Thanksgiving at Fenton Ranch

Thanksgiving at Fenton Ranch

We successfully hosted our first Thanksgiving at Fenton Ranch! J’s mom, sister, husband and 2 kids drove from Denver for the celebration. We haven’t hosted a Thanksgiving–much less any holiday–since 2010, so it was a real treat to have the ability to host once again. ***Warning, picture-heavy post!***

J’s mom came a few days in advance to enjoy adult quiet time, which involved lots of reading, knitting (not us) and board games, of course. I would remiss if I didn’t mention J was the master of world domination in Risk, twice. Damn him and his mastermind. We also took J’s mom to the infamous San Antonio Hot Springs and our little AWD car could still drive the bumpy forest service road to shorten the hike to get there!

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Once the nephews arrived, it was all about them and getting them to explore all the marvelous options at Fenton Ranch. Thankfully, we were blessed with 60-degree days and spent the majority of time playing outside. Our brother-in-law described the visit as “a weekend at summer camp” and this was aptly named because we did so many of the things we do with the schoolchildren that come to Fenton for their overnight environmental education program!


Even though we live in the middle of nowhere, there are several great places to take “field trips.” This time around, we went to the Seven Springs Fish Hatchery (which is 1 mile up the road), where our friend Jeff gave us a special behind-the-scenes tour and also let us pet his goats!

And because the boys are obsessed with fire trucks, we also visited the local volunteer fire department (of 2 people), where we had our own personal “touch a truck” event.

Of course there was the precious inside time. The adults became fixated on completing a National Parks puzzle … so much for J’s thinking this could be an all-winter-long project!

Last, but not least, the eating!!! Developing the menu was a bit of a challenge given J’s dietary restrictions these days. I believe Thanksgiving may be the hardest holiday food-wise for patients with Crohn’s. There is so much gluten and dairy in every dish!!! So I was torn in creating a menu that would allow him to eat and a menu that would please everyone else. It definitely was a team effort since I am still new to the whole gluten- and dairy-free cooking, often times an experiment and hard to test on big groups who love their dairy and gluten … I for sure stressed and sweated over it more than he did because he’s such a trooper when it comes to this stuff!!! In the end, J was able to eat 6/13 things on the table, so we both consider that a win. 

If we continue to stay at Fenton Ranch, we hope to host many more gatherings here. It is really a magical place!!!

7 responses to “Thanksgiving at Fenton Ranch”

  1. Janice says:

    Looks like everyone had fun! I can’t wait to visit you out there! I will be preparing a menu soon for your visit to the east coast and it will be sure to include gluten and dairy free foods! I would like to try some for myself to see how it affects my stomach-related issues!

  2. Jamie says:

    It looks like everyone had a great time! I love all the photos! My favorites are taking mom to the hot springs, J&P posing with E&O, the fish hatchery with justin and E’s priceless expressions, the completion of the puzzle photo and that big smile O gave in front of the fire truck. Happy thanksgiving!

  3. Misti says:

    What a lot of fun! That looks like a great Thanksgiving! 🙂 I think J and Chris should play Risk sometime. J looks like he could give Chris a run for his money on a board game. Chris is a ruthless gamer like that!

    • plavigne says:

      Um, yes please! J needs the competition!! I would also call him a ruthless gamer. He always claims, “it’s so easy!!!”

  4. Mary says:

    I was thinking you lived way far from anyone but looks like you have neighbors! With such a tiny house where did everyone stay?

    • plavigne says:

      Fenton Ranch is SO hard to describe until people see it in person. There are about 25-30 houses within a 5-mile radius, but most are summer homes. The Fish Hatchery & the State Park are operated year-round, so it does feel like we have real neighbors. And yes, our cabin is tiny, but there is a main house and it’s HUGE. That’s where we teach the kids and they sleep during the school programs.

  5. Mom/MIL says:

    A Thanksgiving to remember, thanks to all of Patrice’s exemplary planning. Fenton Ranch is a little slice of heaven!

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