Posted by: Bob Fisher | May 18, 2009

Experiential, Grassroots, and Frontier Travel in the Canadian and American West

headphonesymbol50… with Tony Daly of Ranch Rider


To listen to this podcast, click on the Play button below.

Back to the land … again

Part of the hippie sub-culture that began in the mid-1960s was just a little bit ahead of its time; young and idealistic counter-culture types were rediscovering themselves. And even though there was some questionable activities in the hippie movement, (pick any decade and find the strengths and the weaknesses) many were forming communes and doing their best to live simply and naturally off the land.

And now the musical Hair is playing again on Broadway. Will wonders never cease?

Although the 1980s soon came along (the so-called “Me Generation” of narcissism and consumerism), the prescient land-based awareness and alternative vision of the previous two decades has found a renewed voice in the 21st century. In the travel and tourism business it’s often referred to as agritourism or adventure travel.

And this is what Ranch Rider is all about; a British company that specializes in inclusive ranch holidays in the “Wild West” of North America.

I will admit to being a touch surprised to find a company like this operating out of England and catering, to a great extent, to a British clientele. It is probably a wee bit of North American ethnocentrism on my part; but when I look at all the trends in the travel and tourism business and the increasing demand on the part of the consumer for a meaningful travel experience, especially one that is reality-based, I quite understand why the Ranch Rider holidays are so popular.

The great planetary challenge

Today on the Blue Planet, more people are living in cities than in rural areas. In many ways this is a dramatic statistic — and a huge demographic shift — because all our resources are ultimately land- or marine-based, as internationally renowned Canadian author Margaret Atwood points out in her recent book Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth.

A complex book about the interconnectedness of all things (including financial systems, culture in all its forms, and agriculture), Atwood takes the reader on an intricate journey of common sense.

“Maybe it’s time for us to think about it differently. Maybe we need to count things, and add things up, and measure things, in a different way. In fact, maybe we need to count and weigh and measure different things altogether, maybe we need to calculate the real costs of how we’ve been living, and of the natural resources we’ve been taking out of the biosphere. Is this likely to happen? Like the Spirit of Earth Day Future’s, my best offer is Maybe.”

Reconnecting with the land

Human culture ultimately depends on land and sea resources, whether we are 21st-century hunters and gatherers on Wall Street or the London Stock Exchange, or agrarians in some form or other. If your investments and currencies are not based on verifiable and real assets, you may eventually find yourself in a recession.

And while the issues are complex and urgent, the solutions are common sense ones. I’m guessing, but I suspect this may be what those who choose a ranch holiday identify with; and why this kind of reality-based travel experience resonates with them.


Visit Ranch Rider by clicking on the preceding link.

The term “Wild West” invites a lot of discussion, and perhaps even debate. I suppose it is in the implications of the term “wild”; but for an overview of the myths and realities of North America’s western frontier, visit the HistoryNet’s collection of resources called Wild West.

The Grasslands Challenge of British Columbia

Mike Puhallo: Cowboy Poet, Storyteller, and History Buff

The day the Earth turned a corner

May 22 , 2007

There’s no big countdown billboard or sign in Times Square to denote it, but Wednesday, May 23, 2007, represents a major demographic shift, according to scientists from North Carolina State University and the University of Georgia: For the first time in human history, the earth’s population will be more urban than rural.

Working with United Nations estimates that predict the world will be 51.3 percent urban by 2010, the researchers projected the May 23, 2007, transition day based on the average daily rural and urban population increases from 2005 to 2010. On that day, a predicted global urban population of 3,303,992,253 will exceed that of 3,303,866,404 rural people.

Though the date is highly symbolic, the researchers — Dr. Ron Wimberley, Distinguished Professor of Sociology at NC State; Dr. Libby Morris, director of the Institute of Higher Education at the University of Georgia; and Dr. Gregory Fulkerson, a sociologist at NC State — advise avoiding the urge to interpret this demographic transition to mean that the urban population has greater importance than the rural.

Urban and rural populations, they say, rely heavily on each other.

Cities refine and process rural goods for urban and rural consumers. But if either cities or rural areas had to sustain themselves without the other, Wimberley says, few would bet on the cities.

“As long as cities exist, they will need rural resources — including the rural people and communities that help provide urban necessities,” he said. “Clean air, water, food, fiber, forest products and minerals all have their sources in rural areas. Cities cannot stand alone; rural natural resources can. Cities must depend on rural resources.”

In the United States, the tipping point from a majority rural to a majority urban population came early in the late 1910s, the researchers say. Today, 21 percent of our country is rural although some states — Maine, Mississippi, Vermont, and West Virginia — are still majority rural. In North Carolina, a rural majority held until the late 1980s.

Although rural natural and social resources are necessary for urban people and places, the researchers say rural people do not fare well relative to their urban counterparts. Maps of U.S. quality-of-life conditions show that poverty and low education attainment are concentrated in rural areas — especially the rural South — where the nation’s food, water and forest resources exist.

Over much of the globe, rural poverty is much worse than in the United States. Findings by the International Fund for Agricultural Development show that 1.2 billion of the world’s people live on less than what a dollar a day can buy. Globally, three-fourths of these poor people live in rural areas.

The researchers add that, in addition to having a highly disproportionate share of the world’s poverty, rural areas also get the urban garbage. In exchange for useable natural resources produced by rural people for urban dwellers, rural places receive the waste products — polluted air, contaminated water, and solid and hazardous wastes — discharged by those in cities.

Wimberley says that May 23, 2007, marks a “mayday” call for all concerned citizens of the world.

“So far, cities are getting whatever resource needs that can be had from rural areas,” he said. “But given global rural impoverishment, the rural-urban question for the future is not just what rural people and places can do for the world’s new urban majority. Rather, what can the urban majority do for poor rural people and the resources upon which cities depend for existence? The sustainable future of the new urban world may well depend upon the answer.”

NEW from Ranch Rider…

Ranch Rider now also offers water activities.

See below for details.


Experience the thrill and exhilaration of shooting the rapids as you take on one of Nature’s most powerful forces – and win! We offer a selection of wonderful whitewater rafting and combination trips of different levels of difficulty. So whether you want to really challenge yourself or just float along taking in the spectacular scenery, or both, we have the trip for you.

Photo courtesy of Ranch Rider.


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