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 the ‘This week at the Ranch’ Category

Vista Verde Ranch, Colorado Luxury Ranch

Spring break adventures

Date: April 9th, 2014

By Steph

Good luck closing that gate right now!

Good luck closing that gate right now!

Typically when we close down for the spring break at Vista Verde, it’s because all that amazing snow that Colorado is known for needs to melt away, which leads to a lot of mud.  This year, the memo seems to have missed the mountains, as we’ve been getting more days of snow than sun in April.  We could have stayed open another month, and still be hosting families coming for spring break vacations!  But, hindsight is 20-20, of course.  So, we’re making the best of it and trying to enjoy these fun spring conditions while the ranch is closed down.

There are several special times that happen throughout the spring in the mountains of Colorado.  One of them is a small window of time when fly fishing the rivers is prime.  It comes right in between the end of winter and spring.  Brandon will be writing about that in an upcoming installment of The Fly.  The other is crust skiing season.  This “season” can come and go throughout the spring, depending on the conditions.  We had those perfect conditions for our spring break week earlier in March.  And, after weeks of fresh snow, we just hit those conditions again today.

crust skiing during our spring breakPerfect spring crust skiing conditions arrive when the snow base is still deep but the spring sun has been beating on the top layer of snow for a day or two.  Then, if you get a hard freeze overnight, the snow forms a perfect firm crust that you can walk on, bike on or ski on.  No grooming equipment needed to pack down the snow, you just go wherever you want.

This morning I anticipated those conditions and grabbed my skis as I headed out the door to the Lodge.  After getting a few things done in the office, waiting for the sun to peek over the Continental Divide, I put on my boots, hopped over the fence (it’s easy as it’s only peeking out about 4 inches above the snow) and hit the meadows.

Skating around the ranch property on the crust allows for you to go almost anywhere.  I was in the meadows, playing slalom with the aspens, and dodging willows.  Then I crossed a snow bridge over the creek, hopped a few more fences and ended up enjoying the sun breaking over the mountain as I headed toward Indian Hill.  You can ski fast and far without much effort on the crust.

wildlife at Vista Verde RanchI didn’t see much wildlife, but there were a lot of tracks, and I was being watched at one point by a large winged friend (couldn’t tell what kind of hawk it was).  Otherwise, it was perfectly silent and I glided across the snow.

Although we’re all dreaming of summer days right now, we would be foolish to not seize the moment to enjoy these experiences during our spring break!  You never know what and when the right conditions will apply, but if you want to explore the idea of having a spring break vacation while we’re open in March next year, maybe we’ll get you out crust skiing!

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Vista Verde Ranch, Colorado Luxury Ranch

Spring Break in Colorado

Date: March 26th, 2014

By Steph

Kelli and Steve out on a spring crust snow bike ride.

Kelli and Steve out on a spring crust snow bike ride.

Spring has arrived at Vista Verde Ranch, and we’re all enjoying a little break between our winter season and the start of summer.  Although there is still a lot of snow on the ground, there is also a lot of mud starting to creep up around the ranch.  Our version of spring break in Colorado means early morning crust skate skiing and snowbiking, long walks down the driveway (it’s the only place that isn’t muddy or slushy right now), riding the young horses as much as we can in the arena, but also introducing them to strolls down the driveway, and road biking.  Or, if you ask Ben, it might just mean turning on the big screen to March Madness.  Either way, we’re enjoying the sunshine, the birds singing the the sound of slushy snow.

After having so many people request for us to stay open a bit later for spring break vacations, we decided to add another week next winter.  So, for those of you who’s spring break schedules allow, we’ll be open until March 21 in 2015.  Spring break getaways at Vista Verde are a little different than the rest of the winter.  Typically the weather is warmer, the snow is melting and mud boots are handy during the warm afternoons on the walkways and driveway.  But, with that warm weather there are some fun opportunities.  Slush skiing in the afternoon.  Crust skate skiing in the morning.  Snow biking on the crust is the best (I’m sneaking out soon for a quick ride) and there is something super fun about being on a ski with short sleeve shirts.  Give us a call if you’re interested in making a spring break trip to Colorado next year!

Oh, is that a chickadee I hear?  Must mean the sun is coming up and it’s time for me to hop on that bike.

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Vista Verde Ranch, Colorado Luxury Ranch

And that’s a wrap- our winter season comes to an end

Date: March 20th, 2014

By Steph

After breakfast this morning, our last guests of the season will check out and head home.  We closed out the winter season with a fabulous final day yesterday.  The 12 guests attending the horsemanship clinic rode hard, laughed a lot and finished strong.  The energy in the indoor arena was wonderful when I went down to watch them ride yesterday.  There were four wranglers in there teaching, each sharing their own perspective on horsemanship and helping give tips to the guests as they tried out complicated maneuvers with their horses.  Nate, Mandy, John and Terry were instructing and helping our guests understand the nuances of how they were using their bodies to send cues to their horses.  It was fun to watch Terry and John relish in their last time teaching at the ranch before they both head off for their next adventures in life.  And it was great to see Mandy and Nate step up to the plate and establish themselves as talented teachers with their own style, preparing to step into their new roles as trainer and head wrangler at Vista Verde.

Mark, Kim and Mike with their Guide Training diplomas.

Mark, Kim and Mike with their Guide Training diplomas.

In the afternoon, Melissa and I walked over to the other side of the river to celebrate the graduation of our first “class” of guest guides.  In our inaugural Guide Training for Guests we had 3 guests try out the course.  It was everything I could have imagined and better.  Steve, Kelli and Brandon put together an amazing, information packed course for these guests to learn how to head out into the backcountry safely.  Anyone who likes to hike, fish, bike, ski, snowshoe, you name it…..should take this course.  Our guests learned about the dangers, reading the land, navigating, first aid and safety, proper dress, shelter building, and the list goes on.  I enjoyed hearing them share their new knowledge and realization that they can’t believe they used to go out without all this information before.   Congrats to the class of 2014, and happy trails.

Today brings a flurry of cleaning, closing down cabins, deep cleaning the kitchen, putting away the skis, and wrapping up the winter season.  Tomorrow we’ll get the key players to sit down and hash out all the ins and outs of this past winter, what worked, what didn’t, what changes do we want to make next year.  Friday night the staff will come over to my house for dinner before heading off to watch KP and Bubba dance in tights (ok, that’s just our joke….they’ll be in their cowboy boots and jeans we hope) at the annual Steamboat Dance Showcase.  Then many of the staff will be loading up their cars or hopping on planes to head off to vacation or their next step in life.  A small group of us stick around in the off-season and start hitting our to-do lists.  Mine’s a mile long, and I’m looking forward to some quiet days of catching up, but also sneaking out to play a bit.  I’ve got my eye on a little mare down in the barn and there’s still some snow out there to enjoy before it melts away completely.

