Medium Rare

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So late in the afternoon that the Arizona sun was approaching the horizon and flies were getting lazy as they buzzed the barnyard. My girls were gearing up for a twilight horseback ride and cowboy dinner.

I have the best girlfriends. BFFs shall we say. I’m not sure how I got so fortunate to fall into friendship with these girls, but it happened a long time ago, and I’m outrageously lucky.

The best part is that my girlfriends really like one another. Not necessarily every minute of every day, but even when there is drama, there is love too. And although we live all over the place, we still make the effort, including the periodic girls trip like this one to Scottsdale. Of course, not everyone can make it every time, but more is always merrier as far as I’m concerned.

None of us is an equestrian, but we’re all up for a (soft) adventure. So, mounted and briefed, we were ambling up into the foothills, down the trail. At the suggestion of our guides, we were on high alert for snakes!

Trail riding is less social than one might imagine. The single file formation makes group conversation impossible. At best, you can holler up to the horse ahead of you, or crane your neck around to holler back to the person riding behind.

“Hey, did you see that? Was it a snake?”

“No, it was a lizard.”

There is a rhythm to riding, clip-cloping along the trail past cactus and rocks, a staccato of hoofs on the desert and knees against the leather saddle. There is a rhythm to life too, the steady measure of time and the patterns of daily living. Our friendship has weekly emails and annual Christmas cards. Too few visits, and so many reasons to celebrate.

Day turned to night and our hollering from horse to horse became less frequent, less spirited. We were lulled into a meditative peace as our horse walked along it’s familiar path with no protest and no urgency. The horizon was washed in orange and purple light as the restaurant came into view.

It was the kind of place with peanut shells on the floor and locals in the booths. Blake Shelton crooned God Gave Me You for the Ups and Downs over the jukebox speakers and there was the promise of savory umami flavors waiting in the kitchen. Embracing our city slicker personas, for the first time, maybe ever, a table full of women with steak knives and warm hearts ordered a round of ribeyes.

Outside, the horses were tied up and drinking water, resting before a moonlit ride back through the desert. Inside, the ladies were feasting too, and laughing, and teasing, and caring. We were having one more goofy fun time, making more eclectic memories.

That night, the stars flickered on, the moon lit the way and nary a snake did we encounter.

Where should we go for our next girls trip? I’d love to know your suggestions.

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