Smokey, a Gelding, has smooth gaits, especially his trots. He can be a bit of a trickster with the wranglers; he enjoys pulling the radios off their belts and knocking off their hats. He is playful, but sweet and reliable with a compassionate temperament.
The sisters Belle and Button are said to be part unicorn, and Belle’s mane certainly suggests magic. Both are super sweet and gentle.
Sideburns is an excellent cow horse. He is mellow and athletic – meaning he is still responsive even at a fast pace, and he has good endurance. He is a favorite among the wranglers because his long back makes him a velvety ride.
Austin is strong and requires an experienced Western rider (no tight English reigns for this guy). Those that can match him find him to be a super, fun ride; he's surefooted.
Drifter is known for his creamy-smooth gaits. He even has a nice running-walk. Those that ride him compare the experience to gliding on water.
Jenni Darlow exudes strength and grace as she stands in a meadow that sweeps into distant peaks. It is a prime spot to enjoy “the view down the valley” – one of the things that keeps her coming back. This is her tenth season as an employee here at The Ranch, but she has actually been coming here since she was a nine-year-old girl – proud of her white, fringed boots. In fact, it was The Ranch that got her riding and keeps her riding. The “feel of the place,” her relationship with the Roberts’ family and other wranglers, and the connection she has with the horses keep her coming back to this valley. She teaches dance lessons, works with kids, and, of course, wrangles. The rest of the year she teaches math in Durango, so she knows this area. Standing in the meadow in her cowboy hat and pink-checkered shirt, Jenni is at ease; she is clearly home.
The community at Wilderness Trails Ranch is truly a rich one – with chefs, artists, a massage therapist, dogs, melodic birds – the list could go on. Of course, most visitors to our ranch are eager to meet our horses and wranglers, and they are a lovely crew. To this aim, each week from now until the end of July six horses and one wrangler will be featured here on our blog.
Rick and Red, our gentle giants, are Belgian Draft Horses. They have been with The Ranch for ten years and team up to provide our weekly hayrides. Being in their presence inspires awe, and the opportunity to benefit from their considerable strength and grace during the hayride is a highlight for many. They are also our resident stars as they have been featured in several movies.
Ember was born on The Ranch in 2002, the year of the fire – hence his name. Ember, a Morgan Quarter Horse, is super gentle and playful - ideal for beginning riders to help them build confidence and develop a deeper sense of joy while riding.
Tigger is a favorite among guests because he is highly responsive. He is a perfect fit for people with riding experience. Tigger was born on The Ranch and was Lance Robert’s private horse for many years. The evidence of his loving training is evident to those who ride him. He is a Quarter Appaloosa Horse and has half-brothers who also live with us here at The Ranch.
Lenita, a Paint Mare, requires a confident rider. For those looking to build a relationship that requires more attention, Lenita provides a more complex riding experience. She is appreciated by our wranglers because she calmly walks to and waits in her stall each morning. Lenita was born here at The Ranch and is known for her lasting love for Sideburns, another one of our horses.
Willa’s eyes will tell you how kind she is, and, indeed, this Percheron Quarter Horse mix is a favorite. She is highly responsive and enjoyed both by beginning riders looking to build confidence and experienced riders who want to enjoy a week of ease. Her strawberry-roan coloring is unique, and those that ride her may find themselves enchanted.
“I don’t remember learning to ride” smiles Kathryn Forynski as she watches the horses graze. An unsurprising comment considering that Kathryn’s mother first took her up into the saddle when she was only four-days old. Kathryn grew up riding Arabians in Bedfordshire, England where she was also an event rider in cross country, jumping, and dressage. She will tell you about it – with her customary reserved sweetness – if you ask. Kathryn has been with The Ranch since 2008, and she greatly enjoys the relaxed approach of Western riders. She respects the gentle power of horses, and the feeling of oneness that often arises while riding ties her heart to them even further. Part of what keeps Kathryn coming back is the trail riding; “There’s always something new to notice” she says. And she’s keeping her eyes open for elk shed because she wants a pair of antlers to paint pink and hang on her wall.
Air travel continues to be the best choice for most families who are vacationing at considerable distance from home. Safely inside the aircraft, in the air and seeing the miles clip past far below is a satisfying feeling of ease and efficiency.
This is the point when the grandparents or mom and dad can finally usually take a nice deep breath and savor the time, to have made it to the other side of the, “state of drill sergeant-organizer-leader” and feel the first moments of relaxation- one of the reasons and great feelings of finally being on vacation.
Before you can finally get to this moment, however, you will have passed through several sometimes daunting steps.
