Travel and Lindy Hop
Welcome to Deadrock
Monday August 31, 1998
We got up at 5:00 am to make our way to Dulles Airport for a trip to Deadrock Ranch, just outside Livingston, Montana. We were the guests of the Phillip Morris Company at the 1998 Marlboro Ranch Party.
Our flight took us first to Salt Lake City, with a sweeping view of the Great Salt Lake. From then, we moved on to Billings, Montana, where the ranch had dispatched a special bus to pick us up. Better yet, they had thought to provide a very tasty lunch for our consumption during the 130 mile drive from the airport to the ranch. We were also treated to a variety of cowboy snacks, including ranch-made beef jerky.
When we passed through the gates of the ranch, Elizabeth, our guide, put the Theme from the Magnificent Seven on the stereo. As we looked out the window, a group of Wranglers came riding at full gallop out of the sagebrush, whooping and hollering; one was even brandishing a bullwhip... What an introduction!
This is the first sight of Deadrock. At the time, it really looked like a Ghost Town!
Sagebrush in the streets...
Our bus stopped in front of what appeared to be a throughly dead Ghost town. Most of the buildings lacked paint and the street was liberally overgrown with weeds. We were stunned to find out that this was almost all brand new construction --- very carefully done to give the feel of a Western town in the 1890s. The full details of this incredible feat may be found in the August, 1996 issue of Architectural Digest.
An interesting concept
Frank gets the lay of the land from Floyd, the head wrangler and Mark, the Ranch manager.
In fact, the ranch hides the very best of modern convenience inside a shell that evokes the all-persuasive Myth of the American Cowboy. All of the small buildings in the "Ghost Town" are, in fact, luxury suites. All of the furniture are Western antiques, and we were told that every chair, bed or table came from before 1908. We had a room in the "Stagecoach Hotel" --- it was very charming and well- laid out with lots of windows.
We had to do a lot in four days...
Our room was very interesting. The designer had made a king size bed by welding together two older twin beds. All of the furniture was country antiques, updated for luxury service. Of note, there are no television sets on the ranch.
The bath featured "Old- Time" fixtures (including a water closet with a pull- chain...). On our way to dinner, I closed the weathered pine door to the room --- when I noticed a metal plaque on the hinge edge that certified the fire-rating. It was a new metal door very cleverly designed to look like a very old interior door!
We attended a brief orientation session and were then treated to a sumptuous buffet of smoked salmon and barbecued shrimp. After a brief trip to the hot-tub to work out the kinks from travel, we dressed for dinner in some 1940s vintage Western wear that we were able to find in Frederick. The dinner was mountain trout and elk tenderloin with a spectacular array of roasted vegetables. Dessert was apple cobbler and home made cinnamon ice cream. Best of all, the ranch has a very large coffee machine that is always full. This is a big treat if you drink as much coffee as I do...
We took a stroll in the last moments of daylight and got a small glimpse of the majesty of the 18,000 acre ranch. We strolled over to the corral to pick out horses for our ride on the next day. Given the attention to detail for the West of the 1890s, I had some reservations about just where Lindy Hop was going to come in. When we walked back to the town, we heard some familiar sounds emanating from the "saloon", which also serves as the dining hall and the entertainment center. It was Zoot Suit Riot.
Jerry Lee Lewis, watch out!
The entertainment for the evening was Heartbeat, an excellent trio from Belgrade, Montana (for booking information contact Rich or Chris Mayo at 406-388-2061). This group was very capable in all genres from classic country to our favorite, Jerry Lee Lewis. We waited for a few songs to let the crowd settle down, and then did our first demo to Great Balls of Fire. Unfortunately, we also discovered the Altitude -- the ranch is at 8,000 feet and we were both gasping for oxygen at the end of the dance. After recovering, we found that we could only do one dance every half hour. But, Lindy Hop seemed to be very well received at Deadrock. At 1:00 am (3:00 DC time), we finally called it quits, because we had to rise with the sun for our next day's adventure.
The Philip Morris Lady
After our demo, we had a very nice time chatting with Beth, an executive with the Phillip Morris Company. Again, our thanks to our hosts for making this great trip possible.
As we said, before, we took quite a few photos, so we have divided the story into parts to minimize download time:
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