The week before driving to Brush Creek Ranch in WY, I contacted my friend Colleen who I have become friends with through our yoga studio, NWA Hot Yoga in Bentonville Arkansas. Colleen and I became instant friends as we truly enjoy spending time together over coffee striking up amazing conversations, great insight into life, and challenging new perspectives. I remember this summer when Colleen called me while I was still traveling out on the west coast trip to let me know that she would not be in Arkansas when I arrived back, as she had a pipe break in her house flooding her basement. Colleen and I had been chatting about going water skiing when I returned to Arkansas, so she wanted to let me know that she would be up in Wyoming at her family ranch for two weeks while her home in Arkansas was under repair. I have completely stopped asking the universe questions on to why certain events are unfolding and just embrace each day with an open heart and spirited soul. After the conversation via IM with Kelsey the night before it occurred to me that Colleen was in Wyoming too and that perhaps I could drop by and visit Colleen and meet her husband Greg. I am always taking into consideration ways to double up on another adventure with awesome people along the journey. I sent Colleen a message that said, “What is the name of the town your family lives in WY?” Her response was, “Hi Deb. I am in Pine Bluffs, near Cheyenne.” I ran outside to the Outback in the driveway to snag my handy dandy atlas and scout out a possible route via Colleens place in WY for a couple of days, then travel east across WY over to Brush Creek Ranch to meet Kelsey for the paddling trip down the Platte River. I sent Colleen a message that said, “Going back on the road for a couple of days and passing by your neighborhood, do you have a couch I can crash on for the night?” Colleen’s response was, “Absolutely.” I texted Colleen back and said, “Just wondering what a real working ranch looks like? Any chance your husband would give me a tour, look at some farm machinery, and history of a working WY ranch. Do you guys have horses?”
I spent about a week in Rogers completing several chores before packing up the Subaru and heading up north for another road trip adventure. The excitement continued to build through out the week thinking about the upcoming trip into the Wyoming backcountry. Embracing the many feelings of vulnerability heading 1000 miles north into WY with absolutely no expectations of what I was about to experience and so many unknowns was quite a thrill. Considering I was anxiously embarking upon another trek across the country to hang out on a ranch for a few days with Colleen and her husband and then hop in the Subaru and drive into the middle of no where to meet a chef was fascinating to say the least. Quit frankly the entire sequence of events throughout the WY trip unfolded naturally, as if the universe and a higher power had set things in motion for me. I admit the IM message from Kelsey was incredibly enticing, full of mystery, a total surprise, and left me curious with anticipation.
I have keenly noticed that I have developed a crazy delight in spontaneous dancing outbursts in peculiar and unusual places. An example of one such instance happened recently while completing a to do list before I headed up to WY for a little adventure. On the Thursday before heading north I spent about 4 hours in the back yard mowing, bush whacking, week pulling, and of course the much dreaded weed eater re-stringing. Now anyone who has ever had to re-string a weed eater absolutely knows that it will take 5 times to properly spool the twine before it will feed off the reel correctly. I can attest after running a lawn mowing service for 10 years that weed eaters are notorious for pissing you off to the ends of the earth when you are trying to finish a job before it rains. Nevertheless, I attacked the weed eater re-stinging session with an enthusiastic, “Deb let’s get this shit done,” all while listening to some great, The Best of Pink Martini on my I-Pod. Yes of course the weed eater kicked my butt numerous times in the 100-degree heat all while fighting with twine that just would not feed out correctly. Oh that was not the end to the weed eater saga, even more frustrating was the dang thing wouldn’t even run for 10 seconds before it shutdown. I had a couple of choices to tackle the situation, I could become totally perturbed with a weed eater, or embrace the afternoon with an Ellen DeGeneres dance with the weed eater to some salsa cha-cha. At last after the 5th attempt to re-wind the twine I emptied the old gas and filled her up with a brand new tank of 50/1. As I sat on the porch I said a little prayer to God for patience and a little assistance to finish this task without chunking the weed eater over the fence into the neighbor’s pool. With a quick whip of the cord she fired right up and off and away I went for the next hour of slicing and dicing overgrown two foot weeds that had taken over the fence line. If someone would have been video recording me in the back yard they should have submitted this award winning weed eater tango video into America’s Most Funniest Home Videos. Let me tell you that my Stihl straight shaft weed eater became my intimate dance partner for an hour while jamming to some splendid salsa swing dance favorites. I eventually ventured into the front yard and just continued with my Latin flavored yard maintenance groovy moves, all while knowing the neighbors were staring at me the entire time. Consider the next time you are being slapped in the face with wet soggy weeds, ease the pain with some Latin mango music, as it makes the medicine go down a little smoother.
