Author's Note: This is long, complex, and different; be patient and let the story play out.
Jeff Winters was excited and couldn't wait to get home. He had been told by a guy at work about a life changing place to go for vacation. Jeff and his wife had skipped a summer vacation this year because his project at work was behind schedule and she was taking classes at the university during the summer. Jeff was twenty eight and his beautiful wife Joanie was twenty four. They had met when he was a senior and she was a freshman. By the end of the school year, he had graduated and gotten a job in a nearby city. She continued in school but on a reduced schedule because they got married that summer soon after Jeff started his job. Their honeymoon had been a long weekend at a local resort hotel and they promised each other that they would go on a real honeymoon when his new job and her college career settled down.
Now five years later, the honeymoon was still a future event. Jeff had settled into his job and was doing well as a marketing specialist for a hardware products manufacturer. He made a decent living and they had bought a small house. Joanie settled into the role of housewife and part time student. She didn't mind since her mother had lived a similar life and Joanie was used to the lifestyle. Her father had been a great father, but had definitely been the decision maker in their family. As a result, she naturally allowed Jeff to make most of the decisions in their lives. He was a good and attentive husband, but was definitely following in her father's role. If Joanie had any regrets about marrying so young, they usually surfaced after meeting with her freshman roommate Melissa who was still single and living what seemed like an exotic life as a theatrical agent who frequently traveled throughout the country arranging and negotiating for traveling theater productions in a variety of locations.
She and her former roommate got together for lunch whenever Melissa was in town which was usually every month or six weeks. At each of these get-togethers, her friend would regale her with tales of the different cities she had been to and often the brief affairs with actors, directors, or local people that she came in contact with. Joanie listened with excitement, but on the whole felt satisfied with her sex life with Jeff. What she missed was the freedom of getting out and doing new and different things. She occasionally regretted not being able to participate in some of the parties she heard about at school, but she knew that she needed to be home to take care of her husband. When she was young, she always enjoyed going fishing and camping with her father. She loved being outdoors and feeling the freedom of being in the countryside.
Jeff on the other hand wasn't a hunter, camper or fisherman. Instead he was somewhat of an adventure freak. He liked to go white water rafting and ride off-road motorcycles. She realized that he had a risk taking need that she didn't share. But it seldom came between them. If he wanted to go rafting, she would go and maintain the camp and enjoy the area around the campground. She had met a number of people who shared her preference while their spouses were racing over hill and dale on motorcycles or getting soaked on a raft going down a series of rapids. Jeff always came back exhilarated while she always relaxed. That night, they would often make passionate love with Jeff spouting his excess energy inside her. She always felt well loved after these testosterone filled bouts of sex. Once back home, sex was more sedate; and while satisfying, it wasn't quite as thrilling.
So she wasn't surprised when Jeff burst through the front door thoroughly excited. She expected that very soon, he would be trying to convince her to go to another cycling or rafting weekend. She knew that she would agree and that she would enjoy the weekend. But once, he had opened a beer and poured her a glass of wine, he excitedly asked her if she wanted to take a late vacation for two weeks and that it could be their honeymoon. Her eyes widened in surprise and she started stumbling over her words.
"What...how...I don't know... school...and work...and..."
"Slow down and let me explain." Jeff took a deep breath and began. "One of the guys at work told me about this place he and his family went to this summer. It is a guest ranch or something like that. Anyway, in the summer they cater to families and do cattle drives and trail rides and things like that. Everything is guided and supervised by working cowboys and girls. But once school starts in the fall, they cut back and are open for couples only. For this, they tailor the activities to fit individual desires. One of the things they offer is a rock climbing course and you know how much I want to do that. But they also do the cattle drive and trail drives which seem to be things that you would like. The great thing is that in the fall, the price is half what it is in the summer. The guy said that dealing with smaller groups, they don't need to hire as many people to work so the price comes down."
Joanie could feel herself getting excited at the thought of a trail ride and maybe a campout in the wilderness. "Tell me more. How can we do this with our work and my school?"
