Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

When Carole King met Radar the mule

Wick's World


After returning home late Friday night from the highly entertaining “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,” we barely had time to sleep before our long-awaited annual Thanksgiving weekend trail ride. One of the hazards of using Groupon is you never know how your event will play out. Five years ago, our Groupon trail ride was the highlight of our holiday spent near Phoenix, Arizona. This year’s ride was not. Somehow, our group of seven riders in the dessert north of Phoenix had grown to 21.

(As Carole King would note, “It’s too late, baby.”)

We knew something was amiss as soon as we walked over to the stables. A mustachioed cowboy wearily eyeballed our magnificent seven and said in a not too friendly manner, “What are you guys here for?”

I told him we were scheduled to ride. Fourteen horses and 14 tenderfoot city folk were already mounted and milling around the yard. Tension mounted when I replied, “Now,” to his question, “What time were you booked for?”

I swear to God by the look on his face, I thought we were about to see a real cowboy burst into tears. I was looking forward to it following his rude greeting.

(Carole King belted out “One Fine Day.”)

I could readily envision Mustachio whipping out his six-shooter and settling this cowboy style. As we were seven and his bullets were six, the odds were in our favor that shooting our overbooked group was not his first choice. The option of saddling up the lame and leftover old plugs remaining in the corral wasn’t much better. I knew he was grasping at straws when he handed the reins of Radar the mule over to me and asked, “Have you ever ridden a donkey before?”

“First time for everything,” I replied.

(Carole King sang, “Take Good Care of My Baby.")

I wasn’t about to correct Mustachio by telling him people do not ride donkeys as the animal is much too small. I guess he didn’t realize his Radar was a mule. I also thought it best not to question why the smallest guy got the critter with the widest back. I think it was because I was the only one wearing a cowboy hat. If I wasn’t bow-legged before that ride, I certainly was after. Once we embarked on our journey, I felt Radar and I hit it off as well as a man and a mule could.

(Carole King sang, “You’ve Got a Friend.”)

We certainly didn’t get short-changed on the desert beauty. There were prickly pear, saguaro and red barrel cacti amongst the mesquite and creosote bushes. Desert bloom occurs several weeks or so after Thanksgiving, so things looked pretty arid and dry. I guess that’s why they are deserts. However, Mustachio informed us we had to be extra careful as Arizona was in a severe drought this year. I thought to myself, isn’t Arizona in an unending severe drought? It was probably best not to question a cowboy who couldn’t tell a donkey from a mule.

(Carole King sang, “It Might as Well Rain Until September.”)

I hollered at my son, “What’s your horse’s name?”

“He doesn’t have one,” he replied.

I hollered at my daughter-in-law, “What’s your horse’s name?”

“He doesn’t have one,” she replied.

The band America sang, “I Rode Through the Desert on a Horse with No Name.”

Radar sang, “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman.”

(Carole King sang, “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?")


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