A couple months ago, I was fortunate enough to be invited on an all-expenses paid trip to Magee Homestead. For those who haven’t been, I cannot recommend it enough. I don’t feel comfortable sharing photos of the trip, as several people who accompanied me have requested I not publically share those pictures, but the website linked above should give you a sufficient idea regarding what kinds of activities and sights one can see.

The trip was absolutely amazing. Starting off, we actually flew on a private aircraft, and it was a testament to how airtravel could be, without many government regulations. We arrived at the SFO Private airport, and in addition to free drinks, food and comfortable sofas, the most impressive aspect were the things missing. No TSA, no security. And no baggage check. Just show up with your bags, have a soda (or a cocktail that you’d have to pay for), and five minutes before your flight the pilot would show up! The crew would help load your bags onto the flight, and off you went!

The flight itself was amazing. No nonsense warnings about cellphones or laptops, no idiotic seatbelt rules, and no uncomfortably small rows of seats. The whole plane was at our disposal, and we were free to move about as we wished. We were served food in a pretty carefree attitude and lounged on the long sofas. All in all, it was pretty difficult going back to economy when I knew what was possible on the other side.

The ranch itself is absolutely gorgeous. We did various activities, like horseback riding, fly fishing, shooting at an outdoor gun range, and some hiking. Wyoming is at quite an altitude, so the brief hiking we did constantly reminded me that I was incredibly out of shape. Despite that, I had an amazing time. And the food there is incredible. For those who eat beef, the cattle ranch’s herd is actually a Japanese breed of cow that the Japanese government keeps an incredibly accurate account of. Apparently, these cows are descended from a royal stock and thus are very strictly regulated.

Horseback riding was… difficult. I rode a supposedly gentle horse named Jessie, but it was clear from the start that I was an abysmal rider. Not only did I repeatedly grab the reins too tightly (which prompted our instructors to ask me to ease up constantly), I also began to slump to the side after a while. The worst part was it wasn’t quite clear to me how to rectify the situation. Every five or ten minutes, like clockwork, I’d slump to a forty five degree angle instead of riding upright, and one of the staff would have to help me. We actually saw some wild stallions on our brief ride, and we made sure to do our best to avoid them. We only rode for forty minutes, but by the end I was saddle sore. I mostly felt bad for Jessie. :)

Shooting was quite an experience. It was an outdoor range, and there were basically no regulations all the way out in Wyoming, so we had shotguns, pistols, and huge rifles. This was my first time shooting, and it was alarmingly easy. I had taken archery lessons for team offsites before, and it was very difficult to consistently hit a target even ten feet away. But pistols were alarmingly easy. I must have fired about 30 shots and missed maybe two? It honestly felt too easy. The shotguns were a bit harder, but not by much. We had machines that would launch clay disks into the air, and I got maybe 70% of the targets. Again, this was my first time shooting. It really gave me a first-hand perspective on how dangerously effective these weapons really are. So effective that an absolute novice could, upon picking one up for the first time, hit targets more often than not. Unfortunately by the time I rotated to the rifles it was pouring really badly, so I decided to just wait out the storm inside the tent where it was warm.

Flyfishing was surprisingly difficult. We dressed up in full body suits and waded out in the highland swamps of Wyoming. Even something as simple as casting your bait required a lot of technique. By the end of two hours, I hooked maybe two or three fish, and actually caught none of them. We were actually flyfishing in a federal park, so we were required to release all caught fish by the game warden (not that we reeled any in anyway).

To top it all off, the food served at the ranch was consistently among the best I’ve had. Meal after meal was absolutely incredible. If any were considering going, I’d highly recommend it. The staff is super nice, and they’re well accustomed to naive, incompetent city-folk who don’t know the first thing about the outdoors.