Our oldest son would be graduating from high school. We knew this would probably be our last vacation with everyone together, and we wanted it to be special. With four children, they’d each need to help with college expenses. Summer jobs would limit our time together.
We talked about and finally decided to look into going to a dude ranch somewhere out west. We’d gone to Wyoming before with friends and their children on a summer vacation. The girls loved horses, and all the kids enjoyed fishing. After some research, I found a ranch in Dubois, Wyoming that we could afford, and was just what we were looking for. The cost included a cabin, meals, horseback rides, entertainment for the kids, fishing, and was in the mountains. There was a television in the main lodge, but none in the cabins, as well as no telephone. There were books and movies available also. Meals were family style.
We mapped out our trip to take us through Cheyenne to Laramie. From there, we would pick up Route 130 to go to Snowy Pass. This is a beautiful drive. We went on our trip the end of June, so there was still snow at higher elevations. The sky is sooooo blue, the air is so clear, and there is very little noise or traffic. There is a large rock part way up the mountain that we claim, and we have several pictures of us standing on top of it. We stopped occasionally to enjoy the view, the snow, the scenery or to go for a walk. It’s exhilarating!!!
Route 130 ends at Walcott. Next we went to Rawlins, picked up 287 and 789. Following this route, you see the Wind River Range. The mountains are beautiful. We followed 287 to Lander and then Dubois. Dubois is a small town of about 950 people. The Absaroka is about 16 miles northwest of Dubois. We found the ranch without any trouble, and were greeted by Emi Betts, one of the owners. The other owner is her husband, Budd. The Grand Tetons are only about 45 minutes away.
The meals were out of this world delicious! Plenty to eat, and if anyone goes hungry, it’s their own fault!
We all went horseback riding the next morning with the wranglers, young high school graduates working there for the summer. We watched as they saddled, bridled and led the horses out of the corral. The horses were used to “greenhorns” and very accommodating and patient as we “saddled up”. Our older daughter rode a horse who was less than enthusiastic about taking anyone on a long or short ride. Our daughter did her best to keep up with us, and the horse did her best to give her a hard time. Finally, one of the wranglers cut a switch. Kris didn’t even have to use it; just keep it readily available and in sight of the horse. Our youngest son hadn’t ridden very much, but when we broke into a trot, he took his cap off his head and gave out a loud “warhoop”. My husband couldn’t believe it as he, himself, held somewhat tightly to the saddle horn. Much to our delight, we went horseback riding every morning and every afternoon all week!
When we went riding again in the afternoon, we played a game of tag. No one was in a rush, and everyone enjoyed the quiet, the ride and the scenery.
Late in the afternoon, there was “adult time, no children allowed” for about an hour. Adult conversation without interruption, and a cold drink. The kids were entertained by one of the wranglers or could find a book or movie in the main house.
That evening, we played softball. There was a different activity each night. We were always ready for bed each night, and slept well.
One afternoon, our older son and one of the wranglers went fishing. It turned out to be an adventure and our son caught his first Trout.
My husband’s birthday is July 3rd, and we were scheduled to ride up to a clearing about 10,000 feet for a chuck-wagon dinner. I asked the cook if there was a possibility we could surprise my husband with a cake. He replied he’d be glad to do that. We had dinner, and a cake was presented as a surprise, complete with candles. My husband was delighted and blew the candles out. They re-lit! He wondered if it was his age or the altitude. He blew them out again. They re lit! Everyone was enjoying all this.
July 4th, there were fireworks………and snow!!! It was so cold, we watched the fireworks from inside our cabin.
We were the only guests for a day and a half due to cancellations. It was a great chance to talk to Emi and Budd. We enjoyed the chance to get to know them a little better. It was nice being the only ones on the horseback rides and at meals too.
By the end of our time there, the kids were helping the boys saddle and bridle the horses, lead them out of the corral, help unsaddle and unbridle them, and lead them to the pasture gate. The girls would spend a lot of time leaning on the corral, watching the horses, and the cute wranglers.
We all talk about this trip and vacation often, and hope to all go back. It was wonderful and unforgettable!
If you’re considering this type of vacation, look at the Absaroka Ranch: www.absarokaranch.com. It’s a wonderful place, with great people, in a beautiful setting. I’d be willing to bet, it’s a summer vacation you’ll remember for a long time!