Vista Verde Ranch, Luxury Guest Ranch
Vista Verde Ranch, Colorado Luxury Ranch
Vista Verde Ranch, Colorado Luxury Ranch"
Vista Verde Ranch, Colorado Luxury Ranch
Vista Verde Ranch, Colorado Luxury Ranch
Vista Verde Ranch, Colorado Luxury Ranch
Vista Verde Ranch, Colorado Luxury Ranch

Archive for November, 2013

Vista Verde Ranch, Colorado Luxury Ranch

What’s a Trout to do?

Date: November 25th, 2013

By Brandon

Brandon fishing in the fall snow.

Brandon fishing in the fall snow. Photo by Bill Vanderford

It’s late November now at Vista Verde Ranch.  As I gaze through the window of the fly shop out across the open pasture snow is falling slowly…almost hypnotically.  The occasional whinny of a horse stands out in stark contrast to the otherwise still and silent ranch-scape.  While the winter-white scenery and tranquility never seem to lose their luster, these can be cold and lonely times for a fishing guide.  Okay, I’m being a bit melodramatic here, but even though I will soon be joyfully touring the backcountry on skis with our beloved winter guests, I find it hard to say goodbye to the warm summer days spent standing in the cool waters of the Elk River with guests casting to shy cutthroat trout.  So, here’s the segue into my intended topic…  As the snow grows deeper and temperatures fall and ice begins to form along the edges of the river, where do the trout go?  What do they eat?  Can they still be fooled with a fly?  If you were hoping for a shorter blog post, I’ll sum it up succinctly for you.

1) Not terribly far

2) Certain types of aquatic invertebrates, and

3) Yes (albeit with a somewhat more tedious approach).

For those still interested, please read on.

To properly understand a trout’s wintertime behavior, we must consider a few things.  Water temperature, water levels and flow rate, and insect activity all play into what trout are doing and where they go during winter months.  Allow me to first describe two different types of river systems found here and across the country; Freestone and Tail Water rivers.  Freestone rivers are classified as those which flow freely from source to confluence or termination without impediment from dams, reservoirs or other obstacles.  The Elk River, for example, is a “freestoner” as it flows unhindered from its genesis below the Zirkel Mountains to its confluence with the Yampa River.  The Yampa River, through Steamboat Springs, however, is a tail water since its flows and temperature are largely determined by releases beneath dams at both Stagecoach and Catamount Reservoirs.   Classic tail waters will generally experience less wintertime fluctuation in water temperature and flows due to the fact that they draw water from the bottom of a reservoir where the water is less affected by air temps and in a more consistent supply.  This creates a more consistent and stable aquatic environment for both the fish and the insects they eat.  Conversely, a freestone river is very much affected by ambient conditions and can often fluctuate broadly based on air temps, ground water supply, snowmelt and freezing.  For the sake of this blog, we’ll focus on how fish behave in a freestone river system.

For any of you with whom I’ve had the pleasure of fishing, we likely spoke about some of the key requirements of trout in order to better determine where they “hang out”.  Food concentration, protection, water temperature, and resting places are some of the most important.  The same needs hold true in the winter as in the spring, summer and fall with some changes to the individual importance of these requirements.

Food:  As I often say, “It all begins with the bugs”.  As water temps decrease, so do the activity levels of aquatic insects.  Where, in warmer months, we experience bountiful hatches of caddis flies, mayflies, stoneflies and midges, the winter months can seem almost devoid of any real “bug life”.  While this isn’t exactly the case, most species of aquatic insects do tend to hunker down a bit and await warmer water temperatures to pupate and eventually morph into winged adults.  With the exception of chironomids (midges), some small stoneflies, and even smaller mayfly species, much of the insect world takes a noted break during the winter.  So where does that leave our hungry fish?  Not to worry.  Trout, in particular, have a biological response to these conditions.  As water temperatures near the point where insect activity drops off, trout experience a sharp decrease in their metabolic rate, therefore requiring much less food to sustain life.  While they won’t likely experience much growth during this time, it allows them to hold out until the feeding season resumes in the spring.

