Usually when we go, we visit relatives because we don't live near each other. However, we do try to get out and about once in a while. This past June, we drove from Montana to New Mexico. New Mexico was the destination because of a cattle conference there, but we figured we'd take a week to drive down and see some sights along the way. Then we made a mad two-day trip back home.
Now, when a cowboy takes a vacation (for those of you with kids, think Laura Numeroff's book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie), he might feel naked without his gun when he leaves it behind to enter a national park. He might also hike in his cowboy boots and wear his brimmed hat everywhere. People might stop to ask him where he got such an authentic looking hat.
When a cowboy takes a vacation, he just might name off the grasses growing in every pasture you pass. He might also offer suggestions for cattle improvement as you pass scrawny bovines along the highway. Which might lead him to wonder where the mineral supplements are located, if there are any. He may ask you to Google the nearest water source.
If you ask a cowboy to go swimming on vacation, he just might show up to the pool in swim trunks with his tall white socks sticking out of his cowboy boots. He might forget that his wife packed him sandals he didn't know he had. Once he goes swimming, you'll recognize his untanned arm, but tanned hand, sticking out of the water. He might also teach the kids to do cannonballs cowboy style.
During a vacation with a cowboy, you might hear every cowboy song ever recorded from Ian Tyson to Don Williams to the current country cowdown – oops, I mean countdown. You might think you're only going to hear cow songs the rest of your life. Which of course you like, but do need a break from it in the close quarters of a vehicle.
On vacation, your cowboy might retell every near-death experience and wild bronc story he's ever heard (most of which he's been a part of) to impress your young cowpokes. He might even give them ideas on how to accomplish their own acts of heroism.
Also amid this time, a cowboy might point out every town he thinks he could make a living in, which leads him to dream high dreams of national cattle domination. He might dictate which cattle breeds are suited for each climate and when they should calve. If you haven't stopped your vehicle for a while, he may begin a verbal outline of where to begin his empire.
Should a cowboy stay in a motel, he might pace outside in the parking lot or watch a lot of TV to keep his mind from thinking about his cramped quarters. If you're lucky, he'll hit a John Wayne marathon, consecutive episodes of Gunsmoke or back-to-back A-Team reruns. If you're unlucky and the TV options are minimal, a cowboy might start talking about the similarities of a hotel room and a sheep wagon.
The entire time a cowboy is gone on vacation, he will be tempted to wear the same clothes every day. This is due to the fact that they do not have dirt or manure on them and are still considered “clean.”
After a cowboy ends vacation, you might not see him for a long time. Every chore will need to be done twice, each acre looked over and every breath breathed outside in the great wide open. He will not come inside to use the bathroom. When he's tired, you might find him snoring next to you, but he might have forgotten to take off his boots – and his spurs. He might ride every horse you own – twice – to check on the cows and maybe the neighbor's cattle too.
It won't be long, though, before the cowboy becomes hungry and finds himself at the table enjoying a home-cooked meal. Soon enough, he'll talk about all his favorite places on the trip. He'll have forgotten how many times he answered "Are we there yet?" Eventually (it may be years), he'll pull out the atlas. At which point you know ... you'll have a cowboy taking a vacation.
Marci Whitehurst is a freelance writer, ranch wife and the mother of three children. You can follow her at her blog.
PHOTO: My cowboy and I after a mini hike into an archway at Arches National Park in Utah. Photo provided by Marci Whitehurst.