This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

This story is copyright by Owen Hudson, all rights reserved. Distribution, including but not limited to: posting on internet sites, newsgroups, or message boards, or in book form (either as a whole or part of a compilation), or on CD, DVD or any other electronic media, is expressly prohibited without the author's written consent.

Dreams Don't Grow on Trees

© 2011 - 2014 Owen Hudson

Chapter Twenty-seven

It was Thursday and Haden was looking forward to the three-day weekend. After classes and picking up Adam and Justin at church camp, he stopped to pick up a few items needed for dinner before going home.

"Hey, there's a truck down at the swimming hole," Adam said as they pulled into their driveway.

"It's one of the trucks from the lumber company," Haden observed. "Oh, it's Jeff unloading stuff. I completely forgot we were going to build the diving board tomorrow."

"Come on, Justin, let's go see," Adam said.

"Hold on," Haden said. "Take the ground beef and put it in the refrigerator; I'll go help Jeff unload the truck."

"Crap, I wanted to go see," Adam protested.

"Then you'd better hurry," Haden said with a smile.

"Hello, Jeff," Haden greeted his friend. "I had completely forgotten that we were going to start working on the diving board tomorrow."

"We can start next Friday, if there's a problem."

"Oh no, I have no plans."

"Hey, what are those plastic barrels for?" Adam asked, after running from the house to the swimming hole.

"They're to float the deck on," Jeff explained.

"Well, how does that work?" Adam inquired.

"You'll see tomorrow," Jeff said, as he handed a bag of deck hardware to Adam, then another bag of wood screws to Justin. "Would you put these in the barn?"

"Why in the barn?" Adam asked.

"If it rains, the bag will get wet and the contents will scatter everywhere," Jeff explained.

"I wasn't sure how we'd set the post for the deck," Haden admitted.

"The barrels are less expensive, and they rise or lower with the water level," Jeff explained. "They're also easier to install."

"I'm all for easy," Haden said.

"Tommy wants to see too," Adam said, as he returned carrying one of the nearly grown kittens. Adam placed the cat on the ground only to see it rush back to the barn.

"Can we help tomorrow?" Justin asked.

"I'm sure we can find something for you to do," Jeff said.

"How long do you think it'll take to build the deck?" Haden asked.

"I think we can finish it tomorrow," Jeff said. "I pre-cut everything at the store. And a bit of good news, an elderly couple in Covington bought a house and wanted their pool filled in. Our pool supply section bought the diving board, pump, and other supplies. We got the diving board for less than the cost of building one from wood ... and this one is fiberglass."

"I can't wait to dive off it. What time will you be out here tomorrow?" Haden asked, after the truck was unloaded.

"Shortly after 8:00," Jeff said. "Tell Tony and Kyle to bring a cordless drill if they have one. Oh, and tell them to bring their swimsuits. We'll be working in the water too."

"We'll help too ... won't we Justin?" Adam declared.

"Yeah, it'll be fun," Justin said.

"You can be the gofers," Jeff joked.

"Yeah," Adam agreed. "Hey, what's a gofer?"

"You'll see tomorrow," Jeff said with a grin.

"What can we do?" Adam asked the next morning when the work gang gathered to begin work on the deck.

"You guys are the gofers ... for starters you can go get the hardware and screws from the barn," Jeff told the younger boys.

"Alright ... hey, so that's what a gofer is?" Adam questioned.

"I'm afraid so," Jeff admitted.

"Well, we'll do it since we'll get to use the diving board," Adam said. "Let's go Justin and Jared."

Once Jeff demonstrated how to assemble the frame for the decks, it didn't take long until they were completed. There was one that would be anchored to the dry ground with the distal end floating on the barrels. The remaining two would have the sealed barrels strapped at each end and hinged to the bottom of the deck to allow them to adjust to the water level. Jeff had earlier dug holes and installed hoops in concrete to anchor the first section of the deck to the solid ground.

By lunch time, the frames were all completed and the barrels strapped in place. Haden, Tony, and Kyle were impressed with the planning Jeff had done for the project.

"That was Amy," Tony said after ending his phone conversation. "She said lunch is ready."

"Like we couldn't tell it was her," Kyle teased. "We saw your reaction when you answered your phone."

Amy had prepared a tray of sandwiches, a tray of vegetables, a tray of mixed fruit, and freshly baked brownies for dessert

After lunch, the guys anchored the first section of the deck to the hoops, then hinged the second section to the first.

