I am sick and tired of the phrases “unprecedented times” and “new normal.” however, I do know why writers use them and it’s not just because we’re being lazy. It gets written because it’s true. Times are bizarre, uncommon, unparalleled… I think you get the picture.
And because it’s weird, we forget about the normal things we need, like date nights or in this case a date day. I’m not just talking to people who have children, even those of us without offspring forget to celebrate us. A date night or date day is a celebration because let’s face it, being a partner is hard work, and this pandemic isn’t making it any easier. We should celebrate that we’re making it through!
So we did a date day entirely planned by Ryan. On a Saturday afternoon, as we drove west, towards the mountains, I tried to guess where we were going. I am not good with surprises, and I was a little apprehensive as we pulled up to the barn at Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch, about 25 minutes from our Loveland house.
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I was worried because I have cowboy boots but didn’t wear them. And the day was cold but I hadn’t worn a hat. Guess what? Ryan had packed all that stuff. I know, I know, I’ll keep him.
Our wrangler at Sylvan Dale was Dustin who gave us a little seminar about riding before we went out. I’ve been through these trail ride talks before and I really was impressed.
We set out at 2:30 p.m. I was on Dusty Lady and Ryan was on Sparkie, two matching Palominos. There were five of it in all, with Dustin in the lead. Our human trail riding companions were sisters with riding experience so none of us was a complete newbie, however, the wranglers at Sylvan Dale can accommodate brand new riders.
This was my second ride at Sylvan Dale, as we stayed here in 2015. We’d actually been here a decade-plus ago for a wedding. It’s a lovely setting for nuptials.
A trail ride is a great date day activity or family outing. The people of Loveland don’t realize what a gem is sitting in their back yard! And you do not have to stay here to ride a horse or take a wagon ride.
The day was chilly but occasionally the sun popped out from behind the clouds and the fields around us glowed yellow. Dressed appropriately, in a heavy coat, gloves, and a knit hat, I was perfectly content.
Plodding back as the shadows got longer and longer was like trotting through a Moment of Nature (only watchers of Sunday Morning on CBS will understand). I highly recommend the show and a trail ride at Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch.
After the ride, we drove the back way into Fort Collins as the sun was going down. We took Glade Road behind the famous Horsetooth and then beside its namesake reservoir, Horsetooth Reservoir. Of course, I made Ryan stop along the way for pictures. In addition the lake and rock views, we saw wild turkeys, deer and a herd of elk.
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We made a stop at McClellen’s Brewing Company for a beer and bite. A Starter’s Board goes perfectly with a half and half (their cream ale mixed with their porter). This is a fun place that’s a mix of a Scottish pub, college bar and brewery. By the way, many pubs in the United Kingdom brew their own beer so this place is spot on.
For dinner, we drove back to Loveland and split a pepper steak at the iconic The Black Steer (in business since 1966). They don’t charge a split plate fee which is awesome. The Black Steer is another place that Loveland is lucky to have. It’s a throwback with perfectly cooked steak and Chex on the side salad instead of croutons. We love it and it just made sense to dine here while we still smelled like horses.
Don’t you think it’s high time for a date day?