The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Hidden Valley a hidden gem

The residents of the Hidden Valley Ranch. Left to right: Stephen Gruber-Miller ’15, Emily Hackman ’16, Michael Riegsecker ’15, Becca Heller ’16, Max Mindock ’15 and Parker Van Nostrand ’15. Photo by Jun Taek Lee
The residents of the Hidden Valley Ranch. Left to right: Stephen Gruber-Miller ’15, Emily Hackman ’16, Michael Riegsecker ’15, Becca Heller ’16, Max Mindock ’15 and Parker Van Nostrand ’15. Photo by Jun Taek Lee

Even as the year draws to a close, the motley crew at 1007 East St. maintains beautiful, peaceful vibes. It is an inspiration to all who have shared a room, an apartment or even a dorm floor. Their spirit of camaraderie is a lesson in acceptance.

“I like that they all tolerate me,” said Becca Heller ’16.

Vital to the sustained love at 1007 is weekly game night. Every Sunday night, they pick a game such as Cranium, Dutch Blitz, Ticket to Ride or Settlers of Catan, and invite over their now well-established game night crew.  Occasional guest stars make appearances, and the group plays board games while drinking, either at leisure or with instated rules.

In the past, 1007 East has been known as The Womb or Beast Infection, but with a new reign comes a new name: The Ranch, or Hidden Valley Ranch. The meaning behind it?

“There’s none,” said Stephen Gruber-Miller ’15.

“It’s just kind of disgusting,” Michael Riegsecker ’15 explained further.

“We had a very hungover meeting at the beginning of the year. It’s random, a lot like our house is,” Heller qualified. “Hungover is kind of a theme. Well, no, it’s not.”

“Well, it’s not, not a theme,” Gruber-Miller confessed.

If The Ranch is not skilled in moderation, it is at least committed to sustainability. The housemates save all cans and bottles and return them at the recycling center to help the environment and help to keep up their expensive habits.

“We consistently get $12 every month or so,” estimated Parker Van Nostrand ’15.

“And then we do communal 30 racks!” Heller said.

These 30 racks are then enjoyed at Thursday drinking game nights, another favorite house activity which, according to Van Nostrand, could become another weekly tradition. Not all of the housemates are up to the challenge, though.

“I can’t do that, you guys!” Riegsecker said in reaction.

“Except you’ve been there the last two weeks,” Van Nostrand retorted.

“Yeah, but it’s fucked me over and I’ve missed my Friday class,” Riegsecker replied.

Although the constant get-togethers are a bit overwhelming for some, Gruber-Miller cites the house’s frequent festivities and his housemates’ support as the best part of living on The Ranch.

“My favorite part is having this really cool space to be, and to not be on campus. … I can go home and pretty much every night there will be people hanging out here and I can join in,” Gruber-Miller said. “Except for yesterday, I’ve been drunk every day since last Wednesday.”

“I think we’re all very easily influenced by one another,” Van Nostrand explained. “That’s what I love about this house: no judgments.”

“We enable each other,” Riegsecker furthered.

The Hidden Valley Ranch also boasts a number of structural wonders. It has spacious and well-decorated rooms and an unexpected number of couches. Each bedroom is painted a different color, and one outside house wall is purple with large polka dots.

“One of the most clutch things about this house is that we have a side porch,” Riegsecker said.

They also have a costume closet filled with costumes collected and donated over many years by residents of the house.

“Oh my god, that’s the best part of the house!” Heller exclaimed.

“I’m gonna leave some costumes here that I’ll never wear after Grinnell,” Riegsecker said. “Because why would I wear hand-me-down women’s golden shiny pants?”

Although he was not able to make the group interview and, according to his fellow housemates, participates the least in house festivities, Max Mindock ’15 pioneered the leasing effort. The housemates did not all know each other when the year began, but they have since become close and spent a lot of time together.

“We never hang out as a house, but we hang out in groups,” Riegsecker said.

“But never outside the house!” Van Nostrand clarified. “We don’t want to see each other too often.”

This isn’t usually a problem for the group. The residents keep busy through their involvement in various groups on campus.

“We have a very well-connected house,” Heller said.

Gruber-Miller is co-Editor-in-Chief of The Scarlet & Black, Heller is a manager of Lyle’s Pub, Emily Hackman ’16 is chair of the Student Publications and Radio Committee, Van Nostrand works closely with the Education Department and Riegsecker has been working on a series of experiments with rats as part of an almost year-long MAP. And Mindock?

“He eats lunch in his room. He wears a bathrobe,” Van Nostrand said.

“I think his bathrobe is the most distinct part of the whole house,” Heller stated.

There were jokes made about Mindock throughout the interview, but it was clear that he and his housemates all get along well and are very happy sharing the space with each other.

“We love Max, though,” Van Nostrand said.

Hackman seemed to sum up a shared sentiment that, at least for this year, all residents feel at home on the Ranch.

“I really like having people I’m close to, to come home to at the end of the day. It’s, like, really home. I say I’m going home and I mean this house,” Hackman said.

“First through third year, I would say I’m going back to my dorm and now I say I’m going home, because it really is home,” Van Nostrand agreed.

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