In short order, we walked five minutes down the Welcome foolish mortals disneyland halloween shirt and I will buy this path to the Silver Dollar Saloon and the Granite Lodge for a social hour and then dinner—Guy immediately hopped on a hand-tooled saddle (used here as a barstool) to order a Shirley Temple; Esme headed straight for what may be the four most luxe bowling lanes in existence, followed by a spirited if shambolic family game of eight-ball. Perhaps more accustomed to socializing in New York City—or, more recently, Paris—the general friendliness and easy vibes of the other guests came off as almost psychedelic to Biba and I. Dinner featured too much to choose from, really, though it centered around the abundant production of local farms and ranches and was changed up nightly, along with all the smart wine pairings (and, obviously, the best chicken strips and grilled cheese a child could ask for on the Lil’ Wranglers Menu). After dinner, we wandered outside to the patio, where—as if by magic!—there just happened to be an enormous fire pit, replete with long wooden sticks and marshmallows nearby. We ambled back to our cabin beneath a canopy of stars fit for a planetarium.
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And so it went, day after incredible day: With some expert instruction, we each shot bears, bighorn sheep, and elk with compound bows and arrows—I mean, the Welcome foolish mortals disneyland halloween shirt and I will buy this bows and arrows were real; the animals weren’t. We panned for (real) sapphires from the creek (we didn’t get rich, but we did find some amazing souvenirs to take home). We suited up in hip waders, learned how to cast fly rods, and took our talents down to Rock Creek, a blue-ribbon (read: world-class) trout stream that feeds into the renowned Clark Fork River: Guy caught his first fish within seconds of his fly landing on the water and his second not long afterward, almost making me think that the Ranch paid the fish to sacrifice themselves to their guests; Biba caught a good-sized trout in-between Guy’s two—and I walked away from the afternoon with absolutely nothing, putting the screws to my paid-fish theory. (Esme, caring not to fish, spent her time in a creekside hammock, leisurely sketching.) We saddled up together and then rode our horses separately for hours (Biba and I went up into the mountains for truly epic, panoramic views with our guide; Esme and Guy stayed nearer the corral for hands-on instruction on riding, trotting, turning, and jumping—and it’s worth noting here that while all the offerings here are executed to perfection, the equestrian program is particularly incredible). On another day, we made our way with the rest of the guests at sunset to see the Ranch’s 70-strong herd of horses run from the corrals out into their edenic pasture (and we were close enough to the action to feel the ground tremble beneath our feet). We ate everything from pecan granola to chilaquiles and bacon and eggs for breakfast, and everything from barbequed Carolina pork with Oaxacan sauce and collard greens to ricotta agnolotti to profiteroles and huckleberry ice cream for dinner and dessert. In between all of that, we popped by the antiques-filled, centrally located Blue Barn Canteen for restorative coffees and beers and snacks and help-yourself candy and a quick shady hang over a game of Battleship. (There’s a lot more in the offering as well, from hiking and mountain biking to a ropes course and zip lines—and, in the winter, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, sledding, ice skating, and downhill skiing a short ride away.)