The Castaway Hotel: Book 3

Chapter 5: Mule Train

The next morning came far too quickly for the boys in the ‘sex room’, but they got up and readied themselves for the day’s activities. After eating a good breakfast, everyone loaded into the van and some of the boys used our drive time to catch a little more sleep. We arrived at our next destination before 7:00, which we needed to do, and it wasn’t until then that I explained to everyone what we’d be doing here.

“Okay, guys, listen up,” I began. “Today, we’re going to be taking a daylong ride into the Grand Canyon – ON MULES.” The boys all looked shocked by my announcement and most began to look around at the others to gauge their reaction to this news. However, there were a few who didn’t care what anyone else thought and immediately expressed their own opinion about my plan.

“Way to go, Dad,” Ricky shouted, enthused. “This sounds like fun.”

“Well, just don’t think you’re going to go galloping off, making your own adventure,” I warned him.

“Wow, this is awesome,” Graham added. “I’ve never ridden on a horse or a mule before.” I just smiled at his excitement.

“Are you going to let Jordan and Nicky ride alone?” Kevin asked, concerned.

“No,” I responded. “Usually the ranch doesn’t allow children younger than twelve to participate in this particular excursion, but the owner agreed to let me bring along some waivers of liability, which I had my lawyer prepare before we left. Not only that, but I also had to agree that the younger boys would ride with one of you older guys too. I even had to pay a little extra to do this, to show my appreciation to the ranch for their bending its rules to fit our unique situation.”

“Can I take Nicky with me then?” Kevin asked, hopefully.

“Actually, they have a 200-pound weight limit on the mules, so I’ve already paired up the four youngest, so we wouldn’t go over that limit on any one animal. It also means I won’t be able to have anyone ride with me, so I’m trusting you older boys to take good care of them in my place. This is the way it works out. Dustin, you will take Nicky with you, Jordan will ride with Danny, Andrew will go with Kevin, and Ricky, you will be responsible for Sammy.”

“But I’m twelve!” Sammy protested.

“I know you are,” I agreed, “but because of your smaller size and the fact that you’ve never ridden before, the owner asked that you be paired up too. I’m sorry, but it’s the only way he’d allow us to do this.” Although Sammy looked crestfallen, he didn’t cause any more fuss, but I knew the other boys were empathizing with him and feeling badly about his situation.

Now that all of this had been explained, the boys were given a canteen filled with water and then led over to the corral and assigned to one of the mules. They were introduced to their animal by name, and once those introductions were completed, we were then instructed on correct procedures on how to ride one of these animals, which was different than riding a horse. They were also told about some of the animals’ quirks and given ‘motivators’ they could use to get the mule to do what they wanted. The boys seemed to catch on quickly, as we practiced in the corral, so everyone could get used to their mounts. We were actually ready to depart by our 8:00 a.m. starting time.

Suddenly, I remembered about Brandon’s occasional bouts with acrophobia and felt I’d made a dreadful mistake by including him on this adventure. Fortunately, I hadn’t assigned another boy to ride with him, since I wasn’t certain his family would let him join us when I first made our plans, because I needed to inform the owner about who would be riding with whom and their weights, in order to get his okay. Therefore, I immediately sought Brandon out and asked him what he thought.

“Brandon, I’m sorry. I almost forgot about your little problem,” I whispered to him, so the others couldn’t overhear. “Are you going to be able to handle this?”

“I did all right on our walking tour and I think I’ll be fine here,” he assured me, although I wasn’t as confident about this as he was. “I’ll just look toward the other side and try to keep from looking down, if it starts to bother me.”

“Okay, but I want you to ride directly in front of me, at the rear of this procession,” I told him, “so I can keep an eye on you and be close enough to help, if you get into trouble.”

“Okay, but I think I’ll be all right,” he reiterated, “but thanks for remembering and caring.” He gave me a smile and then turned and got on his mule, guiding his mount in front of mine.

Now that we were ready, our guide, who preferred to be called a wrangler, took the lead, with the boys following him down the trail. I brought up the rear, so I could keep an eye on my entire brood, but especially Brandon, while we were going down, into the Canyon. It also meant I would be there, if anyone needed assistance along the way.

Slowly we moved over to the trail and began our descent into the Canyon. The path we followed wasn’t quite as narrow as I had feared, but it didn’t leave a great deal of room for error, either. However, the vertical drop-off along the edge was absolutely frightening, to say the least. It also caused me to wonder if I was doing the right thing by allowing any of these boys to do this, but it was too late to reconsider that option now. I just prayed I wouldn’t come to regret it later, but luckily the mules were very sure-footed beasts of burden and made their way steadily down the slope. I also knew the animals would be careful not to go over the edge themselves, since they were experienced on these trails, so that thought relieved at least a small portion of my concerns.

