Hi everyone! I’ve had many requests to write our blog over the years. Unfortunately time always seemed to get away from me and I never got around to sitting down and doing it. Well, 2011 is the year I am making a commitment to do just that! I know Jodi has done a great job of keeping everyone informed of the latest happenings but I decided it was about time I took over that task, especially since I do love to write. What better way to utilize one of my God given talents! Our guests are always wondering what is happening at the ranch so here is my chance to fill you in on the latest news. Hopefully you will be visiting our ranch soon and you can be part of my monthly blogs too!
We have been blessed to celebrate our 10th anniversary of Stagecoach Trails Guest Ranch being in business. We opened our doors in December 2000 and none of us can believe that 10 years has gone by already! Other than a few gray hairs and some more wrinkles, I don’t think I look any different (although Dan and the kids may beg to differ!). Craig gave us a beautiful plaque for Christmas commemorating this special anniversary and it hangs proudly in our lodge now. God has really blessed my family and we are so thankful that He has allowed us to have this very special place. It’s hard to believe 10 years have passed by already! It has been fun to watch the trees and cacti grow as well as our family. We now have 3 grandgirls to brag about and we couldn’t be more proud of our children and grandchildren. A very special thanks goes out to Jeremy, Jodi, Vicki and Tony for all their hard work. We wouldn’t be able to run this special place without them. And a big thanks also goes out to all of our wonderful guests who have been coming to our ranch all these years. We have met so many incredible people from all over the world and we appreciate every one of you. Thanks so much for being part of our ranch family. There are so many of you who I’d love to mention right now but I’ll save that for my monthly blogs and your return visits. We look forward to seeing many of you again in 2011 and we hope to have our ranch family grow even more!
As you know, Tony, Vicki and their adorable daughter Raygen (who is now 11 months old and walking already!) live and work at the ranch. Tony does all of our fabulous cooking. He’s the reason we don’t have any scales at the ranch so don’t plan on losing any weight while you are here! Tony also has become quite the photographer and is always taking beautiful pictures of the scenery and guests. Look for some for sale in our gift shop soon. Vicki creates the delicious desserts (I also love to whip up some of my own recipes) along with many other things that keep the ranch running smoothly. Amy loves to help Tony and Vicki in the kitchen and “babysit” Raygen. We always know Raygen is getting into mischief when we hear Amy cracking up. That means we better go running to find out what Raygen has gotten into that Amy thinks is so funny!
Jesse and Craig are our current wranglers. Craig has been with us for many years now and we are so thankful to have him here taking care of our horses and guests. Thanks to Craig our horses are healthy and in great shape. He’s always good for laughs on the trails and he sings pretty well too. Jesse has been with us off and on for the past few years now and we love having him here for the 2011 season. So do the guests! Carolyn, my dear friend from
California (I call her my soul sister) is here for 6 months helping out and often takes our guests out on rides as well. She also does a whole lot of other things around the ranch and I am so thankful she is part of our ranch family for awhile. Katie worked for us this fall but has gone back to California to work closer to home. We wish her all the best. For those of you fortunate enough to know Dwayne, he will be arriving in early March to work as a wrangler too. We can’t wait to have him back here!
We had a wonderful Thanksgiving, with Hannah (who is in a wheelchair) and her parents, Karen Holub and the Livtacks (who are also returning guests) along with many new faces. It was a great time to reflect on how blessed we are all that despite the tough economic times, God has continued to bless our ranch. And Hannah enjoyed harassing Craig daily!
Christmas and New Year’s is always a special time. Jeremy, Jodi, Sophie and Aubrey were able to join us so the holidays were extra special for me as I was able to have all my grandgirls together. Although Jeremy, Jodi and the girls live in Wisconsin now, Jodi continues to be our reservationist and also takes care of all of our accounting. She does a great job at both and it allows her to be at home with Sophie and Aubrey. Jeremy still handles our website while pursuing his real estate career (which is going quite well despite the slow housing market thankfully). Sophie just loves horses much to Grandma Carrie’s delight and she rode her favorite horse Banjo twice a day. We even got Aubrey (who was only 10 weeks old at the time) on Banjo. Of course Grandma Carrie was holding her! Raygen also joined in on a couple of rides. Unfortunately, it was unseasonably cold while they were here so as much as Sophie wanted to go out on the real trails we had to settle for the perimeter of the ranch. If given the choice, I think Sophie would have ridden all day! Several weeks ago she even asked me for a lasso! That’s my cowgirl in the making!
We were quieter than normal on Christmas Eve but it was still special with Sophie and little Jesse smacking the piñata around till it fell to the ground and they could gather up all the goodies. Thanks Dad Jesse and Mom Jill for bringing little Jesse back again to celebrate Christmas with your ranch family. We were also very happy Joann could be with us again. Sadly Beryl and Collin from England were stranded there due to a rare snowstorm and could not be with us for Christmas. We really missed them but they hope to come in April. New Year’s was very busy and so much fun as we were joined by many of our returning guests as well as new ones. We loved having the Less and Meade families back again to help us bring in the New Year. Thanks to Tony, Jeremy and Jesse, we enjoyed our yearly fireworks display (which always rival the big ones on July 4th!).
