Life at the ranch continued to be eventful. As the cows passed their days in the closest paddock, this years calves kept us entertained by challenging themselves to practice contortionism through the fences. Dozer, Sophia and I had to round up all 15 calves one early morning as Dozer exclaimed to one particularly naughty calf “G46, get outta here!” Another episode of field viewing came when Mike, the lone bull, was let back in with the cows and calves having been segregated for three months whilst the young were born and raised. Guests and staff alike stood and watched as he sniffed out many a potential female.
One summer evening a game of capture the flag erupted between staff and guests. As the lawn was divided into zones, our team donned yellow caution tape so we could be identified as rivals in a scrap for the bandana flags tied at each end of the pitch. The kids had us sussed and we spent a lot of time in ‘jail’ waiting to be freed. So much so that our friendly jailers brought out water and pop tarts to appease us.
Off the ranch we headed to explore the rolling landscape of BC’s interior. We were spoiled by local farm shops with fruit and ice creams. We paddled cautiously in the clear, cold waters of Pavillion Lake and trekked intrepidly to canyons. Our adventure to Slot Canyon involved a brief description we could find on google, some hungry mosquitos and a lot of bush bashing, but eventually we discovered a winding path which led to a canyon. The water was cold, shallow and fast flowing as we waded upstream climbing over boulders to discover more of the sculpted rock. The cool temperatures of the high faces were welcome in the afternoon heat.
Another Sunday evening Sundance was let loose on the local community of Ashcroft. The local legion was hired out as well as a karaoke machine, a few mics and binders full of potential belters. After the ice was broken, every song became a group sing-a-long, which continued into the bus ride home.
As May turned to June I began to think about my onward journey. With only a few months left on my Canadian visa I turned back to the bucket list I had imagined before arriving; Calgary stampede and the long journey east. It was time to sell the car and seek out my new mode of transport, the train spanning the country from coast to coast. Although it was sad and scary to part with my Rav, Raven, I was suddenly excited to travel again. Time recharging had meant I was ready to imagine my next steps. With the excitement came the goodbyes. The last dance, the last horse ride and the last shifts at work. I took to the trails on majestic Dawson, handsome Reuben, lazy Banjo and the scruffy but loveable Clancy. Skip and I nearly made it out the arena on his first ride since recovering from being lame before he turned and ran back to his home comforts and I was reunited once more with Benji.
It was hard to envisage waking up around the special group of people who had become my makeshift family. The evenings spent sitting around laughing with my many housemates. Toby and Liv made my last day special by a trip off the ranch to the next small town, home of country, Merritt. We indulged in real world luxuries of sushi, ice creams and thrift shops before hunkering down lakeside, watching some over indulged Marmots squeak and whistle as they went about their scavenging. The next day, feeling lighter in belongings, Toby and Liv dropped me to Kamloops, to meet my ride share onwards, across the BC/Alberta border to Banff, saying goodbye indefinitely to the province which I had called home for 20 months.