What a treat – Last weekend Mark (Opa) & I went with our daughter, Nancy, and her daughters, Anna (16) and Nina (8), to the Pinegrove Dude Ranch in Kerhonkson, New York (www.pinegroveranch.com). A makeover from one of the old Catskill Mountains hotels (better known as the “borscht belt” and the launching of many a comedian’s career), Pinegrove turned out to be a great place for intergenerational fun, with something for everyone.
One horseback ride per person per day was included in the overall price, and you could sometimes get an extra ride by going standby. A few years ago when Mark and I rode horses in the Camargue delta in Provence, I used my best high-school French to plead for the oldest, calmest, slowest horse they had. Here at Pinegrove, because of the snow on the ground, all the horses walked slowly along the trail, and I didn’t need to know any horsemanship other than the basic talk we all got at the beginning of the 40-minute ride.
Nancy and the girls, all good swimmers, spent a lot of finger-wrinkling time in the heated indoor pool – but since it’s hard to heat the pool room on cold winter days up to the sweltering tropical heat I require to get wet, I just served as the cheering section. Mark & I played ping-pong and got most of our exercise picking up the balls that went wildly around the room. We needed the exercise after what felt like nonstop eating -- besides the breakfast and dinner served in the dining room, lunch and snacks were available all day and evening. At night we watched cowboy Chris McDaniel do his amazing rope tricks, some with volunteers from the audience.
Anna and Nina played laser tag and ping-pong, Anna shot pool and (almost) entered the hula hoop contest. Then there was snow tubing, which they all did; ski instruction on a little hill (since when do people ski without poles?); arts and crafts; bucket toss; the fitness center where I checked out the treadmill and watched the snow coming down outside; and Bingo, where Nina won Pinegrove dollars that she happily spent in the gift shop.
Bingo was a revelation to me. I hadn’t played since I was in school, and I hadn’t realized that there were so many different ways to play. Also new to me were the cards we used, on which you could cover called-out numbers just by pushing a closure tab -- a lot easier than keeping track of markers that always seemed to slide off their proper place, which is what I remember. For any family reunion or good-sized group of any age, the variations (which you can find by googling “Bingo variations”) make the game more fun. First we played standard Bingo. Then “H” Bingo, where you have to cover all the numbers in the first and fifth columns and the center row to make the letter “H.” Then a couple of other variations, and finally elimination Bingo, in which the goal was to be the last person in the game with no numbers covered. Anyone who had a number called out on his or her board was eliminated immediately. Here’s where Nina was the big winner. But after a fun weekend together, we all felt like winners.