Horses over Surfing

Before we came out here, I really wanted to go surfing. I’ve only done a surfing class once in Maui and figured California would be the perfect place to hone my nonexistent skills. When we got here in May, the water was ice cold. It hasn’t gotten any warmer. This past weekend we went over to Half Moon Bay for either some surfing or horse back riding.

The microclimates around here can vary drastically but, from what I hear, are relatively consistent. Take where we live for example. In the morning, it’s usually overcast until maybe nine or ten o’clock. Then, the clouds disappear for the rest of the day. You’ve got blue sky all day long and temperatures between seventy five and ninety with little humidity. We’re spoiled.

Then, you drive up north a little ways on I280, and you always notice cloud embankments peaking over the mountains to the west. It never fails. There are always clouds rolling over the hills, and I think it’s such a cool sight when you’re driving by.

Clouds rolling over the Santa Cruz mountain range

The problem is, during this time of year, those clouds extend out into the ocean. Half Moon Bay seems to be covered by clouds in the summer. They said the best times to get cloudless views of anywhere along the coast are during spring and fall. When we went to Big Sur, there were no clouds. We must have been on the tail end of the spring season. When Jen’s parents came, they had a pretty cloudy experience.

But back to Half Moon Bay and surfing. It didn’t happen. It was cloudy and the water seemed to have gotten colder since we got here. I guess that’s pretty normal too. You can’t surf without a wetsuit and an iron resolve. I gave up on the idea of surfing a few weeks back. No problem, I’m sure I’ll pick it up the next time we go to Hawaii.

Instead, Jen heard about some cool horse-riding you can do over in Half Moon Bay where you actually get to ride on the beach. This sounded pretty cool, and although my step-mom was nearly killed a few years back in an accident involving a spooked horse, a tree, and lots of broken bones, we were up for the challenge.

It was actually a lot of fun. There was no organization to the place and hardly anyone spoke English besides the phrase, “Stop, please.” Our guide was a kind-hearted Mexican cowboy who smiled a lot, said little, and just sort of wandered around or near us while the horses just walked along the route to which they were accustomed.

They didn’t allow any cameras or cellphones or really anything on the journey, but I can see why. They probably had a lot of knuckleheads trying to take pictures while riding a horse and either dropping the camera or spooking the horse with that stupid noise that digital cameras make in an effort to try and sound like their mechanical ancestors. Being the knucklehead I am, I tried taking a picture and this is the best I got.

Just above that horse’s ass is my lovely, headless wife

We were riding along with a family from the area who had come out for the mom’s birthday. Their daughter was a bit freaked out and was kinda cute as she got frightened early on, but quickly became the most annoying girl ever as she ran her mouth through the entire ride complaining about everything. Our cowboy smiled and hooked a lead rope up to her horse in an effort to shut her up, but she kept complaining the entire time. The parents were nice and we talked for a bit. The horses followed no line and just went where they wished, so Jen and I would only be able to exchange a few words before getting some other horses caught between us.

Jen had a faster horse and mine was kind of lazy. She was usually near the front of the group and I was usually near the back, somehow sandwiched between the father and son. Whenever I’d try to make my horse trot a little in an effort to get by my wife, the kid’s horse ahead of me wasn’t having any of it. I’d speed up and so would he. A couple times, his horse purposefully cut me off and nearly ran me off the road, which, my horse thought was a great idea because it gave her some plants to eat.

We eventually got control over our beasts and were able to stay closer together. The trail went down on the beach for a while, which was really cool. The hill we went down on was really steep and you had to lean far back in the saddle and trust that your horse knew what they were doing. Jen’s took the hard way down but thankfully she made it unscathed. Riding on the beach was pretty cool, even though the clouds weren’t cooperating.

After we got back to the stables, Jen and I drove down to one of the beaches we trotted along earlier. It was cloudy and a bit nippy, even though we’re in the middle of July. Funny how that works. I think it was the combination of the cold air, clouds, and big waves, but it kept reminding me of sitting on the edge of Lake Superior, except saltier.

Gloomy day on Half Moon Bay

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