This blog is going back to a holiday just before the pandemic locked down the UK. I had a ‘trip of a lifetime’ booked in mid-Feb 2020 and whilst Covid news was mainly focused on China and the steady increase into Europe, it seemed a world away from affecting us (little did we know!). The holiday was to start in Las Vegas, then to the Grand Canyon, then on to LA, then finish off with a mini cruise to Mexico. Quite a few items on my bucket list were to be ticked off in an epic 11 days (which was sadly cut short by 24hrs due to storm Clara closing Heathrow airport on our departure date)!
There are many stories I could share but I’m going to focus on the most memorable leg of the trip… there was a two hour drive from Las Vegas to our accommodation near the Grand Canyon, which was broken up by a pit stop to the Hoover Dam where I stood in two US states at the same time (Nevada and Arizona), we then continued our journey to ‘Grand Canyon Western Ranch’. This ranch was once owned by a notorious 19th century gunfighter connected to the Hole in the Wall Gang. The Old West-style resort on a secluded cattle ranch is located 10 miles from the rim of the Grand Canyon and overshadowed by Spirit Mountain. We stayed in a pine cabin reminiscent of the 70’s tv show Little House on the Prairie, and was entirely run by cowboys (yes, real cowboys) where you could ride horses through the desert landscape (tick), take a helicopter ride over/through the Grand Canyon (tick), learn to shoot a pistol and rifle (tick), take horse-drawn wagon rides (tick), and even get tips on throwing a lasso (no tick)!
Naturally the helicopter ride and seeing the expanse of the Canyon was a highlight, but this three-day break offered much more. There was NO Wi-Fi, internet, or TV, so we spent the days in our own little bubble blissfully unaware of what was going on in the world, which gave plenty of time to reflect, enjoy the stunning scenery, and make friends with the 14 others enjoying the same experience. We ate our meals together in one large cabin then after dinner every evening a campfire would be lit to sit around for sing songs, guitar playing, and toasting marshmallows from the hot embers under a canopy of clear skies and billions of stars. Sharing an experience like that is truly special. Three years on and the WhatsApp group with my fellow Ranchers is still going strong often reciting memories of our trip and catching up with current news. The ranch was an experience never to be forgotten!