(To my online readers: This is not a typical blog or column. It’s a first-person account by Falcons owner Arthur Blank about his family guest ranch in Montana, where he escapes to every summer. It sounds like a very cool place. The AJC has done similar stories in the past with other Atlanta sports figures and asked me to do this one. The story is running in Sunday’s AJC, but I figured I would post it here, just in case you wanted to comment on it. FYI, I’ll also be off until Monday — thus, no panic posts on things falling apart in Flowery Branch. Thanks.)
Falcons owner Arthur Blank can travel any place in the world for his vacation. But where does he escape to every summer? Montana. The Mountain Sky Guest Ranch in Paradise Valley opened in 1929. Blank and his family first visited there in the summer of 1999. He loved it so much that in the fall of 2001 he bought the place. (Must be nice to have those options.) Blank spends five to six weeks there every year – without TV, radio, cell phones or a Blackberry. But he does cheat a little. He recently built a private cabin for his family and hooked up a satellite dish so he can check email. And yes, he has three land lines (one for a fax machine). Blank spoke to AJC sports columnist Jeff Schultz about the ranch.
When I was younger, I did a lot of horseback riding. I rode at several camps in upstate New York. I used to teach hunter jumping when I was a teenager. Stephanie used to ride, too, but probably not as much as me. I think we both wanted a place where we could get away from the East Coat and get into the mountains, a place that was unique.
We have slightly under 9,000 acres. It backs up to the Gallatin National Forest, which is 1.4 million acres. It’s beautiful country. The weather is great. Days are long. Sometimes there’s light until 10 o’clock at night.
We have a place on the beach in Hilton Head and we love that. But this is very remote. At Hilton Head we have all the distractions you can have at home. At the ranch, it’s almost like living in a cocoon. It’s very much a nurturing kind of atmosphere. Part of the tone is there’s no TVs, no radios, no newspapers. People come there and spend a lot more time talking to each other, communicating with their families and their friends. People just get away from all of the noise that’s in their life.
It does very much the same thing for me. I spend more time with the family. I read more. I have more time to reflect. I don’t wear a watch. When I do work, at most it’s a couple of hours a day. Steven Spielberg came for a week three or four years in a row and he said he would make only two phone calls, one on Tuesday and one on Thursday.
I’ll try to stay in touch by email and call the office usually once a day. But I only do that because I’ll go for a month. What I can’t understand is why when I leave and come back, the Braves are in the same position. Why don’t things change — they’re still 5 ½ games out.
It’s just amazing quite honestly how much doesn’t change in the world, nothing of substance. The stuff that happens that you don’t know about really aren’t things you want to hear about or know about any way. You just get all of that out of your life.