Thank you to all the wonderful people who made this past winter season at Vista Verde so fun.  We loved watching families try out a snow vacation for the first time.  The honeymooners here on a snowy honeymoon were sweet and fun.  The couples rekindling the romance, the singles coming to share their experience with friends, the girlfriend getaways, and all the other ways people found to experience Vista Verde in the winter made this a memorable and action packed season.  Thanks for playing with all of us at the ranch this past winter.

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Vista Verde Ranch, Colorado Luxury Ranch

Changing of the guards

Date: March 10th, 2014

By Steph

It's like herding cats trying to get this crew together for a good photo!  Jess was missing, but at least I found Vinny, Mel, Carson, Terry and John.

It’s like herding cats trying to get this crew together for a good photo! Jess was missing, but at least I found Vinny, Mel, Carson, Terry and John.

At the end of every season, we say goodbye to a number of our wonderful staff who came to the ranch for a season (or more) and are now moving on to their next adventure in life.  It’s always a mix of sadness to see them go, but excitement for their next steps in life and continued growth.  And then we start looking forward to the new arrivals to come in time to prepare for our next season.  That is the life cycle of a seasonal business.  There are a few of us who stick around to become what we call “lifers”, but that is only a select few who are in a place in life to be here for the long term.

This spring we say goodbye to some really outstanding members of the Vista Verde team, who have made a commitment of leading one or more of the departments at the ranch.  Closest to my heart is Melissa, who has been my life saver in the office the past 2 years.  She has run the office with grace and ease, overseeing all the reservations, communications with our guests and the many logistics that need to be managed to keep the ranch running smoothly.  She moves on to explore new career options in Austin, TX.  Another one near and dear is Jess, our amazing red-headed, wine-serving, white table cloth slinging dining room manager.   After several years with us at the ranch, Jess will be heading off to further her education with a dual masters degree in teaching and fine arts & creative writing in Spokane, WA.

The kids will be crying when they learn that Carson has finally decided to move onto his next venture.  He started as our ace dishwasher, then became a ranch hand, then managed our kids program before finishing out his time at Vista Verde managing the ranch hand department.  But, the kids always remember and know Carson as “the funny guy” and the one who they vied for his attention.  Carson will be jumping on a motorcycle with John I., and heading to Kodiak Island, AK to hop aboard a fishing boat for the summer.  They were looking for a new experience, and they definitely found one!  That leads us to sending off John I., our ace wrangler with the big smile.  He’s trained our horses, been the farrier for our horses, led the wrangling crew the past 2 seasons, and played a role in the Farwell Mountain Boys band, always with that great big smile on his face.

After spending 4 years in the kitchen, most recently as our Sous Chef, Vinny is packing his bags and getting behind the steering wheel for an epic road trip around the Western US.  Having grown up in Steamboat Springs, he’s excited to be touring and exploring, looking for a new place to call home and further his culinary experience.

Lastly, we send off the ever charismatic and entertaining Terry.  He’s headed to the warmer weather of Texas to dip his toe back into the waters of the show horse world.  Terry’s been an integral part of our team for the past 6 years helping us grow our breeding program, and he has taught so many people the finer points of horsemanship.  And, he’s never been at a loss for words, jokes or stories.  We will miss his laughter and love of horses, but know he’ll be bringing a lot of joy to folks in Texas.

Along with these great folks who have contributed to the “betterness” of Vista Verde in so many ways, we say goodbye to some of the great people who made Vista Verde their home recently.  Maureen, Heidi, Annie, Maddie, BMac, and Steve J.  It’s always a blast sharing this place with new people, watching them grow over the course of the seasons and then sending them off with our best wishes for new adventures.

Although sad to say goodbye, all of us here embrace the excitement and enthusiasm the new managers bring to the place.  Malori has been training all winter to step into Melissa’s role in the front office.  Bubba will be handling the fine china and taking over managing the dining room crew.  Brandon will be picking up the reigns to lead the ranch hand crew (don’t worry, he’ll still be guiding fishing trips this summer!), and Nathan and Mandy will be teaming up to oversee the horse program.  These folks have all put in their time learning the ropes, understanding our business and are now ready to step up in their responsibilities.  We’re revamping our clinics, adding new ones, making plans for the next breeding season and lining up the young horses to get a great base of training this summer so they can start moving into the riding herd soon.  Pretty soon some of these young horses who our guests enjoyed as foals will be steady trail steeds, ready to take you out into the mountains of Colorado.

With our heartfelt thanks for their contributions to the ranch we send off these folks to leave their mark in other places, and can’t wait to hear the tales of their new lives in the real world.  And we look forward to the excitement, new ideas and energy that our incoming managers bring to their roles for the upcoming summer dude ranch season.  Let’s Ride!

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Vista Verde Ranch, Colorado Luxury Ranch

An Hour Well Spent

Date: March 10th, 2014

By Malori spring

As I grudgingly dragged myself out of bed this morning and stumbled to the coffee pot at 6:00 am – that extra hour of sleep I lost felt like an eternity. However, once I gulped one cup of coffee down, the world seemed a little less harsh and I thought about the excitement the words “spring forward” denote.

We’re just a few months away from paddle boarding on the lake, hiking through wild flowers, and riding on trails no longer blanketed by snow. Our spring breakers are here this week, the temperatures are starting to warm up, and there’s a new anticipation in the air. An extra hour of daylight means one more hour to play outside – just enough time after work for a run on the tubing hill, a snowshoe to Hinman Lake, or maybe a skate ski. I guess an hour lost is a fair exchange for one more hour in the sun – now get outside and soak up that sun!

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Vista Verde Ranch, Colorado Luxury Ranch

Story Ideas

Date: March 3rd, 2014

A co-op blog by Steph and Malori

Every now and then we’ll brainstorm some fun story ideas to send along to our media partners.  It’s not that we expect them to pick up that exact story, but it can sometimes get a writer’s creative juices flowing.  Malori has been working on some fun ones this winter, and for grins I figured I’d share them with those of you who follow the Vista Verde story.

I love this first one.  It is a true story (Doug, you know we’re writing about you!) and it happens over an over each winter!

The Unlikely Winter Fan - 

So you think you hate winter? Are you sure?

