August 2010

A Winter Daydream

As I sit and stare out my window, I begin to daydream about a winter wonderland where I escape the drone of everyday life. {Camera zooms in to single window pane. Cue frost on window}
I see in the distance a beautiful winter landscape with a backdrop of gorgeous mountains and several cabins nestled in the valley. Each one seems warm and inviting with the glow of a fire being enjoyed by those inside. Oh! To be a kid again! I would bundle up and take a plunge in the champagne powder snow and make a snow angel and laugh and smile while snowflakes fell on my cheeks. I would sled down the hills until my toes and fingers were cold enough that I would have to retreat for some hot cocoa by the fire. I would challenge my fears of strapping on skis and conquer my fear of skiing and through it all I would enjoy being outdoors. I would soak up all that I could to make up for all of those hours of working indoors.
As my daydream continues, I look off to my right and see a young couple out enjoying the winter weather and all that it has to offer and they seem invisible to its frosty chill. I sit there and envy their happiness and joy. Oh to be in love and know nothing can stop them in their way of happiness. A snowball fight followed by a lingering kiss amidst the snowflakes. A kiss that feels as if it could melt the snow around them. How wonderful a feeling. To be surrounded by the surrealism of it all. The picturesque landscape, the joy of being with the other, and the experience of a superb vacation…the feeling of being transported for a short time to another world, a world of pure bliss…a world where there are no day-to-day mundane issues to deal with.
I blink and smile and look off to my left to the sight of horses in the snow. What a regal sight. A herd of worthy animals guided by one superior example of equine excellence. Running though the snow, heads proud, gusts of frozen breath escape their nares, which adds to the majesty. How beautiful. How powerful. Things one does not always see and when one does, relishes the beauty.
I blink again but my eyes stay closed because I do not want the daydream to end just yet. I want to feel its power just a little longer. My smile brightens as I remember my first experience in this winter wonderland and I remember the dreams that I had during that time. I wished I could have it continue longer so I could experience the opportunities that I did not have time for or wanted to experience again. So many possible memories and experiences. So many that you knew when you left that you would have to return to make good on that promise. I would take a ride and take the reigns of a powerful steed. I would take part in breaking into song with the staff and make my singing debut in front of staff and guests alike. I would strap on skis like a pro and conquer my fears. Through it all I would enjoy the company of others and hope that I would add to the experience with others by meeting and befriending them.
As I open my eyes, I realize that I am actually sitting in a grand room filled with natural wood, antlers, comfy cozy chairs, and a glorious fireplace. Holy crap! I am actually where I want to be! A dream come true! I blink several times and remember to breathe. I focus on the person across from me and realize that my dream is a reality. I hear the dinner bell and the bustle of others and know that it is supper time. My mouth waters just thinking of the savory entrees and wine selection that is so expertly chosen. To know that after supper is the joy of my personal hot tub and more happiness to be enjoyed with my favorite someone. Thank you Vista Verde. What a miracle that I found you once and that I may be able to savor your kindness over again.

Name: Erica Clne
City: Russell
State: KS


Sleigh rides, hot tubs, starry nights, music, dancing and snuggling with my true love of over 30 years in the place we got engaged in 1980, Steamboat Springs!!

Name: Michael Martens
City: Longmont
State: CO

Vista Verde Superwomen

Each summer, we have to wonderful opportunity to host families from the University of Michigan Pediatric Cancer Center. It’s an amazing week for all of us, and we do our best to make it an amazing week for all the families in their journey to our Colorado ranch resort.

One of the joys of this relationship with UM is that we have gotten to know several of their staff very well over the years. These three gals come out each year to help organize the logistics and help with the families during their stay. They are all true superwomen and are amazing in all they give to the families during this week, as well as their roles in their lives back at home in Michigan.

We were laughing at the three musketeers as they lined up the other day watching us walk by. So we pulled Judy, Debra and Sheila in to sit below their ranch alter ego’s.

We couldn’t do this week without the tireless efforts of these three gals. I can easily speak for all the families here this year and past that these gals are so appreciated and their efforts have been life changing. We get a week to try to make a difference in the families lives, they do it day in and day out.

Go Blue!

Never Taken

14 yrs. ago I married the woman I would be with for the ret of my life > At the time we worked all the time & couldn’t get time off together on the same schedule to be able to have a honeymoon , so we promised ourselves "Someday " we would treat ourselves & go ! That day has never come as when we did have time off together other things came along – weddings , graduations , nieces & nephews being born , birthdays , holidays , a car for the wife , & all the other things life throws at you . But we still hold out hope for "our time together" whether it snows or the sun shines it doesn’t matter to us .

City: West Seneca

Breathe In

I stepped out of the cab with my husband, and looked around me. I breathed in the fresh mountain air as my husband slid his hand into mine. I smiled over at him, and he leaned in to give me a kiss on the cheek. This was what we needed. I chance to recharge, and take an adventure together. A chance to see what it was like out west. To see the mountains covered in snow. To see the horses galloping, kicking up white snow in their wake. To breathe in the beauty that God has made, almost like He made it just for us. A chance to explore, and adventure. A chance for romance and beauty. A chance for us to reconnect and recharge ourselves. And, for me, a chance to better my riding skills.

