Swapping the Supermarket for the Deer Valley~Grocery Cafe

girls night outSummer may be a vacation for my kids, but I’m still on duty. For instance, the people must be fed, and I find myself at the supermarket with alarming frequency. So, it was a double treat to let my family dine without me, and head out to a “grocery” of a different kind, for a Girls’ Night Out.

I rallied some friends to try the small plates menu offered each evening by the Deer Valley Grocery Cafe. We hit it at the perfect time–just as the soft light of early evening was dappling the pond. (Purple prose notwithstanding, that’s EXACTLY how it looked). A couple of families were enjoying dinner after stand up paddle boarding. We, on the other hand, were enjoying a bottle of Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon.

We ordered liberally–after all, it was our first visit, so it was incumbent upon us to sample as many of the menu offerings as possible. Nothing disappointed. Among our favorites: the charcuterie platter, the cedar planked salmon with strawberry rhubarb compote and the beef tenderloin.

My personal favorite (I couldn’t stop myself from making joyful exclamations after each bite) is an item that will be on the menu at various points this summer: Fried Heber Valley Halloumi, a Greek style cheese served with honey, Marcona almonds, a sherry reduction, arugula and baguette. The dish hits all the right tart/sweet/savory notes, and feels completely indulgent.

photo (7)Sitting on the patio, we noticed that the evening only got prettier as it wore on. There is a joke in there somewhere about people in bars, but I promise I had only one glass of wine, and the changing light and achievement of the perfect temperature by 7:30 p.m. did all the work for us. That, and the fact that the staff made us feel as though we were honored guests.

By the time we had worked our way through all of the delicious dishes, it was clear that there was no room for dessert. This fact, however, was lost on Meg, the service team leader at the cafe. “You have to have the ice cream sandwiches,” she insisted. “There are three in the order…and three of you.” My dining partners attempted to demur. I know Meg to be a wise woman, so I overruled them:

ice cream sandwich“They don’t know what they are talking about,” I said. “Ignore them–they only THINK they don’t have room.” And what do you know? I was right.

Revitalize Mind, Body and Spirit at the Remède Spa at the St Regis

StRegisLobbyI have a theory as to why you feel so revitalized after a massage.  A massage can be much more than simply relaxing and having a trained massage therapist knead away the tension in your muscles.  Certainly, the body feels great after a massage but the mind and spirit can be rejuvenated, too.

My theory has to do with “what’s behind the knot”; something caused you to tense up and create a knot in the first place.  Granted, sometimes you may have tension in your lower back because of the way you sit at your desk or you may have tightness in your calves because you are a runner.  Most knots, I believe, are due to some tense event that caused you to tighten up, possibly without even realizing it.  There is a reason people call someone or something a “pain in the neck.” The problem you had may be long solved or the person long removed from your life but the knot is still there.

As your massage therapist works on the knot, you often think about that tense event.  When you let it go in your mind as you let it go in your body, the whole thing revives your spirit.  When I booked a couple’s massage for my husband Jay and me at the Remède Spa at the St. Regis, I’d forgotten all about my theory.  We’d never had side-by-side massages before and the anticipation of the experience was all I was thinking about.

RemedeCouplesSpaSuiteOnce the massage started, I remembered.  You see, I told my massage therapist, that I really didn’t have any knots in my back so she didn’t need to spend much time there.  But when she started working between my shoulder blades, she found a couple of knots hiding there.  These knots gently reminded me of some unfinished business, some residual tension that I still needed to let go.  With her help, I did.

Jay OutsideAfter the massage, Jay and I relaxed together on our serene private patio listening to the sounds of the waterfall from the massive rock sculpture in front of us. As we took in the breathtaking views of the mountains, he mentioned a few things he was thinking about during the massage.  Turns out, he’d had the same experience with some knots he didn’t even realize he had and some unfinished business he had a chance to let go of too.

I have another theory.  The reason it was so easy to let go of the tension and revitalize the mind, body and spirit was the sanctuary at the Remède Spa.  The treatment room was more like a retreat than a room so we felt peaceful.  We had our own private space to relax before the massage with a Jacuzzi tub, private shower and our own outdoor patio so we felt at home.

