Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Marlboro Ranch - Day 1





I know it's taken me a while to post this, but I actually struggled with just how much information to share about the Ranch. Part of the fun of the Ranch is the surprises along the way and not quite knowing what to expect. Most of what happened I already knew about because I read it online, but that didn't make it any less fun for me. Besides, reading about it in a blog is not even close to the real experience. I think the only thing I'm going to post that I haven't already seen is the town map. 

If you have an upcoming trip to the Ranch and don't want to ruin the surprise, I suggest you stop reading now.

Going to the Marlboro Ranch has been one of the best experiences of my life! I'm going to do my best to put my experience into words, but unless you've been there it'll be hard to realize the type of service we received.

We left the morning of the 12th bright and early and headed to our local airport. There we met up with another couple also on their way the the Ranch. We had 3 flights, but the layovers weren't very long so it wasn't bad at all.

We got into the Bozeman airport close to noon and that's when the excitement started.

As we were walking through the secure area of the airport I saw lots of people wearing matching cowboy hats and knew those were the guests we were replacing at the Ranch. As soon as we walked through the doors into the unsecure area there were Ranch employees standing there holding signs and waiting for us. They recognized us by the hats we were wearing and said they were so happy to see us. About 6 or 8 people had gathered around at that point so one of the Ranch staff guided us over to a special area of the airport set aside just for us.

He took us over to an area blocked off with a rope that said "Special Event" or something of the sort, and we went up the stairs to the room they had set up for us. In the room we checked in, were issued name badges to wear during our stay at the Ranch, and had our picture taken. I assume this is so they can identify the guests if need be. Once we signed in we could help ourselves to the many types of sandwiches or chips and dip or cookies and drinks they had available for us. I was amazed at all the food, but this was nothing compared to what was in store for us.

Once we signed in we were told we would be on Bus 1 going to the Ranch. As we waited several other guests were arriving at the airport and we were starting to get a look at the other people we would be sharing our adventures with.


 Once on the bus we were introduced to Judy, one of the Ranch staff, and she gave us some info about the Ranch and the area we were traveling through on our way there. And even though we had all eaten at the airport, we were again given a choice of food. I was already stuffed and had 3 more days to go!

On the bus
Right after we pulled into the gate for the Ranch we got an escort down into town. There were 2 guys on horseback on either side of the bus galloping along with us.  The guys were swinging around bull whips and ropes as they were riding. There was some western music playing inside the bus that was perfect. I can not even begin to describe how excited I was at this point.



Once we got into "Town" we pulled up to the first building which is the Stage Stop. Everyone on the bus filed in to sign in and get our room keys. After we got our keys we headed outside to hand our room key to one of the staff. He said someone would be along shortly to show us to our room. While we waited we got to visit with the horses and the riders that greeted us on the way in. 

After just a few minutes we were greeted by another staff member ( I think it was Josh) who took our room key and showed us around town. He told us we were staying in the Dancing Bear Lodge and that our room was one of his favorite at the Ranch, and he would tell us why after we saw our room. When we got to the Dancing Bear Lodge and went inside the first thing you notice is a stuffed black bear kinda lunging at you from underneath the stairs. This bear shows up in a lot of photos from the Ranch so it was almost like meeting an old friend. He took us upstairs, unlocked our door, and backed out of the way so we could go in first.
Our first glimpse of "Town"

The first thing that caught my eye was actually the size of the room. It was much larger than I was expecting. The second thing was all the goodies on the bed. I guess I didn't notice that first because I was already expecting it. It was still a wonderful and exciting thing to see, though. All of my stuff was laid out on one side of the bed and all of G's on the other.  We each got a pair of Justin boots, a Stetson hat, a Sierra Design jacket, 2 pairs of thick knee high socks, 2 bandanas, a metal water bottle, sunglasses lanyard, small LED flashlight, a portable ashtray, 5 packs of cigarettes, and a wooden chip worth $150 in the Gift Shop. We were told we could exchange anything that didn't fit at the activity barn.