My thoughts leave me as we start walking in to check in, and my final thought is that I can’t wait to see what new things the next few days will show me.

Name: Jess Slinskey Janicki
Company: N/A
City: Glenshaw
State: PA

Snowshoe Magazine – August 18, 2010

Snowshoe Magazine – The Top 10 Resorts for Love on Snowshoes

by Roger Lohr –

It is a perfect romantic setting. The day spent in the great outdoors, the fireplace flickering, meals eaten by candlelight, a snowy panorama stretching in the moonlight and a sleigh outside the restaurant. It’s romantic and perfect for Valentine’s Day or any day.

It is and can be found at winter destination resorts across North America, according to the experts who regularly update, the country’s most extensive cross country ski and snowshoe destination website. Add in the thrill of exploring together down snowy trails, and a snowshoe vacation becomes the perfect getaway with your sweetheart, Valentine’s Day or not.

These resorts offer the perfect combination of dreamlike atmosphere and picture-perfect views together with beautiful lodging, cozy dining, and picturesque trails where couples can enjoy the winter outdoors together.

The Top 10 features favorite romantic resorts across North America listed in alphabetical order.

Callaghan Country at Whistler, British Columbia, is a secluded lodge where up to eight couples can enjoy 8,000 acres of wilderness with 36 feet of guaranteed snow without high altitude problems. No roads, no signs, no power lines. Just pure high-alpine terrain.

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, in Alberta, is a graceful timbered resort in a fairytale setting – surrounded by snowy peaks, nestled beside its own mountain lake, with a panorama of the Victoria Glacier. Hundreds of kilometers of trails lead right from the door of the Chateau.

Garland Resort in Lewiston, Michigan, is an AAA Four-Diamond resort oozing with rustic elegance in the heart of the Midwest, where 65 kilometers of trails combined with gourmet meals to create a winter wonderland sure to melt any snowshoer’s heart.

Lone Mountain Ranch at Big Sky, Montana, visit nearby magical Yellowstone National Park or check out 75 kilometers of prepared trails. Lovers can stay in their own private log cabin. The main lodge serves great cuisine, has massage services and an impeccable staff.

Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, New York, is a Victorian castle set spectacularly on Lake Mohonk only a one-hour drive from the city. Fifty kilometers of trails, skis and snowshoes are included in the stay. An enticing couples massage and partner massage instruction will add to a couple’s pleasure long after the vacation.

Mt. Washington Hotel at Bretton Woods, in New Hampshire, is a step back in time to ornate elegance. The impeccable service, period rooms, dining accompanied by strings and unsurpassed views in New England makes this difficult to surpass for the perfect romantic weekend.

Mountain Top Inn in Chittenden, Vermont, is buried in the Green Mountains. Dream in rough hewn timber beds. Enjoy gourmet meals where your crystal glistens in the firelight. Snowshoe or ski on the 85-kilometer groomed trail network right from the door.

Royal Gorge in Soda Springs, California, has the largest trail network in the U.S. The majestic Sierra Nevadas surround the remote 1920s Rainbow Lodge. This is ideal for romance with a massive stone fireplace and fine French cuisine.

Sun Mountain Lodge in Winthrop, Washington, has a 360-degree view of the Cascades. Choose a view room or lakeside cabin. Snowshoe or ski on 160 kilometers of trails. Enjoy the extensive wine cellar, gourmet meals and full-service spa (try the Double Decadence spa treatment).

Vista Verde Ranch in Steamboat Springs, Colorado
, is surrounded by the Rocky Mountains. In their own words they are “kick-back-‘n-relax, taste-tantalizing, mouth-watering kind of place.” Couples can get away from the everyday grind and enjoy groomed trails, backcountry, plus horseback riding. is the most comprehensive website focused on winter destination resorts in North America.

Today (Dec 28) we celebrate 27 years

Vista Verde, September 2011. I was there with my husband, but felt very alone. We were approaching the 26th year of our marriage, and to any outsider, it looked like a pretty great run. But we were a mess, and had lost our connection to one another.

I know this isn’t a very hopeful start to the story, but hang on, please. It does get better.

We returned home, and all we could talk about were the magnificent nights we spent in our outdoor hot tub, with the stars on dark blue silk an incredible canopy. How insignificant we both felt with the universe engulfing us, and yet so blessed to feel one with it! We talked at length about our trip, laughed, and reminisced about the meals we ate, the morning rides, and afternoon happy hours. It felt so great to be able to share something so positive.

We are quite certain that those positive thoughts were the turning point for our marriage in a forward-thinking direction.

It is one of our greatest wishes that we return to the place that renewed our commitment to a future together, so as to cherish and celebrate the knowledge of how fragile life and love is, and how blessed we are to have it with each other.

