I Admit It. I’m a Dude.

Not in the cool sense of the teenage vernacular. Nope, we’re talking old-fashioned dude here. As in dude ranch. And it’s a good thing.

Randy Sue Fosha, who heads up the Dude Ranchers’ Association and owns Drowsy Water Ranch with her husband, Ken, invited me and my husband, Chad Hendrix, out to see what dude ranching is all about.

When we arrive, Ken promises us a couple of things. First, he says, the guests will come from a variety of backgrounds, but “everybody here’s going to be just one thing this week, and that’s a cowboy- or a cowgirl.” And second, he predicts that lasting friendships will be make. Some people who have met at the ranch plan joint vacations there the following year, to “it’s just like a big old family reunion.”

Ken and Randy Sue have owned Drowsy Water, located just outside Granby, Colorado, for 25 years. The ranch is 8,300 feet above sea level (try mountain climbing if you don’t believe it!), and it’s been a dude ranch since the 1920s. The original owner promoted dude ranching so heavily, in fact, that he got a train station built there, established a bus stop and officially renamed the creek running through the ranch Drowsy Water Creek.

It’s east to see why dudes have been coming here for 80 years or so. The sounds of the Colorado mountains are blissful. The creek engages in quiet conversation with blue grouse and assorted songbirds as it washes over polished rocks; aspens dance in the wind whispering as they go; and in between is silence, peaceful and still, like city folk aren’t used to hearing.

The people are also a draw. The ranch accommodates about 55 people, and most of them plan a weeklong stay. Meals are served family-style in the dining hall, and “So, where are you from?” is a standard opening line. Guests go to Drowsy Water expecting to make new friends, and just like Ken said, it usually happens.

I take a liking to all the folks I meet there, and a few of them agree to let me tell about the week’s adventures through their eyes.