Gail Steiger, Chairman of the Board of the Western Folklife Center, and his wife Amy Hale Auker, noted western author and poet, will be your hosts on the extraordinary 50,000 acre Spider Ranch (featured in the documentary film Ranch Album), where they cowboy every day. Friday night you will visit the Prescott, Arizona home of Gail's grandfather, Gail I. Gardner, author of several beloved classic cowboy songs and poems, to view the George Phippen painting inspired by his song "Tyin' Knots in the Devil's Tail." Next, you will dine in the restaurant now housed in the store built by Gail's great grandfather J. I. Gardner. Afterwards, you will stroll down "Whiskey Row,” prominently featured in the lyrics to “Tyin’ Knots.” You will spend the night in the bunkhouse at Spider Ranch. Next morning, Amy will cook breakfast at headquarters before you ride to a cow camp on Smith Mesa. You will have the option of making a circle to gather cattle with Gail or hiking with Amy to view nearby petroglyphs. That night, after dinner cooked over a campfire, Gail and Amy will entertain you with songs and poetry that convey a sense of how fortunate they feel to be able to live and work in such incredible country. You'll sleep in teepees and then ride (or hike) back to headquarters after a chuck wagon breakfast on Sunday morning. Max four people.Best time to schedule: late fall, winter.
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The Flitner’s Diamond Tail Ranch was established in 1906. Stan and Mary Flitner are your convivial hosts at their summer cow camp high in the Big Horn Mountains. Friday evening you join them for an outdoor barbecued steak dinner cooked from their chuckwagon while you get to know the history of the area. After dinner Mary will read a chapter from her upcoming memoir about growing up in ranching, and grandson Luke Bell will sing a few songs. (He’s been opening for Willy Nelson lately and is on the rise as a popular country singer). You will stay in rustic cabins at cow camp. Bring a sleeping bag. The next morning you drive to Cody, 1.5 hours away, where long-time Buffalo Bill Historical Center Chairman and Senator (retired) Alan Simpson will give you a tour of the Museum. After lunch you will visit Cody’s finest western art gallery owned by Sue Simpson Gallagher. On the way back to cow camp you will get a tour of the Flitner’s home ranch in Shell, Wyoming. That night Craig Johnson, author of the famous mystery series Longmire, will be invited to join you at cow camp for dinner. Sunday morning you will wake to bacon frying and horses being prepared for the day. An optional ride or fishing trip will fill out the morning before returning to your busy life Sunday afternoon. Max four people.Best time to schedule August - September
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Your hosts are the Searle Family at Maggie Creek Ranch, one of Nevada’s great ranches. Here, you will get a first-hand chance to meet and photograph buckaroos as they work with cow dogs, rope, and care for horses and cattle. After a tour of the ranch Friday afternoon, you will be hosted at the famous Basque Restaurant, the Star, where you will meet luminaries from the Basque community to talk about – and test! –Basque cuisine. The next morning you drive to the Keddy Ranch where Peter and Susan Church will be your hosts. Susan, a fine metal sculptor, will show you her salvage yard of found metal objects and then take you to her workshop where she will demonstrate the making of a triangle “call to dinner” gong. Each couple will leave with their own art gong. Peter, a former San Francisco chef, will serve you lunch before driving back to Elko where Meg Glaser, Artistic Director of the Western Folklife Center, will take you into the exhibit storage area for a cook’s tour of the Center’s contemporary cowboy gear collection. After a brief rest back at the ranch, you will drive 40 minutes for dinner at Waddie Mitchell and Lisa Hackett’s extraordinary home near Twin Bridges. Afterwards, Waddie will regale you with stories and poetry. Sunday morning offers a short tour and walk to a secret place up Lamoille Canyon in the Ruby Mountains before you depart with your dinner gong and a cooler of frozen beef from the Maggie Creek Ranch. Max four people.Best time to schedule: September- November
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Hal Cannon, founding director of the Western Folklife Center and his wife, Teresa Jordan, noted western author and artist, will be your hosts. They live in the tiny town of Virgin, Utah surrounded by a 150 year-old pecan orchard on the edge of Zion National Park. You will stay in their casita for the weekend. Friday night, a barbecue will be hosted with other guests – award-winning author Greer Chesher who wrote Zion Adventure Guide; Kate Starling, the finest painter of Zion; and David Petit, the most respected photographer of this stunning area. The next morning Greer will take you to the ghost town of Grafton where scenes from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were filmed. After a tour of the park we will meet Ranger and archeologist, Jack Burns for lunch. He will then take us to a little-known ancient birthing and petroglyph cave. After a rest, we drive to the the Bit and Spur restaurant, the favorite local watering hole, for dinner. Afterwards, we will return to Virgin for brandy and an hour concert of American Desert Music by Hal Cannon and his 3hattrio. Sunday morning, Teresa will give you a tour of her art studio and tell a couple stories over brunch from growing up on a ranch in Wyoming. Then it’s back to reality. Max four people.Best time to schedule: October-November, March, April
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