Travel Oasis: Wyoming

If you know anything about me, then the title of this post may surprise you. Long story short, my sister graduated from high school this year and got to pick a family trip. Thus, my parents, sister, aunts, and I packed up and headed out to the Vee Bar Guest Ranch in Laramie, Wyoming during the first week of August. I was hesitant, as there was bound to be a lot of horseback riding on the trip, but tried to keep an open mind.

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There was no doubt we had left New England with landscapes like this!

Day 1

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I didn’t see much of the hotel, but it was nicely decorated!

The first day of the trip was rather straightforward. We took our flight from Hartford to Denver, where I read and worked on blog content, and got our rental car. From there, the six of us got a late lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings and drove for an hour, stopping at a hotel in Fort Collins for the night. That’s ultimately where my day ended; while my family went out to explore the area and buy some snacks for the rest of the trip, I took what I thought would be a nap. I ended up waking up forgetting where I was at four in the morning before falling back to sleep until eight. I slept for a solid twelve hours. We all have our talents.

 

Day 2

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We left Fort Collins and made the drive to Laramie, Wyoming. We arrived a few hours before check in at Vee Bar, so we explored the town a bit. Being that it was a Sunday, not much was open, but we stopped at one store to get our riding hats for the week (mine bedazzled, of course) and a couple of gifts for friends. Following that, we got lunch at a café recommended by the store cashier. It was lovely!

After that, we stopped briefly at Walmart and then made the rest of the trip to the ranch. We checked in and got some down time to settle into our cabin (which only had one bathroom for the six of us, but we would make it work).

img_8677We attended social hour at the saloon (a family-friendly one, at that) to meet the other families who would be staying the week with us, and then ate dinner in the main lodge. It would be the first of many delicious homemade meals that week! A couple of the wranglers gave us a quick orientation with a few pointers for our stay, and then we headed back to our cabin to rest up for the day ahead.

Day 3

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Okay, so for future reference, every day we had breakfast at 8:30, lunch at 12:00, and dinner at 6:00. All activities were centered around those times. We all met our horses, and I was so happy to meet CJ. While stubborn, he really is a sweet horse who was very patient with my novice skillset. We took our first ride in the fields and meadows around the ranch, getting acclimated with the landscape and seeing some key features.

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Day one was the only day I also rode in the afternoon by choice. We rode in the hills and tried our hand at loping for the first time (for people like me not familiar with riding: loping at speed is in between trot and canter, but it is smooth like a canter). I was surprised how much I enjoyed it! I wasn’t going to try at first, but then I figured that it was vacation and if there’s a time when you should get outside your comfort zone, it’s when you’re travelling. I felt so free and unleashed in that moment, and it was beautiful. Side note: this was my first encounter with prairie dogs, and while I know they’re a nuisance to locals, I must say that I found them completely adorable.

After the riding for the day, we had another social hour in the saloon, and before dinner we went on a wagon ride as a large group throughout the ranch, accompanied by authentic western music. This night was stormy, so it made for a cozy night back at the cabin. I was definitely tired after learning the ropes around Vee Bar for the day, so I was eager to get some rest.

Day 4

This was an early morning as we got to watch the horses run in from the pasture. It was an ethereal moment. There was definitely a sense of power as the horses pounded the earth beneath their hooves.

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My ride for the day consisted of a trip up a plateau. It was definitely nerve-racking at times, especially in the steeper rocky sections, but the horses know what their doing, and the views were well worth it. We also got to do this ride with Brent, one of the ranch owners, whom my aunts had met when they came to Vee Bar seven years ago.

Okay, I have no idea where all my pictures went from this ride… really bummed.

My afternoon was definitely taken for myself. I did some work on blog content and on my internship tasks, which definitely put me back in my element and allowed me to take a breather among all of the new experiences. That’s one thing I’m big about: making a balance on vacation between exploration and relaxation. I find both to be equally important, and many of my afternoons turned into something like this.

Before dinner, we got the chance to see a sheep dog demonstration, which was fascinating to watch. We definitely thought of my family’s dog back home Gidget. While she adores her home in good ol’ New England, she would thrive out in Wyoming, too.

Following dinner, I did some more internship work making photo edits and writing up some content. More to keep me grounded. Once that was complete, I joined my aunt in doing laundry (so handy to have washers and dryers available to us!) and chatting about different things before we headed back to the cabin for the night.

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We caught up on the line dancing my mom and sister learned while we were doing laundry.

Day 5

This day was one of my favorites. Our ride for the day was actually in two parts, so technically I did ride twice. We rode up one of the small mountains outlining all the plains and ate a picnic-style lunch at the top. It was also the perfect spot to take pictures! The ride down was lovely, as well, and we couldn’t have asked for better weather.