There have been several more instances of spontaneous outbursts of dance episodes over the last few weeks. Another such moment occurred one morning while I was out for a 5-mile jog/walk at the Brush Creek Ranch property. While out on a jog I decided to exit the Brush Creek Ranch Resort and head down a beautiful dirt country road laced with green rolling pastures on both sides of the lane. There were several fabulous rock outcroppings that jaunted out of the earth in the most random of locations. I could not help myself on that gorgeous morning, as I was inspired out of the blue to crawl up onto a flat-outcropped rocky area and sing all alone in the middle of a field in WY while accompanying Barbara Streisand at the opera. I can not even imagine what the people driving down the dirt road probably were thinking considering there was woman perched like a mountain lion atop a rock performing as an opera star in a WY pasture. After my second encore I decided it was time to head back to the ranch for a shower, so I took a bow and scampered through the field back onto the dirt road. That was certainly not the end to my morning dance party on the Saratoga back county road, as I did have to stop twice to waltz with Frank Sinatra to “Come Fly with Me.” I remember the look on this guys face as he passed me in a big ranch truck while I was back stepping with Frank. I just waved at him, gave him a little salute, and smiled while acting like I was doing some sort of aerobic activity to get my heart rate elevated. Honestly in all reality, I was joyfully waltzing in the WY wind to my own drum and really did not care if anyone drove past me. It was just fabulous as I had the best time laughing and acting like an innocent child with no worries or cares. I have wanted to learn how to salsa dance my entire life and would love to learn both dance positions so I can lead or follow. I truly believe my life parallels many aspects of dancing as I discover the importance in balance, timing, leading, following, grace, rhythm, coordination, passion, joy, and the risk of looking silly in front of others. On the other hand, for me living a wholehearted light bearing life and learning to dance will require practice, patience, prayer, and continued daily intention on my end goals. I am allowing myself enough space to remain vulnerable in both areas, as I am willing to fail, screw-up, step on peoples toes, and sometimes catch my stiletto on the loose rug of life. I have a plan this school year to recruit my sweet Latino students to create a dance club at my high school. I will jump right in and let them teach me how to properly do the cha-cha.
I arrived at Colleen and Greg’s ranch home in Pine Bluff, WY on Friday July 7th, around 6:00pm. Colleen greeted me with a lovely Mediterranean dinner that she had picked up at a local truck stop, which apparently is famous across America with the Indian truckers. We chatted for about an hour until Greg arrived home and grabbed a quick dinner. Greg has many responsibilities at the ranch and drives hundreds of miles a week checking on fences, cattle, crops, sprinkler heads, and multiple other duties that I was very curious to learn about during my visit. After Greg finished his dinner he said, “Hey Deb I have to go check on some sprinkler heads tonight as my alarm is going off at one of the fields. Do you want to go with me?” I said, “Heck yeah that sounds like a ranch adventure to me!” We walked over the barn where Greg parked his Dodge ranch work truck. I almost needed a pole vault to get into the cab, as it was a massive Dodge diesel quite a bit higher off the ground than a Subaru Outback. I felt like Dorothy in Kansas, as I hopped in the front seat of Greg’s work truck, which was completely dust covered and overflowing with the smell of hard work inside and out. The back of Greg’s truck was crammed with an assortment of spare parts, jugs, grease guns, and a variety of tools Greg probably used everyday. With Colleen in the back seat we sped off down the road driving about 5 miles to one of their cornfields with the sprinkler alarm buzzing on Greg’s phone. One of my first observations after getting into the truck with Greg and Colleen is that no one strapped on a seat belt. Being a rebel in the moment I said, “Oh what the hell Deb don’t wear one either.” Greg skillfully turned his truck off a dirt road over a large culvert into the field and to my amazement we drove right through the middle of the corn stalks while Greg maneuvered down the center of two rows of corn. I felt like I was in the movie, City Slickers with Billy Crystal flying through a cornfield, not wearing seat belts, bouncing up and down in a cab laughing in a pair of shorts and flip flops. To make the scene complete all I needed was my Wrangler jeans, boots, and a cowgirl hat to check this off my bucket list. Here I was, an Arkansas Yogi city slicker with an inquiring mind in the middle of a cornfield in WY checking a sprinkler head. Greg was so extremely gracious with his time and I tremendously enjoyed spending the weekend with him and Colleen at their beautiful place in Pine Bluffs, Wy.