Protection:  Just as in the summer, trout must be hyper vigilant of predation.  Larger fish, eagles, and predatory mammals are typically more than willing to make a meal out of vulnerable trout, especially in the winter when other food sources are less accessible.  Overhanging rocks and logs, ice shelves, submerged brush and vegetation all provide a level of protection for fish; however, deeper water often provides the best safeguard from overhead danger.  As water levels drop throughout the winter due to freezing and lack of runoff, trout may find it more difficult to locate deeper water and thus will need to relocate to sections with deeper pools.  This is often a reason for fish migrating downstream during the frozen months.

Water Temps:  Fish are cold blooded animals and therefore lack the internal mechanism to self-regulate their body temps.  They require their environment to be within a certain sustainable temperature range.  Trout thrive in water that is typically too cold for many other fish species, but they still have their limits.  The general temperature range for rainbow trout survivability is 35 – 75 degrees F.  however, optimum temps are somewhere between 50 and 68 degrees (cutthroat and brook trout prefer water slightly cooler and brown trout are comfortable in slightly warmer water).  While these numbers are a good guideline, it’s interesting to note that trout will often become conditioned to their home environment.  For example, it’s not uncommon to find fish doing quite well in the Elk River when the water temperature is only a degree or two above freezing.  When targeting trout in the winter, an excellent starting point to be on the lookout for is where a groundwater seep or spring enters the river.  Because spring water maintains consistent temperatures independent of the seasons, it can often be just the few degrees of warmth the trout are looking for.

Rest:  While resting places aren’t often included in the “must haves” section of a trout’s house hunting criteria, they become paramount to a trout’s survival during the winter.  As mentioned before, when a trout’s metabolic rate is greatly reduced it becomes crucial that the minimum amount of calories be expended in its day-to-day efforts.  Expending energy fighting the current in shallow and swift sections of river is far from a trout’s agenda during these cold times.  While in the summer fish can be found broadly distributed feeding across many areas of the current, it’s more common in the winter for fish to congregate in greater numbers in slower deeper water where the velocity of the current is diminished.  They are more concerned about conserving energy together than competing for food.

So, now that we understand just what it is that trout are seeking during this time of year we can better determine where they are, what they’re doing and whether or not they’re being forced elsewhere in the river system.  And, if still bound and determined, as I am, to brave the elements and cast a fly in the winter around here, just fish where the fish are and be accurate with your drift because trout will be far less willing to expend the energy to move toward your fly.  Also, if you’re fly fishing from atop the ice please check it first for stability.  Better yet, let us fit you for some skis and join in on an epic Colorado backcountry ski adventure!

Whether in the backcountry or on the icy river, I hope to see you soon up here at VVR!

Posted in The Fly- for those who love to fly fish | Comments (0)

Vista Verde Ranch, Colorado Luxury Ranch

Preparing for winter

Date: November 18th, 2013

By Steph

Team Wilson trying out the old fashioned gondola at Steamboat Ski resort

Team Wilson trying out the old fashioned gondola at Steamboat Ski resort

This past weekend was a flurry of preparing for winter in my house.  We’ve already pulled out the snow clothes long ago, as we’ve been getting snow off and on since October.  This weekend was more of putting the final touches on so we’re ready to go when ski season begins at the Steamboat ski resort.  First up was going to the local showing of Warren Miller’s Ticket to Ride movie.  This used to be a rite of passage for me and my friends growing up.  It was a time to really start anticipating the upcoming ski season, and get excited for the snow to come.  I haven’t been to one of those shows in years, and this marked the first (hopefully annual) Wilson family excursion to the movie. Our girls loved it, and were dancing in their seats to the music and were laughing at the funny ski scenes.

Later in the weekend we picked up our ski passes at the Steamboat resort ticket office.  Passed around our necks, we then headed to buy helmets for both kids at the Christy Sports ski shop up at Gondola Square.  They have been a partner of the ranches for a couple years, and provide our guests who want to go skiing at the resort with a great rental and retail experience.  It was nice to experience their top-notch service myself, and reminded me why we send our guests their way.

So, the kids are all set.  We’re ready for winter.  In fact, they’ve already put their cross country skis on and cruised around our yard, making jumps, falling down, rolling around.  Kid are like puppies in the snow.

