The hardest thing on earth is choosing what matters. – LM

What a proper quote to start this post! I will now relay how I chose the ranch I’m doing my cattle drive on. That quote is also from Larry McMurtry’s fantastic Lonesome Dove novel, much of which takes place on a cattle drive. It’s actually that movie that made my dad and me want to eventually do a drive. Everyone keeps referencing City Slickers, screw you guys and screw Billy Crystal. I’m going to turn into the stoic rascal Robert Duvall. Anyway this was a hard decision and took a lot of careful consideration from airport transfers to sleeping arrangements.

Image result for lonesome dove quote

I mentioned two posts ago that I’m treating myself to a cattle drive for my 40th birthday! In fact I plan to try one adventurous thing a month for my 40th year. What will count as adventurous? Whatever I want, it’s my life and blog. From October 19th through Halloween, I will be driving 1,000 head of cattle over 75 miles through Wyoming. I believe that certainly counts as adventurous. How adventurous I wanted to go was the question. I evaluated 5 ranches and here was how the decision was made.

New Haven Ranch

Pros
  • In Wyoming, so can cross that off “states I’ve slept in” list
  • Rustic website shows horses’ pictures and bios
  • Possibility for side trips to rodeos or country dances and lake activities
  • Limit of 10 guests, 8 at a time average
  • Could stay one extra night near the airport and knock South Dakota off “states I’ve slept in list.” Could rent a car and go to Deadwood for a few days.
Cons
  • Private bedroom/bathroom and hot tub on site sound great but takes away from the atmosphere of the trip
  • If other guests choose to do side trips to rodeos and dances does that mean everyone has to give up riding for the day?
  • Wifi availability takes away from the feel and adventure
  • Not really a drive, more just ranch work

Dryhead Ranch

Pros
  • In Wyoming, can cross that off “states I’ve slept in” list
  • Accommodations are rustic
  • Limit of 10 guests, usually fills each trip
  • Iris wanted to know me via phone call and there is an application to stay. I like that they’re actually picky about guests. She also evaluated my riding history.
Cons
  • All reviews say this is a religious family and that you have to pray at dinner each night. I’m not against religion or prayer but some people made it sound fundamentalist cult like. Talking to Iris didn’t kill my suspicions.
  • The family has children that are very active in the rides. One guest said they were a bit bothersome and threatened to tell their parents the guest was mean to them if they didn’t get their way. I’m not big on children.
  • Need to clean dishes and linens when you leave. Not a deal breaker but not something I really want to do in someone’s kitchen. People can be picky about how they like things done and I don’t feel like being reprimanded on chores.
  • Apparently lots of up-charges for rentals and purchases once you arrive
  • Not exactly a drive, more ranch work

Two Creek Ranch

Pros
  • In Wyoming, can cross that off “states I’ve slept in” list
  • Camping several nights will make it much more authentic
  • Bunk houses for other nights still giving an authentic feel
  • Traditional drive moving the cattle 75 miles
  • Limit of 10 guests, usually fills each trip
  • 8-10 hours in the saddle a day
Cons
  • Late October camping in WY could suck. Good chance for snow and sub-zero temps. The contact said it could be an Indian summer with temps in the low 60’s or a flat out blizzard. I could die.
  • Need to bring a lot of own supplies including -20 degree rated sleeping bag which is expensive
  • It leads up to Halloween which means for the first time in 10 years I won’t be able to watch a horror movie a night in October.

Moore Longhorn Ranch

Pros
  • In Kansas, can cross that off “states I’ve slept in” list
  • Traditional drive, authentic
  • Covered wagon on the trip!
  • Sleep under the stars or in a teepee!
  • Limit of 10 guests
  • Might be cheaper to take 2 days to drive out, 2 days to drive back. So maybe sleep in Missouri on the way?
  • Possible target shooting on the range
  • “Guests are free to ride out on the prairie and ride freely–– trot, lope, canter or gallop as necessary.”
Cons
  • No airport transfer and it’s in the middle of nowhere. Would need to rent a car that would then sit at the ranch for a week or pay a really expensive Uber fee
  • Most expensive even without the difficulty of getting there

McGarry Ranch

Pros
  • Monday start but can arrive a day early at no costs, extra riding!
  • Limited to 10 guests per week
  • Return rate of 75% guests
Cons
  • Already slept in Idaho
  • Looks like private rooms and restrooms. I kind of want a bunk house or camping for authenticity
  • Not a traditional drive, more ranch work

First to be eliminated were Two Creek and Dry Head. Dry Head staff just kind of sounded a bit creepy. I watch way too many horror movies that involve farm/hill folk with extreme religious beliefs and tendencies. I’m sure these are nice people but do I want to risk paying that much money and not enjoying the people?

I crossed off Two Creek as being too hardcore for me. Can I camp out in a blizzard? I’ve spent 6 hours in a saddle once and it was tiring. Could I do 8-10 hours for 10 straight days? I’d like to be as tough as Duvall or Eastwood, but I’m not.

Image result for city slickers

Next were New Haven and McGarry. Neither was a traditional drive. I was worried I’d get there and spend all my time riding out to fix fences. Not that it wouldn’t be an adventure working on a ranch like that, it’s just not what I want from the experience. So that left Moore Longhorn Ranch! That’s where I was going except…

Moore Longhorn is the most expensive and would be the most difficult to get to. I could cut some costs and budget for it but out of nowhere my mom said “You’re being a wimp. Do the real one where you sleep in the mountains and drive a full herd. If you don’t come back sore and/or hurt you did it wrong.” I’m paraphrasing  although I think she did actually call me a wuss or wimp. Dr. Jen actually agreed and told me she didn’t want to say it but the entire time I was crossing ranches off she was thinking that I should do the tough, legit one. So one of the first to be crossed off the list now has me on their schedule.

I fly out at 6am in exactly 6 months to potentially freeze to death or be mauled by a wild beast in Wyoming while sleeping in my new, expensive, warm sleeping bag! To further quote Lonesome Dove, “It ain’t dying I’m talking about, it’s living. I doubt it matters where you die, but it matters where you live.” Or here’s one from City Slickers if you’d rather: “If you’re going to kill me, get on with it. If not…shut the hell up…I’m on vacation.”

May 28th I turn 40. Be prepared for posts on my monthly adventurous activities!

 

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