The next morning Colleen and I spent an incredible hour practicing our yoga together on her patio overlooking the beautiful WY sky. I was gifted a blessing of music Saturday morning as Colleen sat down at her
daughters fabulous Grand Piano and played a couple of beautiful songs for me. Following several more cups of coffee and a light breakfast Greg, Colleen and I headed out in the Dodge truck to another portion of their ranch located about 40 miles away where Colleen boarded her horse, Mystic. On Saturday morning while I was getting dressed I pulled out a pair of Tommy Hilfiger jeans that I had packed for the trip and had quite the little surprise. I certainly should have considered trying on the jeans before leaving Arkansas, however I just threw them in my bag and called it good. The last time I wore those jeans was most likely in January 2017 at least 40lbs heavier. I walked out into the kitchen and said, “Colleen I have a slight problem here. I could fit you and me in these jeans and I am not going to be able to ride a horse like this.” Colleen started laughing and said, “Well that’s a good problem to have. Deb let’s fix you up with some jeans in my closet.” Knowing that Colleen was a tall slender built woman I could only imagine what it was going to be like trying on some of her skinny girl tight leg jeans. I have always sported an athletic build that typically requires a men’s cut jean. I was terrified when Colleen pulled out several pairs of those low waist cut jeans that I have always admired on the sexy little mannequin models in the clothing stores. Much to my shock Colleen threw several pairs of her attractive little sparkler butt jeans on the bed and said, “Here Deb find a pair of these to wear today.” I just stood there staring at the bed thinking to myself, “Oh shit this is not going to go well and I might be riding a horse in my Nike running shorts which will be very attractive with the boots.” After Colleen headed back into the kitchen I said a little prayer and said, “God please let me get a pair of these jeans on without rolling on the bedroom floor performing a Sea World porpoise dance.” I was shocked when I actually slipped a pair of those cute little low cut girly jeans over my once wide ass and buttoned them up without wearing spanks. Holy cow this was quite an astounding moment in time for me, as I have always dreamed of wearing a pair of those cute cowgirl sparkler jeans with boots. Yes, Colleen topped off my riding attire with a sweet pair of cowgirl boots perfectly matched to my long sleeved turquoise Cabala’s shirt for our afternoon riding adventure.
Greg, Colleen, and I arrived at another location on their ranch where we were met by one of their cowboys who tended to that section of the ranch, which boarded many horses, cattle, and multiple crop fields. Steve and his wife Deb were long time friends of Greg and Colleen’s and just delightful folks. Steve walked us over to the riding arena area and graciously helped Colleen and I brush down the horses and saddled Mystic and Bob for us. Up to this point I have only ridden a horse about 5 times in my life, so I was not sure what I had actually set myself up for on this little cowgirl adventure. Steve hooked me up with an old fellow named Bob who was a sweet boy about 25 years old. Steve assured me that Bob would not take off like a crazy maniac, and he would be an easy gentle boy to ride. However Colleen’s horse Mystic was a former barrel racer and was definably a more skilled riders horse. We saddled up and started off on our afternoon riding adventure in the pastures of a Wyoming field. As Colleen and I rode we enjoyed the company of each other and picked up where our conversation had left off the night before about life, struggles, set backs, and triumphs. I very much adore our friendship, as we always have the most incredible dialogues and learn something new each time we get together. There was one very cool moment during our ride when we cut through a tall field with the grass covering the bottom of the stirrups. I glanced down and both of our horses were at the perfect level to just open their mouths as we walked and snag a little wheat snack without any effort. I know this is a bad habit to allow horses to graze while riding, however it was special to watch these beautiful and powerful animals both simultaneously grab a golden snack of wheat right off the top of the field.
