Canada: Big Bar Dude Ranch 2008

Amazing horseriding in a spectacular setting.

🙂 Horses. Malcom – the steak!

🙁 Escaped horses! Malcom – the steak!

We were sad to leave the Knight Inlet as it had been truly magnificent. We were on Plane 2 and Pete was on Plane 1. When we landed Security rushed over as the’ had a story to tell us’…we were slightly worried! It transpired that our RV had had to be towed as it was in the way of a plane coming in to land! But it was all OK! We couldn’t find Pete anywhere – bless him, he was going to take a photo of us landing and hadn’t realised that we had actually landed 15mins before him! We headed off to Naimano Bay to get the 13h20 ferry but just missed it. We had lunch and took the 15h20 ferry instead. Huge ferry and lovely views. We headed onto Route 99 which had loads of roadworks, twists and turns and steep gradients – we were all quite carsick! We saw a black bear when we drove through Whistler. We continued along Highway 97, roughly following the route of the old Cariboo Gold Rush Trail. Semi-desert cedes to pine forests and the air feels a few degrees cooler. Outside the old wagon road town of Clinton, about an hour down a pot-holed dirt road flanked by quaking aspen and pastures full of dun-colored cattle is Big Bar Ranch where we arrived at 01h30 so we went straight to bed in the RV.

We were up early at 08h00 and headed into the ranch house where we were met with a stony silence and monosyllabic answers to our questions and that they only opened at 08h00 and asked us to leave and they locked the door behind us!! Needless to say, we were quite concerned as not a warm welcome at all… The door hadn’t been opened or unlocked by 08h35 so we knocked. Once again we were largely ignored until I asked whether they actually had a reservation for us at all….to which they responded that they were expecting 2 of us and not 6 of us. At that point about cowboy wranglers arrived and everyone completely ignored us and chatted to them. We awkwardly asked whether there was any breakfast available and this was thrown on the table and was awful. After half an hour the managers Pat and Charlie came over and told us that they were two wranglers short and that they expected rain so we’d be going to a different camp and there would also be a cabin for us as back up incase we got drenched. We were pretty relaxed. Originally we were supposed to have left straight after breakfast according to the notes in my booking ….however, she said that we’d have to leave after lunch as they had a riding lesson. I asked if we could do our washing in that time and she said that it would make her feel better and gave us the keys to the laundry. Se seemed more relaxed after this dialogue as there had been real tension in the air since we’d arrived and we had not felt at all welcome…i fact, had it not been in the middle of nowhere we would just have left. Everyone had showers and I did the laundry. Caitlyn played with kittens. Accessed the internet and found out that Aunty Haze had passed away and that Oupa Jacobs had left me some money in his will. Also e-mail from Loren to say that an old school friend had taken up stripping in the UK to make money!!! After lunch we headed off to the coral and were assigned our horses and given cowboy boots – very cool!

I had a beautiful feisty mare called Molly. Paul rode Shakemi, Trent on Henry, Charlotte on Buddy, Caitlyn on Sunny and Pete on Misty. Rolling pastures turning brown in the summer heat and dark pine forests stretch from the door to the distant mountains that mark the horizon. We enjoyed a three hour hack through the countryside and a canter before arriving at camp which included a corral and a hut to cook in. We got the fire going and enjoyed a beer. Charlie cooked us delicious T-Bone steak which Pat wouldn’t eat as it was her bullock called Malcolm who she had hand reared after his mom abandoned him! We enjoyed sitting around the fire having a chat. Trent made us laugh when he emulated Brokeback Mountain.

During the night there was quite a commotion and Pete snored like a steam train in the tent next door! It rained but the tent was warm and dry. We al woke up with a slight temperature and a chest cough so slept in. We had pancakes for breakfast. We discovered that the commotion was that the horses had broken through the fences and had galloped off! Candy was lacerated on face from the barbed wire. The three of us whose horses remained hopped on and went in search of the other horses. We found them down by the river and saddled up and enjoyed a further few hours riding. We got back and enjoyed a shower before saying farewell, They kindly gave us $795 refund as we had set off late and arrived back early. Caitlyn asked Paul to stop as she needed the loo – a big black bear ran across the road in front of us and into the woods!

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