Monday, April 7, 2014

Hidden Valley Ranch--still hidden



Memoirous is about memories. Memory-ish. Last week I taught a class in Winnetka, at OCWW (Off-Campus Writers Workshop. Not sure why campus, because we are definitely not on any campus.) I led a seminar on writing memoir. My abilities are of the –ous and –ish variety. A kind of instructing where I tie in life experience and what I think of as horse sense.

Reaching back in our mind for a memory, and from there building. One memory leading to another.

Preparing for the class I had a synapse flash of memory. It was triggered from reading the Collected Poems of Ron Padgett, a second-generation poet of the New York School (which was never a school—just as OCWW was never on a campus). There was a line hidden Valley Ranch and immediately I wanted to Google my memory banks. As a kid my family went two or three times to a horse farm in Kentucky—not even to the horse farm country of that state, closer I believe to the wasteland side, where nothing grows except commercial real estate. Hidden Valley was tucked in there somewhere.

Somewhere because even the vastness of the Internet cannot bring it up. There is no cyber footprint that I can find.

I still remember the sweatshirt my sister and I had from the ranch. A ranch of sorts. I seem to remember a concrete stables. I’m not sure what we did at the resort. There might have been a volleyball pitch and a playground with rusty playground equipment. The highlight was a guided horse ride. We were placed on sleepy dotering horses that probably dropped dead soon after the ride of old age. In the heat of a Kentucky afternoon we’d ride dusty trails with flies wasping around us. Later we’d take a dip in the pool.

It was a family-run operation, on a shoestring.

We probably had a kitchenette in our room in order to save money on meals. That’s how my family ran things. On a shoestring.

Later we’d trade up for vacations at Myrtle Beach S.C. and after that my parents (without kids) would travel out West, eventually doing a package trip to Europe, the kind where a group pulls in in a motor coach, snaps pictures, before re-boarding and going on to the next site. They loved it!

It’s hard to believe I can’t even re-visit the ranch on the Internet. I guess I’ll have to rely upon my memory. Images of rust and dust and horses long gone.

11 comments:

Lila In Half Light said...

Interesting post and I'd be interested to read your book on writing flash memoir. I have a blog, a serial fiction that I'm writing based on snippets of memory which I wrote down in flash memoir.

serenacervantes1987.wordpress.com

Jane said...

DO IT! Lila!

Puppydogpal said...

I went there every year as a kid too. I loved that place! We would always look forward to horseback riding and swimming in the pool. I loved how they would have dances after supper.
It burned and they never reopened from what I understand. Eventually everything got torn down and it is a training facility for the Kentucky National Guard and a hunting area now. That's about the only thing I found about it on the Internet. It's sad that there isn't more information or pictures about it. Some people didn't even know it existed.

Jane Hertenstein said...

Hey--thanks for leaving a comment. And, it's great to know I'm not out of my mind--that Hidden Valley actually did exist. It's so unusual these days for there not to be a digital footprint--and you begin to wonder if your memories are invented whole cloth. We visited the ranch during the early 70s.

Unknown said...

I live right next to the training grounds it was located at

Teresa Grant said...

My Mom and I went there for a few days one summer, I remember watching Neil Armstrong stepping down and walking on the moon on tv in a large room with several other people. I have a picture of me going down slide at the pool somewhere...

Teresa Grant said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jane Hertenstein said...

Teresa--so glad to connect to another vacationer at Hidden Valley! Can you post your pic to the comments and I'll post one of me by the pool!

Teresa Grant said...

If I can find it

Teresa Grant said...


Found picture but not sure how to post on here.

Lisa said...

I remember this place. My mom, grandmother and younger brother went there. Had a great pool. One day we returned to our room after being in the pool, I walked into our room and headed straight to the balcony to hang my towel. The plate glass sliding door was so clean, I didn't even see it. It it hard and it shattered. Thankfully I wasn't hurt, but was scared to death as I knew we didn't have the money to replace. The owner was so sweet, said not to worry about it as she was just glad I wasn't hurt. I remember one afternoon, she walked by the pool and a couple of the stqffers were in the pool with us. They dared her to jump in and she did, clothes and all. I don't remember doing much except eating and swimming in the pool. Mom went down to one of the buildings one night to play poker.....the guys thought they had a patsy and could win some money off of her.....she fooled them, she beat them and came back to the hotel with more money than she started with. Good memories