Dixie Dude Ranch

Okay, so one of my best experiences in America was going to a ranch. Hands down, one of the best things I did.
The coach ride to Bandera from Conroe was testing, especially with a dozen or so teenage girls on the coach, but it was so worth it.
When we arrived there was just miles and miles of mountainous land which was an amazing sight.
The ranch itself was amazing. Our cabins were beautiful and we had three home cooked Texan meals every day, rode horses twice a day, went for swims and on hikes. I rode a horse for the first ever time when I was there, something that I probably still wouldn’t have done if I hadn’t gone. My beautiful horse was called Buddy and our leader Cowboy Chris taught me all I needed to know.

When we arrived we were told Bandera is the “cowboy capital of the world” and I don’t think I could argue with them there…
We saw an amazing trick roper and a few REAL cowboys with their breeches, riding horses and singing us songs.
It was unlike anything I could ever have imagined. Everyone was so friendly and everything was so so calming, I would go back there again any day. If you ever get the chance to go to a ranch I would highly recommend it. I even met a fellow British couple, Keith and Sally, who were on their honeymoon there! Experiencing Ranch life is a must!

X

Fourth of July

Naturally, one of the things I was most excited about whilst in America was to be there for Fourth of July. Our week at Camp got cut short and we got to go home for a longgg weekend! Prancer gave me a place to stay for the festivities and she was an excellent host.
It was a weekend filled with BBQs, good food, a party, a drink or two, fireworks, go-karting, good friends and lots of laughs.

It was so nice to spend time with everyone outside of our camp roles, although we will always call each other by our camp names no matter how old we are or how long it’s been. Prancer will always be Prancer, even though her real name is Eden.

There’s not much I can really say about the Fourth of July other than it was a blast, so I’ll just share a few photos with you instead 🙂


X

Let’s go Line Dancing

When I first found out I was going to Texas, I was pretty nervous. I mean, it is so different to the rest of America. It is like it’s own country. I’m so glad it was where I ended up though.

My third weekend there led to my first night in a bar with my new favourite friends. We went to a place called “Shenanigans” in Hunstville. It was fab.
Beers were $1, shots were $2. I was happy to be over 21! shena
It was such a fun night and there was country music and hip hop playing, with men in Cowboy hats and Boots; I felt like I’d walked into a Western film and the novelty never wore off.

I also partook in my first line dance that night and certainly not my last.
Hardly any of my line dancing took place in bars; we line danced soooo much at Camp, usually at meal times –  we’d just get up with the kids and start dancing away. They taught me a thing or two!

It’s so sad because I can’t remember the moves now, but if you put Copperhead Road or Footloose on the radio I’m sure my muscle memory would kick in and I’d be dancing away.
line

X

Camp Themes.

As a camp counsellor, you have to a lot of silly things. It’s part of the job description. Luckily this suits me down to a T since I’m such a big kid! We had loads of themes at Camp which the campers got to vote for and I’m gonna run through some of my favourites.

Crazy hair day – cue a million bobbles in your hair which will be plaited, bunned, ponied and pointing in any given direction. The campers helped out a lot with this theme.

Moustache day – literally just a day where you draw a moustache on your face. Usually I grabbed the eye-liner; week three led to one camper grabbing a sharpie. I think I had a faint purple moustache on my face for a few days….

Crazy sock day – pretty self explanatory. For my amazing counsellor Teeny, every day was crazy sock day. Her collection of knee high, jazzy patterned socks are unrivalled.

Super hero day – towels draped over our shoulders, shorts over leggings, eye masks. We were all our own imaginary superheroes!

Unfortunately, there weren’t many photos of us on our crazy theme days!

Here’s a snap of us getting all patriotic for ‘Murica though just before 4th July weekend! themeX

The Outback

One compulsory part of camp, is camping. Okay, so I guess that’s a given considering it’s “Camp” but generally we’re in cabins or dorms, not actually camping.
Anyway, part of our pre-camp training was to go to the Outback, a big open field in the middle of the woods a few miles out of camp, to pitch up for the night, build a fire, cook and get eaten to death by bugs.

Outback was pretty fun to be honest. We all grabbed our things and hopped onto the people mover, singing camp songs the whole way. Everything from “Tongo!” to “Baby Bunblebee”. God, I miss camp sing songs. outback

As soon as we arrived it was time to pitch the tents. Snapple gave a demonstration. Yup, that’s right; for some of the counsellors a demonstration was needed – they had never pitched a tent before! Ducky and I got ours up in no time and went to assist Dotty and Rue who were having a slight bit of difficulty…

Then, the cooking began, followed by chats and bonding around the camp fire. As cringey and cliched as this sounds it was truly amazing. We were under the stars with no artificial lighting anywhere and went on a late night hike in the forest. I just love the trees and grass and all things nature. It was so so beautiful. outtback

ouutOne slightly less beautiful thing? The toilets. Or latrines as they were called. Essentially a 15 foot deep hole in the ground with a wooden toilet seat that was surrounded by a nest of baby wolf spiders. Delightful.

