Saturday, October 16, 2021

2021 09 Go West, Old Man (Part Two--Dude! You Are A Dude!)

 Saturday, September 11

Now I am on Eatons' Ranch in Wolf, Wyoming. Here is some of the text from the information sent before the trip by our workshop provider, Clare O'Neill:

"Back in 1879, three brothers, Howard, Willis, and Alden Eaton, came out from Pittsburgh, PA and shortly thereafter, their friends from the East began to visit and stay for long periods of time. Individual cabins were built on the property by these families, so no two cabins are alike. We have a grouping of cabins together closest to our studio (for safety reasons, i.e., wildlife, I feel it’s important to have cabins close to one another when walking back to in the dark after a long day.)...Eatons has a 51 individual guest cabins throughout the property. The cabins vary by size and d√©cor, but all are lovely."

I was assigned to Dailey Cabin and it proved a rough and tumble existence were I had to sleep on straw and build my own fire under the stars every night. Wait, no--that was my dreams. The reality was that Dailey proved to be wonderful and was a safe haven for me every time I came home.


Dailey Cabin

Dailey Cabin with the home of Lynn, Kelley and Shirley across the street

One of the cool things about living on the ranch is you get regular visits from the wild life. For whatever reason, I always found two bunnies under my van whenever I came and went. 

"Eatons’ is recognized as the first ‘Dude Ranch’ in the country and is now operated by the fourth and fifth generations of Eatons. Tradition is synonymous with the name Eaton and they have done things the same way for a hundred years. The 7,000-acre ranch is located just 3.1 miles from the Bighorn National Forest."

"The ranch cabins, our studio, the barn, and some of our shooting locations are spread out throughout the property (no, not all 7,000 acres) but be prepared for some walking between venues...Please note that this is a working dude ranch and we will be working around the traditions of the ranch."

This is Howard Hall where we are going to have our encaustic art workshop. 

"All your meals are included in the workshop and will be served in the dining hall. We will be assigned a table or two. If you are a vegetarian, brace yourself. There will be options, but this is also cattle country and meat is considered a staple."

"Each morning we’ll rise and head straight out to take photographs. You’ll have the opportunity to take images of horses running (there are approximately 200 horses at the ranch), landscapes, and portraiture shots with the horses and their wranglers. In the morning, they move the entire herd into the paddocks and at various times during the day the horses are turned out to pasture. We will have full access to photograph during these times. We’ll also have access to photograph the barns and various wranglers working with the horses, as well as be able to saddle up and ride with the wranglers and photograph in the mountain pastures. Along with the horses there will be various opportunities to shoot around the property."

"Early afternoons will be free so if you wish to ride more you will be able to do so. (Please note there will not be an afternoon ride on Sunday.) You will be fitted for a saddle and given a horse for the week. You can choose to take a wrangler with you on the ride or if you are an experienced rider you can go off on your own. If you haven’t ridden in years, no worries, you can still ride. There will be a handful of wranglers at the ranch who will be happy to accompany us on any rides. I will arrange on an individual bases those who wranglers who are comfortable having their photograph taken."

Some dudes I photographed riding on the ranch

Tonight is the meet and greet in the Apartment Bar before dinner. Dinner is the first surprise as the food is served buffet style, is cooked by a NOLA chef and are a wonder throughout the week. Eventually we will have all the meat staples like chicken, beef and pork but also a fish offering including mahi mahi and seared tuna. 

The evenings in Dailey cabin are enjoyable for me. I brought along for the rode a series of live cd performances by all of my favorite bands but for the cabin I have a boom box. I also packed all the supplies to do some collages. So, no TV or no Internet--who cares?

Sunday, September 12

Horses and wranglers up on Chocolate Drop

Today we are up early and out at 7:00 a.m. Each morning at Eaton's three wranglers ride up into Chocolate Drop to herd the ranch horses back into the ranch corral. Today we start our experience by waiting at the fence line in front of the corral to take our first pictures of the horses for our art projects. 

Lynn Ovenden being photographed by Kelley Clarke being photographed by me


It was pretty exciting when the cry went up that the gate was opened and the wranglers were bringing in the herd. 

I probably do not have to tell you how dry the American West is so it may come as no surprise to you, but it did catch me by surprise, that my chosen location for this event was going to be turned into a huge dust bowl. 

After the horses were in the corral, they go through a process of being cut into two halves: those that will be ridden by dudes and those that can be released back into Chocolate Drop. This is done by a wrangler who sits on a gate and moves it with his foot to sort out the horses we have been fitted for.

While this is going on we can wander anywhere we want and shoot photos.  

This is a great opportunity to get close ups of the horses in the corral. 

After a hearty breakfast we are off to class. Class today consisted of basic overviews of encaustic and photographing horses. 

Lora Eaton the the horses arrive at the corral

That afternoon we are offered a special opportunity to get into a corral with some horses while their wrangler, Lora Eaton, a direct descendent from the original Eatons who founded the ranch, chased them around for our benefit. 

The class bravely in the corral with the big boys

While I like horses a lot, there is something a little exhilarating to have a giant horse come pounding down the corral at your face, hidden behind a camera, while you watch it get bigger and bigger in the view finder. It takes courage to stay the course and get the shots.

You are going to see this photo again

You are going to see this photo again

While the action by the horses was impressive, it was equally impressive to watch Lora chase the horses around the corral with more strength and energy than I have ever had.

Not sure who is more tired by this exercise.

You are going to see this picture again

A great deal of time was spent locating the right image and massage the photographs--after all, if I am going to art of these I want them to be the right one. 

While it is not as massive as the drive in the morning, at lunch and in the early evening the last of the horses are driven back up to Chocolate Drop. 

That afternoon and evening we talked about the process of the workshop and prepared our substrates so they would be ready the next day.

After the evening workshop, I headed back to the Dailey to work on some collages and play some music. 

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