 

After checking out all the wonderful stuff they gave us we checked out the room. It was mostly neutral with a few leopard print items thrown in. We had 1 of 10 private balconies which was nice. The room had 4 closets. 4 of them. The bathroom had a clawfoot tub and the toilet had what we were told is called a thunder tank. The tank was mounted high on the wall and you had to pull a chain to flush.  And we had a stuffed leopard in our room. When I laid down in the bed it looked like it was going to pounce on me.

FYI, for those headed to the Ranch. They do have a hairdryer in the bathroom. A very good one at that. At least ours was. They also provide shampoo and conditioner. I thought they were good as long as you don't mind smelling like peppermint. They also provide chapstick, lotion, sunscreen, and a little shoe shine/sewing kit. I didn't use the sunscreen in the bathroom because they have stronger stuff in the activities barn to use.

We were given a little bit of time to wander about town, or exchange items that didn't fit, or go to the General Store to exchange our tokens. That's what I chose to do. I won't give away all the surprises and tell you what they offered, but I will tell you I got a new camera for $100 of my credit.  When you're done spending all of your credit they take your wooden chip and burn the Ranch logo into the back of it.

We were then asked to go to the Arena at 5pm for a little orientation on the horses if we planned on doing any riding. They told us that if we were going to ride we HAD to wear boots. They also gave us some info about the scenic horseback ride and the cattle drive. We were signed up for the scenic ride, but after hearing about the cattle drive I had my heart set on it. G was kinda hesitant, but he said it was my trip so we would do whatever activities I wanted to do. He was very sweet about it.

After we were done with the orientation we went back up to the Stage Stop to add the cattle drive to our itinerary as well as fly fishing. We were told they were going to "run" the horses at 6pm, but we didn't make it in time to see it. Luckily they do it every night. The horses (about 100 of them) are kept in a corral all day, and they "run" them out to pasture every night and then back in the morning.  Right after that someone gave us a brief description of the Ranch and the different buildings in town. A lot of them are actually old buildings from different parts of Montana that were taken down and reassembled on the Ranch. Some of the buildings were built after Marlboro purchased the Ranch and were made to look old.

Now onto the best part, the food! Just kidding, but it was a big highlight of the trip. Like I said earlier, they started feeding us at the airport and it never stopped. We had snacks on the bus, and every common building at the Ranch had food or snacks and drinks available. It didn't matter what time of day or night it was, you would not go hungry. They even offered snacks and drinks during all of the activities. My advice is to try everything. Even if you're not sure if you will like it. When else are you going to have a chance to try all this stuff for free?
This is the only food picture I manages to take the first day.

After our tour of the town we had appetizers and drinks before dinner, and then a HUGE dinner. I took pictures of most of the food plates or the buffet tables, but the pictures don't even do the food or the amount of it justice. For some reason I never took a picture of the breakfast buffet, though. After dinner and dessert most people just mingled and had drinks. There were a few pool tables and a lounge area in the Saloon and there were a few stations set up where you could make feather earrings or bracelets and necklaces.

That was pretty much it for the first day. I'll leave you with some more pictures of the Ranch. If you have any questions feel free to email me!

Some of our "escorts"

The view from our balcony. That's a horseshoe pit on the left

they have security stationed in this building 24/7. It is an actual old Sheriff's Office. It still has a jail cell inside.

this is the Dancing Bear lodge we stayed in. Our balcony was on the other side, but the view of "Main St" was blocked by trees




the leopard above our balcony doors

52 comments:

jeanna said...

I have been WAITING for an update!!! I doubt we will ever go b/c we are non-smokers, but HOW COOL!!! That place is amazing and looks like you had a great time!!! WOW!

Honie Lo said...

I just recently received an email stating I won a trip to the ranch. I just finished sending in the affidavits and the disclosures and was just wondering what else comes next??? Also how long did it take after sending in the paper work did you hear back from them??? Any advice you can give will be great...

