Buckaroo Buttercup

As the light sprinkles hit my windshield, I broke. More water was falling from my eyes than from the sky. As I looked at a blue sky, the damn of frustration and disappointment broke loose in a torrent. The day’s last minute cancelled holiday weekend plans due to the chance of morning rain broke me. Several months worth of built up discontentment rose to the surface. I could not grin and bear any more let downs.

As a kid if I expresses and frustration or disappointment, my dad would tell me to get out my tough shit card and he would stamp it. There was no free ice cream cone after ten stamps. Other common family sayings were “buck up buckaroo” or “toughen up buttercup.”

This buckaroo cried as she drove home on the county road, a canyon between corn fields. A morning of anticipation and excitement had crumbled like old Humpty’s wall. I cried. I called my brother and cried. I came home and cried.

Two days later, on the final ride of the long weekend I thought of another holiday weekend. I was also riding on this trail with my father to go visit with some friends at a nearby campground for horses and riders. As we came out of the woods, there was a family of four in the free, overnight parking area. The two young children had on their small, school back backs. Mom was carrying sleeping bags in her arms and dad had a backpack and a large cooler on wheels. They did not look like hikers or outdoors people who had ever done primitive camping, but they were very excited about spending a night out by the creek making s’mores. They were only two miles from the backcountry camp, but it was a long, rough two miles. I watched them head out while wishing them the best. Maybe luck would be on their side.

Later, as we rode back to the trail head, we saw the family. They were much worse for wear, the kids were crying, mom was mad, and dad was utterly defeated. I still remember the disappointment that emanated from them. It was so raw and palpable my heart break for them. As Dad and I rode out, we saw the path of failure littering the trail. The wheels literally came off. As I thought of them many years later, I wondered if any of them ever tried another grand adventure.

On that trail I also realized my emotions and my tears were for far more than the loss of a day on the trail, but the loss of seemingly unlimited time that my father has left in the saddle. My tears were a sign of me mourning what was and will never be the same again. I am grateful for our 28 years of grand adventures on the trails, but I see that the wheels are slowly loosening.

Just call me Buckaroo Buttercup.

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