You may remember from a couple years ago that we had two brand new staff blog about their experience coming to the ranch, going through orientation, and starting off their first season. Here we are, some years later, saying goodbye to those wonderful ladies. It seemed fitting that both of these gals wrap up their VVR experience with a farewell blog post looking back on their time at the ranch. I already shared Catherine’s post a while ago, and now it’s time for us to say goodbye to Mackenzie as she readies for grad school. So, we hand the mic over to Mackenzie:
The crazy thing about being on a dude ranch is that you get the opportunity to slow down, and yet, time seems to go so fast….
Flashback to college graduation: as I proudly move my tassel from one side to the other, students begin the chatter and buzz about what’s next. “I’m moving into the city” and “I got a job at x firm”, were all common responses. As I had jam packed my senior year with assisting research in a Psychology lab, an internship, working on campus, fulfilling sorority Vice President duties, fraternity sweetheart duties, co-hosting a large benefit auction (and much more), I think my response of, “I’m moving to Colorado to work on a ranch” was a little less than expected.
In May of 2017 I eagerly rolled up to VVR in my silver Mitsubishi; during orientation, Steph asked who would be willing to blog to provide our guests with an inside look into staff training. Funny enough, the two volunteers were Cat and myself, who are now struggling to write this post about wrapping up our time here at the ranch- how do you do justice to several years with just words? From serving in the dining room, to international travel with VVR friends, to guiding trips through snow filled pines, and now diving into the office and activity coordinating role; as I try to wrap my head around my time since college, there are 3 major lessons that have been driven home at the ranch.
“Do it while you can” & “I wish I would’ve taken the time to…”
Every VVR employee hears statements like these on the regular. I am 100% confident that I will not look back when I’m 85 years old and say, “Gosh, I really regret those few years I slowed down to enjoy the simple things in life: no cell service, camping, teaching people to ski, and meeting people from all over the world.” Just because you aren’t overbooked, stressed, and sitting it traffic, it doesn’t mean you aren’t progressing. I’ll move forward with the goal of never saying, “I wish I would have….”. We’re the lucky ones who heard it early enough.
There’s more than meets the eye.
Your housekeeper who is “just cleaning rooms”: she arrived from backpacking in New Zealand, and prior, was in British Columbia managing a sea kayaking and mountain guiding ministry program.
The guy who “just fixes things”: he met his American wife at a hostel in South America, left his Danish military career behind, married her, moved to the USA to work on the ranch for her, and now has the sweetest baby girl and wife.
The woman who “just runs the hospitality show”: she’s a mom, college graduate, wife to a former Olympian, rider, athlete, and the former president of the CDGRA.
The girl who “just takes out trail rides”: she graduated college 2 years early with a degree in Neurology by the age of 20. She’s taking time before medical school.
The staff and guests here have continued to blow my mind with their stories; hearing them has been a great privilege. There’s always more than meets the eye.
Surrounding yourself with good people makes you better.
I know, profound, right? I did say I’m a college graduate, after all! The VVR crew is one with genuine intentions; they stop to think about personal and team growth. Being surrounded by the right people, I was equally as happy to be housekeeping on Sundays as I was to be co-guiding a sweet ski trip through the most beautiful champagne powder. The secret sauce? Good people. I will never forget this winter when I got a call from what I thought was a long lost dream application. I was debating even attending the interview, but my manager at the time, Ben Simms, really encouraged me to go. He calmed my nerves by reminding me that an interview is two sided. You’re interviewing them just as much as they’re interviewing you, and showing up is no big deal- it’s all about sizing up the fit. Steph & Zach also encouraged me to go; they said that as much as they love seeing good people here, they love seeing good people succeed more. Needless to say, I went, and came running back to my kind hearted ranch home with open arms and confidence that large corporate life wasn’t for me. Thank you, Ben Simms, Steph, and Zach for this push. I won’t forget it. Good people make you better.
Although there are countless more lessons learned, these have really hit home and shaped my decision of future endeavors. So, now what? I’ve debated what path is right since graduation. Given the time to slow down and understand what is really important, I want to look back in life and be proud of making the active choice to help others day in and day out. I’ve decided to pursue my graduate degree in Child, Family & School Psychology to become a licensed School Psychologist. However, I won’t begin graduate school until the fall of 2020, so the seasonal life has a little time to live on! This winter, I’ll head to Aspen to work with the adaptive ski & sports program, an opportunity for which I am beyond excited. Then, it’s off to settle in for school. For the record, Steamboat and Aspen are on the same ski pass, so VVR staff ski trips are already in the works!
I wouldn’t consider myself a particularly emotional gal, but leaving VVR definitely has me in the feels. It’s bittersweet. I am SO looking forward to the future, but a piece of my heart will be left here; my early 20’s certainly were far from the beaten path. I’ve laughed (a lot), I’ve cried, learned that a “quick trip” to the Clark store doesn’t exist because you’ll talk for 45 minutes, I’ve watched some of my best friends fall in love with their forever, I’ve changed career paths, learned to ski, learned that averaging 3 of Melissa’s cookies a day isn’t a good habit, and above all, I’ve been incredibly well mentored. Steph, Devyn, Ben Simms, Charlie, Ben, all the staff & guests- I can’t thank you enough for the rich conversations, life lessons, ski trip shredding, 2 stepping, and tea-sipping that I won’t ever be able to replicate. As I look back on my time dude ranching, I can’t help but smile. I can only hope this place and this lifestyle continues to impact lives- I know it will. Cheers to you, Vista Verde Ranch! As one door closes, another door opens.
The happiest of trails,