Vista Verde Ranch http://www.vistaverde.com Luxury Resort Ranch in Steamboat Springs, Colorado Wed, 22 Mar 2017 22:41:01 +0000 en hourly 1 Dude Ranch Life: The season ends and an era ends http://www.vistaverde.com/ranch-blog/2017/03/dude-ranch-life-the-season-ends-and-an-era-ends/ Wed, 22 Mar 2017 22:41:01 +0000 http://www.vistaverde.com/?p=25607 This week marks the end of the reign of the Kings. Literally–Steve and Kelli King are moving on from the ranch after almost two decades of leading the Adventure Center at the ranch. Steve joined us back in 1999 as a ski guide, fresh into town and looking to start a new life with his wife Kelli and their infant daughter Madi. Over the years, Steve became the guardian of the ski program in the winter and the biking and hiking programs in the summer. What started out as a job sharing role between Steve and Kelli, so one of them could stay home with baby Madi, turned into both of them working at the ranch full-time. In Madi’s younger years, Kelli ran the kids program with Madi tagging along all summer long, and then guiding when there were not kids at the ranch. Once Madi hit her teen years, Kelli moved out of the kids program and into the guide world full-time. Steve and Kelli have been the momentum behind growing the mountain bike program to what it is today, bringing yoga to the ranch, adding paddle boarding and fat biking, and much more. Their emotional investment in the ranch has been their biggest contribution–from pouring into the guests to contributing to the big picture ideas, advocating for never letting go of the quest for excellence, and preaching the gospel of safety, self-care, work-life balance, and healthy living.

With Madi graduating from high school last year, and moving on in her life, the door opened for Steve and Kelli to move onto their next adventure. Vista Verde was never the destination, but rather a stop on an life long adventure. They are selling their house (anyone want a sweet vacation home in North Routt?), packing up their things, and heading out on the road for a while. None of us know for sure where exactly they will land, but they have their sights on some pretty great options after first taking the time to explore, spend time with family, and visit friends.

But who steps into those big boots? We have a whole team lined up and ready to go. Beka has been waiting to move into this role for a while now, and her time has arrived. She’s about the most fit person I know–come on, anyone who gets up and runs to Steamboat just for fun before work (that’s a marathon, you realize) has the stamina to keep our guests going day after day. Beka is a backcountry and fitness addict, and is so excited to be taking over for Steve and Kelli to head up the Adventure Center. And right in there supporting and teaming up with Beka will be Ben Simms, Isaac Ness and Nate Margason. Bikers, fishermen, skiers, avid outdoors men–these guys all know this area like the back of their hands, have extensive training and experience playing in the outdoors as well as serious emergency and safety training. The team is lined up and ready. What about yoga? Devyn, who currently teaches Pilates at the ranch, is ready to jump into the role of leading Wild Yoga and looks forward to introducing folks to yoga as well as practicing with those who are yogis already. In fact, much to my envy, Devyn is heading to Hawaii this off-season for some additional teacher training to prime the pump with new ideas and flows. And, our gift shops will still be stocked with great items in Kelli’s absence due to the hard work of Laura (she owns the place, if you haven’t met her yet) and Melissa (she adds inches to your waistline with pastries but has also embraced our retail operation in anticipation of Kelli’s departure). So, not to worry, although the Kings leave big boots to fill, we have a lot of people with big feet ready to step into them!

When you work with people for as long as many of us have worked with Steve and Kelli, you become like family. You love each other, drive each other nuts, know each other’s quirks and pet peeves, and share in life’s wins and losses. So, their departure is bittersweet. We all thank them for their years of service and dedication to the ranch, the mission, and our guests. We know their presence will be missed at the ranch, but we are also so excited for their upcoming journey. Please help us send off the Kings with fanfare worthy of, well, kings! If you would like us to share a note of thanks or bon voyage with them, please send it to us and we’ll pass it along.

As we never say goodbye here, we just assume we’ll see each other down the trail. Here’s to many happy trails for Steve, Kelli, and Madi!

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Dude Ranch Life: Hunting for Easter Eggs http://www.vistaverde.com/ranch-blog/2017/03/dude-ranch-life-hunting-for-easter-eggs/ Wed, 15 Mar 2017 22:07:36 +0000 http://www.vistaverde.com/?p=25601 Just after the official closing day of our winter guest ranch season, we mark the coming of Spring with the annual Easter Egg Hunt Fundraiser at Vista Verde.