StRegisFireGarden_SummerThe therapists spoiled us.  We were treated to a warm oil foot massage and paraffin wax treatment for starters.  During the massage, there were no distractions by feeling too warm or too cold or the pressure being too strong or too soft. The state- of-the-art massage tables bent gently at our knees and raised our heads slightly adding to our comfort. Our needs were met before we had to ask so we were able to relax.

Since our massages were side-by-side and we happened to choose the same type, we had a shared experience like none other.  Some people might come to the Remède Spa to let their mind and body escape reality, but in our case, I think the peacefulness of the experience helped us each to let go of an old reality and embrace a new one together.

 

 

Montage Deer Valley Offers Exciting Summer Activities

For those of us who know the place, Montage Deer Valley often evokes a beautiful mountain retreat getaway, that offers the best in accommodations, superlative service and a suite of premier restaurants, but these marks of comfort should never make us forget that Montage is also all about outdoor activities, too. I wanted to find out for myself so I met with Andy Damman, Director of Resort Activities.

DVR-Montage (1)JF: Thanks for welcoming me. Tell me Andy, how long have you been with Montage Deer Valley?

Andy Damman: I have been here since September of 2010, about four months before the resort opened. As the director of resort activities I’m responsible for ski operations and tubing facilities in winter. The rest of the year, I’m running our Camp Compass program which includes hiking, biking and archery among other activities.

JF: Do these recreational activities address all age groups?

Andy Damman: Age-wise we want to able to accommodate everybody and we really mean it. We want our summer activities program to almost feel like “summer camp.” When guests come to the resort we want our activities to be readily accessible to all as they walk outside. Whether that’s life-size chess or checker by the pool, badminton, archery out on our Grand Lawn, volleyball, horse-shoe or, on a rainy day, a game of ping-pong. When guests walk out of these doors there’s always something fun they can participate in.

DVR-Montage (9)JF: How did you dream up all of these programs?

Andy Damman: We developed them from the ground up. We spent numerous meetings and countless hours designing them. We didn’t want to just pick five or ten activities, we wanted the sky to be the limit and, as of today, we keep coming up with more. We focused on creating outside activities that would be easy and fun to play with, not activities that keep people inside like Nintendo, Game Boys and other indoor entertainment. We wanted to give everyone the opportunity to get out and enjoy our beautiful mountain environment.

JF: How did you pick mountain biking as one of these focal points?

Andy Damman: Together, Deer Valley and Park City account for some 400 miles of dirt trails, many of them fully accessible from the backdoor of Compass Sports. We were able to work with Deer Valley Resort to create a program that would be fully integrated with their infrastructure and perfectly tailored to our guests.

DVR-Montage (8)JF: Excellent! Can you be more detailed about your mountain bike program and particularly, your special relationship with BMC?

Andy Damman: We went into this program with the mindset of picking the best partner possible; as you know, there are plenty of good bike companies out there that have a lot to offer, but as we began talking to BMC, a great relationship quickly developed and we’re about to become BMC’s test center for North America [BMC, which stands for Bicycle Manufacturing Company, is Swiss based]

JF: What makes BMC so special?

Andy Damman: I’d say high quality, excellent craftsmanship, exceptional ride and bikes ideally designed for this area. BMC the perfect fit for the Montage brand and its guests.

JF: How do you assist guests who rent your bikes and may not be familiar with mountain biking?

DVR-Montage (4)Andy Damman: We want to provide our guests all the assistance they need. New this year, we’re offering an introduction to mountain biking. It’s packed with instruction, lots of pointers, big smiles, fun and laughter. We actually take guests off property on a specific trail system that’s appropriate for all skill levels. Every morning at 9 a.m., we have a guide that’s available to our riding guests, and this coaching is included in the cost of the bike rental. These guides teach the foundation of the sport and give guests the skills and the confidence they need to enjoy riding a mountain bike.