It happened again. Another one of our guests confessed to being a lover of snow, cold and everything winter. He told us: when my wife suggested a winter vacation at a ranch – I told her that sounded like a miserable excuse for a vacation. But after the first morning of back-country skiing, followed by an afternoon horse clinic, he told us, “That was the best day of my life!” By day three he was planning his family’s return trip.  Why? Because he was unexpectedly introduced to a whole new world of experiences, adventure, challenges, and rewards he never even knew existed. So, how many people have been pleasantly surprised by their vacations? Perhaps a story about unlikely vacation fans could be a fun twist for readers.

Disconnect to Reconnect- 

Remembering the joy of a simple life

Ever have the desire to ditch the city, technology and the fast-paced life? How do you disconnect, but also reconnect with the stuff that really matters? Vista Verde guests end up disconnecting and reconnecting at the same time, thanks to a unique blend of personalized luxury and beautiful simplicity. For the luxury, envision deluxe mountain cabins, fluffy down comforters, a 1:1 staff to guest ratio, private hot tubs and an endless flow of wine. As for simplicity, there’s plenty of space each day to simply be present. Decisions are wonderfully rewarding:  Horseback riding or cooking class? Homemade butternut squash ravioli or bison short ribs with sweet potato gnocchi?  Engage in meaningful conversation with your spouse or read a book in while looking out over the pristine meadows?  Guests slow down and enjoy the moment.

As someone who spends her life squeezing in fitness and multi-tasking my life away, this one made me laugh:

The All-Inclusive Vacation Workout-

Be adventurous and get in shape – on a Vista Verde Ranch vacation

Vista Verde Ranch, located just outside of Steamboat Springs, CO, is an all-inclusive luxury resort. The vacation package includes lodging in a cozy log cabin, numerous activities, three gourmet meals a day, wine and micro brews, and an opportunity for the best full-body workout you can get while on vacation.

SUMMER WINTER
Day 1: Horseback Riding Day 1: Horseback Riding
Targeted Muscles: abs and legs Targeted Muscles: abs and legs
   
Day 2: Rock Climbing Day 2: Snowshoeing
Targeted Muscles: arms, chest, back, legs, abs Targeted Muscles: legs, glutes, abs
   
Day 3: Hiking Day 3: Back Country Skiing
Targeted Muscles: legs, glutes Targeted Muscles: legs, glutes, abs, arms
   
Day 4: Yoga Day 4: Yoga
Targeted Muscles: Full body, core focus Targeted Muscles: Full body, core focus
   
Day 5: Mountain Biking Day 5: Snow Biking
Targeted Muscles: legs, glutes, abs, upper body Targeted Muscles: legs, glutes, abs, upper body
   
Day 6: Paddle Boarding Day 6: Skate Skiing
Targeted Muscles: Full body, core focus Targeted Muscles: Full body, core focus
   
Day 7: Kayaking Day 7: Massage & Hot Tub
Targeted Muscles: chest, arms, shoulders, back Targeted Muscles: Rest and rejuvenate all your muscles!

Each day, refuel your body breakfast, lunch and dinner with Chef Cholly’s healthy gourmet options like an arugula, tomato and feta cheese omelet, lemon and almond kale salad, or fresh grilled salmon.  You come back from vacation recharged, refreshed, fitter and healthier – what a concept! 

This one was an spin-off from a kids program blog post I did last summer about my kids being filthy, sobbing messes at the end of each day here at the ranch..

A Playground without Fences-

Running wild and free in the Rocky Mountains

A filthy, sobbing child is the kind of child we can all hope for at the end of a good day.  Why? You may have seen it before: dirty tear streaks that leave tracks like war paint – evidence of a rewarding day spent playing, running, and jumping in the great outdoors. After a full day of horseback riding, panning for gold, and a low ropes course at Vista Verde, you will end up with a kid who is so exhausted she can barely make it through dinner.  But, what a great replacement for fenced yards, sanitized playrooms and recirculated air.  The kid’s program at Vista Verde will leave your child begging to be left behind with the kid’s supervisors, horses, and mountains they have come to love. Hey, you may be begging to be left behind too after breath-taking hikes, adventurous horseback rides, and a daily timeout from the kids.

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Vista Verde Ranch, Colorado Luxury Ranch

A Vacation from Vacation

Date: February 27th, 2014

By Malori

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As March approaches, so does the end to another winter season. For staff at Vista Verde, this means we start thinking about our own vacation time. The ranch closes for a few months while the snow turns into a sloppy, muddy mess – giving us the chance to pick our own adventure.

Beka and Megan are going to hike accross Spain on the Camino de Santiago. Nate and Brandon are getting EMT Certified. John and Carson are planning a cross country motorcycle trip to Alaska. Emily is taking a road trip of national parks and Cori is going on a mission trip to Brazil. Chef John T. is fishing, fishing, and more fishing. He’s going to cast a line in Miami, Saint Augustine, Charleston, Eugene, and northern California. Andrew is running a marathon and Dan, Shannan, and I are heading to Thailand for three weeks – that’s just to name a few trips people are going on! 

Two common traits among many of the staff here are a spirit of adventure and a heart for travel – the perfect combination for an eventful vacation!

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Vista Verde Ranch, Colorado Luxury Ranch

Special offering: Guide Training

Date: February 14th, 2014

By Steph

Each season our guides go through an in-depth guide training to prepare for the season.  This training has been developed over the past 10 or so years to cover all aspects of taking guests out into the back country safely.  From understanding the dangers of the terrain to proper trip preparation, first aid to survival skills, this training will prepare anyone to head out safely into the back country.

Now, for the first time ever, we are offering this same training to our guests.  So, if you’ve ever felt like you’d like to feel a little more confident heading out on a hike or snow shoeing up a mountain, this training is for you!

Your days will be spent learning, practicing and training.  Your evenings will be spent enjoying a nice meal followed by the peace and quiet of the ranch as you reflect on all your learned that day.

March 16-20, 2014

$1,695/person

The training is limited to 6 guests, so grab your spot quickly if interested!

Contact us at 800-526-7433 with any questions, or to make a reservation.

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Vista Verde Ranch, Colorado Luxury Ranch

Where are they now?

Date: February 11th, 2014

By Steph

A VVR staff photo from long ago!

A VVR staff photo from long ago!

A while back I asked the question “Where are you now?” to our Vista Verde Ranch Alumni.  It was wonderful to hear back from so many former staff.  We’ve lost touch with a lot of folks, but are trying to get a group together to keep in touch better in the future.  So, if you’ve wondered where life has taken some of our great staff, read on.

