Still adjusting to the time zone, I woke up by 5:00 AM on our second day. I felt that was pretty early but was still beat by David who was up before that. Lucky for me he wandered down to the lodge and brought me back an earl grey tea to enjoy while I sorted through pictures from the previous day.
Everyone else was up by about 7:00 AM (ranch life!) and we headed down for breakfast. Breakfast is buffet style and offers something for everyone, from waffles to juevos rancheros.
After breakfast we walked across the main road to the stable. Our group was broken into two time slots, the first group of 5 riding at 9:00 AM and whoever wanted to ride in the second group, at 10:00 AM. After riding a horse at Lone Mountain Ranch, Hailey decided she isn’t a horse riding girl, so we began our day with a “care of horses” activity at 9:00 AM.
It was such a great fit for us! Kaitlyn loves horses and Hailey is intimidated, so having Wrangler Hailee guide us through how to care for a horse and brush a horse and saddle up a horse was fabulous. At the end of the activity we were in the corral and Kaitlyn got to ride, first led and then by herself on a horse named Otter. She was in heaven!
Being that we were in a safe place with a great guide and a horse on a lead, we pushed Hailey to get up on Otter, too. The session began with tears, but she did it and I was so proud of her for pushing back her fear and literally getting back on the horse!
When our group got back from their ride, Mema, Grandpa, David, Kaitlyn, and I headed out for our own trail ride. I’ll be honest, I’m a little intimidated by horses, too, but Grandpa gave me no choice and I appreciated it because the ride ended up being lovely! We crossed a few streams and took in the incredible views.
We worked up an appetite over the course of the morning and headed back up to the main lodge for lunch. Most of the crew got the bison burger, which looked amazing. I went with fried chicken and had a little order remorse, but still enjoyed my crispy sandwich and the super fresh and flavorful salad it came with.
After fueling up our crew headed out for our afternoon activity, 3D archery. The guides took us to an outdoor course where they showed us how to use compound bows and arrows. They even had bows that could be handled by Hailey and Kaitlyn, which they were super excited about. Hailey LOVED it and is now asking for a compound bow for her birthday.
After a few practice shots, we split into two groups and walked through the outdoor course, taking turns shooting our arrows at bison, turkeys, elk, and deer. While I had a ton of fun, archery is not my calling and despite how I tried to follow feedback, my arrows always soared right over the target. Still, it was a blast!
We returned to our villa dusty and hot, so we showered up and enjoyed a little downtime before deciding to go for a drive and search for some wildlife. We had hopes of finding the bison herd we had been told about, so we loaded up into David’s rental truck and took off.
As we headed north I saw a big shape next to the road and as we approached, we realized it was a bear! Apparently all the bears around here are black bears, but can have difference appearances. Our one bear ended up being TWO bears, one black and one that looked blonde, and they took off running towards the woods as we approached.
I snapped pictures as quickly as I could and just thought it was the coolest thing ever. We creeped forward a bit on the road and another truck was stopped and pointed out a couple of baby bears climbing a tree and their mama at the bottom. What a treat, to see 5 bears in a matter of minutes.
After our bear high, we headed on down the road in search of bison. We saw pronghorn deer and elk, then came upon the Castle Rock area and sure enough- a big ‘ol herd of bison awaited us. They were stretched out over the prairie, all the way up to the road we were driving on. It was incredible.
We arrived back to our cottage in time to shower and clean up for dinner. It was a buffet style dinner, which was great because we were all able to try a variety of meats, including antelope, bison, and elk. The consensus was that antelope was the sweetest, bison was the crowd favorite, and elk was good.
I know the kids don’t fully understand how special an experience like this is, but it was so neat to watch them get to try so many new flavors and compare them. What a culinary adventure!
We played some math dice back at the cottage before turning in for the night; I probably turned in at the same time as the kids; what can I say? The days wore me out in the best way!