L'Etoile Maison d'hôtes

Riverside House Cowboys of the Great West

Riverside House Les cowboys du Grand OuestRiverside House 伟大的西部的牛仔Riverside House Ковбои Великого Запада
Exchange with Riverside School House, Prairie City, Oregon, USA

Exchange with Riverside School House, Prairie City, Oregon, USA 1We embarked on Alan’s spacious truck, a vehicle capable of transporting 10 calves, and set off into the unknown. Our destination was uncertain, but the company was excellent. Alan, a seasoned rancher, navigated with confidence. He owns 2,000 acres, rents an additional 10,000, and manages a herd of 1,000 cattle and 8 horses. He runs his ranch with effortless grace, seriousness, and an ever-present smile. His son Jim, a robust and amiable man, assists him and drives the other large truck, which can accommodate up to 50 animals.

Exchange with Riverside School House, Prairie City, Oregon, USA 2Our journey took us across three lightly snow-covered summits and into a region known for its gold and silver mines. We passed a few villages like “Ironside” along Highway 26, and numerous abandoned houses, which added a certain charm to our trip.

Alan, a man of many interests, shared stories from his family’s past. He told me about his father who, in the 1940s, rented a “placer mining” (a place rented from the state by gold prospectors) in Colombia for a few years with his wife’s sister. Although they didn’t strike it rich with gold, they discovered a significant quantity of rare Indian coins while washing the earth with hydraulic means and the help of a hundred workers.

This treasure trove, mostly consisting of earrings, nose rings, and other jewelry made of pure gold, was carefully hidden and brought across the border. The Jacobs family has since preserved it in a chest, and it now forms part of their family heritage.

After an hour’s drive, or perhaps a little more, we arrived in a broad valley. To our right, a series of wooden log enclosures housed around 250 calves. As soon as the yellow truck, aptly named “Riverside Ranch”, completed its maneuvers, the unloading began.

Exchange with Riverside School House, Prairie City, Oregon, USA 3The sound of hooves clattering on the metal floors echoed around us. The calves, parked four at a time, were directed towards a corridor and then a peculiar manual machine. Here, each calf was briefly immobilized to receive two injections in the neck and a dose of liquid in each nostril.

The cold began to set in, and after an hour with them, despite the joy of their company, I sought refuge in the warmth of Alan’s truck. With a flick of the ignition key, I tuned into a local radio station that played country music non-stop. It was a stark reminder that I was far from France and even further from La Bastide-Puylaurent.

On the return journey, I rode in Jim’s large truck. Alan followed us at a distance of 200m. As darkness fell, we narrowly avoided a deer crossing the snowy road. The interior of the truck was a sight to behold; rustic, with firm seats, a manually steered searchlight above the door, 15 gears, two engine brakes, a CB radio, and of course, a locomotive horn.

Jim, a truck driver for nearly a decade, engaged in lively conversation with another driver who hailed us on the CB radio at frequency 19. The driver, who was from California and was on his way to collect wood from the Prairie City sawmill, expressed concern about the slippery road. “He must be new to this,” Jim commented, his intimate knowledge of the region evident in his tone.

Exchange with Riverside School House, Prairie City, Oregon, USA 4Tomorrow morning, the truck driver will load his delivery. Until then, he will sleep in the back of his cabin, keeping the engine idling to provide some warmth as the temperature continues to drop.

The conversation reveals the pleasure and motivation these road warriors find in chatting about various topics. Just like cowboys around a campfire, they share lived experiences and inquire about mutual acquaintances.

Every December, Las Vegas, Nevada, becomes the meeting point for the rodeo championship. Alan, Jim, and Justin actively participate in the contests. Justin, the youngest brother at 22, is the champion. He rides wild “Bronco” horses and lassos calves released into the arena. Numerous medals adorn the walls of their family home.

Exchange with Riverside School House, Prairie City, Oregon, USA 5Riverside Ranch B&B, a former village school, has a bell that gives it the appearance of a chapel at first glance. A large door leads into a vast room with a high ceiling, a small living area, two large beds, and sanitary facilities. The decor is simple and tasteful, featuring photos of well-behaved schoolchildren from 1934, a small desk, and a vintage stove in the center of the room. There is no television or telephone, reminiscent of times past.

Located about 6 miles from Prairie City, the place is tranquil, surrounded by groves and just 100 meters from the John Day River. The ranch is on the other side of the small dead-end road. When the ranch is in full swing and nature awakens, there’s no better place to experience the atmosphere of the West.

Judith visited L’Etoile in late June 2003 with her colleague Linda Harrington, who runs the “Strawberry Mountain Inn Bed and Breakfast,” located 7 miles from “Riverside School House B&B.”

Both women are full of energy, open-minded, and particularly interested in this new way of traveling - “exchanges.” I believe they enjoyed their time in the Cévennes, and Judith is already talking about returning to spend a month at L’Etoile and its surroundings.

Riverside School House B&B, Judith & Alan, Prairie City, Oregon - Map  Riverside School House B&B, Judith & Alan, Prairie City, Oregon

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L'Etoile Guesthouse

Old romantic Hotel, L'Etoile Guest-House is a mountain retreat in the South of France. With a beautiful park along the Allier River, L'Etoile Guesthouse is located in La Bastide-Puylaurent between Lozere, Ardeche and Cevennes. Many hiking trails like GR®7, GR®70 Stevenson trail, GR®72, GR®700 Regordane way, Cevenol, GR®470 Allier river, Margeride. Many hiking loops. The right place to relax.

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