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Dear Jody and Top50 Ranches,

Moral of this experience...Use Top50 Ranches to research your ranch vacation!

My cowgirl western dude ranch vacation, which I planned on my own, was one bad moment after another. It actually was a disaster. I do not want to bore you with many details, but suffice it to say, my research on the Internet was a disaster. The original dude ranch I booked was not anything like the website portrayed. My accommodations were disgusting (cobwebs in the closet and the dresser drawers, dusty twin mattress, cats all over, hoarding of so many items it was difficult to maneuver to get out of my bedroom.) I did not know I would be staying with the ranch family, sharing their bathroom with them and the homeless cowboy they brought home from a donkey auction the day before. Seriously, I am not exaggerating. After acquiring all this information, not only was I about to stay in a filthy home, but now I feel unsafe and a bit fearful. Not quite the experience I was looking for in my yearly cowgirl adventure vacation.

I began thinking about my options and without cell phone service or my own vehicle (they picked me up at the airport…with crying baby, cracked windshield and no seatbelts) I was not optimistic. I took a walk on the dirt road to see if I could find a signal for my smart phone and do some Google searching for a nearby hotel, dude ranch, B & B or any place to stay. I finally found a 4X4 spot where I could find Internet and phone service. I did find another dude ranch but I would only be able to stay two days.

After much searching in the dark, I found a dude ranch that would pick me up and had a room available for a couple of days, but that would be it, because a wedding was coming in and there would not be a vacant room for me. I was okay with the idea, thinking I could spend some time trying to find other accommodations. Now I am standing on a dirt road, in Montana, with my suitcases, by myself waiting for some stranger to pick me up. Let’s not forget, I had to tell my hosts (who fed me canned corn, pig hocks and beans) I would be leaving.

The strange man picked me up in his pickup truck, which had temporary tags (Oh goodness, what was I getting myself into) as its license plate and we drove 45+ minutes to my new dude ranch. Now I have been traveling since about 6AM EST and it is now almost midnight in Montana. A very long and to-be-forgotten day.

The room at my new dude ranch was fine, but the ranch riding, well all I can say is it was boring. I was seeking a ranching experience like the one I had at a Top50 ranch the previous year and did not get anything close to my wish. I could have stayed in Cleveland and rented some trail horses at a barn and had the same experience, sans the mountains.

There was a number of “Mis-adventures” during my stay at this dude ranch, but I will not go into the details. After my two very boring days (and it did not include any spa experience and too far from town to try to venture) I decided enough was enough and paid the “stranger” to take me to Billings. I stayed in the city for one night and changed my reservation to leave Montana a few days early and took a plane out the following morning.

Jody and Top50, I will never ever again do my own Internet research when it comes to my next ranch vacations. My yearly ranch vacations uplift my spirit and I want to enjoy the time away. This year’s trip will be researched by you and Top50 Ranches. No hesitation on my part to rely on you… Where am I going this year?

The moral of my story is: When researching your travel options (especially ranching experiences and ranch vacations) beware of Internet photos and websites, they are not all what they seem. Use Top50.

Warm Regards to all,

Robin Star

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