JF: Do you do anything special in fitting your bikes to the rider?

DVR-Montage (5)Andy Damman: We carefully set everything up. Based on the rider’s weight and height, we set the tire pressure, we size the frame, we set the shock absorbers, we provide a guide who has no ego, is guest-oriented, and above all, wants every rider to discover the joy of mountain-biking. If guests rent a bike for more than one day, we will make sure that following their first ride the machine is thoroughly cleaned, lubed, works perfectly and looks immaculate for the next one.

JF: Do you have any promotional program associated with mountain biking?

Andy Damman: Yes, we’re participating in the great “Lift Package” program offered this summer in conjunction with Deer Valley Resort.  This offer runs from until September 2, 2013. The overnight package includes a $50 daily credit for breakfast, nightly valet parking and Deer Valley Resort chairlift passes.

JF: Is your bike program available to non-hotel guests?

Andy Damman: Our program is offered to our resort guests as a first priority. If there is space available, we will do whatever we can to accommodate other visiting guests as we are open to all people who come to see us.

JF: Can you share more technical details about your rental bike fleet?

DVR-Montage (7)Andy Damman: We’re very fortunate to have high-end products with BMC. These days, the name of the game seems to revolve around wheel sizes. We offer everything from 26 and 29 inch wheels, with the former being more nimble, more sporty, and the later having much better rolling capabilities once the bike is up to speed; larger wheels work perfectly on the smooth trails we have around Deer Valley Resort. Some of our bike frames are aluminum, others are carbon, but overall, our bikes climb very well, are very stiff for cornering and yet offer a very comfortable ride. The new thing in the industry this season is the full-suspension 29 inch wheel bike on ultra-light carbon frame!

JF: I see that you also offer road bikes…

Andy Damman: We have two models: The BMC TeamMachine bike, the one used by the Pros on the Tour de France; it climbs extremely well, descend extremely well; you don’t feel every bump along the way. That bike in my view is “a Ferrari with the comfort of a Cadillac!” Then we have the GranFondo Series, comfortable and designed for the long distance, a “century” rider (typically for longer rides 100 miles making a “century).

JF: What about mountain bikes for children?

Andy Damman: If kids can balance on two wheels, we’ve got a bike for them. We have 20 and 24 inch mountain bikes, both with full-suspension. My first year, here I remember we taught a child how to ride his first bike without training wheels and later that week we took him on his first mountain bike trail. Again, you don’t have to be between 18 and 25 to participate with us, we will accommodate anybody! Even if mountain biking seems outside of your comfort zone, we will give you the skills to get you into that comfort zone!

JF: Well this sounds inviting! Now, what else do you offer as part of your other Camp Compass activities?

Andy Damman: I’d like to start with what we call our “yard game programs;” we’re talking about basketball, volley ball, horse shoes, life-size checker and chess, shuffle board and the list goes on. At 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., we offer complimentary archery sessions for our guests. That’s on our Grand Lawn. We have sixty inch targets rounds to shoot at; every archery instructor that works for Compass Sports is certified. We make it fun by the fact that we start at 5 meters, 10 meters, 15 meters and keep working our way back, shooting at competition round targets. The range is extremely safe, everything is fun. And our guests shoot against the most beautiful backdrop, ever, right outside the doors, here at Montage…

JF: What about fly-fishing?

Andy Damman: That’s another great activity! We offer our very own fly-fishing program along with Joe Mitchell from Stonybrook Fly Fishing who – in my opinion – is the best guide in the Valley. This program like all the others we offer is all about our guests and their enjoyment. Fly-fishing with Joe is all about casting the rod, catching the fish with the most humble instructor there is. It’s just like oil on canvass to me!

JF: Is that a whole day trip?

Andy Damman: Most of our fly-fishing trips are either half-day or full day, our guests will be back just by dinner time at night, unless the fishing is so good that Joe decides to stay longer!

JF: …and dinner will be delayed! Well, this sounds like a treat. Anything else you would like to mention?