Despite that, the outback was such a fun experience and I’m sad I only did it once; my other opportunity was snatched from me due to the monsoon-like weather that hit Texas and caused Veggie and I to hydroplane (freakin scary) along the track road near camp –  not safe to send the campers out.

I love camping so this was a epic part of camp and I can’t wait to go camping again sometime soon!

X

All the skills

I can’t begin to explain how many skills I learnt at Camp, from patience to compassion to the more obvious qualifications such as learning Archery and being a Riflery instructor. Yup, that’s right, riflery.  I, Sarah Musgrove, was entrusted teach Girl Scouts how to shoot BB Guns, for no other reason that the fact I was over 21 years of age. With age comes great responsibility, eh? archery

I was training with a bunch of my other counsellors which was pretty cool and out instructor knew his stuff. He and his wife were members of the NRA and between them owned something like 40 guns! Insane. He showed us most of his guns, from shotguns, to handguns, rifles and revolvers. All of them unloaded, obviously. Us Girl Scout leaders were shown the BB guns and how to load and shoot them safely. Very safely.

Most of our training consisted of theory, the correct procedure and protocol for teaching a class, which instructions and commands to give, how many people were permitted on the range and one time and a manual which we had to use as our bible. I did and I am proud to say that every session I led was very successful. riflr

In my last week of camp, we were teaching some of the boys, my oddest conversation went like this:

Boy: “Can I shoot a bird?”
Me: “No, just the target please, there aren’t any birds around here anyway”
Boy: “Oh, that’s a shame. What about a chicken?”
Me: “No, no. No chickens. Just the target”
Boy:  “Oh, okay. I sure do have the appetite for chicken”
Me: *Whaaat on earth….*
Boy: *To Rue, my fellow counsellor* “You’re hair kinda look like a chickens feathers…”
Me and Rue: “Oh, okay! Cease fire, session over. Thank you very much…”

So, yeah, learning to teach Riflery was certainly interesting and looking back at that conversation, definitely amusing. I have to thank Camp for teaching me so much and giving me so many memories! rifl

X

Cabin Company

My second week in Texas signalled my move into The Cabins. Wooden shacks with no air con and lots of company in the form of insects. Mostly spiders. Wolf spiders, Brown Recluse Spiders and of course, a few Black Widow spiders which Zoey and I killed, once very discreetly in front of the Campers.

I don’t mind spiders. Honestly, I don’t. However, when there is a nest of spiders eggs underneath your bed, I begin to have a slight problem. I don’t fancy being attacked by spiders in my sleep, thank you very much. It took a lot of us counsellors, broom, shovels and bug spray to eradicate as many of the spiders and wasps nests we could. Cabins are not the most glamourous places to sleep!

However, it turns out that no matter how many bugs you shoo from your sleeping area, you can’t escape them. It doesn’t matter how much bug spray you spray, they still get you. They are persistent little things. After one game of capture the flag on a warm summer evening, I woke up the next day to find no fewer than 48 “chigger” and mosquito bites of my legs. I looked like a game of join the dots.

As the summer went on my bite affliction calmed down slightly, although, bugs will forever be an enemy of mine for the extreme discomfort and itchiness they inflicted on me!

Guys, if you happen to ever be at a summer camp in the middle of Texas surrounded by fields and trees I wish you luck; bathe in bug spray and stay inside!

x

Camp Fwends!

It’s kind of crazy how quickly you bond with people at Camp. Anyone who has done the camp experience will just know how it goes.
I mean, I’m a very emotional person as it is. I form strong attachments to people probably far more easily than I should,  but I just love to love and be friendly and spread happiness. I like to see myself as a hugger, not a fighter. I hug everyone, forget about a handshake…

Camp was amazing for just being yourself and making friends. Within a few days, I felt like I’d known some of my fellow counsellors forever. We were sharing beds and telling each other our life stories and laughing until our bellies hurt.
I made such good friends with the other internationals, Dotty, Rue and Tigs. We were setting up the cabins and doing all the little jobs together before camp started.
We had so many experiences together, from the mutual excitement of Rue’s case finally arriving from the airport (nearly a week after she did), to all going to get our Social Security cards together, which felt very serious, important and American-y. We even had to go to a clinic together to pee in a pot for a drugs test. This was all within the first few days of meeting each other.

bblog
It wasn’t just my fellow internationals I loved though. It was every counsellor, the older ones who were Camp veterans to the ones who were in exactly the same boat as me. My friends like Ducky, who took us to our first baseball match and Prancer who opened her home to my for Fourth of July celebrations. Moonpie, Teeny, Mcfly, Daisy, Firefly, Melody, Koala, Ivory and Shrek. We were all a random mad bunch who looked after each other. I don’t think I told any of them this enough, but they kept me sane and happy every day. I miss them so much now that we live so far away.

