Collectors of people, part II

<strong>Priceless Gems</strong> Pat Price

Priceless Gems Pat Price

Editor’s note: Last week, columnist Pat Price wrote about her adventures befriending complete strangers. Those exploits, as promised, continue here.

Though we are all from Ohio, Joe and I met Mike and Sheila behind the couch at Rainbow Trout Ranch in Colorado more than 20 years ago and are still fast friends no matter what state we are in.

It all began one afternoon on a horseback ride through the forest. Mike, a sort of jingle writer wanna-be, had an idea for jazzing up the final night at the ranch. The agenda called for a cowboy sing-a-long. Instead, following Mike’s lead, the four of us put together a little ditty we called “Our Butts Are So Sore Now” to the tune of “Heartbreak Hotel.”

We approached Doug, the owner, with our request to perform. He looked down, scratched his head, and gave us a reluctant go-ahead. We brought down the house and that began a yearly tradition.

Subsequent years featured Mike’s further inspirations including “We’ve Got That Sore Butt Feeling,” “Dude Ranchin’ is the Place for Me,” “Favorite Things” (all about the Dude ranch life), and “Ballet Cowboy.” Standing ovations and shouts of “Encore!” always echoed about the lodge. We were legends.

Today we look back on all of that with a bit of chagrin because the cowboy sing-along has been converted to talent night. Really, it has become “not so” talented night. We aimed to be funny but some of the “performers” (and I use the term loosely) are deadly serious, thinking that they do have talent. We endured a middle-aged woman’s belly dance, a crazy man’s bull whip demonstration, and many more. Doug gives us “credit” each and every week for kicking all of it off and we apologize to any future guests for the pain we have wrought.

For several years there was a wonderful wrangler named Michael whom we all adored. One day he took the four of us on what has become a forbidden ride across the highway and up the side of a mountain. We were very far from the ranch and Michael’s antics during our break were so hilarious I knew I’d never make it back without having to go to the bathroom. I had never peed in the woods.

Sadly, there seemed to be no choice, so Sheila and I trekked further up the mountain, away from the men. Jane, one of the ranch owners, had told us that if we ever needed to “go” out in nature that we should brace one arm up against the trunk of a tree and sort of semi-squat. Remembering that advice, I set about to brace myself with one arm while Sheila held the other to keep me from toppling over. We were laughing so hard, I just couldn’t go. Sheila took her other hand and popped the lid from her full water bottle and spilled the contents onto the ground. Hearing the water sort of got me started and we laughed even harder.

It was my first and only time to pee in the woods. After all, I don’t want to sully that experience with a repeat attempt. Besides, when we got home I asked Mary Ann if she would have helped me pee in the woods and she retorted with resounding no!

In 2000 we pledged to do two weeks at the ranch. Monday is always horse orientation day and Doug decided we didn’t need to go through that twice, so he took us on a day-long adventure up to the Continental Divide. All of our kids (five in all) loved Doug and decided to ride with him in this beat up four-wheeler that we later discovered had no seat belts. That left the four of us in a newer model vehicle with Mike driving. Doug drives like a wild man and we lost him several times on the trail.

Notice I called it a trail? That’s because most of what we drove upon were not roads. Ever been bushwhacking in a car?

After what felt like hours in the wild, with Mike sweating to keep up with Doug, an earlier stop at Plutoro’s small store came into play. We were way behind and were surprised to catch up with Doug and the kids who were at a complete stop. Our daughter Becca was sicker than a dog. (She had eaten a huge pickle at the store. We later found out that those green things floating in the barrel had passed their expiration date by over a year!)

Actually, sad though I was about her being sick, it turned out to be quite fortuitous. That old, “I never want to pee in the woods again” feeling had popped up, but the urge was strong. As she stood there retching, Sheila and I noticed a small building down the mountain. The two of us scurried through the underbrush and, lo and behold, it was a ranger’s outpost, complete with a flush toilet bathroom! We hooted and hollered and danced about. Victory! Relief! Aaaaaaahhhh.

We made it to the Continental Divide and back to the ranch again, Joe, Shelia, and I have fond memories of that crazy day, but Mike, the driver, not so much.

The next morning when we headed to the lodge for breakfast we couldn’t help but notice our vehicle’s extremely flat tire. Oh, boy! So ended our excellent in-the-wild-with-an-amazing-pit-stop adventure.

These days our get-togethers are a lot less frenzied and there are always real bathrooms available.

Pat Gorske Price graduated from Oberlin High School and taught English and drama there for 12 years. In retirement she continues to enjoy writing and theater. Comments can be made to

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