We continued to ride the horses through the WY fields for about 2 hours before heading back to the stables where Greg, Steve, and Deb were having a cold adult beverage in the back yard. It was a grand WY adventure that I am very grateful to have been gifted the opportunity to ride with my dear friend Colleen on her ranch. The evening ended with a spectacular dinner back at Greg and Colleen’s home on the deck complete with smoked BBQ ribs, fresh sweet corn harvested from last years crops, a salad, and fresh rhubarb cobbler Colleen baked for desert. I even had another randomly inspired dance moment on Colleen and Greg’s deck while memorized by a full moon illuminating beautifully just for me in the grand WY sky. Greg and Colleen headed back in the house for the evening and I stayed out on the deck just to capture the beauty of the moment with the soft sounds of some Pink Martini playing in the background. I heard Greg mention to Colleen, “Hey your friend is out on the deck dancing with herself.” I just grinned and continued to be filled with the joy of the moment soaking in each second, sound, and sensation with a full spirit of joy, appreciation, and gratitude to God for a wonderful day.
The next day Greg and Colleen had planned a boat outing to the lake, so knowing this beforehand I threw my ski and wakeboard into the Subaru before leaving Arkansas. I had not wake boarded or skied in 4 years, so I was slightly anxious about being able to get up behind their boat. However, I took on my weight issues back in December by joining a nutrition class where I actually for the first time actually kept a food log and studied what foods work best for my body. I can proudly say I have lost 45lbs, practice yoga at least 6 days a week, and just wore a pair of those skinny ass girly jeans to ride a horse. Let’s just say I was feeling positive and confident that I would be able to get up on my ski within a couple of pulls. As expected, I sure as heck whipped right out of the water on the first pull on both my wake board and water ski. I sincerely felt incredibly proud that I was able to ski and wake board so strong after sitting on the bench for 4 years in time out from enjoying my favorite water sports. I absolutely confirm that my dedicated yoga practice has been one of the most powerful and positive aspects of earning my body back from 20 years of damage and hard labor. My upper body strength is greater than it has been in 20 years, and I have not had one old athletic injury crop up on me in months. Greg, Colleen and I spent the afternoon skiing, laughing, and enjoying our time together on a beautiful WY lake located about an hour from their home in Pine Ridge. We all helped with loading up the boat, snapping on the cover, and departed the lake about 4:30pm. Greg and Colleen were so kind with their time and energy to get me home for a hot shower before meeting the chef for an Instant Message paddling adventure down the Platte River.
I arrived at the stunning Brush Creek Ranch about 9:00pm after a gorgeous drive through the Medicine Bow National Forest. While driving through Medicine Bow National Forest I passed by some of Wyoming’s most spectacular natural areas. The terrain is composed of grassy plains with rugged foothills of rock, sage, pine, fir, spruce, and small snowmelt pockets of water, streams, filled with wildlife galore around me. I actually had a very close encounter with a deer that was standing on the edge of the road as I rounded a blind corner at the top of Medicine Bow at sunset. Lucky for me she stayed in place at the edge of the road and did not decide to take another step into my direct line of travel. It would have broken my heart to hit a dear, as our meeting would not have worked out well for either of us. At each bend in the road I noticed another trailhead entrance leading to what I am sure would be a breath-taking hike into the Medicine Bow mountain ranges. The drive was quite spectacular and I was fortunate enough to catch the last 30 seconds of the beautiful sunset before the sun dipped below the horizon. As I approached the Brush Creek Ranch entrance I truly had no idea what I was about to walk into with this Instant Message paddling adventure. Honestly I will admit I was quite giddy with the invitation and was extremely curious as to how the first introductions would go. Kelsey had provided me some pretty good directions on where to enter the ranch and park my car. Upon entering the main gate to the Brush Creek Ranch I immediately was awe struck with the grand beauty of this hidden jewel in the middle of WY. As I drove slowly and carefully through the property I thought to myself, “Deb how the heck did you get an invite to this ranch? This place is absolutely a piece of splendor usually reserved for the affluent rather than an Arkansas teacher.”
