Sunday at the ranch
I am so happy to be here! The ranch is absolutely beautiful. It sits right in the middle of the Rocky Mountains at an elevation of 9200 ft. Directly in front of the ranch is Longs Peak, standing majestically at 14000 ft.
Today is my first full day at the ranch and this is the day the new guests arrive. This morning, the staff all went to church together and then we came back, had some lunch, and began to prepare for the guests. When the guests arrive, we all ran out to greet them and then helped them unload their luggage. After the last of the last guests arrived, we ate dinner and then we all went up to the Upper Meadow for an evening devotion at the fire pit. The view from here was incredible. It looks over a big meadow with wild flowers and mountains beyond. We sang worship songs, had a devotional then made smores. Now, it's off to bed. Good night!
It is going to be a great week! I am astounded every day at the beauty of God's creation that surrounds me. Each day I see something new here. Today, I enjoyed watching the hummingbirds right outside the dining hall. There were six of them. We also have a lot of chipmunks on the ranch. And I have heard rumors of bears, but have yet to see any.
I am enjoying meeting lots of new people, both staff and guests. There are 26 girls in one side of the staff housing. Here's a picture of my new digs.
Today, the staff ate breakfast together, then had a time of sharing. Each morning a different staff member shares their testimony with the group, then we spend time praying for the families that are here on the ranch this week. Next, we all go to our assigned areas of work. My assigned area this week is Kids Club, which means looking after the young kids between the ages of newborn to 10 years old. At lunchtime, we all went up to the Upper Meadow again and had a cookout of hot dogs and hamburgers. Here are some pics from the cookout.
Then after lunch we all went down to the corals for "ranch olympics" such as wheel barrow racing, egg toss, etc. And tonight's activity is one of the highlights of the week....square dancing. Ye-ha!
It's a beautiful day today. Sunny and warm. Most of the guests either go horseback riding or golfing today so the staff spent the day chopping down trees and hauling logs. This evening I am serving in the dining hall which means setting the tables, serving, and then clean up. Tonights activity for the guests is sports night on the blacktop and then we have a devo by the fire. Here are some pictures of the ranch.
Today we had a kids rodeo for the guest's kids and then after lunch the guests either went horseback riding, white water rafting, fishing, or hiking for the afternoon. Tonight was a special night. We had 3 baptisms tonight :-) After the baptisms, we had a time of worship and praising God out by the pool. Our guest speaker at the ranch this week is a retired quarterback for the NFL, he used to play for the Chicago Bears.
I've never worked so hard in my whole life! I'm quickly learning there's a lot to do on a guest ranch. There's the kid's programs, and housekeeping, preparing and serving meals, mucking the corals, hauling logs and brush, trail maintenance, and that's just the behind the scenes stuff! But one of the nice things about this ranch is that the staff all pitches in and helps each other. So if we finish our assigned duties, we look for an area that we can help until all jobs are completed for that day. The staff is amazing...they give 150% each and every day and I am not even exagerating. They all have such big hearts to serve others. Every day I see the staff reaching out to the guests and taking the time to anticipate their needs. I see them interacting with the guests, getting to know them or sending a little encouragement their way, or just talking with them and laughing with them. Their love for God and eagerness to serve shines so brightly.
On Friday, we had a wrangler's breakfast. This was my favorite activity of the week. All of the guests take a horse ride down to the lower meadow by the lake. In the clearing, we have set up a good 'ol country breakfast of pancakes, biscuits and gravy, grits, bacon, eggs, hashbrowns, and coffee cake. The ranch director has a BIG skillet to make (and flip!) jumbo-size pancakes.
It's a beautiful setting with the sun streaming in between the trees and all the people standing around visiting with each other. It feels like we are all the best of friends and we're having a camp breakfast to start our day. After we eat, the ranch foreman recites (from memory) several cowboy poems. It's a great time.
Later that evening, we all come together for a time of sharing our experiences with each other our experiences that we had during the week. This is a meaningful time where the guests can share what they enjoyed most while at the ranch or what they will take away from their time here. It's a very uplifting time. After the sharing time, we have a video we show of the week's activities starring our guests.
gotta run....it's square dancing time....more to come later....
Today, the guests leave at noon and then we do "turnover" to get the cabins ready for next week's guests. After turnover, I went for a hike around Lily Lake and then went into town for dinner.
When I got back to the ranch, everyone was gone to dinner and so I was just walking around the ranch and I saw a black bear about 20 ft away from me. He looked a little startled and I was very startled, but then he layed down in the grass and just looked at me. I decided to get out of there, just in case, but then I saw him again later that night as I was walking to staff housing.
Some of the staff went to Rocky Mountain National Park this morning to drive along Trail Ridge, the highest paved road in North America. We saw some Elk duking it out...
We finally had some time off so we all decided to go camping and hiking in Leadville, Colorado. This is an old famous mining town. It has a really cool downtown area, but the best part is the mountains surrounding it. The scenery was incredible! We camped at 12,000 ft...yep, it was plenty cold....got down to below 30 degrees but it was worth it. Our campsite was high up on a mountain looking over Turquoise lake. During the day, I went down to the lake and hiked around it. The trailhead was at MaryQueen campsite.