Erica Ehm is an award-winning country songwriter
who finds a lot of her inspiration in the wild west.
glamorous as the world of television may appear to be, the
reality is... daily doses of very high stress. So when the
first season of my show, "Real Life", wrapped up, I needed
a summer vacation badly.
Looking through the SpaFinder
catalog, The Hills Health and Guest Ranch caught my eye. Located
in central British Colombia, 250 miles north of Vancouver,
the Hills is a unique combination of dude ranch and wellness
spa. As a wanna-be cowgal who needed to relax and be pampered,
this combination was perfect for me!
Picturesque trails snake
out over a 40 mile radius
The Hills Health Ranch is located outside the town of 100
Mile House. It was conceived and built in 1982 by "hands on
hosts" Juanita and Pat Corbett. It sits on 550 acres in the
middle of cattle country, and has the feel of the wild west.
In fact, one of its most spectacular features are the picturesque
trails that snake out over a 40 mile radius. These well marked
trails are used for horseback riding, mountain biking and
hiking in the summer. In the winter the area becomes a mecca
for cross country skiers.
There are several guest
packages available at the Hills. Not wanting to concentrate
solely on horseback riding, I opted for the Inches Off Executive
combination. Upon arrival, I was greeted with a smile and
a computer printout of my week's activities. The next seven
days would include three spa meals daily, a fitness test,
exercise classes, guided hikes, an assortment of "delicious"
massages and wraps, and of course, horseback riding.
Spa accommodation--a charming
combo of rustic and modern
As I expected, the accommodation at the ranch appeared rustic
on the outside, but it was perfectly modern on the inside.
My room was furnished with a queen size bed, color televison,
a good sized bathroom and it even had a balcony. It was a
mixed blessing that there was no phone. I simply relaxed,
reading in my comfy rocking chair.
Each day at the ranch
began with an early-bird guided hike designed to get your
body going. Then the walkers regrouped at the dining room.
Guests had their choice--either you could dine around larger
group tables or you could sit at a single table and read,
as I did.
I ate well, exercised well
and didn't gain an ounce
The food at the Hills was delicious, eclectic and very filling.
At breakfast, those of us on the low fat spa menu were given
a combination of vitamin supplements, as well as a copy of
the day's menu. Believe it or not, breakfast choices ranged
from tomato basil quiche with German Potato Pancakes to fruit
and cheese crepes. Lunch and dinner were just as appealing.
My favorite meal of the week was the venison in a black peppercorn
maple glaze with rosti potatoes and veggies. Even those on
the "Inches Off" program, don't suffer at this spa ranch.
Just as important as
the food was the dining room service-- friendly, enthusiastic,
and on the ball. The staff made me feel right at home, often
stopping for a quick chat.
Before throwing myself
into my workout program, I had a fitness test appointment
with Dr. Lynda. She spent an hour testing and analyzing my
results, and then made some valuable workout suggestions.
One of my goals was to de-stress and exercise, so after breakfast
I generally did the workout classes--low impact aerobics or
step. I really enjoyed the stretch and cool down after that
good sweat. The rest of my mornings were filled with running
on the treadmill, or horseback riding or being pampered with
a spa service.
Facials, seaweed herbal
wraps and bio-flavinoids
My introduction to the Wellness Centre was a facial with co-owner
Juanita, an ex- child country star from Kentucky. Juanita's
training is as an homeopathic esthetician. She shares her
vast herbal medicinal knowledge with guests and treats them
to lovely "hands-on" pampering.
By examining my skin,
Juanita recognized a digestion problem and recommended some
natural remedies. After the hour of facial pampering, she
gave me photocopies of articles on the subjects we had discussed.
Juanita's goal is that the Wellness Centre provides the environment
and professional knowledge to help change and improve each
She was already beginning
to affect mine. By the end of my stay, after a manicure, pedicure,
massage and seaweed herbal wrap, I had learned to rub cod
liver oil and vitamin E directly into my cuticles, take bio-flavinoids
to avoid varicose veins, and always drink eight glasses of
water a day. Each helpful suggestion was accompanied by a
photocopied article to be taken home.
One cowgirl was five months
Of course, the stable was a frequent destination for me but
Mother Nature just wouldn't co-operate that week. Although
the summers are usually hot and dry at the Ranch, it rained
a lot during my stay. It even poured during my cowboy breakfast
ride, but , happily, after chowing down on eggs, beans and
bacon in the teepee, the sun broke through and we all dried
off. The trails were too wet to do any serious galloping,
but on the trail rides we took, the scenery was stunning and
I enjoyed myself anyway.
What I found interesting
down at the stable was that there wasn't a cowboy in sight.
All the rides were wrangled and led by a bunch of horse loving
cowgirls, even one who was five months pregnant.
This is the life!
As my busy days turned into lazy evenings complete with bluegrass
hayrides, the end of my week-long stay loomed. Instead of
chomping on the bit to return to my fast paced life, I was
feeling relaxed, fit and part of a new family. On my last
day, Lisa, at the front desk, invited me back to her place
for a 10 km run along with her three dogs. I tried to keep
up with her as we jogged along the cowpaths through rolling
hills, past little lakes, waving to the horses, cows and deer
as we ran by. Huffing and puffing, sweat rolling down my back,
all I could think was ....this is the life!