The Modern Mountain Man (and Woman)

Since I was born, raised and have spent most of my life in the mountains, I tend to consider myself as a true “mountain man.” Of course, my own definition doesn’t necessarily fall into the accepted view most of us have of the traditional “mountain man.”  It means more of a “mountain dweller” than the quintessential trapper and other explorer that used to roam the Rocky Mountains and might still be encountered at certain summer “Rendezvous’.” Since I’m also from French extraction, if you found me at one of these events, you might easily mistake me for these rugged characters if I donned a different garb and sported a few grizzly teeth around my neck, but that’s not quite my style, at least, for the foreseeable future!

So my definition of what makes a mountain man and woman is a far cry from that early frontier day’s image, and is in fact defined by the love some of us have for living near the summits and for building our daily lives or our recreation around them. I simply would like to talk about those of us, mountain women and men, who love elevated living and always get more excited when we’re in the midst of jagged peaks than strolling on New York’s Fifth Avenue or facing a tropical sunset, far away in some South Pacific paradise.

This new breed of “mountain people” love to ski in winter, whether it’s alpine, telemark or cross-country, can on occasion step on a pair of snow shoes or just enjoy a stimulating morning run in the snow. These same individuals are also highly adaptable; they can switch gear within weeks and go from skiing to fly-fishing or even mountain biking, as soon as the trails are dry enough and passable. Endless trail running is also part of the choices mountain dwellers make and their stealthy travels take them where wildlife hides, where deer and moose are totally at home, marmots lay in the sun and cougars watch from behind some aspen grove.

They’re rugged individuals who can also hike long distances, scramble towards forbidding summits and climb vertical cliffs when they’ve made up their mind to reach over them. On occasions, they’ll explore distant valleys on horseback or run down a river with friends. I’m not a hunter, so I can’t speak for those we see in the fall with gun or cross-bow in hand, but I’m a bit closer to those who never miss a sunset on a stormy day, can catch an Osprey in flight or surprise a heard of elks with their camera.

The luckiest of these modern mountain people work in the mountains and usually don’t even realize how fortunate they are; others still have to compromise between making a living in some city and escaping to the mountains whenever they get a chance. They belong to the mountain environment and they love it. They look at the clouds and guess tomorrow’s weather; sport goggle and sun-glass tans year-round, stay connected with their surroundings and become almost part of the scenery. They respect the natural elements, they know that nature is the ultimate boss and see in it a yardstick to measure their strength, their determination and their endurance.

In many ways, they are as fierce and independent as the first “mountain men” used to be and are one-hundred percent in tune with their surroundings. The only difference, in my opinion, is that their life is far less dangerous and that they’ve found many more ways to extract raw fun out of their mountain lifestyle!

Bonnie’s Blueberry Mojito -Definitely Try This at Home

When I read that the Blueberry Mojito was Deer Valley’s award winning bartender Bonnie Ulmer’s  favorite drink, I thought I would try her recipe and make it for my friends.  Now I need to start by saying that the most complex drink I usually make is a rum and coke and if I want to get a little crazy, I make a gin and tonic (with a lime.) I am  often spotted pouring  a simple glass of red wine so a blueberry mojito is a tall order for me.

I tried to make a signature drink for a dinner party once.  If my life depended on it, I couldn’t tell you what drink it was. The whole thing has been erased from memory – my subconscious must have blocked it out! It turned out badly.  When my guests sipped the cocktail, their faces scrunched up like the guy on the bitter beer commercial.  They exchanged sidewards glances and then there was silence.  The only sound was the popping of corks as they switched to wine. I never tried making a special cocktail again….until now.

When our friends Harry and Michelle invited us for dinner over Memorial Day weekend, I saw an opportunity for a second chance. I offered to bring Bonnie’s Blueberry Mojito makings to kick off the season.   This was a low pressure situation for me  – it was just the four of us so if I totally messed it up, I would only  have to endure  minor teasing.  So I gathered the rum, mint, lemon aid, limes, soda and blueberries in my tote for the maiden mojito voyage.