Andy Damman: Oh, yes! I almost forgot, we now have kites. We’ll be able to take our guest to the top of Guardsman Pass and fly kites, all kinds of them. So, please, stay tuned for that new exciting program!

JF: All these wonderful activities make me want to participate into all of them and I envy your guests for having to choose from such a wonderful array of outdoor sports that you’re serving spring, summer and fall.

Andy Damman: Every associate who works with us shares the same passion that we all have for these exciting activities. This is something our guests can discover, experience, and more importantly, can take away with them and remember fondly when they are home, long after their stay with us at Montage Deer Valley!

 

Deer Valley, Beautiful Music, Wonderful Food…

dv-basket6Summer brings longer and warmer days to the mountains and offers countless occasions to congregate at the Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater for a long season of outdoor concerts. If you happen to be around Park City at this time of the year, Deer Valley is the perfect venue to spend a late afternoon and early evening. You may want to make up for a long day at work, escape the valley heat, or just slow down a bit after hours of hiking, miles of mountain biking, a round of golf or following a fly-fishing outing

dv-basket1The gradual slope that serves beginner skiers so well in winter provides the perfect, natural amphitheater, framed by Deer Valley’s trademark ski runs and its verdant slopes with meadows, aspens and fir trees. Last Friday was no exception with the return of the Utah Symphony’s Deer Valley Music Festival and a sold-out concert. This wasn’t the first outdoor performance of the summer, as the musical season began in earnest late June, with the local Grand Valley Bank community concert series, a large number of performances by the Utah Symphony and a few concerts from the St. Regis Big Stars, Bright Nights series.

Of course there is still a long way to go until Labor Day and the end of the summer season, with plenty of wonderful opportunities to enjoy many cool, musical nights facing the Snow Park Lodge and its summer stage, while enjoying an al fresco dinner!

Fine food tradition and Deer Valley’s passion for excellence are so intertwined that is it’s almost impossible to think about one without the other. The synergy created by refined dining and superb skiing carries on the rest of the year and becomes the link that unites summer outdoor concerts and Deer Valley’s peerless hospitality. No matter the season, the scenery or the view points, these two elements cannot be dissociated.

Even though I can hardly call myself a “foodie,” summer concerts are much more than just music and company of all the friendly people that gather outdoors to hear it. Quite as importantly, it’s also about the food that accompanies this relaxed and festive atmosphere. Almost everyone eats dinner at these concerts and what a great opportunity to harmonize what’s on the plate with the surrounding sounds and sights.

One option is to bring a picnic, as many spectators do, but that always entails a lot of work, not just to prepare it but to carry it to the mountain, and then once there, somehow, there’s almost always something missing! Sure, it’s possible to run for the Deer Valley concession stand and find whatever was forgotten or plan on burgers, hot dogs and other great Deer Valley’s classic fares that are available for purchase.

dv-basket4Another option and by far my favorite – is to order a Deer Valley’s Gourmet Picnic Basket accompanied by a bottle of wine that will be waiting for me at the concert. All I have to do is place my order by 5 p.m. the day before and then pick it up when I get to the concert at Snow Park.

These wonderful baskets are filled with delectable goodies, but also come with plenty of options, like a choice of salmon or beef entree and new this year, an offering of vegetarian, gluten-free and vegan entrees.

dv-basket7I personally go for the smoked salmon with cucumber and aioli sauce preceded by a generous platter of antipasto of artisan salami, arugula, tomatoes and olives. These fine little delicacies never fail to bring back memories of my Deer Valley ski lunches that will soon return in a few months!

I usually am a fast eater and don’t spend enough time at the dinner table; however, at the concert the tantalizing choices contained in that richly garnished basket slow me down, make me savor and appreciate every single bite.

dv-basket5Also included in the basket is a fresh baked baguette that goes hand-in-hand with a melting, French brie that is a rarity on this side of the Atlantic. Finally, at the very moment the sun sets over Success ski run, there is still some room left for a few grapes, perhaps a slice of lemon pound cake, but definitely enough for the truffle tartlets!

Now, time to get on my feet, the concert is almost over!

