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4th of July get away at the Rockin W Ranch // {Culver, Oregon}

First off, I want to say thank you to Foushee and Associates for giving their team July 4-7th off for the fourth of July weekend. Because of their generous 4 day weekend we got to spend a full 3.5 days with some friends that are very near and dear to our hearts. Brandon and Megan are two of our best friends from college.  Unfortunately, after school comes to an end and we graduate, we all go to where the job is or where our heart is. Brandon and Megan managed to find a place that provided both a job and catered to their hearts; that place for them is Culver Oregon.

Culver is in Central Oregon right around the area of Madras, Redmond, and Bend. You are basically in a bunch of farmland in a beautiful valley surrounded by incredible mountains and gorges. Megan begins teaching kindergarten in the fall and Brandon is beginning the life he has always hoped to have as a rancher. This place is much different than the city and most of it is in a good way. It makes my heart happy that there are still places where people wave at you when you are driving or running down the street, the cashiers at the local mart are happy to see you when you walk in, people that you don’t know just smile at you when you stop them for a moment to ask them a question, and you do not always feel the need to be rushing around to something. This kind of environment made us comfortable enough to try things that we have always wanted to try.

On the fourth we brought chairs and blankets up onto the roof of the ranch house and watched the horizon to see if we could see any fireworks in town. Right around 10pm they started to go off. It was fun but they were not as grand from our location as we had thought they might be. Often times it turned into more of a scavenger hunt trying to see where the little ball of light was coming from next. But I thought that that made it more exciting. After we got cold we made smores over candles inside the house because it was to dry and windy outside for a fire. I attempted to get mine golden brown but that tiny flame put so much heat in one area of the mallow that is pretty much impossible not to burn it.

Some noteworthy experiences we had were: Jumping off a bridge into a lake formed by dams and spending a day at the beach. Brandon and Megan taught us how to rope. We might not be ready to jump on a horse and rope a calf just yet but at least now we know how to throw it. We got to go shooting and got to shoot a pistol for the first time. I look forward to having more time with that gun because although rifles are fun, pistols make you feel super BA.

We also got to participate in the daily chores of training and raising horses, and after years of being terrified I finally got on a horse and stayed on it for more than minute. Jeff jumped on and did amazing. He is a super fast learner and looked super handsome up there. But me on the other hand…. You would think that person who is not terrified of heights and could jump off a bridge at a high point would be enough of an adrenaline junkie to ride a horse…. you thought wrong. One bad experience at a young age has a way of giving you a fear that you cannot talk yourself out of. I am not afraid of petting, brushing, taking care of or even being in close proximity of a horse. It is simply the task of jumping up and riding them. But I fought back my tears of distress and said I do not want to be afraid anymore and got on. Thank goodness for patient friends and good teachers. Not only did I get on, but I rode around by myself. My new goal is to try riding every single time I am around a horse so that I have more positive experiences on them than negative. I will one day love riding horses. We also got to hike Smith Rock a destination for climbers everywhere. It has stunning rock faces, valleys, and great trails.

Just when you thought this blog post could not get any longer it did. I just had to share a small world moment. Culver is a short drive from Madras, Madras is a huge part of my family history, in fact, a lot of our family still loves down there. From Brandon and Megan’s ranch you can see the edge of the homestead that my family founded and still owns. It is 649 acres of open land. It has two houses on it, some barns, sheds, pasture, and nearly 40 acres of irrigated land. It is where my Great Great Grandparents settled and began raising my Great Grandpa Pete. My Great Grandma grew up in Gateway and was introduced to my Great Grandpa by his sister at a local dance. They later got married in the Seattle area and did not return to the homestead. But with me loving family history I wanted to check it out. We walked around a bit and explored. There were some cool things but also some sad things. It has been a long time since anyone has lived on the property and there has been a lot of vandalism and just lack of care. It really could become something special again but it would take a lot of work and money. On our way out we stopped by the old German cemetery where my Great Great Grandparents are buried and where my Great Grandpa Pete’s siblings are buried. It is crazy how old some of those headstones are.

That night I called my Nana to tell her we had stopped by the homestead and she told me I should drop by her cousin’s house to say hello. I was nervous about just popping in unannounced but decided to give it a go. The Hyder’s live only 10 minutes from Brandon and Megan. I pulled up and got out of my car and rang the doorbell. LaRee opened the door and smiled a big smile at me and waved at me through the glass. Without knowing who I was or knowing what I was doing there she was pleased to see me. I told her that Nana said it would be ok if I stopped in and that I was Elaine’s Great Granddaughter and her cousin Beth’s granddaughter. She invited me in and introduced me to her husband Larry and her grandson. Once Larry learned I was family he came over and gave me a hug. We sat down at the table and put everything in order on how we were all connected on the family tree. Then we talked like we had known each other forever. They shared stories of the homestead, growing up in the area, college experiences, and family history. It was truly a pleasure meeting them and getting to know them even for a brief period of time.

I would have to say this past weekend was one of the top 5 weekends of my life. The very best weekend being the weekend I married Jeff. But this comes in pretty darn close behind.  Here are some images to share our story. Enjoy :]

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