"Suburban Slickers"

To many, the name Malibu connotes the glitzy, wealthy, coastal enclave to the rich and famous in Los Angeles.  However, Malibu was also a poorly designed, uneconomical, four-door sedan manufactured by the almost-bankrupt Chevrolet to appeal to the mass market too cheap to buy a Toyota or Honda. 

This Malibu Dude Ranch was obviously named after the latter.

The genesis of this fiasco started with Matt looking for a spring break opportunity for the kids to ride horses.  We spent many evenings researching Dude Ranches across the United States, realizing that most of them would still be buried in snow in mid-April or would require complicated flights and/or extensive overland travel.  We thought we struck gold when we came across the highly touted Malibu Dude Ranch in Milford, Pennsylvania on Trip Advisor, where it received an overwhelming number of excellent reviews.  It appeared reasonably priced and was only a 5 hour car ride away.  Better still, we invited our friends from Pennsylvania to share in the experience.

The caveat.  This trip was for the kids, and they had THE time of their life.  The adults on the other hand, did not.

Okay, let's start with the positive.  This was positively one of THE sh*ttiest places we've ever stayed.  And remember people, we have lived in third world countries. 

Contributing to this vast discrepancy were the abysmal accommodations.  Scrolling through their web page, we requested a two room cabin overlooking the lake.  What we received was a dilapidated shack smack dab in the middle of the parking lot with a view of the back of the rodeo bleachers.  The wood paneled, spongy floored, yellowed plaster ceiling, and outdated disgusting bathroom lost its charm sometime around 1954.  The bedspreads and filthy carpeting were reminiscent of a 'no-tell motel', neither having been washed or vacuumed since they were brought in.  The smell emanating was a combination of 50 year old dust, mildew, rotting wood paneling and despair.  We quickly realized that everything here was done on the cheap.  From the recycled hospital bedding (complete with unidentified stains) to the small bars of prison issued soap, to the 'his and her' beds that sat on splintered wood platforms to prevent the poor quality mattresses from sagging all the way to the floor.  No need for an alarm clock here, as the shooting pain from your back spasms will surely get you up with the sun.  Oh, and hot water is a luxury reserved only for the angelically patient.

We came here for the activities, primarily the horseback riding.  And the kids got plenty of it.  However, the other activities proved to be less than stellar.  The tennis and basketball courts provided the added challenge of negotiating around broken and uneven cement.  The archery station was an impalement waiting to happen.  The target was a loose pile of rotting hay bales, all of the bows were worn out to the extent that the arrows wouldn't seat properly, and the arrows were either warped or missing their stabilizing feathers all resulting in a physics-defying curve ball effect of launching an arrow.  The so-called lake as appeared online, was in actuality an algae covered pond.  The complimentary fishing poles provided by the front desk had about 5 feet of fishing line, which allowed you to catch the scum on the surface of the pond, which was probably the only live organism in there. 

One high point was a live shooting range, complete with .22 caliber rifles.  Safety was not exactly paramount as the only two rules were not to shoot yourself or the person standing next to you.  Matt was both excited and dismayed that a borderline ADHD spasmatic 4-year-old was able to handle a live firearm. 

After three days we saw a marked improvement in our agility as we had to negotiate the poop littered around the grounds.  Obviously that from the horses.  But, also the piles left from the ass.  Literally.  Bobo, a domesticated donkey would wander the grounds braying and crapping at will.  Oh and did we mention the small flock of feral sheep and goats that would occasionally cross your path through the day?  These fauna are not the petting zoo variety.  The wool on the back of the sheep were so caked in dingleberries, it kept most animal lovers at bay. 

Not withstanding, was the cheap institutional cuisine included in the price of our stay.  Every dish could have been made in 5 minutes or less, with all carbs and no fresh fruits or vegetables, making elementary school cafeteria food look gourmet!  For health and sanity sake we opted to venture into town for a few amazing meals. 

While misery loves company, we found both solace and consolation in sharing this experience with our friends.  Late nights were filled with campfires and s'mores, card games and sleepovers.  And many laughs were had, mostly at the ranch's expense, with our smuggled-wine as we vowed ...

... The Next Vacation Is At The Four Seasons.

 First night.  After the hayride and around the campfire. 

 "The Lake"

Going horseback riding for the first time.  With helmets!

I finally went horseback riding on the second day ... but really didn't enjoy it.   Here's the correspondence I had with Matt while in the middle of my 45 minute ride.  
My comments are in the green and Matt's responses are in the gray.


And JUST Like That ...

Sh*t.  Got.  Real.

Three days on the market.  Ratified contract in hand.  Inspection in the next few days.  Closing in early June.

Gulp ...


Wham. Bam. Thank you HaShem.

What do you get when you put 5 reform Jews and 10 Catholics at a Passover Seder?   An abbreviated "McService" that you feel guilty about later.

Our drive through Seder last night gave brevity an entirely new meaning, as we only stopped for a few B'rachas, the 10 Plagues, the 4 Questions (read by Grady), and an explanation of what was on the Seder Plate.

Of course, none of our Jewish heritage could answer the commonly asked 5th question, "What the hell is a gefilte fish?  Or the follow up question, "Why does no amount of horseradish give it any taste?"  We just assume it's part of the Jewish suffering. 

New friends.  Great food.  Wonderful memories.  L'shanah haba'ah b'El Salvador.


Mi Casa Es Su Casa ...

... for the right price!

Casa de Chaos is officially on the market.  Which means the countdown to San Salvador is on!  Know of anyone who wants to move to Loudoun County?  Send them our way.  

We'll sell them the house ... but we'll keep the chaos.



Another Weekend ...

... another race.

Last Saturday it was the 5k Brambleton Ribbon Run.  Where Sheridan and I both had personal bests.

Yesterday it was an entirely new activity for us all.  A FITATHLON.  What's that you say?  Take a look and see just what we had to do! 

The kids run (for 6-12 YOs), which is what the girls did, enjoyed 8 of the 19 challenges. And they finished like rock stars in 25 minutes!  Matt and I were signed up as beginners and we finished strong in under and hour.  I did every activity except for the monkey bars (which were too high for me to reach and a woman was being taken away in an ambulance) ... so I was pretty okay skipping that one. 

In other news ... 

It's been insanely busy here with softball practice and games, school projects, school activities, Matt's Spanish class, working full time, house preparation, and Grady wrangling. 

Speaking of Grady, he had his first sleepover with his friend Kennedy.  They WENT to bed at 8 pm ... They chatted for a long while, told me at 10 pm that sleep was boring, and then finally dozed off sometime close to 11 pm.   Don't even ask what time they got up the next morning.

Last week at G's school was the "Week of the Young Child."  Thursday they were able to dress up as their "dream" job.  Gray went as a Fighter Pilot.  Since he couldn't decide between all of the superheros, he chose a name that encompassed them all.  His 'Call Sign' ...  Marvel.     


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