If you are a former VVR staff and want to keep in touch with others, please leave a comment as to what you’re up to and I’ll add you to the Vista Verde Ranch Alumni list.

 

 

 

Erin Fellows- I am back in Austin, Tx and now the General Manager of a Bakery that just opened 2 months ago. I worked for a privately owned ice cream company called Amy’s Ice Creams for 5 years and last year they offered me the position as the General Manager of Baked by Amy’s. I credit Vista Verde so much for where I am today! Rob gave me a chance to learn in a real kitchen and I fell in love with a career I will enjoy for the rest of my life.

Lindsey Conklin- I saw your post on facebook! Thought I’d respond as I’d love to see what everyone’s been up to! I miss the Ranch, you, Ben, Melissa, and Charlie!!!! How are things going?  For now I’m living in New York City, writing for a blog called “The Gloss,” possibly going to grad school in the fall. (although a piece of me hates to leave NYC–I’ve fallen in love with this city!) Hope everyone’s doing well, would love to come back and visit at some point!

Brittany Haile- That’s a great idea! I just moved to DC as you know and am doing special events with the American Heart Association

Lasha Halsey- I live in Fort Collins now. I am a yoga instructor at Raintree Athletic Club and also Om Ananda Yoga Studio. VVR is where I started teaching yoga, unproffesionally of course, with my fellow co-workers. But it’s where my teaching career started! I am a also a part-time nanny/household mananger for a wonderful family here with 2 kids; a 9 year old and 12 year old.  I spend a lot of time with other VVR folks here: JJ Fountain, AJ Fountain, Jamie Porter and Rob Panos. We have a wonderful little community here because of the friendships built while at the ranch. I love Fort Collins but also miss the ranch and plan to visit soon! Hope all is well. Sending my love!

Jenn Brouder- Great idea for the blog! Can’t wait to see where everyone is :) I’m in my final semester at Elon University about to graduate with a degree in Human Services. I’d really love to pursue outdoor adventure therapy or recreation therapy! I send my love to everyone out there!

Emily Taylor- That is such a cool idea! I’m at Vanderbilt Law School- Nashville, TN- in my second semester, with an internship lined up for part of the summer at a small firm just north of Nashville. And, obviously, I’m constantly missing Colorado, looking for a way to get back as soon as possible! The pictures of the ranch all over my apartment don’t help me concentrate on my homework :) Miss you!

Anita Olson- Okay I will tell you about me.  On Feb 1 I will be taking over as the Director of Keep Loup Basin Beautiful.  We are a non-profit organization that promotes waste reduction, recycling, litter prevention and beautification for several counties in central Nebraska.  I’m actually going to be working sometimes with your buddy Sarah Switzer.  However we still haven’t met in person even though we were supposed about three different times.  I live in Ericson with my mom (you don’t have to put that detail) and Pinky and Chico.  That’s about it.  I update the Keep Loup Basin Beautiful facebook page if you want to see what kinds of things we do.  How are things at Vista Verde?  I got to see Johanna, Beka and Terry at the stock show.  That was fun and it sounds like things are going really well.  Take care!

Rob Citto- My current job is Resident chef of a cooking school in Tallahassee Florida. I have two CBS appearances a month cooking on live TV. I am also writing a Food and Wine blog for the Tallahassee democrat. www.tallahassee.com/chefrob. I miss the ranch and Steamboat Springs. Keep in touch.

Sallie Hallmark-  I saw the “where are they now” page and thought I would just let you know. I am nowhere exciting in another country like several of my counterparts, lol, but I am back in Birmingham and am now the Director of Sales for the Aloft Birmingham Soho Square. (www.aloftbirminghamsohosquare.com). I miss y’all all the time, but it is an awesome job and it is great being back close to family and friends.

Liz Tripodi- Nate and I live in the Washington, D.C. area where I work as an attorney litigating mergers and acquisitions of public companies and Nate runs his whitewater kayak school, Potomac River Outfitters.  I am running a good bit and active with the DC Road Runners.  Nate remains very active in the paddling community teaching and volunteering with Team River Runner, an organization that helps wounded veterans.  We still keep in touch with Chol, and were fortunate enough to have him on our Grand Canyon trip a couple of years ago – 21 days of pure river bliss! We miss the Colorado winters (I miss the summers too) and being able to ski right out of our front door.  We hope to make it back out to Steamboat one of these days! Give my best to everyone!

Evan J. Younger- I’m responding to your post asking where people are.  I’m in Boston, MA working in corporate real estate for CBRE. I hope all is well with you and your family.

Evan Forsythe- Greetings from Tucson AZ!  I’m in my second year of a phD program at the University of Arizona. I study and research Genetics and Evolutionary Biology in plants (not fish?!?). Sending my love to the ranch!

Kelly Luce- Hey, Steph! Great idea. I’m in Austin, TX right now, doing a writing fellowship at UT. My first book came out in October. http://kellyluce.com/Kelly Luce | Author of Three Scenarios in Which Hana Sasaki Grows a Tail

Rucker Staggers- Hey Steph! After the ranch I drove to Auburn, Alabama and worked at a local auto shop before starting med school. I just finished my first semester as a first year medical student at UAB in Alabama. I am pretty sure I am the only one here who has driven a tractor or worn a cowboy hat

Grace Berryman- Hey Steph! Right now I’m in the national tour of The Phantom of the Opera understudying the role of Christine! Some of the guests Reid and I keep in touch with are coming to see the show in their respective cities! So fun to stay connected with them all as I travel the country!

Teresa Cristina- Yoooo! I’m in Sayulita, Mexico teaching first and second graders at a non-profit bilingual school with an ecological focus. Also, I’m trying to learn (rather unsuccessfully) to surf. Here’s my blog https://twonunsontherun.wordpress.com and the school website in case anyone wants to come volunteer and keep me companyhttp://www.colegiocostaverde.com/Joomla/ . I miss you ranchers somethin fierce!!! Hugs for the girls, please!

Bekah Chadwick- Rusty and I are in Rome, GA where he works as the Operations Manager at WinShape Wilderness. Rusty is also working on his Master’s in Management & Leadership. I was working for the WinShape Foundation but am now staying at home raising our 18 month old, Dawson.

Kelsey Detzner- I am in Denver, nannying and working on my MA in counseling ministries, but the end is in sight! One more semester + one outstanding summer class, and then job searching, possibly with a trip to the west coast after graduation!

Chelsea Kaufman- Hey Steph, great idea! I’m living in Carmel, IN and working in Sales as an Engineering Recruiter. I’m eager to read this blog and see where life has taken everyone so far. Hope all is well!

