Archive for the ‘This week at the Ranch’ Category
Date: December 5th, 2012
Orientation week officially kicked off yesterday as we begin our countdown to opening day for our winter season. As our first guests are getting their bags packed for their winter vacation in Colorado, we are meticulously going down the list of all the details we need to have in place for the season. As we do each season, we started orientation with introductions. There aren’t as many new faces this season, as so many of our summer staff came back for the winter. But, there were a handful of folks who we were all meeting for the first time. One of the traditions at Vista Verde is putting your pin on the map each season. It’s a fun way to see where everyone is from originally.
After introductions, we moved into a brief history talk by Steve, which was informative for all, especially since Steve claims to make up half of it. Jokes aside, as Bill and I stood there listening, we both commented about how we learned something new about the history of the dude ranch. Even old dogs can learn new tricks. I’m talking about Bill, of course.
Steve then took the crew on a walk around the ranch compound, and then they were back into the Great Room to hear us breakdown the mission of our operation. With the foundation laid of who we all are, how the ranch came to be what it is today, and why we are doing what we are doing, we moved into the more detailed aspect of training. Each crew broke off and starting learning the ropes of what they’ll be doing every day during this coming season. So much to learn, and 10 days to go!
Have you planned your winter vacation to Colorado yet? It’s going to be a great season here at Vista Verde….we can just feel it in the air.
Date: November 29th, 2012
Some folks call our fabulous housekeepers “fairies” as they flit in and out without anyone knowing, cleaning up messes and tidying up our guests homes. But, we have another set of magical creatures at the ranch. The Ranch hand “elves”. These guys come this time of year, and don’t always flit in quite as discreetly as the housekeeping fairies, but still leave magical surprises behind. In October, you may have seen a picture of the elves delivering the sleigh to the Great room. This week they were delivering a Santa hat to our favorite moose, as well as a few other fun chores while the scaffolding was laid out. Dusting beams, replacing light bulbs, all in a days work for a ranch hand elf leading into the holidays. Carson, Gov and Rob make for great elves….now they just need little hats and funny boots.
As we get closer to opening day of our winter season, when folks come in for a Colorado holiday vacation or just fun in the snow with their family and other loved ones, more and more elves will be delivering surprises. Christmas trees, garland, lights and more festive fun.
We hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. If you follow us regularly, you may have noticed we went silent for a while there. I had all intentions of writing some updates while I was away, but seemed to get too distracted going for walks in the redwoods in Northern California with my family. Banana slugs, redwood cones, huge fall leaves were all part of our fun. Thankfully, Nathan and Rucker were willing to stay behind and hold down the fort at the ranch. Although the phones and emails can follow us wherever we go, the horses don’t take a vacation, so someone has to stay behind. Steve and Kelli hosted them for Thanksgiving dinner, so they still got to enjoy some time with good friends and yummy food.
Next week we start orientation for our new staff, and gear up for the season. We’ll keep you posted as we get ready to open for the winter vacation season. Please do your snow dances! It’s come and gone, but we’re ready for more now.
Date: November 16th, 2012
This past week has been one of comings and goings. The numbers at the ranch keep dwindling, as we get closer to Thanksgiving. Alaya and Cholly have headed East to visit family, Reid has hit the road for a while, and a whole slew of us are packing our bags in the coming days to head out and celebrate one of the few holidays we have during the off-season at our Colorado ranch.
Earlier in the week Ben, Charlie and I hopped in the trucks to go to a dude ranch meeting at Sylvan Dale Ranch, near Loveland, Colorado. It is always great to get together with other folks in the dude ranch business, and to share our joys and challenges as well as learn some new tricks. Many of these folks have become dear friends over the years, so it’s as much a dude ranch reunion as it is a learning setting. Although some of the topics may make you chuckle, some are a little less exciting….can we say Labor law and Liability in advertising are not speaker topics that one looks forward to, but know it is a must listen?
We returned to a winter wonderland scene, and found Steve and Kelli strapping on their skis yesterday for the first tour up Coulton Road. There isn’t quite enough snow for skiing in the meadows yet, but they had fun sliding for the first time this season. Keep doing your snow dances so it keeps coming!
We’re only a month away from opening up for our winter season. We kick off with a lot of families coming for their snow vacation, and then move into the adult only times in early January. Keep those times in mind for your romantic getaway, as Vista Verde is a great spot for not just honeymooners, but those honeymooning for their 30th time! And, know that even though we are full for Christmas and New Years vacations, if you are looking to bring your kids to the snow, we still have room for the President’s Day weekend and for those who have spring breaks earlier in March.