To order your own gourmet picnic basket, head over to signatures.deervalley.com/gpb. For more information about upcoming concerts, please visit deervalley.com for our schedule of events. 

dv-basket3

dv-basket8

Maintaining Deer Valley Trails is a Full-Time Job

DVR-ops-trails (7)As a skier, I’ve always wondered what goes into maintaining Deer Valley Resort’s ski runs once the snow has melted. I know they don’t just stay great season after season on their own, but improve as a new winter ushers in. I’ve been told that Laura Sexton, Trail Crew Leader, and her peers from the resort’s Trail Crew hold the key to the on-going care and improvements that take place on Deer Valley ski runs, during the off-season. I stopped her as she was on her way to work and she shared a few of her secrets with me…

JF: Laura, someone told me that you are the reason why Deer Valley’s ski runs are so well maintained and so fun to ski on; how long have you been doing this?

Laura Sexton: I’ve been working with Deer Valley Resort for 23 years, year round.

JF: Year round? What do you do in winter?

Laura Sexton: I’m a lead groomer

JF: So you pilot one of these powerful machines that leave the famous “corduroy” behind?

Laura Sexton: I sure do and I love it!

JF: I’m impressed! How did you become lead groomer and trail crew leader?

Laura Sexton: I grew up in Iowa, and it’s also where I learned to ski. One day, Deer Valley stopped in Dubuque on one of their recruiting tours and afterwards advertised their need for employees. I saw the ad, we met, I talk to them for four hours and the following week I had a contract in the mail!

JF: Another wonderful Deer Valley career story, but enough said about winter. What are your responsibilities once you’ve parked your groomer for the off-season?

Laura Sexton: During the summer we take care of our six mountains; we handle erosion-control, seed, follow-up on noxious weed abatement, take care of what demands attention all-around, run heavy equipment, clip the “whippers” out on the skis runs. The list goes on and on…

JF: What kind of heavy equipment do you use?

Laura Sexton: Deer Valley has loaders, backhoes and a track-hoe, so we use that equipment to move rocks, dig water bars or do whatever needs to be done.

JF: How are you keeping the mountain so clean? Do you have a systematic clean-up process for debris and trash at the end of the ski season?

Laura Sexton: It’s part of our system. Wherever we go in our travels across the mountain, we always pick up garbage where we see it. Late June, however, we also have special weed-abatement and trash pick-up day. On that occasion, all Deer Valley employees from all departments come out and spread out on the mountain to clean it. Everyone pitches in!

JF: How long do your summer assignments last?

Laura Sexton: We generally wrap up around mid-October, just before the first snowfalls.

JF: How do you handle run maintenance? Do you rotate runs season after season so no one is left behind?

Laura Sexton: There are some runs that take a little more effort than others, but yes, we rotate run maintenance whenever possible. If we do weeds, we try to rotate the areas we’re working on according to their growth cycle so they won’t grow too fast and take too much effort to eradicate. Usually, when we clip the “whippers” out on the ski runs, we try to hit all the black and blue runs in priority.

JF: Clipping the whippers is of very high interest to me because I often get intimidated by these early-season creatures. I heard that you have a special mower for cutting them?

whippermowerLaura Sexton: Last year we purchased several mowers. There are some oversized lawn mowers that attach on the front of a Bobcat, these are chain-driven implements that can cut through the wood. That being said, the trail crew still has to cut most by hand, especially on steep and hard-to-reach terrain.

JF: So, for the most part, what are these plants that are considered “whippers”?

Laura Sexton: Mostly aspen shoots, elderberry or anything that sticks up over one-foot tall, including small pine trees that are less than 2-inches around. Whipper management is a big deal. We probably spend a good four to five weeks cutting them…

JF: Which runs get most of your attention?

Laura Sexton: We try to go everywhere. We always do the Empire Bowl area although we haven’t done the Daly Chutes for two years now, as we don’t get to some of that steeper terrain every single year…

JF: How do you cut those twigs?

