by Lynn Hermann
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This year’s Umpire Ranch Camp certainly lived up to the name “Tierra Bella” – Beautiful Land. The setting, in the Canelo Hills south of Sonoita, gave the riders eye popping scenery! The weather cooperated with warm, breezy days to ride and cool evenings to socialize under the tent. The rides were all spectacular, highlighting the trail building skills of the Committee.
Wednesday we settled in to camp and got our first look at the raffle items at the meet and greet hosted by Lynne Herman and the Cummings. We also got to guess the number of candy corn pieces. My guess, mathematically calculated, was twice the actual total of 717. Hal Bankhead was the winner! We enjoyed dinner prepared by “The Café” from Sonoita.
Thursday I rode with the Pferdeorts visiting Hermit’s Hideaway, Rattlesnake Dam, and Black Oak Cemetery which is the final resting place of Mel Eason founder of The Umpire Ranch and an actual umpire in the National League! We had a Trick or Treat truck, trailer, and tent tour at “tree tirty tree PM” with vendor sales and our speaker, Betty Barr, and dinner provided by “The Café” again. The highlight of the evening was a visit and talk by our host, Andy Kelly, current owner of the Ranch.
Friday’s ride with Diane Notarianni and Mary Karrels took us climbing almost 1,000 ft to the Canelo Pass portion of the Arizona Trail and vistas that included the San Rafael Valley and in the distance, Mexico! The horses were all troopers, but slept well that night! Upon our return, we were treated to the arrival of the chuck wagon and a tasting of local beer and hard cider. Dinner was provided by Rex Dalton and his crew, local chuck wagon competitors. We also pulled winners for some of the awesome raffle items provided by our Tierra Bella Committee. I won a pair of hand etched beer mugs designed and etched by Rebecca Pferdeort.
Breakfast Saturday morning was home cooked by our chuck wagon crew with coffee brewed over the fire. Today’s ride was a long one – 4.5 hrs., but again stunning scenery and challenging hills, rocks and valleys. The varied terrain made for opportunities to both challenge horse and rider and provide a respite for us all to catch our breath. Upon returning to camp, the horses had the opportunity to bob for apples. The winning time was 7 seconds and the winning combo was Karen Clark and Mascar. We had another great chuck wagon meal and awarded the final set of raffle items.
On Sunday, several people stayed to do a short ride with Joanne Triplett, but sadly I had to get home and missed it. All in all this was a GREAT Tierra Bella. I think the lower number of participants led to a more congenial group and the number and variety of planned activities brought all of us together. It gave us all a chance to meet and get to know each other and form some new friendships. Those of you unable to attend, you missed a wonderful opportunity to spend time with a great group of people. Can’t wait till next year! ~ Lynne Herman
Tierra Bella 2017
See what you missed! Hope to see you in 2018!!
by Dan Simmons
A water stop Thursday on Steve and Carolyn Pferdeort's ride on the way to the Black Oak Cemetery where Mr. Eason, original owner of the Umpire Ranch, is buried. I have driven by the cemetery for 25 years which is right along the north side of Highway 83 and never realized it was there; I thought it was just a residence. A beautiful location with 360 degree panoramic views were numerous locals rest in peace both older and more recent.
The Umpire Ranch lies along Turkey Creek in the beautiful Canelo Hills of southern Arizona. This area is considered semi-desert grassland and the elevation is roughly 5,000’. The ranch was historically run as ranchland and still is today. Sycamore trees line Turkey Creek while Juniper and Oak abound and wildlife is abundant. The Ranch is bordered by Forest Service land and we were also able to access the AZ Trail. Umpire Ranch was named by an original owner Mal Eason. Mr. Eason was a pitcher and umpire for the National Baseball League in the early 1900’s.
There are many additional pictures and a write-up about the prep effort for the Tierra Bella by the ride committee members in the club newsletter. Here on the web site there will be a few photos, and a write-up by Lynn Hermann on the event itself, but the main focus will videos of the rides taken from horseback with a Go Pro camera and an in-camp video of the Saturday post ride horse apple bobbing contest.
Umpire Ranch, Canelo Hills AZ
Tierra Bella - Umpire Ranch
Lunch stop Saturday on Don and Colleen Finlayson's "Mostly Ghostly Witches Ride". We were told to keep our eyes open for the ghosts, witches and goblins along the ride of which there were quite a few courtesy of Don and Colleen in keeping with the Halloween theme of the Tierra Bella.
October 25th - 29th, 2017
A trick or treat stop from the tree hanging pumpkin on Bonnie Slaten and Joanne Triplett's "Happy Trails Ride" on Sunday morning. Bonnie is fishing for treats in the pumpkin which must be accessed from her horse.
Tierra Bella - Umpire Ranch