Spring 2020 changed our world. For most of us, things came to a standstill. We found ourselves homebound, reflecting, anxious, and at times, very scared. However, Western Dude Ranches have long survived pandemics, world wars, depressions and recessions, drought, fire, flood, and nearly everything else Mother Nature has presented. COVID-19 is no different. Let the brand and mantra of the Old West bring comfort and peace during this time.
Wide open spaces have long lured people to explore and reset their mental state. Western Dude Ranching is rooted in vast, enormous acreage where cowboys and herds can roam for days. From raging rivers to meandering streams, the sound and smells of fresh water loaded with local trout would ease the cowboys to bed. Horse hooves and chewing, birdsong, forest and cacti echoes would awake the gents and draw them outside before the ride and roundup.
Not one iota of this lifestyle has changed. From generation to generation, challenge to challenge and success to success, the western lifestyle, and purpose, lives and rides on. Why? The essential ritual to unplug and recharge has never left humanity and constantly reminds us of the privilege to explore the authentic Western ranch experience.
The Coronavirus differs from many historical challenges. It asks people to stay away from one another, this is not human nature, we are a group species and tend to flourish and thrive when in a community. This pandemic is causing us to isolate—no family trail rides, no chuckwagon BBQs, no evening bonfire with guitar, dance or Western swing, and certainly no group hikes to spectacular spaces.
Western dude and guest ranches from Canada, Montana, Wyoming, Arizona, Colorado and Idaho oblige by the herd mentality for both human and animal. They will allow families, vacationers and outdoor enthusiasts to once again reunite in remote locales to enjoy company, campfire, community and cuisine.
What has stood for a century, will be able to withstand another century’s worth of turmoil and uncertain times. The largest fire in Colorado history changed the landscape of Lost Valley Ranch for generations to come, but the ranch still operates to day. Even though the Hayman fire had a devastating impact on the ranch and surrounding areas The Lost Valley Ranch responded by saying “but from the ashes came new life”! and how true that statement is.
Snow has fallen on the Saguaro cacti in bloom, temperatures have soared into the nineties in British Columbia and floods washed away cabins and lodges in the Rocky Mountains; nonetheless, the cacti lived on, the cabins were rebuilt, and a swimming pool might have been added to cool off in those rare, hot Canadian summers. Ice and hail storms, World War II and summers where nothing could be harvested, that never wavered the love and commitment of Paradise Guest Ranch from opening their cabins and lodge year after year. Family owned and operated Paradise has always relied on spirit, faith, the herd and home to weather even the worst of times.
How do we proceed in historically unimaginable times? Rely on Gene Autry’s Code of the Cowboy. Fore, it humbled and honed many generations of cowboys and will certainly provide the needed guidance and reliability in this un-chartable beginning to the new decade.
The Cowboy must never shoot first, hit a smaller man, or take unfair advantage. While ranchers and staff might be healthy and isolated, they will follow all rules legally acceptable to ensure there is no unfair advantage to urban or rural respites.
He must never go back on his word, or a trust confided in him. Guest and dude ranches will do their part to be honest and forthright in identifying ill.
He must always tell the truth. All healthy and ill will isolate and quarantine.
He must be gentle with children, the elderly, and animals. To stay home on the range or ranch is to ensure compassion and kindness to all.
He must not advocate or possess racially or religiously intolerant ideas. All for one, one for all. Each baby, child, adult and elder is just as important, essential, and irreplaceable as the next individual.
He must help people in distress. Ranchers will donate essential items when available.
He must be a good worker. The herd of horse and / or cattle will still be tended to and the gardens watered and watched.
He must keep himself clean in thought, speech, action, and personal habits. Stay calm and carry on. Showers might be a bit sparser, but the mental and physical language of love and peace will always be polished and showcased.
He must respect women, parents, and his nation’s laws. STAY HOME . . . for everyone until it is safe.
The Cowboy is a patriot. Root for society, culture and faith.
A century worth of experience teaches us, the ride will go on, so Thank you, to ALL Dude Ranchers for helping to keep this great Western Way of Life alive and well, even during trying times such as these. I know all Dude and Guest Ranches cannot wait to re-open their doors and the let the rodeo and rides commence!! We will be here when you are ready!! God Bless America..
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