Come join us for some winter fun!
Date: November 8th, 2012
Have you ever heard of “farming” ice?
I hadn’t either until reading a recent article in the local paper but growing icicles is a part of the process that Brent Christiansen and his team use to build winter ice castles, and this winter they’re building one in Steamboat Springs!
As if the snow-covered mountains were not magical enough on their own, this new attraction will be a real treat for those coming through Steamboat this winter. A unique experience bound to be majestic, romantic, and a dang good photo op (next year’s holiday portrait, perhaps?) – after all, how often do you find yourself exploring an ice castle?! If you’re already planning a stay with us this winter, you may want to add a visit to the ice castle to your itinerary.
Check out this video of their Ice Castle in Silverthorne, CO last winter.
“The Ice Castle in Steamboat will include three tiers of frozen towers and tunnels creating an organic and ever-evolving labyrinth landscape complete with a castle throne perfect for capturing that stunning photo. The icy towers that make up the interior of the castle create a look similar to glaciers transporting guests to a winter fantasy land that is only limited by their imagination.”
Sounds magical to me!
You can read more about the castles here:
Date: November 5th, 2012
We all get pretty spoiled throughout the year, having a kitchen full of Chefs who prepare us hot meals several times a day. Yes, we do all work hard, but the perks are pretty nice. However, there is a time of year, when we get a little reminder to not take those perks for granted. During November, and again for a month in the spring, the kitchen shuts down completely, and the chefs take off for a well-deserved break. For those of us sticking around still during the off-season, the ranch can feel either eerily quiet, or blissfully peaceful. That just depends on the personality. I have noticed over the years that the old farts like me (yes, you’re old when you’re over 35 at Vista Verde), tend to enjoy the peace and quiet. No distractions, getting things done on the to-do list, and just a great change of pace. The younger members of the crew miss the social interactions, the camaraderie and the pack of friends to enjoy in the evenings. But, the off-season at Vista Verde is very short-lived, and so whether one likes the quiet or not, it is a good change of pace for all of us.
Anyway, back to the whole hot meal waiting for you idea…..Chef David decided to have a little fun as he and Cholly we closing down the kitchen. Last week, during one of the final meals, this message showed up on the white board in the staff room. No, no, don’t worry about any of us. I’m sure we’ll all make it. But, we….are….just…so….hungry! Brown bag lunch, anyone?
Date: October 30th, 2012
Vista Verde Ranch and Christy Sports are working together to make your winter vacation planning a bit easier. Christy Sports at Gondola Square has been selected for an exclusive partnership for our ranch guests. As a guest of Vista Verde, you will have access to special pricing on downhill ski rentals as well as clothing for your winter vacation in Colorado.
The Christy Sports location we have partnered with is located right at the base of the gondola at the Steamboat Ski Resort. This makes picking up your gear and returning it easy and convenient. The shop has been awarded SKI magazine’s “North America’s Top Shop” award for 4 of the past 6 years. That is a pretty amazing feat, and we felt they deliver a quality experience that we want our guests to experience at the ranch, and off the ranch.
If you have already booked your winter vacation at the ranch, we will be sending more information as we finalize arrangements and get closer to your arrival. For those still thinking about booking a winter ranch vacation, know that we are working to make your planning easier!
Date: October 26th, 2012
The first real snow of the season is always exciting. Overnight, as if by magic, the world outside the window is radically transformed into a magical playground. No wonder winter has been deemed a “wonderland.”
Every winter, the first snow brings the same renewed sense of excitement, wonder and play. Nevermind that this is the first taste of the long, cold season ahead. All of that is erased by pure beauty, a world stilled: tucked-in by a blanket of snow.
Looking out the window, our minds immediately conjure up the possibilities: sledding, skiing, building snowmen, making snow angels, or even starting the occasional snowball fight! And then there are the things we do when not out in the snow:
snuggling with a good book and a cup of cocoa by the fire, writing long letters to good friends, decorating our homes for the holiday season to come… The cold weather outside draws us back into the fire within our own hearts.
And so it is with this sense of warmth and wonder that we experience another year’s first snow here at Vista Verde. Here’s to the season ahead!
