March 2013

A Poem for VVR

And this is why we love what we do here- who else gets thank you poems from their guests??

We left on a Friday; all filled with good cheer
Anxious for fun, home in the rear mirror.

Days of driving ahead, some adventure, some fun
Me and my wife, and our daughter and son.

Adventure we got, more than you know
Blizzards and such – You know, high winds and snow?!

After a long journey, we finally had a fair day
We arrived on a Sunday to Vista Verde.

We were welcomed by the staff, with actual smiles, not pretend
With the same familiarity and comfort of an old friend.

We planned our next day, hugged our kids and then kissed ’em
We sat down and ate a Thanksgiving dinner with Kristen.

A pair of Robs took us snowshoeing; they had a great time in store
Hot chocolate at the Homestead, and then ate some s’mores.

Delicious lunch followed, we talked and we talked
About our awesomely fun snowshoeing walk.

We wanted a trail ride, with horses and such
A trail ride we got, with our guide called Hutch.

Tonto Bob and Slider, Ranger and Smokey
(Smokey was stubborn and a little slow pokey).

It was cold, with cold snow and wind blowing
But the warm smiles on all is what kept us all going.

The trail ride ended with laughter and glee
Hutch took some great pictures of my family.

We went back to our cabin, relaxation in sight
The kids went to kids club for our special date night.

The kids went off with the VVR staff
My wife and I looked at each other and laughed.

‘What a great place; they think of it all…’
I said as we feasted and both had a ball!

The succulent servings, the perfection … Good golly!
The balance of flavors from the head chef named Cholly.

The snow was still falling as we lay down that night
We awoke to fresh snow, a ten inch blanket of white!

We ate some breakfast and talked about our next outing
All of us so excited, we were nearly shouting.

Let me explain because some may not know
How awesome it is to go tubing in fresh fallen snow!

We met our guide JJ; his face lit up with a smile
‘Are you ready for tubing? Let’s go for a while!’

We rode to our hill in a snowmobile-pulled sled
JJ turned around, and here’s what he said…

“You guys slide down, all the way till you stop…
… then me and my snowmobile will take you back to the top!”

My family and I made some memories that day
Superb reminiscences that don’t go away
All fueled by VVR and our guide JJ.

We had lunch and we cured our hunger and thirst
Then went and saw mares that were ready to burst!

They were pregnant, you see, and very much so!
Within a few days they’d be ready to go.

At the mare barn, another treat to behold
We spent some time with the colts who were just a year old!

My kids were lit up with glee, while petting the horses
VVR has made magic with their equine resources.

Our guide Nathan was so full of pride
Of the VVR ranch and the good things inside.

The kids had a thousand questions, they grilled Nate for a while
And he answered each one with a warm gentle smile.

We finished up and went back towards the cabin
But then I noticed the snow Tyler was grabbin’.

He turned around with his eight year old grace
And threw a fat snowball right in my face.

We played in the snow and enjoyed ourselves fully
We made a great snowman, we called him ‘Wully’.

We had our last dinner and I have to say
We were all a bit mopey since we had to leave the next day.

We stayed up and talked about the vacation we’d taken
And then we talked about the awesome bacon.
“That bacon, That bacon, That Cholly be makin!”

My wife and I laughed, we laid down for the night
Thinking of all the snow filled sights.

We had one sad thought, one thing had been missed
One thing to leave on the ol’ bucket list…

The snow had melted a bit in the day
Making it dangerous for a horse to pull us on a sleigh.

Alas we had missed a whole lot of fun
And it was at the fault of no one.

We woke and ate our breakfast that day
They surprised us and said they were preparing the sleigh!

VVR spent some time and put their heads together
To get us a sleigh ride, no matter the weather!

They made a safe route for the horse to pull
And made sure that our vacation was completely full.

This was the vacation of a lifetime, I just have to mention
How thankful we are for every bit of attention.

The VVR magic was the same with all staff
Their hospitality; much more than a craft.

Always caring and helpful, with superb attitudes
Words will never express our deep gratitude.

We were initially blessed with a gift won online
We now have our memories of a vacation sublime.

With much thanks and appreciation,

The Wullaert Family (Andy, Shera, Tyler, Brooklyn)

And that’s a wrap

By Steph

With yesterday’s guest departures, our season comes to an end.  How does it go by so fast?  You know that saying, and yep, we are having fun here at Vista Verde.  I just took a little tour through photos of our guests and our staff, and it put a great perspective on the winter of 2012-13.

