Courageous Travels: Akers Cattle Ranch Trip

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 |

Day 1

Good Evening Courageous Travelers,

The Akers trip is underway! The travelers were picked up a day earlier, so we could hit the road early in the morning!

Melissa and Sonya started off at 3:45pm and made their way to Walcott. Travelers Don and Zach were waiting when the ladies pulled up at the I-80 truck stop. They were 30 minutes early. They were checked in and the bus made its way to Coralville.

They were at the McDonalds in Coralville early, and pick up was at 6:30pm. The traveler’s were already waiting so the travel ladies signed them in and I(Rolo) showed up once everyone was checked in! It was a big surprise to see everyone so early! This group is ready to go to Texas. The traveler’s from Coralville are Justin, Tyler, Charles, and Ben!

We left around 6:30pm to head back to Camp. We arrived at Camp at 7:45pm, and traveler’s were already waiting for us. Thank you to Nurse Diane for signing two of the travelers, Shelby and Tom in! They showed up extra early, way before the 8:30pm checkin time. The final traveler’s to check in were Daniel, Suzette, and David! Tom and Dan came in with their cowboy gear and ready for Texas!

The beds in Pitlik were already set up for the travelers. They came in the cabin, got ready for bed and now resting for Texas!

Tomorrow we head out at 7am! Stay warm Iowa!!!

Peace,

The Travel Team

Day 2

Good Evening Courageous Travelers,

What a beautiful day to travel down south. Traveler David M. thinks so too! We woke up at 6am and the travelers were ready packed and ready to go by 6:30am! This group of travelers were so excited to be traveling to Texas, they were singing songs all the way to Iowa City! Traveler Charles L. was singing away to all of his favorite songs!
We stopped every couple hours for stretch our legs, fill up the bus with gas and of course restroom breaks along with grain lunch and dinner. For the majority of the day we had great driving conditions. We only ran into some rain near Kansas. While we drove, we watched a number of movies.
We watched three Shrek movies, Jumanji and Captain America! We stopped and grabbed lunch to go from Culver’s. For dinner we grabbed Subway to go and ate on the bus. By doing this we were able to make it to our hotel ahead of schedule! One of the funny highlights from today was our tour of a Pilot Travel Stop parking lot where we checked out all of the semi trucks (not by choice). The travelers are still giving Rolo a hard time about that! 🙂
We made it to the Hotel 2 hours earlier than expected, which is great! Gives the travelers sometime to rest at the hotel. We are staying at the Best Western in Wichita Falls, Texas. We get a little rest tonight and hop back on the road first thing in the morning.
Have a great night everyone!
Peace,

The Travel Team

Day 3</h2
Good Evening Courageous Travelers,

If you have Facebook, I hope you are keeping up with all the fun the travelers have been having in The Great State of Texas. There are a ton of pictures and videos on Facebook that shows all the fun everyone is having.

This morning we started off at 7:45am! I had the group leaving at 8am but they all were out again pretty early, so we left as soon as we could. We couldn’t wait to head to Abilene.

But before we began the drive, we had a friend on top of Henry(travel bus)! A goose found its way on top of our vehicle and it was pretty funny! We also saw a 25 ounce bottle of pop/soda in a vehicle, and on our drive we do a big dog on top of a vehicles. We thought it was hilarious seeing on these things on top of these cars.

It took us 2 1/2 hours to get to Abilene and because our group was super excited, we sang pretty much the whole way! It was awesome! David, Charles, and Shelby sang their greatest and the rest of us threw up our hands and danced! Our bus is known as the party bus!

We arrived in Abilene around 10am, and the first thing we did, besides cheer and continue to sing, was arrive at the Abilene zoo.

We had only the morning to explore the zoo and it was plenty of time! The groups split up and explored the zoo at their leisure. We saw lions, Leopards, Flamingos, tons of birds, monkeys, and Texas Wild life! Actually only lizards and venomous snakes!

One of the highlights of this visit was the chance to feed giraffes! Don bought some leaves and fed them to one of the giraffes! It was pretty cool! We also got some cool photos of these beautiful animals.

Once we explored the zoo, we made our way to the gift shop and bought some souvenirs. The zoos food stand was closed today, so the group wanted Mexican so we stopped at Taco Bueno for lunch.

After lunch we made our way to our next activity. Frontier Texas! This was one of the locations the Akers recommended for us to visit and we sure had a great time learning about Texas and the Wild West!

It was a fun museum, with a lot of videos and hands on exhibits. We started off learning about the museum and what we would be learning. After the movie, we started our tour and learned about the early humans in North America. We learned about the giant beasts, Wooly Mammoth, giants Bison, and more. During our tour we learned about the natives that lived this land. From the Apache to the Comanche. Comanche natives were the first civilization. They were powerful with their ability to ride horse back and fight.