That was a long opener to talking about gearing up for your winter family vacation, but while I was preparing my family for winter this weekend, I was also fielding phone calls from families looking at coming to Vista Verde for their winter vacation.  One family from Florida asked the question that so many ask, “What gear do we need?”  It is a bit of a mind boggle when you live in flip flops and t-shirts for most of the year.  So, here is one mom’s thoughts on what you need to make your kids comfortable during their winter vacation at Vista Verde:

  • Snowpants- for kids, get some bib type overall snow pants.  Put it this way, when kids roll around in the snow, bibs will keep the snow from going down their pants.  Nuff said.
  • Boots- this is the area to spend a little more money to get them warm and waterproof boots.  They’ll be in them day and night, so this is important.
  • Jacket- If you have a good water-resistant jacket already, you can always layer underneath it to keep your kid warm.
  • Long underwear- Cotton is bad in the cold weather.  So, get wool (we love Smartwool) or some sort of wicking/breathable synthetic long underwear.  This will keep your little critter toasty and warm.
  • Fleece- Almost everyone has a fleece sweatshirt.  This is great for the layer that goes on top of the long underwear.
  • Socks- Invest in 3-4 pairs of good wool socks.  Nothing beats wool in the snow!
  • Gloves- You will not regret getting a warm and waterproof pair of gloves for you kiddo.  I prefer mittens as they keep their little fingers warmer.  They even make some that go a little ways up the arm, so you can keep the snow out again.  Kids get into the snow (literally) more than we do as adults, so being able to tuck the mittens in under their jacket, or having a long sleeve on the mittens so they go up their arm a bit will help keep their hands warm and dry.
  • Hat- Don’t need to get fancy here.  Just a nice, warm hat to keep their little head warm. Oh, and bring some sunglasses too!

With all that, you’re pretty well set.  If there isn’t a ski shop near you, this stuff can all be found online at places like REI (they had a pair of kids snowpants on sale for $39.99 today!) or LL Bean.  Or, you can check out our local friends at Christy Sports.  Remember, you can do laundry while you’re here, and things also dry out really fast in our dry climate.  If your kid went really crazy in the snow that day and got their boots wet, just put them by the heater at night, and they’ll be dry in the morning.

If you’re thinking about planning your winter vacation at Vista Verde, just give us a call and we can help give you more winter vacation planning tips!  800-526-7433.

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Vista Verde Ranch, Colorado Luxury Ranch

Closed for the off-season but we’re still busy!

Date: November 13th, 2013

By Steph

Often times when I tell people we are closed for the off-season, they ask me what I’m going to do with all my free time.  Well, even though we’re not open for guests to come stay at the ranch, it doesn’t mean we’re not busy.  In fact, for certain folks at the ranch this is the busiest time of the year.  Bill, who oversees all our buildings, vehicles and water system has a list so long he barely found time to take off for a little vacation.  Down at the barn, the wranglers are working busily, trying to get as many colts started as possible and working on the 2 and 3 year olds to get them polished up with their training.  In the office, we are still busy booking reservations, getting all the logistics of the winter season in place and have just finished hiring the last of the winter staff.

Charlie and Brandon having fun building a deck.

Charlie and Brandon having fun building a deck.

I took a little walk around the ranch just now so I could catch up with what everyone is doing and how things are coming along.  For those of you who have been following the progression of the season, you may be shocked to know that almost all that snow we had last week has melted.  So, now it’s a bit of a muddy mess.  That’s the story this time of year: snow comes and then it melts, then it comes in again, then it melts.  Hence, why we close down.  Last week I was skiing, and this week I brought my running shoes back out.

On my little walkabout, I first ran into Charlie and Brandon.  They spent last week demo’ing the deteriorating deck of the Adventure Center in a blizzard.  This week they’ve been enjoying the sunshine as they rebuild the decking.  They had the music playing in between the noise of the saws, drills, hammers, etc…

 

 

Bill and Bubba's furniture moving service.

Bill and Bubba’s furniture moving service.