Turns out making the drink together was a blast -Michelle and I smashed mint until fragrant, measured the rum, and tossed in the blueberries following the recipe from the blog.  After pouring the dark rum on top and tasting it, seemed like something was missing. Oops -forgot the club soda. Added a splash then more rum on top and we were good to go.

The verdict?  Best mojito ever!  Refreshing – not too minty but just right. They weren’t as pretty as Bonnie’s, of course, but everyone loved them. My husband and I even planted mint so we can enjoy mojitos all summer. I can’t wait to try the original at the Deer Valley’s Royal Street Cafe.

 

Biking is for the Whole Family

Spring came early to Park City—in a town where odds run high for snow on graduation day, it can be confusing to be able to play outside like it’s Summer in April or May. But, friends, we’re muddling through, somehow. What with all the Chamber of Commerce weather, and the fact that my kids look at bike time as cross-training for skiing (Opening Weekend), this is bound to be the summer that improves our skiing by leaps and bounds.

In fact, it didn’t take long for us to get rolling in summer mode in our house. Seth, our newly-minted five year-old, with his newly-missing two bottom teeth, has determined that this summer’s theme is “Two Wheels or Bust!” It didn’t take much—just like when he wanted to learn to ski, he saw big brother do it, and that, friends, was that (Secrets to Success). We started offering various tips on technique, offered to put a broomstick in the well under his seat so we could help him balance, suggested he use his feet to push and glide off the ground while he got the feel for it. And, in typical Seth fashion, he looked at us and said, “Why don’t I just ride?”

So, he did. Here’s the footage

The next thing I knew, Jeff was in the garage, finding the pedals to put on his own bike. Poor guy had been so busy in the last few years, the only time his bike got to roll on the trails around here was when our friend Cheo came for visits and borrowed the bike (he’s a BYOPedal kinda guy). Now, though, the kids were on a roll, and Jeff was not going to miss out.

So, with images of family bike rides dancing in our heads, we hauled Lance’s first mountain bike with gears into Jans for a tune-up (it was a hand-me-down from friends), and took mine there for good measure. While we were there, Jeff noticed some shiny new objects—and started chatting with Stephanie, one of the expert bike fitters. Before long, she had Jeff set up on demos, and he was tooling around the neighborhood, trying to choose a new bike. I won’t bore you with the list of complaints he has for his old mountain bike. We think of it as Cheo’s bike, anyway, and now this will allow the two of them to go on rides together when he’s in town…but I digress.

I owe Stephanie, Marty, and the team at Jans a debt of gratitude for helping Jeff find a new bike. First, she took the guesswork out of what gift to give my husband for our 17th wedding anniversary this month. Yes, friends, in case you were wondering, the official gift for 17th anniversary is One Sweet Ride. Second, she singlehandedly helped reconnect my guy, who raced bikes in high school, with a lifelong passion—that’s going to help push his healthy lifestyle agenda to the next level. Also, they helped me entertain my kids during the whole bike demo process, allowing many pairs of shoes to be tried on, and selling us a couple of bags of candy, to boot. As in winter, I’m not above bribing with candy. [Upping the Ante on Bribes]

After all was said and done, I was inspired to get my like-new (as in gently used, because I bought it eleven years ago and have ridden just a handful of times) bike into the shop for a tune-up.

Some people in my house have described me as a reluctant biker—I’m not. I swear. I really, really WANT to bike. But I’ve never been a confident biker, which makes it hard to just get out and ride. When I first bought my bike, I took advantage of the variety of free, guided rides available to all levels of bikers through Jans and White Pine—some are even women-only. Somehow, though, once the boys were born, I couldn’t make the time for those rides. No, boys, I’m not blaming you. In recent years,  I promised my pal Emily that I would take some mountain biking lessons at Deer Valley—but other things took precedence.

Now, though, the same thing that motivated me to up my game on the snow has been brought to bear for biking; I will not be left behind by my family. So: First things first, I’m going to start riding on the flat trails around town. Next, I’ll join some of those evening rides at White Pine and Jans. And, because my kids are going to check out some Deer Valley Summer Camps, I’m going to book myself a mountain biking lesson on the mountain, too.

Let the games begin!