Quickly this tribe came to an end, when settlers came in wrecking havoc on the land and destroying almost all of the Comanche. One way to do this was take away their food supply and that was the Buffalo. The new settlers hunted the beautiful beasts and sold their hide. It was pretty sad to read and see this side of history, but luckily the numbers of Buffalo are on there way up.

Once buffalo hunters couldn’t hunt anymore buffalo, the Texas citizens learned how to cattle drive. We continued to move through history and learning of the great struggle of  Ranchers and what they are like today.

It was a fun tour and I highly recommend come to this museum, to learn a great deal about the Wild West!

Before we knew it, we found our way to the gift shop. Bought some awesome souvenirs and took one last group picture. This time it was a buffalo skull! That was actually a children’s slide!

After we were done, we decided to shop before dinner, so we made our way to Cavenders and it was worth it. Cavenders is a country store with cowboy hats, shirts and boots. Our travelers purchased some cool outfits and were ready for our Ranch visit. The staff were very friendly to our group, helping however they could. I would like to give BRIAN from Cavenders a shout out for going above and beyond for one of our ladies! Suzette is very grateful for your help.

After our visit, we took a group picture with all the staff and thanked them once again.

Before we knew it, it was time for dinner! So we made our way to Lytle Land and Cattle, a steak and Bbq restaurant. It was very delicious! Harry and Elizabeth Akers came out to meet the group along with Sonya’s husband Lance! Sonya and Lance are responsible for introducing the Akers to Camp and its Travel Department. Thank you very much! The group introduced themselves and enjoyed talking to the travelers. We also had a surprise visitor, my uncle Carlos from San Antonio, came up to join us for the next couple of days.

Once we ordered our food, Shelby and Tom helped hand out travel T-shirt’s to the Akers in thanksgiving for the opportunity to explore their ranch! The food came out not too long after our thanks and we ate an awesome dinner!

After dinner, we said our goodbyes and made our way to our hotel. We checked in and now are resting.

Because of possible rain on Wednesday the Akers asked if we could move the tour of the Ranch to Tuesday. We are very okay with that. So tomorrow we we explore the Akers Ranch!

We hope everyone had a great Monday!

Peace,

The Travel Team

 

Day 4

Good Evening Courageous Travelers,

Today, was the big day our travelers have been looking forward to since they signed up back in November. As I mentioned last night, we had to switch the itinerary around, due to weather. So we had our amazing Akers Ranch visit today and it was so worth it.
The Travelers were ready. David, Daniel, Donald, Thomas, Charles, and Susie had their cowboy boots, wranglers, button up shirts, and their cowboy hats on and were ready to spend the day on the ranch. It took us 25 minutes to get from our Hotel to Merkel, where the Akers Ranch is. When we arrived, we had Mr. Harry Akers himself step on the bus and welcome the group. The travelers were super pumped and cheered for everything Mr. Akers announced. He told us some funny jokes, one about him being a CEO of a non-profit and the other regarding boxers or briefs! The travelers got a kick out of both jokes! He explained some rules regarding the ranch and then Elizabeth Akers came by to greet us and then Lance Belew with this gigantic hat! It was hilarious!

We unloaded the bus and met Garland “Chief” Lucas who is Harry’s right hand man! He is a great guy! A Native American born into a rancher family and loves this way of life.

The group then made its way to the Akers house where we used restrooms, hung out at the back porch and looked around at the beauty around us. We took tons of pictures and listened to Harry talk about the ranch and history of it. He also talked about how this ranch is very “green” meaning earth friendly. From the type of grass that they have that no other rancher has to solar panels.

Before we knew it we met Stacey and Kevin. They brought over two beautiful horses for the group to pet and ride. One was named sissy and the other Dakota. Dakota was the horse to ride. Each traveler had a chance to ride and had a great time doing it! They felt like real cowboys and cowgirls! They were pros getting on the horses too! This was Zach’s first time on a horse, he did an awesome job! Stacey owns the horses and her and Kevin donated their time to do this for the group.

After the rides, we thanked Stacey and Kevin, and then met Ethan and Lee from the farm agency. An agency that helps ranchers with figuring out the right grass for the animals, promote going “green” and helping with cost of it, and educating the public and ranchers about ranch life. They did a great job talking to our group about natural resources conservations, using water, soil, plants and animals. It was a great talk and they did a great job explaining everything to the travelers. Ethan and Lee donated their time as well to be out with the group.

When we were listening to these gentlemen, Stacey and Kevin were rounding up some of the cattle so we could move onto our next discussion. We walked over to the corral they were in and Harry Akers talked in length about the cattle and how it is to be a rancher. He then invited the group in, to feed the cattle and pet the bull. The travelers loved this! Justin really enjoyed meeting the bull and getting to feed him.

