Date: Saturday 1st August to Wednesday 5th August 2015
Location: Double Diamond X ranch, Cody, Wyoming, USA
The last time I was at the Double Diamond X Ranch I was three years old. I had a holiday with my parents and my cousin, aunt and uncle. It was one of those fantastic holidays that goes down in family history (much like France ‘98) and countless stories are repeated about it until I feel I could tell you everything we did there despite only being three and obviously not actually having any memories of it. So when I had a week left in America and no plans to fill it I thought I would just check if DDX was still around. After 23 years, two foreclosures and two sets of new owners it’s still there, snuggled in the mountains of Wyoming about an hour outside of a little Western town called Cody. As the new owners told me ‘things on the ranch may have changed but the mountains and the lakes are just as beautiful’.
It took me three days to drive from Minneapolis to Wyoming, staying at various small towns along the way and driving through some of the most beautiful wilderness I have ever seen (several times I had to quickly swerve back onto the road after staring out the window for too long). When I arrived all you could see for miles and miles was mountains, rivers and fields of horses. Out of the window of my cabin I could see two cowboys on horseback rounding up a herd of horses with a movie worthy backdrop and other than the sound of the horses’ hooves I could hear … nothing. There was no noise, no shouting people, no traffic, no planes overhead and at that moment in time not even any birds singing. It was wonderful.
The current set up at DDX has each family/guest staying in individual cabins or a shared bunkhouse (I had booked their bunkhouse to be shared with 6 people … however I was the only one in there, score!). In the cabins there are facilities to cook your meals yourself or you can join everyone in the dining room for dinner. I booked dinner for the first night and was given a lovely meal which I ate with a couple who had been staying at the ranch for a few days. After dinner we all moved to the Saloon to be joined by the wranglers for beer and whiskey and enjoyed a happy evening hearing stories about the ranch, meeting new people and getting to know the current (super lovely) owners.
This is the night I met YW who was to be my wrangler while I was at the ranch. Over the next four days we headed out together on our horses every day. One day we rode to the top of a mountain to see the view of the valley on the other side, one day we rode down to the river (and through some portions of it) and stopped for a snack of Trail Mix on the river bank. All the time we were surrounded by the most beautiful landscape that calls for you to travel it on horseback and just inspires stillness and quiet … which there would have been had we not been shouting our conversation to each other as the tracks are only one horse wide. I’m sure it helped to keep the bears and mountain lions at bay. But don’t worry every now and again even I was struck dumb by the beauty of the place and shut up long enough to appreciate it.
Evenings were spent enjoying the delights of Cody. Its main attraction is the Rodeo which takes place every evening in the summer. This wasn’t my first Rodeo (… saying this amuses me) but I really don’t think I could ever get bored of watching insane people jump on the back of a bull, it’s just such a bizarre ‘sport’ to do. Another night after fried chicken and sweet tea for dinner (I’m not sure any true Brit could call it ‘tea’ but it was still pretty good) YW and I found what I’m going to call the ‘second main attraction’ of Cody which is the ‘Dan Miller Cowboy Music Review’. This was such a great evening! Dan Miller and his band played a great selection of Western songs some of which I knew and could sing along with, some of which I didn’t but I was glad to have learnt them. Dan’s daughter Hannah is also in the band and she performed a song (that sounds like it was written just for her) called Wyoming. The mixture of Hannah’s voice and the beautiful lyrics of the song captured both our hearts and we immediately bought the CD to play on repeat on the hour drive home. However after I left Wyoming I had no method of playing the song so I emailed Dan to see if I could download it anywhere. The lovely man just sent me the audio file no more questions asked. I am listening to the song as I write this and I wish you could listen too but I can’t find a link or a video to it anywhere online!
I did not want to leave Double Diamond X ranch. I did not want to leave the mountains and the horses. I did not want to leave Wyoming. I did not want to leave the USA. But this part of my journey had come to an end and it was time to fly south for the remainder of the summer.