Cheers to Summer at Deer Valley

September Bickmore and Bonnie Ulmer of Deer Valley Grocery~Café, produced the winning cocktail last month at the Park City Cocktail Contest when a panel selected this original cocktail, “Flower & Pine” as Park City’s “Signature Cocktail” for spring and summer 2012.

We met up with Bonnie Ulmer to find out what makes summer in Park City so great and to share a recipe for one of Deer Valley’s signature cocktails.

When did you come to Deer Valley?

I was one of the originals. Starting as a bartender and cocktail waitress at the Après Ski lounge, I started opening day in 1981. I have been making drinks here ever since.

What is a perfect summer day to you?

I usually have Sunday and Mondays off. We wake up early to get a little wakeboarding or waterskiing in on the Jordanelle or Deer Creek. On Sundays we make our way over to the Park City Silly Market for a while and then head back to the closest body of water for paddle boarding. We usually round the day off with a BBQ and of course a couple cocktails.

What is your favorite thing on the menu at Deer Valley Grocery~Cafe?

Ben Stevens, the chef at Grocery~Café makes the best Panini’s. I love to sit and eat on the deck.

What is your most memorable concert at Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater?

My favorite concert at the Snow Park Amphitheater had to have been Lyle Lovett. He was married to Julia Roberts at the time and all my friends and I kept trying to see if she was in the crowd somewhere.

Your must have treat at Deer Valley?

My favorite dessert has to be the McHenry’s Frozen Lemon Meringue Pie served at Royal Street Café.

What is your favorite cocktail?

Blueberry Mojito.

Biggest misconception about Utah liquor laws?

I have so many bar patrons surprised you can actually get a drink in Utah. Some of our cocktails, with liquor flavorings have as much as two and half ounces of liquor in them.

We asked Bonnie to share the recipe to her favorite cocktail, the Blueberry Mojito. It makes a great cocktail to enjoy over the Memorial Day weekend.

Cheers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deer Valley Blueberry Mojito

Yields: 1 Drink

Ingredients:

1 handful mint

1 tsp. granulated sugar

Quarter wedge of lime

½ to ¾ cup lemonade (preferably not from concentrate)

1 oz. premium light rum (Bacardi Silver brand suggested)

2 Tbsp. fresh or frozen blueberries (one tablespoon smashed to create some juice)

Splash of soda

½ oz. premium dark rum (Myer’s brand suggested)

Sprig of mint (for garnish)

Slice of lime (for garnish)

Ice

Procedures:

-  In a tall 16 oz. class, add mint leaves and sugar. Squeeze juice from the lime wedge into the glass. Mash the ingredients with the back of a spoon or a special wooden “muddler” until the mixture is fragrant. Fill the glass with ice.

- Add lemonade until the glass is 2/3 full. Add splash of soda then add light rum and blueberries and stir.

- Slowly pour dark rum into the drink so it floats on top.

- Garnish with a sprig of mint and lime, serve.

 

 

 

Where to Bike in Park City during “Shoulder Season”

Hidden Gems in Park City – Bike Edition

Where can you take a detour from your trip to Home Depot and find an amazing mountain bike course that is free to the public?  Park City, of course! This past weekend my husband and I were headed to the hardware store east of Park City on Highway 40 and decided to take the scenic route and drive through a neighborhood.   We stumbled upon Trailside Park and its soccer field, skateboard park and the amazing mountain bike training course.

We looked at each other and said in unison, “Let’s check it out.” We didn’t see any bikes on the course (maybe because it was really windy.)  So we opened the tailgate, let the dog out and headed up the trail.  It started off with a beginners course called “Bella’s Course” with a couple of stone bridges and curved dirt trails for little ones to try. I can imagine a little girl with a pink bike and helmet tearing around those corners like there’s no tomorrow!

Not for the faint of heart: this trail is challenging!  We hiked up the path and found tons of strategically placed wooden ramps and side rails that were six feet tall!  The course was full of small and large dirt ramps to test the skills of every mountain biker young and old.  We saw a few when we ran into a couple of teenagers with helmet cams taking the big jumps and filming each others landings.