We also celebrated Sophie’s 3rd birthday since they couldn’t be here on her actual birthday which was January 10th. It’s hard to believe Raygen will be 1 years old on February 10th. Where has all the time gone? Raygen is such a delight as she always has a smile on her face and can light up any room she is in. Now that she’s walking, she gets into everything much to Tony and Vicki’s dismay. I told Vicki its payback time for all the grief she caused
me when she was little! Now I can sit back and watch Raygen do the same with her! Little Aubrey is now smiling and cooing and starting to show her own special personality. Before I know it she’ll be running around getting into everything too! I will say this; I never knew how much love my heart could hold until I became a Grandma. Papa Dan just loves being grandpa too. He is determined to have all his grandgirls learn how to plant, build, use a shovel and later run the backhoe! They’ll all know how to shop, cook, clean, remodel a bathroom or plant a tree when they grow up!
January 3rd brought a very special group to the ranch. Mill Springs Academy from Atlanta, GA has been coming to the ranch for years and the two weeks they are here are 2 of my very favorites. The chaperones (Kay, Jan, Carol, Mateo and Jay) are crazy fun and the kids are just awesome. The women love to harass Craig and this year was no exception. I was very blessed to have Peggy (who I have been friends with for 47 years now, something I probably shouldn’t have admitted because that makes us both sound so old!) and her husband Ed here from Wisconsin to help out too along with Carolyn. Janina (a former guest who now comes to help out occasionally) was also here to help out for part of the time. The gang enjoyed many fabulous rides, lots of fun on the karaoke machine, many western movie nights, day trips to Oatman (where we got to ride a real stagecoach!) and Grand Canyon West and they go to enjoy our cowboy singers (Bobby, Karen, Mo and Judy) too. The highlight was our overnight trip to Monument Valley. Everyone got to go including myself, Tony, Vicki, Raygen, Carolyn, her niece Staci, Peggy, Ed, Craig, Jesse, his friend Brent and of course the Mill Springs’ gang! We had so much fun and I am hard pressed to say if the hiking and scenery was the highlight or the shopping! I guess it would depend on who you ask! It was a fantastic start to the New Year and we are so thankful this special group was able to be with us again. We are already counting the days until they return again in 2012. We did enjoy watching the Packers smack on the Atlanta Falcons the night the group left (sorry Mill Springs but I had to rub that in!!!). Of course the Packers have now gone on to beat the Bears and are on to the Super Bowl! GO PACK!!!
We are now enjoying some downtime while we take down the Christmas decorations and work on some projects that always seem to be pushed to the side. Tony, Vicki and Raygen are back Wisconsin while we are closed to visit family and friends. Dan, Amy and I along with Craig are hanging out at the ranch. Dan has lots of projects he hopes to finish before we reopen on February 1. For anyone still undecided on what to do this winter, we are offering some great specials for February and March as part of our 10 year anniversary celebration so please come and spend a few days or a week with us. This is the best time of the year to enjoy lots of great riding (especially the lunch rides) and our weather has been beautiful. Please be sure to check our website for more details on our specials. We’d love to have you stay with us, either for the first time or for a return visit. We always promise to do all we can to make sure you have the best time possible!
We also want to take a moment to thank all our troops around the world who are sacrificing so much so that we can enjoy all the wonderful freedoms God has blessed us with. If anyone from the Military (along with their families) would like to visit our ranch please ask Jodi for a very special Military discount as our thank you for all you do for us and our country.
If you can’t make it in February, although space is becoming limited, please consider coming in March, April or May. The weather is fabulous then and of course the riding is always fantastic! Check with Jodi for specific dates and rates. Remember, the Cactus start to bloom in early to mid April and with all the rain we had in November and December we are certain to have a beautiful and colorful spring here. How often does it rain here you ask? I tell my guests who happen to be here during a rainstorm that we have to run around and figure out what we left out for the past year and a half that can’t get wet-that’s how rarely it rains here! With the rare and excessive rain we just experienced, I am guessing we will enjoy lots of color in a couple of months, much to everyone’s delight!
Well, I know I could go on and on but I think I better quit for now to insure that you will all come back and read my updates next month. If I wrote anymore, you may fall asleep! I look forward to writing again next month and filling you in on the latest ranch news. Please feel free to let me know what you think of my writing. I’d love to hear from you. I knew my first blog would be lengthy so I really appreciate you taking the time to read it. I hope to see you back at the ranch and back in the saddle again soon. Our horses are all looking forward to having you in the saddle again too!
Happy Trails, Carrie Rynders and your STGR family