Three nights at this place would exceed my entire monthly take home salary. I felt my heart starting to race as I continued to meander through the rustic mountain property over to the staff housing area where Kelsey instructed me to park. Previously in the day Kelsey had sent me a message that there was a local band playing in the main dining hall and if I arrived early enough I might catch the end of their show. As I exited the Outback I stood in the gravel parking lot and performed several deep-breathing exercises to try and calm myself down. I have no idea why in the world I was so incredibly nervous about this entire situation. I have facilitated keynote lectures in front of hundreds of people in the past and could not imagine why this moment was affecting me with such intensity. All the same, my pulse was racing and I needed to get my shit together before I strolled into this multi million dollar dining facility looking for a chef. I followed a perfectly aligned cobblestone-illuminated walkway leading to the mind-blowing rustic log and redwood stained banquet room. I trotted up the stairs and was greeted by a sweet young lady who said, “Good evening miss, I hope you are enjoying your stay with us?” I said, “OMG Deb, take a deep breath and say something to the girl.” I said, “Oh yes everything is perfect thank you. This place is fabulous!” I straightaway found the bathroom immediately to my left as I entered the foyer. Thank goodness no one was in the bathroom, because by this time I truly needed a private Deb mirror time chat. I took about 5 minutes for a little prayer, more deep breathing exercises in the bathroom stall, and finally an air high 5 to myself. As I looked into the mirror I said, “Deb, get your act together, you have been sneaking into Hiltons and Hampton's all summer using their hot tubs, pools, and buffets. You actually have an official invite to be here so just take it all in and enjoy the experience.” After gathering my composure I spotted a large stuffed comfy leather backed couch by the window area and bee lined it straightaway to the couch. The band was just wrapping up their gig for the night, so I scanned the perimeter of the dining room estate to scout out the best vantage point to spot Kelsey from my position. I texted Kelsey and said, “Sitting by couch by fireplace.” It was approximately 10 minutes later when I spotted Kelsey strutting across the dining room with her distinctive long strided gate. She waved at me and said, “HELLO,” in her very Australian accent. We both gave each other a friendly welcoming hug and Kelsey said, “I am glad you made it here. Are you hungry? I have saved something for you.” I said, “Yes actually I am starving and that would be wonderful.” Kelsey walked over to an open kitchen area with a couple of plates that had been prepared and saved for the band members who had just wrapped up their evening gig and there was one special plate saved for me. I can’t even remember what I ate, but it was exceptional with some incredible carrot cream soup to die for.
We all moved to a beautiful location outside on the deck by small heated lamp that took the evening chill out of the air. The elevation at Brush Creek Ranch was 6785 feet and there was still a fair amount of snow on the peaks surrounding the Medicine Bow mountain ranges. I quickly discovered that the light jacket I had packed would come in handy for the upcoming week at the ranch. I had a lovely conversation with the band members who play at the ranch on a regular schedule and live in the nearby town of Cheyenne. After a charming surprise dinner Kelsey said, “We need to go ahead and load the kayaks tonight on my truck, so we can get an early start in the morning.” We strolled over to the activities area where two small kayaks were hanging by straps on an overhead decked area on the ceiling stringers. Kelsey jumped in her Honda Ridgeline and backed right under the kayaks, dropped them onto a roof rack, strapped them down for the trek to the river in the morning, all in less than 10 minutes. It had been an extremely long day for Kelsey at the ranch and our river adventure would commence bright and early, so we headed off to retire for the evening. Luckily for me Kelsey did not have to share her bunkhouse apartment with a roommate, so I was blessed not have to bunk in the Subaru nest.
The next morning we popped out of bed at 7:00am as Kelsey whipped open the blinds and started jumping up and down saying, “Good morning Wyoming, good morning Wyoming!” Since Kelsey is from Australia our first morning chats were filled with moments of contemplating exactly what in the world she way saying from time to time. Kelsey has an endearing catalog of phrases and sayings that are quite unique and original to say the least. We packed our bags, grabbed all the paddling gear that I had hauled from Arkansas and headed out on our paddling adventure. The first stop was to unload the kayaks upstream on the Platte River at a place called French Creek. Before off loading the kayaks we had to drop off my Subaru downstream at another location called Treasure Island. It was about a 30-minute drive between the 2 locations and approximately 20 miles between the locations via river. As we pulled into the Treasure Island area we both jumped out of the cars and scampered down by the Platte River, which seemed to be flowing with a nice steady pace. We transferred all the gear and supplies to Kelsey’s Ridgeline and left the Subaru parked by the river. Most of the back roads leading to the river areas are very dusty two lane roads heavily traveled daily by staff members of the Brush Creek Ranch, river goers, and the locals. Before launching the kayaks Kelsey took me on a little scenic tour of the town of Encampment, WY population 450, which remarkably has a town Opera House.
