September 17, 2018

“It’s Been Quite The Party”

“It’s Been Quite The Party”, Bear Creek Guest Ranch

Wow, in my last writing I wrote about the young lady I had developed a professional relationship with in a therapeutic setting. I still think about her from time to time and hope she is overcoming some of the social barriers that have inhibited her from being all she wants to be. Just recently, I’ve received news of good friends, some temporarily sick, a few terminally ill. That ain’t good. I mean, these are folks that I’ve known a long time, through the good times and the not good times. Good friends stand the test of time, they don’t come and go, even when the chips are down. I talked to a good ole cowboy bud of mine just a while ago. Me and Harry don’t see each other much, maybe once or twice a year. But when we do, it’s a good thing. I think my world wouldn’t be as full if Harry weren’t around. And for the record, he will be. His go round in the hospital is about over and in any case, he’s a stubborn son of a bitch and on the mend. But I must be thinking about mortality a bit more than normal cause here I am writing about it.

So here I go again, writing about relationships, ones I’ve known, ones I’ve lost, and maybe those that are yet to come. I just got off the message system with an old high school mate, hadn’t communicated with him for more than forty some years. I remember Doug pretty well. We played football together and I recall him being pretty damned smart. I think he went to one of them Ivy League colleges and became a physicist. He was asking for my comments on the Malheur Wildlife Refuge comedy and we exchanged a few thoughts on the matter. I gave him my take on the deal and he referred me to a couple pieces that he thought were worth reading. Now, here I am corresponding with one intelligent fellow and he’s asking me stuff? I told him he’d always had me “out brained” by a large margin. And you know what? He told me he’d always enjoyed my writing, my style, and my normally thoughtful prose. Holy shit! I kid you not, I was speechless, and flattered. And most of all, he made my day. And so, here I am, inspired, writing, on a Saturday afternoon. I think, which is what I’m getting at here is, is that it doesn’t take a whole lot to get us going. We need just a little help, just a little nudge, just a little encouragement, just a little kindness directed our way, to make our day. I doubt if I’m speaking solely for myself. We’re all pretty similar when you get right down to it.

It’s been thirty five years now since we opened the doors at Bear Creek Ranch. Talk about a journey. My life has been a journey, particularly when it comes to that little ranch and the way it’s intersected with me at every curve, corner, and traffic light along the way. Marriages, children, life, and death, good times, not so good times, but through it all, the one constant, the relationships that I’ve known and the ones that I haven’t but are still to come. We don’t raise cattle at our place, we have raised more than a few horses, but really, what we’ve raised the most, are relationships with our guests, those that were, those that are, and those that are yet to come. I’ve thought on occasion that it would be nice to raise cattle. Hell, cattle don’t talk back, don’t take up your time when you’ve got something else on your mind, a project to complete, an errand to run. But you know what, I think I’ve come out on the right end on that one. I’ve had a fascination with people, and as I call it, the human condition, for as long as I can remember, And I still do!

It’s been an interesting Saturday morning. I just got an e-mail from a fellow that worked at the ranch thirty years ago. Now where the hell did that come from, after all these years. I’d thought of Mike from time to time, not with total fondness and not without some as well. I suspect if we’d been the best of friends we’d have never lost track of each other. But there it is. I’ll be seeing Mike this summer. He’ll be a paying guest, which is one good thing, and we’ll undoubtedly share some life, me and him. And that will pretty interesting. Did he ever marry the girl he loved so much back in 1988? Did he know of the girl I loved in 1988 and married in 1989? Does he have children? Does he know I have children? Oh boy, and there’s more of course.

I’ve got to fill you in on another fellow, Frankie, who’s been a guest at our ranch for three decades. He’s been on hunts, pack trips, cattle drives, and ranch vacations with us. This past summer, he was here at the ranch twice, once with his wife and grandson, and later on in the fall, with his wife and another neat couple. Frankie worked for a big outfit in the Midwest for years and not months after retiring after forty years of hard work, was diagnosed with a rather serious form of cancer. He was sick during his vacation here in July and appeared stronger in the fall. This winter hasn’t been kind to him and I find myself thinking about the fickle and often unfair nature of life.

Changing gears, there’s the real good stuff out there as well. We’ve had three marriages at the ranch the past couple years and they’ve all been good stuff. I mean really good people getting married on just the perfect day, and a helluva good party afterword. I have a strong feeling that those marriages are all gonna’ work. Hell, one of ’em was mine so there you go. I think the ranch, at times, has an almost mystic feel to it. Those weddings had it. “Into the Mystic.”

There’s so much more but before I wrap this up I want to tell you about Pat. Hell, most of you know him. Pat worked at the place more than thirty years ago, fresh out of high school somewhere on the East Coast. I’m not sure Pat had even graduated, not that it mattered. He was young then, just beginning, and stayed with us for a couple years. But there was something about Pat, even then. He had a quiet kind of ambition. And when he told me he was going to be building a Mexican Restaurant in his sister’s older log home in East Glacier, I thought well, he’s in for a rude awakening. Now remember, that’s going back more than a few years. What the hell did I know? What the hell did Pat know? Well, he knew a helluva’ bunch more than me! It wasn’t long before he and his wife Renee had that old log building tore down and built up. And you know the rest of this story. Serrano’s Mexican Restaurant is one of the most successful business’s west of the Mississippi River. Those strawberry daiquiris and blended margaritas go down like none other. Pat toasted me with his personal stash of fine Tequila on my 60th birthday. As Augustus McRae, Texas Ranger, said, “it’s been quite the party.” And it all started at Bear Creek Ranch.

“It’s Been Quite The Party”, Bear Creek Guest Ranch

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“It’s Been Quite The Party”, Bear Creek Guest Ranch

15750 US-2, Essex,  MT 59916 United States | (406) 226-4489 |

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