"That is the great thing; they only take a few people at a time in the fall and it is for two weeks. If we book now, we can get in the first week after public schools start which is almost two weeks before your school starts. My project should be done by then and my boss has already told us to plan our delayed vacations before Thanksgiving because we will be starting a new one after the holiday."
"Wow. That would be great. So where is this place and how much would it cost?"
"I'm not sure of the details. But I have a website to look at. Do you want to look now or after dinner?"
"Let's look now; dinner won't be ready for another forty five minutes and we can talk about it more over dinner."
Jeff eagerly got his laptop out and booted it up on the living room sofa. Joanie poured them each another drink and went to sit by her husband whose excitement had not abated any. The fact that Joanie had shown interest in it inflamed his interest even more.
As the website opened they were greeted with a scenic picture of a range of mountains over what seemed to be a rolling hills and prairie. Jeff hit the video introduction button and for the next fifteen minutes they both sat transfixed as scene after beautiful scene of grasslands, hills, mountains, streams, and mountain lakes passed before their eyes. Some of the video showed people riding horses, swimming in the lakes, or cooking over an open fire; other scenes were scenic ones that often showed a group of people in the distance.
Everything they showed was almost idyllic. Jeff's excitement soared as did Joanie's, but for different reasons. When the video was over, Jeff eagerly clicked on the tab that said "Fall Program." Together they read that the ranch was a working one that in the summer featured many activities, but all were tailored to families and those with limited outdoor experience. The fall program was for adults only and often featured more advanced things that fit in with the ranch's needs. Then it listed a variety of classes and programs all of which fitted into two basic programs; a trail ride or a cattle drive. The exception was the rock climbing class which was an individually taught event and required special permission and consideration. That tempered Jeff's enthusiasm, but did nothing to temper Joanie's.
When they clicked on the price and reservation page, they were surprised to find that the fall was indeed half the price of the summer program. However, the rock climbing course was extra because of the individual instruction. In total however, the cost for the two weeks was $2500 which was certainly less than a resort hotel anywhere. The timer on the oven went off and Jeff closed down the connection while they ate and talked about it.
The talk over dinner was brief and to the point; they both wanted to do it. Dinner ended quickly and Joanie had the dishes cleaned off and in the dishwasher in less than ten minutes while Jeff rebooted the computer to the reservation page. When Joanie joined him, they looked at each other and smiled broadly as Jeff entered their name, address, and phone number. There was also a place to put a day and time within the next week that they would both be together for a teleconference call. They looked at each other and then he wrote "any evening after seven P.M. Central Time". Then there was a list of activities desired with two columns; one for the husband and one for the wife. Jeff clicked on the rock climbing one as his first choice. Then he put the trail ride as his second choice. Joanie had the trail ride as her first choice and the cattle drive as her second. Jeff hit enter after entering his credit card number. The screen went blank for a moment and then came back with a message that said, "Please be available for a teleconference tomorrow night at seven P.M. Central time. Both parties must be present. Thank you."
Jeff logged off and looked at Joanie, "So are you ready for this adventure?"
"I can't believe how excited I am. You know, they didn't give any instructions on how to get there or what to bring. I wonder if they will send that out later."
"Probably. Now, how would you like to go take a shower together?"
Joanie knew that Jeff was as excited as when he rode his motorcycle and that she would be getting a really good fucking tonight. She pulled him up and led him to the bathroom.
The next night, Jeff was running a little late and didn't get home until six thirty. He quickly changed clothes and got out his computer and logged in. Joanie brought him a beer and a glass of wine for herself. When he logged in, he immediately received a message telling him to open a video conference software or to download it from a certain site. It only took him a minute to download it. He was familiar with this type of software from work, but this one seemed a little simpler to use. He quickly had it open and ready to use.
Promptly at seven, the screen changed and a moment later, the camera showed the top of a desk with no one visible. A moment later, a very attractive young woman sat down with a glass of either wine or water in her hand. She turned to the camera after picking up a sheet of paper. "Is this Jeff and Joanie Winters?"
