Well, I can report that I returned largely in one piece from an adventuresome one-week stay at a dude ranch in Northern Colorado with my grandchildren. Since neither my wife nor I had much experience on horseback, the daily ride through the mountains was as picturesque as it was occasionally a bit frightening.
Let me simply describe it this way. Last Wednesday we were assigned to riding the entire day through the Roosevelt National Forest followed by trails leading through gullies, ravines and up some rather steep cliffs. We arrived at a location where the ranch had lunch brought in by car at an agreed rendezvous.
Following lunch and with clouds starting to form, we were given an option of riding our horses back over the same dramatic territory to the ranch or simply taking a car. Monica and my granddaughter Calin had the good sense to get into a car, while I rode back with my grandson, a 16-year-old girl (Harley) from New Jersey and our young guide named Conner. As we negotiated some tough territory, a large storm blew in that required us to get off of our horses and simply stand in a large forest of aspen trees. Rain pelted down on us, followed by massive thunder and lightning storms. Not only that, but it began to hail, and pea-size pellets fell on us for close to 20 minutes.
As the lightning got worse, it cracked right over our heads, causing my grandson and Harley to leap backwards in terror. Trying to encourage them, I simply said, “Look, this is going to be one of the great experiences in your life – if you live!” They didn’t laugh. The storm abated after close to an hour, and the sun was beginning to come out by the time we got back to camp.
On other days, we hiked to large rock walls where the wranglers arranged to have you climb them if you elected to do so. You literally climbed them using your feet and hands, and a rope extended from the precipice through a harness you were wearing where you would be held in mid-air if you fell. There were three such climbs of increasing lengths, and my grandkids made it up all three. As for me, I was able to get up the first climb to within 20 feet of the summit, at which time I yelled down to the wrangler, “This thing is over, I’m coming down!”
Finally, we also took a raft adventure down the swollen Poudre River. This trip lasted for over three hours, and the rapids ranged from Class 2 to Class 4. (The highest classification is a 5, so you knew what you were in for.)
Two delightful strangers joined the four of us in our raft with our guide, and the other seven members from our ranch went in a separate raft. Twenty minutes in to this increasingly harrowing ride, their raft sailed sideways into a rock formation, causing all seven members to be dumped into the river with the raft completely turning upside down on some of them. All made it safely back, though we were told later that they all lived in terror until the end of the float.
As for us, we continually negotiated all of the rapids successfully until being warned that a Class 4 rapids remained 15 minutes before the end of the journey. As we slammed into it, we went into a violent descent that resembled a very small waterfall. Drenched again with the raft shooting forward, we drifted sideways into a large rock formation where I was thrown backwards out of the raft. I rather severely bruised my elbow in the fall, and I hung on to a rope circling the raft to keep from being washed under it into the rapids. Mo and the kids were able to stay in the raft while desperately holding on, and I was eventually hoisted on board by the guide. Let me just say that I also lost my shoes in this experience and my grandson told everyone that my collection of injuries made me resemble a prisoner of war!
There were other great moments that we experienced throughout the week, but I will leave them to your imagination. Let me just say that if you want to experience a great week where you feel that you are flirting with death at times, then head up to this ranch in Northern Colorado, 8000 feet in elevation near the Wyoming border. What a trip!
Furthermore, this trip was also timed perfectly given the regrettable quality of movies playing on the big screen. While I was able to see the wonderful Me and Earl and the Dying Girl the day before we left for Colorado, there is nothing else playing that is of remote interest. The only way that I would really want to see the new Terminator movie is if it was based on Schwarzenegger being pursued by the Hispanic maid that he knocked up while governor! As for either Ted 2 or Magic Mike XXL, I would rather be strapped to a pole and forced to watch the pathetic Donald Trump repeat his racist comments about Mexican immigrants rather than watching these preposterous, semi-porn films!
On the other hand, things could be worse. Thank God the sun is shining!