Once we were done, we made our way to lunch! Billy who owns a dirt company, his wife Diane and his sister Diane came by and provided lunch!! Fall apart brisket and ribs, sausage, potato salad, beans, chips and cookies. Billy and his son-in-law started the brisket at 6pm the day before in a smoker. The ribs were started shortly after. It is a Texas feast and very delicious!! We even went back for seconds, there was so much food.

We ate, talked, thanked everyone who was involved this morning and donated what they could. Ranch life is costly and lots of work, for these individuals to donate their services to us is very big deal! So we made sure to recognize them for all this. We even made sure to really thank Harry and Elizabeth, and Lance and Sonya, who met the Akers on a cruise last year and set all this up so the travelers could have the best time of their lives. Something that most of them never experienced.

After our thanks and praise, we took a short break and we’re back at it! This time with roping the “bull,” or the chair! But let’s stick with the bull. Tom, Charles, Tyler, and Dan roped the bull. The group just had kick out of the roping the “bull.” Afterwords Stacey and Kevin gave Tom and Dan lassos to take home.

Once they were done, we made our way back to the corral to listen about how the Akers care for the cattle and prevent diseases like black leg and others. They went into great detail how to do this and then showed some of them how they do it. They pulled up some of the younger cattle and demonstrated how the process worked. They pull the cattle up, lock them in place for protection of themselves and the rancher. Weigh the cattle, give them shots, tag them, and then document. They did this procedure for each one. It was very fascinating and the traveler’s asked some great questions. The group really got into all of this rancher way of life.

Afterwords, there was a short demonstration with Joe who trims horses feet. He did a really good job explaining the process and showing us what it all entails. Ben and Tom had a chance to help out.

We then all gathered again back at the place we had lunch and Joe finished his discussion with a horse foot cadaver. So we could see the inside of the foot. It was pretty cool! All the travelers had a chance to look at it. We thanked Joe for this wonderful showing and discussion. What a wonderful day we had! It wasn’t over yet. We decided it would be a better idea to go back to the hotel to get some rest. Ranch life in this Texas sun is brutal, so everyone needed to make sure to take a nap.

We came back around 3 and rested until 5. It was needed and they were grateful! Once rested we made our way back to the ranch to meet and hear the famous Texas singer Tony Baker! He was awesome and such a nice guy! He had some great music and the traveler’s sang, danced, and even played a harmonica, well they used their fingers but still did a great job doing it! During this time we had some rain that started to pick up but that didn’t slow us down. The traveler’s were still dancing and singing along to Tony’s songs. We then pulled out the leftover brisket and sausage, chips, watermelon, baked beans, and potatoes salad. This time we made sandwiches wish the brisket using buns, sliced onions and pickles. It was delicious! While we ate, we watched the rain come down and then listened to the final hour of Tony playing and singing. Tony also donated his time, to come out and play for us and loved being around our group! It was a perfect way to end the evening. We thanked Tony for coming out and playing some great music.

Before we left, we thanked Harry and Elizabeth again for their hospitality and generosity for having the Courageous Travelers out at their ranch. It was a perfect day!

We thanked, Hugged, clamped hands, and said our goodbyes, because it was time to head back to the hotel.

What I explained today in the blog doesn’t do this day justice. I could explain so much, but actually being here was the magical moments. I am so proud and happy that these travelers had the opportunity to experience life in a Texas Ranch. I asked them if I planned it again next year, would they come and they are yelled YES!! I think this will be a yearly trip!

What a wonderful and Blessed day! It sure was the best highlight for this whole group!

