RANCHO DEL RIO in BOND, COLORADO was everything I needed…
I just returned from a wonderful trip to a place called Rancho Del Rio in Colorado. It is a ranch much different than I envision when I hear that word “Ranch or Rancho”. No horses, cows, pigs or chickens did I see at this location. It was a happy place where locals and visitors blend and talk about life as they prepare to hop on rafts or kayaks or stand-up paddle boards and seize the day in this mighty river! I watched many people ready themselves as the excitement built for them. I also could hear the fly-fishing lessons as the classes were held only feet from the full-length porch on my cabin that overlooked the Colorado River. It was much like a tiny town of cabins, camper trailers and even tents as people searched for ways to be near the Colorado River. There was a general store that was run by the most accommodating, and friendly people. I felt like I had known them for years. Lauren was the one who I talked to the most. The people who ran Rancho Del Rio were the perfect people to run such a place.
The most interesting person on my whole trip was a lady who called herself “K-K” and she operated her BBQ stand (which was more prominently a burger and hotdog type place). She had a large sign that read “THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE” which caught all of our attention when we first arrived. K-K only opens for a few hours on Saturday and Sunday, so the opportunity to get to know her was quite slim. My brother and I walked up to the window’s edge, which was the counter, that Saturday when we noticed it was finally open for business. There she was, the most original, abrasive, funny, mean, yet lovable person I have ever known or will ever know in my life. K-K truly is one of a kind. I know this because I was married to an equally zany, unusual person for many years…often called a “one-of-a-kind” character.
She sort of barked at me…”WELL, what do you want, you don’t have all day ya know!” I half smiled at her as I was a bit apprehensive, and I replied “Ill take a bratwurst without the bun (I had been trying to stick with proteins and eliminate carbs). She replied, “Well what else?” I said “Thats all, a bratwurst, no bun.” She stood there, raised her voice and said..”Ya done told me that—-I got it NO BUN!”…Then with one hand on her hip she said, “What else do you say?”…..I thought for a minute as if my life depended on the right answer, suddenly I said, “PLEASE”…and she replied, “Yes, be glad you said that because I was about to knock you out!”
At that point I was not sure what to expect from her. As I listened to her banter with everyone else who approached her little shop of horrors….I realized she went pretty easy on me…maybe she likes me? Her shop was only feet from the back door of my cabin. So when I finished my bratwurst (which was fabulous), I took my knife, fork and little red basket it was served in and I washed them and brought them back to her. (She was very busy and had limited resources in her little shack). I could see her facial expression soften as she realized what I had done….she said it had never happened before. I smiled big, and she said “Don’t get too full of yourself, its just 3 little things ya washed for God sake!”
I tried one of her homemade large pickles and it brought me back to my grandmother’s table when I was a kid…great great pickle, just like my grandmother made….I loved her for that. She also had pickled eggs….they were solid black as they floated in the brine in front of me…not my thing at all but Leesa and Julz (the Hussy Hicks) loved them. They love anything fermented!
My son Eric ordered the “Little Beauty Burger” (1/3 lb of hamburger)…She said it comes with jalapeño …he said “I don’t want the jalapeño” …she leaned over in his face and said. “You are just a little weenie!” We nearly laughed ourselves off the wooden stools we were perched on.
Our group of 6 had so much fun at this unique BBQ shack which turned out to be THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE that day. I learned to love this little lady who wore her hair all twisted in an unusual bun on top of her head adorned with a hair band and many live flowers (some of which were dying quickly and she would occasionally swap out the dead ones for live ones she kept nearby in a jar of water.
It is worth the trip to Colorado just to watch KK and listen to her; its shocking and delightful all rolled up in a funny, loud-mouthed angel that I will never forget!
The show that night was scheduled to begin at 7pm. The Hussy Hicks, Eric Erdman and John Cochran were in the cabin right next door warming up for the show. I had to mosey over and find a chair in the corner so I could soak up all of the goodness they were putting out in the air. It was like my own personal concert and I was in Colorado Heaven. I could have listened to them jam together for days, but after a few hours it was time for everyone to head down to the site where the show would take place….it was very close-by so we walked over and got seated as we waited for it all to begin. Robby Amonette (an awesome artist from home) was there and he specializes in painting live shows…he does the entire painting while the show is in progress. He was already setting up when I plopped down in my chair.
The musicians featured in the show that night were Corky Hughes (master of every string instrument ever made), Grayson Capps (Well, he is Grayson Capps…musician extraordaire), Eric Erdman (prolific singer/songwriter, musician from Mobile), The Hussy Hicks (Leesa Gentz and Julz Parker) from Australia (they are fabulous in all things music…most powerful singers and musicians on the planet—and my dear friends), John Cochran (fabulous musician, instructor of music, truly nice guy and adorable on top of it all).
The emcee, of course was Cathe Steele. She was the reason we were all here in Colorado. She is the owner/operator of The Frog Pond in SIlverhill, Alabama…a fabulous place to hear live music. She now has this Rancho Del Rio thing going and plans to do it again next year…I can’t wait!) Cathy also sings and plays guitar and she joined the group for a song.
As normally the case, Cathe led the final song of the night as well. This final song was a marriage of “House of the Rising Sun and Amazing Grace”…sounds like an odd couple but they worked it all out and it was a happy union.
From the time the first music note was hit until that final song, the stage was alive and the audience joined them for the ride. Some could not stay in their seats…our Glenda Stabler Campbell danced with many that night. She has the music in her! As the night progressed there were people lined up all the way to the water’s edge. Everyone was in awe of the soul and spirit that was pouring out from that stage into the Colorado night and drifting all the way up those mountains, making sure everyone heard. The joy of living life was in all of us there at that moment. I felt it and I could see it in every face I looked into. What an absolute, undeniable blessing we received from those talented people who shared their hearts with us through their music and words.
Oh Colorado, you restored my belief in all that is good in this world. Music people are my people and I would not change a thing.