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In recent weeks, my thoughts have turned to neighbors. During our years in Anderson Valley, from the late 1950s to the late 1980s, the Newman family was — with perhaps one exception — blessed with good neighbors. Neighbors that helped in remarkable ways; from offering advice and loaning tools to pitching in on projects and watching our property — including feeding the horses and cattle — during those rare times we had to be elsewhere. As novices to country living, we needed good neighbors, were lucky to have them and were — we hope — good neighbors in return.

I believe their goodness as neighbors came both from the people they were and the environment of the neighborhood. Good people are people ready and willing to help others. Anderson Valley was much more isolated and received much more winter rain back then. Our property and a few nearby had no television and no car access for six months of the year. Life in general was harder and more physical. In a sense, we were like soldiers in a foxhole under siege; whatever our fates and futures, at that moment in that place we faced common challenges, and we did our utmost to help each other.

To the east of El Rancho Navarro, my parent’s summer camp, Archie and Alice MacDougall owned Tumbling McD Ranch, which provided guests with a classic dude ranch experience. We would sometimes see one or both of them on horseback, leading their guests on trail rides. They knew horses and we didn’t (at least not at first), so their advice proved invaluable. The common property line ran primarily along the creek, but in a couple of locations it meandered; a survey showed we owned several acres on their side of the creek, including the Tumbling McD’s pump house, and they owned perhaps an half-acre on our side, including a portion of our barbecue and picnic area. Eventually an agreement was worked out so that both acquired the land on their own side of the creek.

Don Van Zandt was the neighbor whose property we passed on the way to our own. Nearly 70-years-old when we first arrived in the valley, he was one of those people with seemingly limitless talents and strengths. He could engineer, build and fix almost anything: two of his most impressive creations were the suspension footbridge (long since replaced by a permanent car bridge) we used for winter access and a sawmill powered by an ancient tractor. He used to wear logging boots that laced to just below his knees and for many years — until he fell off a roof and broke his hip in the early 1970s — had the energy of a much younger man. At age 80 he hiked from Ukiah to Philo, though he ran out of daylight and had to overnight in the open.

Born and raised in the valley (his parents built and ran Hazel Hill, one of the region’s first resorts, which much later became Tumbling McD), he and his wife Alta owned Van Zandt’s Redwood View Resort. One of my regrets is that I did not spend more time visiting with Don, because his stories — though reluctantly told — were fascinating. He once talked about the 1906 earthquake and watching redwood trees whipping back and forth so violently their crowns nearly touched the ground. Van Zandt’s Redwood View Resort is now operated by Don’s son Ben, and Ben’s children and grandchildren.

Across from us and a bit downriver, Avon Ray owned and ran Ray’s Resort, which later — under successive owners — became Wellspring and more recently River’s Bend Retreat Center. I remember little about Avon as he passed soon after we arrived in the valley, except his second wife was Lenore Falleri of the original Anderson Valley Market (then owned by Galletti and Falleri), which was located in Philo where Starr Automotive is now.

Johnny Peterson had a piece of property tucked behind our own to the south. The land was virtually clear-cut in the early 1950s and was slowly recovering. Johnny owned and ran Peterson’s Apple Stand southeast of Philo, where we regularly bought gallon bottles of frozen apple juice. He had a real knack for blending apples varieties for his apple juice, and it was so popular he frequently ran out. I remember he and his wife Mildred joining us at the Navarro River one spring day in the early 1960s, he to help with bridge maintenance, she to go fishing. At some point during the day, he commented that the last bridge he had worked on was the Bay Bridge! Johnny eventually sold his apple orchard: replanted to vineyards, the land first became Obester Winery and later Goldeneye Winery.

Located up the hill from El Rancho Navarro, Highland Ranch was owned by Frank and Goldie Ward when we arrived in 1957. Back then, it was primarily devoted to apples. Goldie also gave piano lessons. Around 1960, Frank and Goldie — getting up in years — sold Highland Ranch and moved into town to be close to their daughter, Charmian Blattner, and her family. I went to Frank Ward’s 95th birthday in 1976, during which he recalled as a child hearing Cornelius Prather — the founder of Philo — complain about the cost of the house he had built for his family (which more recently was the Pottery Barn Inn) in the 1880s: $800! Frank died less than a year later and Goldie, though a decade younger, passed soon after.

The new owners of Highland Ranch were Guy Lawlor and Bill Worth, who turned the property into a resort. Guy and Bill invited us up the hill every year to harvest apples from their old orchard, which my mother turned into applesauce. They also showed us how to make ice cream: one lesson was all it took for us to buy a hand-crank ice cream maker and start making our own. Almost every Christmas during our years in the valley, we six Newmans crowded into a pickup truck and drove up the hill, usually in pouring rain, for the spectacular Christmas dinner Guy — an inspired chef — created. Oh, what feasts they were! Guy and Bill sold Highland Ranch in the early 1980s and moved to Mexico, where they opened a bed and breakfast inn in Talpa de Allende, near Puerto Vallarta.