"What can we do?" Adam asked.

"You gofers can bring the planks for the decking as we need them," Jeff said.

By mid-afternoon the project was completed. "Who's the first one to get to use it?" Kyle asked.

"Jeff planned it ... let him be first," Adam suggested.

"No, Jared's the youngest ... let him be first," Jeff said.

Although Jared didn't actually dive from the diving board, he did bounce on it and jump into the water. Amy must have heard the noise from the house and came to investigate wearing her bathing suit.

"Wow, this turned out nice," she said, after diving into the water. "I believe this calls for another big family cookout after church Sunday."

"Why not tomorrow?" Adam asked.

"It's to short of a notice," Amy pointed out.

"We can do it," Adam argued.

"What do you mean, we?" Amy asked with a laugh. "I guess I'd better go to the house and start calling people. I need to start dinner anyway. Kyle, are you and Jared staying for dinner?"

"I am, but I'll have to call Mom about Jared," Kyle said.

"Tell her and Steve to come for dinner too." Amy said. "Jeff, you're welcome to dinner too."

"Thanks, but I have a date," Jeff said. "If you don't mind, I'll bring her Sunday."

"You know she's welcome, and your parents too," Amy said. "Who's the lucky girl?"

"Nicole Fisher ... do you know her?"

"I know who she is ... she was a senior when I was a freshman in high school. She's a very pretty girl."

"Why haven't we seen her around?" Tony asked.

"She went to the University of Houston to become a pharmacist," Jeff explained. "She's now a pharmacist at the hospital. We dated before she went away to college. I guess we sort of picked up where we left off when she came back to Sparks."

"Dad, come and see what we built," Adam said as soon as Darrell arrived home from work.

"We?" Darrell questioned with a laugh.

"He, Jared, and Justin all helped," Haden said.

"Yeah, we were gofers," Jared said.

"And what did you gofers do?" Darrell asked.

"We would go for things," Jared said.

"What do you think, Dad?" Haden asked upon arriving at the swimming hole.

"I must say you guys did a good job," Darrell said.

"You sure did," Rita, who had joined them, said. "This place has become a gathering place; I think we need more picnic tables now."

"I could ask Jeff to build two or three more for us," Darrell said.

"Dad, I don't know how much you pay Jeff, but I bet he's one of your best employees," Haden said.

"He's an excellent employee," Darrell agreed. "Where are you going with this?"

"He might start looking for a better paying job," Haden said. "It'd be a shame to lose him."

"You're right," Darrell said. "I'd hate to lose him, but I don't have a position available that pays more."

"Honey, just the other day you said you spent too much of your time coordinating the handymen," Rita said. "Have you thought about a supervisor of your handyman service?"

"Hmm, that might be a good idea," Darrell admitted. "I'll talk to Jeff about it."

The day didn't look promising for a cookout Sunday morning. A thunderstorm was passing through the area as the Harrington family gathered for breakfast before going to church."

"Maybe we should call off the cookout," Amy said, after a loud clap of thunder rattled the windows.

"That would be a shame," Rita said. "We'll just move it inside."

"Wouldn't it be too crowded with that many inside?" Amy questioned.

"We'll make do," Rita stated without a lot of confidence.

"It's just a spring thunderstorm," Darrell said, just as another loud clap of thunder jarred the house. "It will likely pass over before we get out of church."

"Who all will be here?" Haden asked.

"Everyone but Uncle Scott and his family," Amy said. "They already had plans. Grandma and Grandpa are going to church with us. Aunt Julie will be here after church."

"What about Perry, Lacey, and Dustin?" Adam asked.

"They're over at her parent's now," Rita said. "They spent the night there."

"Why didn't somebody tell me?" Adam asked.

"We didn't tell you, because they didn't get there until late evening, and you would've been over there bugging them," Rita said.

"Why didn't they spend the night here?" Adam asked.

"Betty and Grant have a spare bedroom," Rita explained. "Now stop whining ... you'll get to see Dustin at church and at the cookout."

"I bet that's Grandma and Grandpa," Adam said when the doorbell rang.

"Well, go invite them in," Darrell said.

"Grandma, Grandpa," Adam said as he received a hug from each.

"Adam, you must be swimming a lot," Grace said. "You're really tan."

"Yeah, we swim almost every day," Adam confessed.

"Good morning," Rita said. "Have you had breakfast?"

"Oh yes," Grace said. "But I would like a cup of coffee, if we have time."