Date: October 23rd, 2012
This past weekend we celebrated the marriage of Amanda and David. Amanda is Ben and Holly’s daughter, who has worked at the ranch during the summer months for many years. David and Amanda are high school sweethearts, and David gladly joined Amanda at the ranch each summer, and quickly became part of the family. Ben had the privilege and responsibility of officiating the ceremony….no pressure there.
It was a beautiful day filled with love and much celebration. The couple now plans to settle down in Denver. Chances are, we’ll be seeing them a fair amount at the ranch. I have a good feeling the call of the horse will lure David to the mountains, and the call of family will lure Amanda right along with him.
Congratulations from all of us at Vista Verde. We wish you a beautiful and blessed life together!
Date: October 18th, 2012
In a blog post a while back, I mentioned that one of our guests, Wendy, bought a horse from us several years ago. Sally, the horse, was a sharp looking dude ranch horse. She traded her Western look for a much more sophisticated English style upon her move to the South. Recently, we received this fun update about a horse show that she and Wendy competed in, and won a first place ribbon and a second place ribbon. Sally and Wendy have also been practicing for a drill team presentation, but missed being able to perform due to bad weather.
It just goes to show that a girl from a dude ranch can clean up pretty well. Hmmm….I may have to take that to heart as I head out for some off-season adventures in the big city.
Date: October 15th, 2012
It’s hard to believe that the 2012 summer season has come and gone. What a whirlwind!
We officially closed up shop on Saturday, and won’t open our doors to guests again until December 15. Of course, as Stephanie mentioned in her previous post, there is still plenty to be done. But even for those of us who will be around between now and December, work (and life) takes on a whole different pace.
Our seasons are busy, and while we love a little down time, those of us who like to “go go go” find we need something to keep us occupied in the off-season.
Whether here or away, it is not uncommon for our folks to use this time to take up a new project or hobby.
In talking to my fellow staff about their off season plans, I’m reminded once again of what’s so special about the staff here at Vista Verde. Plans are varied and interesting and include salsa dancing, drawing, leather work, construction & remodel projects, piano, travel, a new language… the whole gamut. Once again I impressed by the variety of skills, talents and the level of passion my co-workers have. I look forward to seeing everyone in December to hear about their off-season adventures.
As for myself, I just bought myself a new uke to play with. Hopefully I’ll have a few songs under my belt by the time our winter season begins.
Date: October 11th, 2012
So, the dude ranch season ended September 30, and many assume we all pack up and take off for the Bahamas, or something like that. Although the thought of that is kind of attractive with a weather forecast of snow this weekend, there are no umbrella drinks in my future, or others here at the ranch.
Right after we close each season, we have the pleasure of sitting down in the Great room for two solid days, and break down the season step by step. The theme of our end of season meetings is “what worked and what didn’t”. Note the sarcasm in my use of the word pleasure, as getting a dozen people who are used to being outside all day and on the go at all times to sit down in meetings for two full days is not exactly an easy feat. There is a lot of squirming, and a lot of gazing out the window at the fabulous view, and maybe even a bit of day dreaming. But, it is a very effective time as we can map out what we need to do in order to make the next year even better. We take the feedback we received from all of you, the input from staff, and the experience we all have to look at whether everything we are doing is making this the best dude ranch experience we can possibly provide to our guests as well as the best work experience for our staff.
Following that, many of the crew took a 3 day break, while a few of us continued on the meeting track with some long range planning and strategy sessions. We had staff head out all over the state of Colorado, as well as some even going further on their adventures. We all reconvened at the ranch on Sunday, in time to check in a business retreat group. Some meetings, a lot of fun later, they headed out this morning and we have our second round of business retreats here having meetings in the Great room this morning. On Saturday, we will officially close the doors and most of the staff will head down the road for their next adventure in life, or just a break before the winter.
With the ranch moving towards off-season, those of us who are sticking around will be getting to those hefty to-do lists, and tackling them before we start ramping up for the winter season. More to follow in the coming weeks on what people are working on during this time. For me? An email newsletter should be coming in a couple weeks. Setting up the outfitters for the winter so we have plans in place for dogsledding, massages, etc… Updating the website. Getting all the winter guest information in place so we’re ready with schedules, program information, etc… And the list goes on. Luckily, much of it can be done inside as the weather may turn cruddy pretty soon here. Don’t start your snow dances yet, but it’s not far away.