In 2006, on one of my periodic trips to the valley, I had lunch with Charmian Blattner — whose column appeared in the Anderson Valley Advertiser for many years — at Libby’s Restaurant in Philo. Charmian was one of my mother’s best friends when we lived in the valley; the two of them often lunched together at Charmian’s store, the Style Shop, just across the parking lot from the original Anderson Valley Market in Philo. During our lunch, Charmian and I reminisced about valley people and valley events, and each of those reminiscences seemed to end with her saying, “He’s gone” or “She’s gone.” Near the end of lunch she commented, “They’re all gone,” and sadly she was mostly right. Soon after, Charmian herself descended into senility and passed away. The truth is places change, material things wear out and people die, but memories — properly cherished — last. ¥¥



  1. Kathleen Finn Ruddell December 18, 2015

    Tonight while sitting in front of the computer, I began to think about my time spent at Highland Ranch. I was urged to google everything I could about HR in the late 1960’s and early ’70’s.

    I am inspired to write after reading Marshall Newman’s article from 2013.

    It’s been about 45 years since the last time I was there, but in my mind, I’m still riding Cha Cha, picking apples, riding in Bill’s truck to feed the horses, jumping in the pond, and waiting impatiently for every meal I knew Guy was preparing. I can still taste and smell his chocolate chip pancakes!

    My parents, my brother and I went every summer for 2 to 3 weeks for about 10 consecutive years. We would travel from Los Angeles. Upon arrival, all the guests would gather in the main house. We talked, laughed, played games, and ate our meals communally. We always stayed in the same cabin, and I even had my first kiss there from Cliff, one of the wranglers! When it was time to leave, even though our hearts were full, I would cry so hard.

    Thank you Mr. Newman for an emotionally evocative piece about HR and life in Philo in the 1950’s – 1980’s, and the tremendous value of neighbors caring for and about one another.

    I will always cherish my memories of summers spent at Highland Ranch with Bill and Guy. Pass the kleenex

    Kathleen Finn Ruddell
    December 18, 2015

  2. Joni Winkler-Johnson October 15, 2016

    I know this is 3 years after this article was published, but I just came across it. My grandparents, Dick and Daphne Winkler, Double D Ranch, and Indian Springs Campground, in Philo for 40ish years. My family spent 2 weeks every summer camping at our own family campsite, the Wikiup. I have so many great memories wonderful times in Philo. Grammie and Grandpa had some many wonderful friends, and Grandpa was I think the head of the Boonville fair for years. My Grandparents passed years ago, but the childhood memories are still so vibrant!

  3. Meredith June 9, 2018

    I remember the private campground well. My mother and father camped at the Winkler‘s campground. I remember each campus site had a old fashion stove. I was just a kid but I do remember a camp out with the Tumbling McD Horse camp I spent many summers ❤️

  4. Virginia molinari June 27, 2019

    The molinari family spent every summer for 2 weeks at Archie and Alice McDougal Tumbling McD ranch in Philo since 1957 to 1975. These were the best years of my life and heaven on earth. We all stayed at the ranch until they opened a camp for kids down the road in th 60’s and my brother and I went there and my parents stayed at the ranch

  5. Sydney Bianchi November 20, 2020

    My sister and I went to the Tumbling McD camp 1962 and 1963. We were the Green girls from LA. We loved that place so much…Jim and Bernice Clow where our beloved camp parents (?)
    My sister got chicken pox there, isolated in the “sick” cabin and I remember sitting on the steps waiting for her to get better.
    I also remember one of the wranglers, last name Madigan. crush time.
    I remember Archie’s round smiling face.

    Just found a letter from my father that he sent to me while I was there…memories came flooding back. Thank God for Google…found this site.

    Thank you.

  6. Catherine (aka Nancy) McDougald March 27, 2021

    I am gathering stories about my Uncle Arch and Auntie Al McDougald’s Tumbling McD Ranch in Philo, California.

    • Katie Glynn-Walko April 21, 2021


      I have wonderful memories of the Tumbling McD horseback riding camp. I was there for two summers, I believe 1977 and 1978, for a two-week stay each year. I think I was 14 and 15 when I attended, just a girl from San Jose. The second year I passed up a chance to visit family back east because I wanted to go to “horse camp” again. I had found the camp advertised in the classifieds of my mother’s Sunset magazine, and to my surprise my parents allowed me to go.

      The program was built around horseback riding, and everyone looked forward to the long morning ride. The fog would burn off shortly after breakfast, just as we were getting ready to start out riding. Each camper was responsible for grooming and saddling their own horse. I had a golden Palomino named Selena my first year, and a bay gelding, Shorty, in my second year. They were both sweet, compliant, beautiful animals and very patient with me in my beginner status. The trails were beautifully unspoiled. There were lots of kids there with more experience on horseback than I had, but it didn’t matter. Each year I went home with more self-confidence, having realized that I did, in fact, have an athletic side. It just took a horse to bring it out.

