Friday, July 31, 2009

Elk Mountain Ranch

After we finished up our morning trail ride we had a little time before lunch. We found some horseshoe pits. This is where Mr. Cowboy proceeded to kick my rear in a game of horseshoes. I guess I put too much flick of the wrist in the toss. I just was not good at it. But Mr. Cowboy was good. He got ringers and beat the pants off of me. Just look at that form. We then had a picnic lunch. We had fajitas and these huge Cow Patty Cookies. They were so yummy. Here is Mark getting some rice. He is from England. He was so hilarious. I had such a wonderful time getting to know him and his wife, Karen. When ever he would talk about her he would call her, "My Beloved". It was so sweet. Lunch was so good. They had us eat off of tin plates and our drinks were in these tin mugs. It was so cool. Very rustic country like. I would love some of those for my kitchen. Mark, the man from England, had never eaten a fajita before. So, I showed him how to make it and eat it. He loved it. So did Mr. Cowboy. Their food was so good there. We have full bellies and we are ready to go on an afternoon trail ride. Before every trail ride Tom and the Wranglers all get together and talk about which group they are going to take out and who is going to lead the group. (Pony Girl, these Wrangler pictures are for you!!) They try to change around groups so that you get a chance to ride with each Wrangler at least once. It's really fun to get to know the Wranglers. To hear their stories of where they are from and what they want to do after they are done being Wranglers. None of them want to stop being Wranglers. While the guest sit up in the stands the Wranglers bridle their horses and then when it's your turn to ride they get your horse and bring it to the center of the arena. Then they will call your name. My horse was Billy. In that picture he was being led by Jason. Jason and Billy are pretty close. They had a "Come to Jesus" moment last year. It was so nice to have my horse brought to me!! I was getting spoiled! Our afternoon ride took us up into a different part of the mountains. We rode with Martine and Spike for the rest of the week. See Billy and Romeo eye balling each other? I think Billy was a bit intimidated by that big bay paint. I really wanted to take Billy home with me. He was such a good boy. I tried to make a trade. Billy for Ozzie. But nobody wanted to swap.......I wonder why???? I really enjoyed having so many trail rides with Mr. Cowboy. It was much needed alone time. Mr. Cowboy got to ride Ally. She was a wrangler horse and they were trying her out on guests. She was a really good girl. But I was still partial to my dun paint, Billy. After the ride I got some pictures with me and Caleb. I was wearing my old Counselor shirt from Centerville Mills. The camp where I was the Counselor and Caleb was one of the campers. Just look how tall Caleb got!! Last time I had seen him he was about 13 years old. There, that was more like it!! When Caleb would come to camp he would always were these blue jean overalls. We would all call him Farmer Fred. Oh the good times we had. We had a little time before Dinner, so we played a little pool. Mr. Cowboy is a great pool player. Me.....uhm....not so much. I lost. But I am okay with that. Dinner was cooked on this awesome outdoor grill. I think I need one like this in my backyard!! The cooks were these three girls in their 20's and they were very good! I was impressed! Even dessert was wonderful. All the entrees and desserts were made from scratch. No wonder I gained 4 pounds while being there. I ate so much! After dinner there was a hay ride out to a fire pit. I am telling you, Monday seemed to last forever. I was loving it. Monday night was Caleb's night off. But instead of going into town with the other Wranglers he came with us on the hay ride. We had a really fun hay ride. We sang a lot of old camp songs. I think we sang so loud we almost lost our voices!! But it was so worth it!! The view of the ranch while on the hay wagon. We rode for a good while. Until we came to a field where we all hopped down and got ready for some smores, hot chocolate, and popcorn. As the sun went down it was getting a bit chilly. So we all huddled as close the fire as we could. See those really cool looking metal red pitchers? Those had the hot coco in them and coffee. The sun was going down and we all had a great time talking and laughing. We really had a great group of people there that week. There were a few kids there. A couple of 13 year old girls and a 12 year old girl with her brother that was 10. They were fun to have around. There was also a family from Denmark that has two girls, 15 and 19 year olds. Ruby was one of the cooks at the ranch. She got the popcorn popping. It was really neat to have popcorn popped over an open camp fire. The sun was setting behind this huge puffy cloud. The huge puffy cloud was making a really neat shadow across the sky. Pretty neat huh? Martine, my new friend from Paris, pointed out the cloud's shadow. Again, my lack of picture taking skills just didn't do the shadow any justice. Watching the sky get darker and sitting by the camp fire sipping on hot chocolate and talking with new and old friends was a perfect way to end our first full day at Elk Mountain Ranch.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Elk Mountain Ranch

I am back from a wonderful week alone with Mr. Cowboy. We had a wonderful time. I have so many stories and so many pictures to share. So, lets start out at the beginning. We started out our trip a little rough. We left late for the airport and were trying to make up for it on the drive to Houston. We ended up with a blow out. We had about 45 minutes until our flight took off and we were 9.2 miles from the airport. Mr. Cowboy is so super fast at changing a tire. I wanted to take his picture while he was changing the tire but I thought he might have gotten really mad at me, so I just stood there pretending to help him. I was useless.

