It seems some people have figured out life better than others. John struck me as somebody who found his perfect place in the world and his own way of living.
The sun was starting to set when me and my family took the long drive to John's ranch on the border of Nevada and California. We stopped in the small town of Cedarville to stock up on groceries for a few days. From there we drove through the rough landscape of Surprise valley. Nothing more than sand, stones and startled jack rabbits sprinting away. John’s long ranch is so remote, you have to be kind of a loner to live there. And so it seems.
The ranch is a collection of old houses, barns and cabins scattered over what can only be described as a green oasis in the middle of a desert. Surprise valley is surrounded by rather dry mountain ranges, but the climate is not as hot as the area around in Redding. The best thing is that the ranch sits on top of a natural spring. John makes great use of this spring water and even built a lovely swimming pool. Swimming in a oasis with view on the mountains. Just great! The fresh water was also the reason the native Indians used it in the early days. All kinds of plants and trees are growing which in turn attracts a large range of birds I had never seen before.
Somewhere in the nineteenth century a wealthy American family has bought the land and built the ranch for a whole family. All the different buildings had their own use, there even was a small school cabin were the children received education. John has re-arranged this wooden cabin for guests to stay over. That’s were we stayed. Our kids loved to sleep in the mezzanine area on top. We loved to wake up with endless views on surprise valley.
John has bought the run down ranch twenty years ago and has been refurbishing it on his own ever since. There's a lot of work to be done and it’s hard work. I have nothing but respect for the choice John has made. He managed to find a unique place and make it his own. When a local friend of him introduced him to Airbnb he opened up the ranch for Airbnb guests. It will probably not become a huge touristic success, actually I hope not because it would spoil the quirky character it has. Wefound our stay nothing less than amazing.
While I was there I did some filming and afterwards put a soundtrack on the film. I hope this shows the atmosphere.