Since I last updated these pages, I've been up and down some new and interesting trails. It began last June, when, after turning in my final grades for my English classes at Analy High School in Sebastopol, I loaded up the trusty Red Ranger (after replacing the transmission!) with saddle and flyfishing gear, gee-tars and mando, and as many hats and boots as I could cram in, then headed east.
Two days of hard driving later, I pulled into The Home Ranch located twenty miles north of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Tucked up into the northwest corner of the state just west of the Continental Divide, Steamboat is not only a hip and happening ski resort, but also great summertime destination dappled with guest ranches and some of the prettiest country this side of the Sierras. Though hired primarily as the flyfishing instructor, I spent a goodly amount of time wrangling as well, or, as they say, ďat the barn.Ē It was a treat to work again with good horses and ride that beautiful country. The Home Ranch sits in the heart of the Elk River valley, surrounded by hills blanketed with aspens. To watch them over the course of the months turn from green to gold and orange was a great treat.
As the waters gradually receded and slowed, the fishing got better...and better. 15-20" rainbow trout were often the order of the day. Simply put, the fishing was the best I had ever experienced, and it was a pleasure to share it with the guests. What a treat to get to fish a river to the extent where you not only get to know each run, but sometimes even the individual fish who lurk there.
The third "hat" that I wore at the ranch was that of a cowboy entertainer. Each Tuesday after dinner, I'd spin my songs and poems and tales of the West. After being in a western swing band for the last couple of years, it was interesting to go back to flying solo. I enjoy doing both. While playing with fine musicians like the Bunkhouse Boys is always a treat, being a lone gun gives me chance to chat and joke with the audiences and be more an entertainer.
People ask what made me go from teaching high school to working on a dude ranch. For certain, ever since my days at the Mammoth Lakes Pack Outfit back the 1970s and 80s, I've thought about working once again in the out of doors. And while teaching school was interesting and intense and a great challenge, I was ready for a change. Lucky for me, my fishing, riding, and musical skills fit nicely into the dude ranch world. So I went for it.
Between the staff and guests and locals, I made a raft of new friends too numerous to name. Our hours were often long and hard, but the horses and fish and country and people certainly made it all worth it. And as I always reminded myself, getting paid to fish, ride, and play music ainít bad.
here to join the journey as I head out for points east...
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