Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Rockin' R - Part Two or That Time When I Rode A Bull

Wednesday was a very busy day. We had activities scheduled back-to-back-to-back all day long. The Ranch had been getting way more rainfall than normal that summer, but so far we had been pretty lucky. Though the clouds rolled in every afternoon, we had only gotten a drizzle or two here and there since we arrived. That was all about to change. In the morning, we headed to South Ranch which is an area that belongs to the Rockin' R where they have rock climbing/rappelling. They have a little swimming hole there and also had areas to learn tomahawk throwing and bullwhip usage (for lack of a better term. What would you call that? Bullwhipping?). They also had a craft tent where one could make bracelets or dream-catchers. The weather was great! I was terrible at the tomahawk throw, so I moved on to the bullwhip. I did okay. I made it crack numerous times. But, it's not as easy as it looks.

Rappelling was fun. The rock climbing took awhile, so most of us went up the rock the easy way and just rappelled down.

Mr. Frisby:


After awhile, the line for rock climbing was shorter, so Mr. Frisby and I jumped in. It was a fairly difficult climb. Of course, Mr. Frisby had no trouble getting up since he's much more experienced in that area.


Mr. Frisby:

If you look close at the picture above, you can see raindrops on the back of Mr. Frisby's shirt. He was one of the last to climb before we had to head back to the Rockin' R for lunch and just as we were finishing up, it started to rain. As we were driving out of South Ranch, it started to rain hard. As we drove to the Rockin' R, it was POURING!

We had an easy hike scheduled for after lunch. Mr. Frisby had bruised his heel during our tubing adventure the day before, so he didn't want to go. He said he would stay with Stella while she napped. Most of our group had planned to go on the hike, but the numbers slowly dwindled due to the rain. Five of us stalwarts decided to go anyway and it turned out to be a great choice. The rain stopped just after we started our hike and the sun came out. We had a lovely hike through Antimony canyon to the old Antimony mine. All while the rain continued back at the Rockin' R.

After the hike, our family was scheduled to have a family rodeo. This was the activity I was most excited for. Ever since I found out we would have a rodeo for our family, I had looked forward to it with great anticipation. That morning we had signed up for the events that were to happen. Barrel-racing, Pole-bending (like slalom skiing except on a horse), and Calf-riding. We were only allowed to sign up for one event each, so I quickly signed up for Barrel-racing. Later in the day, I noticed there were slots still available for Calf-riding, so I decided to sign up for that, too, not really knowing what it entailed.

While on our hike, our guide asked if any of us had signed up for steer-riding. I mentioned that they called it calf-riding on the sign up sheet and that I had signed up. Our guide said, "well, I guess technically they're still calves, but I'd really consider them steers." I asked if he had ever done it and he said the employees weren't allowed to. I remembered back to the orientation when the ranch manager mentioned the calf-riding and said that people would get hurt doing it. This is when I started to get a little nervous as I realized this event may be closer to bull-riding than the trotting around the arena bareback on a small calf that I had pictured in my mind.

We all gathered at the appointed time for the rodeo. I was super excited. It had even stopped raining by then.

The ranch wrangler who was in charge of our rodeo came out and said that with all of the rain that afternoon, the arena was very muddy. Because of the danger this posed to the horses, they wouldn't be able to run them at all and we would have to skip all of the horseback riding events scheduled. Imagine my disappointment. He said we would still do the relay race that was scheduled and the steer-riding (I'm calling it steer-riding now because clearly "calf"-riding does not give the right connotation of what the activity was) would go on as planned. One of my sisters came up with the idea of having three of my nieces kick off the rodeo festivities as a rodeo court, so to speak. They spent the afternoon getting all made up and getting the horses all made up (by braiding their manes and painting stars on their butts) so as to be fancy enough to come parading in as the rodeo queen and princesses.

Here they are starting us off:

After the rather long parade in (because the horses had to walk so slow), we got started with the relay race. Because of the mud, I opted not to participate since I figured I would get muddy enough with the calf-riding. And Mr. Frisby was on video camera duty, so he was out. We just sat back and enjoyed the show. Except for that part about how I was chasing Stella around the whole time.

 See how muddy it was? As soon as they walked a few steps in the muddy arena, my niece abandoned her slip on shoes.

The relay race was fun, but it took awhile because the horses had to walk so slow. I think it would've been more fun if the horses could have gone faster. Anyway, it involved carrying ladles full of water  on horseback to a waiting bucket a few yards away. Obviously the point of this was to not spill the water and get as much into your bucket as possible.

