We left them behind on the party terrace, serenaded as we walked off by their live salsa dance music and their tipsy laughter. We decided to walk the looped road, we thought, past the residents-only gate to where, so far, about 8 mansions are scattered far apart from each other overlooking the vineyard. The sun was setting over our right shoulder as we headed south of the merry strangers.

The paved road inclined upward about half a mile before looping left. I saw on our map and to our left that the road ended in a circle on its way back before picking up again to complete the U terminating back at the FM road by our little villa room. I decided to take the shortcut across the mowed field to the circle instead of going all the way to the middle of the U. But there was a barbed wire fence blocking the way across the field to where the map said the road picked up again on the northbound leg. No way was I going to double back where I’d already been and to where the strangers still were. I thought, it can’t be far to the other road beyond this one that meanders a bit before connecting back on the last leg of the loop. So a little after sunset, we set out up-hill through cactus, wildflowers and brush through what looked on the google map to be a little stretch of the legs. It was a longer scratch of the legs, but thankfully nothing worse, like stepping on a snake would have been.

We made it to the outer road and I saw from the map it curved a little out of the way to the right, then turned sharply left and reconnected to the FM headed road. So we happily walked on smooth concrete as it got steadily darker, and joked about taking another shortcut through the cactus to avoid the right bend coming up. But we made it, and turned left on the reconnecting road in order to join the U. On this undeveloped road a hawk, or was it a bald eagle, or maybe a vulture? swooped in front of us. George thought it knew goners when it saw them. Then a skunk crossed. Cool! I love nature more than parties. George said he was mostly glad we were on this little walk.

Up ahead there was a large house on a hill that was supposed to be where a little dogleg would take us back to that U. It turned out to be a driveway, that was gated. I looked at the windows and didn’t see any lights which would have been on had anyone been home, because it was dark enough for lights now, but not pitch black yet. So I felt comfortable laying down on the gravel to slide under their gate to the little drive that connected to the road that we could see from the house. Practically home free! George saw the gate wasn’t locked and just slipped the chain to let himself out. Ha ha, what an adventure. But the road wasn’t a road. It was a gravel drive through a pasture. And look, horses! I so love nature. Especially horses. George greeted them first as the four of them approached us. He later told me it was in case they weren’t friendly, and he was getting between them and me. Aw! But they were sweet, especially the bay. There was also a yearling darker horse and a younger white one. The dappled one stayed back. They followed us, not too closely almost to the next gate, which thankfully wasn’t locked, so we went through ok. A few steps past we heard thundering hooves coming towards us for some reason, but they stopped at the fence. Then when I headed back to give them a last pet, they stormed off. Well, now who’s talking to the backs?

So we headed down the disappearing road, disappearing because it was getting dark, and because it was barely used, when George noticed fresh cow patties. Wait, that means that maybe there’s cows in here. What are those dark things up there? What if there’s a bull? I think there’s another fence to the right side between us and them. Aw look, it’s mamas with babies. But what if that means they keep the bull in this pasture? “If one charges, head to the fence. Look there’s a boulder by that section, then you can get over.” George said calmly. Into the other cow pasture? Can you get your phone flashlight to work? What’s that dark thing over there? Just a bush, whew. What’s that sound behind us? Probably crickets. Did you hear that? I think it was a coyote. Maybe we should check the tops of the trees for bobcats.

“Here I was thinking we would have a nice, uneventful, sit on the porch sipping wine weekend, but no, you turn it into another Andrea vacation,” he said. It was perfect!

At last we made it to the end of that pasture, but we still had a way to go after we scooted under the locked gate. The 2 lane FM road back to the entrance had no shoulder, and wouldn’t you know two cars coming from opposite directions passed us at the same time where a guardrail would have forced us into the road if we didn’t wait for them. “Will perils never cease?”

It was pitch black by now, and we remembered that we didn’t have the code to open the front gate. You left the sheet with the code on it in the car, right? “So I’ll climb through the gate, walk to the parking lot, get the code, then drive back to pick you up.” Ok. Luckily they hadn’t closed the gate because of the party.

How about you go straight to the wine room to get your beer, and I’ll make it to the villa by myself. What’s our room code again? He gives the 4 digits. Oh, yes, I’ll remember. But there was no porch light. I had to key it in by counting the buttons. I’m such a good survivalist.