"Sure, we have time," Rita said, as Amy poured cups of coffee for her grandparents.

"I noticed that you have a lovely vegetable garden," Grace said.

"I can't take credit for that," Rita admitted. "Haden and Adam do most of the gardening."

"Walter does most of ours," Grace said.

"I still use my mule too," Walter said.

"We use a tiller," Adam said.

"Did you use it by yourself?" Walter asked.

"We tried that, and he took out a few plants," Haden explained.

"Grandma, is there anything in your basket that needs to be refrigerated?" Amy asked.

"I'm glad you asked," Grace said. "There're strawberries and whipped cream for the strawberry shortcake."

"Oh boy!" Adam smiled big.

Darrell was correct in his prediction that the thunderstorm would pass before the gathering. The sun was shining bright, but it and the rain brought on the humidity. Therefore the shade of the oak tree was welcomed as the group enjoyed the meal.

"We'll be moving into our new house next week," Linda announced, as they ate.

"How exciting," Julie said. "It looks like a lovely house."

"We're very proud of it," Linda said. "Steve said it's more house than we need."

"Mom, could I go swimming now?" Wade asked, after finishing his meal.

"Not until an adult can go with you," Julie said.

"I'll go after I have some of Grandma's strawberry shortcake," Haden offered.

"There's shortcake?" Wade asked, having lost interest in swimming at the moment.

Once the delicious strawberry shortcake was consumed, the water was filled with swimmers. And the new diving board was put to good use.

"Who built the diving board?" Carl asked, as he watched Wade using it.

"Jeff supervised it, and the other guys helped," Darrell explained.

"They did a nice job," Carl said.

"Thanks," Jeff said. "I had some good help."

"Dad, come and swim with us," Wade called out.

"I'll be there in a minute," Carl promised. "Jeff, are you a builder?"

"No, I work for Darrell," Jeff said.

"You do good work," Carl said. "Darrell's lucky to have you. Now, I think I'll try out your diving board."

"He's right, you know," Darrell said.

"Right about the diving board?"

"That, and he's right about my being lucky to have you working for me."

"I enjoy working for you."

"Would you consider another job?"

"What do you mean another job?"

"Supervisor of the handyman service. It would mean no weekends, and an increase in salary."

"I'll take it, if you think I can do it."

"I know you can do it. We'll talk more about it tomorrow."

"We need a toilet down here," Amy said, after she and Nicole returned from using the bathroom at the house.

"I don't think you'd like using an outhouse," Perry pointed out.

"You're right, those things are nasty," Amy said.

"I could build a flushing one, but it would be expensive to put in a septic tank just for a toilet," Jeff said.

"There's a septic tank down here already," Darrell said. "My uncle had a mobile home here when I was a kid."

"And we already have water and electricity at the barn," Haden said.

"We'll also talk about the cost tomorrow too," Darrell said. "And I'll also need to talk it over with Rita."

"Talk what over with me?" Rita, who had been in an animated conversation with Grace, asked.

"We were discussing building a toilet down here," Darrell said.

"Oh, an outhouse couldn't be that much," Rita said. "Go ahead and do it."

"We're not talking about an outhouse," Darrell said. "There's already a septic tank down here. Jeff and I are going to figure the cost tomorrow, then you and I'll talk."

"Mom, could Wade spend the night with me?" Jared asked. He and Wade were becoming friends since they were about the same age.

"Honey, I have to work tomorrow," Linda said. "It would have to be over the weekend."

"Kyle could be with us," Jared argued.

"Kyle has classes tomorrow," Linda said. "I'm sorry."

"He could go to church camp with me then," Jared proposed.

"They don't take drop-ins," Linda pointed out.

"Well, could Jared spend the night with me?" Wade asked.

"I'm sorry, but I'm teaching summer classes this year," Julie said.

"You people are making this far too complicated," Grace said. "I watch Wade while Julie's in class. Let them both spend the night with Walter and me."

"Yeah, Mom, could we?" Wade asked.

"Oh, alright," Julie agreed.

"Could I?" Jared pleaded.

"Alright, but we'll need to get a change of clothes for you," Linda agreed.

"I'll go get them," Kyle offered.

"Everybody remember, the trail ride is in two weeks," Jeff reminded everybody. "I'll come out one day this week to make plans."

"Come out Tuesday for dinner," Rita suggested. "Nicole, you're welcome too."

