Thursday, July 05, 2007

Ranchers for a week

The Johnson family is about as suburban as we would like to admit, but that is why dude ranches exist. Last week we spent about the best week of vacation anyone could have while suffering two broken bones and a concussion.

The ranch,, is an incredible ranch with great scenery, wonderful staff and enjoyable horses. Prior to our week, Elie and Moriah were the most experience riders in the family having both taken riding lessons for a period of time. I have participated on on overnight men's trip, but didn't know much about riding a horse. Stef hadn't had much experience on a horse, but, all in all, we found that our lack of experience didn't keep the Johnsons from enjoying the ranch experience. The wranglers where great teachers and the other activities and food made the week a wonderfully restful vacation for all of us.

Beyond the typical rides, learning to throw a lasso and crack a whip, and the extremely tasty food, my favorite part of Latigo Ranch was the people. I was alway cheered by the kitchen staff and their smiling faces. I enjoyed chatting with the cowboy type wranglers who led the trail rides. But the most memorable individuals where the owners, Jim and Kathie Yost and Randy and Lisa George. Particularly, I spent a good amount of time talking with Jim Yost, who, with Kathie, lived 10 years as a missionary in Ecuador. Jim Yost was the first man to spend a night in a Waorani tribe village. The Waorani Indian were a violent tribe that were made known to Americans through the story of Jim and Elizabeth Elliot and the movie The End of the Spear.

Jim, now a full-time rancher and part-time anthropologist, looks every bit the part of a cowboy. He told stories like a cowboy, with a straight face and dry humor. His understanding of people was amazing and I'm hoping to use much of a conversation that he had with Stef and I in development of my Successful Parenting seminars that I'm working on.

While Jim is a cowboy, he's also a very loving and sensitive man. This was evident as we experienced some of the harder events that a dude ranch may produce. I'll write more about the experience in my next entry, but, briefly, I'll say that Elie was thrown from her horse and suffered two broken arms and a minor concussion. Elie is in good shape now, and recovering, but the event disturbed Jim visibly. Elie's fall was scary, but the reaction of Jim and the response of his staff helped our family to continue to enjoy the week, even calling it the best vacation of our lives.