Missy said...

Hi Honie! Pretty exciting isn't it! It's been a while, but I believe next you should receive a phone call to get your date for the Ranch, then you will get a packet confirming your date (it can change) and the activities paperwork and paperwork asking for clothing and shoe sizes. It took about 2 weeks for me to get the call and packet, but I was one of the first groups to receive my invite for the summer group so they weren't overloaded yet. It may take just a little longer to get your stuff, just try to remain patient. This is going to be the trip of a lifetime so soak it all in and enjoy it!

Anonymous said...

The Ranch is a great experience. Think of it as a cruise w/o the risk of norovirus. I'd love to go back.

Anonymous said...

My mom won and she is bringing me ..lucky me,I'm so excited,she is a smoker but I'm not,is there a lot of smoke all the time,how about on the bus to and from the airport ,thanks so much,Elizabeth

Missy said...

Congratulations! You are going to have the time of your life. No one is allowed to smoke on or in anything that moves. That includes the bus, horses and ziplines. You'll probably come across the most smoke in the saloon after everyone eats, but I really don't remember there ever being an abundance of smoke. My husband never complained about it. You might also be around a lot of smoke the last night at the Ranch Party. In any situation there are always other places you can go to get away from the smoke if it is bothering you. Have fun and soak it all in!

Anonymous said...

thank you so much for the insight about the smoke,now i really am getting excited, i now know i can breath...lol, elizabeth

Anonymous said...

MY DAUGHTER WON THE TRIP, AND SHE IS TAKING ME, TO THE RANCH.. YIPEEEEE JUNE 28TH THRU JULY 1 CANNOT WAIT.. THANK YOU MARLBORO, SO NICE OF YOU.. WE REALLY APPRECIATE IT.. RANCH VACATION, MY STYLE FOR A VACATION..

Missy said...

You will have a great time. I still think about it almost every day. I was just thinking yesterday that my husband or mother needs to win a trip so I can go again! If you have any questions just let me know!

Anonymous said...

I won as well..... Just sent off my Fed Ex papers couple days ago. So excited that it just feels "unreal". I keep looking up pictures and peoples stories. I never win things so I can't believe it til I'm on the ground in MT! Thank you so much for sharing all of this. When we have a bad day, my husband and I remind eachother of the trip I won and what we get to look forward to! Waiting for my confirmation and dates :) Woo Woo!!

Missy said...

Congrats! My husband and I were the same way. After I got the email saying I won he made me call them and make sure it was legit. Once you start getting your packets in the mail it will seem more real to you. Have fun! It's the trip of a lifetime!

Anonymous said...

I received the pre registration packet an sent it off. Now the waiting begins. I have gotten so nervous reading though as I have seen so many people have their trip cancelled with no explanation and just given the cash out option. So now me and the nerves are just going to wait and see if I actually get the trip. Thanks for your post!

Missy said...

Marlboro sends out more invites than they have room for. They plan for lots of people to not respond or not pass the back ground check. But sometimes they do have more respond than they have room for. I'm pretty sure those are the ones that get the cash option instead. They send more to the Ranch than those they cash out so I'm sure you have nothing to worry about. Have fun, it's the trip of a lifetime!

Anonymous said...

Hi! My name is Charlene and I won the trip on the same date as Anonymous! My husband and I are so excited! Just 6 more days until we leave for the Ranch! It is the first and last thought on our minds everyday now!! Thank you Missy for sharing your trip with all of us!

Missy said...

Have a great time! Enjoy all the great food and hospitality. I can't remember the name of the lady that coordinates the activities from the Saloon, but she's great to sit and talk with if you have time. Actually anyone there is great to talk to. They all have great stories to tell.

Crissy said...

Just sent back the documents for Marlboro ranch!! They needed our boot size, hat size and jacket size! our dates are Sept 8-11 2013. anyone else going that week?

Crissy said...

