My first ranch experience was one I shall never forget—despite my attempts. I was fifteen, traveling in a minivan with my entire family, including two annoying younger brothers, with no air-conditioning. I couldn't wait to get to Grandpa's ranch. After driving for hours upon kid hours and seeing many exciting things like dirt, fences, and random cows we finally arrived at Grandpa's ranch. Climbing out of the the minivan, I promptly concealed my identity by slipping on my sunglasses, because at fifteen, I was much too cool to be seen by nobody in the middle of nowhere at my grandpa's ranch.
"Morgan this is a cactus. Cactuses are pokey, and they hurt. Do not touch them, do not step on them, and do not even go near them!" My dad explained very slowly, as if my eight year-old brother didn't know what a cactus was. Just as I was rolling my eyes at my dad's attempts to educate us, my grandpa rolls in on a four-wheeler. In my fifteen years of existence, never once had I seen my grandpa using any mode of transportation but his cane. Although there was no speed limit on this uninhabited dirt path, I'm sure my grandpa was exceeding whatever speed he was supposed to be going. I'm sure Grandpa was zipping around in his four-wheeler at a steady eighty-five miles per hour. I'll admit I was impressed: my grandpa had just earned some coolness points.
As we pulled up to the heart of the ranch on four-wheelers, I got that feeling of fingernails on a chalkboard. I cringed as I beheld the place I had heard so much about. The ranch house and guest house, a couple of dilapidated old trailers that looked to have been there as long as the land itself. And I've seen houses, where I've felt bad for the neighbors because of all the tacky lawn ornaments so proudly displayed, but this was so far past that I could not imagine. It would not be exaggerating to say that there were at least ten tacky wooden lawn ornaments on every square foot of ranch. Ornamental birdhouses, animals, out houses—you name it, the ranch had it. The ranch also had the illusion of world travel. At one end of the ranch you had dry, barren desert with pokey cactuses, and at the other end gleamed a tropical rainforest. This rainforest was the picnic area complete with hanging Tarzan vines, wooden parrots, and rare silk flowers.
Inside this tropical paradise was something I had only heard about, I had always thought that they were urban legends, but no. That day, I stood as a fifteen year-old , and stared in unbelief as I gazed upon my very first mullet. A very large woman, sporting an equally proportioned very large mullet promptly explained about the insect problem, and how her homemade concoction would ward off these pesky flesh eaters. It was shortly thereafter that I was attacked. Not even my own mother could have helped me at this point, as she was wounded more than I. Mullet woman leaped forward to give us all a good dowsing of this icky goo. I managed to make my escape with out too much surface area damage; however my mom and my brother were not so fortunate. As it turned out, the only two plagued with these insect bites during our visit were my mom and my brother.
After a long day and many annoying experiences, my time at Grandpa's ranch seemed to be coming to an end. Cane in hand, Grandpa hobbled over to me and asked if I would like to spend the night. I thankfully declined, secretly finding the very idea horrifying. On the long drive home, I pondered my time spent at Grandpa's ranch and decided that as fun as it is, and as much as I love my grandpa, I'll will spend my time with him elsewhere from now on. And I'll let my memory of this first experience rest with Grandpa trailing dust on his four-wheeler.
Source Information: GenWeekly, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2005.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.
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