City Girl Meets Dude Ranch

PHOTO: Nick Battiste, (in foreground) and Nikki Battiste in background during a dude ranch ride.

My vacation at a dude ranch in Montana is a far cry from life as an ABC News producer in Manhattan.

Forget my cell phone, BlackBerry, stilettos and make-up.

This trip's necessities are simply riding boots, well worn jeans and "can get dirty" shirts.

My journey to Montana is no assignment, no "go spend a day as an urban cowgirl." This real life adventure is a trip with my father, Nick Battiste, to Broken Arrow Lodge, a ranch 25 miles south of Alder, Montana.

It is so surreal, I feel like I am in a cowboy movie.

Picture this: City girl has no cell phone reception or blackberry for five days, gets trapped in a hail storm on top of a mountain at 10,000 feet, rides horses for 50 miles, sees a living, breathing bear five feet away and eats like Michael Phelps.

Then she does not ever want to leave, despite her really sore backside from sitting in a saddle all day.

This is what you might get when you are hosted by Erwin and Sherry Clark who own Broken Arrow.

Erwin is a real, legitimate cowboy. His is tough and rugged, his legs are bowed, he is not seen without his token hat and he is a man of few words. Sherry, his wife, cooks better than Emeril. Every day feels like Thanksgiving.

The couple, who met in high school, have hosted guests, many cowboy wannabes, from all over world. They have entertained families from as far away as Saudi Arabia and China.

On this trip, one family is from a city, and the father has on his bucket list: Go to a dude ranch. He arrives in Nike sneakers, jean shorts and a brand new cowboy hat – he is not exactly a spitting image of John Wayne. But he could not be happier, and he is in awe of the stunning scenery.

Thankfully, I do have cowgirl genes.

I grew up in central Pennsylvania with my father and mother, both retired teachers, and brother, in a tiny town of just one thousand people. We lived among the Amish where we had no cable television and no stoplights in our entire county.

We did have horses, and I spent my childhood riding with my dad. Most would say we lived a pretty rural life.

But when my father and I arrive in Montana, "rural" has an entirely new meaning.

Driving for two hours from the Bozeman airport to the ranch, it becomes abundantly clear why they call Montana the "Big Sky Country." With the clearest, bluest skies and breath-taking mountains, Montana is an oasis.

Erwin and Sherri's ranch sits on a mountain, near Ted Turner's, with a view from their porch that tops any panoramic postcard. The sunrise is spectacular, coming up from behind the mountains into the pristine sky.

Their lodge, home to them and thousands of visitors, sits on 20 acres where they have 25 horses, mules, turkeys and the occasional visiting bear.

This urban cowgirl's playground is too remote to have mail -- much less pizza -- delivered. The closest grocery store and post office are well over an hour away. They stock enough food for their long, cold winters where temperatures can hit as low as minus 15 degrees.

I asked Erwin what he does if just wants a slice of pizza like us city folk. He explains they have to drive to a pizza place that is over an hour round trip.

Then there are the ranch workers: Jeremiah, the wrangler, a young lady who helps cook and two farmhands. Erwin and Jeremiah lead horseback rides, hunting trips and fishing outings.

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