      Swimming was another great daily activity. In the afternoons we walked a long trail from the cabins to the pool and what I realize now must have been Mr. and Mrs. McDougald’s house. I really looked forward to swimming; it was something else I was not terrible at.

      I don’t recall speaking personally with your aunt and uncle, but we saw them from time to time, and I could tell the staff and the campers alike held them in high regard.

      I could go on and on, but I’ll just end with this: As an adult, Tumbling McD is one of my “happy places.” Now if I can’t sleep, I go back in my mind to nighttime in a long, screened-in cabin, where I occupied a top bunk and would turn on my side to gaze out at a bazillion stars and the tops of graceful pines, the chorus of bullfrogs and crickets lulling me to sleep and the promise of another day’s adventure.

    • Nick Dargahi November 19, 2023

      I attended Tumbling McD as a camper from 1972 to 1976, and would stay the entire 6 weeks (eg 3 two week sessions back to back). I remember the head counselors Karen and Kevin, and some of the others (Danny?). Kevin saved a kid once, it happened in a flash of a second that a horse decided to roll with the kid in the saddle, and within a fraction of a second he was kicking that horse, and biting his ear to get him back on his feet. Fortunately, the kid was not hurt, but I remember being amazed that Kevin was so observant and protective over his little charges, and sprung into action from his horse nearby like a super hero. He saved that kid’s life that day.

      I had a horse named Blue, who was given to me solely because I developed good ridership skills, and she was spooky and had a tendency to scare kids who were assigned to her. I loved Blue, and always asked for her, because she and I had a rapport. Whenever her ears went back, I knew she was signaling that she was about to do something, like back into a branch or tree, or dart sideways, or worse, kick the horse behind. She couldn’t help being bad from time to time, but she never intentionally hurt me, it was always because of something that scared her or made her skittish. She grew to like me, and we got along great each summer.

      Loved the overnight ride to the river campground, where we had the most delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs and fried potatoes ever!

      I remember Archie inviting us to swim at the pool in the afternoons, he was by then quite old, but had a tall TV antenna installed, I don’t think he had great reception, it was hit or miss, and it seemed like he was disappointed when some of his favorite shows were washed out in static. He also would come up to attend the campfire singalongs from time to time, and for the weekly square dances, and of course the end of session horse shows. I think he loved seeing all the young kids enjoying themselves, like a grandpa would his own grandkids. It was like family there, and we were treated as such.

      One of the highlights of the session would be an overnighter to a dark & lonely campground way up the mountain where Kevin would recount his story about Big Foot. One of the counselors would hide in the woods, and then make a sudden appearance as Big Foot, to scare all the campers. It got to be a yearly tradition, so nobody was really fooled, but it was fun!

      I didn’t’ know it then, but there was a music camp that I also was to attend in later years at El Ranch Navarro, across the river from Tumbling McD. The Berkeley Youth Orchestra had rented out the place for a retreat, and I remember as a cello participant who was playing Kol Nidre by Max Bruch, that I was right next door to my old summer camp!

      I wonder if the old picnic tables are still there at Tumbling McDee where we all carved our names into the wood? That would be a blast from the past to remember all the campers who attended over the years!

  7. Meredith (Weiss) Chu March 27, 2021

    Oh my goodness I loved tumbling McD !! I was a camper there till I aged out at 14. So many great memories. I remember Kathy Love and her brother were both counselors. Swimming in the river and the overnight campout at Hendy Woods and the little private campground . Archie always had one outdoor breakfast and cooked eggs for all the campers. The horse show at the end of the session was always fun. I learned a lot about how to care for and saddle , bridal a horse. Does anybody remember moose? A gentle giant that stepped on my foot once . The absolute best summer camp experience any kid could have !!

  8. Carol Kurtz September 9, 2021

    Well here it is years later after this publication and I was reminiscing about my years spent at the Tumbling McD horse camp and found this post. I think I attended at least three years in the late 60’s and early 70’s. It is one of my favorite childhood summer memories. I was a horse crazy kid ( still am) and while my parents would not get me a horse they did allow the two weeks every year at camp. It was truly a dream come true. Great memories. I think I was assigned Moose my first year, followed by Moonlight and than the big red roan/appy whose name escapes me. I was suppose to be a counselor after I graduated high school but ended up sticking around home that summer, should have taken the counselor summer job!

    • Katie Glynn-Walko June 18, 2022

      Carol, my experience was a few years after yours but I remember a horse who looked as you described. His name was Arapaho Joe. Or it could be another horse entirely. I just always loved that name.

  9. Tracey Bobo (Meldrum) June 18, 2022

    My sister Bonnie and I agree to this day that our best vacations were spent at the Tumbling McD Ranch during the 60s. I believe we spent 4-5 summers there – always staying in the Redwood Vista cabin. Archie and Alice were adorable. The three squares a day were fantastic. The horseback riding was so much fun – especially the days we did the river ride. The nights we heard the “bottle man” speak, playing round robin and square dancing were a hoot. I remember Kathy and Jock Love well – one evening at a bbq they played the bagpipe and drum. Best of times for sure. :-)

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