They both thought she had a very pleasant voice and replied simultaneously, "Yes."
"Hi, I am Veronica Chalmers. My two sisters and I own this ranch and run our guest program. I am pleased that you considered coming to visit with us. If I may ask, how did you hear about us?"
Jeff replied, "Donald Herford told me about their vacation there this summer and recommended that Joanie and I give it a try."
"Great. Don and his wife and kids had a great time. My sister especially got along with his wife. So what did you think about the website?"
Joanie replied, "Are those videos recent? I mean they look unreal and beautiful. They almost look staged."
Veronica smiled and said, "I get asked that a lot. Yes, they are real and in fact, we just updated the video and most of these were shot this summer. The season is beginning to change so it looks a little different right now, but it is always beautiful in some way." Joanie just grinned like a school girl. Veronica continued, "The purpose of this call is for me to get to know you a little better. In the summer, our program is fairly basic and all we want to know is the skill level of the people so that we can tailor their program for them. In the fall however, we only accept people with some skill level since we have fewer instructors and therefore everyone must be able to carry some of their own weight. So Joanie, let's start with you, tell me about your outdoor experience."
"I went camping and fishing with my father a lot when I was younger and loved it. Since I got married, I have gone camping while Jeff went white water rafting and moto-crossing. I really do like to be outdoors and camping and stuff."
"Good. Can you ride a horse?"
"Shoot a gun?"
"Yes, but it has been quite awhile."
"Have you ever gone on a trail ride?"
"A couple but they were ride out for the day, camp and ride back the next day. I haven't gone out on a multiple day ride though."
"That's fine. The main thing is that you know that riding a horse all day will get your butt sore and then sleeping on the ground doesn't make it feel any better."
Joanie giggled, "Yes, I know that for sure."
"It is surprising how many people discover that a horse isn't a recliner when you ride him all day long. Now Jeff, I need to ask you more questions because you want to do the rock climbing. Joanie said that you do rafting and cross country cycling, but have you done any rock climbing?"
"Not really. I have just done the climbing walls at the gym. But it is something I have always wanted to try."
"Well it can also be very dangerous; a mistake, even a small one, can leave you injured or dead. Are you certain that you want to try it?"
"Yes ma'am. I assume that the instructor is very knowledgeable."
"Yes, you can say that. Can you follow instructions exactly? The instructor expects that or you won't go forward."
"Yes, I am sure that I can."
"Joanie, does Jeff follow instructions well?"
"As far as I know he does. He has never had a problem at work that I know of."
"Can he take instructions from a woman and respond without question?"
Joanie looked a little confused and then said, "He makes a lot of decisions here at home, but when I give him instructions, he usually follows them pretty well."
Veronica turned her eyes to Jeff and said, "Jeff, I am the rock climbing instructor and I won't accept any cowboy thrill seekers. I have never lost a climber and I don't intend to start now. When I tell you to do something, I expect it to be done exactly like I said. Failure to do so will either mean someone gets hurt or we don't go forward. Can you accept that?"
Jeff looked startled but replied, "I don't know of any reason why I won't. If you know what you are doing, I am eager to learn from you."
"I know what I am doing. Don't worry about that. When we get through, look me up on the computer and see what you think. Now, here is what we will do. The day you get here, we will have an orientation with me and one of my sisters. The next day, I will start training you Jeff and my sister will work with you Joanie. For the first couple of days, we will be training and learning or reviewing various skills. Then, Joanie, you will start on your trail ride. Right now it looks like the first day will be to catch up with the small group that will have already started. You will ride with them for three to five days and then join up with the cattle drive and help bringing the herd back to the ranch for the winter. How does that sound?"
Joanie replied, "That sounds idyllic."
Jeff asked, "Is that the same schedule I will follow?"
