First off, many, many thanks for all of your suggestions. They were, quite literally, all over the map. From China, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam to Costa Rica, Peru, and Argentina to the Amalfi Coast, Azerbaijan and Disney World. I particularly enjoyed the random text messages I would receive when someone thought of another place!
I finally whittled down the list to Suriname, Switzerland and Namibia, and I seriously considered a tour of the Balkans and a week sailing the Mediterranean Sea. But nothing really grabbed my fancy (except maybe Suriname – I’m adding that to the Christmas destination list, when it won’t be their rainy season).
But even after all that, I still couldn’t decide, and that really depressed me. Surely, there was somewhere I would want to go for my birthday. I kept asking myself, “What do I want to accomplish with this trip? Where do I want to be?” And I would close my eyes, and all I could think of was this…
And doing a lot of this…
But I couldn’t return to Scotland, could I? I definitely couldn’t go back without Emily; I’m sure she crafted a list of things we missed, and to see any of those things without her would feel sacrilege.
So where then?
I took a step back. Instead of thinking about where to go, I started thinking about what to do.
I knew I wanted to be out in nature. I knew I wanted to be in the same place for at least a week, to give myself time to really explore a single location. I knew I wanted a change of scenery from the flat landscape of Florida, it’s why I fell in love with Glen Coe…that and I could wear my favorite boots (may they rest in peace).
From way back in the corners of my mind, a distant memory of a childhood wish popped into my brain, and I typed three little words into Google.
Montana. Horse. Ranch.
And there it was.
I scrolled through a few more pictures, before turning to Double D and asking, “How do you feel about a ranch vacation in Montana?”
I was not expecting his response.
“That sounds awesome! Let’s do it!”
I looked at him and asked, “When’s the last time you rode a horse?”
He thought for a minute and then replied, “I don’t know. Maybe 20 years ago. But I used to take lessons twice a week.”
You think you know someone.
We perused a few different ranches. I made calls to a couple. But Sweet Grass Ranch captured my heart. Maybe it’s because one review on Facebook said, “It’s Scotland tucked away in a beautiful part of North America.”
The ranch nestles up to the Crazy Mountains or the Crazies, which is said to be a shortened form of the name, Crazy Woman Mountains. It seemed like an appropriate place to spend my birthday.
After a few emails back and forth with the owner, she called to answer all of my questions, even the most inane ones. She responded to them to the fullest, laughing off any concerns that they were too silly. I learned she had recently been to Florida on a family vacation, which tickled me. And she sold me. This was where I wanted to go.
So Double D and I will be heading to Montana at the end of June. He’s never been out West, and we’ll probably take some time to drive down to Yellowstone. I’m curious to see how those riding lessons stuck, but most of all, I’m looking forward to ushering in my 40th birthday with the realization of a childhood dream.
To learn more about Sweet Grass Ranch, visit their website at sweetgrassranch.com.