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ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY: The Prairie Schooner Cruise

© Another Day in the Country

A year or so ago we had cousins visiting in Ramona. Of course, when company arrives we pull out all the stops to entertain them. The recipe books are open. Meals are planned in advance. Activities are planned that we think they’d enjoy. It’s not like we have a lot of company in the country, so we want this to be a memorable experience for us all!

Our cousins had heard us tell stories of the cruises we’d gone on with a friend of ours. I think that the part that struck them most vividly was our stories about the wonderful food that was served in the dining room AND the 24-hour pizza bar AND the all-night ice cream stand.

“Well, coming to see you is our version of going on a cruise,” said Vicki, laughing.

She was right. This 5- or 10-day stay with friends coming to experience country life was like a cruise. Everything else was pretty much suspended in our lives while we enjoyed good company, wonderful meals, memorable events, and hours at the family table playing games. When our company would leave, we’d straighten up the house, refurbish the guest room, and get back to normal life.

This last time they came to visit, we had a name for their stay. “Welcome to Prairie Schooner Cruises,” we said. “Your room is ready and there’s an itinerary on the table, listing the gourmet meals and interesting events planned for your stay.” In this way, Prairie Schooner Cruises became a part of our family life in Ramona.

At Christmas, our friend Jill, from Oregon, called to say that she was coming our way and would love to spend a week with the Prairie Schooner Cruise Line. The Chef went into high gear and the Planning Committee made a list of things to do.

Since it was Christmas, our Video Department had a movie available for viewing every night. We’d learned a lesson when we went on the Princess Cruise to Alaska this summer: Don’t show movies outdoors when it is cold! Even under two layers of blankets we couldn’t brave the on-deck movies, no matter how tempting the titles.

Movies on Prairie Schooner Cruises this holiday season included “Mixed Nuts,” “A Greater Tuna Christmas,” and “The Family Stone.” There was one for every evening’s entertainment. Live shows were cancelled for the holidays due to shortness of staff.

Prairie Schooner Lines also offers educational and cultural opportunities. Our guests can sometimes experience Small Town Christmas Celebrations, trips to Salina to view the Christmas lights and the thrill of eating out. We let our guests join in culinary delights like making homemade noodles and then being able to eat those very noodles they’ve created in either soup or pasta — their choice.

Traditional cruise lines offer bingo, usually. Prairie Schooner staff is willing to teach a variety of games including “Hand and Foot,” “Jokers and Pegs” (a favorite), “Three Thirteen,” and “Mexican Train.” Playing games seems to be a favorite pastime with our guests.

We usually have a photo tour sometime during their stay, with excursions to the surrounding countryside and even adventures in the Flint Hills. If our guests are very adventurous (or staying longer than usual) we can take them to tourist destinations in Abilene like the Eisenhower Museum.

Our latest cruises were back-to-back guests — one flying out to Oregon on the same day we had guests arriving from California. “We have to allow a little more turn around,” the staff was heard to mumble. We were cleaning the rooms and washing sheets while our guests’ suitcases were waiting on the porch for loading into the car for the airport trip. (I’d forgotten to tell them they had to be out of their room by noon.) That was cutting it close!

With our latest guests on the cruise line, we’ve added in children’s activities.

“What are we doing tomorrow,” my grandson wants to know.

In fact, he’d like a list of all the activities that could possibly happen on a day in the country so that he can anticipate the fun.

“Can you include SNOW, Baba?” he wants to know.

Last modified Jan. 15, 2015

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