Next up was a stop by the bunkhouse, where Bill and Bubba are preparing for a remodel.  Right now they are just hauling out furniture to empty the place out.  In the coming weeks they will be re-doing the layout of the downstairs and adding a set of stairs to get up to the bunks.  We will all miss the days of climbing up the ladder to go to bed…..well, maybe someone will miss those days, or not.

After the bunkhouse, I headed down to the indoor arena.  I didn’t stop by the housekeeping area to say hi to Devyn, as I had just seen her earlier.  She is back here between trips and catching up on some of her to-do list.  The machine shed was pretty quiet as Carson is off for a bit, and Nathan and KP were up at the barn doing some cleaning.

 

 

ranch quarter horsesOnce in the indoor arena, I saw John and Annie riding Cali and Reyna.  Both of those fillies are coming along really well and look great.  John and Annie shared that they have really enjoyed spending some time this off-season hauling a few horses to a local horse trainer friend of ours to ride with him.  They’ve picked up a ton of new ideas and had fun getting a different perspective from his training philosophy.  As much as we all know Terry is loaded with knowledge, it is great to get a different point of view in horse training.

As I headed back down to the Lodge, I saw the carpet cleaners making their way down cabin row.  This week they are cleaning all the carpets so we can go into the winter season with everything spic and span!  Back at the Lodge Melissa and Malori were busy in the office, working on their many projects.  Melissa has been fielding phone calls all day long about our winter season.  People are definitely thinking winter right now and are asking a lot of questions about what we do and when they can come to the ranch.

And Ben?  Well, he’s just sitting around by the pool eating bon-bons.  Actually, I suspect he would be thrilled to take a break from budgets and insurance policies to sit by a freezing cold pool right now.

So, yes, there is definitely still activity going on here at Vista Verde during the off-season.  It may be a little more quiet around here right now, but once the snow sticks and we have our winter wonderland in place for all of you we’ll be ready!

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Vista Verde Ranch, Colorado Luxury Ranch

Houston Chronicle- November 2013

Date: November 11th, 2013

Peak Season: 8 ski hot ski spots this winter

Choose your own adventure at these snowy U.S. ski destinations
By Jody Schmal | November 7, 2013

Vista Verde Ranch, located outside Steamboat Springs, is offering several specials this winter. The Winter Carnival package Feb. 5-8 includes a three night stay at the ranch and one night stay at the Steamboat Sheraton, plus meals, beer and wine, activities, guides, equipment, instruction, pick up from the Steamboat airport and transport to the Sheraton.

As ski season kicks into high gear this month, powder fanatics will be snapping on their skis and boards and checking their pack lists.

Whether you’re looking for a first-time family vacation, a romantic getaway or a thriving après-ski scene, here are the latest happenings at some of the most Houstonian-savvy spots in the United States this season:

Aspen/Snowmass

WHAT’S NEW: In family-friendly Snowmass, there are 230-plus new acres of ski-able terrain, along with the recently completed Elk Camp Lodge, a LEED-certified $13 million on-mountain restaurant and coffee shop.

Meanwhile, Aspen’s Highlands Mountain has 20 acres of new gladed terrain, and also is appealing to families with its Perfect Holiday package deal, where kids age 12 and under can ski, stay and eat free (with purchase of an adult lift ticket) over the Christmas holiday, Dec. 20-25. Must be booked by Nov. 15.

For the fancier sort, two of Aspen’s most beloved and iconic high-end hotels – the Little Nell and Hotel Jerome – have fresh upgrades. The ski-in/ski-out Little Nell has new VIP suites designed by Holly Hunt, and the resort’s Element 47 fine-dining restaurant opens this month on the base of Aspen Mountain.

The 93-room Jerome, with its historic J-Bar and rustic-chic décor, is offering several packages, such as the Peak Performance Ski Retreat (available Jan. 5-March 31, from $685 per night). With a three-night minimum stay, it includes ski equipment rental from Gorsuch, daily lift tickets for two and breakfast. Order up the private bath service from the Jerome’s new Auberge spa: a therapist visits your room to draw you a bath (with your choice of salts or argan oil) and leaves behind a fruit plate and wine.

DETAILS: Season opens Nov. 28; stayaspensnowmass.com.

Breckenridge

WHAT’S NEW: It’s an exciting year for Breck. The resort is adding more than 543 acres to its famous landscape with Peak 6, one of the most notable Colorado ski area expansions in years.