Just sent back the documents for Marlboro ranch!! They needed our boot size, hat size and jacket size! our dates are Sept 8-11 2013. anyone else going that week?

Missy said...

I hope you have tons of fun!! If there's any food they serve that you really kike you can ask for the recipe on the last day. We got the recipe for the brisket rub, but we lost it, :)

Anonymous said...

WE ARE GOING RIGHT BEFORE YOU CRISSY, SEP 4-7.

Anonymous said...

We leave in 2 wks

Anonymous said...

My husband and I are going Sept. 4th through the 7th!!!! Where are you coming from??

Susan from New Orleans Louisiana said...

I'm going from new orleans with my daughter that won on 9/247-9/27 2013 cant wait! WHO HOO!

Susan from New Orleans Louisiana said...

My daughter won the trip we will be going 9/24-9/27 2013 and we cant wait! We live on flat land and no snow around here! We want to thanl all bloggers for so much info , that will help us enjoy our trip a little ligther and thought out will all the news and ideas! If anybody has anything to add email me at susanschaff63a@yahoo.com

Stephen Clos said...

Hey there folks. I just got a notification yesterday that I won a trip to the Marlboro Ranch. I got an email stating that paperwork would be sent via fedex and that I needed to get that turned back in ASAP. Does anyone know how soon after the email that it takes to get the paperwork via fedex. I have to leave town for a couple days and don't want to miss anytime getting that done and sent back in.

Missy said...

When we went in 2012 it took several weeks to get the first packet.

Jesse Hanson said...

So today I just got a big box in the mail from marlboro and when I opened it there was a real active cell phone in it ( I know, right?!?? A actual working cell phone) and it said to pick up the phone and press and hold 5 to call marlboro to reserve my adventure of a lifetime to the marlboro ranch. I'm going to call them first thing in the morning but I'm wondering if anyone else received this same box. I checked my email and I didn't receive an email from them. So I'm wondering is this to good to be true?!?! I sure hope not. I'll let you know what they say in the morning.

Stephen Clos said...

Thanks Missy...I got the first packet of forms on Tuesday (after I got the email on Saturday)..I was able to get that turned around and back before I left town. They told me it would be 4 - 6 weeks before I would hear back from them (they needed to do all the confirmation, background checks etc)..in only three weeks I go the next set of forms requesting Sizes and activity selections..My travel dates will be June 9 - June 12 , 2014!!! we are so pumped and so excited..My son is going with me so this will be a great time for use to spend together. Any one else out there going during that week?

Missy said...

Jesse, that's the first time I've heard of the cell phone thing, but that's awesome. I sure hope it's legit.

Stephen, I'm so ecxited for you. You're trip is coming up fast. You and your son will have a great time. Have you gotten your activity list yet?

Anonymous said...

I got the same package with a cell phone. I called and after confirming my info....they are sending the packet. It is legit. Excited.

Anonymous said...

HEY STEPHEN ...MY HUSBAND AND I ARE GOING JUNE 9-12, 2014 ALSO. NO CELL PHONE? WE GOT FEDEX LAST NIGHT. SO EXCITED! WE ARE COMING FROM SW FLORIDA. WHERE ARE YOU GUYS COMING FROM? AMY

Anonymous said...

Got the cell phone as well, sent of background forms and just waiting for the next step..

Missy said...

I wish I was going back to the Ranch with all of you! My favorite activities were the cattle drive and driving Hummers. If you've never been zip lining I recommend that as well.

Stephen Clos said...

Hey guys...we are just waiting for the next step which will be a phone call confirming mailing address and then mailing of tickets and check...@AMY..we are leaving from north Carolina..you can direct email me and we can keep each other
up to date on flights and lay overs and see if there is a place to meet up on the way...sclos@nc.rr.com ...excited

Stephen Clos said...

Hi MISSY...I heard you had to qualify to do the cattle drive. What had to be done to qualify?

Missy said...