So how do you best survive the taxis, shuttles, transfers, airport site navigation and TSA moments on the ground leading up to this blissful moment?
Read on for some tips and advise on how to move like a pro to your destination. The ideas that follow are the result of countless airport experiences traveling with older relatives and small children.
Planning and Pre-Packing- the Strategy Begins
Step one begins long before the excitement of the alarm sounds that the day of travel has arrived.
A week before departure start with planning about how many and what types of clothes and other things you’ll need and of what type of specialized gear your particular trip may require. A short trip to the beach is very different than a weeklong dude ranch stay or ski vacation.
Make Checklists (and check and re-check)
Make a list for each member of the family or group and start to organize each person’s things and expectations.
Clearing out a designated packing zone in a spare bedroom, family room or other common area will help you to visualize what and how much will be traveling along with you. Once you have decided what clothes and footwear are appropriate, take some time to consider the other necessary items that everyone needs- ticket confirmations, numbers for your destination with addresses and contact names, specific medications, identification (passports?), iPad, iPod or book, camera, that special teddy or video game,...? Having made sure everything is counted and re-counted, you now have a good idea of each person’s belongings and how much space will be required.
This is where the planning starts to really pay off. Several days before the trip, go ahead and start to group or pre-pack the items you will want on the trip, but won’t need until arrival. These are things like clothes, shoes and trip specific gear (boots, hats, swim gear, or skis for instance). These are best set aside early so you don’t risk forgetting them in a last minute packing rush. These are also things you most likely will not need for a few days leading up to the trip and won’t need until arrival.
At this same time visit your air carriers website to confirm the baggage policies and become familiar with any changes that may have occurred from the last time you may have flown with regards to weight, size or other specific constraints, additional costs, etc.
Last Minute Shopping
Now may be the time for a trip to one of the big box or specialty stores near you.
If you don’t already pack with the clear plastic vacuum styled bags inside your luggage, now is the time to start. This is an absolute must for modern travel. You will automatically be able to pack more in a smaller bag, better identify what you have packed, see where it is at a glance, better protect your possessions from the now seemingly obligatory rifling of TSA, and give a certain amount of weather protection to your valuables when your luggage may not.
The vacuum bags can also be combined with the fold and compress style clothes holder solutions like those offered by Eagle Creek. Once at your destination they make the move from luggage to hotel- cabin- condo- lodge dresser or closet much easier as well (and after you have used up the contents of one or more of the bags they double as dirty clothes dividers to protect the remaining clean wardrobe and other things for the remainder of your trip.
Having pre-packed what you plan to be the checked-in baggage will give you a good gauge of whether you may need to prioritize some of the families wardrobe or other “must bring” choices. A good rule of thumb is to under pack- this leaves room to bring back the real “must have” keep sakes and lessons the risk of a stressed zipper or buckle breaking at the onset of your trip. Besides, saving a shopping spree for your vacation travel can be a lot more fun than another trip to your local shopping mall.
With the list of non-allowed carry-on items identified from the airline website, clearly pack these items into your checked baggage. If you have questionable items, do yourself a favor by bringing several unused (new) zippered plastic freezer type bags that you can quickly deploy for a switch at check-in time from carry-on to checked-in baggage. This technique can also aid in “balancing” out a too heavy bag and an under weight one to avoid a baggage overage- especially helpful if the trip includes sports gear or other heavy/ bulky items.
It is a good idea to rehearse what everyone will wear and carry-on the day of the flight. Gone are the days when air travel was a statement of fashion. Think ease of airport screeners first and foremost. What is easy with TSA will be easy and practical for the remaining hours and miles as well.
Everyone should have their own carry-on. Make it a game for the youngest to be attentive to their special bag and agree as a group that everyone keeps an eye on everyone else’s things. For the kids (especially the youngest) backpacks are the best as they keep arms and hands free and give the little ones a place for the special things that will make the trip more comfortable for them. Before the trip help them decide the things that are most important to take along (this may require some parental negotiation).
24 Hours Before the Flight
Call or login to confirm the flight and print confirmations and possible confirm seating assignments. Each airline has there own policies regarding when they assign seating. If a window, aisle, bulkhead or exit row is important to you, take the time to understand the best timing for these requests or inquire about possible airline membership offers and perks that help ensure these options.
This is also a good time to confirm other reservations and plans after you arrive at your destination. Call the hotel, dude ranch, resort or tour operator and confirm that they are expecting you, at what location and at what time. Remember time zone changes!