My alone time in the afternoon consisted of reorganizing my inspiration notebook that I travel with just about everywhere. I was great to get a refresher on some of my ideas, to rework others, and to just dwell in creativity for awhile. It’s something that I can’t often justify making time for in normal life, sadly, but vacation is the perfect opportunity!

The demonstration for this night was after dinner, and it was watching our wranglers do roping! Wow, was I impressed by the amount of skill and precision it takes to rope. It’s as though everything is in fast-forward!

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Day 6

I started this day by going on an amazing hike at the Veedawoo rock formations with my parents while my aunts and sister rode. I got to have really great conversations with some of the other people there; it’s amazing how people randomly on vacation in the same spot can have so much in common!

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It’s here that I’d like to note that throughout this trip, I was talking to Chris (my boyfriend) on and off while his band was in the studio recording some new songs. There was quite literally no cell phone reception except at the top of the mountains, and only Wi-Fi in the main lodge, so we chatted when we could, but it was limited.

The second part of the day is where things went wrong. It was the evening when we were to ride to the base of a mountain where the ranch sets up a campsite. Guests have the option to stay there overnight or a take a van back to the ranch after some campfire festivities. Everyone meets at the campsite in the morning for breakfast. Now, that would have all been great, but I had started feeling kind of crappy in the afternoon, and when we were riding to the camp, it started downpouring. Now, that would be bad enough in my usual location, but when your elevation is so much higher, the raindrops are closer, and you literally get pelted. My raincoat was also a bit short, so my boots and socks got completely soaked.

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Silver (rainbow) linings?

Once we got to the campsite, things were alright. It still rained on-and-off, but we ate a good dinner and there was a fire with some music. We were all pretty cold, though, so it dimmed our excitement for a group who are usually into bonfires. Now, the cherry on top was when we were going to head home. One of my less admirable traits is that I can get mopey. I’d been pretty mopey this entire time, but when we went to gather our things, I found that my cowgirl hat had been crunched. Ladies and gentlemen: that was it. I was in tears. I’d been a good sport the whole week even though it wasn’t my thing, but my patience had reached its limit.

We took the van ride home, and my family let me shower first because, well, they felt bad for me. Once I was out of the shower and in bed reading, things were looking up, and I was ready for refreshment the next day.

Day 7

This was our last full day. We went back to the campsite for breakfast, and then took the ride home. I still wasn’t feeling the best, but as it was my final ride, I tried to make the most of it.

img_8883Once back to the ranch, I took a nice nap (my sleeping talents coming in handy yet again) and spent a little more time relaxing. We ate our last dinner as a group, all of the families having really gotten close over the week. Many of us are now friends on Facebook and will be keeping in touch. I think the people I met on this trip, along with the people in my family I got to spend time with, were my favorite aspect of it. On the way to dinner, I finally got some pictures of the miniature donkeys.

After dinner, we enjoyed live music in the saloon the ranch staff had come up with little awards for each of us, called The Golden Horseshoe Awards, made from real horseshoes at Vee Bar. My award was called “Taking It All In”, because even though I was outside my comfort zone, I really tried to experience what the place had to offer. I thought it was a nice thing for the wranglers to notice. The evening was full of laughs and a montage of pictures from the week. It was a fun way to wrap things up!

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Day 8

We had our last breakfast at the ranch and exchanged Facebooks and emails before each family went their separate ways. We drove a few hours from Laramie to Denver, and during this time I was feeling so optimistic and revitalized from the trip. I felt as though I could take on anything when I returned home, and isn’t that how you’re supposed to feel coming home from vacation?

We returned our car rental and made our way back to Denver International Airport. While we waited for our flight, I stopped by this cute bookstore within the airport took a look around. I actually got a new inspiration notebook, but more on that in future posts!

Our plane ride was great! My dad and I got a whole row to ourselves, and he went through all his pictures from the trip while I worked on some more blog content, scheduling, and reading. We landed back in Hartford and gathered our things as quickly as possible. We made it back to the valet service and parted ways with my aunts before returning to my parents’ house to the pets. Now that has to be one of the greatest parts of travelling: coming home to your pets happier to see you than ever. Added plus: after the trip was when I brought my cat, Misty, to my new house in Rhode Island!

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A little sign in our room that rang true.

All in all, I was really happy with this trip. I wasn’t sure what to think of it at first, but I was happily surprised. With that, even if something may not be your thing, it goes to show that maybe it’s still worth trying. There is so much to see in this world, and you never know what magic you’ll witness or the people you’ll get the chance to meet until you’re there. Another thing I took note of was that this instantaneous world, it’s a good reminder to unplug every once in a while and witness as much as possible with our own eyes. Ultimately, travelling will always spark inspiration because we’re placing ourselves in new environments and seeing brand new things. It’s a conscious shift in our perspective for a time, and to capture that is special. Wyoming reinforced to me that God puts us where He wants us in His grand creation. Let’s explore it.

Much Love, Quinn

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