July 12, 2016
My dad and I typically take a trip together every year, just the two of us. The poor guy has three daughters, two of which do not shy away from the word "princess." And he's been married to my mom for 45 years, who would be the first to consider "diva" a compliment. Somewhere along the way, I sort of became my dad's only son. At least to the degree I am willing to do "guy stuff" with him. Our trips usually include tickets to a football game, a fly rod and/or a tent. (Trips with anyone else in my family usually involve azure waters, pool boys named Raul and a second mortgage.)
For a variety of reasons, our annual trip together turned into him visiting me in Park City — I couldn't take time off work and he couldn't be too far off the grid. I hadn't noticed it until this weekend, but there's something to be said for both people being in a new environment. When one has home-field advantage, it changes the dynamic considerably.
I quickly realized my sanity depended on being out of my element with my pops. After one day together, it was apparent we still needed some type of getaway. My patience wore thin after the first of many requests for the phonebook. "No one uses those anymore, Dad. We Google things now." Then he asked me for the number to Google so he could call them for the information he needed. "No one calls Google, Dad," was repeated more than once over the course of his visit.
Saturday night I went out with some friends (after he went to bed at 8 p.m.) and he locked me out of my house. He had left a note on the kitchen counter that read: "Call me when you get home and I'll let you in." I crawled in through the dog door and in the morning tried to explain to him why the note doesn't work when it's sitting inside a locked house. He also asked me to help him use the internet one day. I tried to weasel out of this request because I have attempted to teach him at least 25 times and it has twice ended with a broken computer and at least one threat to sue the NSA. Eventually though, I caved and sat him in front of my laptop, planning to show him how to use "the Google." This lesson ended in another request for the phonebook and an exasperated, "Dad, you enter .com not dotcom."
Less than 24 hours later, the rest of Park City got a taste of my life. We went to dinner and the restaurant's menu said, "Burgers cooked to perfection." When the waitress asked my dad how he wanted his hamburger cooked he pointed at the menu and told her, "Cooked to perfection." Then we went to a concert and he complained the music was too loud. He stuck two pieces of Nibs licorice in his ears to block the noise. And later, he told a child who was crying at the grocery store, "Fair is where the hogs and cows go to win blue ribbons. Don't whine about what's not fair."
One day I will thank my dad for giving me just enough emotional baggage to work in a creative field, but not enough to be a stripper.
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After a few days of this, I knew I had to employ operation staycation and called Blue Sky Ranch. It's just 20 minutes away, but it felt like we'd been transported to a land of serenity — where all the frustrated headshaking, eye rolling and head scratching give way to the typical vacation mindset.
Located just outside of Wanship, Blue Sky Ranch is where the Wild West straddles urban sophistication. The ranch offers an array of Western-inspired adventures. Dad and I signed up for two; the Blixt & Company-designed sporting clay course and a morning of fly-fishing in private blue-ribbon waters. It was exactly what we needed — we both got to hit the reset button and be completely out of our element. Despite never really leaving, it was one of the best trips I've ever taken with my dad.
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident, and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.
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