LIGHTNING

By Martha Jo Tisdale

We were those folks who sent postcards to family and friends as we traveled across the country in our motorhome. Then we decided postcards were too small — not size, just couldn’t get enough ‘message’ on it, plus the postage was too high. So we started a blog and taught our family and friends how to access it. We loved it! We could add our own pictures — Oh, Hey!  here’s . . . .

. . .a photograph of Norm taking a midnight ride with a group of RVers. Because he had chosen the mule, he was put at the end of the line. It was okay with Norm, but it sure  wasn’t okay with the mule. This is that story.

This group of RVers met in Hatch, Utah with each couple checking in as they arrived. ‘The early bird gets the worm’ as the saying goes, so being close to the front of the line pretty well assured us of a great location with a wonderful view facing west. You always want to face west if you like watching the sun go down. I love watching the sun go down. There are those, though, who would rather get up with the chickens, brew their coffee, adjust their lawn chair, and remove the lens cap from their camera . . .then wait for the sun to rise!

We were next in line to register so I handed all of our paperwork to the owner/operator of this classy dude ranch and he smiled politely and welcomed us to Hatch,Utah!   I needed to make a note of their “claim to fame” — it might make a good story for our blog! 🤔 Hmmmm! Where should I look for their ‘claim to fame’? 🤷🏻‍♀️

Well, all three Tisdale couples were registered and ‘set’ when the other owner/operator approached us and asked us when the “other Tisdales” would be arriving. “Other Tisdales? There aren’t any other Tisdales!” So, in an attempt to prove me wrong, he handed me the list of campers expected in Hatch, Utah! “Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle” I said as I took a closer look! “Sure enough — here’s your ‘long-lost brother’! Finally! Jim Tisdale & Donna Tovey, 229 Rainbow Dr. #12923, Livingston, TX 77399-2029, e-mail: ontheroad@pocketmail.com.” Hadn’t seen them before — haven’t seen them since!

Lightning, the mule that was not happy at the tail end [no pun intended] of the long line of riders, who by the way, sat comfortably in their saddles, listening to Jake, the Cowboy, the one ‘mostl’y in charge of the horses, go over the rules . . .again. He probably needed to review the list of important things his riders should have on their person, saddle, and whatever else was permitted. Jake reiterated “no flash cameras” only about a dozen times. 

Lightning was making a lot of racket so Jake moseyed on back to where Norm was trying to ‘talk him down’ and whispered into Lightning’s ear. That seemed to settle him down some, but Norm didn’t have a clue what he had said, nor did Jake say anything to Norm! 🤔 Hmmm.     

Everyone was ‘past ready’ and more than eager to get going! For sure the horses were ready! They knew where they were going — they’d done it a hundred times, probably. And they could probably even do it in the dark. I’m sure some folks thought they would ‘be doing it in the dark’! 

Rumor had it they needed to cross the highway just a half mile from camp and head north in order to get into the trees and away from highway noise. Those of us who opted out out of tonight’s trail ride stood around visiting and taking turns guessing when the group would really return. Ed, one of the late-comers and the one who was highly distraught because he wanted to take the trail ride, suggested we take a look over to the west. We did, and we saw some pretty dark clouds forming over the next ridge. Bets were made on the time the riders would return . . .and whether or not they returned soaked to the skin! 

Back on the trail, the riders were chatting among themselves and commenting on the wild 💐 💐 flowers that were so thick and the number of chipmunks 🐿 🐿 they could count. The wind had picked up just a bit and Lightning had decided it was his turn to lead, so taking his time, he just sort of sided up next to Colleen’s horse and sort of nosed his way in ahead of her. She looked startled; Norm just smiled and shook his head. 

Cowboy Jake must have been taking a nap because he did nothing to correct the situation, so that was when Norm decided that must have been his secret with Lightening.  All was well until they came to a small creek, which any man six foot tall could easily step across. . .but not Lightning — he put on the brakes! 

Norm, having experienced ‘mule riding’ for a number of years, wasn’t so put off by Lightning’s behavior, he just calmly talked Lightning across the little creek and the group moved along. Colleen seemed okay with Lightning in front of her when Lightning all of a sudden let out a ‘heeee—haaaw’ and this time moved out of the line and butted in right in front of Sharon, causing her to grab her saddle horn and let out a ‘yelp’ of her own. Under her breath it was more than just a ‘yelp’ but Dwight knew what she’d said and he told her to ‘tone it down, NOW!’ No sense in causing a ruckus! 

If it wasn’t for Lightning and his abrupt interruptions, there might not have been any conversation among the RVers astride their four-legged modes of transportation. There was some bragging going on up in front when Jay was expounding on all of his experiences (expertise) with horses, ‘back in the day’. Pretty amazing that he had had months of polo playing when he was in Europe. Someone please tell me: why would a Polo player go on a trail ride? “Good question,” Charlotte thought to herself. Fortunately she thought better of herself not to ask the question since she had just met Jay. 🤔 Hmmmm!

She considered saying something, anything to break the silence, and it was too dark to comment on the blooming wild flowers! “Oh well, just forget it” she mumbled under her breath. She thought of talking to her horse, but she couldn’t remember his name. Then she looked at her watch and it was too dark to see what time it was getting to be. She was beginning to fidget so reached behind her for her fanny pack which she thought she had secured with the leather ties. 

Then she broke into a cold sweat — here she was — on a horse, in the dark, by herself, or at least that’s how she felt. To top it off, her fanny pack was missing which meant she had no cell phone, not that there was a signal, and she was so upset she couldn’t remember her own name, let alone someone’s name she could call.

She was just about to call out to Jake when Lightning showed up next to her. He just walked beside her; not trying to get ahead of her. He definitely had her attention and she felt her heart palpitations lessen. Charlotte glanced at Lightning then at Norm. Lightning was feeling kind of ‘sparky’ and he said in mule language, “everyone’s so proud of me!”

Norm just smiled and shook his head. Maybe this was a sign that the late night ride would end okay after all. It wasn’t long before Jake rode up next to Norm and asked him if anyone had asked if a fanny pack had been found!

Life was good.