I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how hectic everyday life can be. I love what I do—the OLEDA business, my art, and my writing—but, like most people, I look forward to taking a break from it all. So, for many years out of the last 45 or so, I have retreated to a magical place: The A-Bar-A Ranch in Encampment, Wyoming.
Encampment, population 450, sits in south central Wyoming, not far from the Colorado border. It is a dot outside the border of the A-Bar-A Ranch, which spans 100,000 acres of wilderness, bisected by the North Platt River, which is fed at the Ranch by a tributary, called Big Creek.
After turning into the Ranch from the two-lane highway, you are greeted by the gatekeeper beyond the landing strip, and then proceed along a dirt road about eight miles to the ranch compound, where you check in and are taken to your cabin (I take the same one each year). The cabins are charming, comfortable and rustic . There is no TV, nor telephone, and no cell phone service. Phone calls can be made from pay phones at the reception area, where any messages that come in for you are posted on a bulletin board. You can drive back out to the highway to use a cell phone or stop on the private landing strip tarmac, watching out for infrequent small plane activity.
In other words, the A-Bar-A Ranch is the epitome of “getting away from it all.” It’s fabulous. It is a guest ranch, not a typical “dude” ranch, and the help is recruited every year from universities around the country; fish guides, wranglers, kitchen help and bartenders, etc., etc.
I introduced my husband Richard to the Ranch seventeen years ago. I told him if he learned to fly-fish, I’d learn to play golf, which he loves. Well, he learned to fly-fish; I tried golf, but I found I’d rather paint, although I do play an occasional round with him.
So, aside from being sequestered from my world for a short period of time, which is delightful, we ride, fly fish, socialize with other interesting guests, and dine. Sometimes we fish with a guide (they know the best spots), and most times we take horses across the river, up the mountain by ourselves (or with friends), carrying a two-way radio in the event of an emergency, although it’s fun to ride with a wrangler, too, since they’re always a delight.
Occasionally, we’ll take part in some of the other activities, like skeet shooting, tennis or golf, and, of course, hiking, but mostly, for us, it’s fishing and riding. Big Creek is stocked with Rainbow trout every year. It’s catch and release only, unless you want to bring the fish in to the chef and have him cook it for you. We de-barb the hooks to make it more sportsmanlike. At dinner on arrival day, the head wrangler talks with us about our riding ability, and then assigns a horse to us accordingly, which becomes our personal mount for the length of our stay. I reserved “Floozy” every year until she pasted away.
After spending time at the A-Bar-A, I have never felt more refreshed and alive, ready to get back to life, with gusto.
Here are a few photos taken at the A Bar A Ranch.
Plenty of room in our cabin
A beautiful deer caught in our headlights
It’s always good to show love to your horse
Changing flies in the North Platt River, a delicate process
Fishing on the North Platt River
It’s fun to go out with a fish guide sometimes
Seconds later, I released this fish back into the river, it’s a rainbow trout
I don’t care – I still wear nail polish while fishing
Richard seems happy with his catch