Misty Meadows for Life.

X

 

Texan Life

blogg

I’d never been to America. I mean I knew it was gonna be hot. I just didn’t think it would be this hot. Then again, I was in Texas.
I got picked up from the airport by two of the loveliest girls I’ll ever meet and I stepped out into the blistering hot, humid conditions of Houston. Now I realise why air-con was invented. Thank the big guy in the sky for air-con. Thank him also for Factor 50 sun cream and shade and ice cubes.

My drive to Camp was about an hour long, but on the 8 lane highways it seemed a lot scarier than any car journey I’d been on before. Plus, every vehicle in Texas was pretty much a truck, not a car, so I felt tiny as we cruised along the road.
Just from the drive itself, I could grasp how big Texas was, after all, everyone boasted that it was the biggest State (because according to Texans, Alaska doesn’t count), the Lone Star State, and apparently just the greatest State ever. A quick Google led to the discovery that the UK could fit into Texas almost three times, and we are FOUR countries put together. That puts it into perspective…

We arrived in camp and I instantly made some of the most amazing friends, partly due to the supply of Cadbury Dairy Milk and Wine Gums I’d brought along with me…
In my first day alone, I encountered a snake (which I thought was pretty cool), got a tour of camp, so many horses and so much nature and I  went to WALMART.

bloggg

Oh, how I had heard about Walmart – I was expecting to be amazed…sadly I was not. I don’t wanna be too much of a party pooper, but it’s just like ASDA or Tesco, but with a lot more sweets and about 3509453 different varieties of Oreo. That was about the most exciting part of it; I was pretty sure I could work my way through tasting all of the sweet treats America had to offer.

So, in my first 48 hours, I discovered that whilst I might not be able to bear the heat; the new people and the choice of snacks? I could most definitely cope with that… 🙂

X

Bonus Business Class

Hi guys!

So, my last post ended with “things could only get better, right?” Well, they certainly did. I ended up in Business class on my way to Houston. Winning.

I flew from Newcastle to Amsterdam. A short, sweet flight before my 10 hour flight to Houston. Getting on the huge double decker plane was so daunting, the biggest plane I’d ever been on was about a third of the size of this!

I had my ticket, definitely my ticket, I was definitely booked on this flight so I went to find my seat. Oh, no. Please tell me this wasn’t happening. Some guy was sitting in my seat with all of his family. I didn’t have a seat. Oh my God. Why is it always me?!

The conversation went a little like this:
Me: “Erm, ex- excuse me? I think that’s my seat”
Guy: “Oh, yes, I think it is, would you mind if I sat here though?”
Me: Silence….*What do I say to that? It’s my seat, where am I supposed to sit?*
Guy: “I’m happy to swap seats with you, this is my ticket, I’m in seat 3B”
Me: “Oh, erm, okay. I’ll just ask an air hostess or something…”

Long story short, I end up trying to find an air hostess/ the seat of this guys ticket and have no luck with either. 3B does not seem to exist. The numbers start at 6A. HELP!
Eventually I find a guy who I think is an air steward and ask him. He just smiled and said of course before leading my through a corridor into BUSINESS CLASS.

Air Steward (who actually turned out to be the pilot): “Today must be your lucky day, here you are Miss, seat 3B”
Me: *SHUT THE FRONT DOOR, ME IN BUSINESS CLASS?!*

Needless to say, I stuck out like a sore thumb in business class, I had a Tigger backpack, a potato shaped pillow and was wearing leggings, a Newcastle t-shirt and looked like a mong. The beautiful air hostess took my hoodie and hung it in a CLOSET for me and gave me so many free drinks, I felt like I was stealing or something. She kept calling me Miss Musgrove, even though I insisted she just call me Sarah – I am not the formal type…
I got two three course meals, so many snacks, a luxury gift bag – it was all insane and so surreal.
Mind you, pretty sure I could get used to it. 😉

blog

The pilot who sat me earlier even came round and chatted to everyone in business class – he was so lovely and friendly and was amazed I was going to America by myself for nearly 4 months.
I was still amazed myself. Within the first 12 hours of my adventure, I’d had panic, surprises and pleasant company. I couldn’t wait to see what the next few months would bring.

X