Happy New Year!

What else can one say on January 1st of any year but a great big HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!

For our part, we had an awesome New Year’s Eve party – the best for many years, if not ever. The ranch was booked out, so that’s always nice, but the party itself, our second in the new building, had a great air of buoyancy, optimism and a sense of a new beginning. Some dear long time friends of the ranch arrived from the UK as a special surprise, and seeing them was one of the best things about this New Year for me. Of course, everyone but I knew about their arrival – and I guess the surprise on my part was reward to them all for having kept the secret so well.

The party itself was a smash – we decided this year to follow the English tradition of leaving the Christmas tree up until January 5th (the 12th night) and so the Cook Shack will retain its festive air for a few more days – and, while we forgot this year to take the usual photo of a horse posing as a reindeer, there was plenty of good Xmas spirit floating around. Those of you who have been coming to the ranch for many years will remember Debbie (she of the 1,000 watt smile and the gift shop) and Jenny (tall and elegant, in bookkeeping) – both of whom came down for the holidays from Phoenix. As I write, Jenny is filling in as bookkeeper until the new one, Susanne, arrives early next week, while Debbie is helping with the festive New Year’s Day dinner. So, bit by bit, we are entering the next decade of this new millennium – can you believe it? Wasn’t it only yesterday everyone was fussing about Y2K?
The only sad thing about the evening was the absence of Dave, our friend and musician who played here at Grapevine for the last 20 years or so, and whose legendary jokes I am sure all of you who have been here remember. Dave was the source of so much happiness at the ranch, the originator of so many jokes, many of which were remembered last night, and retold, albeit not as well! – the sock joke, the “I turned into a motel” story, the man in the Volkswagen – that it was truly a celebration of Dave’s life with us. We drank a toast to him a minute before midnight, just before the arrival of the New Year.

However, the band was not, as you might think, totally depleted. Ferne, who used to play with the band while she worked here in the office, has returned to perform on Thursdays nights, and last night came with her daughter, Luanne, who has just as magic a voice as her mother; the band itself was augmented by Steve from the UK, who plays a mean guitar, and also Butch the wrangler, who, in the intermission, gave us some original cowboy poetry. All in all, it was a great night, made all the better by the presence of so many repeat guests – I shared memories with a couple who first came here 15 years ago, another couple from the UK who come every year – many people who have become dear personal friends.

And so now, into the New Year! Have a great one, wherever you are, and come visit the new Grapevine!

Please click on any of the thumbnails below to start slideshow:

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