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Learning to Drive a Stagecoach in Paso Robles


Tommy and Debby Harris of Harris Stage Lines

The vehicle creaked and swayed. I grabbed a leather handle to keep my balance as we veered around a sharp curve. Alan, riding shotgun, called down from above, “Are you okay?” What kind of baby boomer adventure is this? Why, we’re experiencing the old west on a stagecoach ride at Harris Stage Lines in Paso Robles, California.

Did you spend your boomer childhood sitting in front of the TV on Saturday mornings watching Roy Rogers and Dale Evans or The Gabby Hayes Show? Maybe you held your breath—or spilled a bowl of Cheerios on the living room floor—as the Cisco Kid raced to save the stagecoach from being robbed.

Would you like to relive those baby boomer childhood memories? At Harris Stage Lines, Tommy and Debby Harris run a ranch adjacent to the Salinas River that’s powered by horses instead of machines; but their passion is keeping the culture of the old west alive.

“We’re losing our western heritage. We’re forgetting where we come from,” Tommy Harris says as hitches up two horses to the full-sized Concord style stagecoach. The coach is shaped like an egg for a smoother ride as it rests in hand-made leather braces. In fact, everything about the stagecoach is hand-made, including the iron work. The gold leaf trim? It’s real.

On this visit to Harris Stage Lines, Tommy invites Alan to ride up top to observe what it’s like to drive a stagecoach. He grabs the reigns to both horses, then talks them around curves and through the course. After Tommy makes the first circuit of the Harris property, he briefly hands the reins to Alan.

Later, I climb inside the stagecoach. Closing my baby boomer eyes as it begins to sway, I imagine what it must have been like to travel across the Old West with four to six people crammed together in the small compartment. According to Harris, stagecoaches traveled from 15 to 25 miles before stopping to change horses. After 100 miles, the journey was over for the day.

If you’re visiting the Paso Robles area, satisfy your inner cowboy or cowgirl at Harris Stage Lines. Stagecoach rides are $200 for one to six people. The experience includes watching the horses being hitched to the stagecoach and all the Western memories that Tommy and Debby Harris have time to share.

Harris Stage Lines also offers horsemanship classes, horse camps for children and other western events.

What’s your favorite baby boomer western memory? Does it include riding in a stagecoach? Join the conversation at the My Itchy Travel Feet page on Facebook or send us an email.
Discolsure: This travel experience was provided by the Travel Paso Alliance and Harris Stage Lines.

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