Local vendors have donated all the ingredients for a huge pancake breakfast that the ranch chefs prepare for upwards of 300 locals coming to support the North Routt Pre-School. Following a big breakfast, the kiddos will head outside to hunt for Easter Eggs, and, rumor has it, a helicopter might be flying in to add to the excitement.

It’s a fun day of camaraderie among the local community coming up to dine together, let the kids romp, ski and snowshoe all over the ranch, and just enjoy the beautiful setting while we raise money for the school. We hope you will come join us this year! Here are the details:

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Breakfast- 9am to noon

Egg Hunt- 11am

Skiing and Snowshoeing all day on the ranch trails

Snowman building contest, raffle, and more!

Cost- $10/adult, $5/child or $35/family – no advance tickets, pay as you arrive

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The Spotlight is on Ben and Addie Simms http://www.vistaverde.com/ranch-blog/2017/03/the-spotlight-is-on-ben-and-addie-simms/ Tue, 14 Mar 2017 21:40:34 +0000 http://www.vistaverde.com/?p=25591 Guest blogger: Maggie Aceto

Last August, Vista Verde got a wonderful addition to our adventure guide crew – Ben Simms, a Georgia native who moved here with his wife Addie and his dog Chief. Addie is a special education teacher at the North Routt Community Charter School and has teamed up with Mandy Anzalone to run the kids program when she isn’t teaching. Ben spends his days bringing Vista Verde guests out to hike or mountain bike our beautiful trails in the summer months and snowshoe or ski through the fluffy snow in the winter. Their passion for the outdoors and service to others is one of the many reasons why we’ve loved the addition of the Simms family to the ranch. Earlier this month, I sat down with them for an interview and got to know a little more about their story:

  1. Ben, what was your childhood like?

I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia in a very outdoorsy family with three older sisters. Me and my dad would do something outside like camping or fishing at least once a month in the areas around North and South Carolina.

  1. What brought you to move to Colorado?

When I was in college at the University of Georgia, I spent a summer as a mountain biking and hiking guide at Estes Park. After I graduated, I came out to Colorado for one more summer after college and never went back. I got a job with landscaping for the National Park Service, then moved to Boulder and did some work there, which is where I met Addie.

  1. How did you finally make the transition from landscape architecture to guiding?

Addie won a photography contest and a weekend trip to a ranch (not Vista Verde). While skiing at the ranch, we met Steve and Kellie (who were also there just for the weekend), and within ten minutes had shared our life goals and dreams. I saw two people who were living the life I’d dreamed of, guiding in the mountains, and they were still happy doing it all these years later. That night, Addie and I sat down and she asked me “If you could do anything in the world, what would it be?” and I knew the answer was to be a guide.

  1. What do you love most about being a guide?

The fact that I can do something meaningful with my passion for the outdoors. I think we’re all given passions for a reason, and I love seeing that appreciation for the outdoors blooming in other people when we’re out on trips. Vista Verde is such a special place where people can connect, get inspired and take that inspiration back home to their jobs and lives.

  1. Addie, I heard you’ve traveled a bit?

Yes! I studied abroad and spent a semester at sea.

At sea?

It was on a cruise ship, and we’d have classes on the ship. We visited 12 different countries and got to explore and experience all of the cultures. It was in Africa that I realized I wanted to be a teacher. I met this man and he was telling me about how, depending on what day of the week it was, that was how you would name your child. For instance, if your son was born on Saturday, you would name him Kwámè. I asked the man to write down all of the names, and he kind of hesitated before going over to his brother’s shop. When he came back, everything had been written down. I realized he didn’t know how to read or write. In that moment, it dawned on me how important it is to have an education. Giving someone an education is giving them a key to the world that will open so many different doors. So when I went back to the States, I went back to school and got my degree in education.

  1. So what do you both love about the Vista Verde and Clark area?

At Vista Verde, there’s amazing leadership. Clark is a unique part of the country that hasn’t lost the deep sense of community. Everyone wants to help everyone out, because we’re all friends and neighbors. Addie’s car slid in a ditch once, and a minute later someone had stopped to help her. Another person came along and towed her out, and she was back on the road within 5 or 10 minutes. You just can’t find that kind of genuine help in many places. Our time here has been an absolute blessing.

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SnowShoe Magazine – March 2017 http://www.vistaverde.com/ranch-blog/2017/03/snowshoe-magazine-march-2017/ Thu, 09 Mar 2017 17:05:47 +0000 http://www.vistaverde.com/?p=25588 Are you considering a snowshoeing vacation? Well, then this article is for you. Paul from Snowshoe Magazine visited this winter and shared his experience trying out a winter vacation at Vista Verde Ranch. Read the article….

