2020 Covid-19 Road Trip Day 3
August 25 – September 5, 2020
Lincoln, Nebraska to Saratoga, Wyoming
Day 3: Arrival at the Lodge & Brush Creek Ranch Luxury Collection
We did it. We got up at 4 AM and were on the road by 5.
What motivated us was that Wyoming, our final destination was the next state. I don’t think we expected however what came next.
Nothing….. over 500 miles of nothing.
Sorry Nebraska but the drive couldn’t be more monotonous, flat, dry prairie, almost featureless. Most of the state is part of the Great Plains. We were in southeastern Nebraska traveling west and with all fairness, I understand that the Missouri River Valley is beautiful. Not sure if I will venture back to the Cornhusker State. Just like Chattanooga, there was no time to get to know you.
Eventually, we made our way into Wyoming. It really did seem like an endless ride on 80W. Still, part of the Great Plains the landscape was filled with shortgrass prairie, grasslands, and sagebrush – all brown due to lack of rainfall.
Driving through we saw cattle and sheep dotted alongside the road and found out later that the grasslands are widely used for grazing and the ranches form an ongoing link to the state’s frontier.
Arrival at the Ranch
And then the light at the end of the tunnel – Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch Luxury Collection, part of the Relais & Chateaux group, located in the high mountain desert. 30,000 acres of a working cattle ranch surrounded by prairies, mountains, creeks, and rivers.
I’m not sure what I expected but the unpaved dirt road, bumpy and uncomfortable to say the least – and about 5 miles – which led to the entrance was unimpressive compared to some of the other ranches I visited in Montana. But then I entered the lodge and was left speechless. Brimming with refined luxury, authentic ranch culture, and limitless panoramic landscapes. It looks like the drive was worth it. The West was once again calling my name.
Check-in at Trailhead Lodge
After a private check-in, we were led to our room which was housed in the Trailhead Lodge (main lodge). Western décor, legacy, tradition, and heritage combined with modern extravagance.
We are used to staying in log cabin homes so this is was going to be a new experience, but we had no complaints, and in fact, the rooms were spacious and cozy at the same time. The ranch offers 33 individual units, 3BR log cabin residences, 9 cabin suites, and 13 spacious rooms in the Trailhead Lodge.
The First Ranch Adventure of our 2020 Covid-19 Road Trip: an ATV Ride with "Trip"
Lunch served on the large patio of the lodge. Western-style – best ranch-raised wagyu burgers and grilled chicken ever – simple and delicious. It felt good to breathe in the fresh air after being stuck in the car for 2 ½ days. The scenery was breathtaking and for the first time in months, we felt free.
Our afternoon activity consisted of a guided ranch tour. We met our guide, “Trip” at the Activities Barn. Little did we know that “Trip” would give us the trip of a lifetime. We boarded the Polaris 4-wheeler and headed out to get a perspective of the property.
Polaris ATVs are designed to take a lot of damage and they are the vehicle of choice on the ranch. This makes them one of the heaviest ATVs on the market. Polaris ATVs are so reliable that the U.S. military often uses them as mission and first response vehicles. And Trip made us feel like we were on a mission.
We wouldn’t see all 30,000 acres as that would take hours, so he concentrated on giving us a perspective from the ground and on top of the mountain. “Trip” took the tour and made it into a thrill ride – a great way to see the ranch but not for the faint at heart. He did assure me however that if we weren’t up for it, he would have slowed down. No, we were up for the challenge.
Our last stop on the tour was Green Mountain, 8500 ft elevation, and the perfect spot to look down upon the lodge.
The 600-acre private mountain is a paradise for lovers of the great outdoors. During the winter months guests can ski, snowboard on beginner to black-diamond hills, enjoy tubing and snowshoeing to cross-country skiing and downhill snowboarding – only 10 guests at a time, brought up the mountain with snow-cats filled with hot chocolate and snacks.
