I just returned from checking off a bucket list item and it feels great. My niece and I went to a dude ranch in Colorado. We had quite the adventure! We rode horses, attended a rodeo, wrangled cattle and went on an overnight pack ride into the mountains. We slept under the stars, listened to coyotes howling in the night and nearly stepped on a rattle snake.
At Sylvan Dale Ranch just outside of Denver, time seems to pass you by. We did not hear the news, there were no TVs in the cabins and our cell phones barely had a signal. We were literally off of the grid and thrust into daily adventure. On our first day, we rafted down the Cache La Poudre hitting pockets of level 3 and 4 white water. That evening, we returned to the ranch to have a thanksgiving meal with the guests and ranch hands and we shared what we were thankful for with perfect strangers. By the end of dinner we all felt like one big family. We attended a rodeo, witnessed the spirit of resilience in the Jessup Family, the owners of Sylvan Dale, as they told the story of recovering from a devastating flood on the Big Thompson River last fall. The flood wiped out their main lodge and their business, forcing them to lay off the staff and begin the arduous process of rebuilding and repairing the damages. The cost was over 2.6 million dollars; clearly a profound loss. The family exemplified the meaning of hospitality and set an example of resilience in the face of adversity by pulling together and working through the hard times as any family should.
We had a perfect old fashioned vacation! There was a softball game with homemade hand cranked ice cream for all. The ranch offered mountain hikes and yoga. I became immersed in the simplicity of the experience, the fresh scent of the cool mountain air and the positive attitude that each staff member brought to their job each day.
We embarked on an adventure with a four hour overnight horse ride through the mountains to an 18th century homestead. The house was once a moonshine operation during prohibition. We spent the night, grilled steaks around the campfire, made s’mores, told stories and played games. We slept under the stars in sleeping bags and heard coyotes howling at the moon. I awoke several times during the night and looked up to see a vast milky way and what seemed like the little dipper literally at the end of my nose. Our horses grazed freely all night framed in the moonlight. When I stumbled out of my nest in the morning, Dave, a family member, had coffee brewing and breakfast cooking. The accommodations were rustic to say the least, one outhouse, a few picnic benches and a homestead that definitely was more suited for little four legged creatures than for two legged ones.
I like to call myself an adventure traveler. This adventures was most certainly outside of my comfort zone. I haven’t camped in years and I honestly didn’t know if I would like sleeping outdoors and roughing it with only an outhouse. Encouraged by my niece, I said yes to adventure. At the end of the day, getting out of my comfort zone, presented me with a marvelous view of the big sky overhead and panoramic scenes of nature, including some of the most beautiful vistas in the Rocky Mountains. I dare say this adventure with my niece will be something neither one of us will forget in our lifetime. Happy Trails to you!