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Dude Ranch Life: Surrounded by romance http://www.vistaverde.com/ranch-blog/2017/03/dude-ranch-life-surrounded-by-romance/ Thu, 09 Mar 2017 16:39:23 +0000 http://www.vistaverde.com/?p=25580 Valentine’s Day is long gone, but we still seem to be overflowing with romance here at the ranch. It’s pretty fun to be an “old” married lady as I can really appreciate the sweetness of all this love and tenderness happening on the ranch property. Here’s a little peek into the hearts, flowers, and chocolates that have been floating around in the air at the ranch.

Last month, while every single staff member tried to keep their mouth shut to the surprise (KP wasn’t very good at keeping it quiet ahead of time), Sam came up for a visit from her current home in Fort Collins to visit KP. In jeans, boots, and some arena dirt to add to the charm, KP asked Sam to marry him. Phew, now we could all stop trying to pretend we didn’t know a secret! They are planning a wedding in October and we are so excited for the two of them!

Mixed in here are plenty of honeymooners and anniversary celebrations, so there have been a lot of chocolate covered strawberries and bottles of champagne heading out of the kitchen this winter!

As we near the end of our winter season, we’ve had two wonderful events at the ranch. Quietly and discreetly, there have been some weddings happening in front of the fire in the Great Room. Last week Dinara and Davide said their “I do’s” just before hopping into the one horse sleigh for a ride on a gorgeous sunny afternoon. What a sweet couple, and what an honor to have them chose Vista Verde for their elopement trip. Then, just days ago Kalli and Mick tied the knot in a private ceremony. Mick is a photographer, so I got a kick out of watching him set up the scene and the lighting so the hired photographer could get the best shots. No pressure taking photos of a photographer’s wedding ceremony, right?

It truly is an honor to have people chose Vista Verde for their romantic getaways and elopements. We recognize how precious vacation time is, and how important it is for a couple to have a special place to celebrate their partnership. We love helping people start their lives together, celebrate their years together, and rekindle the romance in a beautiful setting without all the distractions of everyday life. Thanks to all of those who have made the ranch their special place to celebrate their love!

 

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Creating a better family vacation http://www.vistaverde.com/ranch-blog/2017/02/creating-a-better-family-vacation/ Tue, 21 Feb 2017 13:49:56 +0000 http://www.vistaverde.com/?p=25565 What makes a great family vacation? Well, in our mind it is when everyone in the family has fun and amazing memories are created together. At Vista Verde, we believe that part of the magic of the best family vacation is to have options for families to enjoy adventures together, but also to split up and pursue their own interests. With that in mind, we have always poured our energy into our kids programs. Over the years, the kids program turned into a kids program and a teen program. Now, starting in 2017 we will be adding a tween program.

We’ve recognized the desire of our guest kids for a little more personalized experience while they are at the ranch. Maybe you remember your middle school dance, where some of the young folks want to slow dance, others want to talk, and some want to go outside and play games. It is no different here at the ranch – kids all develop and grow in different ways and at different rates. Our newly added tween program will mean the kids, tweens, and teens will each have their own activities and adventures. The breakdown of the groups is based on a typical US school set up with the kids program geared for kids entering 1st-5th grades (6-10 years), the tweens will represent kids entering middle school grades (11-13 years), and the teen program will be for kids entering high school grades (14-18 years). Knowing that not all kids enter the same grade at the same age, we will adjust as needed each week based on the overall makeup of the kids here.

The kids and teen programs will stay mostly the same, as there are so many tried and true favorites, but with some new twists and turns just to spice things up. The tween program will take the best of both programs so we retain some childlike fun while still bringing in many of the cool adventures that the teens enjoy.

Also, we are excited to introduce Mandy Anzalone and Addie Simms as the new heads of the kids programs. Mandy worked at the ranch in the late-nineties as a wrangler, and is returning after spending the past 15 years in education and starting a family. She is excited to be back at the ranch and putting her background in education into play by helping oversee the kids programs. Addie is another educator who spends the school year working at the North Routt Charter School. Addie is an avid outdoorswoman which makes sense as she is married to one of our ace guides Ben S. These two are working diligently on updating the programs, fine tuning the details, and preparing for a wonderful summer season. We are excited about all they are bringing to the ranch with their professionalism, knowledge, and enthusiasm.

So grab your kids and pack your bags (ok, maybe just book your reservation) for an amazing family vacation at Vista Verde Ranch this summer.

