We arrived at our friends’ ranch on Sunday, and I took advantage of a beautiful Monday for a walk about. Our time “at the ranch” is my favorite time of year. If I were to pick up and move to another place in the US, I expect it would be to this corner of the South Dakota’s Black Hills.
I always have to remind myself to start slowly – and not take off on a 5-mile hike the first day. It takes a few days to get acclimated to the dryer air and the higher altitude.
The biggest reason not to go nuts on Day One is pretty simple. My feet need to get reacquainted with my boots. I set off for a leisurely walk. Just me, my shadow, and an overly busy brain that needed to unwind.
One thing you can count on in Ranch country are bits and pieces of past lives strewn about the place. You clean up what you can, but some of the old equipment just stays where it is. I think of these things as signposts, familiar points that help me know where I am.
I spend most of my time admiring the open sky and the wide-open views. Then I look down and see a pinecone perfectly perched on a rock. Mother nature has a way of getting my attention.
On closer inspection, this hole in the ground is not just a hole. It is the remains of an old dugout. I didn’t remember seeing an old homestead in this area before, so I looked around to see if there were other signs of a past life.
Sure enough, I found the remains of a foundation. There must have been a home here at some point in the past. It’s a beautiful spot – one I have admired many times. I guess I am not the only one with that idea.
Further up the canyon, another familiar sight. This is the cattle tank near the deep well. Paul built this cover over the tank many years ago. It catches sunlight and keeps the tank from freezing over in the winter. It’s a low-tech solution that works like a charm.
From the deep well, it’s all uphill to get back to the house. Lots and lots of uphill…
There is an expanded corral up around the house this year, so I find a gate. Thankfully, the fencing guys made this what they affectionately call a “woman gate.” In ranch-speak, that means it’s not strung so tight that you need a resident cowboy to open it for you.
Back at the house, I happily extricate my feet from my boots. No blisters, no turned ankles. All good.
And the best part? There’s a hammock just waiting. Happy me!
It’s good to have a change of scenery, and the ranch has been one of our favorite places to visit for the past 18 or so years. We are blessed to have such wonderful friends and a standing invitation to visit.
The wind and the wide open spaces are doing their job. My brain is slowing down, my shoulders are relaxing, and we are simply happy to be here. All is good.