Telluride, Colorado

[Note: both of the people in this story are named Sara(h). It’s only confusing if you read it aloud. Also, this is part 3 of a series. For part 1, click here and for part 2, click here.]

OMG this dude ranch is amazing but not at all what we expected.

But first: Telluride is our new favorite place. Its charm is largely due to the fact it has retained much of the town’s original architecture. In fact, Telluride was what I expected the ghost town to look like. Without all the people, of course.

The Victorian Inn had a less extensive breakfast than our Snowmass hotel, but they did have the pancake conveyor belt. Seriously, I want one of these. They are magic.

The desk clerk recommended we check out Bridal Veil Falls, which the map claimed was 1.5 miles from the edge of town. Ten minutes into the drive up bumpy narrow switchbacks, I told Sara I was glad we decided to drive. 1.5 miles as the crow flies, maybe.

Bridal Veil Falls is the longest free-falling waterfall in Colorado, and the view is worth the drive. 4WD recommended. As we got closer, what looked like a quaint B-and-B appeared at the top of the falls.

“How romantic would it be to spend your honeymoon on the top of Bridal Veil Falls?” I said.

Power plant, Bridal Veil Falls

Nope. Turns out it’s a power plant.

I made Sara drive the last leg of the way up and the whole way down because I was afraid we’d go off the road (instead of just off-roading) and because she once won an award for driving.

Unfortunately, she did not win an award for “don’t pick up hitchhikers” because that is exactly what she did as we exited the falls.

“Oh look, he needs help. Should I give him a ride?” she asked me.

“No,” I said. “Definitely not.”

“Are you having car trouble?” she said, ignoring me and pulling over next to a man standing with his thumb out next to a minivan on the side of the road.

“Nope,” he said. “Just have a bad knee.” Uh-huh. And a hunting knife I will use to stab you.

“Well, c’mon in,” she said. I felt better about the situation when I saw a woman on the other side of the road wave to him as if she knew him, and we only took him as far as the center of town.

We made it to the dude ranch in time for lunch before our first excursion: whitewater rafting. It was cold and rainy, so we debated whether to go.

“We’re going to get wet anyway,” I said. So we went.

We were the only two people from the whole ranch to go.

Well, aside from the awkward man who drove us to the rafting site. First we had a 45-minute drive up steep inclines in a minivan, while it rained first hard, then harder. The brake light came on and off; the check engine light came on and stayed on. The man said nothing. Something in the dashboard dinged several times. I was convinced we were being driven to our doom.

“Hey, Maryland!” I said, as we passed a small RV with Maryland plates. Finally. “I feel like that’s a good sign.”

And it was. The rain stopped, the sun came out, and it actually got warm. Even though we were on the same river that just experienced an EPA spill a couple of weeks ago, the trip was actually fun. And, neither of us has grown a third eye. Yet.

Whitewater Rafting in an EPA Spill River

Because there were only two of us, instead of rafting in one large raft, we donned wetsuits and took individual inflatable kayaks called “duckies.” Do not let the name fool you. They are no joke. You basically are responsible for all your own momentum and if you end up wedged against a rock (or between two) it’s up to you to get moving again. This became especially apparent when I was stuck, first on one rock, then another, then between two in short succession, and our guide had continued down the river and around a bend. I became very familiar with the wiggle-to-unwedge maneuver and the unique sqwerk of wet rubber against rock.

1400 008

After we got back, we took a small tour of the ranch, mainly the petting zoo. We had been told multiple times that the alpaca, Mason, was friendly, but he didn’t seem keen on being petted, and he had huge teeth that I wasn’t too keen on putting my hands near.

Mason the Alpaca

Sara, ever the animal enthusiast, was determined to get him to like her, though, and he seemed to come in to nuzzle her chest, when all of a sudden, he darted forward and nipped her…well, nips. And then chewed on her shirt.

“I can’t believe I just got motorboated by an alpaca,” she said.

“I can,” I said. “Maybe by ‘friendly’ they meant ‘fresh.’”

We made it over to the cocktail hour at the owner’s house before dinner (with sheet cake!), followed by a “majestic event” consisting of driving an ATV around hula hoops, throwing horse shoes, shooting arrows, five ping-pong volleys, four foul shots, and ringing the dinner bell. It was a timed event. With a talent portion. And teams.

Our team did awesome; we beat the kids’ team by 1 second, but the lone grown-up they had really shone. “Dad” chucked the basketball straight at the wall instead of the hoop, then, in a spectacular display of “America’s Funniest Home Videos” athleticism after he made his second shot, hurtled the ball as hard as possible at his own son’s head.

No one understands what he was trying to do. Was he attempting to pass? Was it a celebration spike, like in football? It looked like a dodgeball beaning at close range, and he knocked his son’s glasses off. To his credit he did get style points for that, though.

And the son bounced back, because, for the talent portion, he sang “Danny Boy.” A cappella. Sara had to study the schedule very hard to keep from weeping laughing from the awkwardness.

After that, Robert and The Ranch Hands (great band name) lead us in the Cupid Shuffle. It’s like being on the Western version of Dirty Dancing. Tomorrow, we meet our horses. And possibly skeet shooting. Or archery. So many dude ranch activities!

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