Our last full day at the ranch! Check out our other days here:
- Antler hunting and trout fishing
- Hiking, rifle shooting, and geocaching
- Horseback riding and buffalo and bear sightings
- Food and disc golf
We were all adjusting to not being on east coast time anymore as we rolled into our last day, finally getting up and making it to breakfast around 8:00 AM. We fueled up then took off for Merrick Lake with our guides to take the short hike over to a new feature at Vermejo, the Via Ferrata.
I had only heard of one other Via Ferrata, the one day tried to convince me to do when we were in Telluride, but I was too nervous about the height. Fortunately Vermejo’s Via Ferrata is off the ground only about 25 feet at it’s max height. I could do that!
Hailey was also excited and Kaitlyn was nervous. However when we discovered Kaitlyn wasn’t quite big enough to partake, she cried fat alligator tears. You need to be close to 5′ tall to participate. I barely made the cut 😉 Luckily Goose bounced back quickly and had a blast climbing all over the giant rocks that made up the venue.
The rest of us took turns getting geared up- harnesses, helmets, and gloves. They walked us through a trial spot to teach us how to use the carabiners, how to lean back on our rope, and how to pull ourselves us.
After that we took on the course! The big kids completed it in about 20 minutes, but it can take anywhere from 20-45 minutes depending on your pace. Hailey impressed me with her determination. There were a few spots the guide offered her the ability to hop down, skip over, and go to the next portion of the course, but she refused and took on the challenge.
We got back in time for lunch, which was one of my favorite meals of the whole trip- a bison fajita buffet. It all was excellent and I will dream of that guacamole for a long time to come.
I mentioned how friendly the chef is, but during one of our conversations he mentioned if we wanted a tour of the greenhouse at any point, to just let him know. Well are you kidding me? I absolutely would love a tour of the greenhouse! After lunch he took David, Hailey, Kaitlyn, Mema, and me on a private tour of th greenhouse neighboring the main lodge.
It was so inspiring to me to learn about their organic practices and how everything within the greenhouse was edible from the beautiful flowers to the leafy greens of the carrots and how he utilizes them in dishes. Chive blossoms are something I’m going to look into growing because they are beautiful and hearty (maybe I won’t kill them with my black thumb).
We thanked him profusely for the look around and finished just in time to hop on another tour, one of Casa Grande, the large villa next to the main lodge. It’s history of the Bartlett family, to the Penzoil family, to Ted Turner and Jane Fonda was fascinating and the home was grand and gorgeous.
After the tour, David took some of the crew to hunt for more antlers while I joined Mema and Kaitlyn for some front porch sitting. We played Five Crowns and Kaitlyn talked us into a little charades. Soon enough it was time to get dressed from family pictures.
Mema’s big thing for family gatherings is coordinated pictures. Before the trip she procured embroidered shirts for our whole group. It turned out to be so cute for pictures. We spent some time walking around the front of the main lodge snapping pictures and the lighting was great. I have no doubt Mema got a good one for the Christmas card!
The family picture really shows off how tall my nephews are, doesn’t it? Or perhaps how short I am? I’m dragging down the family average!
From pictures we went to dinner where Kaitlyn really lived it up and ordered the bison for her last dinner. I went with the bison, too. How they could perfectly cook so many steak orders, I’ll never know, but I’m sure glad they could.
After dinner we had a game drive. We were excited to look for animals as the sun went down and split our group between three ATVs. We took off at sunset and had some incredible views from the mountain top. Once the sun went down it got pretty darn cold and the girls and I snuggled up under the provided blankets. Thank goodness for those!
It was funny to me how time at the ranch simultaneously passed in a relaxed and easy fashion, and also the days flew by. I see that as a sign of a great getaway though; I felt truly disconnected (perhaps the no cell phone service helped that) and refreshed.