Nathan McClure- Cool idea Steph! I live in Augusta, GA and am finishing my 2nd year of med school. I also recently got married. Hope all is well at the ranch!

Dana Gingerich- Man, mine sounds boring compared to all of these!  I’m living in Arthur IL with my husband on our grain farm and I work at an agricultural software company doing grain customer support.

Ashley Gillespie- You know our story. Living in Clarkesville GA. Jonathon is the chef at Waterfall Country Club. I am a stay at home mama to our boys, Dylan – 4 and Wyatt – 15 months and do taxidermy when I have time.

Jess Decker- Hey Steph, I’m back in Tiger GA working in Gainesville for Kenworth as a mechanic. What I find interesting is how small this world really is. I’m not sure if Ashley and I know each other, but we live 20 mins apart.

Amber Ortiz- Proud Alum from over 10 years ago! Robert and I are no longer married but did have two amazing children together. Reid (whom I was pregnant with my last summer working there- morning sickness and puking while riding with guests is not fun but Jonathan Gillespie and Chol McGlynn let me eat ice cream whenever I wanted!) is turning 10 in March. Reyata will be 5 in June. Both Robert and I live in Iowa. He’s an Ag Teacher and I work at Coe College. Miss VVR and all my fellow Alums!

Janelle Erickson- Hi Steph and everyone! I just moved back to MN after a loooong time away. Most recently I was in Dubai for four years working as a Copywriter at the TBWA and Leo Burnett ad agencies. Just started at a new-ish agency in MN called Solve. They have some pretty cool clients. So keep an eye out for any Organic Valley, True Value or Bentley advertising, because I probably had a hand in creating them.

Casie Marie Barker- Hey Steph…life after the ranch actually brought me back to Carmel, IN to nanny for Peggy and Jerry’s son’s kids! What a small world! Hope to visit soon!

Alex Mabey- Heyyyyyy everyone! I’m living in WA right now, finishing school, planning a summer winery music tour on the east of the mountains, and finishing my third CD (coming out in April)!! Last summer I coordinated and lead wilderness trips for youth in Alaska and here’s my latest music video, shot in right Homer!http://vimeo.com/72533895 Looking forward to life after college and thankful to have had the break I did to go to cool places like VVR  So cool hearing what everyone is up to! xoxox
‘Cry For The Bird’ by Alex Mabey

Dan Croake- Hi Steph! Sang and taught for a few years after I left. Then decided I wanted to take care of people with voice problems and got my clinical degree in voice pathology. Stayed on to get my PhD at the University of Kentucky. Been an exciting year having some of my research published. Should be Dr. Croake in about 9 months.

Grahm Fulton- It’s fun to read what everyone is up to. Such a unique group of people! And we all have VVR in common! After leaving el rancho I pursued the grass fed cattle side of ranching. Interned for a summer in Nebraska at the Rusty Star (sorry Anita Olson, CO is where it’s at.) This past summer was up in MT at the J Bar L (if you’re in need of some tasty grass fed beef this is hands down the place to get it from, plus no minimum order!) Interned for a while back in CO at the Chico Basin Ranch. But for now hanging up the spurs and attempting to use my fine woodworking degree back in Denver.

Roxy Kestner- Steph! This is the coolest idea! One of the (many) best things about working at VVR…I always have something interesting to talk about with random people. And they always think I must have lived the coolest life ever. And they are totally right!!

Dorit Iacobsohn- Steph, I love this idea! Very cool to see where everyone landed. I got my Masters in Social Work from UCLA and I’m now working on Hollywood at a social service organization that serves homeless individuals with mental illness & medical disabilities. I think about VVR all the time, it’s nice to keep connected

Lindsey Thorsen- Married and living in my home town of Muskegon MI. Working as a marketing manager for ServiceMaster.

Matt Moore-  I just finished looking at a bunch of old VVR pictures with three of my four kids! I am a professional Farrier (horseshoer) with my own business. I shoe mostly Western Pleasure Quarter horses and Paints. I shoe in Ohio, Mich., Texas, and Florida during the winter. I do have one barn full of polo ponies which are not always fun to shoe but is a great game to watch!

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Local’s Day at Vista Verde

Date: January 8th, 2014

By Steph

On Saturday, January 11 we will be welcoming into the ranch our local friends from the Steamboat Springs area for a day of fun at the ranch.  We’re hoping to get a good crowd to come out and play our trails, indulge in some great food and enjoy the ranch for the day.

Orange Peel BikesThe trails will be groomed for skiing, the snowshoe trails packed, and the sleigh ready for sleigh rides.  The chefs will have a mouth-watering lunch waiting in the Lodge for hungry skiers.  Brock from Orange Peel Bikes will have snow bikes for folks to try out.  Devyn (and maybe others?) will be singing and playing music in the Great room after lunch.

If you are in the area, come on over and join us for a fun day at Vista Verde!  $45/adult and $25/child 12 & under.  Reservations are required so please call 970-879-3858 or email reservations@vistaverde.com to book your spot.

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You’re in good hands at Vista Verde

Date: December 30th, 2013

By Malori 

P1000089I may be boasting a little, but I work with some pretty incredible people at Vista Verde. This season particularly, the staff stands out in reference to their first aid and emergency response qualifications. During winter orientation, we created a list for everyone to add their first aid training and certifications – that list is pretty impressive! Two of our staff members are Wilderness First Aid (WFA) Certified, eight are Wilderness Advance First Aid (WAFA) Certified, three are Wilderness First Responders (WFR), and we have one certified EMT.  Not to mention the 16 others who are CPR/First Aid Certified. That’s a lot of people with a lot of knowledge!

A WFR goes through 80 hours of intensive classroom and outdoor training to prepare them for emergency situations where 911 is not an option. WAFA requires 40 hours and WFA requires 16-20. That means collectively we have over 800 hours of training! As you can see from the list, almost every department has one person with advanced training. Although no one wants to be in an emergency situation, it’s encouraging to know you would be in the right hands if the circumstance did occur!

