One of the things I’ll always remember the most about the time I spent at Robbers Roost is the dude rides. Because of the hot summers and cold winters in that country, we only had a couple months in the spring, and a couple months in the fall we could take these rides. A.C. would try to do about 4 or 5 rides a year.
Dude rides at the robbers roost weren’t for the people who wanted to be pampered. We had no lodge, or bunkhouse. If you went on one of these rides, you had to sleep on the ground under a cedar tree. We would have a truck haul the bed rolls and food. We would ride to a different camp each day. The rides usually lasted 5 days.
One of my favorite parts was I got to meet people from all over the world. It was always real interesting to me to hear about how they lived. There were quite a few who told me they had never been anywhere before where they could see so far without seeing buildings or cars.
The groups were between 15 and twenty people. Sometimes they came as a group, and sometimes they didn’t know each other.
One lady I always remember lived in an apartment in New York City. She had a car but hardly ever drove it. Said she would ride the subway to work and back. If she needed groceries she would pick them up on the way home. Other than that she would hardly ever leave her apartment. Made me really appreciate the life I have.
A lot of the people made me realize that even though their life seemed strange to me, my life must have seemed just as strange to them.
The guest rides we had were nothing like the guest ranch vacations you read about in magazines. The first day started with a brief orientation. We would assign a horse to everyone based on their level of experience. The first day we would teach people to saddle their own horse, after that they would saddle their own and we would just go around and check it before they got on.
A.C. usually did most of the cooking. And most of it was on a campfire. Even though we were camping, A.C. didn’t use paper plates. He had a cloth bag he kept real plates in. After he got done cooking he would put two buckets of water on the fire. Squirt a little dish soap in one, let it heat up while we were eating. When each person got done eating, they were to wash their plate, dry it, and put it back in the cloth bag. Same way with the silverware, which we carried in an old ammo box.
I always thought this was a good way of doing things. Then all we had left to clean up was a couple of dutch ovens.
These rides weren’t a nice relaxing vacation for the guests. Most of them had never ridden a horse before. Some of the days were fairly long to get to the next camp. When they got there, they were responsible for unsaddling their own horse and putting them away for the night.
A.C. didn’t have a lot of sympathy for people who would complain. But A.C. had a unique way with the people. The first day of the ride most people were intimidated by him, maybe even afraid of him. By the end of a 5 day ride they had a great respect and admiration for him.
One ride we went on we had a friend of A.C’s helping named Wally. He was quite a character. Kept everyone entertained. One evening when we had just got to camp, Wally called everyone together and said “everybody listen close and A.C. is going to sing with a locust.”
A.C. had caught a big black locust and had it in his hands. This group was mostly women. Everyone gathered around close and Wally told them to get real quiet so they could hear. Just about that time A.C. tossed the locust in his mouth and started chewing it up. Man was it crunchy.
Most of the women were almost gagging by now. A few didn’t want to eat supper for a while.
I know a lot of cowboys who hated dude rides, and said they didn’t like babysitting the guests. The way A.C. ran his dudes rides we didn’t do much babysitting. By the end of the ride we were more like a bunch of friends who had went on a ride together.
We always had a lot of good times on these rides. I learned a lot about tolerance, and accepting people with ways different than my own. I learned a lot about life, and I feel like maybe I taught a few people from town a little about life and taking care of your self.