Date: October 8th, 2012
It’s amazing how quiet this ranch gets at the end of the season. Evenings around here are always tranquil, but without guests this place starts to feel like a ghost town. This has been especially true the past few days, as staff have scattered to their various adventures for a three-day weekend.
However, for several evenings in a row, we’ve had a distinct sound cut through the silence. Starting in the final weeks of September, each night we would hear the bugle of a elk bull calling to his herd of cows. Early in the mornings, and just after dusk the sound pierces the air: one part majestic, and three parts primal. It’s like no sound I’ve ever heard before. Even being woken by the sound in the early hours of the morning, rather than be frustrated (as is my usual reaction to an early wake-up call), I would smile to myself, exciting to know how close they are!
One evening, Chol spotted the cows in the Winter Pasture with the horses, and later caught sight of the bull rubbing his antlers against an aspen under the light of the full moon. How’s that for romantic imagery?
Sometimes I forget that we’re tucked right up against national forest land, wilderness and wildlife all around us. When they come to visit, it is a wonderful reminder of the full majesty of this place.
For more info on elk, check out the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation: http://www.rmef.org/ElkFacts.aspx
Date: October 6th, 2012
I passed by the mares the other afternoon, and noticed that they were alone. The foal weaning has begun. It’s a big step in a little horse’s life, and our little friends took that step this week. Once they are old enough, we move the foals away from their momma’s so they can take the next step in growing up to be civilized dude ranch horses. I asked Terry for an update on how they are doing, and here is what he had to say:
“We brought them up to the cow pen, right next to the Arena, so we could keep a close eye on them, and they would be far from their momma’s.
They have had a great start on training from the guests who visited our dude ranch all summer, and now they all are trying to find friends in the horse staff who go work with them daily (work is mostly petting and fellowship). Jr. really loves his mom and is still calling out to her so he’s keeping the girls awake in the barn apartments (barndominiums as we call them). Jr is the smallest and always will be, and just like Terry, he has “littleman complex”. So, he is really tough with his siblings yet he has plenty of time to be sweet and remains Nickys’ choice for “favorite baby”. Thermond (Hopalong Cassidy) is still struggling with trust; but we try to reassure him that all is well. He genuinely likes the ladies better than he likes the authority figure (ranch trainer Terry Wegener) so T-dub is trying to let him know all is well and safe. Chisholm is the most loving and kind and accepting of people. We must have gotten some sweet folks on his lead line…. Bailey loves Peggy. That was the big connect of the summer which was very sweet. These things just happen, and you never know who will be the one who the foal picks. Gemmy and Rascal were sold together to one of our guests and will winter as best friends. We will stay in touch with them and watch their development with great excitement. Rocket gets more elegant everyday and right now is showing the most changes. He is aptly named as he exudes speed and shows a mischievous nature that is really fun.”
As we get closer to our winter resort season, and the snow starts flying, we will send most of the foals down to the Front Range of Colorado to spend the winter growing up in a big, open pasture. They will be able to frolic with each other, and get bigger and stronger. Being at a winter resort with all the snow isn’t the best place for them, and so we’ll wait until next spring to bring them back and start their more official training.
Date: September 27th, 2012
Last week marked the official transition into autumn, but our season had already begun. The aspen leaves have changed from bright green to a blazing yellow – punchy and vibrant.
The nights have gotten cold, and the mornings are just as brisk. It makes for a good night’s sleep, but the days of leaving the windows wide open at night are over.
This time of year, one steps outside at the end of the evening to the indescribable scent of… fall – the deep, rich scent of earth and fallen leaves, mixed with the warm, comforting scent of smoke from the wood-burning stoves in each of our guest cabins.
Looking up at the hillside, one sees the row of cabins, lights glimmering tucked against the hills. Depnding on the night, the sweet scent of autumn may be accompanied by the yipping of coyotes, bugling elk or ribbons of laughter pouring from a cabin deck.
As the days progress, the temperatures begin to drop and you can sense that snow is not too far off.
I’m bracing myself for my first winter in the mountains, my first winter in northern Colorado. I’m not sure I’m ready for the season’s length (or the snow’s depth!) but I am looking forward to the cozy comfort I know that this ranch will offer during the long winter months.
And until then, I will continue to marvel at the vibrant landscape.
Date: September 19th, 2012
One of our goals at Vista Verde is to provide a compelling dude ranch vacation experience that creates memories that last long past the final adventure. We hear great stories from folks of how they go to their “happy ranch place” when in the depths of a crazy day back at home.
