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ON THE MOVE
BOCCE, HORSES, AND THE GREAT OUTDOORS
Tales From the Dude Ranch
And just like that, summer has rolled around again. As much as I love having more time with my boys, thanks to school being out, it can be a challenge to keep them busy. They’ve outgrown their old summer camps, but I feel it’s important they still get out and enjoy the sunshine while it lasts. I’ll admit that some of this desire may stem from my nostalgia for the summers of my childhood.
To my surprise, I was actually pretty good at landing the ball on target, and the gentlemen who asked me to play handled all the technical moves. He’d knock other balls out of the way and block similar attempts to do the same with me. We ended up winning the whole tournament, and I had an absolute blast. I may not have learned all there is to know about bocce, but I did learn to be more outgoing.
Like a lot of New Yorkers my age, many of my summer vacations growing up were spent on a dude ranch. It was great to get out of the city for a few weeks here and there and get a taste of country life. I’m sure my brother and I complained a lot at the time, being dragged away from our friends and all. But looking back, all I remember are the good times.
Horseback riding was more of a struggle for me. Being city slickers, I’m sure my whole family looked pretty comical getting adjusted to those huge animals — we had to learn to not wrap our legs around them. The first horse I rode, in particular, didn’t feel like listening to me. It would go off the trail and graze at every opportunity, while I sat in the sun getting bitten
“I may not have learned all there is to know about bocce, but I did learn to be more outgoing.”
by horse-flies. It was not a great first experience. But when the next chance came up, I literally got back on the horse. With a little more confidence and experience, I was actually able to enjoy the ride. The fact that I remember moments like these so clearly says a lot. I couldn’t tell you what I did the week before or the week after I went to the ranch. But being out there in the wide-open spaces and doing things I never got to do at home are the experiences I’m going to remember for the rest of my life.
The ranch we went to looked like it was straight out of “Dirty Dancing.” They had horseback riding, pool tables, and individual cabins for families. I remember we’d get all dressed up and head to the main lodge for dinner with all the other guests. It was an interesting communal experience you just don’t get on a lot of other vacations. After one of these dinners, I remember watching these old guys putting together a bocce tournament. I’d never played before, but one of the old-timers saw my curiosity and called me over. He needed a partner, and I was his choice. Despite being a shy 12-year-old, I agreed. While I didn’t know all the techniques of bocce, my new partner had me covered. “Just get this ball right next to the little ball,” he told me. “I’ll do the rest.”
–Dr. Robert Morea
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