I can only imagine the excitement for a woman who studied opera in Australia and loves to sing to discover an Opera House in Encampment, WY. The entire tour of Encampment, WY took less than 3 minutes and we were finally off to our much-awaited launch of our Platte River paddling adventure. Kelsey and I pulled into an area she had previously scouted to launch our kayaks which was located by a private outdoor cooking area used to host events at the Brush Creek Ranch. The facilities were beyond amazing with a beautiful constructed yurt in the middle of a gorgeous decked area complete with a full outdoor kitchen. Lining the deck we found two pine log rocking Adirondack chairs overlooking the Platte River below with a lovely cobblestone creek running beside the venue pouring its contents back into the river. As we prepared for our 20-mile journey down the river Kelsey shared a special prayer to protect our voyage, blessings for the day, and our upcoming river adventure. We off loaded the kayaks and portaged them down to the waters edge in preparation for the river launch. I snapped a couple of pictures to document the adventure as we geared up the kayaks with our lunch in dry bags. We filtered some water from the river, filled up our bottles, and it appeared that we had everything in order for the trip. We both trotted up the grassy embankment to the bathroom area for one last pit stop before the trip down the river. As we scampered back down the grassy embankment Kelsey was in front of me already loading into her kayak.
I had the bright idea to leap over a muddy area by the waters edge, slipping, and completely busted my butt in the mud. Kelsey looked over at me covered in mud and immediately started cracking up, as the situation was pretty darn funny. My only option at this point was to go ahead and take the big plunge in the chilly river to wash the muck off of me. I assure you the Platte River was quite chilly, as it was still being fed with mountain snowmelt. However, I acted brave and just sucked it up floating on my back in the river taking in the all the majestic beauty around me. Attempting not to focus on the nipple raising water temperatures, Kelsey continued laughing her ass off at me said, “Hey Deb is the water cold?” What a smart-ass question, of course the water was freaking cold. I assure you Kelsey got a little river payback of her own later in the morning. We shoved off the riverbank around 9:00am and finally began what proved to be more of an adventure than either of us could have ever expected. The views were absolutely beautiful as the river flowed at a perfect pace not even needing to paddle and could just bask in the glory of God’s creation all while enjoying a few light rapids and some nice rollers.
There was an abundance of wildlife along the rivers edge including several pelicans, geese families, cattle, several deer, and a strange looking swimming squirrel, or at least that is what we thought it might be. Later in the day we had the most incredible sighting of a massive 400lb moose standing on rivers edge. The morning was absolutely perfect with a partly cloudy sun filled sky and a light whispery breeze on the river. We both were a little awe struck with the beauty of the whole experience and continued to mention to one another how lucky we felt to be the only people on the river. We did pass a few fly fishermen from the Brush Creek Lodge, but we only passed one other couple in canoe fishing much later in the day. After paddling in the kayaks for a few hours we decided to pull over on a nice grassy flat area and have a light lunch.
I had packed some comfy Crazy Creek camping chairs that we set up on the riverbank and enjoyed some goat cheese and crackers while taking in the entire magnificence of our surroundings. As we continued the chat we observed some afternoon clouds rolling in and actually heard a little thunder in the distance. Kelsey said, “We either need to get on our way or look for shelter here.” We decided to just continue forward with the journey and figure it out as the situation developed. Kelsey loaded in her kayak first and I said, “Hey I will give you a little push off the embankment.” Well I gave her more than a little push, I said, “Giddy up Kelsey here you go.” Holy crap the next thing that happened is Kelsey suddenly flipping sideways and she was in drink completely soaked. I felt pretty bad about dumping her in the river, however she is an frisky adventure outdoor woman and just laughed about it while hopping back in her kayak. The wind started to the howl through the canyons as we eventually hit the first of 3 down pours on our river journey. The outside temperature was still around 80 degrees, so it was not like we were going to die of hypothermia. I would estimate that we were about 4 hours into our Platte River adventure when I suddenly felt a very sick feeling in my gut. Out of the blue I immediately realized that I had left the Subaru keys in Kelsey’s Ridgeline truck back at the French Creek area. While floating in my kayak I contemplated for about 30 seconds on what a FUBA I had just created for our little Platte River adventure. I figured that I better come clean immediately so we could figure out what in the heck to do next. I pulled my kayak over towards Kelsey and said, “Kelsey hmmm…I have something to tell you. I left the Subaru keys in your Ridgeline back at French Creek.” What happened next was just the beginning of a series of events and several more unplanned, no expectation, gut laughing, river adventures that I will forever cherish. Kelsey looked me square in the eye and said, “Well I guess we will have to hitch a ride,” and busted out laughing at me. We both broke out into a 10 minute chain of laugher at the entire situation and decided that it was just part of our entire experience. I was extremely grateful and relieved that Kelsey thought the entire key FUBA would only add to our adventure.
