Thursday, January 31, 2013
SO YOU WANNA BE A COWGIRL? ~ Tanya Hanson
Uh, so why did I decide on western romance when I reckoned it was time to sit down and write? Well, cowboys are hotties, for one thing. Next up, the western T.V. shows of my childhood wouldn’t stay still in my imagination. Last, college days in Nebraska and student teaching in Colorado sorta iced the western cake.
But I’m a California beach girl raised in a suburb. Whatever to do to live the life of the West and feel the love? The Writer's Guide to Everyday Life in the Wild West could only do so much. I did call up horseback riding in Girl Scout camp eons ago and Audra Barkley in The Big Valley. But I just needed some first-hand help
And I found it in a city slicker wagon train adventure where I trekked by horse and civilized Conestogas around the Tetons! Wow, do Jess Warburton and his family at Teton Wagon Train and Horse Adventure make it real. (http://www.tetonwagontrain.com/tetonhistory.htm)
First off, upon discovering this treasure, I had to convince hubby to ride along. I thought I’d be in for a lot of whining and cajoling, but he was on board right away. Second to hook were our favorite travel-buddies, his sis and her man.
On a hot August day, we left Jackson Hole for the trip of a lifetime. Four days in Paradise. Our group of city slickers included us four Californians as well as faux cowpokes from Pennsylvania, Texas, Florida, Illinois as well as Bermuda, Japan, and Brighton, England.
We set off both riding the wagon and going horseback. The tourist-friendly trail horses were friendly, accommodating and extremely patient. But unspeakably grand were the draft horses who pulled the wagons, the Percherons and Belgians. They were named in teams, such as Lady and Tramp, Gun and Smoke, Sandy and Sage, Jack and Jill. The first name is always the horse on the left. These glorious beasts are capable of pulling up to 4,000 as a team, and they love to work. (In winter, to stave off boredom, they lead sleigh rides to the elk refuge outside Jackson.)
Ah, there was nothing like Dutch oven meals prepared for us over an open fire. “Cowboy potatoes” are good enough for any city restaurant. Waking up to the scent of piles of bacon simmering was, well, enough to make my mouth water still!
After suppers, we huddled around the campfires to hear guitar strumming, legends and lore of the Old West, cowboy poetry, and home--on-the-range music. Our last night--not to reveal company secrets-involved gunfire and mountain men!
Our tents were rustic, but comfy. And the “facilities”, well, suffice it that often there was “girl meadow” to the left, “boy meadow” to the right.
Although I admit the wagons had rubber tires and padded seats, the rocky trail is laughingly and rightfully called “cowboy rollercoaster.” Our driver Marisa told us she’s paid extra to hit every pot hole and rock in the road for “authenticity.” I’m not sure she was joking!
Our last day, a “Pony Express” rider burst into camp bearing letters from home.
As for Wyoming, ah, the trees and wildflowers and the endless starshine at night will live inside my head until my last moment.
As for this wannabe-cowgirl, I even managed to rope the pretend cow, Corndog, after my lariat lesson in “spoke” and “honda”. It took me three tries, but I nailed it!