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If you saw my last post about Love Valley, then you know it was quite an experience the last time I visited -- but I decided to give it another chance and went back with a couple family members over the weekend.
I can't lie and say I wasn't a little bit scared about not fitting in -- again -- but thankfully things went better than expected and we didn't even end up seeing the strange stare-y stalker guy from the first trip.
This time we lodged at Trail Buster's Campground (they had a B&B) and a lovely older woman named Daisy hosted us. She was absolutely fantastic and made us feel right at home from the moment we arrived on Friday evening to the time we said our goodbyes on Sunday morning. Having her as the first face we saw when we arrived really helped calm the nerves, and meanwhile her lodge was gorgeous and only a short walk from town.
Not only were we off to a good start with our lodging, but we decided to really run with the whole "wild west" theme and rented some horses from Amanda, the owner of Brushy Mountain Horseback Adventures, to use on Saturday.
TIP: For $125 per person, you can rent horses from Amanda for an entire day without a guide, IF you're an experienced rider. Trail rides are available with a guide for cheaper.
We woke up early on Saturday and took our trusty steeds out for an all-day adventure. After stopping in town for a quick coffee break, we made our way through the 800-acres of trails, ending up back in town around 2p.m. and just in time to grab some much needed lunch -- and a break for our aching leg muscles.
There seemed to be a heavier presents of locals and tourists in town this time as opposed to the previous visit. Stores were open and everyone we came in contact with was extremely friendly.
While at points I think we still stood out like a sore thumb -- not only from our out-of-state accents and lack of cowboy boots, no one actually made us feel like an outsider or bothered to ask where we were from.
Maybe having horses helped, but the overall atmosphere was much more inviting and lively, and we mingled in quite well.
The locals were quick to give help and advice when needed, whether it was directions or horse riding tips.
It should be noted that we were extremely respectful and showed the community support during our stay by buying locally and only eating in town -- which by the way, the general store and cafe had amazing home-made meals -- and would it have been a wild west experience without a nightly visit to the saloon?
Our stay in town was short, and that's okay because one day there is generally enough to see it all, but I feel so much more accomplished with my visit this time around than the last. Not to mention there aren't many places you can rent horses for an entire day without a guide.
I think the key to fitting in here is to have a horse and don't be afraid to talk to the locals. They are actually super friendly and respectful as long as you are too!