"Thank you, I'd love to," Nicole said.

"Why don't we cookout down here; and everyone going on the trail ride can join us?" Darrell suggested.

"That sounds like a better idea," Rita agreed. "We'll just do hamburgers."

There wasn't as much planning for the upcoming trail ride as the previous one. There wouldn't be a need for a pack horse, since Jeff's dad would be taking the camping gear out to the midpoint of the ride. He would then go back home and join in on the ride this year.

"We've all been on a trail ride before, so this should be easy," Jeff began.

"I haven't," Jared pointed out.

"Neither has Mom," Adam added.

"Son, I don't want to be the only female on the ride," Rita said.

"There'll be other women," Jeff said. "Nicole and Mom are going."

"Yes, I've been going for a few years now," Judy said.

"Linda, Debbie, and Betty, I wish you had a horse, so you could go too," Rita said.

"I plan to get one after we move," Linda said.

"I can bring extra horses, but I only have one extra saddle," Jeff said.

"Honey, why don't you go ahead and buy a horse and saddle now?" Steve asked.

"Well, I guess I could," Linda said. "Jeff, do you have a gentle one for sale?"

"Oh my, he always has one for sale," Judy said with a snicker.

"I do have a gentle mare," Jeff said. "Why don't you come out tomorrow and see her?"

"Do you have two for sale?" Debbie asked. "I may as well get one too."

"Sure, come on out tomorrow too," Jeff said.

"I'll be out after I get off work," Linda said. "Ladies, it looks like we're going on the trail ride too."

It was a relaxing Saturday morning with no plans for the Harrington family. Haden and Amy were in their rooms reviewing for tests. And Adam was hanging out in his room.

"Haden, would you be a dear and go into town and get some applesauce?" Rita asked when Haden went downstairs to get something to drink. "I was going to make an applesauce cake ... I thought I had some in the pantry, but I couldn't find it."

"I guess Adam and I are guilty of eating it," Haden confessed. "I'm sorry."

"That's okay," Rita said. "But next time put it on the shopping list."

"Adam, I'm going to Walmart," Haden called out from halfway up the stairway. "Do you want to go?"

"No, thank you."

When Haden returned, Adam was sitting on the front porch with both dogs. "Is Adam upset about something?" He asked when he delivered the applesauce to Rita.

"I don't think so," Rita said. "Why do you ask?"

"He's sitting on the porch with the dogs," Haden said. "He tends to do that when he's upset. I'll go check on him."

"He didn't seem to be upset when he came down from his room. He poured himself a glass of juice and went outside."

"Hey, is something wrong?" Haden asked, when he observed his brother staring toward the barn and swimming hole.

"No, I was just thinking about how lucky I am to have this."

"You're lucky to have what?"

"All of this... this family, a horse to ride, a place to play and swim, and a nice home with plenty to eat."

"We're lucky to have you in our family. But what brought this on."

"I just finished reading December by Eve Bunting. It's about a homeless boy and his mother who live in a cardboard house they built. It reminded me of how lucky I am."

Haden moved next to his brother and gave him a warm hug. "Do you want to go riding after lunch?"

"Do the bears shit in the woods?" Adam asked with a giggle.

"Do you want to call Justin and ask him if he wants to ride?"

"This time, I'd like for it to be just you and me. Let's eat lunch now and go."

"Are you guys hungry already?" Rita asked when Haden began fixing sandwiches for himself and Adam.

"We're going riding," Adam quickly answered.

"Don't forget, we're going to your grandparents for dinner," Darrell reminded the two.

"We won't," Haden said. "Why don't you and Mom go riding with us?"

"I just now put the cake in the oven," Rita said.

"You two go on, and we'll catch up with you later," Darrell said.

"How will you know where we are?" Adam asked.

"We'll call your cell phone," Darrell said.

"I'll go ahead and saddle your horses," Haden said.

"Haden, let me saddle Dusty?" Adam asked, as they led the horses to the barn to be saddled.

"Do you think you're tall enough?"

"Well, Dusty isn't as tall as some of the other horses, and I've grown since we got him."

"Alright, you can try."

Haden watched as Adam placed the saddle pad on Dusty ... on the second try Adam had the saddle in place. "See, I knew I could do it," he said with a big wide grin.

"You sure did," Haden said, and he gave his brother a high-five. "What do you do next?"

"I have to cinch the girth."

"That's right. Make sure it's tight, but not so tight that it interferes with his breathing. I'll check it after I finish saddling the other three horses."

