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August 19, 1990|JERRY HULSE

Driving to Telluride, Colo., the other day, I stopped to visit Pat and Scott MacTiernan, the mother-son team who operate San Juan Guest Ranch in Ridgway, Colo. Turning into the driveway was like coming home after a long absence.

The ranch resembles nothing so much as a Grandma Moses painting come to life: red farmhouse, stables and a pond, with meadows that unfold to infinity in this peaceful Rocky Mountain valley with its deer and elk. This is the 10th season for the MacTiernans, and although accommodations have been booked months in advance, openings remain for September when Aspen leaves will be turning. Later, photographers and hunters will sign in, and during the holidays, guests will join the MacTiernans for an old-fashioned Christmas featuring cross-country skiing, sleigh rides and ice skating. (On Christmas Eve, ol' Whiskers will arrive in a one-horse open sleigh with gifts for each guest.)

Here are the statistics: Three days to a week costs $350/$700, including accommodations, meals, riding. The same price scale will be in effect at Christmas, with an emphasis on sleigh rides, ice skating and downhill skiing at Telluride. Two workshops (for photographers of varying talents) are scheduled for the weeks of Sept. 16-22, Sept. 23-29. (Field trips will be led by nationally known photographer Chuck Dresner to Telluride and Silverton, followed by critiques each evening.) Hunting season (deer and elk) is scheduled from mid-October to mid-November.

Telephone the MacTiernans at (800) 331-3015 or write c/o the San Juan Guest Ranch, 2882 Highway 23, Ridgway, Colo. 81423.

Ski Ranch in the Rockies: As the season nears its end at the MacTiernan Ranch, Cindy Farny will be gearing up to welcome skiers at her family's Skyline Guest Ranch near Telluride. Rooms in the lodge and the ranch's six cabins are winterized. (Private baths, sheepskin mattress pads, down comforters.) Farny prepares what a major ski magazine described as "Colorado's finest meals." For dinner, she serves ethnic specialties along with buffalo, elk and venison. An apres- ski table features hot hors d'oeuvres, imported cheeses, cookies, hot mulled wine, hot cider, juices, beer.

The ranch operates a shuttle to Telluride's ski slopes, and there's cross-country skiing out the front door of the lodge. Skyline Ranch takes in 160 acres, with a huge pond for ice skating and groomed trails for the cross-country skier.

The statistics: Ski season at Skyline is Dec. 17 to April 6, with accommodations for 35 guests in the lodge/cabins. Rates are $50 per guest per night, including breakfast. Dinners are extra.

Contact Cindy Farny, Skyline Guest Ranch, Box 67, Telluride, Colo. 81435, (303) 728-3757.

Hong Kong Nonstop: Good response is reported for the first nonstop flights by Cathay Pacific Airlines between LAX and Hong Kong. (Makes this the longest commercial hop in the world, longer even than LAX-Sydney, Australia.) This is the airline that was founded by Roy Farrell, an American who flew The Hump in DC3s during World War II (Calcutta-Burma-Chungking). After the war, Farrell picked up a couple of surplus DC3s and Cathay Pacific was in business with flights to Australia, Bangkok, Macau, Manila, Rangoon, Singapore. With newer equipment, other far-flung destinations were added, including Europe. And now it's LAX-Hong Kong. Flights leave LAX Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Sunday at 2 p.m. Cathay Pacific boasts that it serves the finest meals of any airline on the Orient run. We'll be waiting to hear from our readers.

See your travel agent or call Cathay Pacific at (800) 233-2742.

A French Village: Carole Decker of Camarillo wants the name of the town outside Paris where the artist Jean Francois Millet established an art colony. Millet took up residence in Barbizon during the French Revolution. The village is 35 miles southeast of Paris, near the forest of Fontainebleau. The cottage where Millet died in 1875 is now a museum, with Millet's paintings still on display.

Barbizon attracts big crowds. Parisians in particular enjoy its inns, shops, restaurants. Others come to picnic in the forest. Barbizon's most celebrated inn is the Bas Breau. Rooms previously occupied by artists shelter the traveler. The restaurant at the Bas Breau alone is worth the trip from Paris. Guests dine on quail eggs, veal, lamb, Charolais beef. In the fall, the menu lists venison, wild boar, woodcock, pheasant, partridge, snipe. (Dwight Eisenhower was a regular patron during his days at SHAPE headquarters in Fontaineblueau.)

From Barbizon, guests motor to the palace of Fontainebleau (a one-time shelter for the kings of France). It was here that Napoleon signed his decree of abdication in 1814. Both Barbizon and the forest of Fontainebleau make for a pleasant outing from Paris. Try to arrive on weekdays. Weekends are crowded, especially during summer.

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