Peak 6 includes 400 acres of lift-served terrain and 143 acres of hike-to terrain, representing a 23 percent increase in the resort’s skiable acreage. With that comes two new lifts, three new bowls – including the first above-treeline intermediate bowl – and 10 new cut trails.

To check out the fresh terrain in high style, book a condo at the luxe ski-in/ski-out One Ski Hill Place at the base of Peak 8, steps from the BreckConnect Gondola, which easily transports you to Peak 7, fairly easily to Peak 6, and into the charming town of Breckenridge. Added bonus of staying here: an on-site bowling alley.

DETAILS: Now open; breckenridge.com.

Copper Mountain

WHAT’S NEW: Families and high-alpine fans will love Copper this season. For starters, Camp Woodward, a nearly 20,000-square-foot ski, snowboard bike and skateboard park recently underwent a $500,000 renovation. All synthetic snow surfaces have been replaced with surfaces designed for wheels, and there’s a new beginner foam pit with 2- and 4-foot jumps, a pump track designed for the development of park skills and new programming to bridge the gap and yield results on snow. Fun for kids and adults, you may even rub elbows with a would-be Olympian in training through mid-December, prior to the U.S. Freeskiing Grand Prix taking place at Cooper Dec. 16-21.

On the mountain, high-alpine enthusiasts will be happy to know there’s a new direct lift to the stellar skiing and riding in Spaulding Bowl, Upper Enchanted Forest and Copper Bowl.

There’s also a new on-mountain audio intelligence app call Sherpa, which tells you what you’re near, where to go and what to do when you get there. It’s locals-only, insider information, available for the first time to everyone on the mountain. Sherpa taps into the knowledge of lifelong employees, ski patrol and local experts and makes that wisdom available to anyone with a smartphone.

DETAILS: Now open; coppercolorado.com.

Crested Butte

WHAT’S NEW: To improve the on-mountain trails for skiers and snowboarders, Crested Butte Mountain Resort has removed trees for tree skiing aficionados, between the current trails of Double Top and Black Eagle.

There also are three new kid-specific trails in the Painter Boy area, along with interactive play and learning activities and areas. During the holidays, families of four can get four nights’ lodging at the Grand Lodge and three nights skiing in Crested Butte for $999 if they book the Grandest Christmas Package.

Another resort option is the Nordic Inn, Gunnison County’s longest operating lodge, which is enjoying a total interior and exterior renovation. Steps from the Mount Crested Butte ski-area base, local owners bought property last year and have updated all 28 guest rooms, common spaces and the on-property mountain chalet in a Colorado-classic-meets-contemporary style. Stay four nights and get the fifth one free if you book before Nov. 20. High-roller with a large crew? Check out Scarp Ridge Lodge, a two-year-old, seven-bedroom property in downtown Crested Butte that comes with a personal chef and expert guides.

After dark, hit the newly redone historic saloon and gaming hall Kochevar’s, or grab a slice and some wings at the relocated but still hip Secret Stash, housed in an old county store building downtown.

DETAILS: Season opens Nov. 27; skicb.com.

Jackson Hole

WHAT’S NEW: With new nonstop flights on United Express this winter, it’s never been easier for Houstonians to visit Jackson Hole. Especially since upscale resorts in the area offering so many enticing reasons to stay.

The Four Seasons Resort and Residences has a new Michael Mina restaurant called the Handle Bar, beckoning with pub grub – think Wagyu burgers – and a selection of local beers, artisan cocktails and whiskey. There’s also the resort’s Haute Route Ski Experience deal ($1,399 per night for double occupancy, valid Jan. 30-Feb. 4): a five-night, four-day package that includes ski instruction – from experts who have inside knowledge on the best tracks and hidden stashes for novice to advanced skiers at Jackson Hole Mountain resort – along with plenty of other perks such as breakfast, a special wild game cooking session and cocktails at Handle Bar.

