A Great Galloping Getaway
By Jane Cassie
Contributor to Travelink Publishing
Packing up kids, caps and cowboy boots, we headed to BC's semi-arid southern interior, where sagebrush and cactus scatter the scenic rolling hills and create a taste of the genuine old west.
It had been a number of years since the days when I last felt 'tall in the saddle,' and it was to be the first ranching experience for all of our three children. That's why we had chosen Sundance Guest Ranch. For over twenty years, Stan and Vicki Rowe have been at the reins of this successful establishment, and through their welcoming and personalized service, they cater to all manner of rider, ranging from the Roy Roger wanna be to the real McCoy cowboy!
With 23 head of grazing bison grazing the pastures beyond, we stepped across covered boardwalks to comfortable, ranch-style accommodations. Five of the 33 guestrooms are designated a kid's wing, and create a camp-like feel for the younger buckaroos who prefer to bunk in with ranch lovers their own age.
Looking for a reprieve from the sun-baked climate, the kids dashed off to heated outdoor pool while we explored the games rooms and other activities that range from tennis, volleyball, and horseshoes, to golf and fishing.
The ringing of the gong was the signal to 'chow down,' and what a feast we had. Meals are included in the Sundance pricing structure, and are definitely the upscale ranch-style cuisine our brood was anticipating: delicious pork and roast beef dinners with enough fixin's to fill the hungriest of wranglers. Our youngest enjoyed the special children's lunch and dinner a little earlier, where he could mingle with other guests, fifteen years old and younger.
Later, we joined other guests in the resident adult lounge, for a bit of "kid escape". This is the place to be after the Saturday night barbeques. 'Foot stompin' country favourites are played by the disc jockey and the dance floor is open for two-stepping, even if you've never kicked up your heels before.
Meanwhile, foosball, Pacman and the large screen TV, complete with a variety of video flicks, kept our kids entertained in the kid's lounge. Babysitting can even be arranged for the tinier tykes.
But it was the following morning when we really discovered what Sundance Guest Ranch was all about. Clad in western attire, we moseyed over to the coral and were paired up with our hoofed companions, and grouped by experience. While the rest of my family headed off in different directions, Cisco (my thoroughbred mate) and I joined a group venturing to the Twin Pines area, a destination that promised stunning river and valley views, and open meadows where the horses could gallop.
"Cisco will want to take the lead. You'll have to work hard at holding him back," Gord, our trusty wrangler, warned.
And when Cisco's adrenaline soared, I wondered whether my time in the saddle so long ago was going to be enough to prevent this saddle from turning into an ejection seat. My heart raced in preparation for the high-speed ride and, with a slight loosening of reins and a small kick of both heels, we were off. Cisco's mind and body accelerated like a fine tuned vehicle.
"Yeeeehaa!" I exclaimed, feeling the exhilaration and rhythm of his full galloping gait. It was sweet, it was short, and when it was over I felt like more. Who knows, maybe next time I'll even consider joining the advanced group of riders!
If You Go:
Sundance Guest Ranch
P.O. Box 489, Ashcroft BC, Canada
Phone: 250-453-2422 or 250-453-2554
Toll-free: 1-800-553-3533 (North America only)
From Vancouver: Highway #1 to Hope
From Washington: Sumas border crossing to Highway #1
Follow signs to Cache Creek via Fraser Canyon
Pass through Ashcroft and follow Logan Lake Road for ten minutes
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