December 2012

So, bring us some figgy pudding….

By Steph

Christmas at Vista Verde is a magical time. Even after all these years, I am still taken by how much holidays at the ranch feels like a Norman Rockwell painting. Whether is the family-decorated trees in the Lodge, or the screams of laughter as children (of all ages) zip down the tubing hill, it just feels like how Christmas should be.

Each year on Christmas Eve, I get the joy of leading our guests on a caroling expedition. We ride from the Lodge to the Homestead cabin on the big sleigh, caroling all the way. Out at Homestead, Rucker met us with a warm fire, mulled wine, hot chocolate and roasted chestnuts. Yep, it is totally cliche, but I can never help but do the Christmas Song (hum to yourself, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…”)while we’re out there.

As we come back from the cabin, and round the bend to see the ranch compound, the lights of the cabins and Lodge glitter like little stars. It is such a peaceful and memorable moment for me, year after year. We pulled up to the Lodge this year singing, “We wish you a Merry Christmas” and while thinking about figgy pudding we decided to surprise the Chefs. Jumping off the sleigh, we all ran to the back door of the kitchen and did a quick rendition. “So bring us some figgy pudding, so bring us some figgy pudding, so bring us some figgy pudding, and bring it right now”. Next thing we know, Chef Cholly is running away and comes back with- you guessed it- figgy pudding, as you can see in this photo that Kristin captured! Only at Vista Verde.

We had a wonderfully festive day yesterday, and hope you did as well. Even if you weren’t surrounded by fluffy white snow and jingling bells, we do hope you were surrounded by love and laughter.

What to wear for your winter vacation in Colorado?

By Steph

Some of our guests coming to Vista Verde this winter are coming for their first ever winter vacation in the snow. Although we send out a packing list, it can be a little daunting to understand how to dress for playing in the snow. So, here are a couple tips to break it down for those “snow newbies”.
Layers, layers, layers. Yep, that is really the key out here. Because what is comfortable at 10am, might be too much clothing at noon. They most important part of layering is to have the right materials. You need to make sure that the base layer is not cotton, and is designed to wick moisture away from your body. Wool is great, but there are plenty of synthetic fabrics that work well. This link to Christy Sports page for base layers for women should help give you an idea of what works well. You’ll want a top and bottoms (also known as “long johns” in the good ol’ days) to complete your base layer.

Next up, a middle layer. I like a good, basic fleece top. But, a good wool sweater will do the trick too.

Lastly, you’ll want your outer layer. Waterproof is a must, as even though our snow is dry and fluffy out here, if you spend a lot of time getting personal with the snow (falling down) then you’ll be thanking that outer layer for keeping your dry and warm. Need a better visual? Here is a link to Christy Sports jackets for women. And this link will give you an idea of what works for pants. Sorry guys, I gave links to women’s wear as that is typically who is doing the shopping!

Now, keep in mind that I am gearing this list towards those who are coming for the full winter vacation experience. For those of you wanting to focus more on the cross country skiing and snowshoeing, a lighter outer layer will be better. When you do those activities, you get pretty warm and a heavy outer layer will be too much. While we do sell some shell pants and jackets for these type of activities in our Nordic center, here is an example of one of the jackets we have carried in our shop.

For footwear, the best bet is a sturdy snow boot. You can use them for most of the activities here, and then for skiing we have the boots for that. I am a fan of Sorels, but there are plenty of other options out there as you can see in this link. Make sure you give your great boots a chance to work with wool socks, and not cotton.

Lastly, don’t forget a warm pair of gloves (or mittens) that are waterproof, a warm wool or fleece type hat and your sunglasses and sunscreen. Check out this page for winter accessories.

It seems like a lot, but all of this gear will make your winter vacation so much more enjoyable! With the right gear, it’s never too cold out in the snow.

Snow biking!

Yesterday we had our inaugural snowbike trip. It was the Aussies who decided to give it a whirl with Steve and Brandon. After getting all geared up, they toured around the ranch, then down to the river and back. It was a first for them, and we had tons of fresh powder for them to enjoy on the bikes.

So, if you thought to yourself, “Self, I would never think about¬†snow biking on my winter vacation” then you might want to rethink it. Our guests had a ball,¬†and have some great stories to add to their tales of their family snow vacation at Vista Verde. There are not many places you can go for a winter vacation and come back with tales of biking through fresh powder!

3 days to go!

By Steph

The winter vacation season officially begins on Saturday, and we are coming down to the wire on our orientation. The staff have learned the ropes, gotten to know each other, and the snow has finally decided to stick around for a while.

Orientation weeks are always a whirlwind of excitement and anticipation. Training each crew on their roles reminds us all of the immense details involved in our day to day operation. With so many return staff members, it has been a lighter orientation time. But many of them have switched roles and haven’t been here in winter, so it’s still a good learning curve.
In between the teaching and training, we have also managed to have a little fun. Last Friday the whole crew made their way into the nearby resort town of Steamboat Springs for a night of cosmic bowling. White lights, strobes, music, it was a lot of fun. Once again, Melissa showed us that she is a secretive hidden weapon as she produced the top score of the night. She may fly a little below the radar, but that girl can do anything! Nathan, an avid bowler, now has to sharpen his skills before their next standoff.
This week has been the week of “mocks”. Mock meals were on Tuesday, where the staff played guest and gave the kitchen and dining room crews a chance to run through a full day of guest meals. Yummy….. Then, yesterday, the guides got to flex their muscles and take their pretend guests out on horseback rides, skis and sleigh rides. At this point, we are all ready to settle in for our own winter vacation as it seems like fun!

The verdict? We’re ready. A few last preparations today and tomorrow and we’ll be waiting anxiously for the first group of guests to walk through the doors of the lodge.

10 days and counting

By Steph
Orientation week officially kicked off yesterday as we begin our countdown to opening day for our winter season. As our first guests are getting their bags packed for their winter vacation in Colorado, we are meticulously going down the list of all the details we need to have in place for the season. As we do each season, we started orientation with introductions. There aren’t as many new faces this season, as so many of our summer staff came back for the winter. But, there were a handful of folks who we were all meeting for the first time. One of the traditions at Vista Verde is putting your pin on the map each season. It’s a fun way to see where everyone is from originally.

After introductions, we moved into a brief history talk by Steve, which was informative for all, especially since Steve claims to make up half of it. Jokes aside, as Bill and I stood there listening, we both commented about how we learned something new about the history of the dude ranch. Even old dogs can learn new tricks. I’m talking about Bill, of course.
Steve then took the crew on a walk around the ranch compound, and then they were back into the Great Room to hear us breakdown the mission of our operation. With the foundation laid of who we all are, how the ranch came to be what it is today, and why we are doing what we are doing, we moved into the more detailed aspect of training. Each crew broke off and starting learning the ropes of what they’ll be doing every day during this coming season. So much to learn, and 10 days to go!

Have you planned your winter vacation to Colorado yet? It’s going to be a great season here at Vista Verde….we can just feel it in the air.