It’s just another day here at Vista Verde, but no day is ordinary, and most of them are magical. So, why don’t you take a stroll with me to see what is going on around the ranch?
We walk in the front door of the Main Lodge first, but pay attention as you need to step over Finn. He’s napping in the sun on the door mat, right in front of the door, just in case you might be tricked into letting him inside. Yes, it’s a cold one outside today, and if he gets his way he will sneak into the office and curl up on the floor. Once you get past the Finn obstacle, you step into the warmth of the Lodge, your eyes adjust from the bright sunlight on the snow, and there is Steph working busily behind the Front Desk. Which Steph is it? This winter we have the confusing pleasure of having 3 Steph’s. So there’s wrangler Steph, and there’s office Steph, and then there’s…..old Steph? We’re still working that out. Well, office Steph says hi as you walk by, and then gets back to picking up the ringing phone. It’s been busy in the office this past month as this is the time of year we’re fielding calls for two seasons. People are still planning their winter vacations and others are looking forward to their summer family trips or fall adult-only getaways.
As you walk further into the Great Room you hear the snap, crackle, and pop of the fire as well as Ben’s booming voice from upstairs as he visits with Sam about how branding night went the other night. Charlie is lining out one of the ranch hands to get him all set with his town run list for this afternoon. The smells wafting from the kitchen pull you down the hallway, and into the dining room where Damon and Katie are cleaning up from breakfast so they can turn around and set up for lunch. It smells so good that you keep heading into the kitchen. The relative calmness of the previous moments is gone in a flash as you step into lighthearted bantering between Jonathan and Tanner, while David works quietly in the background with a smirk on his face. Chol steps in from the office where he was emailing recipes to see what all the noise is about, and Melissa looks up from her pastry station wondering how she ever got roped into working with all these guys? As you walk through, you swipe a cookie off the sheet pan, fresh out of the oven, without anyone seeing you, and then head out of the Lodge to check out what’s happening outside.
The sunshine on the fresh snow is blinding, but as your eyes adjust you see snow spraying everywhere. It’s the ranch hand brigade, doing their post-snowfall ritual. If you ask one of them what they do all winter you’ll likely get two answers. Moving snow and driving. This morning there are snow blowers, tractors, and the Toolcat all in different areas around the ranch moving snow. Out in the meadow Michael goes humming by in the snow cat as he lays down perfect corduroy on the ski trails.
Heading up the pathway, you make a stop at the Adventure Center. There the guides are busily prepping for the guests tours that day. Shannon is heading out on an all-day ski tour up around Hahn’s Peak, so she’s zipping down to the Lodge to grab the lunches. There aren’t enough calories that fit in a backpack for Shannon on one of these all-day tours. Harry is getting the fishing licenses purchased for his ice fishing trip on Steamboat Lake. And Greg is setting out the skis and snowshoes for the other tours heading out this morning. After having talked to all the guests about what they are looking for that morning, Ben Simms comes back into the Adventure Center to brief the crew on the changes and finalize plans. The place is hopping, and the guests are about to show up to head out on the trails.
You leave the hustle and bustle of the Adventure Center and swing by the barn. The horses are still in the corral, and the wranglers are catching and saddling the last ones they’ll need for the day. Lucky for you, the timing works out perfectly that you just wait a few minutes before Mary gets the radio call from Kylie down the driveway that the ropes have been set up to guide the horses and it’s time to send them back out. Opening the gate, she watches each one carefully to check in on their condition as they breeze by her and back down to their Winter pasture. The ones who will be ridden that morning neigh wistfully as they see their friends heading out, but seem to know that after a little work they will be able to join them for supper later in the day.
Leaving that tantalizing smell of horse and leather (some cringe at that, some of you know that wonderful smell) you make your way down towards the Indoor arena. Out from the machine shed a slew of housekeepers stream out the door with their baskets loaded. Hannah and Joey head to one vehicle, Sam and Moriah go to the other. They are on a mission, so don’t get in their way! As you keep walking by the Machine shed, a garage bay opens up and out comes James in a freshly washed Suburban. He’s heading to the airport for a pick up, and as soon as he pulls out, Logan pulls in with one of the snowblowers to do a quick repair in the warmth of the shop.
The snow is squeaks under your feet as you near the Indoor arena. You know how snow is squeaky when it’s particularly cold outside? No? Then you should come experience it for yourself! Leaving the squeaky snow behind, you step into the Indoor arena. Inside the stalls are a few horses munching on their breakfast still, but otherwise it’s totally quiet. Of course, the kitties have been on high alert for human companionship, so as soon as they heard the door open they swarm to catch your attention. Blue wants to cuddle, Bandit wants you to feed him, and Matilda just wants to beat the other two up and then walk away. Suddenly the garage doors begin to open, and Mary and Sam walk in with a string of horses behind them. Some are young colts, who will be getting some training time today, and others are for the guests who will be showing up shortly for their morning clinic. After greetings and pats, you head out those big doors and hear them closing behind you quickly, as that is cold air rushing into that heated arena!
You bury your hands into your pockets to keep warm as you stroll back towards the Lodge. The place seems to be settling down as everyone heads out on their adventures and the crew settles into their chores. You take the long way down the driveway back to the Lodge, which allows you to enjoy the view out over Sunday pasture, see the horses frolicking in Winter pasture, and gaze up at the row of cabins that all look like they are covered in a cozy blanket of snow.
And, it’s just another day at VVR. Magical indeed, yep, I guess it’s just daily magic.