 

This course wouldn’t be for the beginner but if you or your kids love a challenge,   check out Trailside park.  www.basinrecreation.org/trailside_park.html

For the faint of heart: Willow Creek Park. We found this park  in much the same way – we went for a leisurely drive through a neighborhood  and out popped this amazing park with two play structures, finely groomed soccer fields, a pond, and wide paths for walking,running or biking.  The bike paths connect to a couple of nice trails.  On this ride, you won’t find a ramp or a bump in sight but what you will see are wide rocky pathways that are great to either pick up some speed  for a good workout or to take at a leisurely pace and enjoy the scenery.

I sometimes start at Kimball Junction and ride along the Swaner Nature Preserve past the Swaner farm on the Highway 224.  The bike trail winds past some wetlands and creeks  before it opens up to the meadow at Willow Creek Park. You can ride up to the soccer field there and grab some cold water from the drinking fountain. Take a rest in the shade before heading up further to catch up with the Farm Trail for more stream side riding or head back the way you came.  Www.basinrecreation.org/willow_creek.html

Whether you are a hard core thrill seeking biker or looking for a scenic spring ride and  some exercise, Park City parks are a great way to explore while waiting for Deer Valley’s lift-served biking and hiking to open on June 15.

Three Stages of Relaxation at the Montage Spa at Deer Valley

Kissing Monty wasn’t one of the skin care tips I picked up when I had a facial at the Montage Spa but it probably should be.  When I arrived at the Montage, I was introduced to their friendly furry mascot, a Bernese Mountain dog named Monty.  When I crouched down to greet him, I was rewarded by sloppy licks to the face. As I plopped right down on the floor, he tickled my neck as I totally lost myself in laughter.  What a wonderful way to start my afternoon of relaxation – smart too – because research shows petting a dog actually lowers blood pressure. Monty helped me easily shake off my work day and enter my first stage of relaxation.

The next stage of relaxation was the “art of spa” which I nicknamed “the pre-treatment treatment.”   Before my facial, I wanted to let go of the world, so I went early.  Secluded in the women’s lounge area, I followed their suggested “hot-cold-rest-repeat” regime.  I started with the dry sauna for ten minutes, followed by a cold deluge, then a cozy lounge chair for five minutes.

Since I am a little on the claustrophobic side, I normally can’t stay in the stream room very long. The steam room at the Montage Spa was different, however; one entire wall was glass. After the steam started filling the room, I didn’t have the usual urge to bolt.  I felt completely comfortable through the whole steam cycle for the first time in my life.  After my second cold deluge, I entered a deeper state of relaxation as I lounged on the chair.

By then, I felt like a human being again but there was more – the actual facial treatment!  I was greeted by Janelle, my esthetician who walked me to the treatment room and made me comfortable.  We started with the “art of breath” as she led through a relaxation meditation to calm my mind for stage three relaxation.  After cleansing and exfoliating my skin, she applied a whole host of healing treatments and vitamins including a local mountain honey bee populous (like super charged royal jelly) unique to Wasatch Mountains. My skin responded by lapping it up.

While my moisturizing mask did its work, and when I thought life couldn’t get any better, she treated me to a scalp massage and then surprisingly a gentle foot massage. With this, I completely relaxed and then I found myself again.  I could hear an inner voice that had been attempting to talk to me for a long time but I had so busy with life, I hadn’t been listening.

 

Deer Valley Resort is Your Mother’s Day Answer

It may be “shoulder season” here at the resort but Deer Valley can be the perfect choice for your Mother’s Day gifts and celebrations.

Deer Valley Grocery~Café will be having a special menu this Sunday, May 12 for Mother’s Day. Enjoy deck dining and Deer Valley Specialties from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

While you’re at the Grocery~Café enjoy some of our signature items while dining in or take them to go.

For the diehard Deer Valley Moms we have great gift ideas, such as logo wear, jewelry, blankets, etc. available online and  at our Deer Valley Signature’s Store located on 625 Main Street, Park City, UT. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

You can also purchase many more Deer Valley items and our entire gourmet food line online.

Deer Valley Resort gift cards are also available in-store or online and can be redeemed for any Deer Valley amenity.