It was Thursday. I don't remember the date or month except that it was the summer of 1999. I recall it was Thursday because that's when the breakfast ride is scheduled at Aspen Canyon Ranch - a Colorado guest ranch about two hours northwest of Denver. I worked there as a wrangler for four summers, but since 1995 I have only volunteered when they needed me, or when there was a meal associated with horseback riding. This means I'm often there on Thursdays.
The breakfast ride involved groups of guests, each led by a wrangler, taking a 30 minute ride up to Saddle Mountain where a hearty breakfast is prepared over a campfire. After breakfast, each group goes out on a two or three hour ride in the mountains. I have led many of these rides in the past ten years, so this particular ride was routine except for Susan, an attractive women in her 30s who happened to be on my ride with her male "friend".
Over the years I have picked up this troublesome habit of being attracted to good looking women. Wedding rings or male companions do not lessen this attraction, but how I respond to the attraction is certainly affected. Susan had no ring, but she had a male companion, so the three of us had a nice, polite conversation about our various lives. I recall that he was a dentist and that they lived in Atlanta.
A few hours after the ride I ran into Susan in the lodge. "I was just thinking about you," I said.
"I was just thinking about you," she replied - which the male brain translates to: "I want to sleep with you." I don't remember what was said after that, so it must have been the high point in our encounter at the lodge.
I stayed for dinner. Between free food and Susan, I had no trouble hanging around the ranch for a few more hours. At dinner I just happened to sit next to Susan and learned that she was divorced, had two children, recently moved to the Atlanta area, and was vacationing with a guy who she emphasized was "...just a good friend." My male brain translated that to mean: "I like you better than this guy I'm with." I am a realist however, and realized that possession is nine tenths of the law. I'm also aware of the male brain bias.
By this time her "friend" was starting to suspect that I had designs on Susan, and he stopped being friendly to me, which quickly moved him into my "dork" category. Realizing that any further pursuit of Susan would be futile, I said goodbye and departed. But Susan had not heard the last of me. I decided to have some fun at "his" expense.
On Sunday afternoon I stopped at the ranch after all the guests had departed. I wanted Susan's address, but the office did not have her address because she had registered for the week under his name. I didn't even know her last name. This was going to be tough. Then I remembered that each guest must sign a release form for horseback riding which absolves the ranch of any liability should a guest be injured or trampled to death. Ta da! I now had her last name.
Twenty minutes on the Internet and I had Susan's address and phone number in Georgia. Then I went to a site where you can have flowers delivered and perused the options for sending something to Susan. I decided on an evergreen tree. Flowers only last a week at best, but a tree could be a long-term annoyance for her male "friend." I sent her the tree with a greeting that simply said: "A remembrance of Colorado from Lew and BJ." (BJ is my horse.)
I did not send Susan my address, phone number or even my last name, so I knew that I would never hear from her again, but that was fine. I lived in Pennsylvania, except for the summers, and I certainly didn't need a relationship with someone in Georgia to complicate my life. Just knowing that my tree would be there was enough.
A year later I'm back in Colorado and my friend John is visiting from Texas. After sightseeing in Rocky Mountain National Park, I decide to take him to the Grand Lake Lodge for a late lunch. I park my truck and, as we approach the steps, this very attractive and familiar looking woman is coming down the steps. She looks at me as I'm looking at her and says, "I know you."
My brain is working quickly, and when she says her name is Susan, I tell her what her last name is - which is really stupid, because she already knows what her last name is. Even so she is impressed that I know it. She still doesn't know my last name, and I don't tell her. A short conversation reveals that she loves Colorado and is back vacationing again with a different male "friend." I quickly volunteer to be her male "friend" for her next summer's vacation, but she doesn't take me as seriously as I do.
Roy is her new friend. I like Roy, but I like Susan better, and I'm jealous of Roy. We have a brief chat and say goodbye. I'm still in shock at having run into Susan. The odds of it happening are so small that I'd have a better chance of being killed by a deranged armadillo. It must be an omen, so I go home and write Susan a letter, this time giving her my full name, my Pennsylvania and Colorado addresses and phone numbers, my web site address and my email address. She has moved again and I can't find her new address, so I sent the letter to her ex husband. I hope he is a good sport and forwards the letter. (I put a note in there for him, just in case he isn't a good sport and opens the letter.)
Now my life goes on as it has - without Susan. If I'm really lucky, it will continue that way. I figure the worst that can happen is that she will contact me, we will begin a correspondence that will lead to me spending a lot of time and money going to Georgia when I could probably have as much or more fun with someone a lot closer. Another omen is the fact that the tree I sent her died after about three weeks, but my male brain filters out unwanted omens.