The Big Day- Travel Hour
You know that it takes exactly one hour to go from your neighborhood to the airport- so plan for it to take two hours... seriously. The number one way to have an easy day of travel is to plan that everything will take longer than it should. This technique has served us countless times--- plan for the unexpected delays and you won’t be delayed. By getting into this travel habit, you will most often be at the beginning of the lines, have the easier screenings, and be in a better negotiating position with airline employees on baggage, seating and other perks.
Before You Lock the Door Behind You
Decide before you ever leave the house who will be in charge of what details while traveling. Designate the most organized and “cool under pressure” person to be the holder of itineraries, tickets, boarding passes, passports or other identification. Think about dividing debit, credit cards and cash between two individuals to lesson the inconvenience of a misplaced wallet or cash. Consider carrying valuables in a front pocket or zippered interior compartment of a purse or carry-on.
With the lists checked and re-checked, everyone packed and readied, take time to stop and review that everything is in order in the home or space that you are departing. Lights, stoves, furnaces, computers, locked doors, watered plants, alarm set- the list for the care taker- with everything turned off and in order, it’s time to head out!
The last thing we do before walking out the door is count all the baggage- a great way to keep track of all the baggage is to have one (or more) of the younger kids be the “official” baggage counter. This is one less thing for the adults to have to continually monitor and is a good “job” creator of importance for the littler ones. After the checked baggage is sent down the conveyor belt, the game can adapt to counting and watching after the carry-on pieces. In truth this is a good habit for everyone who travels in a group or with multiple baggage- rather than try to remember the exact look or description of each piece of luggage, you can just remember the number. Another trick we use is to tie a small and discrete ribbon or affix the same colored tape to each bag in the group to help avoid the “multiple black roller bag game”, where you and another travel both reach for the same identical branded suitcase and have to resort to the name tag. With identity theft being a very real concern for many people, by using this strategy, you can eliminate all but the most pertinent ID info on your baggage.
Travel in Comfort without looking like you just left the gym
Being from Colorado we are naturally inclined to wear layered clothing and this approach can serve you well when traveling form one climate to often a very different one. Airplanes are rarely the right temperature for everyone in the group and having a light sweater, sweatshirt or light jacket can save on packed space and offer a more comfortable flight(s). Consider limiting jewelry, watches, belts and other metal accessories as they can really slow you down, especially at TSA screenings.
If you really can’t live without something consider shedding it just directly ahead of the TSA screening and placing it in a safe spot within your carry-on.
Long pants tend to be the most comfortable and multi-purpose. With the new barefoot (socks) TSA screening requirement it is also a really good idea to wear easy on and off shoes like loafers or other slip-on styles. Laces will just slow you and your fellow travelers down.
Navigating the “Crazed Maze” Called TSA Screening
Before charging into the first seemingly available TSA screener, group everyone up and get an impression of where the fast lane is and where the “we won’t bother the business travelers” lane might be. Seriously. Go ahead and accept that if it is two or three generations in your party trying to find your way to and through the scanners, the loafer wearing, iPhone scanning-roller bag business set is not going to enjoy being held up by the three year old who has chosen to unload part of the contents of his “Elmo and Friends” backpack right in front of him. My wife and I tend towards one of the shoulder, or outside “lanes” when we have the grandparents and kiddo in tow- sometimes a TSA official will already direct you to a good lane, but if not, be mindful of the pace difference that you may pose to the faster travelers.
If you are traveling with electronic devices plan on being asked to remove them from your carry-on and proving that they power on. Arrive with your electronic devices charged if possible to help “prove” the legitimacy of such devices if possible- again, this can save time and the headache of being asked to step aside to prove the camera is indeed, uh umm, a camera... However, it is a good idea to have all electronic devices powered down to standby or turned off completely before having them scanned- including certain cameras, phones, iPads and computers to avoid the possibility of any potential electronic damages. If you aren’t certain, why take the chance- power down and play it safe.
Keep in mind, with the new TSA regulations it can be very difficult to completely avoid checked-in baggage.
Some airlines are fairly flexible with gate checked items which can also save some hassle and time, but always check ahead of time to this possibility.
Don’t be bashful or embarrassed if you are seemingly holding up other travelers- you are to be commended for traveling with a family of little ones (or older) in tow. Here is another chance to make a stressful situation lighter by assigning one or more of the kids (or a grandparent) the task of being a traffic cop of sorts- have them offer scanner trays to other travelers and allow them to leap past your temporary line slowing or obstruction while you round up the half scattered contents of the “Elmo” pack and get all the shoes, carry-ons and other items organized and in trays... in a light hearted and friendly way, smile and wave others past you until your entire group is ready- this has helped my family diffuse many aggravated “concourse runner”. The sincere smile is disarming to others and you may even end up with a new recruit to help you get the last super hero rounded-up.
