of the suite and was practically asleep before I hit the pillow. There's nothing like the fresh mountain air to tucker a person out, in the best way possible.
Today I woke up, showered, and ate a big plate of pancakes that Steve had fixed. Now, we're getting ready to take the 4-wheelers up the mountain for a picnic. We also plan on having some shooting range adventures this afternoon.
It's so good to be here. I'm so blessed to have a family like mine. Thank you, Kelly, Steve, Cameron, Kate, and Claire, for having me here and sharing Fort Mountain Ranch with me. I love you all so much...