"You didn't think I could do it, did you?"

"I must admit that I didn't. Now, would you tie Star in his stall while I saddle Apache for Mom?"

"Well, did I do it right?" Adam asked, after Haden checked the girth on Dusty.

"You did well."

"Hey, there's Mom and Dad already," Adam said when he observed the two walking toward the barn.

"I thought you had to wait until the cake is done," Haden stated.

"Amy's going to take it out of the oven for me," Rita said.

"Hey, Dad, guess what," Adam said in excitement.

"Let me think ... oh, I know, you're getting married?" Darrell teased.

"Dad ... I saddled Dusty all by myself," Adam boasted.

"Did you really?"

"I sure did. Remember you said I could ride by myself when I could saddle my own horse?"

"Now I regret saying that. Okay, here are the rules ... No riding without telling an adult ... You have to stay in our pasture ... Plus you must always have your cell phone with you. Do we agree?"

"Do I have a choice?" Adam asked with a mischievous grin.

"Not if you want to ride alone," Darrell said.

"Well, what if Justin rides with me?"

"That's up to Betty and Grant."

"Thanks. Dad."

"Well, I'm not entirely comfortable about this, but I did promise."

"You're lucky I'm not making the decision," Rita said.

"Mom, you look good riding Apache," Adam said.

"Flattery will get you everywhere," Rita said with a laugh.

"Where were you guys headed?" Darrell asked.

"Adam wants to show Mom where we camped out," Haden said.

"I'd love to see it," Rita said. "It sounds like a beautiful spot."

"Oh, it is," Adam said.

"This is as beautiful as you described," Rita said when they arrived at the camp site.

"I have snacks for everybody," Adam said, after removing packages of peanut butter crackers and juice boxes from his saddle bag.

"Adam, that was a good idea," Rita said. "I'm glad you thought to do it."

"He always has food in his saddle bags," Darrell laughed.

"No wonder things like this disappear from the pantry so quickly," Rita said with a grin.

"Well, I always write it on the shopping list," Adam reasoned.

"Yes, you do," Rita admitted. "Don't you think we should head back to the house? Remember, we're going to Grace's and Walter's for dinner."

Preparations were being made for the trail ride. The Holdens had moved into their new home. Their horses were moved to join Molly, Linda's mare. Debbie had purchased Blanket, an Appaloosa gelding. Jeff would bring Bell for Betty to ride.

Tony and Amy, the non-riders agreed to cook breakfast for those going on the trail ride. The Miller's house was chosen for the breakfast since it was closest to the start of the trail ride. There was a breakfast casserole that Debbie had actually made from scratch. There were also scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, and of course a southern favorite, biscuits and gravy.

"Rita, would you like another cup of coffee?" Tony asked when he saw her empty cup.

"Thank you, but I'd better not," Rita said. "There may not be a place to go on the ride."

"Oh, Mom, you go where the bears go," Adam teased.

"And where would that be?" Rita asked, already knowing the answer.

"In the woods," Adam said with a chuckle.

"There'll be port-a-potties along the way," Judy said, still laughing with Adam.

"That's good to know," Rita said.

"It sure is," Betty agreed.

"Who paid for them?" Paul asked.

"The riding club members," Jeff explained. "They'll be asking for donations this evening."

"We'll gladly donate," Paul said.

"Why don't you join the riding club," Don suggested.

"That might be a good idea for all of us," Paul agreed.

There were well over 150 riders for the trail ride. The youngest was five, and the oldest was 89. Using a bull horn, Clark Underwood asked that the riders stay on the marked trail, no littering, and that a box lunch would be served at the halfway point. On the second day, the riders would return to the starting point using a different trail.

"Perry should have come with us," Adam said as the group started the ride.

"Bonnie is still nursing Monday, and she's too young to leave alone for two days," Darrell explained.

"I could've lent him a horse," Jeff said.

"I'm sure he'll come next year," Darrell said.

"We'll have two more, shorter trail rides this year," Jeff said. "Maybe he can go on those."

Most of the riders welcomed the opportunity to stretch their legs during the lunch break. "Jeff, I really appreciate your letting me ride Bell," Betty said as they ate. "She's gentle and easy to handle."

"I can let you have her," Jeff offered.

"I'd better wait and get a rescue horse," Betty said. "I'm afraid I couldn't afford a nice one like her."