Laura Sexton: We do it by hand, with loppers; we do all the Mayflower runs every year, Nabob, Birdseye, then other areas like Perseverance Bowl every other year…

JF: How do you handle re-seeding grass on ski runs?

Laura Sexton: We re-seed in the fall, before the snow comes. We work in areas that were either dug up or disturbed, or are simply not taking grass well; in that case, we’ll bring in some top soil to seed over and start to regrow. We use a mountain mix with nine different grasses in it, like fescue, wheat, rye, timothy… There’s also a little bit of annuals grasses in the mix that shade and protect the growth of perennial species.

JF: I know that Deer Valley Resort is known for its generous blanket of natural or man-made snow and rocks never seem to be visible and are never an issue, but how do you remove them from the runs?

Laura Sexton: We have a rule of thumb: When we’re on the hill for any reason, if we see a rock that is bigger than a fist, we throw it off the run!

JF: Are you sometimes re-grading certain runs?

Laura Sexton: All of our ski runs have been engineered and on many of them, their shape and profile are not random at all. It’s only occasionally that we bring some modifications on certain runs to make it easier for guests to access them or when they need to modified for some special purposes, like for drills by the ski-school.

JF: Besides trimming “whippers”, do you do any special work on rough terrain and double-diamond runs?

Laura Sexton: We have a special, five person saw-crew that spends a lot of time glading certain areas, like Centennial Trees for instance. They’re also taking down fallen trees stuck in trees tops so they don’t create a hazard for skiers…

JF: How do you minimize erosion?

Laura Sexton: All of our ski runs have water bars on them to route the water around the sidelines, slowing the path of running water and avoiding wash-out in the middle of the runs…

JF: Is wildlife ever a problem on trails?

Laura Sexton: Not at all, we see a lot of wildlife around here; we see moose, elk, deer and lots of smaller rodents as well. They don’t create any problems at all. We even have a black bear in the area that makes an appearance every-once-in-awhile. One year he even came right through our maintenance shop!

JF: Does Deer Valley’s extensive summer trail network bring some extra challenges for you?

Laura Sexton: We have to work harder at times to create water bars when we need them, particularly when trails cross ski runs. Mountain bike and pedestrian traffic also promote weed travel around the mountain as tires and shoes tend to disperse them around.

JF: Now that you are bringing up the subject of weeds, I remember that you mentioned a specialty of yours is the eradication of noxious weeds from the Deer Valley Resort. Can you tell us more about it?

dyerswoadLaura Sexton: In Utah and in Summit County a number of imported noxious weeds have been taking over the natural species for quite some time. Not only that, but there are some of these weeds that are actually poisonous to cattle and humans as well. There’s a list of 22 state and 31 county noxious weeds. Since 2010, property owners are obligated to eradicate them from their land; if they don’t, they will be cited for it and the weeds will be removed at their expense.

dalmatian toadflaxJF: How is it humanly possible to accomplish this on more than 2,000 acres that covers Deer Valley Resort?

Laura Sexton: It’s a huge job. I have maps of all of our properties; we record all the different types of weeds we find in different areas. We keep a log of what we spray, of what we pull out, etc. We can’t control everything at the same time, but we manage it in the best possible manner. To avoid the use of herbicides, we try to use bio-control as much as possible; this procedure uses certain specialized bugs that will eventually kill the noxious weeds.

JF: So what are your “most wanted” of these weeds?

garlic mustardLaura Sexton: I’d say Garlic Mustard is the top offender. We also have a large variety of thistle around the area that we must take care to remove. There’s also Dyer’s Woad that is particularly challenging. As soon as this plant flowers, it must be pulled out immediately. It is filled with “smart seeds” that will wait a year or more before germinating. We also have Dalmatian Toadflax, but the list goes on and on and if you’re interested, you can see them at summitcounty.org/weed/

JF: I’ll keep an eye out for these, and I’ll bet that Deer Valley guests will too. Thank you Laura for working so hard on behalf of all of us!

 

I Love a Parade!

EOD_july_paradeI think there is something special about the Fourth of July that sends out a different vibe then all other holidays.