Every once in a while, the Vista Verde ranch experience follows a guest home with a little more of a physical presence. The past couple weeks have been some fun reminders of those cases.
Earlier in the month, Joe and Linda visited us during our first adult only week. It was a great group of people, and a lively dynamic. Linda is an avid horsewoman, but Joe found himself exploring some other adventures. One of those was mountain biking with Steve. Now, those of you who have spent time with Steve know quite well what a gear-head he can be about his bikes and skis, among other things. Joe had such a great time mountain biking on his vacation with Steve, that he decided to extend the experience and bought a bike. We are now enjoying the stories of Joe making sure the UPS driver knows the bike is coming, getting his bike, and his first ride…..which translated into a new pair of padded biking shorts. We love that he has found this new hobby, and one that is so healthy too!
Last week, Wendy and Eric joined us for one of our cattle round up weeks. Wendy is another guest who has found Vista Verde following her home. In this case, it was a horse several years ago. Yep, book a dude ranch vacation, and come home with a horse! Sounds crazy, but it’s not the first time that’s happened. It was fun to talk to Wendy as they were heading home about how when she misses the ranch, she can always look at Sally’s brand and be reminded of her time here. Now, that’s one heck of a souvenir!
There are more fun stories like this. Not everyone will have a piece of Vista Verde follow them home to that extent, but it’s fun to think of the different ways the ranch stays in peoples hearts and minds when they aren’t here with all of us. Share your story as we’d love to hear how Vista Verde stays with you, in big ways or small ways.
Date: September 15th, 2012
Melissa gives us the inside scoop on the kitties
Being on a ranch, it’s not rare to be surprised by an unlikely visitor. This summer we’ve had a guest wake up to a deer peeking through their window, rustling noises from a bear walking alongside a cabin, porcupines making themselves at home on porches, and coyotes howling off in the pasture. In the wilderness you never know what you’ll find. And recently, we’ve had a few other visitors.
There used to be several cats at the ranch, but as they moved on in life, it became just Harley (also known with endearment as Nappy Cat). She had her hands full, being the sole hunter. But, she has recently had some new friends.
Our cats Cookie and Lovey once lived at the mare barn. Their job: hunting mice. But it turns out they like the company of people a lot more than horses so they decided to move up the driveway and hang around the cabins. Not only are they patrolling a new area, but they’ve made themselves at home. (Please keep in mind we do not let cats in our cabins or buildings, so do not fear if you are allergic.)
After a relaxing afternoon in the hot-tub last week, our guests Mark and Kim left their towels lying on top of the hot-tub cover. When they woke up the next morning they realized one of the cats, Cookie, had nestled herself in the towels making a nice little bed for the night. She was just too cute to move, so they left a note for the housekeepers asking if it was ok to keep the bed for their new friend. Who could say no to that! From then on, Cookie joined Mark and Kim almost every night this week on their porch. Who can deny that a warm hot tub cover makes for a cozy place to cuddle up on a chilly evening?
Let’s hope Cookie and Lovey don’t forget about the mice, as they live in the lap of luxury at Vista Verde!
Date: September 14th, 2012
This week we were surprised with a nice little treat: Vinny’s mom visited in her ice cream truck!
Vinny is one of our esteemed chefs, who just happens to be from nearby Steamboat Springs. His mom is Buffalo Gal, and drives the neighborhood ice cream truck. (World’s coolest job? Aside from working at a guest ranch, I think so!)
She pulled up just after lunchtime today, a special treat for staff and guests. You could barely hear the nostalgic ice-cream-truck music because the excited cheers were so loud!
Surprisingly, several of the staff had never had ice cream trucks visit their neighborhoods, so it was a first! (We caught Reid skipping to the truck!)
Even Rosey got into it. She went right up to the truck, made her choice and then sat down until Ruth gave her a Frosty Paws treat.
What a fun treat… by the end, everyone had big smiles (and even bigger ice cream mustaches!)
There’s something about an ice cream truck that brings out the kid in everyone (as evidenced in the photos above), and that’s just fine with us!
As for the favorite treat… it was a mix, just like the staff, no one treat was chosen over the other.
Date: September 12th, 2012
Every dude ranch should have a great staff. But, what some don’t realize is that the staff includes 4 legged critters too. We love to sing the praise of our crew, and we highlight our wonderful horses regularly, but we often overlook the smaller members of our dude ranch team.