About fifteen minutes down the trail, we came to a wider area, which some of the boys jokingly referred to as a mule parking lot. At this point, the wrangler guided his mule to a stop and all the other mules instantly lined up beside him. He joked with the boys about applying their ‘parking brake,’ as he jumped off his mount and set about checking everyone’s equipment, tightening cinches, checking stirrups and just making sure everything was as safe and secure as possible.

Before we restarted, he reminded the boys of the safety rules, especially the one about keeping their animal up close to the one ahead of it. Although these mules made this trip nearly every day, they also have a tendency to have a will of their own or would get sidetracked and begin to lag behind. Whenever this happened, the boys were informed it would be up to them to show the mule who was in charge and use one of the ‘motivators’ they had been shown to get it to do what the rider wanted, or else the mule might begin to think it was on its own and possibly do something foolish, like run to catch up, if it fell behind.

At this point the wrangler also asked if anyone had second-thoughts about going on, since they could dismount and walk the short distance back up the trail and wait for the rest of us to return. However, no one wanted to do that, either because they were too excited about participating in this activity or didn’t want to chicken out in front of the others. However, this didn’t stop some of them from being more than a little concerned about the possible dangers inherent in this type of outing.

For the next two hours we continued our slow trip down. As we went along, the boys were busy commenting about the scenery and taking note of various items of interest, as we played follow-the-leader down the trail. The view was breathtaking, looking into the canyon, and the various shades of the canyon walls only added to this awesome and overpowering spectacle.

I did notice that Brandon was sneaking a few peeks at the awe inspiring view, but seemed to be concentrating most of his attention straight out, looking only in the distance and avoided looking down as much as possible. I was relieved to see that he seemed to be doing fine. However, there were still occasions when I caught him looking in the opposite direction, as if he were studying the striations in the canyon wall or possibly making geological notations about the various materials making up the various levels of exposed earth, but I knew what it really meant. Those were the instances when the elevation factor was starting to get to him.

I also kept checking on how the older boys were doing with the younger ones and was pleased to see they were all taking their role very seriously. They had their little brother or nephew sitting between themselves and the saddle horn, with their arms wrapped on either side of their passenger. The older boys had a firm grip on the reins and the younger boys were clinging to the saddle horn to help them keep their balance, while also enjoying the comforting feeling of those protective arms on either side of their body.

It was quite an outing, as we made our way down into the Canyon in this fashion, and the Colorado River kept growing larger and closer to us as our surefooted transportation inched their way closer and closer to that once powerful torrent of water. When we started out, the river appeared to be no more than a fine silk thread meandering across the valley floor, but now it appeared more like a blue string, which kept growing thicker the farther down we traveled.

Once we’d completed the entire descent, we all dismounted and had a chance to stretch and roam around a bit. While everyone chatted with each other about their feelings concerning what we had just done or complaining about various areas of their bodies being sore, especially their backsides, the wrangler was busily checking their tack again. After a few minutes like this, he announced it was time to get going.

The boys had hoped this break would last a little longer, but they did as they were told and remounted their sturdy beasts. From there, we made our way to Plateau Point, but it was during that portion of our ride when we all began to notice how hot it was getting. It was most definitely hotter here than it ever got back home and I was concerned about how it might affect the boys. I knew I would have to remind them to utilize their canteens to keep hydrated, during our next stop.

Undaunted by the temperature, we rode on until we reached our goal, which turned out to be a huge, flat rock, surrounded by a pipe rail. After hitching up the mules to the rail provided for that purpose, we made our way forward to investigate what we might be able to see from that vantage point.

We were soon pleased to discover a picturesque view of the Colorado River meandering across the valley floor. It was still quite a distance below us, and now looked more like a baby-blue ribbon unwound upon the ground. Once we finished exploring this site, we were informed it was time to eat, so the boys quickly and enthusiastically dove into the bag lunches that were provided in this package deal. While they were eating, I went around and told each of them to make sure they drank plenty of water too, because of the extreme heat and the perspiring they were doing. They each said they understood and did as I asked.

The fresh air, activity and excitement of the ride had made the boys ravenous, so they devoured their lunches in no time flat. The wrangler joked about how quickly their food had disappeared, and then he and I let them wander around some more, while we finished our meals. When he was done eating, the wrangler took the time to point out several more items of interest to all of us.

