Monday, 3 October 2011

Heaven On Earth

No phone reception. No internet. No news from me!

We have spent the last two nights at Heaven On Earth Ranch, deep creek outfitters, having the most wonderful time. We left Glacier National Park to meet Gary Anderson, the patriach of the the family, at 12 noon at Great Falls. We didn't know what to expect. We were just glad he wasn't an internet scam.  Malcolm thought that he looked like a fat Willie Nelson. Oma and Opa thought that he would make a great Santa Claus. One of his first comments was that he was glad we had a sensible car and not a motor home. We would find out why later. His second comment was a grumble that we weren't wearing cowboy boots.

Our first stop was lunch at the local Holiday Inn. This was followed by a stop at Big R's to pick up some fishing gear. Brilliant speed shopping enabled the purchase of three cowboy belts.  We were then off to the Ranch. Lara liked Gary enough to opt to sit with him for the 75min drive. She apparently talked him to death. We had to drive through some pretty rough tracks and  Malcolm was glad that we were in a  4-wheel drive. All we saw on the GPS was "driving north"! Along the way, we saw antelope and a red hawk which delighted the children.

Montana has had a pretty dry summer and thus much of the fields were dry and yellow.  Our first glimpse of the property was just breath-taking. It was a little oasis nestled within a hidden valley with a river flowing through it. Rustic cabins, a 9 hole par 3  golf course with one elevated tee off the top of the cliff, and horses on the hill were some of the other sights that greeted us. I can understand why this place was named Heaven On Earth. The ranch covers 5000 acres and has about 600 heads of angus cattle. It also welcomes a maximum of 18 guests during the summer. As we have come at the end of the season, we were fortunate to have the whole place to ourselves.Tom Lehman came here and liked it so much that other pga players with families came here for vacation.

Our first glimpse of the ranch

Walking down with Gary

We were first taken to the communal building which had a great open deck area over looking the property. There was a saloon at the bottom which was Malcolm's dream. It had a beautiful bar area made with gorgeous timber and a big mirror reflecting the amazing view. The children only had eyes for one thing, an old antique slot machine. We later found out that Gary and Vic had built all the cabins themselves. They were plumbers, electricians, carpenters, and farmers all in one. Oma very quickly decided that if she were going to stuck in the forest, she wanted to have Vic with her so that he could build her a cabin.

It didn't take long for the children to settle in. They got drenched running amok in the sprinklers watering the golf course.  We were introduced to Vic, Gary's son, and Jody, who helps out at the ranch. Without a word, Jody was out there after the children with towels. This was a sign of the service to come. After a cold drink, Vic offered for us to go tubing down the Smith river. It appeared that even the golf carts on this property were capable of  4-wheel driving. We drove through some pretty rough terrain to get dropped off with the inner tubes upstream. Tubing seemed like a good idea until we got into the water...brrr. By this stage it was too late to back out. Every part of our bodies that were submerged in the water was numb for the next two hours.

We went to back to our cabin, which was conveniently located beside the 6th green and next to the river. It was basic and small but comfortable. The sheets were very soft and the blankets toasty. The children couldn't wait to finish their showers to look at the deer feeding right outside.

The children enjoying the sprinklers

Our cabin

Let's go tubing!

Is that a smile or a grimace?!?!

Watching deer from the cabin

Teepee closest to our cabin

The next advertising campaign?

On the menu for dinner was prime rib. It was as big Jonah without arms and legs. We only managed to eat 1/3 of it. We decided to try Gary's combination of French and Ranch dressing for the salad. Superb! Jalapeno tobasco on devil eggs was ppretty good as well!We finished off the meal with the classic apple pie and ice-cream. During our meal, we had a visit from one of many black bears in the area. Nicknamed Cinnamon, she used to be fed until it became illegal to do so. She still comes once in a while and goes when she realizes that she was not going to get any food. She was only a mere two metres in front of us.

We rolled down into the saloon where the children finally got a go on the one-armed bandit. Vic entertained them further with multiple games of uno which would continue over the next day and a half whenever they had a spare moment. Upon chatting with Vic, my parents eyes lit up with the discovery that there were swallow's nests up in the hollows of the rocky canyons. They were convinced that this would bring extra riches for the ranch.

We went to sleep so happy that we decided to come this small family run operation. We have been so busy that it is hard to take good photos!

Vic serving up the prime rib. Not a good photo unfortunately...

A deck with a view

Cinnamon the bear

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