The ranch dogs don’t provide a whole lot of function at the ranch, but do a bang up job in the hospitality department. From greeting guests to providing comedic relief as they dive into the pond daily, they have their role.
Trooper is Terry’s wanna-be cattle dog. Typically ranchers have a cattle dog to help herd the cows. Trooper has disowned his lab background and has claimed a cattle dog pedigree with the way he jumps in and helps Terry move the cows. Please don’t tell him otherwise, and just buy into his story. He would be crushed otherwise.
Rosey is Steve and Kelli’s lab, who has grown up as a guide dog. Not the kind of guide dog you might imagine, but a dog that has been guiding ski trips, hiking trips and other adventures her whole life. When your mom and dad are ace guides, that’s just how you learn to roll.
Many of our guests this past winter fell in love with Reid’s new puppy, Dodger. He has now morphed into more of a teenager, testing the system and harassing the older dogs. But, they do help teach him the ropes, and he is learning the rules and guidelines to being a great guest ranch dog.
Sadly, two of our wonderful friends passed on earlier this summer. Dakota and Cheyenne were our Great Pyrenees power puffs. Time and time again, they would sneak out of their pen and wander down the road to visit some neighbors (yes, we do have a couple neighbors out here!). It was a weekly event that we would get a call at night telling us the “white dogs” were at their house. With their sweet personalities and kind hearts, they were hard not to love though. We all miss them, but love that their stories will be with us always.
Over the years, we have had many ranch cats. They truly are an important part of the team, and have a specific job. As much as Vista Verde works hard to provide a luxury ranch experience, did you notice that there is one important word that is always a part of us? Ranch. And, with that goes wildlife. And with wildlife goes some that we’d rather not see as much of…..mice. You can build a very nice cabin, but when you build it on a 600 acre ranch, surrounded by millions of acres of national forest, the mice just don’t care how nice that cabin is, or whether it has granite countertops or not. They just want in. So, our cats have played an important guest service role over the years. When left to their job, they are actually very effective. More to follow on them tomorrow, as they have their own stories.
The animals come and go in our lives. We have loved so many pets over the years- Bessie and Bailey, Aspen, Tillie, Slim, Red, Miss Kitty, Whopper, Babe, and the list goes on. They all have brought stories, laughter, and joy to our lives. So, go hug your pet today, if you have one. If not, you can always hug one of ours.
Date: September 5th, 2012
I am just wondering who won the contest. I was so hoping it would be me!
Name: Teresa Wolf
Company: Soul Discovery on Horseback
Date: September 5th, 2012
Guest bloggerm, and all-star housekeeper, Lasha shares a fun story from last week’s Adventures in Housekeeping.
It was the last week in August at Vista Verde; the first week of “Adults Only” here at the ranch. For Housekeepers, this generally means that the cabins are not quite as messy, towels don’t have potato chip grease stains on them, and typically, there are just a few less piles of clothes on the floor to maneuver. One of the biggest changes though is that “Willie” the moose doesn’t get hidden in cabins anymore at evening turn-downs. Willie (a very cute stuffed animal) is usually cleverly hidden every night, accompanied with a snack, for the kiddos to find. It’s a fun game for both Housekeepers and the kids.
Willie thought wrong when he assumed he was done hiding every night just because it was an “Adults Only” week. Monday morning came and much to the Housekeepers surprise, Janie and Nigel had left a note asking where Willie was, and wondered why he wasn’t hidden for them to find the night before. Naturally, this started a friendly game of hide and seek. The Housekeepers were all too pleased to come up with even more clever hiding spots for Willie. Tuesday morning came and the Housekeepers arrived to Janie and Nigel’s cabin to find a note saying that it had taken them an hour and a half to find Willie and just when they were about to drain the hot tub and tear down the fire place, they collapsed with exhaustion onto the living room floor only to find him hiding under the sofa cushion with a snack bag of teddy grahams.
The notes exchanged throughout the week were humorous, at times even poetic, and the hiding places were epic. At the end of the week Willie left the Vista Verde to continue his journey in life, with a promise from Janie and Nigel that he would be well taken care of. Needless to say, the Housekeepers were sad to say farewell to their friends but as always looked forward to a new week of adventures in Housekeeping!