"I can let you have her for about the same cost as getting a rescue horse," Jeff said. "I bought her as a brood mare, but it turns out she's barren."

"Honey, I've been getting in overtime," Grant said. "If you want her, let's go ahead and get her."

"I'd still need a saddle," Betty mentioned.

"I know a guy in Covington who buys and sells saddles," Jeff said. "We can drive over and see what he has. I think we can get you a good used one for around $100. I got the one that Grant has from him. It was pretty rough looking, but I worked it over. We could do the same for you."

"You never said how much you wanted for Bell," Betty said.

"Well, I told you that you could have her for about the same as a rescue horse," Jeff said. "I had $275 in my last one."

"Oh, Jeff, she's worth a lot more than that," Betty protested. "I can't let you do that."

"She's not to me," Jeff said. "As I said, I bought her for a brood mare, and I'd like to see her get a good home. If I took her to the horse auction she could go to slaughter."

"We'll take her," Grant said before Betty could answer.

"Alright, Mom!" Justin said. "You have a horse now, too."

"Don, where did you park your trailer with our camping gear?" Steve asked when they arrived at the camp site.

"It's right over there, but the boys came out yesterday and set up the tents," Don said.

"What boys?" Steve asked.

"Jeff, Kyle, and Haden," Don said.

"Thanks guys," Paul said.

"Where do we put our horses?" Darrell asked.

"I'll go find out," Jeff volunteered.

"What are those trailers over there?" Justin asked.

"They're mobile showers," Don said. "They have more riders than they've ever had and had to rent them.

"Okay, here's the deal," Jeff said, after he returned. "They don't have enough stalls for all of the horses. So, they put up some portable corrals. There's water and hay already in the corrals. We can store our tack in Dad's trailer. They'll serve dinner around 6:00. There'll be a few announcements, then some of the riders brought their musical instruments and will play music for a while."

"I think I'll shower before dinner," Haden said.

"Take Adam with you, please," Rita said.

"I'm going too," Kyle said. "Jared, you may as well come too."

"Justin, do you want to shower now?" Haden said.

"Yes, he does," Betty said as everyone laughed.

After showers, it was time for dinner. There were lots of bar-b-que, baked beans, coleslaw, potato wedges, and peach cobbler with ice cream. "If you haven't finished eating, please continue," Clark Underwood, the riding club president announced. "There's some good news and some not so good news. We have more riders than we've ever had. The good side is we've raised over $2,000 for our autistic riding program. The not so good news is we had to purchase more food and bring in additional showers. These two young ladies with the cowboy hats will be collecting donations for those who care to give. You're under no obligation to donate, but your donations will go to this worthy charity. My lovely wife Becky is at the table over to my right enrolling new members in the riding club."

"Clark, we thought that was your daughter," someone yelled out as the group burst into laughter.

"Well, you know they say even a blind hog finds an acorn every now and then," Clark said, followed by more laughter. "We do invite new members. Now, just a few more announcements and we'll let the musicians take over. Breakfast will be served starting at 6:00 a.m. We'll be on the trail at about 8:30, depending on how long it takes for everyone to break camp and saddle up. Remember, don't leave your trash along the trail. Bring it out with you. Now, I'll let the musicians take over."

The music was amateurish, but still enjoyed by most. Darrell had purchased riding club memberships for all in his family as had, Steve, Paul, and Grant. At bedtime, Haden and Kyle got to share the same tent. The three younger boys shared one, Mark and Cody shared one, and the parents each had a tent.

Breakfast the next morning was ample and surprisingly good. There were scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, pancakes, milk, juice, and plenty of coffee. Before departing for the second leg of the ride, Clark announced, "Remember, another box lunch will be served at the mid-point. It's at Deer Creek State Park on the lake. I'd also like to thank each of you ... with new membership and donations, we raised almost $2,500 for the autism riding program. Give yourselves a round of applause."

"Wow, that's where we went camping last year, over there on the other side of the lake," Adam said when they stopped for lunch.

"I believe you're right," Haden agreed. "Maybe we can all go camping again in a couple of weeks."

"Yeah, that'd be fun," Adam agreed.

"Could I go too?" Jared asked.

"Of course you can," Kyle said, and gave his brother a reassuring hug.

"Cody and Mark, we'll let you know when," Haden said.

The riders were tired at the end of the ride, but all who participated had enjoyed it. And each was looking forward to the next trail ride. The happiest of them all was Betty ... who had purchased Bell.

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