On the near horizon I plan to write a novel set on a dude ranch of sorts. Naturally, I needed to investigate. What is a modern dude ranch like?
This June I took my eldest granddaughter for an overnight at the M Lazy C dude ranch near Lake George, Colorado. This outing was a definite success.
We roughed it in a rustic log cabin with modern amenities like a microwave and mini-fridge, but no indoor plumbing. Although the bathroom was down a boardwalk, it was thoroughly modern. (Other cabins have their own bathrooms, and I would likely opt for that next time.) We lounged around, playing Foosball in the community room, watching the longhorn steers, and reading.
My granddaughter befriended a barn cat that then followed her around demanding attention.
Up early the next morning, we had breakfast at the chuck wagon. A nice buffet-style breakfast was served on picnic tables covered with red checkered tablecloths.
Next, we headed to the corral. We had booked a half day horseback ride in the National Forest. The two young women wranglers made sure everyone was matched to a horse corresponding to their riding level. A family of four had an experienced rider, a never-rode-before rider, and two intermediates. My granddaughter has taken riding lessons for several years. She rode Gunther, while I requested an easy horse, and got Domino.
Warned that my horse was a biter, I stayed to the back of the line of seven horses, followed by a wrangler. Other than keeping Domino away from the temptation to nip other horses' backsides, he was a gentle animal with an easy to sit trot. (I am listening to Sue Grafton's A is for series. Her main character Kinsey was a biter as a child, so I found Domino's issue amusing.)
We enjoyed views of snow-capped Pikes Peak and fields of wild flowers. The family from back east was delighted to watch one of our wranglers herd cows away from a gate. Stopping at a trough, the horses got a drink. Our lunch break was taken near a mound of rocks as tall as the pine trees. M Lazy C provided nice box lunches, and did their best to accommodate special diets.
We returned to the corral, with Domino doing an anxious but slow trot most of the way. Unlike some rental horses, these animals were obviously well cared for, well-mannered, and friendly. I tipped the wranglers, thanking them for a great experience.
As we drove across the ranch, heading home, my granddaughter asked when we would be back. Soon, I hope. Sure, it was a little on the rustic side, and I thought I'd need a crane to get me off my horse after the half day ride, but it was a genuine Colorado ranch experience. Who knew research could be so much fun?
My grandparents had an amazing flower garden when I was a kid. I didn't appreciate it as much as the cardboard box full of comic books, but I was vaguely aware that they were thick and lush, colorful and full of perfume. I attempt to carry on that tradition on a smaller scale. This wet late spring and early summer have done wonders for my flower garden. Enjoy!
I have run into several people lately. I mean literally run into. They are typically not looking where they are going due to having their eyes glued to an electronic device. Reading the incoming text message apparently takes precedence over watching where your feet go.
Fiddling with music settings, reading and writing texts, making calls, watching programs and playing games. What wonderful devices are our modern telephones. Until they become addictive.
My guess is that many of these folks who are lost in their electronic devices are caught up in various zombie apocalypses, fantasy worlds, monsters, and/or global conquest. Where is their faith in these alternate realities? They are taking their lives in their hands having their brains glued to a little screen.
Maybe next time someone bumbles into me, I’ll whip out a zombie mask and screech at them, or pull a plastic sword from a scabbard and threaten to sever head from shoulders. That might bring a dose of reality to the fantasy-fogged.
They can thank me when a real monster reaches to grab them. Instead of becoming a victim due to being lost in an electronic device, they’ll be alert to the reality around them, and ready to fight or flee.
I have declared war against the elements. Futile, you may say. Humankind never wins the battle with nature. I am giving it my best shot.
Along with the life-giving rain for which we Coloradans are grateful has come a ration of hail. The Big One hit before I planted my garden. Part of Colorado Springs shut down as hail slammed earth, damaging roofs and cars, tearing budding leaves off tender spring trees, and snarling traffic on flooding streets over a foot deep in frozen white pellets.
I am determined to grow a bumper crop of basil this summer. My extended family has developed a taste for basil pesto, and can go through a quart during a single picnic. My daughter, also a gardener, is spending most of her summer camping. So it may be up to me to provide the bushel basket of basil we need. Basil is particularly delicate. Hail can destroy a basil plant in seconds.
Every time it rains at my house, we get a dose of hail in the bargain. More than once, I have run outside to throw coverings over the peppers and squash. I held an umbrella over the basil Sunday until I could arrange the hail cloth over the tiny plants without crushing them in the process. This semi-permanent cover is a huge improvement.
My husband is an engineer. He devised a way to save my garden. You can compare and contrast our methods. His, methodical and precise. Mine, more an act of desperation.
My husband told me that according to Murphy's Law, we have ensured that no more hail will fall this season. I remember last year, when hail wiped out my garden at its peak, in mid-July. It never did recover. Whether it hails or not, I can relax and enjoy gardening again.
(Hail cloth is available at Phelan Gardens - http://www.phelangardens.com/ )
First I have to share this link to an interview and book giveaway contest by one of my favorite authors, Elaine Viets. I love her Dead End Job series.
I can't believe it's June already! I missed last week's blog due to illness. Not that I was all that sick. The chilly damp weather (I'll blame that) gave me an earache. Somehow having your ear in distress throws off your emotional as well as your actual balance. I feel as though I missed a couple weeks of spring, and have been dropped into full-blown summer.
One event I have been looking forward to in June is the Western Museum of Mining and Industry's gem and mineral show. This weekend, June 5, 6, and 7, the focus is on topaz.
The Mining Museum will host the 52nd Annual Pikes Peak Gem & Mineral Show!
This year’s eventful weekend, produced by our partners from the Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society, centers around Topaz From Around the World!
One of the characters in my Rock Shop Mystery series has a claim on a small topaz mine. Maybe he'll play a larger role in a future book!
In other news, after an extremely slow start to the season, I am finally putting my starts out in the garden. Due to repeated damaging hail, I am attempting to shelter my garden plots. My husband claims I'm just protecting my vegetables for the rabbits and squirrels to consume. That's gardening in Colorado. An eternal battle with the elements and the wildlife.
I hope your June is off to a terrific start. Be sure to participate in local fun events, especially those that are outdoors!
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