Date: August 28th, 2012
While I love all animals, I was never really a horse person — meaning one who rides or owns a horse. Actually they kind of scare me because of their size and that’s why it is so odd that I feel God used horses to save my life. For 25 years I had lived in very lonely and emotionally abusive marriage. Many friends and family had tried to get me to leave but because of my religious up bringing I felt leaving was wrong. But I had gotten to the point where I was no longer living, I was only existing.
About two years ago a friend of mine who is very a much a horse person wanted to do some healing with me…. using horses. That was a little out of the box for me. I nicely explained that if God felt I needed healed, He would heal me on His own.
Then, a strange thing happened. I was called to go check out a horse rescue ranch. I really didn’t know anything about horses so I called my friend Kim. She very willing agreed to go with me.
As we entered the horse rescue we found the owner working hard at cleaning the stables. She took us out to one of the fields where their were about 30 horses roaming around. As she explained her circumstances, I listened while patting a pretty brown horse’s head.
Then out of the blue, this big black mare came out from what seemed to be nowhere. The black mare took his head and hit me hard as though he was trying to knock me over. I grabbed the brown horse’s neck to help me not to fall over.
The black mare turned its head and looked at me as he walked away. I looked at my friend Kim and the ranch owner and asked them, “What was that about?”
Both seemed just as surprised and said they had no idea. Shula, the owner, then continued talking. While she was explaining her situation, I noticed a donkey way out in the field heading right towards me.
I interrupted Shula just for a minute to ask her if she had a donkey. She said, “yes.”
As Shula talked, I watched the donkey get closer. Something told me that this donkey was coming towards me and after what just happened with the big black mare I was getting a little nervous.
“Don’t donkeys kick and bite?” I asked a little nervously interrupting Shula again.
Shula gave me a quirky smile and answered yes and then continued talking.
Once again I interrupted her as my mind was going through all the data memory I had in my brain on donkeys. “Wait don’t donkeys sometimes protect horses from coyotes?” I asked remembering reading something on this at one time.
“Yes,” she said looking at me a little odd not knowing why I was asking all these questions since she was facing me and did not see the donkey coming towards us. Then her eyes lit up as she remembered a story on how her donkey recently had saved a horse from a coyote attack. It was about the time she ended the story that the donkey had its head right next to my arm wanting me to pet him. As we walked around the field looking at all the horses the donkey stayed right by me.
At one point I even whispered to my friend Kim, “why does this donkey keep following me? He is making me nervous.”
Kim smiled and said, “Just go with it. He seems to like you!”
As we were getting ready to leave and the donkey was still standing next to me as I patted the last horse, Shula smiled and said, “Wow I can’t believe how much Jerusalem likes you!”
I was in shock. “Your donkeys name is Jerusalem?” I asked.
When Kim and I got into the car to leave the rescue ranch she looked at me and asked, “Did you feel God talking to you?”
The crazy thing was I did. For 25 years the man I was married to had always tried to knock me down. He actually told me that he felt when we got married that I was better than him and his goal was to tear me down… to take me below his level. The sad thing is that is not love for love builds your partner up. Love does not tear your partner down.
I really feel that God used the horses and Jerusalem the donkey to let me know, He is with me and it was okay to leave this abusive marriage.
And while starting life over is somewhat scary at the age of 50, it’s also been very amazing. I have found myself with others in my same situation. And instead of living in the negative, we are helping to re-build each other. And many of us are smiling and laughing again.
To win a trip to Vista Verde for me in the winter with snow on the ground would be an amazing miracle for me for two reasons. One to be in God’s country with God’s beautiful horses that gave me strength to move forward. And two, bring my friend Cheryl with me who is going through a lot of the same stuff and give her a chance to see her daughter.
Name: Beth Callahan
Company: WC Group LLC
Date: August 28th, 2012
Ben and Holly’s son Jack, learned about the rewards of hard work this summer. In the spring, he had asked if he could help out at the ranch a bit, and earn some money. Of course, being the loving father, Ben told him he could help with washing dishes. As it turns out, Jack was a lifesaver for our staff as he would jump in and help during the day with dishes, and make all of their lives much easier, and a bit more fun. In between dish duty, he would learn from the chefs, and has gained an appreciation for the culinary arts.
But, the big payoff for Jack was when he cashed in his paychecks and bought himself an Ipad. He bought it all by himself, with the money he earned helping out around the ranch this summer.
