We cruised along the long, smooth highways tucked in behind a semi-truck or two (how I preferred to drive whilst in the States that is slowly and smoothly) along dusty highway shoulders that definitely had a tumbleweed or two for decoration.
The longer that I've been blogging, the better that I think our travelling choices are getting - and the more fun that the researching that we do becomes. However, this revelation flew quite out of the window when totally by chance I discovered that it's actually possible to stay on a working Texan Ranch as a tourist and set about booking us into an accommodation experience, rather than just another beige hotel.
But it wasn't until we turned off Interstate 35 to a teeny tiny little town called Grandview, that the feeling we really were in Texas actually sunk in.
Pulling our scarlet stallion into the Beaumont Ranch driveway I slowed the car, turned to Mr Kiwi, and made him pinch me to check that I wasn't just dreaming.
The Beaumont Ranch is a resort complete with spa, but first and foremost it's a working cattle ranch of 800 beautiful North Texas acres, complete with a herd of Texas longhorns, horses, llamas, and other local wildlife. The ponds have otters and beavers playing in the waters and cheeky dogs gambol along the pond banks. We were even luckier than most because as it was an off-season Sunday we had the entire place to ourselves.
Beaumont Ranch sits on the old Chisolm Trail, used in the post-Civil War era to drive cattle overland, from ranches in Texas to Kansas railheads. The 26 unique suites, rooms, guest cabins and homes are housed in a cute 'Western Town' reflecting Texas in the 1880's when cowboys were driving their herds through the land.
Unfortunately I left my camera in the US and with it 98% of my photos of our cute-as-pie cabin, so you'll just have to take my word for it. Our cabin surprised us at the level of luxuriousness it contained - an enormous sleigh bed that we sank into with utter pleasure, plush fittings with an intentionally rustic charm and all of the mod-cons that a Wild West Saloon girl could possible need.
Checking in, we learned how in 1997 Ron and Linda Beaumont opened their dream, a Texas Guest Ranch, to reflect their love of the culture and the land of North Texas. Now the ranch is run by the children, grandchildren and the extended family of Ron and Linda, along with staff members from the local Grandview area 'that feel like family'. We were treated so kindly by everyone we met alonf the way.
Both of us being animal lovers, we were keen to explore the ranch - after a much needed nap obviously - so we embarked on a pre-dinner bimble around the large pond and stables to meet a few of our neighbors.
This, this is Max.
This mischievous goat actually thinks he's a dog, and when the ranch hands realized how miserable he was penned up vs. how happy he was meandering around the farm 'helping' [read: hindering] them carrying out chores, they decided to let him roam around freely during the day. 4 years later every night he gets tucked away at twilight with the horses and let out each morning to roam on the range.
Too cute for words. Also, at this point I was told that Mr Kiwi doesn't speak Standard Goat, just Pygmy Goat - the things you learn after 8 years of marriage huh?
This bony little catten melted our hearts. Chatting with our ropin' instruction, a proper grizzly cowboy, he cradled the cat in his arms whilst telling us how they kept kitties in the stables as the best method of keeping the rat and mouse population at bay (their urine makes the horse's hay grow a toxic mould) and that one of their cats had given birth to a intrigue [genuine collective noun] of kittens.
One lady decided that the kittens wouldn't have a good life (even though they are working cats, the soft-hearted, big burly stable guys feed them as well) and made off with the whole litter in her car one afternoon. Two weeks later, this emaciated kitten, identical to the litter came striding back over to the barn and ran straight up to her Momma. They think she used her cat GPS [not a genuine technical term] to make her own way home.
Hauling our dinner back to the cabins, we spotted two seats at the end of the pond pier simply calling our names. Watching the sun break over the horizon as we toasted our trip (me with spiked Iced Tea) we had one of those travel 'moments' that we will never forget.
Waking the next morning, we raced out of bed and over to the barns for breakfast, as we had a roping lesson in the calendar, taught by the ranch lifestock manager. Essentially, the cowboys would individually hook a longhorn beast by twirling a loop of good roper over their heads and snaring the cow's longhorns. I was terrible at it, Mr Kiwi was a heck of a lot better, but it's mostly because I got the giggles when we gathered an audience in the barn - the horses in their stable boxes, a couple of the cats and Max (the goat) who kept wanting in on the fun.
Leaving our little home on the range was tough. Really tough, but us cowpoke have to learn to adjust our Stetsons and ride off into the sunset, right?
Starry night, campfire light, and the coyote calls where the howlin' winds will.
So I ride out to the ol' sundown. I am just a cowboy, lonesome on the trail. Too right, Thin Lizzy.
Where is the most unique place you've stayed on holiday?