Ben Martin Wilderness First Responder (WFR) General Manager
Steve King Wilderness First Responder (WFR) Nordic/Adventure Center Manager
Dan Ford EMT , NREMT Culinary Clean-up
Shannon Balzer Wilderness First Responder (WFR) Guide
Heidi Waldbart Wilderness First Responder (WFR) Server
Kelli King Wilderness Advance First Aid (WAFA) Nordic/Adventure Center Manager
Brandon Martin Wilderness Advance First Aid (WAFA) Fly Fishing Manager, Guide
Steven “Bubba” Veteto Wilderness Advance First Aid (WAFA) Server, Fly Fishing Guide
Cholly McGlynn Wilderness Advance First Aid (WAFA) Executive Chef
John Thompson Wilderness Advance First Aid (WAFA) Chef de Cuisine
John Isder Wilderness Advance First Aid (WAFA) Head Wrangler
Annie Bolonigo Wilderness Advance First Aid (WAFA) Assistant Horse Trainer
Nathan Margason Wilderness Advance First Aid (WAFA) Guide
Beka Adam Wilderness First Aid (WFA) Human Resources & Activities Coordinator
Carson Reese Wilderness First Aid (WFA) Head Ranch Hand

 

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Winter Specials

Date: December 27th, 2013

By Steph

The holiday whirlwind is coming to an end, and we are starting to peek into the New Year with anticipation of all that is ahead of us in 2014.  We kick off the year with the transition to adult-only times at the ranch.  Starting January 4 and continuing until just after Valentine’s Day, the ranch switches over to a playground for just adults.  This time is historically a mix of couples seeking romantic getaways, friends gathering up for an adventurous winter vacation and singles coming to enjoy the camaraderie of others and the comfort of a small and intimate setting.

Street events at Steamboat's Winter Carnival

Street events at Steamboat’s Winter Carnival

During our adult-only vacation period, the annual Winter Carnival comes to Steamboat Springs.  To celebrate this event we are offering a special for Vista Verde guests to experience the long-standing Steamboat tradition of the Winter Carnival.  Join us at the ranch from Feb 5-8, 2014 and you can extend your stay a day.  We will set you up with a discounted hotel room for Saturday night right in Steamboat Springs.  This allows you to watch the famous street events on Saturday, the night show that evening and then more festivities on Sunday morning in charming Steamboat Springs. Included in your stay is a Winter Carnival admission button.

Romance at Vista Verde Ranch

Romance at Vista Verde Ranch

Shortly after the Winter Carnival will be Valentine’s Day.  This is a great time to whisk away your sweetheart to celebrate in a romantic winter wonderland. If you’d like to really woo your love we’ll start your Valentine’s Day off with breakfast in bed, followed by a day of as much outside activity as you desire. In the afternoon we’ll treat you to a private sleigh ride complete with hot toddies to keep you toasty warm. On Valentine’s Day evening the chefs will delight your taste buds with their popular aphrodisiac dinner. The rest is up to you to enjoy the serene setting, the cozy cabin and the bubbling hot tub with views of snow covered meadows and mountains.

Right after Valentine’s Day we switch back to family times at the ranch.  Whether it’s winter vacation veterans or those trying out snow for the first time, we specialize in fun in the snow!  And kids specialize in having more fun in snow than a puppy.  So, this year break away from the beach and hit the snow at Vista Verde. For those booking a 7-night family vacation between February 22-March 8, mom and dad will get a complementary massage.  An engaging kids program and a massage for mom and dad……it doesn’t get much more relaxing to be a parent on vacation than that!

Come experience Colorado in the winter at Vista Verde Ranch!  The setting is magical, the adventures await and the staff is ready to serve you with genuine Western hospitality.  Call us at 800-526-7433 to check availability.

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Hey, that’s a lot of hay!

Date: December 20th, 2013

By Steph

hayOne of the best gifts of ranching in the Steamboat Springs area is the abundant and rich grass that fills our valley floors each summer.  Because of this amazing feature of the area, most ranchers do not need to feed their cattle or horses during the summer as they get more than enough nutrition from the grass.  As the snow covers the valley and the mountains around the ranch, the horses start to wonder where did all that lush grass go?  And, where is my dinner?

Around the middle of August we start seeing the hay truck rolling up the driveway several times a day.  One of our local friends has fields and fields of grass that he watches and cares for until it’s just the right time to cut it each year.  As he cuts those hundreds of acres of grass hay, he starts delivering them to us one load at a time.  With a mix of big round bales, large square bales and smaller bales that can be tossed by a strong wrangler, we slowly accumulate all the hay that we’ll need for the winter months.

During the snowy winter months, we’ll feed the horses with the feed sleigh, just like the old timer ranchers did back when Vista Verde was homesteaded as a hay and cattle operation.  Each day the wranglers load up the sleigh with hay, hitch up the team and head out right around lunch time to spread cheer and joy throughout the winter pasture.  The horses know exactly what time feed-time is and start lining up at the gate about 11am.

As the snow starts to get melty in the late-spring, we switch over to feeding the large round bales with the tractor.  The amount we feed gets lower and lower as fresh, spring grass starts peeking through.  And, then it’s back to fields of green, lush grass and horses grazing each day in the pastures.  There’s a reason it’s called Vista Verde!

So, the question is, can you guess how many tons of hay we have to buy each year to sustain our herd of roughly 100 horses through the winter?  Submit your guess between now and Christmas.  The closest guess will get a little prize sent their way!

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The Countdown

Date: December 9th, 2013

By Steph

Holidays in ColoradoThe Christmas carols are playing, the servers and housekeepers are transforming the Great room for the holidays, the sleigh has been taken for a test ride, and Elizabeth has finished her amazing gingerbread village.  The new staff are busy learning the ins and outs of their jobs while the returning staff are tidying up the place, getting the ski trails ready, the horses prepped and the tubes blown up for some serious sledding.  With 4 days left until we open for the winter season, we are excited and ready to greet guests on Saturday afternoon!

Eamon Macneil McGlynnIn the midst of all this hubbub, we welcomed into the ranch family Eamon McGlynn this past weekend.  Alaya and Cholly are doing well and keeping all of us away from their new little boy.  We’re all trying to be respectful of their space right now, but are all itching to meet little Eamon.  The good thing about having a dude ranch baby is there is never a shortage of babysitters and baby holders.

In the coming days, we’ll be putting the final touches on the ranch and getting all our logistics in place to open up on Saturday.  Then, we’re off to the races for the holiday season.  We’ll be singing carols around the fireplace in the Great room, taking sleigh rides in fresh snow, skiing to forests of little Christmas trees, dancing our way into the New Year, and just enjoying the holiday season with laughter, cheer and grand adventures.  After the holidays, we’ll switch over to adult only stays, so things will quiet down a bit.  From early January until mid-February we’ll have guests coming to enjoy a winter vacation with the company of other adults.  Some make it a romantic getaway, some come for a quiet time by themselves, some grab the girlfriends for a girls getaway, and the reasons keep coming for why people come to Vista Verde for a winter getaway in the mountains.  We love to play in the snow, so we are looking forward to making some great memories with our guests this winter!