We made it to our gate just as they were about to board our plane. But our plane needed a part and the part was in Colorado. So, that flight was delayed until 8 pm. We quickly got put on another flight to Denver. Our bags were going to get on a different flight to Denver. We were really happy to get on a flight to Denver. So, we crossed our fingers that our bags would get to the airport about the same time we did. And in the end, we had all of our bags and we made it to Denver, Colorado. I was so excited to see my friend, Caleb. We had about a two hour drive to Elk Mountain Ranch. Caleb and I had a great time remembering camp songs and camp stories. It was a lot of fun. We got in pretty late. Sue had dinner waiting for us. She was so wonderful to wait up for us.

After Dinner Caleb took us for a quick tour around the Ranch. It was getting dark and a bit chilly. The Ranch makes its own electricity so the lights went out at 11pm. So, Mr. Cowboy and I wanted to get unpacked and ready for bed before lights went out. But the next morning we woke up early so we could get a look at the Ranch before breakfast. I loved the entrance. We drove down a 10 mile dirt rode to get to the secluded mountain Ranch. This entrance way was made by Tom. Tom is the owner and operator of the Ranch. This is the dirt road leading back to civilization. Can you see Mr. Cowboy and my shadows on the bottom left? I was trying to be artistic. These pictures just don't do the mountains justice. They had two stocked fishing ponds. What ever fish you catch and keep, they will cook for you for dinner on Friday night. The pond was also well guarded by one attack goose and two sweet ducks. Mr. Cowboy and I wondered around the Ranch a little longer before breakfast started. We followed a little trail up a hill. I found a great stump for setting up my camera for a picture. I loved how cool it was in the morning and evenings. Wonderful jeans and t-shirt riding weather. Perfect! Mr. Cowboy picked me some wildflowers. I told him he was going to get in trouble for picking wildflowers, but he did it anyway. On our walk back to breakfast we met the two Ranch dogs. Blue found us first. He wasn't too sure of us. He let me take his picture. But you can see by his body language he isn't too into me. He eventually warmed up to me by Thursday. I could rub his belly and he would give me kisses. And Coco came out on the porch to great us. She is a big sweetie. She made me miss my Lab dog. I just love those big box like ears. After scratching the dogs, we made it to breakfast. We lived right above the lodge and dinning room, so we were never late for anything. Tom and Sue must have known about us and our problems with being on time!! I do have to admit that we were not late for anything the entire week. It's amazing how quickly you can get dressed when you don't have to get three other bodies out of bed as well. Breakfast was so yummy. I can honestly say that every meal was WONDERFUL. My stomach did not growl the entire week. But as we left breakfast there was a little face that tried to convince us that she was starving. Isn't she the cutest Coco dog you have ever seen? If I had known she was sitting there with her nose pressed up to the glass I would have saved her some bacon. Next door to the lodge was the Trading Post.
The Trading post was open all day everyday. There you can buy all sorts of great Elk Mountain Ranch memorabilia. And by the door there was this sign that I loved. This is exactly how Mr. Cowboy answers me when I call and ask him when he will be home. The sign made me laugh. But after breakfast we had enough time to meet with some of the other families and head over to the arena for Tom's horse demonstration. Let me introduce you to Tank. He was the demo horse. I am a complete sucker for a bay horse and I was in love with him. I was really impressed with the look of all the horses at the Ranch. They were all in wonderful shape. Well, most of them were in the "round" shape, but they looked awesome. All of the horses were very well taken care of. Tom told us that Tank, the demo horse, was a leader in the "Hungry Horses" Union, or something of that nature. He said that they all "thought" they were starving and that the horses would all try to eat some snacks on the trail. I chuckled. Because as you all can see those horses have not missed a single meal. I also was impressed with the Wranglers and their horse leading skills!! Five horses at one time!! That Wrangler is Randy. He was just visiting the Ranch for a few days. I think he used to work there and was back visiting Tom and Sue and the rest of the crew. Don't quote me on that but I think that was why he was visiting. And see that paint horse in the back? That is Billy. He was my horse for the week!! Big Boy Billy and I had a great week! Billy has a wonderful personality. Really playful and curious. Tom gave a really great horse demonstration. Tank was a good sport and stood quietly the entire time. Tom really knows his stuff. He was really good at getting his point across in a way that every one could understand. That is not always easy to do, but he did it and had people laughing and learning. Tom also got on Tank with out a cinch or breast collar. Which I thought was really cool. When I was in college we got extra credit points for doing that and I could never do it. It's hard to do. Tom made it look easy. During the demonstration Billy, the horse I rode, untied himself and wandered over to us. He just wanted to see if we had some treats.

Then Billy wondered back over to the other horses dragging his rope. Billy then felt the need to relieve himself right on the rope. That was nice to know being that that was the horse I was assigned. Sweet!!! There are some of the Wranglers. From left to right we have Caleb, Nate, Jason, and Sage. They are all really wonderful guys. They all know their stuff and were super trail guides out on the trail. Not only did they know about horses, but they also knew a lot about the mountains and the wildlife that lives up there. After the horse demonstration we got assigned our horses and went out on a quick morning trail ride. Here we are up in the mountains! It was so beautiful! The family we rode with were from Westlake, Ohio. That is right next to the town I grew up in. And their daughter, in the pink, took riding lessons at Holly Hill Farm. That just so happens to be where I took riding lessons from the time I was 9 until 19!! It was really neat to talk to them. We had a wonderful ride and ended back up at the Ranch for Lunch.