We decided to pull the kayaks out about 8 miles short of the Treasure Island takeout as Kelsey thought we might have better luck hitchhiking upstream. I grabbed my backpack and filtered some water for the water bottles, since it might be quiet a hike if no one picked us up. Kelsey and I hid the boats on the rivers edge and scurried up a steep embankment rocky area. The area we pulled the kayaks out on was actually private land, so we hustled it to the top of the road before someone showed up with a shotgun. The sun was now out and I estimate the temperatures were close to 90 degrees. Yes there we stood, on the corner of the dirt road in the middle of nowhere in our dirty white long sleeve shirts, paddling hats, shorts, backpack, with my Arkansas thumb in the air looking for a vehicle of any kind to pick us up. Kelsey said, “Deb have you ever hitchhiked before because you have your thumb turned the wrong way.” Ok I will admit this was my first hitch hiking adventure, nonetheless we were in Wyoming and I figured anyone driving down the road are probably Brush Creek workers or locals. I never felt like we were in any danger of being picked up by some weirdo in the middle of nowhere. We did have a couple of trucks stop when they spotted my Arkansas upside down thumb attracting their attention, but they were all going the wrong way. We continued walking down the road chatting up multiple conversations when Kelsey said a little prayer and it was not 2 minutes later we spotted a nice Ford F-250 approaching us from behind towing a skid steer dozer on a tandem trailer. As the truck approached I properly extended the hitchhikers thumb at the correct angle so he would not think we were out for a jog. The guy stopped and I let Kelsey do all the talking as she has quite the charisma with the sexy Australian accent. I was definitely hoping she could score us some sympathy points. The guy said, “Hey I am heading down to the Brush Creek gun range area to drop off this skid steer and some lumber. After dropping off this load I will drive you girls over to French Creek.” I could not believe our luck and the fact that Lance was willing to completely go out of his way to help out of couple of blonds. As we were all chatting in the truck Lance mentioned that he was building a deck for the Brush Creek gun range facility. Kelsey said, “Hey I have never had a chance to see that location on the Brush Creek Ranch, so this will be cool.” I would estimate that we had been in the truck about 20 minutes when I suddenly got another sick feeling in my stomach and wondered if Kelsey had remembered to grab her truck key out of the kayak bags. I thought to myself, “Deb that is absurd of course she grabbed her key.” It was about 30 seconds after I had this fleeting thought when Kelsey turned around from the front seat and said, “Deb we have a problem, I don’t have my truck key, it is back in the kayaks.” I looked at Kelsey and we both busted out laughing again. I am not sure Lance realized what had just happened, but in that moment it was quite funny that we both had committed another key FUBA all within a two hour span of time. Kelsey looked over to Lance and said, “Mate, I am so sorry, but my truck key is back in the kayaks not far from where you picked up a couple of blonds.” Lance kind of laughed and said, “Hey no problem I will drop off this trailer and lumber and take you girls back to get the key and drop you off over at Treasure Island.” Kelsey said, “I'm sorry Lance I don’t even have any money on me to offer you for gas, but I can offer you a power bar.” I chimed in and said, “Hey I have some essential oils we can trade out.” I think Kelsey just about fell out of her seat when I pulled out my little blue bag of essential oils. She said, “You brought your essential oils on our river adventure, but forgot the emergency kit?” How in the heck did we get so blessed to have met Lance on our little FUBA river key adventure, as he was such a good sport and just laughed along with us, or perhaps at us?