This next step is really important, especially when traveling abroad or in a very congested screening area. Send the first mature and responsible family or group member ahead of everyone else and BEFORE any of the trays have been sent into the scanner. This person is now the designated “catcher” and insures that everyone AND everything is accounted for. Send all the trays together- try to avoid gaps. The same rule applies to the group- keep everyone together and organized (remember the “bag counter” job?). In some places this technique is more than just an efficient scanner technique, it is a way to prevent theft and possibly being separated form each other.
Having “aced” the scanners, you are officially on the “other side” and are almost done.
The Departure Concourse and Gate
With everyone and everything counted and accounted for, give yourselves a collective high-five or the now cool “knuckles” (ask one of the teens if you don’t know already...).
Now it’s just routing yourself down the given concourse and thinking ahead to the smooth flight, the first morning in the Rockies or your toes in the sand.
Just a few more steps to the departure gate with time to spare. Now is a great time to call ahead to your receiving destination to confirm transfers and other reservations one last time and to call the house sitter, friends and family to touch base- maybe even after arriving at your gate you’ll have time for a family photo to send off to Google +, Facebook or a quick tweet or two on how easy organizing your trip, TSA and check-in was.
Now, as the airline captains are fond of saying, “please sit back, relax and enjoy the flight”.
Happy travels and happy trails- we can’t wait to see you on the other end, at the arrival gate and at the ranch!
Both Frontier and American Airlines just announced a fare deal that is more than fair.
Can you believe only $59 one way to/from Denver?
But of course there are restrictions and days of the week to travel, but call us and we'll help customize your trip. We can always add on the Best of the West or the WTR Overland to the Ranch Stay or customize your stay with the dates you have after booking a great fare.
Sounds too good to be true, we'll yes it is "kind of". You have to book by tomorrow...
Most fares are for early summer travel.
Now, here is the advice from someone who knows (most of the time)... me - Sandy. I have been enjoying the tourism industry with guests and clients from around the world for many, many years. If you come to the ranch I'll tell you how long...
This is the time of the year that we see the airlines waving a short lived "Super Special", then pull it, then post another with slightly different rules. Historically, the end of April and beginning of May is the best time to purchase your summer vacation tickets, but you have to be diligent in looking to find the best fares.
As you may have heard, Tuesday/Wednesday are the best days to search for the best fares, and you need to be flexible with your dates and if you see it, book it - it won't be there long.
As always if you need help or advise please call me.
We'll you may have read my other blog post about American Airlines. I had apprehensions about if they would continue their service to Durango this summer as in the past AA had cancelled the route.
After consulting with other Durango travel professionals and AA, I think American is going to be a great option for our friends in Texas and stay for most of the summer. We do have several guests already booked on the Dallas/Durango/Dallas non stop flight with perfect arrival and departure times for staying at the ranch.
One more thought. I don't get to write often - so when I do I like to jabber. Have you called the ranch lately to find out about booking a week in June - it's a special surprise - if you have kids!
This time of year the office is open from 9am to 5pm MST, Monday through Friday. Please if you get the anwering machine, leave us a message and we'll be sure and call you back. Call (800) 52-Ranch or (970) 247-0722. We do monitor the messages 7 days a week and will call you back even after "office" hours. Thank you!
See ya soon!
As many of you remember we collected suggestions to name our filly (baby girl horse).
She was such a cutie running around the front pasture, getting all the attention and hanging out with Pepper, Piper, Chica and her mom!
By the way to clarify a foal is a baby horse, a filly is a girl and a colt is a boy!
Anyway we had such a darn hard time trying to pick a name for this cutie! So, we came up with a plan!
We thought to ourselves, what can we do? Oh cool, we'll get our friends and guests involved!
We narrowed it down to "children's entries only" (our WTR kiddos) and then put them in a hat and pulled out 14 names.
Here is where we need your help. Now until November 30th, we would like for you to email, facebook or call with your vote on the name to choose from the list below. That name with the most votes will win and we will crown our little girl (now not so little) with her new name.
We will announce the name the foal on December 2nd, 2012!
Names pulled from the hat (Gene's hat of course!) are:
Cora Gaelic, Wild Flower, Chica, Raven, Moonbeam, Shadow, Pina (pronounced pine-a), Cocoa, Kitten, Sunshine, Lae-Lee, Maddie, Chloe and Dixie Doodle
So there you have it. Please email, fax, phone or facebook and let us know your vote!
Of course children are encouraged to participate in this event! So what shall her name be?