Inspiration: “Come to the Twisselman Ranch and live a day in the life of Papa Ken and Grandma Rose Twisselman. You’ll love my Dad- he’s the ultimate cowboy!”
Actualization: While we bonded in Australia, Janae’s family anecdotes and the conversations I overheard made me insist I meet her relative cast of characters immediately upon our return to the states. I brought JJ Banicki along for the adventure. Old people and families always immediately fall in love with my brother and it makes me more at ease when he’s around.
Janae, JJ and I got to the ranch and crashed after our 3 hour drive straight from LAX.
In the morning, we woke up to fog and a little rain but nothing to deter us from chores. Cowboy Steve, Janae’s Dad, was quiet yet diligent in his pancake-making the morning our adventure began. It wasn’t until we rolled up our sleeves, hit the dirt road and started daily farm chores that Steve then opened up. I think it was the eyepatch he put on. He was definitely less shy although still a Cowboy afterall.
We went straight into ranch action. We fed the cattle, checked the grounds, drove through the vast oil fields and headed over to his parent’s house.
Papa Ken and Grandma Rose surpassed any and every expectation I ever had. They welcomed us into their home filled with family photos and memories. There was even a room stocked with photo albums that Papa added to every week. He documented everything which was a lot since he and Grandma were quite the social duo. They visited friends in the area, attended political events, and traveled with other older ranchers on a regular basis. Papa opened the album just before we were about to leave and he could have relived moments all afternoon. Papa made me laugh and he was still quick despite his old age.
We sat in their kitchen at the table covered with a giant blown up map tablecloth which Grandma told us was actually a shower curtain. She and Papa used the map to help them geographically place all the countries they’d read about every day. As one who had aced every Geography quiz but now couldn’t name half the countries, I was taking mental notes on how I could incorporate such a map at my house.
Grandma shared family stories. She was engaged at age 15 and a mom of 4 before the age of 21. She still had young eyes and her husband still had eyes for her. She read us the script from this Christmas’s family talent show, a talent show I’d like to replicate into Banicki tradition. It was inspiring to hear the creativity that each grandchild added to the Twisselman holidays. This was just one of many traditions including their seasonal sporting events, the bandwagon breakfasts, and the camping out under the stars. It became apparent fast that the Twisselmans are nothing like what one might assume a cowboy ranch family might be like.
We left Papa Ken and Grandma Rose to go see the rocks, caves and Indian hideouts over yonder. We headed past the home of Uncle Tom who had moved his bed onto the porch. I guess when you become a bachelor again you make change. This cowboy bachelor decided he’d sleep under the stars but still in his bed. We kept driving and came upon an area where the caves and rocks and cherry trees surrounded a wooden shack and small stage and theater type area.
I felt like I was Angie in Wonderland – beds out of place, animals appearing out of nowhere, and in the middle of a vast open area surrounded by mountains. It was Tim Burtonesque with the stage area gray and dark with it’s prickley old cherry trees.
The finale to our day on the ranch was my favorite part. THE PENNY BAR. Not because it was a bar but because it was a bar with a story. Over one million pennies covered everything in the bar from the walls to the pool table to the jukebox to the bathroom. JJ Banicki bonded with Steve and the cowboys over a pool match. JJ of course doesn’t play but as I said he works magic on families and old people, so somehow he shot a perfect pool match and then went on to sing Neil Young at karaoke and got the whole clan up and singing including Steve who was belting away! I spent time chatting with the rest of the crew and meeting the owners and staff of the Penny Bar.
Realization: 1 – LOL Take more time to meet and listen to grandparents – you’re guaranteed a Lesson Or Laughs..usually both. 2 – You don’t need a plane, a hotel or time off for a travel adventure! The ranch was my 36 hours of fun without even a shower….but it did have a shower curtain that inspired my next trip.
Temblor Ranch Fun Facts –
Over 100,000 Acres!
The movie There Will Be Blood is based on the story of Temblor.
Jesse James signature can be found in one of the caves where he slept on one of his missions.