It’s fun to watch staff grow and develop, but I have to say we all took some serious pleasure in watching Jack enjoy the materialistic benefits of hard work on the day his Ipad arrived. Now, it’s time to get ready to go back to school. We hope Jack returns to school with some new life skills, pride in himself, and an understanding of what it means to help others. But, if nothing else, he’ll have a rocking new Ipad to enjoy!
Date: August 22nd, 2012
For those of you who have been at the ranch over the years, you may remember Dace standing in front of the campfire saying, “Around here, we don’t say goodbye. We say come back home real soon.” That is his hallmark statement for anyone leaving the ranch. At this time, it becomes our turn to say that to Dace.
Much to the loss of all of us, it became Dace’s time to move on to a new venture. After over 6 years at the ranch, and being an integral part of what Vista Verde is today, Dace has hung up his cowboy hat and loaded up his truck to head down the driveway.
Although Dace has been a hugely influential part of molding the ranch into today’s Vista Verde, his biggest contribution has been visioning and piecing together the amazing staff that we have had the joy of working with each season. This is no small feat to find the talented and service minded folks who he has found over the years, place them in the right spot on the ranch, and build the community that defines the ranch experience. We have a great template in place now, so moving forward will be easy with what Dace has put in place for all of us to enjoy.
Dace’s impact on the ranch came through in so many different ways as well. The music, the special events, the daily operations all are what they are because of his love of the guest ranch experience, his care for making each moment just right for all of you, and his joy in celebrating the ways in which we can impact people at the ranch.
In saying goodbye to Dace, we all lose a great friend, a mentor and a partner in our mission at Vista Verde. But, we rejoice with him as he moves on in life. Next up? First, a little time focusing on his family and helping with some big events going on in their lives. After that, he’s heading back to school to pursue another Masters Degree. It’s time for Dace to start checking off some items on his bucket list that were hard to do when he had so much energy going toward the ranch.
So, at this time, please join us in saying Happy Trails to Dace. But, it’s not goodbye. It’s come back home real soon. Thanks for being part of this great adventure that is Vista Verde.
Date: August 22nd, 2012
Vista Verde is fun all year round.
Springtime flowers full of color welcoming new life.
Colorado’s summer sun is so much fun. Fishing, climbing seeing it all. Pine smells all around.
Fall brings leaves in full color with crisp Mt. air.
Winter is here at Vista Verde again, the best season of all. Skiing, sleigh rides and snowshowing galore. Snuggled in our cozy cabin with a fire and hot cholocate in hand.
Come Spring, Summer, Fall or Winter what better spot for vacation than Vista Verde?
Name: Rob Akert
Date: August 15th, 2012
Every once in awhile we have a guest show up without a reservation – it’s okay though, because they’re not really looking for a place to stay. Just something to nibble on before they get back on the trail.
I’m talking about our wildlife visitors! Chipmunks and songbirds are ubiquitous. Deer are also common. They sometimes sidle up to the salt lick while the horses are distracted. I remember a dramatic sight during staff orientation when a moose raced in front of the Great Room windows. We regularly hear the call of the sandhill crane, or the yapping of coyotes. On a walk the other day, I surprised a badger on the trail.
Recently we’ve had an extra exciting visitor come down from the hills: a female black bear!
It’s been so dry up in the hills that the (not so) little one has found her way down to the ranch. In looking for food, she found the motherload – a bunch of spilled bird seed underneath the bird feeders. Footprints and droppings were the first sign of her. Since then we’ve set up a trail camera and have been watching her every move (literally) for the past few days. She comes, eats, rests, and then goes.
It’s pretty clear that she’s timid. She comes only at night. Other than what is captured on the trail camera, no one has actually seen her in the flesh. We have been extra diligent about keeping our trash locked up!
In native Ute mythology, the bear represents strength, wisdom and survival skills. Each spring they come together for the annual Bear Dance – speculated to perhaps be the original line dance. They celebrate the end of the winter and the emergence of the bear out of hibernation. Traditionally, it was a time when the people, too, would come out of hibernation. They would come together once again after a long cold winter to celebrate, play and tell stories.
It may be late summer, but we continue to carry a bit of that spirit in what we do here. All summer long, Vista Verde is a place to come together to adventure, to play, to celebrate and to enjoy one another’s company!
We’ll continue to watch the bear by way of the trail camera. Her stays are already getting shorter as the spilled seed runs out. We are grateful for the excitement and story-telling value of her visit – but for the time being, we’ll continue to keep our trash locked up tight!