As I have begun to plan to leave at the end of October, Steph asked me to write about my time here. It’s a funny thing, the first week of my first season here, I volunteered to write about my orientation week as a 22 year old, college graduate coming to the ranch for a summer of fulfilling my cowgirl dreams and here I am, almost 3 years later, wrapping it all up.
I hoped that Steph wouldn’t catch me on writing about my time here. How can you possibly sum up some of the most meaningful, shaping years of your life into a couple of paragraphs. But because of how much I love this place and Steph of course, I’ll certainly try.
Let’s see… So I initially came to Vista with dreams of riding horses all day and everyday as a wrangler. I was so stinking excited I couldn’t stand it. I can hardly remember my last semester of college because all I did was day dream about the ranch.
May 22nd, 2017 I pulled up to the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. Perhaps one of the most wonderful summers of my life, I learned about empathy and compassion from Ben Yoder-Henley, Horsemanship and gentleness from KP, patience from Malia and Dundee, and friendship from Rachel Bailey.
My biggest take away from my summers of working here is that it’s ok to say no, it’s ok to take time for yourself, and that self-care is SO important! Being here, you are surrounded by so many wonderful people every second of the day that you can empty yourself out emotionally, mentally, and physically. But, despite wanting to be a part of every bit of it, I also found independence and freedom in traveling solo, hiking, biking, and riding on my own to fill my cup back up so that I could serve those around me better.
I have to say wintering at Vista Verde was by far my favorite season with my favorite memories. Notably, I worked with an entirely veteran staff of ski guides who took me under their wings.
I worked with guides who had been here for multiple seasons and weren’t living with a seasonal mindset. They were fully committed to working and living at Vista. We formed deeper relationships quickly.
Working with Beka, Ben Simms, Shanny, Isaac, and Rachel I learned about endurance, hospitality, and creating meaningful and real relationships with our guests. I can remember standing up on Rabbit Ears Pass with two skate skis strapped on for the first time, with the season opening in one week thinking, “What the heck have I gotten myself in to?” With record low snow that year, training on skis was limited and I had 0 years of Nordic Skiing at my disposal. However, Beka showed me quickly that having confidence gets you so much farther than experience on skis. I was confident that I could take my guests into the back country on skis and bring them out alive with great stories and memories. Confidence goes a long way. Not the boasting, prideful ego kind of confidence, but the steady, consistent encouraging confidence. Ski guiding taught me about that kind of confidence.
Looking back now, I’d give up a whole lot to go back to one day of shoveling snow, fingers freezing off, jamming out to Justin Timberlake’s brand new album while in the company of wonderful people preparing to ski in a foot of fresh powder.
As I moved into year two at Vista, I began realizing that I didn’t quite want to ride horses 24/7, grovel in the horse manure and wear out my body physically day in and day out. I began to dream of moving into the office to work with some of the masterminds behind the ranch. Also, as some of you know, I started dating Isaac in the summer of 2018.
And now, after working in two departments together, living 25 feet apart door to door, surviving a blizzard on Hahn’s peak through the night in the dead of winter, hiking together, working through disagreements on cleanliness, meeting the parents on both sides, and dating for quite some time, I can’t imagine my life without him.
Amid this relationship, I moved into the office to work alongside the brilliant and talented minds of Stephanie and Devyn.
I came in with no experience in the “back office” of the hospitality industry. As I moved into a “reservations, marketing assistant, problem solving” kind of role, I realized quickly that a whole lot more happens in the office than I thought. From booking my first reservation, to working a travel show in Dallas, to creating content for Instagram and Facebook, and soaking up insight from those who have done it all before, I was developed professionally and personally. I will never forget the wisdom that I learned from Steph, Dev, and Zach in the slow moments when we had a chance to dig deep and talk about relationships, leadership, and life. I can’t thank them enough for trusting me with their work, and encouraging me as I am heading towards my next move.
So as I hit the road on to the next adventure, I can’t help let a few tears fall as I think back to the hundreds of walks I took down the driveway, the guests that treated me like family, the kindness I felt from my coworkers, the late night conversations in the parlor, the hikes that stretched me to my breaking point, the hundreds of pounds of manure I shoveled, the horses that snuggled me when I missed home, the gals who will be my friends forever, and the mountains that I found myself in.
So what’s next you might ask?
I’ll be heading to North Carolina back to my home state with my fiancé. Isaac will be joining the military and I’ll be closer to home and closer to him as we journey through military life together. As I look for a career in sales, marketing, or maybe hospitality, I’ll remember Ben Martin saying: “We can’t begin to serve our guests if we don’t first serve our coworkers and those around us.” I’ve seen firsthand how a mindset like this creates a positive, wholesome, and powerful workplace. It was truly a gift to be a part of such a wonderful place.