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Put on your cowgirl hat, boots and jeans!  We are ready for a fabulous Girls Ranch Getaway!  The girls were excited to arrive at Rafter T Ranch, located in Sebring, FL, for an all-girl, ranch-style getaway.  Everyone arrived by early evening (also known as "supper time") to meet new friends and visit with old friends.  After some wine and pomegranate martinis, we enjoyed a delicious dinner of Quail Etouffee.  During dinner, we told funny stories, asked Leigh is she preferred a "bull or a bowl," learned that words like "moist" and "creamy" are undesirable, and got a full re-cap of Jody's bikini contest days.

Saturday morning we woke up for a Swamp Buggy Tour of the ranch, complete with "Bloody Jeri's."  The swamp buggy's tires were taller than us, so we were thrilled to find a special "loading dock" for Traci who is six months pregnant.  During the tour, we learned about the cattle raised here and how they mange the ranch to work with nature and not against it.  Once the buggy ride was over, we returned to the lodge to begin cooking lunch using recipes and wine from Barefoot Wines (www.BarefootWine.com).  We enjoyed BBQ Chicken Ala Moscato, Chardonnay Vegetarian Spanish Rice, Barefoot Bubbly Champagne Vinaigrette Dressing and Moscato Wine Cake.

After lunch, Barefoot Wine's own Lisa Metheny taught us everything we know (now at least) about wine flavorings and food pairings.  Even Sharla (who doesn't like wine at all) tasted the wines and had a great time learning new things.  Who knew oak smells like vanilla?  Many thanks to Lisa for driving more than two hours to be with us and for sharing her wonderful wisdom with the group.  She was a fantastic, even though she used the word "moist" more than once!

After lunch and wine, we were ready for a little R&R.  Some of the girls enjoyed professional massages in a private room, some hung out on the back porch and read books and magazines, some visited with new and old friend and some used their time to photograph and enjoy nature.  We all enjoyed some "down time."

Around 6:00 PM, the adventurous girls boarded the swamp buggy once again to practice our rifle shooting skills.  Colleen L., Amy and I all shot a 30 ot 6 rifle from about 120 yards away.  Colleen L. was closest to the bulls eye and gave us all something to "shoot" for (no pun intended).

After target practice, we returned to the lodge for dinner, which included beef tenderloin, shrimp kabobs, friend green beans and Tallahassee rice.  Delish!  Afterwards, we loaded back onto the swamp buggy for a midnight ranch tour, complete with spotlight and Jason with Arbuckle Marsh Outfitters (http://ArbuckleMarsh.Homestead.com) as our tour guide/entertainer.  Thanks to my phenomenal spotlight skills, we saw several deer, wild boar hogs and an alligator (no animals were harmed).  While I was focused on what was in front of us, Colleen T. cuddled with her very own bottle of Barefoot Bubbly Champagne and managed to drink the entire bottle during our trip.  She and Jason provided a lot of entertainment and our cheeks hurt from laughing so much.

Sunday morning was an early one.  We woke up at 5:30 a.m. to meet the hot air ballooners at 6:00 a.m. (not an easy thing to do after staying up until 1:00 a.m.).  Leah, Heather N., Colleen L. and I all woke up before the sun and met with Bob Carlton with Balloons and Beyond (www.Balloons-And-Beyond.com) for our morning hot air balloon ride.  We were lucky enough to launch from the ranch after finding a pasture that had "less cow patties than the others."  We were so excited to watch the balloon unroll across the field and then begin to fill with air.  After a quick "crash course," Bob told us to jump in and up, up, up and away we went!   We soared over cows, lakes, neighborhoods and orange groves for about an hour.  Bob even dipped us into the trees for some "leaf identification."  Heather preferred we stay above the trees and jokingly asked if we could go through the Starbucks drive through in the balloon.  It was amazing to see the alligators, turtles and fish in the lake we flew over.  As we safely landed a few miles away, we were now fully awake and ready for our celebratory feast of mimosas, fresh fruit, cheese and pastry.  Many thanks to Bob Carlton, Steve Roberts and "Super Dave" for make our flight unforgettable!

After our hot air balloon ride, we returned to the lodge to eat breakfast and pack up.  Everyone agreed it was a fantastic weekend and cannot wait for our 2nd Annual Girls Ranch Getaway next year.



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