"It depends. We will train on basic things for the first couple of days and then start doing more complex things. How fast we go and move forward depends on how well you learn and respond. The goal is that before you leave, you will at least climb a small rock face with ropes. If you are really good and learn fast, we might try a more difficult face with ropes. But if I am not satisfied with your progress at any point, we won't go on until I am satisfied. Can you live with that?"
Jeff sucked in his breath and said, "Yes."
"Good. Now do you have any questions?"
Joanie said, "Yes. I have two questions. First, what should we bring with us and second, how should we get there?"
"Good questions and I should have mentioned those earlier. Honestly, we recommend that you only wear comfortable travel clothes and only bring your basic toiletries and personal items. We have found that most people don't have the right clothes for our work or climate. Therefore, one of the things we will be doing in the first couple of days is outfitting you with what you will be wearing. Don't worry; we have lots of things in all sizes. To be prepared, I will send you a sheet asking for your sizes so that we can have some ready for you. The only thing you need to bring, Joanie, is a good pair of boots. I suggest that you go to a real cowboy store and ask them for a pair of good work and riding boots. Get them soon and wear them a lot to break them in. Try them on with a pair of medium weight socks and get about ten pairs of those. You want work boots, not dancing boots. They will do better and last longer. Jeff, we will supply everything you need."
Joanie said, "Thanks. I'm excited."
"I'm glad you are. Now about getting here; most people who come here live within five hundred miles and usually drive. You live about three days drive from here; so I suggest you fly. I'll send you my recommendations along with the size questionnaire. Any other questions?"
Jeff asked, "Do you want me to start on any special training regimen?"
Veronica smiled and said, "The only thing I want you to do is run a lot. Not flat runs or on the track but cross country. Up and down hills will work your muscles better. Everything else we will work on when you get here. Climbing requires strong legs but finesse and flexibility with most other muscles. Now if there is nothing else, I will see you in a month from today. I look forward to working with both of you."
"Same here." They both said and the screen went blank.
Joanie looked at Jeff and said, "Wow. This is going to be great."
Jeff smiled and said, "I couldn't agree more." Inside, Jeff was wondering what Veronica looked like in loose climbing shorts and top, but he wasn't going to tell Joanie that.
A thousand miles away, Veronica logged off the computer and broke out n a big smile. Her sister Samantha sitting just off camera asked, "What do you think, Roni?"
"I think that you are going to have a lot of fun training Joanie. She is perfect. And I am going to have fun breaking Jeff down. I can see the macho side of him emerging from here. It's still a little undeveloped, but I can it growing within him. I'll bet a dollar that right now he is visualizing looking up at me on a rock trying to see my ass through my shorts."
"Are you going to let him?"
"Not right away; he will have to earn that right. Now how about the others we have coming that week?" Veronica asked.
"All of them are repeats and are ready to spend a week away from their spouse. It should be fun trail ride for sure."
"The only problem will be that when Joanie joins up, we will be a man short. Maybe I'll see if Jessup wants a week on the trail so he can take a shot at Joanie."
"He would love to take on someone as cute as she is. I'll talk to his wife and see that she is taken care of while he is gone. Maybe Marcus would like some more time with her."
"That would be good. Now, who are we going to have fun with tonight?" Veronica asked eagerly.
"I am going to spend the night with Margie and you will have her husband all to yourself for a change."
"I'll go get my strap on ready for him. He is just figuring out that he likes it. We'll do the usual stuff first and then have our fun."
A month later, Jeff and Joanie went to the airport together. Each of them carried a single carry-on bag that felt ridiculously little since they would be gone for two weeks; but their excitement had not decreased. Joanie had found a great pair of boots and had them nicely broken in and Jeff had run almost daily although the hills were few in their mostly flat area. They were flying three hours to a big Midwestern city and then catching a smaller commuter airplane to a much smaller town about fifty miles from the ranch. They were to be met by someone who would drive them to the ranch.
Such a good job.
Mmmm... I want more intimacy details!
very imaginative novel
One word. Masterpiece.
Need more stories like this.
Bittersweet Novel! Not expected
Good post! Great effort.