 

 

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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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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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Kids, Bikes and Colorado sunshine

Date: October 28th, 2013

By Steph

biking vacation Colorado Last Friday the kids from the North Routt Charter School loaded up their bikes into large horse trailers and headed to Vista Verde for a day of biking and fun times at the ranch.  Luckily the weather was gorgeous and sunny, so the kids had a hay day goofing off on their bikes all around the ranch.  Some went out on the single track trails, some headed to the bike skills park and some of the little ones just puttered around on the dirt roads.

Steve and Kelli played host to the kids by teaching them new skills and encouraging them to have fun on their bikes, no matter what their ability.  The ranch was buzzing with excitement and the sounds of giggling.

mountain biking guideAfter riding, playing and having a picnic lunch, the kids loaded back on their bus, the bikes back into the horse trailers and they headed off to school.  Part of the curriculum for the North Routt Charter School is Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound (ELOB) and Service Learning. For example, student-owned projects enable the students at NRCCS to learn academic subjects while connecting to the people and places in our community. All three of these educational programs encourage our students to use their “place” as a learning resource, incorporating direct learning experiences into core curricular activities.

It was great to be a part of the student’s learning and we loved sharing the ranch with them for the day!

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Coming Soon…..Willie the Moose!

Date: October 25th, 2013

By Steph

Willie The MooseThis past summer, I had the pleasure of working on a really exciting project with one of our talented staff.  Maddy O’Neil came to the ranch as a ranch hand for the summer, after visiting the ranch as a guest last winter.  He has a background in illustration and aspirations of creating a children’s book.  So, not having planned on putting together a children’s book for our Vista Verde friends, I suddenly found myself working with Maddy on putting this concept together in one summer.

Maddy crafted the vision and spent countless nights sitting in the Lodge drawing in his sketchbook.  As he and I met weekly the story came together page by page.  It went from sketch book to computer and now to the printer.  When Maddy revealed the book at our end of season staff party the room was filled with laughter that just wouldn’t end….and you will see why soon.  It’s a charming story of a sweet moose who is trying to find his place at a little dude ranch in Colorado.

Keep your eye out for the books to go on sale soon, and you can have your own copy of Wille the Moose!

 

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October at a dude ranch

Date: October 18th, 2013

By Steph

Photo by Bill Vanderford

Photo by Bill Vanderford

This year we tried something new for the ranch.  With so much demand for the fall ranch stays in September, we decided to extend our season a couple weeks into October.  It was an experiment to see if we could get guests to come visit us in October– a time when the chance of weather is a bit higher, but also a time that can be one of the most stunning months of the year.

Success!  Or, at least by our count it was a great success.  We had a really nice number of guests who came to try out this new season.  Many of them got two seasons for the price of one, as guest Traci told me with a laugh.  We had days of blue skies, warm sunshine and a forest full of golden aspens.  And then we had snow–magical, fluffy, amazing snow like nothing we’ve seen in October before.  As you can see from this photo, we didn’t let the weather stop us, and the contrast of the snow with the golden aspens was off the charts.  Many of the guests came for our standard week-long stay, but some tried out the shorter stays we were offering during these two weeks.

Will we do it again?  Absolutely!  It was a great time to celebrate the transition of the seasons, enjoy cozy-ing up to the fire each evening and share this time of year with some wonderful people.

Now the ranch is closed until mid-December.  It’s a time for gathering up as a team and hashing out what worked and what didn’t, what we want to change for next year, and what we want to keep the same.  The bikes are being put away and the skis hung up on the racks.  The saddles are getting cleaned and oiled.  Horses are getting some extra training and projects are getting checked off the list.  The scaffolding is up in the Great room for dusting those magnificent beams and changing those very hard to reach light bulbs.   Through all this we’re still answering the phones and emails and getting folks booked for this winter and next summer.  We thank everyone who made this past summer and fall so amazing, and look forward to playing with those of you who are planning your winter stays soon!

 

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Baylee had a little lamb

Date: October 10th, 2013

By Steph

Bailey's sheepOften times we see wildlife around the ranch or out on the trails.  You may have seen the crazy moose photo on Facebook last week.  If not, check it out.  This one was a little too close for comfort, but luckily everyone minded their p’s and q’s and Mr. Moose left without any fuss.  Then there are the wild cows.  They were supposed to be good kids and cooperate with getting rounded up in September.  However, this bunch was so unruly and wild that many of them are still out there in the woods enjoying the bounty of a wet summer and luscious grass.  Of course there have been deer, bald eagles, elk, fox and more other wonderful critters spotted around the ranch.

But, the most laughable “wildlife” story recently was that of Baylee and her little lamb.  One unsuspecting fall day Baylee hopped on her horse with some guests and headed out towards the National Forest for a nice, long ride through the aspens.  What she wasn’t expecting was a black sheep to come hunt down her ride, attach herself to the group, and follow them back to the ranch.  No joke, this lamb joined them for a long ride through the mountains before following them back to the ranch.  Upon returning to the ranch, the lamb decided she wanted to join the herd.  However, the horses weren’t so sure about that.  The wranglers said they have never seen such a sight as the entire herd going after the lamb like it was some foreign invader.  Baylee’s little lamb was rescued out of that mess and put into a pen.  She spent a week or so at the ranch while we tried to find her rightful owner.  No luck there but we were able to find a home for her at a neighbor’s small ranch where she is now living with some other farm animals.   So, just remember, you never know what you will run into out in the woods!

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Life as a Ranch Dog

Date: October 7th, 2013

 

Oliver bragging about his dog food after playing in the surprise October snow.

Oliver bragging about his dog food after playing in the surprise October snow.

Meet Oliver.  He is one of our “behind the scenes” ranch dogs at Vista Verde.  Unlike Rosie, who likes to join hikes and ski trips,  and Trooper, who takes part in horsemanship clinics and trail rides, Oliver lays pretty low.  Although behind the scenes, he still has benefited from the great natural dog food that our good friends at the Honest Kitchen provide for our resident ranch dogs.  Oliver belongs to Erica (runs the kids program) and John (chef) and here is his story:

Oliver is no ordinary ranch dog!  He was was discovered at 2 weeks old on a beach off of the gulf of Thailand when Erica was still living and teaching in Bangkok.  After raising him in the busy city of Bangkok, he soon became a beach bum in Florida for a few years.  Once Erica met and married John, and relocated to Colorado, Oliver transitioned into the life of a rocky mountain dog!  Oliver loves life as a ranch dog- he gets to go on long hikes in the beautiful forest, play in the plentiful snow, and chase after those pesky marmots.  While Oliver is always working up an appetite at VVR, he remained a very picky eater.