In Teton Village, Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa is known for its slope-side location and 12,000-square-foot, three-story Solitude Spa with indoor and outdoor swimming pools and an oversize rooftop hot tub. Well, the resort has a new restaurant, Spur Restaurant & Bar, with locavore-savvy executive chef Kevin Humphreys serving up home-style cuisine such as Snake River Farms pork tenderloin. Plus, ladies might be interested in taking advantage of the fit-for-all-levels Elevate Women’s Ski Camp Jan. 13-17, which includes four days of instruction from professional skiers Crystal Wright (Freeski World Tour Champion) and Jess McMillan, après ski meals and Pilates classes to stretch and strengthen worn ski legs.

DETAILS: Season opens Nov. 28; jacksonhole.com.

Steamboat Springs

WHAT’S NEW: In addition to updating its snow-making capabilities and working on a $1 million night skiing project, December marks the debut of the multimillion-dollar Four Points Lodge, arguably Steamboat’s most significant on-mountain improvement in a decade.

Located in the Storm Peak/Four Points area of the mountain, the 13,000-square-foot, two-level structure includes a 200-seat dining room, a casual lunchroom with healthy options downstairs, a 35-seat bar, an outdoor barbecue grill, flat screen televisions and retail space. At 9,700 feet up, expect stunning panoramic views of the Yampa Valley, too. Go on a Friday or Saturday night and take a climate-controlled Snowcat Taxi up the mountain for a Northern Italian dinner.

Meanwhile, the ski-in/ski-out Sheraton Steamboat Resort and Villas unveils its roughly $9 million remodel this month, including the completion of 56 new luxury suites. Another nice lodging option is Vista Verde Ranch, which is offering its Winter Carnival package ($2,755 for two) Feb. 5-8. It includes three nights at ranch in a fancy cabin plus one night at the Sheraton, along with meals, booze, guides, equipment, activities and transfers.

And mark your calendars for the ever-popular 40th annual cowboy downhill event in Steamboat Jan. 20, during which – you guessed it – rodeo cowboys race down the mountain.

DETAILS: Season opens Nov. 27; steamboat.com.

Vail/Beaver Creek

WHAT’S NEW: In addition to United nonstop flights from Houston to Eagle Airport, accessing Vail’s 5,289 acres of skiable terrain is even easier now with the introduction of two new chairlifts. There’s the new six-passenger lift replacing Vail’s highly-utilized and recognizable Mountaintop Express Lift (No. 4), thus increasing capacity and reducing lines. There also is the high-speed Gondola One with heated cabins and free WiFi for a comfortable and quick seven-and-a-half-minute trek up the mountain.

High-end properties also are debuting new looks and amenities. The Ritz-Carlton Residences (both ownership and rentals) is rolling out its new Lionshead Collection of designer abodes by Colorado designers such as Eddy Doumas. In nearby Beaver Creek, the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch recently completed a $15 million remodel. Book a room for four nights in the posh Club Level through Dec. 31 and receive the fifth night free.

Also in Beaver Creek, the 17,000-square-foot, on-mountain restaurant named Talons has joined the scene. An upscale cafeteria setting with a barn-recalling facade, it has 500 indoor seats on two levels and 250 outdoor seats, with dishes such as a Colorado lamb burger, homemade soups, carved meats and thin pizza. Anticipate an indoor/ outdoor bar and an outdoor smokehouse, as well.

DETAILS: Season opens Nov. 22; vail.com.

Winter Park

WHAT’S NEW: Winter Park’s talked-about, 48-passenger “Cirque Sled” is a snowcat ride that will provide adventurous skiers and snowboarders easier access to the Vasquez Cirque, where 1,332 acres of off-piste terrain awaits. Passes cost just $10 and are valid for unlimited rides all season long. Open last year, the Coca-Cola Tubing Hill is also getting buzz, with its four banked lanes, as is the hot-chocolate-serving Hill House cafe nearby.

Though many opt to simply commute from Denver (67 miles away) or from another resort, the Zephyr Mountain Lodge comprises 230 one- to three-bedroom condos a mere 110 feet from the Zephyr Express Lift. In addition to hot tubs and fireplaces, it’s close to a number of dining options. Deals through April 20 include 15-percent off one-night stays, and 3rd night free packages.

DETAILS: Season opens Nov. 13; winterparkresort.com.