It also involved lassoing a fake cow and then sitting on said fake cow while yelling "yee-haw".

And, finally, it involved picking up a piece of horse poop and tossing it in a nearby target. I think this was mostly for the entertainment of the ranch hands and non-participating on-lookers. And it was quite entertaining.

After the relay race, they told us steer-riders to make our way to the chute at the far end of the arena. I was getting a little more nervous. There were six of us, so we headed down to the chute. We waited around while they brought the steer we would be riding into the chute. As we sat waiting, we got even more nervous. And when they brought out the cattle prod, we got really nervous.

Here we are waiting. That's me in the green jacket. When I saw the mud, I thought it would be best to wear my rain slicker.

As we were waiting and getting more nervous, another of my nieces came running up to join in the fun. I think I had the thought, "are you crazy?" But, then it was time to get started. My nephew, Jesse, bravely volunteered to go first.

Here he is, loaded up and ready to go:

The head wrangler drew an x in the mud at where he predicted Jesse would get thrown off. It was maybe five feet from the gate. And it was pretty right on.

After watching Jesse get thrown off, we were really getting nervous. Though, we were somewhat relieved that he didn't get hurt. My niece, Becca, turned to me and said, "I think I might pee my pants." I said to her, "I think I might poo my pants." Next up was my brother, Richard. He came out of the gate looking like a pro:

But he didn't last much longer than Jesse:

Next up was me. I was pretty nervous. I climbed up on the gate and looked down at the steer. It was all wet and covered in flies. So, not only did I think I might die, but I had to get disgusting doing it. I climbed down and sat on the steer and listened carefully as wranglers gave me instructions. Somewhere in the background, I heard someone yell something to the guy giving me the instructions. He said, "yeah, yeah" and continued telling me what to do. After a couple seconds, it registered what had been said. I said to the wrangler, "Wait. Did she just tell you to be careful with me because I have a little girl?" He said, "yeah." At that point, I thought it best to prepare for my death. They finished prepping me and said, "okay, when you're ready to go, say 'ready'". I took a deep breath and said, "ok. READY!"

And here I go (do you see that cattle prod?!?!):

It was over in a matter of seconds. Once they opened the gate and the steer came out, any instruction they had given me was irrelevant because I didn't have time to think about it. I was just along for the ride. I didn't get thrown until the steer spun in a circle, though, so I felt good about my performance.

And, best of all, I was alive! My body hurt, but I was okay. And, I wanted to do it again. Becca was next. She was really nervous. I told her it wasn't bad and that she would be okay.

Here she is, looking ready for death:

Notice she borrowed my jacket. This was good because she came off in a pile of horse poop which was one of our main concerns. Look at that dismount form:

My nephew, Mark, was next:

Mark did about as well as the rest of us and did an excellent faceplant:

Next up was my nephew, Sam. Sam was awesome. He's very tall and gangly, so it was just funny to see him atop the steer:

But, then Sam accidentally let go of the rope only he didn't fall off right away. So there is Sam just bouncing along on the steer. We were laughing hysterically watching him.

And, finally, my niece Shannon. Shannon looked super excited coming out of the gate and, wisely, also opted to borrow my jacket:

But, she also didn't last long and followed Mark's example of faceplanting:

Most of us decided to do a second ride, but we didn't get any more pics. After my second ride ended without any injuries, I decided that was it. I didn't want to press my luck. It was super exciting, though, and one of the highlights of the ranch for me.

After the rodeo, we enjoyed a delicious dutch oven dinner. It cost a little extra for that, but was well worth it as it was the best meal we had. That night we enjoyed our last night at the ranch and played the sign game again. We also had some time for my parents to share some memories about their parents and growing up. It was a WONDERFUL reunion.

The next morning, we got up and had breakfast and then checked out. And that was our time at the Rockin' R Ranch. I would go back in a heartbeat!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Rockin' R

Our family reunion was held at the Rockin' R Ranch in Antimony, UT. The Rockin' R is a dude ranch and ever since the location was picked, I have been super excited about this reunion. I'm going to have to split the reunion into two posts because we had way too much fun and did way too much to try to put it in one post. So, here we go.

We left my brother's house fairly early on Monday morning to drive to the ranch. We had to arrive between 12 and 1pm and it was several hours away. We hit the road and it didn't take long for Stella to settle into the road trip routine.

