White Stallion Ranch has a shuttle which can pick us up from our hotel near Tucson airport but not until 1.15. Arghh! It's 9.15 and we have precious hours in Arizona, don't want to miss a minute of it. So we bite the bullet and decide to get a taxi. It'll cost us $80+ but the Ranch has a rental car waiting for us and it will buy us three precious hours.
Our Armenian taxi driver speeds us on the freeway past downtown Tucson and we exit near Twin Peaks Drive. Over a ridge and we are in a desert filled with dozens of different species of cactus. The jagged brown mountains look familiar from a dozen Western movies. We nearly miss the turning down a dirt road. No sign of the ranch, just cactus but it's only about half a mile until we see the corral with horses on our left.
Jackie and Gabriel check us in and Jackie gives us the tour of the ranch. It exceeds my expectations. Stables, pool, shop, a lounge and bar with horse saddle barstools, outdoor and indoor dining areas, landscaped grounds with every cactus and tree species labelled, etc, etc. I love it! Jennifer, Richard and I are sharing a capin. Jennifer gets one part and Richard and I get a suite. But it's OK because her bathroom is bigger than ours. We can open the doors between the two sections if we want, or keep it closed for privacy.
And ah, the smell! Horses! (Though you can't smell them from our cabin.) Today is Sunday: the dude horses' Day of Rest. So all is peaceful. Birds tweet, a donkey brays, and although it's 80 degrees a breeze and the dry air makes it feel like 70.
We've got a black car with an authentic layer of cowboy dust coating it. Jennifer does the paperwork while Richard buys cowboy hat and gloves in the shop. Then we hop in and are off to Old Tucson Film Studios and the Desert Museum...