Monday, May 13, 2013

Brunch ride at the Don K Ranch

In the summer of 1989, I worked as a wrangler at the Don K Ranch in the mountains outside of Pueblo, Colorado.  Like most guest ranches, entertainment at the Don K was centered around two things--food and horses.  Not surprisingly, one of our most popular events was the weekly Brunch Ride.

From a wrangler's point of view, this day started like any other.  We got up early and had the horses fed, caught and saddled all before nine AM.
Shortly thereafter, the guests arrived at the corral.  We mounted up...
Jennifer on Shortcake and Gina on Fancy
and headed out! 
Our destination was Windy Hill.  Like most rides at the Don K, this one included substantial altitude gains and amazing views.
Cheating--this photo was taken on the Edge of the World trail.  
I don't have any pictures from Windy Hill.
As we dropped back into the valley, we could see (and smell!) the brunch preparations.
Feeding upwards of sixty five people is a big production, particularly without an indoor kitchen.
Jodi and Troy (front table), Judi and Karen (back table)
 Apart from the wranglers, the entire staff pitched in to make the Brunch Ride a success.
Julie
While the guests went through the food lines,
Lots of hungry, happy riders
the wranglers tended to the horses.
Cowboy
Once the horses were settled and the guests were fed...
Peanut Butter
it was our turn to go through the food line.  As much as I liked the Windy Hill trail, my best memories of the Brunch Ride involve eating at the staff table.
the staff table, clockwise from left: Mike, Holly, Jennifer, MJ, Jan, Troy, Claire, Gina, Julie
And then--too soon!--it was time to climb back in the saddle and hit the trail again.
Horses and food--it's a winning combination, both then and now!

25 comments:

  1. Wow! All that 80s hair and clothes. Really brings back memories. :)

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  2. Looks like so much fun! I'm in! (A little late for that).

    ~Alyssa

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  3. That reminds me of my days as a riding instructor at Bette Perot, the Girl Scout camp in east Texas. Peanut Butter looks like the perfect kids horse!

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  4. I would love to go back to the Don K, but alas, it's too late for me, too. The ranch changed hands in the 1990's and is no longer open to guests.

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  5. I'm actually going to drive out to kentucky from michigan and my family agreed that we could finally go trail riding. I'm going to be staying near the Mammoth Cave because we're going to be visting that, but I've been researching all day and only found one place that lets you rent horses and trail ride. Do you know of any?

    Thanks, Devon♥

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    1. I have never been to Mammoth Cave but I remember seeing signs for it when I was driving through Kentucky way back when. I like caves, so I always wanted to go there. Never did, though. Actually, the only places I've been in Kentucky are Louisville and Lexington. There are rental horses at the Kentucky Horse Park, but beyond that I can't help you.

      Have a fun trip and take lots of pictures!

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  6. Oh wow! I worked at the Don K Ranch summer of 1992 as a wrangler. Your pictures certainly bring back memories!

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  7. Are you part of the Don K Facebook page? There are lots of great old photos (including some of mine) there.

    :)

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    1. No, I didn't know there was one! I'll check it out

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    2. My mom and I are reminiscing our two family trips to the Don K. We loved both of them. Remember the signs on the way to the ranch, up the mountain? Others made it, so can you! I know there were others. I'm 56 and Mom is 82. Dad passed away 2 years ago after 62 years of marriage. Don K is one of our favorite memories. Mom wishes we could go one more time...

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    3. My condolences on the loss of your father. My dad died this summer, and I know how hard that is

      The Don K Ranch meant a lot of things to a lot of people (myself included!). I highly recommend the Don K Facebook page, as it contains photos and written memories from former guests and staff from all periods of the ranch's history. I also have other Don K posts on this blog. You can use the search box on the upper left side of the screen to find them!

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    4. Is there still a FB page. I find that see one.

      My family came from Illinois four times between 1976 and 1983. Lots of great memories.

      Any family members still around? I live in CO now

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  8. My mom found this blog last night. My family went to the Don K in the summer of 1989. My brother and I are in one of the pictures that you posted! How funny is that?! That vacation was the best vacation that I went on as a kid! Thanks for the memories!

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  9. My family spent two weeks at the Don K in the summer of 1969! What a great experience. I was only 5 years old, but what memories!

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  10. My mother, her best friend Winnie and I, age 15 were there for a fabulous week in 1975!! Mom is now 88 and still remembers the time at the Don K. We have faded pictures and colorful memories too..Thank you for the 80's pictures..what a flashback!! Laurie Haw

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  11. My extended family stayed at the Don K a couple of times in late August. Each time we were celebrating my grandfather's birthday. The trail rides with Don K (the grandfather) and the brunches were always enjoyable. Don K could really sit in his saddle regardless of his horse's gait. So many good time... and so many memories.

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  12. Three of my girlfriends and I went to the Don K in the summer of 1974. We had no idea what we were in for! We had a blast! Riding the horses, square dancing after dinner and playing "Pass the Trash" in a back room later in the evening were some highlights. I am so sad to hear that this ranch is no longer operating.

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  13. My first and only trip to the Don k Ranch was in 2005 during the Mason gulch fire I was a SWIFT FIREFIGHTER I stood side by side on that Ranch, one of the proudest moments of my life, the two most powerful speeches I've ever heard, one in the Morning and the other after The Ranch was saved, please tell me your still there at the Ranch !!

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  14. Apart from the wranglers?! The kitchen/cabin crew made that event happen. You all just took them on a ride. It was grueling and detailed and Mary was unforgiving if some forgot something.

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  15. How funny. I stayed at Don K that summer with my family.

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    1. If you have any pictures, I would love to see them.

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  16. Was there in the 80's great fun

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