Antimony, UT is a tiny town and it's pretty much in the middle of nowhere. After a few hours of driving, we arrived at the ranch. We were a little early, so we decided to head into town and check out the Antimony Mercantile store. That took about two minutes. After checking out the Merc (which was not only a mercantile store, but also a gas station and restaurant), we went back to the ranch. We had to arrive there first since my sister was with us and she had to arrive first since she was the coordinator for our family. Before long, though, the rest of the family started showing up. We had lunch at the ranch and, I must say, I was pleasantly surprised. One of the great things about staying at the dude ranch is that all of our meals were provided. I had fairly low expectations for the food since I know it can be difficult to prepare good food, buffet style, for a lot of people. However, the Rockin' R definitely exceeded my expectations in the food department. Nothing was totally spectacular, but everything was pretty good. And the fact that we didn't have to worry about making food or cleaning up after meals was fantastic.

After lunch, we had a brief orientation to the ranch and how our activities would work and then we got right down to the business of having fun. Since Stella was too small for most of the activities, Mr. Frisby and I usually had to split up the activities with one of us going and the other staying to watch Stella. The first activity was a trail ride on horseback. I went on the ride and Mr. Frisby stayed with Stella. They couldn't accommodate our entire group for most activities, so they would have sign up sheets with the number of spots available and we would just sign up for the activities until they were filled. It was fun because then we were always doing activities with different family members. The trail ride was fun and the scenery was quite pretty.

This picture is one of my favorites from the trip. My nephew was one of the first to get on his horse and get ready, so while the rest of us were saddling up, his horse got a little restless and started wandering. I snapped this pic and he just looks like a total city slicker trying to ride a horse. Makes me laugh.

That's me on the ride, also looking very city-slickerish.

The ride took us by this awesome abandoned cabin which the cows took over.

And through cool, sagebrush-covered hills. Good times.

When we got back from the trail ride, they had just started archery lessons. I didn't get any pictures of it, but I did shoot a few arrows and then headed back to the lodge to relieve Mr. Frisby of Stella duty. They were just getting the pony rides started for the little kids, so I was super excited for Stella to be able to do it. I put her up on the horse when it was her turn and she was so excited that she had trouble remembering to hold on as the horse walked around.

Stella absolutely loved the horsey rides. Here she is protesting loudly when I tried to take her off the horse at the end. She wouldn't get off and insisted on another ride. Fortunately, nobody was waiting for a turn, so she got to go again.

I think the horsey rides may have been the highlight for her. After that first ride, every time she saw a horse (which was often since we were at a dude ranch), she would scream, "Horsey! Horsey! Hop on, hop on!" It was pretty adorable.

After the horseback riding, it was time for a hayride through the sprawling town of Antimony.

Stella enjoyed it. After the hayride, we had dinner and then had the evening to do whatever we wanted. We opted to take over the lodge common room and play the Sign Game. It was a busy first day, but we were having lots of fun and the reunion was off to a great start.

The next day we were scheduled for lawn games in the morning. We played various games and hung out as a family. It was fun, but we were primarily shooting video, so no photos of the activities. The ranch did have a decent playground area with swings and a couple slides, so that was great for the little kids.

After the lawn games, they had another trail ride scheduled and more pony rides for the little kids. I ran around snapping photos of everything.

Stella made sure not to pass up another opportunity to ride the horsey.

After lunch, Stella went down for a much needed nap. I knew she would sleep a long time. Mr. Frisby was signed up for a trail ride after lunch and there were still spaces open. My mom graciously agreed to listen for Stella in case she woke up so I could join Mr. Frisby for the ride.

Hello cow.

Stella was still asleep when we got back from the ride. After the ride, they had us scheduled for tubing down the river. Upon hearing about this activity, neither Mr. Frisby nor myself were excited about it and had planned to just skip it. However, everyone else who had gone kept coming back saying how fun it was and that we really should go. My sister said that it was a blast and told us to go that afternoon since there was still space to go and said she would watch Stella for us. We agreed and hastily got ready to go. Stella woke up, so we grabbed everything she would need and left her with my sister. I have no pictures from the tubing since we didn't have cameras with us, but it was, indeed, a blast and we were glad everyone talked us into it.

After the tubing, we had dinner and then had time to take family pics after. I don't have one of our whole group since my brother was taking them, but we did have someone snap this one of us afterward.

That night they had a local band play some music in the lodge and they had line-dancing and whatnot. It was enjoyable and afterwards we took over the common room for the Sign Game again. So far we were having a blast, but the best was yet to come! Stay tuned for part two.