Tuesday, 10 June 2008

How To Be A Cowboy

When I came to North America last summer, one of the things that I had been hoping to do was visit a working ranch and see the cowboys in action. As it turned out, I didn’t get a chance and so I forgot all about it until the middle of May – when it was offered as a trip with a group of guys, deep into interior BC.

Coming straight from work, I was dropped off by Larry and left with the second group (another group having gone in the morning to get a round of golf in during the day!) which included some guys that I knew from Kids Club as well as some of my friend’s relatives.

We made the 6 hour journey in a minibus (the first time I can remember being in a minibus filled with adults and not kids) and spent a lot of time discussing travel, life, work and music. I managed to find some more Sigur Rós fans as well as even more people that were going to the UBC Thunderbird Stadium Radiohead concert in August (bringing my total of “people I know who are going” to around 20!).

To pass the time, whilst the van was still in areas with signal, I was busy texting back and forth with a few friends that I knew through various social groups and was discussing Whistler, life, my trip to Canada and music too. Instead of a boring 6 hour journey, I managed quite the text-marathon whilst also getting to know the guys in the van too.

The closest I have come to real cowboys (within the last few years - Calgary probably being full of them in 1988!) was probably the trip to Roosters Country and Western bar, back in March - where I learned how to party like a cowboy (cowboy hats, line dancing and a bucking bronco apparently!).

When we arrived, it was about 1am and with the two groups expected to be up by 7am the next morning, for either another round of golf or the horse riding, we all headed to the log cabins in the dark and fell asleep. I woke up at 6am (not uncommon since conditioning myself to do so for work!) and decided to lie down by the lake to try and catch a bit of a tan. This became the subject of banter for a little while - most of the people there thinking me crazy for deciding to tan in the early (cooler) hours!

After a large pancake, bacon and sausage breakfast we headed in our "horse-riding" group to the stables and began talking as the three ranch workers (Will, Alex and Yana) began setting up the horses for us. The three were college students working for room and board over the summer. Yana had come all the way from Germany (a city girl at heart) to try a new thing and appeared to be enjoying it - the ranch owners treating her well apparently - unlike where she had originally been working on another neighbouring ranch.

As well as horse riding, the ranch also did a hay wagon ride and I called shotgun (on one of the wagons which the game of shotgun was originally intended for - the shotgun caller riding up front to shoot at robbers!) and got talking to Yana and the ranch owner.

With some of the guys also being German (Canada being a place filled with immigrants - my ancestry being from Norway and the UK), I decided to try and learn a few things to say to Yana, since a few words in another language can be quite fun. One of the guys, Hank, decided to help me that evening as I added to what Yana had taught me about my name and age.

During the meal, Yana (who was also our server) came by and Hank had a quick conversation with her in German. This led to her looking at me, giggling and walking off! I had no idea what had been said and after much pleading, Hank told me that he had told her that she had a large bum from me! I was shocked and he teased me for a while longer before actually revealing that it had been "he loves you and is learning German to win your heart" or something slightly less embarrassing!

Learning to lasso under Yana's instruction after a paddle around
the lake. Beautiful scenery and a very tranquil atmosphere made
it an excellent weekend of escapism.

Just before leaving the ranch, we decided to try out the final "attraction" at the place - a suspended barrel as a bucking bronco emulator (The four corner ropes pulled to rock the barrel around and simulate a bull ride!) Despite having only just recovered from my ankle injury, I decided to give it a go and lasted a few seconds (one of the better times) before being launched off, minus a few chunks of skin that had been caught on the barrel!

The journey back was filled with much conversation and as we re-entered the signal area, I was bombarded with a number of messages to restart the conversations for the 6 hour trip back. In all it was a fantastic weekend and I am interested in trying one of the overnight horse rides one day, if I ever get the chance!


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