Before we remounted, I asked the boys for their reactions to the ride down, as I wanted to get their thoughts now, while they were still fresh in their minds. Suddenly, they all began to talk at once and I couldn’t understand what any of them were trying to tell me, so I had to start calling on them to speak, just to end the confusion. Once things were organized, I discovered the boys had really enjoyed not only the ride on the mule, but also the sights in the Canyon as we rode along.

“Yeah, outside of the saddle sores I’ve got from riding this blasted thing,” Jay announced, “it’s been really great. Even though I’ve seen pictures of this place in school, they ain’t nothing like it looks for real.” I thought about correcting his grammar, but decided to let it slide this time.

“I may not be walking straight again for a while and my legs might stay bent to match the shape of my mule,” Dustin offered, “but I’m really glad we did this and I can’t wait to tell the girls at school that I rode a mule down into the Grand Canyon.” I think Kevin winched slightly at his comment, but didn’t let the others, especially Dustin, notice it bothered him.

“I don’t know about the rest of them, but I nearly crapped my pants when I looked over the side, just after we started out,” Pat bellowed, apparently somewhat surprised that no one else had mentioned this fact when they spoke.

After Pat’s statement, though, everyone began to express how scared they were when we first started out, saying things like they were worried the mule might stumble and send them both hurtling down the slope. However, they all claimed they got over that feeling pretty quickly, as they discovered the mules knew what they were doing and were being very careful not to have such an accident.

When it was the little ones’ turn to speak, each one talked so fast that it became just one long, run-on sentence. However, after hearing the excitement in their voices, I knew this would be an experience they would never forget. Just to make sure, though, I started snapping pictures of all of them, as they remounted their mules to make the trip back to the top. I don’t think any of them had noticed me taking pictures on the way down and I was sure they wouldn’t notice me taking even more as we headed back, but I did want one or two close-ups of each mule and rider(s). That’s why I took those now, while the boys were still willing to sit still for a few more minutes, while the wrangler rechecked everyone’s gear yet again.

When I got to Brandon, I asked him how he was holding up and he assured me he was doing fine. He said his stomach got a little queasy a couple of times, but that’s when he looked away and everything was fine again, a few seconds later. He also assured me he had enjoyed this, even if it had been a bit scary at times, and thanked me for bringing him on this trip. I told him I brought ALL of my sons, except for the two oldest ones, which caused him to smile again.

Once we were ready to leave, the boys and their mules fell back into formation and the wrangler got us started. The climb back up was quite arduous and much harder on the mules. I can only imagine what those poor creatures had to endure, not only pulling their own weight up that slope, but the weight of its rider(s) as well. The trip up was just as lovely as the journey down, but I don’t think we noticed quite as much this time, as we did during the descent. The only thing that didn’t change was the frightened feeling we got looking off the side of the trail and down the steep cliff, the higher we climbed.

Several hours after we began this trip, we were back at the ranch and the wrangler asked the boys if they wanted to help take the saddles off the mules and brush them down. This was strictly voluntary and not part of the original package and I thought the boys would laugh at his offer. Boy was I surprised. You would have thought the wrangler had just offered them a chance to win a million dollars by their enthusiastic reaction and excited utterances. I’d never seen the boys so happy to perform a chore in their entire lives. I will have to get the wrangler aside later and ask him his secret.

With all the enthusiasm they could muster, the boys watched their guide as he explained what to do and how to do it. The younger ones were the most fascinated by this chore and even came over to help the wrangler and me with our animals, when they had finished helping their older brother or uncle with their own. I snapped the last few pictures of the boys as they finished rubbing down the mules, to have a lasting memory of this event.

After they were done with those duties and the mules had been fed, we thanked the wrangler and I slipped him a decent tip. Before we left, I took time to ask him if all the young riders, or any riders for that matter, were as eager to perform those tasks as my boys had been, and he just laughed.

“Sir, I think everyone I’ve ever taken on that tour has been happy to perform those jobs when we got back,” he offered, with an amused grin. “I think it’s their way of thanking the animals for taking them down and bringing them back safely.” Gee, I hadn’t looked at it that way.

Once I finished my discussion, the boys said their good-byes to the wrangler, thanking him profusely, and then we got back into the van to head to the motel. We hadn’t been in the van for more than a few seconds, but it didn’t even take that long for the air inside to turn foul. Frantically, we began opening all of the windows, since it now smelled like a barnyard inside the van. Each of us was a mix of mule smell and body odor, and desperately needed to bathe or shower before we could go anywhere, including out to dinner. I was certain we didn’t want the taste of our food to be affected by the odors emanating from our bodies. Besides, I’m sure we could have cleared out any restaurant we entered, if we walked in smelling like that.