Name: Katie
City: Mpls
State: MN


Don’t panic, we haven’t added a new, crazy sport to our menu of activities. But maybe we should? Adventure Center director Steve King treated himself to a new toy for his….umm, 30th, birthday. After spending so many years guiding and riding 2 wheel mountain bikes, he thought he’d challenge himself to learn how to ride a unicycle. Since this birthday, he just hasn’t found the time to learn to ride it, but his daughter Maddie decided to play around with it this summer. We’ve watched her give it a try here and there, but she hadn’t quite mastered it until yesterday. It turns out one of our guests used to do a lot of unicycle riding so he saw Maddie goofing off and came over to give her a few tips. No more than a few minutes later, Maddie got it!

After watching Maddie grow up at the ranch over the years, it was so much fun to watch her take this new step, and even more fun to watch papa bear Steve look on with pride and excitement. Mom Kelli missed the moment, but I’m sure Maddie showed off to her later.

So, stay tuned…..who knows if in a couple years we might have a new program led by Maddie King herself. Mountain biking on unicyles. Wow, that might be a niche market.

A trip for mom

I would love to bring my wife and I to celebrate our 20th anniversary at Vista Verde. My wonderful wife and I spent our 15th anniversary in Snow Bird Utah and had a great time skiing and enjoying the snow. Times were a little tight on our 20th anniversary this December 20th so we decided stay close to home and spend the night in a hotel. I am a Youth Minister in a Baptist Church outside of Atlanta and my wife works from home as a CPA so this trip would be a great opportunity for us to get away and spend some time together. Furthermore, my wife and I love to ski, run and bike, all things my mother has told us extensively about their trips. This brings me to my second and most significant reason for sending this entry. This trip would mean the world to my parents.
My parents, Jim and Wanda Willis, are about to make their 7th visit to Vista Verde in March. Their dream has always been to take the family. Despite a new pace maker, a broken leg and respiratory issues, mom keeps returning to Vista Verde and follows each visit with stories, pictures and excitement about the next trip. They daily check the weather forecast and post pictures of Vista Verde on Facebook. When mom checked the site on Christmas Eve to find your contest, she could barely contain her excitement. She saw it as a chance to fulfill her dream to visit Vista Verde with her family. I would love to surprise them by showing up to join them on their visit in March. Can you imagine their excitement when they show up to Vista Verde for the highlight of their year to find my wife and I there?! It would be so exciting to win and not tell them about our vacation together until we met them at Vista Verde. We would really put that new pacemaker to the test! Regardless of whether we are chosen or not, I want to thank you for the blessing that Vista Verde has been to my mom and dad. I love them very much and the work you do adds a great deal of happiness to their lives. Thank you for your consideration. May God bless you richly for the ministry you provide through your retreat.
Scott and Catherine Carpenter
Cumming, GA

Name: Scott Carpenter
Company: First Baptist Church
City: Cumming
State: Ga

Bring the Talent

Talents here at the ranch go far beyond their respective departments. This is evident in our team of housekeepers who have ingeniously remixed Wagon Wheel this summer by using a washboard and other musical instruments. One of the most interesting and talented quartets we have here at Vista Verde is our staff band who have coined themselves the “Farwell Mountain Boys.” This mountain boy band is made up of our two General Managers, Ben and Dace, along with Terry Wegener our resident horse trainer and one of our awesome wranglers, Reid Morgan. They became famous this summer with their rendition of The Gambler and Cowboy Logic, my personal favorite! Those of you who have visited the ranch this summer have seen the Morgan family talents. Leslie, Grace, and Reid definitely have the talent in their genes. You can see a video of one of their songs on our Facebook page. Grace, a musical theater major at University of Michigan added a Broadway number to our Saturday night Campfire, Dace and Grace (quite the duo), sing Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better. It’s gotten quite the response this summer! A long-time favorite for both guests and staff alike is their duet Stuff That Works that remains on the set list. For anyone looking to fulfill their dreams of working on a luxury guest ranch in Colorado, I hope you bring the talent!

By, Guest Blogger and Front Desk Manager Christi Cline

White Powdery Snow

Falling on the meadows near
At Vista Verde we are bound to see the deer
Memories of childhood flood
My mind and soul as I gaze upon the
White powdery snow….

Love the cold, love the fire
Place so warm to sit and admire
Vista Verde Ranch…

Name: Marla Zanelli
Company: Prudential CA Realty
City: Del Mar
State: CA

A Unique Week

We are right in the middle of a unique week for the ranch. Normally some of our guests are new to Vista Verde, and many have been here before. This week we are completely full with all new guests. It is fun to watch a full house of guests discover the Vista Verde Ranch experience together. No one here to tell them that they should try something, don’t miss this, or make sure you do that. We love having guests who have become like family here at the ranch, but it’s kind of fun to watch this group maneuver their way through the week.

Now, although the group we’re playing with right now is made up of first time visitors, many have ties to the ranch that stretch farther than just this year. At least 5 of the families who are here were told about the ranch by friends who have been to the ranch in the past. We really appreciate that vote of confidence!

New guests on Sunday, family by Wednesday.