Dude Ranch

We’ve all been to wonderful places that bring memories flooding back to us. Places of awesome beauty, like the Canadian Rockies. Places of great excitement like the Grand Ole Opry. Even a quiet spot under a tree at Grandma’s house. Here’s one of the places I remember from my own past.

Guess you thought I was through talking about the trip we took with the Truelson family in 1951. No such luck. Too many fond memories.


We spent several days at the Moncrief Dude Ranch near Gunnison, Colorado. At least part of that ranch is now under the waters of Blue Mesa Reservoir, but it wasn’t in 1951. The lake wasn’t built until the 1960s.


Blue Mesa Reservoir

Never having been to any other dude ranch, I can’t say whether this one was typical or not, but it was fun. Our parents spent their time pursuing some kind of boring adult stuff, but we kids had better ways to spend ours.

There was an old railroad track running along the front of the place between the ranch headquarters and U.S. 50. It was either abandoned or so rarely used that it was considered safe for us to play there. An ancient handcar sat on the tracks, and we’d get onto it and pump the handle to move it up and down the rails. Something about that handcar really fascinated John Truelson and me.

Our other favorite pastime was riding horses. I suppose we had to demonstrate first that we could ride, but they would let us take the horses out and ride around the ranch unsupervised. John and I had more fun playing cowboys and Indians. I guess today’s kids would play Darth Vader or something, but cowboys and Indians or cowboys and outlaws occupied a lot of boys’ play time back in those days.

One of the memories that has stuck the most vividly in my mind came in the dining room. I’ve never been a fish lover—any kind of fish. I’d seen people eat it before, of course, and had in fact eaten it myself when I couldn’t avoid it, but it was always filleted and fried.

One evening as we sat in the dining hall, I noticed a couple with what looked to me like whole, raw fish on their plates. The eyes stared up as if watching what was going on. Apparently trout is served whole at times (it wasn’t really raw—just look that way to me), with the head and tail left in place.

Maybe that’s a delicacy you enjoy, but not me, and especially not at age eight. I don’t think I threw up, but I felt nauseated and grossed out by the sight. Yuck.

Ø What are some of the places you remember from childhood—or maybe from last year?

Ø Think about what those places mean to you.

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About David N. Walker

David N. Walker is a Christian husband, father and grandfather, a grounded pilot and a near-scratch golfer who had to give up the game because of shoulder problems. A graduate of Duke University, he spent 42 years in the health insurance industry, during which time he traveled much of the United States. He started writing about 20 years ago and has been a member and leader in several writers' groups. Christianity 101: The Simplified Christian Life, the devotional Heaven Sent and the novella series, Fancy, are now available in paperback and in Kindle and Nook formats, as well as through Smashwords and Kobo. See information about both of these by clicking "Books" above.
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8 Responses to Dude Ranch

  1. DM says:

    Fond memories of childhood are so much a part of our adult lives. I remember visiting relatives in Wisconsin who had the old fashioned handle pump with their kitchen sink. Funny what we remember.


  2. Jess Witkins says:

    Blue Mesa Resevoir. Sounds gorgeous! I can recall that feeling of nausea looking at a whole fish on a plate. i remember spending a weekend in Door County Wisconsin with my parents, and it’s surrounded by water. Lots of full fish on plates and i remember my dad scraping scales off before each bite. *gag* I love fish, but I don’t have the guts to mess around with theirs! LOL.

    Looking forward to your guest blog tomorrow!


  3. Barb Estinson says:

    You have sparked a few memories for me. I vividly remember the handcar that you and John pumped … perhaps I did so too. I don’t recall the fish or even the dining room for that matter … I guess it didn’t make as big an impression on me. In fact, my memory of the whole dude ranch experience is pretty spotty. Horses were no doubt my favorite thing … though I can’t remember any details of riding them there. Did we stay in a cabin or what kind of place? I remember the tents at Philmont Scout Camp more clearly.


  4. Lovely post, David. Your dude ranch vacation sounds like something I’d have also loved as a child. I would now, too. I imagine such places are much different nowadays. And isn’t that a shame?

    My favorite childhood holidays were to the Smokie Mountains National Park. I loved and rode horses back then, too. So I agree, mountains and horses are a wonderful combination.

    I do love seafood. Anything from the water, really. And pan-fried rainbow trout is a favorite. I do prefer no heads on my plate, but don’t mind the tail.


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