Last week I told you about the OUTLAW RIDE and how heartbroken I was that it had been cancelled… and that I had paid my money 6 months ago… and how this was going to be the adventure of a lifetime – and how now I was left with a broken dream and a non refundable ticket to Casper, Wyoming, a non refundable rental car and non refundable hotel rooms on both ends.
Ugh. I hate the phrase ‘non-refundable’ when I want a refund.
A WEEK WITH NOTHING TO DO
For six months I had held sacred this week that I had carved out of my calendar.
But now what?
I had thought about staying home and simply hanging with MT down at the hospital. Besides, MT has cashed in my piggy bank and I cannot really afford to go away anyway.
But, Hubby and Dr. E both thought that was a horrible idea.
Hubby insisted that MT would want me to go (?) and also stated that I was ‘not not going’. He said he would pay for whatever I needed (within reason) to make sure I went on this trip that I had been chatting about for months. He refused to hear of me not going somewhere.
Dr. E felt that whatever happened (good or bad), it wouldn’t happen in a week. (And, he probably didn’t really want me hanging in Tess’ stall for a week anyway…)
So, I started re-thinking my plans.
I had to find a Guest Ranch that was within reasonable driving distance from Casper (so I could use my airline ticket and rental car) that was all inclusive (food, cabin, horse) where I could transfer my Outlaw Ride deposit.
While googling phrases like ‘best Guest Ranch in Wyoming’, I found this page.
I could hear the angels singing. This page was THE HOLY GRAIL.
DETAIL AND SCRUTINY!
Guest Ranch hunting was a great diversion for me. I dug in and researched this as if this was my Masters Thesis in Guest Ranching.
It took me three days to carefully comb through each website with the critical eye and razor sharp detail of 007.
–size, type of riding, elevation, food, lodging, pricing, environment, extra activities, wireless, reviews, photos, videos, tack used, decorations in dining halls, history, occupancy, arrival and departure dates… you name it, I hawkeyed it.
I figured that this was my once-in-a-lifetime chance to have a great trip and I didn’t want to make the wrong decision.
So, I kinda agonized over it – in a good way.
I made lists and then I made new lists… I scrutinized photos…
How many kids? How are the riders riding? Do the horses look healthy? Are there scary cliffs? Would I eat that food? Do the cabins have porches? Is it too fancy? Too basic? Would I fit in there?
NO ONE RETURNED MY EMAILS…
I couldn’t make up my mind… there was something scary about picking a vacation destination via internet only.
I wanted to speak to someone who had been to any of these places.
…Couldn’t find anyone.
Then I asked the outfitter from Jackson Hole who was going to have rented a horse to me for the ill fated Outlaw Ride.
John the Outfitter didn’t really know any of those folks personally since he was an outfitter. But, he did say that Jackson Hole was the place to anchor my ship, so to speak.
After several more rounds of list making, I finally decided to email a few of my top choices.
Only one wrote back.
And, she said they rode nose to tail.
ONE SMART WOMAN CALLED ME…
During my second round of emails, on a whim, I wrote to the R Lazy S which seemed to have all the amenities that I wanted – but had a very meager website. Not many photos. It wasn’t a first choice because of the lack of photos.
However, it was rated really high with Trip Adviser. I kept seeing that name, R Lazy S, over and over again.
She didn’t email me back, she called me. Smart lady…
I CALLED HER BACK
I called her back, hesitantly. I wasn’t sure I would like the photoless R Lazy S Guest Ranch.
The voice on the end of the line, Cathy, was very warm.
Point: R Lazy S.
She asked about my goals for the vacation and I told her. I also was very forthcoming about their lack of photos and how I was trying to make this decision from an armchair.
Cathy immediately told me that they were upgrading their website. Her next words were:
80% guest return rate.
80%?! That’s pretty high.
Point: R Lazy S.
I asked about the nose to tail riding… and she said that they have to ride like that in the National Park (Yellowstone) but that there are plenty of rides that give more freedom. They match you up with a horse in the beginning of the week and you can choose the kind of rides you like and the destinations. Half day, twice a day, full day….
Point: R Lazy S.
ALL THE RIGHT THINGS
Cathy knew I wasn’t sold so she just kept talking… I caught phrases like “awesome, delicious, healthy food” and “the ranch is on the Snake River” and “the horses are fat and happy” and “boating on Jackson Lake” and “every person that will be here that week is a return guest” and “internet in your cabin but if it doesn’t work you can use the living room in the Office cottage – it looks out over the meadow” and “baby moose and elk, and “your sweet cabin in the woods” and “we’d love to have you – we’ll take care of you”.
PULEEZE DO YOU HAVE ANY MORE PHOTOS?
As she and I were chatting, I was furiously trying to find any photos from the R Lazy S. I googled it every which way.
Finally, on Trip Adviser, I found 30 photos that previous guests had taken.
They were good photos…
And then I asked her if she had a FB page.
“Oh Yes! It isn’t linked to our website. Just type in ‘R Lazy S'”.
Those photos on the FB page coupled with the Trip Adviser photos were the pictures I see in my head when I think about where I would live in my dreams.
The place looks like a dream to me.
So, on a hunch and gut feeling, I pulled the trigger.
R Lazy S, here I come!
HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!
So happy you are going to be able to go on this great vacation. Lord knows you deserve it. I can’t wait to read about your adventure. I planned a similar trip but it didn’t pan out so I will be living vicariously through you. Have fun Dawn.
WOW, R Lazy S looks fantastic! Can’t wait to hear all about it. I know you will be worried about MT but I think this is just what you need right now…
I know what you mean about researching dude ranches. I did that a couple years ago for our Venture Crew and it was a frustrating exercise. Please tell them they’ve gotta update the website and add the Facebook icon, as they’re missing business! You can tell them that they’re going to have more Page Likes now, thanks to you (I just did it). :-)
The TETONS?!!! You have been truly blessed! In my humble opinion, that area is the most beautiful, magnificent countryside on earth. The air is so clean, and the stars at night, well, you just have to see them to believe they’re real. I hope you get the perfect horse, and enjoy every single moment of every ride, and every bite of those sure-to-be-delicious meals, and every word of every conversation with your table mates. It sounds like a blissful dream come true! Good for you for going! Mama Tess is in very good hands, so no worries there. Your hubby is a real gem, so no worries on the homefront, either. I hope you have the trip of a lifetime! Can’t wait to see the photos :)
Your research and goals for this trip remind me of my similar adventure researching a Working Ranch Vacation back when I was 39, thinking that once I turned 40 I would be too old for my dream vacation. (HA, I am now 61 and have 5 horses of my own plus other equines and goats! Busy!!) It was in beautiful Kalispell Montana and it was the BEST VACATION of my life. I went alone and often rode 6 hours a day with wonderful people. Bliss! I hope your experience is as perfect as mine was. Good for You!
I took a mini daytrip in my head while enjoying today’s post. So glad you are going. I was enjoying myself so much I had to see more of the area so I did my favorite search thingy – Flickr. Searched for “R Lazy S” and got these shots – http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=%22R%20Lazy%20S%22&ss=2&ct=6&mt=photos&w=all&adv=1 Thanks for the fun!
YAY for you !!! I’m happy for you and know the feeling of anticipation. My Red Rock Ride is coming up on Sep 1st and I am so excited. Had my reservation for a year and a half and I get to share the once in a lifetime ride (for me) with my daughter and best friend. Hope you have a blast !!
OMG! The place looks like heaven!!! Have a wonderful time, you deserve it. Think of it as filling your glass up again so you can give MT a great big glass full of energy and hope when ou return. You have an amazing hubby.