A few weeks ago I joined Halfmoon Enterprises southeast of Lewistown, MT on one of their wagon train adventures and what an adventure it was! Since I don’t have a wagon (my Subaru doesn’t count) I decided to ride along in one of the wagons. My other option was renting one of their horses and going along as an outrider. The wagon seat won out!
Three of us drove east of Harlowton, MT to the Twin Coulee Ranch. It was getting dark when we arrived but only because we lingered too long over our salads and sweet potato fries at the Cornerstone Restaurant in Harlowton (yum). It looked as if it could rain so we decided to pitch our tents in the barn. This is my favorite part of the experience to tell! We had a good night, we stayed warm and cozy and listened to the rain as it hit the tin roof of the barn. Our morning alarm was quite a few birds chirping and a few draft horses replying with some baritone whinnies.
I was eager to see the various styles of wagons, visit with the owners and meet their draft horse teams. Belgians, Percherons and some mixed varieties were ready to be harnessed and hitched, which takes a while to accomplish. Once breakfast was over and the teams were ready, we started our day’s travel.
We covered about 10 miles that first day beginning on rolling prairie and ending up in the foothills of the Big Snowy Mountains. When we arrived at our camp, we circled the wagons and pitched our tents in the center. The soil had changed to a red clay color and we had also seen the landscape change.
During the day we had passed by a local rancher moving cattle to summer pasture and that same rancher was our evening entertainment. John Lewis, cowboy singer and poet, had already put in a day’s work when he drove in to our campsite at suppertime.
We sat around a crackling fire and listened to him sing and recite poetry. For those who have never experienced cowboy poetry, it’s a personal glimpse into the soul of those who make their living on this land. Our cowboy’s easygoing style kept our attention and we hated to see him glance at the dwindling daylight because we knew he would soon be heading for home.
The next morning we had a little rain but we could smell coffee cooking and knew that breakfast would soon be ready. That was enough to encourage us to crawl out of our sleeping bags, open that tent flap and greet the day. We knew the routine, and so did the draft horses. They had their breakfast and then were ready to pull our wagons!
Our journey ended at Half Moon Ranch where you can also rent a cabin, host a meeting or corporate retreat in their pavilion, or take a horseback ride by the hour. This wagon train adventure was a leisurely way to amble over the countryside. There were no ipods, no video games and no cell phones. We joked that our adventure could have been called “Montana-Unplugged”. It just might be the adventure you and your family are seeking.