Monday, July 29, 2013

Sixteen Years

Sixteen years ago, while in my first year on Ad Staff at Camp El Tesoro, I met the best friends I've ever known.  There were 8 of us at that time, and as the 4th of July approached, our friend and camp director asked us if we'd like to go to her family's ranch for the weekend.  We had a great time, that first time.

Sixteen years later, we still go to that ranch.  At least twice a year, for a few days at a time, we leave all our responsibilities behind and just be.  And it's fabulous.

Lots of things have changed in those sixteen years.  The original 8 is now only 4, but we've picked up extra ranch fans along the way.  (There is no greater fun than introducing a new person to the magic of the English E-Bar.)  Instead of Cheetos and Oreos, it's whole grain crackers and hummus.  Instead of all-night Truth or Dare, we might take a wellness walk.  We are less Boone's Farm for breakfast (hey -- it's "fruit-like") and more mimosas and bloody mary's.  We wake up before noon and have face-timed with someone's kids before lunch.  Yes, things change.

And sometimes there are these:

That's Tyler.  He's 6 months old.  It's already is 2nd trip to the ranch.  Proof that if you're a cute enough dude, you can own Girls' Weekend.

But most things have stayed pretty much the same in those sixteen years.  We are creatures of tradition after all.  
There's still an adorable black lab on the front porch.  It's just that now he arrives and leaves with us.  And you better believe that he's the first one in the car when the packing to leave begins.  Homeboy's seen us drive away without him before; he ain't having that again.  He also smells better than the first one.  
Sorry, Moses, but it's true.

Still the same porch swing.  Needs a new paint job, but we're willing to overlook it.

This is different though.  Heather's not afraid of babies anymore.  Who knew?  

You can still stand in the middle of the road for hours, undisturbed.

Literally.  Hours.

Texas forever. 

And ever.

So much prickly pear everywhere.

Missed the first night's sunset for a walk through the property.

We still try to take a truck ride. 
 It's a new truck for a new generation of truck riders.

Sam still sits in back with us (although it's a little harder for both he and I to get in now).

Sitting on the toolbox is still the absolute best view.
Although you do risk mesquite tree attacks.

Deer blind.

Back tank.

Stand off with the longhorn.  We won, begrudgingly.

The other tank -- it's been a long time since I've seen it this green in July. 
Small blessings.

Saying goodbye to Ms. Longhorn.

Sam, aggressively trying to seem fearsome, and not fearful, to the longhorn.

Still lots of cows.  Still pissed that we'd come out there with no food.  
The nerve.

One of my favorite pics of the weekend. 
So very West Texas.
Spent many an evening sitting on the top of the Beer Blind.  
It's the absolute best place for stargazing.

But it's also pretty damn fine for sunsets, too.

We still like our drinks in plastic cups.
They taste best on the front porch.

And what a front porch it is.

The ranch is over a hundred years old.  It's seen its share of history.  But for the last sixteen years, it's seen mostly our history.  Our little tribe of friends and family.  It's seen arguments and tears.  It's seen spilled drinks and spilled secrets.  It's seen visitors from all over the world.  It's just a ranch, but it's also so much more.

It's card games that last forever.

It's guitar songs and lullabies.

It's laughter.  It's love.

It's friendship.  Through thick and thin.
And it's our favorite place to unwind, reconnect, gossip, drink, and cuss.

Forever.  And ever.

Here's to another sixteen, y'all.

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