As we drove along, I thought about how long it had been since I had ridden in a vehicle that had relied on nature’s air conditioning like this, since we all seemed to take for granted the mechanical variety used in cars, homes and business. In the old days, we would joke that we had 4 – 60 air conditioning in our cars, meaning four windows down at 60 miles per hour. That was the only type of A/C I ever enjoyed in a car until after I was out of high school.

Although the fresh air wasn’t quite enough to remove all the smells from our nostrils, it was certainly better than it would have been if we’d left them rolled up. I think that’s why all the boys were so happy when we finally pulled into the motel parking lot. They exited the van quickly, raced to their rooms and doubled up in the showers and baths. This wasn’t only to get rid of the smell, but also to hasten our departure to eat, as they were now famished.

I left the windows open in the van, to give it time to air out some more. I certainly wasn’t worried about anyone trying to steal it while it smelled that way, because a would-be thief would most likely barf the minute he stuck his head inside any of the windows.

Once I was in my room, I called the front desk, to see where they had been able to make a reservation for us this evening. I hastily jotted down the name, address and directions to the eatery, as the desk clerk gave them to me, and then I hung up and got ready myself, since the bathroom in my room was now free.

The reservation had been made at a steak house. It wasn’t too expensive and the food was decent, but the best feature was the large, all-you-can-eat salad bar that went with it. The boys eagerly went and loaded up plates there first, while waiting for our meals to be prepared, and they managed to wolf down another large meal, washed down by several glasses of soda each. After filling up like that, I wasn’t sure if the boys would still have room for dessert afterward, but I should never have doubted how much those small bodies could pack away, as I watched them finish their dinner by polishing off an ice cream sundae.

I paid the bill and left an appropriate tip, and then we all went back to the motel to crash. The room assignments for tonight put Ricky, Jay, Dustin and Kevin in the ‘sex room.’ Cole and Graham had asked to share their room with the four little ones and I told them they could, as long as they didn’t get overly rambunctious or carried away. They quickly agreed. Brandon and Danny asked Pat and Carlos to share a room with them this time, so Trey and Dion asked if they could stay with me.

Trey, Dion and I talked for a while before going to bed. They gave me their views on the vacation thus far, and then explained how they were beginning to feel about each other. I knew these two were getting close, but I was surprised to learn they were closer than even I had suspected. What was even better was they were both pleased with the way things were turning out and the year and a half age difference between them didn’t seem to matter at all. That’s probably because Dion was physically and emotionally more mature than most other boys his age. After about an hour of talking, the pair said good night to me, slipped into bed and fell asleep, wrapped in each other’s arms. I stayed up a little longer, watching some movie on television, but I couldn’t help looking at them from time to time, noticing how contented they looked, nestled together. I was glad I had this time to get to know them better.

The boys in the ‘sex room’ were tired, but still wanted to take advantage of having the use of the room for the night. After a somewhat prolonged discussion between Dustin and Kevin, that duo agreed to pair up with one of the other two, so Dustin went with Ricky, while Kevin and Jay teamed up. Each twosome went to a bed and settled for a quick sixty-nine.

Ricky and Dustin manipulated each other to a speedy erection and then eagerly set about sucking each other off. This wasn’t a slow, passionate encounter, as one would have with a lover, this was just the hurried, erotic type of session, performed merely to get some relief. They were focusing only on the end result and did the old ‘Popsicle routine,’ hurriedly sucking and slurping on each other’s poles. It was as if they were trying to finish off a frozen treat before it melted, on a very hot summer day. With the frantic pace they were using, it wasn’t long before they were getting their fill of the warm, alabaster custard that shot into their throats, and then they just lay back and enjoyed the warm feeling it had given them.

The situation on the other bed was pretty much the same, but Kevin and Jay took a few extra minutes to play with each other’s uncut boyhood first. It wasn’t often they got to experiment with another ‘natural’ penis, so they weren’t going to let this opportunity go by without taking full advantage of it. First they manipulated each other with their fingers, pinching, pulling and stretching the excess skin, and then they toyed with the flap of flesh, using their mouths to nip, pull and suck on it, before they tried to push their tongue through the opening between the foreskin and the glans. Once they were satisfied with their manipulations, they went straight to work, sucking each other to orgasm. It took only a few more hectic minutes of this activity before they swapped their loads and siphoned off every last drop, before they quit for the evening.

Once everyone had eased the aching in their loins, they hopped into bed with their customary partner and drifted off to sleep. Another day done and another need satisfied.