Friday, July 2, 2010

Lost Pines: Day 2

Saturday morning just before we departed for the Grand Hike we enjoyed a ride on the horse drawn carriage. I was secretly hoping that the carriage ride just might take us to the same place the wagon ride had the night before, you know, right next to the park entry so we wouldn’t have to hike there. For the record it was not being lazy, just having the foresight to try to conserve as much energy as possible for the actual hike. Little did I know at the time just how much I would need it...

We did however enjoy the ride that took us on a short circuit around the resort itself. Throughout the trip our guide on the back of the wagon told us interesting facts about the horses - how they came to spend part of their time at Hyatt, and about their roommates Ribeye and T-bone (the longhorns). Their particular breed, though I have long since forgotten the name, is a larger than an average horse and they passed around the weighty, oversized horse shoes to prove it while we played a guessing game about their weight. A young boy guessed 700lbs. A woman guessed 2000. Remembering the car sized bulls at the rodeo I threw out a guess of 3200lbs. To which Kevin laughed and mocked that that’s as much as a car! Turns out they weighed in around 2200lbs. I was only off by ½ a ton or so.

We also heard how the horses came to be at Hyatt, one leading a charmed life of a show horse trained in dancing and other talent acts. The other having been a former work horse – part of a pair that pulled a plow. The horse drawn carriage rides had once been a special holiday treat, but had morphed into a full time job. Their handlers had traded in jobs in HR and engineering at Hyatt to settle in the country 30 miles away for half of the week, and bring the animals in on Thursday night for the weekend’s activities.

We also learned about the longhorns. Despite their size they were only 3 years old, and were actually siblings. They shared the same father, but had different mothers and were reported to each take after their respective mothers. Their life expectancy was a surprisingly long time – about 20 years. Their father was reported to have had over 26 wives and at least 186 children if I recall correctly. A fact which elicited some laughs and witty remarks from some of the passengers. The trainer also mentioned how surprised she was with their intelligence. For example she said after just one trip through the resort on the very next trip they knew exactly which way to go.

We saw the longhorn pair again later in the day on our way to the pool. They were taking a walk through the property much like dogs on a leash out for a little walk to stretch their legs.

We spent several hours of the afternoon at the pool mostly cruising the lazy river in between quick jaunts down the big slide.

The slide was a blast. After watching Kevin go down at a nice sedate pace on his back just splash out gently into the pool below I took my first turn down the slide. I chose to sit instead of lie down and I was propelled down by the rushing water at a far faster clip that I imagined and practically drowned as I came off the end with all the grace of a cannon ball taking flight and sending waves and spray everywhere including up my nose. And yet it was so much fun we immediately raced back to do it all over again just like the kids. As we stood at the end of the short line the staffer at the top of the ride called several children by name, introducing them to one another, and asking new comers their names and a little about themselves. He chatted with them easily obviously enjoying his job. Like of most of the resort staff I was surprised at just how friendly, helpful, and pleasant they were making the stay all that much more enjoyable.

Finally shriveled up like prunes we dragged ourselves out of the water and after a quick stop by the room for a change of clothes went off in search of discs for disc golf. We started out at the tee box for the first hole in search of the basket. The tee was at resort level and between us and the basket we finally located down at the river level was a whole lot of dense forest growth. Not willing to lose our hard to acquire discs (what do you mean they are closed?) we decided to create our own starting point. We played several holes. Badly… Unless of course they were meant to be Par 4s. I did make one spectacular shot that I couldn’t repeat again if my life depended on it - splitting two trees no more than a couple of feet apart and landing practically within spitting distance of the basket. I might or might not have done a little celebration dance… Though with the on again off again sprinkles there weren’t many folks around to have seen anything one way or another.

The rain was actually refreshing. It helped cool things off a bit. It was also an interesting shower that shows just how cool nature can be. It was raining in the tree’d area for a while, but not out in the open area where we happened to be standing. We could see the wall of water were the rain just stopped. It eventually advanced covering us as well, but not before we had plenty of time to marvel at the fact that it could be raining 10 feet away, but not on us.

After our 2nd buffet in as many days – this time with a Seafood theme (did I mention how absolutely delicious the penne with crawfish and mushrooms with spicy marinara was??) we once again made smores before deciding to hit the pool a second time. It was our first trip to the pool after dark and I can’t begin to describe how perfect it was. The water actually felt warm against the cooler air left after the rain. And the landscape lighting all around the lazy river provided beautiful lighting to the whole area. The glimpses of the full moon we could see at various points in the river only added to the beauty. We were incredibly sad when we were kicked out of the pool when it closed at 10pm or were more accurately chased out of the pool by overzealous staff. As we headed back towards our room we stopped at the now abandoned campfire area that was still blazing merrily. We sat for a while enjoying our last night with the flickering flames, moonlight, and blessed lack of bugs.

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