My wife and I were invited to ride in the first annual open cattle drive with the Western Destinations group. We accepted the invite and loaded our awesome Arabian horse "Tommy" into the trailer and off to Robson's we went. After a side trip to Scottsdale AZ to visit dear friends we arrived at Robson's right at dusk. The entrance is unique with a statue of a large horse with an Indian riding it parked just to the side of the road about 5 miles north of Highway 60 on Highway 71. We stopped to take a cool sunset picture of the edifice and then continued down the dirt road only to be exuberantly greeted by Gregor who pointed us to the horse stables where we would be holding Tommy for the night.
After bedding Tommy we went to the Golden Leaf saloon to again be greeted by guests and staff alike. The welcome was warm and very gracious. Dinner was being served and it was awesome. Homemade chili, cornbread, pulled pork, salad and all of the fixin's. The bar was open and you could help yourself or one of the fine staff would get you whatever you wanted. What a way to start a great weekend. After dinner we were treated to a large camp fire and the musical accompaniment of Chip the singing cowboy. Chip was also excellent and he sang late into the night. In fact he was the last one to go to bed and staffer Robert and I followed suit.
Waking up on Saturday morning revealed that this place was more than special. This is an old gold mine and town that was closed in 1942. The owners sold it to the Robson's and they set out to recreate the town just like an original old western town. Complete with wood boardwalks, the old print shop, blacksmith shop, mercantile, saloon and all of the associated building including a full sized church and opera house. It was a sight to see. There are no TV's and cell coverage is spotty. Put away your technology and live life the old fashioned way, this place is unique and it should be treated as such.
The cattle drive was the day’s entertainment. The cows were readied and the riders mounted their steeds and lined the area like a funnel to get the cattle going in the proper direction. Jim Brown along with Mike are the proprietors of the establishment and they made the call to be ready and they released the beasts into the desert floor. The ride was basically uneventful except for the chase vehicle a war surplus Pinzgauer all terrain troop carrier vehicle that acted as the "beer wagon" lost a tire while tromping through the desert. This did not delay the drive in any way and the staff had all of the bases covered to ensure that the guests received nothing less than a great time.
The drive ended up in an area called the 'flats". There was a complete set up for lunch with a BBQ going and the staff waiting to serve the guests every need. All of this was trucked out to the site and even included the obligatory bar that they brought along too. What a spread. Smiles were all around and everyone just sat on the ground and talked about the journey thus far. Stories and laughter is always the sign of happy people and both were in abundance.
It seems that the cattle were going to get an easy trip back in a cattle hauling trailer but the riders still had to get back home on their horses. All mounted up and off into the desert they went. Now, you may have noticed that I did not include myself on this horse riding expedition description. I am not much of a horse guy but my wife is, so I was riding the Pinzgauer and was one of the ones to witness the exceptional staff at work to take care of the few guests that did not take the horseback ride. We were picked up in a truck in short order and transported to the lunch site to join in with the riders. The riders departed and we rode back in the back of the cattle truck and enjoyed the driving of Opal Brown a NASCAR star that was never found, what a ride! Yee haw.
Saturday night was another camp fire gathering after a wonderful steak and chicken dinner and during the camp sessions we were serenaded by the Sundowner Boys a three piece band from Phoenix that did a nice job of playing proper country songs and mixing in some good humor. We then had a branding ceremony to dedicate the first annual open cattle drive and to give props to the best hand Mo who was all over the cattle just like a real cowboy. The night lead to Jeep rides, music and happy people all around. The day's ride took some of the energy out of the riders and most went to sleep at a reasonable time with full bellies and smiles pasted on their faces.
Sunday was started with a call to breakfast, skillfully prepared by Michelle and Toad. The guests filtered in and the food was again excellent. Steak and eggs scramble, biscuits and gravy and Gregor's killer Bloody Mary's. After breakfast came my chance to horseback ride. Robson's caretaker Chris offered to take Sandee and me on a ride and I was willing if not for a bit apprehensive. Again horses are not my thing but Chris mounted me on Champ an autopilot Quarterhorse and off we went on a fifteen mile ride through some of the most scenic desert that our great country has to offer. It was an experience to be sure and one that I will not soon forget. Chris was an excellent tour guide and showed us all of the cool places around the ranch that can only be seen by horse. Even if you are not a rider I highly recommend that you give it a try. Robson's will not disappoint you. We returned to find all of the guests gone and just the few staff that lives there full time and us. We enjoyed the peaceful silence that comes with this magical place. Michelle offered up lunch for us that wasn’t part of our expectations and it was fun to eat with them and talk about like around the ranch when things are quiet. Again they gave service with a smile, typical of Robson's staff. We left the ranch at about 2:30 and drove back to Los Angeles with some memories that will see us coming back to visit them again for sure. You should too.
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