Friday, January 16, 2015


I was talking to a tourism expert yesterday, trying to get a sense of how best to arrange tours of the ranch.

There's a danger of TMI creeping in here, so to be brief, one of my ideas was to promote sunrise tours.

"Which is a great idea," allowed the expert, "but you'll never make money that way."

The problem is this:

Sunrise on the prairie is the most beautiful and spectacular time of day. No one who has seen the sunrise in this part of the country (or indeed across most of the globe) is likely to dispute this fact.

You can click on the pics to enlarge.

Sunset is great, too, and I plan to take advantage of that, but sunrise is an order of magnitude better.

However. Sunrise.

Tourists, explained the expert, are unaccustomed to rising before the sun. Some will be interested in getting up early and watching the sunrise and will appreciate the opportunity to pay for the experience. But they are a small subset of tourists. By definition, tourists are travelling. Travelling is tiring, particularly for families with children. Tourists generally take their evening meal later than they do at home, and tend to get to bed later too. They need their rest. For the most part, the expert said, they also get up early, but not predawn early. They also generally like to get breakfast before embarking on a days adventure.

The expert's recommendation? Offer sunrise tours by all means, but by appointment and with payment or a deposit up front. For daily morning tours, start at 9 a.m. or so.

Which makes sense. It's good to have experts.

Because left up to me, I'd have tried to pound square-peg tourists into the round hole of sunrise. For their own good, mind you. But I'd have lost money, gone out of business, and then where would the tourists be? They wouldn't be on my ranch, enjoying themselves, which is where they belong.

If I'd have been thinking (which is right up there with "if I was taller for my weight") I'd have remembered this "sunrise yoga" session on the ranch a couple of years ago. It was the prequel to a ground nesting bird tour. But it was sunrise yoga, right?


At about 10 a.m.

I feel a little bit embarrassed when I charge money for my tours. It's all free for me (not precisely true, of course, but it feels that way), and I enjoy it, so why should the tourists have to pay? Well, obviously they don't, and I don't have to charge. A few weeks of that, however, and I'm out of business, and the tourists have to cross a potential adventure off their lists.

So while I somewhat reluctantly have to exchange tours for cash, the most important payoff for me is providing good, valuable, real enjoyment to my guests. The report card is in the smiles.

Whew, glad I worked all the way through that one. But now, back to this morning's sunrise, which is where I really started this post...

This one?
Or this one? I can't decide.
Taken at 65 mph. Don't try this at home.


  1. Nice!

    As to the "this one or this one" photos, I say the second is the best. More color in the sky. You might want to run it through a "fixer" program to show the snow on the grass better. The first one does that nicely, but the sky isn't as pretty.

    (Methinks I need to find an excuse to visit Nebraska. Instead of get up early, I'd opt for "stay up all night" - I've been known to do that.)

  2. Good idea on the fixer program, though i suspect some larnin' will be required. (Doh!)

    I'm in the far SW corner of the Panhandle, 12 miles from Colo. and 19 from Wyo. Stop by anytime. If you ever visit Denver I'm just up the road a piece.

  3. I like the first pic best, but that's just me. Mornings are a special time of day. Some friends do ranch tours, they have been for years, and they have come to it that the more you charge, the more people appreciate what they are getting...