4.21.2014

"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  The wood paneled, spongy floored, yellowed plaster ceiling, and outdated disgusting bathroom lost its charm sometime around 1954.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.






4 comments:

Connie said...

Sounds like a tent would have been nicer! (well... except for the feral animals that may have invaded the camp in the middle of the night.) Glad the kids had fun!!

Betsy said...

I almost choked on my morning tea i was laughing so hard!! :) It sounds like one of my vacations - we once slept in a car in Turkey because our room was so vile!

I am glad your kids had fun, but next time I would totally stick with the Four Seasons or our favorite - The Omni Bedford Springs.

San Diego Momma/Two Funny Brains said...

This is the best "review" ever!

Naomi Hattaway said...

I kind of want to know what you paid for your luxurious stay and experience, but it might make me choke on my coffee. LOVED the text message discussion.

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