The Tobacco Root MountainsMature

Chance didn't compare to the scenery that was stretched out beyond the window of the ranch house's living room.  Beyond a stretch of fields and untamed meadows lay one of the most picturesque things I've seen in my life.  The Tobacco Roots, a mighty snow-capped mountain range that would be an ever-present reminder that I wasn't in Kansas anymore.  Wait.  That was Chance.  That I wasn't in North Carolina anymore.

Bill wanted to throw me right into the fray, so after a nice hearty breakfast, I was given a brief tutorial on how to ride a four-wheeler.  Now, four-wheelers are an extremely common thing in NC.  But even though everyone around me had at least ridden on one, I'd somehow missed out on the experience.  Fortunately, it was a pretty basic, largely automated one, so I learned quickly.  And I kept learning quickly.  Kristen told me to follow Bill's 14-year-old son from a previous marriage, Landon, out to "The Crick."  Such a location was described to me referencing places I had yet to see.  But Kristen was like that.  And Bill was like that.  They assumed everyone could read their minds.  And somehow they still ran a highly profitable business.

Once I managed to find Landon, I realized that the Crick was in fact a series of pens, a couple of corrals, and a chute situated by a stream, its namesake.  Without so much as a word of greeting, Landon took off on his own four-wheeler and I had to keep up with him.  He drove along a wide dirt road that curved along the wave-like hillocks coated in light-green grass.

I got somewhat distracted by my surroundings.  After all, I hadn't been out West since I was 5 years old, and all I remembered about it was getting my "driver's license" at Lego Land.  The terrain was pretty astounding compared to what I was used to.  I could see more snow-capped mountain tops and vast forests on the edge of the great, smoothly sloped fields that housed the... cattle!  I caught sight of them.  Tons of them.  Little moving black dots in the distance.  Pairs of mothers and calves.  So *that* was what they meant when they told me to move the pairs.  Now if only I understood which direction to herd them.

We all stationed ourselves on the far end so as to presumably move the pairs in the general direction of the Crick.  But we were a long way from said location, and I was disoriented by all the twists and turns we'd taken.  God it was beautiful here.  But look over there.  I've only just begun and Kristen is yelling at me.  I can't hear a word she's saying.  Oh, rev the four-wheeler and whoop and holler to keep the pairs moving.  And hurry it up.  Bill and Kristen always liked to take things pretty fast, something I later learned Chance opposed for good reason.

I was getting yelled at again.  "Bailey!  You're...." she trailed off.


I wasn't moving them at the angle she wanted.  Well how the hell was I supposed to know that? But I wasn't the type to ask that particular question out loud, so I stayed my usual polite self.  "What?  I'm sorry, I can't hear you!"  You can imagine how the rest of the afternoon went.  I was herded like the cattle.  Moo.

The End

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