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Equine Elementary School http://www.vistaverde.com/ranch-blog/2017/02/equine-elementary-school/ Tue, 21 Feb 2017 13:42:47 +0000 http://www.vistaverde.com/?p=25549 Every year we have a new “kindergarten” class come through the ranch. These kids are the young colts who were born and raised here who are ready to take the next step and start learning the ropes of being a riding horse. Here is a quick update on some of these little guys in the VVR Elementary School, and how they are doing. If you’ve been to the ranch in the past 5 or so years, you might remember some of these names from when they were cuddly little foals.

Typically with the colts during their 2-year-old year we start doing some work on the ground, put a saddle on them, and maybe sit on them just a bit. Then, when they are in their 3-year-old we year get to take it to the next level and ride them and get them to master the basics. A few trail rides for exposure that summer, but still just light riding while they are growing physically and emotionally. During their 4 year old year we hand them over to wranglers to start exposing them to more terrain and different riders and get them to gain confidence out in the big, bad world. Finally, by the time they are 5 we start handing them over to guests.

Chisolm-5- He’s gone through the training program, he’s been tested out on the trails, and is ready to start taking guests on rides!
Junior– 5- Part puppy dog and part horse, Junior is little and athletic. He’s graduated the training program and is ready for smaller guests to start riding him.
Malia– 4- This gorgeous filly has about 50 rides so far and she’s coming along nicely. As with most of the 4-year-olds, she will probably have a wrangler riding her on easy trail rides this summer so she can get used to the trails and get stronger before we ride her harder in the coming years.
Magnum– 4- He’s a late bloomer and still looks young. With just 10 rides so far we’re going to give him some time and wait for him to grow a bit more before he’s ridden harder. KP will ride him in clinics this summer given his immaturity and slower progress.
Stormy– 4- This great horse has more rides than we can count, so she’s ready to hit the trails and will be a wrangler horse this summer to gain more experience and build strength.
Rocketman– 4- This is one we are having a lot of fun with and have put a lot of rides on so far. He will get a chance being ridden by advanced guests this summer who don’t want to ride really hard.
CJ– 3- She’s willing and curious, and with about 30 rides CJ is progressing very well. KP is hoping to have her on trails a little here and there with a wrangler this summer.
Charm-3- A little slower to come along, this gal has had just 1 ride. It was a little chaotic, but she has a kind heart and KP will be riding her this summer in clinics to keep working with her
Sage– 3- She was started on the ground, and then an eye injury put her training on hold. She’s healing up, so we’re hoping to get to ride her this spring.
Sonja– 3- She’s big, beautiful, and a just a little bratty. With about 15 rides Sonja is coming along nicely despite being a tad stubborn at times. She’ll probably be on trails with a wrangler this summer.
Baretta– 3- With so many foals in the 2015 foal crop, it’s taking a while to get all of them started under saddle. Baretta is hanging out for now getting a little bigger, and KP is looking forward to getting started with this one soon.
Coming 2 year olds- Wesson, Scout, Remy, Red – KP got a saddle on Remy and Red and did a bunch of ground work with Wesson, but otherwise they are just hanging out and growing for another year before they get serious about learning. Consider that kindergarten with lots of snack breaks and recess.

 

 

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Chef’s Corner: Mushroom Risotto http://www.vistaverde.com/ranch-blog/2017/02/chefs-corner-mushroom-risotto/ Tue, 21 Feb 2017 13:38:31 +0000 http://www.vistaverde.com/?p=25555 Mushroom Risotto (makes 2 servings)

Ingredients:

4 ounces butter
½ yellow onion, minced
2 cups carnaroli rice
1 cup dry white wine
1 quart vegetable stock, simmering
½ pound mushrooms
2 ounces soy sauce
1 cup crème fraiche (or sour cream, or heavy cream)
4 ounces Parmesan cheese
Salt to taste

Method:

1. Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed pan on medium high heat. Add onions and sauté until the onions are translucent.
2. Add the rice and cook while stirring until a nutty smell develops. Deglaze the pan with white wine. Reduce the heat to low.
3. Cook the wine down until nearly dry while slowly stirring the rice.
4. Slowly add the vegetable stock ½ cup at a time, while stirring the rice, waiting each time for the stock to nearly evaporate.
5. Meanwhile, in a separate sauté pan, sauté the mushrooms on high heat to sear slightly. Deglaze with soy sauce and immediately remove from the heat.
6. Check the rice for tenderness, season with salt and parmesan cheese, and finish by folding in the mushrooms and crème fraiche just before serving.
7. Risotto should be a bit loose and flow on the plate.

