“Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip.”-Will Rodgers
As a city girl looking for something different to do, I found, through a television travel segment, that Wilson Ranches Retreats Bed & Breakfast was an option. So the week before the grand day, I booked a reservation. Later that week, I dared to mention my intentions to the patients and co-workers at my job who turned out to be a very supportive bunch. I was later informed of a store to purchase my gear. They also encouraged me to ride a horse. We’ll see, I thought.
On January 18th at 0647, Big Blue 2 (my truck) and I took off into the darkness and rain to my new adventure. As I
traveled past Rooster Rock State Park. through deep fog and downpours I spotted several waterfalls that enlightened my spirit. After turning off the main highway the drive through small towns, wide open spaces and deep valleys made me think of the land as the people who traveled in covered wagons must have felt. The aesthetics gives one a renewed spirit of a fresh start.
As the cowboys would say, “It’s a fur piece out there.” The family owned ranch in eastern Oregon, 15809 Butte Creek Rd., Fossil, Oregon. After my arrival at 12:51, I paused outside the 2.2 mile road that takes you to the spread and began singing the theme song to the television show, Green Acres. Once that was out of my system, I shot a few pictures and stepped back into the truck and headed to the bunk house.
I climbed the stairs and stepped inside, finding a note awaiting me that started with, “Happy Birthday Lila!” It directed you to your room and few rules of the house. Karen, the housekeeper and cook welcomed me and stated that on this day, I had the place to myself. I felt like a kid whose parents said it was OK to stay alone without a baby sitter. She also informed me that I was given an earlier ride time and that the staff were waiting for me at the main house. Boots, hats and saddle bags are available but I had come equipped and ready to ride.
“Today they’re making pictures that I wouldn’t want Trigger to see.”-Roy Rodgers
As I walked up, Louise, a first grade teacher and horse lover, greeted me. Brett, a college student, soon arrived with a horse in tow, shook my hand and introduced himself and my new BFF, Sundance. The horse turned his head to give me a sideways glance and I did the same so that we both had an understanding. After being instructed on how to mount, make the horse move left, right and stop, we were off to move some cattle. Sitting high in the saddle gives you such a wonderful perspective. If only I were this tall, then all the men would be able to see me and ask me out on a date.
Brett is a wonderful guide and would occasionally tell me, “Give him his head” if he noticed I was holding the reins to tight or “Kick him” if Sundance got an attitude and decided to stand still. After the cattle were secured we continued out to fields to check on others that were grazing. We came to a stream that Sundance didn’t want to cross. I had a little comin’ to Jesus meeting with him as I asked him to get a move on and not make me look like an idiot. I begged, pleaded and attempted to con Sundance. “He hates water,” Brett finally said after watching this poor city slicker trying to make a deal with a horse. Finally he gathered my rope and led the two of us across the stream until all was well. When Sundance still would not move, Brett looked back and told me to stand up. I thought to myself, ” I know I’m heavy but I met the weight requirement to ride.” He explained that the horse had to go and I was sitting on his kidneys. As a dialysis nurse, far be it from me to block anyone’s need to release!
We continued on our way as I took in deep breaths of fresh air and splendor of this 9,000 acre of deeded land. (12,000 more acres are leased) As we roamed around, it felt like we were in a scene from the Big Valley. The vastness is incredible and peaceful. Along the way I found a bone, don’t ask what kind, but I took it as proof to everyone that I was actually here. All too soon the ride ended, just as Sundance and I were getting to know each other better. We took a few pictures then I dismounted and waved good-bye to my friend and thanked Brett and Louise for a wonderful time.
Just like a regular cowboy or girl, I went into town for dinner at RJ’s and had chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes and veggies. (riding the range stirs up the appetite) Later, I returned to my room, (The Buckaroo)and settled in. After a nice, hot soak in Epsom salt and a little writing it was time to turn in. Before doing so, I stepped outside. The crisp, night air and rich darkness, so dark you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face, gave me a renewed appreciation for life.
The stars stood out like performers in a Broadway play. I found the Big Dipper and wished that I had a telescope to look at them all so much closer. No city lights to block out the allure of the night sky. A sigh escaped me. It felt as though I had a spiritual cleansing and now it was time to sleep. And sleep I did. A deep, peaceful sleep.
Many, many thanks to the following-Karen for the fine breakfast and talks. Kara for your energy, laughter and friendship. Brett and Louise for your patience with this city slicker. Phil & Nancy for a wonderful ranch retreat. Coastal Farm & Ranch in Cornelius,OR for outfitting me in my duds. Finally, to the staff and patients at the Saint Helens, FMC dialysis unit for all your support and encouragement to set my 57th birthday in the right direction. (Pictures are those of the writer and may not be duplicated without permission.)