Trail’s end was Edmonton Equine Veterinary Hospital, just outside of Sherwood Park … half a mile south of Highway 14 on Range Road 212. Considering everything EEVH, and Deb Carroll personally, have done for this ride, it’s a fitting place to end.
Once everybody put their horses away, fed them and watered them, we had a couple of hours to kill, so sat and enjoyed the hospitality at the Carroll house (just back of Edmonton Equine Veterinary Centre). Then it was into the shuttle van and off to FortisAlberta for a barbecue, some gifts from Fortis, and some last words from Rusty and me to our riders.
Most riders left after that. Many had a long way to go before getting home. Some, though, chose to spend the night at the Carroll property, so off we went back to EEVH.
I’m not going to lie to you — we all stopped at the liquor store on the way back to the Carroll’s house. *grin* Sitting around a big bonfire, sipping a beer and swapping short (and tall) tales about episodes on the trail was the order of the evening. It was great. We feel more like a family than a group of riders who came together for a few days or weeks. I think it was about 1:00 a.m. before the embers died down and everyone went to bed.
And then it was morning. Again it was bright and sunny, though cool.
We breakfasted on the Carroll’s deck. Chris Schauer pulled out her guitar and sang a beautiful song she wrote called “Let Them Wagons Roll”. And then she broke into “Happy Trails”. Honestly, that is the BEST way this event could end … it was THE note upon which I envisioned ending.
Folks started loading horses in trailers … and Hugh, our most excellent photographer/videographer tried desperately to sneak away with little or no fanfare. Nice try, Hugh! We grabbed him, hugged him … and discovered that he’s a big softie! We caused a tear in his eye (oh, yes, it was, Hugh!) … which made me cry … again.
I am really tired of crying. (Yes, I’m one of those. I cry for a myriad of reasons. On this trip, often it’s because people are so gosh darn wonderful.)
I cannot believe the number of extraordinary people I’ve met throughout this last year. That’s the best part of the work I now do. I get to meet nothing but the creme de la creme. I hope they will all be back and/or involved again next year. I am going to miss them all.
Where the hell did those 22 days go?