Saturday, January 1, 2011

Elk Ridge Ranch, Shoals, IN

This year, during the holiday season, my father turned 86, my mother turned 85, and they are celebrating 65 years of marriage.

I thought this would be a good time for a family reunion of sorts. We got all of their children, except for one, all of the grandchildren except one, and the great grandchildren and one great great grandchild.

I wanted to find someplace close by, so the old folks didn't have to travel too far. I searched the web for anything that could accommodate our group. The group size was somewhere between 20 and 25 humans, and six dogs.... While all of the family dogs are well trained, clean animals with attentive owners, most property owners just plain don't care. In the land of vacation rentals, dogs are bad.

So, I was pleasantly surprised to find a place that looked perfect for our group. It is called Elk Ridge Ranch, and is located near Shoals, Indiana.

I first sent an inquiry from their website, asking about pets and other accommodations. I got no reply. I then called, and talked to Wendy who said she would like to discuss it with her husband. I got no reply. So, I called Elk Ridge again. This time, I got a call back. Dave OK'd the dogs, and we made the reservation with 50% down.

Months passed with little communication. Finally, about a month before the party, I asked several questions about the facilities, and received prompt replies. Our rental of the four bedroom house and the party barn is set. I sent an email telling them we would arrive around 1PM, and received one back with specific directions (which you really need to find the place.)

We arrive about 45 minutes early, and were met by Dave who is complaining about the laundry, and that we weren't expected for another hour... He pulls out a five page contract for me to sign. I'll get back to that.

First, the tour with Dave. I need to mention here, the place was advertised as a lodge with three queen bedrooms and a bunk room with nine bunks. The bathroom facilities were two men's/women's shared. The house has four bedrooms with bathroom facilities in each room.

While showing us the place, Dave mentioned that one bedroom in the lodge was set up with a massage table, and he wanted to leave it there. I noticed the bunk room had only three bunks. Now, I'm worried there won't be room for everyone to sleep. When he took us to the house, he showed us a "new" fifth bedroom with a double and a single bed. This room was an office with two beds moved in. There was no bathroom in this room. That normally isn't a problem. But, there was no bathroom in the house. The only facilities were in the other four guest rooms.

The commercial kitchen needed instructions. In order to use the stove, you must turn on the exhaust fan. Before using the exhaust fan, you have to climb up on a chair, step onto the stove, and remove a block of styrofoam. The styrofoam keeps the kitchen warm when the stove is not in use.

There was a half bath on the second floor of the lodge where the sleeping quarters, bar, and party area are. This was not mentioned on the website, and was a pleasant surprise. The two main baths were on the first floor. These consisted of two stalls and a shower. One of these was set up for colonic use.... Tubes and buckets, and weird creepy stuff everywhere. The little kids refused to go in there...