Thursday, July 5, 2012

July 4, Dude Ranch Style

In Australia, we mark the founding of our nation by having the day off work, going to the beach and drinking way too much. While I’m sure that’s a familiar scenario for many Americans on Independence Day, I was delighted to mark my first July 4 in the USA with a G-rated, family friendly experience here at Paradise Ranch.

The focus of the day was a lunchtime picnic in the Mule Parlour, a grassy paddock opposite the barn. Picnic rugs had been tossed over the manure-strewn grass, a barbie was sizzling with hamburgers and hotdogs, and the saloon, dining room and several ponies were decorated with red, white and blue, courtesy of the children in the kids’ club program.
Around 12.15pm, the ranch’s own Grand Parade set off from in front of the dining room, to the accompaniment of God Bless America (a happy coincidence, I discovered, with that song randomly playing at exactly the right time!) Jac and Travis led the parade on horseback, waving the stars and stripes, followed by Ed and the girls pulling the haywagon laden with the week’s youngest guests.

Super-dog Jake followed, led by Jeremy wearing a sombrero (typical July 4 dress? Really?) and ridden by a little rubber cowboy (see the photo below, it’s difficult to explain in words!); then came little Lightning ridden by six-year-old Annie and a painted pony ridden by Haley, aged 5.

The parade came and went in the blinking of an eye, but it really was a sweet, tear-inducing moment of national pride on a grass-roots level. 
The burger lunch courtesy of chefs Brian and Tim was awesome as ever, topped off by a massive cake representing the American flag, blueberry stars and strawberry stripes. Super yum. 

But the highlight of the event was the field events - sack races, three legged races and everyone’s favourite, the egg toss. I’ve never seen the latter event before - apparently it’s a local standard - and for my friends Down Under, let me try to explain ...
Pairs line up facing each other in two lines down the paddock. They pass a raw egg between them, then take a step back. They then have to keep tossing the egg to their partner, taking a step back with each successful throw. Of course, there are plenty of mishaps along the way as eggs explode on hand, chests and faces; with the odd sore loser also getting revenge on their partner with another splattered egg.

The winners of the event were Jace and Kelleyanne - slightly suspicious, I think, that the head waitress managed to find an egg that refused to break, even over a 25 metre distance ... substituting a hard-boiled egg, perhaps? Mmmm....

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