More Information

EIGHT MORE, OFF THE BEATEN PATH:

The Colorado Gems card costs only $20, and it allows skiers and boarders to get two-for-one full-day lift tickets at eight participating under-the-radar resorts across the state.

The Western-authentic Gem resorts are: Arapahoe Basin, Eldora Mountain Resort, Loveland Ski Area, Monarch Mountain, Powderhorn Resort, Ski Cooper, Ski Granby Ranch and Sunlight Mountain Resort.

Each Gems Card – only 5,000 are available – is good for one use per resort, per season, and they expire at the end of April. Card holders also have access to special flash deals, or promotions offered by each spot throughout the season.

For more information and to purchase, visit coloradoski.com/gems.

J.S.

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Vista Verde Ranch, Colorado Luxury Ranch

Chef’s Corner: Turkey Brine

Date: November 4th, 2013

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, Chef Chol thought it would be perfect timing to share his recipe for turkey brine.  Enjoy!

VVR Turkey Brine (for one 15-18 pound Turkey)

Ingredients:

          1 Gallon Apple juice

          1 Gallon Water

          1 ½ Pounds Kosher salt

          12 ounces dark brown sugar

          4 cinnamon sticks

          5 cloves

          2 bay leaves

          3 star anise

          ¼ cup pickling spice

Procedure:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large pot and simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Cool in the refrigerator overnight. (Alternatively, you could simmer the ingredients without the water and pour over 8 ¼ pounds of ice, and you could use the brine almost immediately)
  3. Brine Turkey 12-15 hours before roasting and refrigerate.

To Roast the Turkey:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Remove the turkey from the brine, rinse the turkey and pat dry with paper towels, inside and out.
  2. Rub the turkey with soft butter, inside and out, and place breast side down on a “V” rack in a roasting pan (this allows the breast to remain moist) and roast for 30 minutes at 400 degrees. After 30 minutes, turn the oven down to 325 degrees F.
  3. One hour before turkey is done (an unstuffed turkey will take about 15 minutes per pound at 325 degrees F), flip the bird to breast side up (using wads of paper towel usually works) and roast until internal temperature of the thick part of the leg reads 165 degrees F. Let the bird rest 30 minutes before carving.

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Vista Verde Ranch, Colorado Luxury Ranch

A horse with great heart

Date: November 4th, 2013

By Steph

We have had a lot of very special horses here at Vista Verde.  The best ones are ones we can trust with the many kids who come to the ranch to be cowboys and cowgirls.  Every once in a while we get one of those horses who just rises above the rest.

Maggie and Pinky

Maggie and Pinky

Pinky is one of those extra special loves.  Not only has Pinky been here forever, but he has been a super rock star horse for all of those years.  He didn’t need time to settle down and mellow out.  He was just great from the get-go.  Over the years, Pinky has been a care-giver for hundreds of kids.  As a mom and a horsewoman, I can tell you there is no price tag high enough for a horse who will be trustworthy with your kids, responsive to their confusing signals and tolerant of their erratic behavior.  My daughter fell in love with Pinky several years ago.  Riding him a few weeks ago she was frustrated that he wouldn’t canter.  What she couldn’t understand is that although Pinky’s days of going fast are long behind him, he is perfect in every way.  He carries her safely.  He doesn’t stop and eat grass along the way (most horses can’t resist that amazing grass out here!), he stops, go’s and turns when she asks him.  He doesn’t spook at ANYTHING.  He’s patient, kind and caring.  Heck, this is a horse who has spent every week of his life the past 10 summers getting swarmed by a group of kids with paint on their hands as they paint Pinky.

In the past couple years, as he aged, he was used a little more lightly and just for the kids who weren’t going to ride too hard.  It’s taken a lot of grain and extra care to keep him going through recent winters.  With another winter looming we felt that it was time to help find Pinky a place to live out his years with a little less effort.  So, as of this past weekend, Pinky has headed off to Nebraska to live with former staff member Anita.  He will be used for an occasional pony ride, but will mostly live a life of leisure going forward.

For all those little people who have love Pinky, and all those parents who have trusted Pinky with their kid’s well-being, we send him off with a huge fan following and a bucket load of carrots, hugs and kisses.

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