We basically had to show that we could control our horses. They had us walk the horses single file around the coral and they would pull us out one at a time and have us thread the horses around some cones while they watched to see how we handle the reins, sat in the saddle and all that. Then they lined us all up at one end of the coral and had us trot our horses one at a time to make sure we stayed seated properly and had control of the horse.

If you have any experience riding a horse it should be no problem. If you don't get it right they will give you corrections until you get it right. Most of the horses have done this so many times they are kinda on auto pilot and do the tasks themselves. At least that was the case with my horse, but once we got out in open land I couldn't make my horse trot for anything.

It's pretty cool because you really are herding and driving the cattle.

Anonymous said...

i got my phone also made my appointment sent in my first packet waiting now ... were coming from arkansas

Nathacha said...

I also got the package with the phone and just send out my paperwork this Monday April 7. I posted about it as well http://atranyc.blogspot.com/2014/04/marlboro-ranch-summer-2014.html

Anonymous said...

What if you no longer smoke? Can get away from the smoke? Thanks!

Missy said...

The ventilation is very good there. I don't like it when people smoke when I'm trying to eat, and it was never an issue. You can always go outside, and smoking is not allowed during the activities except on breaks. The rooms are cleaned very well and had no smoke smell in them whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

My husband got the cell phone too! We're super excited, just got our dates!! Still can't believe this is even real!!

Stephen Clos said...

Got my expected call to confirm mailing address and shipping address on April 29th. I got the call at around 9:30 A.M EST...so they didn't mess around all day before calling.
Next thing is the expected mailing of the tickets and the arrival of the luggage (big duffel bag)..Confirmed they will book the flights out of RDU which is only 1/2 hour away from me...WHOO HOO!!!..can't wait to go!! Who else is going June 9 - 12..beside me and Amy...@Amy..stay in touch and we will see if we can meet up on the way...

Anonymous said...

I am excited to go back. My brother won the trip and took me about 4 years ago. I won this time and am taking my best friend. Our dates are June 19-22, flying out of DFW here in Dallas

Anonymous said...

I'm going June 5-8th! Thanks for your post, helps to calm the nerves knowing that someone else has been!

Anonymous said...

i also won and will be going 6/5-6/8. I didn't get any cell phone with my package.

What kind of cell phone is it?

Anonymous said...

I will also be going 6/5-6/8, but I have not received my package or tickets yet...should I be worried?

Anonymous said...

Did anyone notice a big difference on there taxes that went last year? Do I save the $600 to bring with me? I'm going sept 3, 2014

Missy said...

I think we ended up having to pay in about $500 the year we went.

Anonymous said...

Ok thanks! I have to go alone since my better half got in trouble 7years ago (and not since! & he was only 19) I almost don't want to go without him and we have a 6year old girl. So I'm going to miss them! But its almost like once a lifetime! He says I should go!

Missy said...

It will be hard to leave them, but the trip will be over before you know it. And you will not regret your decision one bit. Once you get there I'm sure you can find others to hang out with . You eat at large tables and all the activities are done in groups for the most part so you should be fine. You will have a ball. You couyld even decide not to do many activities and just relax. There are plenty of things to do around town.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I are going Sept 11-14, 2014. Sounds like an amazing trip.

Anonymous said...

I'm going June 19-22. My boyfriend can't go so I'm taking my mom. Wondering how to pack for temps that range from 40 to 85 degrees! :)

Missy said...

It will most likely be warm during the day so you want to pack short sleeves. They will probably provide you with some type of jacket to wear for when it's chilly so you shouldn't need to bring one. You might want to pack one long sleeve shirt just in case. If you are going horseback riding you will need to pack at least 1 pair of jeans/pants. I would also suggest if you want to ride horses you pack or wear your own boots because the ones they give you will hurt your feet until they are broken in. Evenings are pretty relaxed so you can wear the same clothes you wore during the day or pack a casual dress or shorts or something to wear. There is always something planned in the saloon and/or livery after dinner so dress comfortably.