 

It wasn’t until Honest Kitchen was introduced into his diet that he actually looked forward to his next meal.  He now waits excitedly, wagging his tail, to be served when before he would have to bribed with all sorts of treats on top.  Ollie cannot get enough of Honest Kitchen dog food and I have no doubt that this food will keep him healthy and happy!

 

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That’s one fit horse!

Date: September 15th, 2013

By Steph

DBs fitness report

We know our horses are tough and will go for miles and miles.  Although we all work hard at the ranch, there is no doubt the our equine staff members work the hardest.  They carry our guests with a willing attitude and caring demeanor through the woods and over mountains.  The horses that make up the Vista Verde remuda are special beings, and only those who can handle the hard work and have kind hearts can make the cut.  Even though I know that, I got a great reminder of how hard they work when Faye sent me her Fitbit report for her week at the ranch.  Maybe you use Fitbit for your own personal fitness assessment and goals.  But DB the horse was the one being tracked during a week earlier this month.

Faye and DBAs you can see, Faye and DB covered some ground while they were out playing in the Colorado mountains.  We’re a little concerned about their lack of sleep, and wonder where the party was all night?  In the barn?  Chasing owls and coyotes in the pasture?  But, more than anything we are glad to see no change in weight.  You know the food around here…..sometimes the calories burned don’t quite offset the extra intake.

Next up is to put a GPS tracker on DB so we can map out all their adventures.

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Romance at a dude ranch

Date: September 11th, 2013

By Steph

dude ranch romance

Lindsay and Cliff

You may not think of dude ranch and romance in the same thought.  But, besides the fact that I could go on and on about how a dude ranch vacation can be a really romantic vacation option, this post is not about guests enjoying a romantic getaway.  It’s about the staff.  Yes, those of you who have been here love to try to figure out what couples might have formed over the course of a season.  With a group of young people all living and working together as well as sharing a love of serving people and being in nature, how could you expect a little romance to flair up every now and then?  Yes, we preach to our staff professionalism and to be very careful getting emotionally involved with someone who you work with so closely.  But we also celebrate the wonderful pairings that have come out of the ranch romances.

romance at a dude ranch

Eliza and Brett

This summer, we celebrated two more marriages of VVR Alumni.  Earlier in August, Cliff and Lindsay celebrated their marriage in Indiana with some other ranch alums attending the wedding.  And just last weekend Eliza and Brett tied the knot in Vermont, also surrounded by some dear friends from the ranch.

It’s so exciting to see these two couples stepping into the next phase of their lives.  We wish them all the best in their marriages and their lives ahead of them.  They have become part of a special group of people who have found romance at  this Colorado dude ranch.  I’ve lost track of the count, but it’s close to 20 couples, and the babies…..I couldn’t even begin to start counting them.  VVR Alum couples, please share your stories and updates with us in the comments section.  I know there is at least one baby due soon in Idaho, but maybe even more on the way elsewhere?

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Vista Verde Ranch, Colorado Luxury Ranch

Fall is coming to the ranch

Date: September 4th, 2013

By Steph

fall comingOne of the many joys of being at Vista Verde year-round is watching the seasons change each year.  Every year the timing is a bit different due to the weather we have had and are having at that time.  I find myself remembering differences in the various years based on how it ties in with various weeks at the ranch.  For example, this fall I am reminding myself that during past years the fall colors are popping out already during our first cattle round-up week.  This year they have been a little more shy and seem to be waiting for future weeks.  Having said that, the lead up to the full explosion of colors is almost as exciting as the time when golden aspen leaves fall on the trail below our feet and hooves.

Prior to the trees changing, there are these subtle color shifts that occur in the forest.  Our wonderful Jess captured some of these recently when she went out riding.

fall at a dude ranchIf you haven’t experience fall in Colorado you should run, not walk, to your computer and start planning that trip.  It’s not the same as the East coast explosion of colors, but it is truly magnificent.  Every year I am reminded and astonished by the beauty of the fall season.  The angle of the sun shifts so the light is mystical, especially more so in the morning and evening hours.  The colors are rich and the contrast with the beautiful blue sky is extreme.  There is no better time to be out in the forest riding, hiking, biking or just sitting.

This is the time for adult only weeks and now we are starting our cattle round-up outings.  It’s so fun to watch couples enjoy a romantic getaway or a group of girlfriends share laughter on their special time together.  But, aside from the stunning scene playing out in the forest what we love the most is the sound of joy.  My good friend gave me that term last week as she described the noise in the dining room one night.  It was loud.  And it was joy.

Plan your trip.  Book that ticket.  Even if you aren’t coming to Vista Verde for your fall getaway, get yourself out to Colorado!  But, I will mention that we do still have a little space during the first two weeks in October…..the colors may be starting to fade but the beauty of fall in Colorado will still be surrounding us at the ranch.

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Vista Verde Ranch, Colorado Luxury Ranch

Did you know?

Date: August 29th, 2013

By Steph

Bill's garden still producing at the end of our short growing season.

Bill’s garden still producing at the end of our short growing season.

Recently it struck me that we aren’t very good at letting our guests know about the healthy and/or local products that we mix into our offerings at the ranch.  We do make an effort to support local businesses as much as possible, and we do continuously look at what we are serving our guests to try to find healthy options for them.  So, I sat down to make a list and decided there is no better time than the present to share that list with you.

  1. The cabin amenities are all locally made by Steamboat Soap Company.  Soap, shampoo, conditioner, body wash and lotion.  We love this company, and their sister company Ranch Organics!
  2. All our coffee comes from the Colorado coffee roaster the Steaming Bean.
  3. Many ranches ship their horse hay in from the cheapest location.  We proudly support a fellow ranch family just 10 miles down the road by purchasing from them the 225+ tons of hay that we use to get through the winter.
  4. Love those eggs?  That’s because they are cage free and organic.
  5. And the dairy products?  Yep.  Organic (hormone free) milk, butter and yogurts are all out on our buffet.
  6.  The fresh and tasty lettuce and greens are all organic.
  7. Bacon!  It may not be good for you, but at least all our pork product is locally processed heritage breed Berkshire pork.
  8. Fresh made breads with organically grown wheat flours.
  9. When in season Colorado peaches, corn and lamb.
  10. Sustainably sourced, line caught fish and shellfish.
  11. Of course, we can’t overlook the greens and herbs from Bill’s garden right behind the kitchen!

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