Three wheels on my wagon…

…and we’re still rolling along. This time we were off to the Indian Cliffs Ranch A working ranch (plus some touristy bits) that also has the World famous Cattleman’s Steakhouse restaurant (well famous in the El Paso area). After turning off the Interstate 10 the desert road gave us the opportunity to pull over and this time make sure we got some pictures of that there tumbleweed. We are travelling through what used to be Apache country, it wasn’t hard to imagine the Indian tribes riding through this countryside – Geronimo and all that

We pulled into the ranch entrance and it looked pretty deserted, driving up through the complex we were greeted at the restaurant car park by a “Cowboy” (think we should call them cowmen) on horseback as he directed us to a space – it wouldn’t have been that difficult to find one ourselves. We chatted to him commenting on the lack of visitors – yes, a bit quiet so far, we did have about 1400 people yesterday he said. Betsy and I though he was just trying to reassure us that people did come out here to eat and look at the ranch. It was just before 1pm so as we walked into the restaurant building we wondered if there would be anything to do other than eat. The long entrance corridor went past a display ‘fridge containing samples of the steaks on offer – not one under an inch thick and some must have been a couple of inches or more – check out the menu on their website. OK what with that and the cooking smells we did start to get hungry. As we got to the reception desk I asked the girl where everything else was as we weren’t quite ready to eat yet. As she gave us a ranch map and pointed to the double doors through the restaurant she mentioned that today (Sunday) there were “hare races” and the next one started at 1pm so if we went down past the rabbit pen we would be in time but if we missed it there was one every hour ‘til sundown. Well as we had never seen a hare race – although now half way through our travels we have witnessed piglet and ostrich racing as well as a trip to the horses – we set off to check it out.

The smell of those steaks got better as we made our way through the restaurant and out, past the peacocks, partridge, ostrich and of course the rabbits we looked out for the hares (and any sign of activity) The place was rather deserted, maybe they had postponed the racing until a few more people got there? We wandered around anyway, checking out the buffalo and Texas longhorns along with numerous other animals making up a bit of a farm type Zoo. There was also a building that had been there since the filming of “Resurrection” in 1979, check out the wall built from bottles! – all part of the film. Still no hare activity – there wasn’t even a hare enclosure (maybe they train them indoors and they only come out for the races?) We began to wonder where this event took place as the open area past the rabbit pen that we had been directed to was filled by a couple of what looked like modern covered wagons hitched up to tractors, one even had a few bales of hay in it. It was round about then that an announcement was made over the PA system; “All patrons wishing to partake in the hayride please make your way towards the rabbit pens for the next one leaving in 5 minutes” Oh, so it’s not just another language spoken by Americans (actually I think the girl was Mexican) it really is still a pronunciation problem we are still battling – our hare race turned out to be a hayride, we actually felt quite relieved, not just to have got it wrong but also that we had not found anyone to ask where the hare racing took place J.

Well we had a further walk around the rest of the place, a very eerie looking lake (don’t think it was lake Erie) and of course all those wagons mentioned in our song title (yet again).

OK now we did have an appetite so back up to the top of the hill to the Cattleman’s. Should we have steak, steak or steak? I plumped for the steak and Betsy had a steak – good choice J

Well yet again Texas served us proud and the 10oz. New York Striploins went down a treat. During our meal the restaurant filled up with people we think it must have been about the third sitting of the day, maybe our Cowman wasn’t spinning a yarn! Stomachs stretched tight we wandered outside to catch the 4pm hayride, I suppose we could always look out for racing hares along the way. The place was packed with people – good job we had taken our pictures earlier. We were lucky to get on the hayride wagon! The John Deer pulled us along through the ranch out onto the road and across into that desert we had driven through. It turns out that just about as far as you could see is owned by the same person as the ranch and restaurant and within this wilderness were more film set locations; a replica farmstead home (notice the wagon on the roof – stored there so they could hear if anyone tried to steal it) and then on to what looked like a war zone – tanks (just replicas, some only flat sheet in the background) an old crashed helicopter and another one that had been blown up (apparently the explosion blew out the windows back at the restaurant about a mile away!). These were all remnants of the film “Courage under fire” shot in 1995. The three months filming they did actually made something like 7 minutes in the film.

After such an exciting day we got back home to catch up on the office work and plan our next stopover – somewhere on the way to Tucson Arizona (is that another song?)


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