A Bucket List Adventure

Do you have a bucket list? You know, a list of things you’d love to accomplish and do in your life? What are some of the things on yours?

Some of my list is:

  • Donate my bone marrow
  • Go skydiving
  • Swim with dolphins
  • Horseback riding in the Rocky Mountains
  • Fly a small plane
  • Go to Costa Rica
  • See Greece, Italy, and Israel for the history and archeology from Biblical times
  • Go to Ireland
  • Travel across Canada
  • Be present for and watch a live birth (both human and animal)

As most of you know, I had the privilege of donating my bone marrow in 2016. I’ll let you take guesses at which other ones you think I’ve done.  Maybe I’ll fill you in as the year goes on, or perhaps I’ll leave you guessing. You’ll just have to wait and see.

Today’s story does share one of the other options on my list though. It was accomplished in August of 2009. Any guess which one it was?

My brother was about to marry my dear sister-in-law. I flew out a few days before to participate in all the pre-wedding responsibilities. It was a great time of reconnecting with friends from when I lived out west a couple of years prior.

The day of the wedding came. The ceremony took place at the church my sister-in-law, Rachel, grew up in. It was a wonderful day of celebration with friends and family. The reception came and I danced the night away.

Since I had made friends when I lived out there a couple of years before,  I decided to travel around a bit and reconnect with others after the wedding was done. One of my friends from Ontario was living in Alberta that summer in Kananaskis, just outside of Banff in the Rocky Mountains. She was working at a horse ranch called Rafters Six. She had a day off and invited me to join her.

It was one of the best days of my life. Bethany and I hopped on a couple of beautiful horses and headed out to the pasture. My heart almost burst with excitement as we let the horses go into a full run. My dream had come true. I was in awe of the absolute beauty and power of those horses. I could feel my horse’s muscles flexing with every stride he made. His running was fast and smooth. The trees to the forest quickly approached as the horses slowed their pace and headed for the trail.

Bethany and her horse led us through the forest up the side of the mountain. It was peaceful. No one else was out there. We stopped at one point as a couple of deer popped onto the trail.

Could it get better than that? A peaceful and beautiful moment in nature, with strong horses, inquisitive deer, and my friend? I praised the Lord! My excitement was very evident.

Bethany took me through the forest which led to a river. The horses led us through to the other side. Again, I could feel the strength and determination of the horse as he found his footing through the slippery rocks of the river.

Eventually, we returned back down the mountain, and took another run through the pasture. As we approached the barn, one of the ranchers asked Bethany to go back out and close the pasture gates since the working day was done for the ranch. So, out we ran again around the pasture to close everything up.

We had a good two-hour run with those horses. It was one of the most amazing moments I had ever experienced. It felt like I had stepped into a western novel.

I admit that I hadn’t ridden a horse in years, nor had I ever ridden that long. I had danced for at least three hours at my brother’s wedding as well, so my legs were like mush! I didn’t really feel it though through the adrenaline of excitement coursing through me.

Bethany asked if I’d like to get off the horse cowboy style when we reached the barn. I enthusiastically replied, “Yes!” She told me to grab onto the rafters above and to kick the horse out from under me, and then drop. I took hold of the rafters, kicked the horse, and let go.

Oh, I dropped alright! My legs buckled from their weakness and I collapsed onto the barn floor. Bethany and I roared with laughter as I tried to get back up.

Gracefulness has never been one of my attributes in life. I should avoid trying to do silly things like that but in my head, I pictured myself as a western cowgirl, owning that maneuver, and landing with pride. Well, that certainly wasn’t the case, but was totally worth the laughter it brought.

Bethany and I felt like we still had some adventure left in us, so we headed to the casino just a few kilometers from the ranch and we gambled our money away. No, I’m totally kidding! We did go to the outside of the casino where they were offering helicopter rides over the mountains. Bethany and I signed up for a 10-minute ride.

The pilot took us up over Kananaskis and into the beginning of Banff. We soared above the treeline of the mountains. We were in awe once again of the vast beauty of the nature that lay beneath us. The Lord did such magnificent work in His creation. It felt like time stopped when we were up there. We were mesmerized. Once we landed, we returned to the ranch for a good hardy bison burger to finish off the western experience.

My mind was completely amazed that day. I drove back to Calgary in complete awe of God’s handiwork. In one day, I got to experience the breath-taking views of nature from close-up and a bird’s eye view. I was able to feel the power and strength God designed into a horse and the incredible rush of the speed and agility of riding on one. I enjoyed the company of my friend that I was able to experience it all with. I will never forget the absolute privilege that day was.

What is one bucket list item that you’ve accomplished that was better than you could have ever imagined? Today is a great day to make a list if you don’t have one. In fact, today would be a great day to plan when you’re going to make one of your options come true. It’s a new year full of fresh possibilities. Don’t be afraid to dream and make goals. We may still be working through the pandemic, but this too shall pass one day. Why not continue to dream and make goals for the future? There are so many things you can do.

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