girl fishing on pond
image of corral and Tomichi Dome
riders on trail
riders crosing over top of Stella Mtn.

Waunita Smoke Signals

Volume 5, No. 5, Newsletter 2014, Gunnison, Colorado

What a colorful Fall 2013 ...

snow mountain, has been in this corner of the Colorado Rocky Mountains! Fall colors arrived in mid-September and stayed on some trees until the first of November.

Now we are preparing for another busy Winter season and a great Summer 2014 — our 53rd season at the ranch! We hope that you will come to enjoy a summer dude ranch vacation – or winter getaway – with us in 2014!

Numbers from the 2013 summer season add up to…

51% of guests having visited Waunita in past years. Another 33% were either sent or brought by former guests. Folks traveled to the ranch from 20 different states, Canada and France. States well represented were Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Colorado, Ohio, Iowa and Florida.

Ranch update and Family News

snow mountain, aspensThe Western music show included some newer faces in 2013. Casi Williams, a member of the house staff during the past two summers, joined the show as a regular and Andrew Tateentertained again with his Banjo and Mandolin before leaving to study abroad in London, England. It's always a special week when sons Wes or Roddy vacation at the ranch, with time to join in the music show.

2013 Lodge hosts unselfishly contributed their many talents to making the ranch run smoothly. We are extremely grateful for their kind friendship and service to the ranch and guests.

We said it last year – and we'll say it again. "Rod and Junelle talk about retiring, but enjoy living at the ranch, where they are available to 'lend a hand.'" Rod celebrated his 85th birthday in August. A special gift from granddaughter Randi was a Memory Scrapbook with numerous comments and pictures from past guests. Thanks to all who had a part in this event.

Rod and Elisabeth live in Abilene, Texas, where they often help care for granddaughter Parker. Parker's dad, Josh, is pursuing a degree in Accounting at Abilene Christian University and working for ACU's Grounds Maintenance Department. Her mom, Kallie, teaches Kindergarten. Rod & Elisabeth's son Logan works with Narrow Gate Ministries in Tennessee.

Wes and Kari are in their last year as teachers in the Farmington, New Mexico school system. Their plans are to move to Tulsa, Oklahoma as soon as the school year ends. The Oklahoma attractions are their daughter Jessica and two granddaughters, Ava and Liv. Their son Brody spent time in Silverton, Colorado this year, while pursuing his dream of a career in music.

Ryan, Tammy, Kolby, Randi and Dani play major roles in the ranch operation. Tammy manages the house and kitchen, with Randi taking over some of her responsibilities. Kolby will be helping manage the barn. Dani, a junior at Gunnison High School, is playing basketball this winter and will help in the house and kitchen.

Part-time employees this winter are Eric Soerensen, Josh Kerns and Courtney Andrews.

ranch staff





2013 Summer staff members were great! And several of them plan to return for another season of summer work before "joining the real world of employment." Artist in Residence, Mary Ann Cox, came again for several weeks.

The Dream - from the perspective of Tammy Pringle

My father-in-law, Rod Pringle, the forever dreamer, always envisioned himself with his family running a dude ranch. His friend, Leo Chaney, found a tiny ad in Sporting News about a boys camp for sale in the Rocky Mountains. He gave it to Rod, who tucked it away in his wallet. Another friend, Walt Fairfield, planned to travel to the Gunnison area, so Rod gave him the ad and asked him to check it out. He did and came back saying, "the place is old and in need of repairs."

pringles, jeepRod and his wife Junelle decided to make a trip to see for themselves. Yes, it was old and in need of repairs, but they had a dream and three little boys that they wanted to move out of the city. The owners, Carl and Janet Bolin, were ready to retire. The Bolins and Rod then "struck a deal", Rod and Junelle borrowed the down payment and moved to Colorado in a station wagon and a Willys Jeep. This was in March, 1962.

The first summer they tried to do what the previous owner had done, run a boys baseball camp. Only six boys were signed up, so they canceled the camp. Shortly after that a couple of men came in and said, "We need housing for our power line survey crew. Could we stay at Waunita?" Rod and Junelle were more than happy to accommodate. The crew stayed with them all summer. Once that gig was up Rod and Junelle did what they could to bring in income while fixing up the place with very limited resources. The property had a natural hot springs and was a health spa at the turn of the century, so there was already an Olympic size pool fed by the hot springs. They would allow folks to come out to use the pool for a fee, Junelle would cook for anyone, and they would take in guests for lodging. They spent their first three winters working in Houston, after which Rod taught Physical Education in the Gunnison school system for four years.

pringles, horsesEventually, the place was fixed up enough so that they could apply to the Colorado Dude and Guest Ranch Association for membership. They were accepted and began to live the dream. Folks came from all around to stay at Waunita Hot Springs Ranch to experience a vacation of a lifetime, to play cowboy and to get away from life as they knew it. They would ride horses everyday, go on cookouts, hayrides, campouts, fishing, scenic trips, eat three huge meals a day and of course enjoy the hot springs pool. It's hard to explain why people love this, but they do, and over the years Rod and Junelle along with their 3 sons and now their grandchildren have made friends all over the world. We like to refer to it as the Waunita family. So we invite you to come, check us out and "become a part of our family."

The Ballad of Rod

Guests who have been here for our Friday night Western music show will recall that The Ballad of Rod is among the original songs performed, along with a power point show. Following are the lyrics, written by Ryan Pringle, sung to the tune of the theme song for The Beverly Hillbillies TV show.

Come and listen to the story of a man named Rod –
a poor Houston boy barely kept his horses shod.
And then one day he was following a dream – when up
from the ground came a bubbling steam.
Hot springs, that is.

kolby fireNow Rod weren't alone, he brought along a bride,
totin' three little kids, she stood right by his side.
A little help from the bank, a lot a help from the Lord.
With all the work to do, they never did get bored.

The folks all knew Rod weren't a millionaire –
The kinfolks said, "You're movin' way up there?"
He said, "Colorado is the place I wanna be."
So he loaded up the wagon and moved the family
To Waunita, that is… swimmin' pools and shooting stars.

Well the horses were green, but he rode 'em everyone –
Big Red, Blackie and a horse that we called Dun.
I'm not saying that he's traded in his spurs,
but there ain't near the buck in the Polaris six wheeler –
The Gator that is.

Now time has passed and they built a new log home,
with a porch and a chair, they never have to roam.
It's close enough to see when the trail rides all go out,
but far enough that we can't hear him shout,
Junelle, where's my hearing aid?

Well, we've all grown up and the kids they run the show.
But when you live in paradise, where else would you go?
It's been a 50-year long ride. I hope it never never ends.
But if you want us here next year,
then you better tell your friends.
At least tweet 'em.