It started with Ben and Alaya putting together a great team.  Then, a sprinkling of snow (ok, we’ll a big, huge dump of fresh powder really) to start us off right in December.  Mix in some interesting, adventurous guests and the recipe was almost done.  What topped it off was snow, snow and more snow.

Ironically, we normally close as the snow is melting and the mud starting to find it’s way out from hiding.  But, this year we seem to be closing when it feels like mid-winter.  We’ve had over a foot of snow in the past week, and we’re finding ourselves still having to plow the driveway and shovel the walkways.  If only we had known what Mother Nature would give us this year, and we could have stayed open a bit longer!  I guess it’s just some bonus fun time for all of us sticking around.  I’m not packing up my skis yet this year!

Thanks to the wonderful crew who made it possible to pull off all that we do for our guests.  They are cleaning up, closing down and preparing the ranch for off-season today.  Some will be returning for summer, but many will move on to their next adventure starting this weekend.  We couldn’t do it without all of them, and it’s always a gift for those of us “lifers” to get to spend time with each season’s crew.  I only wish I had more time to get to know all of them better and learn from each of them.

Thank you also to our wonderful guests.  From the first time honeymooners, to those who have been coming for years and years, you each give us such a gift to share this place with you.  We appreciate the support, the loyalty and your belief in what we are doing at Vista Verde.

And that’s a wrap for the winter.  On to preparing for summer, taking some time to re-charge, and maybe even playing in the snow before this belated spring arrives.

The end of the season draws near

It’s hard to believe that our winter dude ranch season will be coming to an end in less than a week.  In the coming week we will have the last of our regular dude ranch season guests check out on Sunday, host a big event that day, and then have our Horsemanship Retreat guests check in to the ranch.  All of our regular programs will close down at that time and those folks will be here riding, riding, riding, until Thursday.  Come next Thursday, the “Closed for the season” sign will go up on the entry gate, and we’ll start preparing the ranch for spring and summer.  Wow, time does fly.  It seems like just last week that we were preparing for our Christmas guests to arrive!

This winter has been a great one.  So many wonderful guests have come through our doors.  Honeymooners, families with kids new to snow and friends who have been coming here for years.  We have also been so lucky to have great snow this year.  That hasn’t been the case across all of the West, so we feel pretty lucky.  The skiing has been great, and the views pristine.

As we make our way towards the end of the season, we’ll be sad to see some of our great staff move on to bigger and better things.  But, we’ll look forward to having more time with those who are returning for the summer as well as the new ones who Ben and Alaya are working on getting hired right now!

Dude ranch kids

Some of you may have seen the video I posted on Facebook a week or so ago with baby Wyatt taking part in the Farwell Mountain Boys band. Today, I got another photo of that precious moment on a Sunday night a few weeks back. Brandon’s son Wyatt got to sit on dad’s lap while the guys were playing for our guests. It was a beautiful reminder of that fact that being a part of a place like Vista Verde is just different. It’s not like a hotel or a resort. Having guests here at Vista Verde is a little like having guests into our homes. As a guest, you may see our kids pop in and out, as this place is their home too.

What a treat it is to grow up as a dude ranch kid. My girls had the best time riding and playing with Abbi and Drew this weekend. Maggie told me that she wanted to skip school on Monday so she could come to the ranch and play with them again. As I was recounting the fun they had with Abbi and Drew’s grandparents this morning, it reminded me of stories of Maddie King, when she was a little kid here at the ranch. Now, as a teenager, I’m sure she’d rather run and hide than have me tell this story…..but, I do remember her sobbing at every Saturday night campfire in the summer, so sad to say goodbye to her friends from that week. Her parents, Steve and Kelli, finally realized that they couldn’t come to the Saturday night event, as it was just too traumatic for her! Then, I think of Jack Martin, learning that if you work hard, you get to earn enough money to buy something like an Ipad. That was a joy to watch him through that process. Jack’s sister, Annie, has fallen in love with horses and what a backyard she has for a horse lover!

It’s a great life, and we all know that. It’s even better when we get to watch our children enjoy it and gain an appreciation for nature, animals, serving others and hard work.

Even if you can only join us for a few days or a week, giving your kids a taste of this life is a phenomenal gift. Hopefully you can join us for a fun family vacation at some point!