Yurts on the mountainside provide shelter from the storm or a place to warm up. It is a great feature considering what the upcoming ski season is set to look like. I was sold!
Farm and Wine Tunnel
Then back at the Lodge, we met Dustin for a tour of the Farm and Wine Tunnel located at the breathtaking Cheyenne Club. The entrance to the club was grand and the interior was a fusion of rustic elegance and modern esthetics. Every detail matters and every square inch of Saddle Barn’s gorgeous interior is elegant. The furniture and fixtures pose a beautiful juxtaposition with its rugged, architectural design.
The club is surrounded by mountainous vistas, and stunning views of Medicine Bow, Bennett, and Kennaday Peaks. It is set before a vast sage field and built with reclaimed barn wood.
In the mid-1800s, starlets, socialites, and political legends traveled to the famous Cheyenne Club to experience world-class luxury delicately seasoned with the spice of adventure. This Western icon has been reimagined with its seed-to-table dining experience. We had a reservation for dinner on Saturday night – cowboy attire only. We came prepared and couldn’t wait.
The Farm and the Brush Creek Greenhouse are the ranch’s claim to fame and nothing from this day would disappoint.
Wow! The tour began with the Greenhouse. Serge Bloom is the genius behind the scene of the growing process. He has a hands-on-role in overseeing the operations. The 20,000 sq. ft hydroponics system allows them to plant and harvest with precision achieving peak flavor hence – seed-to-table ranch cuisine. They cultivate upwards of 30 different kinds of Certified Organic produce with, on average, 10 varieties per fruit and vegetable— no matter the season.
Serge asked me if I liked tomatoes and I told him I loved tomatoes. He picked them and I tasted them. Amazing flavor. As good if not better than Greece with no soil. He told us to prepare ourselves for the most exceptional farm-to-table experiences the West has to offer. He went on to say that they aim to give the guests access to the freshest food and beverage program possible!
Then down the stairs to the cellar. Brush Creek Cellar, a 94-yd tunnel housing displays of some of the most exclusive wines available. The tunnel connects all the rooms and wine cellars with stone arches, custom lighting in a most romantic wine -country setting. Seeing is believing. I’m usually not at a loss for words but this amazing experience was hard to put into words. We even had a sneak peek into the owner’s private wine collection. No pictures allowed and there was no need to ask why. One look was all it took.
After being dropped back off at the lodge we were able to catch our breath and change for dinner. Tonight, we would be dining at Wine Tunnel at the Farm. Jacob met us at the entrance and led us to our table. The Executive Chef, Angus McIntosh has devoted his life to the culinary arts. His parents were both chefs and owned their own restaurant. He attended The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, and later went on to study under master chef Richard Rosendale. Years spent training in different cooking environments have made Chef Angus versatile in the kitchen.
If you know the French Laundry in Yountville, you know the experience we were in for. Brush Creek is a foodies haven with seed-to-table ranch cuisine and a wine-lovers dream!
It is the best of the best!
The chef uses only the freshest ingredients from the Greenhouse, along with ranch-raised Wagyu Beef. The meals were unique and the presentation was spectacular. We started with a simple AKAUSHI BEEF CONSOMMÉ with marrow, toasted farrow, and garden Matignon. See the picture. It was served table-side in a most creative way, followed by garden heirloom tomatoes, feta style, Medicine Bow Creamery Goat Cheese (also from the farm), and basil. You may remember how much I love tomatoes – well maybe you forgot but the Chef did not.
And then HEARTH GRILLED AKAUSHI BEEF with Toasted Barley Porridge, Cipollini Onion, Roasted Baby Carrots, and Herb Jus. All paired with a bottle of TorCalvano chosen by Gretchen Allen, their Lead Sommelier. The atmosphere, dinner, staff presented one of the best experiences ever. By the time dinner was over we had no room for dessert and just wanted to hit the sack.
Oh, what a night!!