Peace,

The Travel Team

Day 5

Good Evening Courageous Travelers,

Harry Akers mentioned last night. “I must have done something right, it’s raining!” It hasn’t rained in Abilene in two weeks, and before that 2 months. This part of Texas needed rain badly. Guess what? The Iowans brought it to them, and not just the rain, but the cold as well. It was 41 degrees this morning and the high only got up to 57 degrees. But that’s okay, us Iowans are use to it and it didn’t slow us down.
One thing I didn’t mentioned yesterday, which I should have! My mom(Frances), sister(Crystal), and nephew(J.R) came up to see me(Rolo). They came up late Monday night and hung out with us all day yesterday and part of today, before heading back to San Antonio. It was so great having them here and hanging out with the group.
We left the hotel around 9am, picked up Elizabeth Akers, and made our way to the Merkel Museum in Merkel, Texas. The museum is only opened Thursday-Saturday, so they opened it just for us. It was great. There were 3 volunteer tour guides at the museum. Pat, Jerry, and Dan. They were all from Merkel and knew so much about the towns history. They really did a great job showing our group around. We split up into three groups and they all had different perspectives of the town. There were tons of artifacts that were donated to the museum so people can come and visit, to learn about the development of Merkel. People donated vehicles, an old ambulance, and they even had newspapers from 1891-2017. At the end of the tour, Jerry is a skilled rope trickster. So he took his rope and showed all the travelers this awesome skill. It was great and we clapped after he finished. We thanked him and all the volunteers for the tour and we shopped at their mini gift shop.
After the museum, we made our way lunch at Willi B’s or also known as the Flying Pig. We had sandwiches, chips, a dessert, and drink all ready for us when we got their. It was a delicious lunch. Once we were done, we said our goodbyes to my family, and made our way to Buffalo Gap Historical Center.
It was still raining, but not as hard when we got there. We had a tour guide named Jeff and Kyle, who showed us around this old fashion town from the late 1800’s-1900’s. Since the group was really wet in some places, we couldn’t go into all the houses, since we would be tracking in mud and the flooring is from once they first built the buildings, in the late 1800’s, we didn’t want ruin the floor. Jeff and Kyle took turns telling us the history of the buildings and the people who lived in the houses. There was also an old train station, barber shop, wedding chapel, and other buildings. It was a great tour and the travelers had a ton of questions. We were at the museum a little later than expected, but that’s okay, because everyone had a great time. Once we were done, we thanked the guys and made our way there center’s gift shop.
It was a little past 3pm, so we called the next place we were going to visit, Fort Chadborne, but it would have been almost 4pm when we got there. It takes two hours to tour, so we called the place, canceled our tour, and came up with a different plan. The travel team put together a quick plan and we were off. It was a surprise to the travelers, but we knew they wouldn’t be disappointed. The first one was a chocolate factory called Vletas, the travelers jumped for joys when they knew it was chocolate. We even had a chance to try some free chocolate. After our stop, we made our way to a second gift shop called the Texas Trade store. This store had a lot of the Texas souvenirs, from beef jerky that Charlie was looking for. Tom was looking for Texas patches and he found those, and Kyle found some great history books. They all bought something and it worked out great.
Before we knew it, it was time for dinner. So we made our way to Joe Allan’s for some last BBQ and steak. We had dinner with Harry and Elizabeth Akers, and we had a surprise visit from Ethan, from the Farm Agency. He brought with him some Texas grass seed and calendars and gave them to everyone after dinner. It was a great dinner and we had tons of laughs. After dinner, we took one last pictures with everyone and thanked Ethan for his gifts. More importantly we thanked Harry and Elizabeth Akers for this wonderful trip. If it wasn’t for them, this trip wouldn’t be possible. Sonya and Lance Belew also had a big hand in this planning, so thank you too!
This Ranch Trip was a big highlight and favorite of all the travelers. They will remember it forever. Thank you to Harry and Elizabeth Akers for all you did for the Courageous Travelers and Camp Courageous. We will always remember this week and the hospitality you showed us all!
Tomorrow we head back to Iowa. Have a great night everyone!
Peace,
The Travel Team

Day 6

Good Evening Courageous Travelers,

It was so hard to leave Texas after all of the fun that we had visiting this wonderful state. But like all trips, it had to come to an end. We started our journey back to Iowa at 7am.

It was a nice drive with clear skies. The morning ride was quiet as the travelers got some more rest. We stopped every couple of hours to stretch our legs and we had lunch in the bus. I (Rolo) purchased lunch meat and condiments last night so we could have a picnic lunch on the bus.
We watched a number of movies including Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. This group loves to dance and sing so we played a number of travel mix cds. Traveler David brought a bag full of movies and cds for the group to enjoy. Traveler Dan also shared his Garth Brooks cd with the group. We made it to Kansas City around 5:30pm and had dinner at Pizza Ranch. The travelers really enjoyed this meal along with getting off the bus for a nice stretch.
After dinner we started our last stretch of driving to reach Iowa. We arrived at the hotel in Newton around 10pm, staying at the Boulders Inn. Now we are getting some rest before we all go home tomorrow. On Friday we will start our drive at 9am, dropping off travelers in Coralville, Marion and Camp Courageous.
A big thank you to our travelers David, Dan, Justin, Don, Tom, Tyler, Charles, Zach, Ben, Suzette and Shelby. A special thank you to our volunteer Sonya and Penny for helping out the Travel Team with this trip. As mentioned yesterday, this trip was one for the books. It’s amazing how people can come together to make a dream trip happen for our wonderful travelers.
Thank you again to Harry and Elizabeth Akers as well as all of the other who were involved in this trip.

Keep traveling my friends,

Travel Team

4 Responses

  1. Victoria M Reinkoester says:

    Glad to hear all is going well thus far!!! Have fun and thank you for all that you do these campers!

  2. Rolando Morales says:

    Suzette is having a great time!!

  3. Robert and Liz McMillan says:

    we think we enjoyed the trip (by blog) as much as tom, He will talk about this forever.

  4. leanne mayhew says:

    glad you had a good time