It took another 20 minutes to wind our way down the narrow dirt roads leading into the Brush Creek Ranch exclusive sportsman’s camp area that houses an elite shooting range surrounded by several quaint log cabins facing a beautiful river creek with amenities decorated to the hilt. This exclusive Sportsman’s area houses 12 special guests, with a private chef, a skilled marksmen staff of 4 dedicated to meet the Brush Creek clients every need. I have no comprehension of what this private place cost per night, but if you have to ask you probably won’t be staying there. The chef that works at this location is a friend of Kelsey’s and offered to give us a little mini tour of the facility. Kelsey and I had about 30 minutes to wander around and take a peek at this exclusive portion of the Brush Creek Ranch Lodge that was defiantly something you might see on the a TV show, Get Away’s for the Rich and Famous. Lance finished off loading his skid steer and lumber for the shooting range deck project that was commencing the next day and came into the lodge kitchen and said, "Are you girls ready?"
We hopped back into the truck with Lance and headed back to the location where Kelsey and I had beached our kayaks. As we pulled up to the dirt road intersection Kelsey jumped out of the front door and trotted through the sagebrush jungle to the kayaks beached on the shoreline where she grabbed the truck key and pounced back up the hill like a WY jackrabbit. Off we drove with truck key in hand headed back to French Creek to get the key out of my Subaru, which was at least a 30-minute drive. As Lance pulled into the parking lot where Kelsey’s truck was parked we both thanked him for being such an amazing and generous soul with the entire blond FUBA key episode. I think we provided Lance as much amusement and laughter as we experienced during the entire afternoon. Kelsey looked at me and said, “Deb do you want to go finish our paddling trip?” I said, “Yes lets do this!” We headed back to the spot where the kayaks were parked on the bank and left Kelsey’s truck by the fence line. I defiantly made sure I had the Subaru key in my hand as Kelsey said, “Deb key check?” We meandered back down the sagebrush obstacle course and resumed the kayak paddling adventure as if nothing had even happened. We continued to laugh about the entire series of events for the next two hours as we paddled towards the Treasure Island takeout.
As we continued into the last portion of the paddling adventure Kelsey suddenly pointed to the side of the river and motioned to stay quiet. Right there on the waters edge stood a beautiful Moose that must have weighed at least 400lbs. I could not believe my eyes that we had actually been blessed to experience a rare closeup sighting of one of natures most beautiful creatures. We were 2 of the luckiest people on earth at that moment, as I thanked God multiple times for such an amazing day filled with kindness, blessings, laughter, peace, happiness, and abundant joy. I would imagine it was around 7:00pm when we slid into the sandy river shoreline with our kayaks. We both experienced a full day of river paddling adventures that exceeded even the most creative of imaginations. However, the day was not over as we jumped into the Subaru to go retrieve Kelsey’s Ridgeline parked somewhere on a dirt road in the middle of a WY back road. Actually Kelsey knew exactly where her truck was parked, so I just drove as she pointed and said, “Turn here.” As we shuttled both cars back to the Treasure Island area where we had left our kayaks on the side of the parking lot I suddenly hit wall with exhaustion. Kelsey had sped ahead of me on the dirt road, so not to blow a hurricane of dust in my face. I recall the feeling when I suddenly approached a "T" in the road and said, “Shit…are you kidding me, right or left?” I looked around for several minutes trying to gain my bearings, but it was not helping my situation. I thought to myself, “Deb come on if you turn the wrong way you might drive to Utah before you get off this dirt road.” Out of the corner of my eye after all the dust had settled I thought I saw Kelsey’s truck way down the road over to the left and parked. I jammed the Outback in drive and floored it to catch up to Kelsey's location. As I approached Kelsey’s truck she was leaning on her truck and I could tell from her body language that she was completely exhausted too! She strutted over to my car window and said, “All I have to offer you is this cracker.” I cracked up and said, “Thank you Kelsey, I am grateful for a cracker and will take it.” We headed back towards the Treasure Island parking lot, which was another 30-minute drive. I was completely delirious as I stumbled out of my car. I caught a glance of Kelsey staggering over to me in the gravel parking lot as she said, “I have hit the wall.” We laughed and said, “Lets get these kayaks loaded and get out of here.” It took every last ounce of energy that we both could muster to heave the 40 pound kayaks on top of Kelsey’s roof rack. I specifically recall the second kayak being so heavy to lift as we both moaned while sliding the kayak up the side of the Ridgeline, barely even lifting it above the door jam. We were both pretty pathetic at that point and desperately needed more than a cracker for dinner. I can safety say that if I ever get the opportunity to kayak with Kelsey in the future we will both have a car key check plan.
May the Journey Begin Within You