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Winter Photography Tips http://www.vistaverde.com/ranch-blog/2017/02/winter-photography-tips/ Thu, 16 Feb 2017 14:41:07 +0000 http://www.vistaverde.com/?p=25546 Our ranch photographer Carla Jones offers a photography workshop each week to our guests. In the winter she gives our guests some really helpful tips about taking photos in the wintertime. For those of you who can’t get here for your own ranch vacation, here are Carla’s tips and tricks for you to use at home.

Also, if you are in Steamboat and want to work one-on-one with Carla, she does offer classes through the Steamboat Ski Resort.

Winter Photography Tips

KEEPING YOURSELF AND THE CAMERA WARM

Cold and frostbitten fingers may result from camera operation during severe winter weather. Avoid touching metal and exposure to wind with bare hands. Fisherman gloves with poly pro liners are great. Wear warm boots and a hat to keep you warm. Keep your camera and a spare battery near your body to keep them warm.

Do not let moisture into your camera body and avoid sudden radical changes of temperature. Keep lens and viewfinder free of ice fog and spray. Avoid breathing on camera, because the steam may condense on your lens and freeze will leave an icy coating. Use a protective filter like the Sky1A, which will also give the picture a bit of a warming cast.

EXPOSURE

Obtaining a proper exposure on snow scenes is often a tricky matter. Your light meter wants to make every scene a medium-gray tone and this can make the snow look gray. You want the snow to look white, not dull gray. Depending on how much of the scene is white, over-exposing will help in making the snow look white. Most cameras have a +/- button. This button is great for over-exposing. Check the histogram to make sure you haven’t gone too far over-exposing a created clipping. Remember, how much to over-expose depends on how much the scene is white with snow. Sunsets and alpenglow you will need to under exposure, going any where from – 1 to –2.

TIPS FOR GENERAL PHOTOGRAPHY

Seeing is most important. Don’t get bogged down with the technical side of the camera. Watch the weather and shoot on the edge of darkness (Morning or Dusk) The quality of light and seeing it is very important.

1. Side lighting will snap out shadows on sunny days and give a 3/D appearance. Enhance a winter scene by including a bit of color from a person’s clothing or a building. Red or yellow are great colors to use.
2. Back lighting of frosty trees and weeds brings out the sparkle of the snowflakes. Morning light is best before the sun melts the frost.
3. Diffused light—–Overcast snowy conditions can set a great mood. Softer light is great for photographing people. You won’t have harsh shadows on the persons face.
4. Magic light-The wow light. Late afternoon when a storm is clearing, the sun breaks through with dark sky behind your subject. Late afternoon can create a warmer tone to the pictures. It is also best for capturing the pink alpenglow on Mt Werner or the Zirkels.
Night scenes are special in the wintertime. Cabins with the lights on can be shot at dusk and where there is still a little light in the sky. Use a tripod to keep the camera steady.

PHOTOGRAPHY TELLS A STORY

When you find a scene you like take several shots. Work it with different angles (high and low), different lenses (wide angle and telephoto). Try different apertures F22 vs. F2.8 for depth of field or different sharpness. Look at where the light is hitting the subject. Adjust the White Balance if shooting indoors or outside. If a scene or subject catches your eye take the time to explore the composition. Be sensitive to the distracting foregrounds or backgrounds. Moving a foot one way or the other can make a difference. Keep it simple! The subject is very important. Make sure it is a good subject.

Composition
Rule of Thirds —–Divide the picture into thirds. Put subject in the intercepting lines
Leading Lines— fences-roads-streams and rivers
Patterns —-A color interrupts color patterns
Frames —-–window-trees

Landscapes (Long shots, medium, and close-ups) First shoot without the tripod to find the spot you like than set the camera on the tripod.
People (try to get a series of photos of someone doing something)
Special events (Ask what is going to happen, when and where. The more you know the better the chance you will get in a good position to get the best shots.)
Do research on area visiting. Look at online photos- get maps and study them.

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Taking the Kids – February 2017 http://www.vistaverde.com/ranch-blog/2017/02/taking-the-kids-february-2017/ Mon, 13 Feb 2017 18:19:11 +0000 http://www.vistaverde.com/?p=25551 She travels the world exploring great family vacation options, and last week Eileen Ogintz made a stop at Vista Verde to play in the snow. Read Eileen’s trip diary that she put together for her family travel website.

FAR FROM THE SKI CROWDS: VISTA VERDE GUEST RANCH IN COLORADO

SNOW SHOEING, BACK COUNTRY SKIING AND HORSEBACK – VISTA VERDE GUEST RANCH

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