Maybe it’s due to celebrating our country and our freedom.

I love the seemingly all day fly-overs of military planes and fighter jets. In high school I used to dream about becoming a fighter pilot. I bet you would never have guessed that! I wonder how I got diverted from that dream…? Unfortunately there were no fly-overs this year, much to my disappointment.

As I was watching the parade (waiting to see the Deer Valley float) a friend of mine said, “I love this holiday more than any other.” That statement got me thinking. Why is the Fourth of July better than Christmas or Thanksgiving? Then I realized that this is the only holiday that an entire town (and then some) come to the same place and gather to celebrate one day together (all day in the case of Park City)!

There is always a parade that makes its way down Main Street and Park Ave and each year has a different theme. This year’s theme was “Once Upon A 4th.” In recent years, Deer Valley floats have taken home the winning honors and this year was no exception!

While the Deer Valley team was preparing for this year’s parade, I went up to see the construction of the float. I thought it was coming together nicely and took some time to joke with our maintenance guys that I was sure this was exactly what they wanted to be doing. Not only do they fix everything that makes the resort operate they also help fabricate those winning floats.

Maintenance guys
To bring the theme to life, the float incorporated fairy tales such as Cinderella with the large clock, fairies and an enchanted forest. You may not be able to read the signs on the float, but they read Fire Swamp and Thieves Forest. These are the names of some of our mountain bike trails. Can you name that movie reference? Did you also know we have an enchanted forest at Deer Valley? You’ll have to come and find it.

Building float
So here’s the final product. Of course we won “Best in Theme” this year. We take our participation level to heart. Of course the girls who played fairies made the float with their cute smiles.

Girls on Float
I hope you all had a great Fourth of July! Keep enjoying the summer and come up to Deer Valley Resort and enjoy a hike, mountain bike ride or scenic chairlift ride then finish at Royal Street Cafe with a delicious meal or cocktails.

Hops on the Hill at Stein Eriksen Lodge Makes our Favorites List

Nancy with beerOne of the best-kept secrets is how wonderful Park City is in the summer.  Many locals have shared with me how they came here to ski in the winter but once they spent a summer here, they became permanent residents.   This is only my second summer living here year-round and I’ve found there is so much to do, it’s difficult to decide how to spend a summer evening.

Last week my husband Jay and I attended, “Hops on the Hill” at Stein Eriksen Lodge and now have added the event to our list of  “favorites” for summer entertainment.

Here are five reasons why:

  1. The Hill.  The setting on patio of Stein Eriksen Lodge is hard to beat. As you walk onto the patio, no matter how many times you’ve been there, you just say, “wow.”  The views of the aspens and evergreens on the mountain and the green grass on the ski runs are so pretty.  You just simply feel relaxed being there.
    Apricot Hefeweizen
  2. The Hops.  With the event admission price, you get a wristband with 5 mini-tickets so you can try five micro-brews.  The night we went, Wasatch Brewery was highlighting their Apricot Hefeweizen, White Label Belgian Style White Ale, Ghostrider IPA, Summerbrau Lager, and the Devastator Double Bock Amber Lager. My husband tried them all.

White Ale Devastator

Since you could mix and match at your leisure, I loaded up on my favorite.  I immediately fell madly in love with White Label Belgian White Ale so I used up three tickets on one.  Then I had a tiny sip of my husband’s “Devastator” so I could taste it but held out the rest of my tickets for the Apricot Hefeweizen and the Summer Lager. Choices are nice.

Chef Zane3. The pairings.  I’d attended a wine and food pairing but never a micro-brew and food pairing with Chef Zane.  He put together a roast beef and horseradish sandwich with the Summertime Lager – perfect!  The Apricot Hefeweizen tasted great on its own but was really amazing with peach and apricot delicacies.  Veal meatballs and prosciutto wrapped shrimp skewers went well with the Ghostrider IPA.

Jay with beer4. The company.  Many of the attendees came with a group of friends and sat together at some of the round tables or around the fireplace.  The venue provided an opportunity to share an evening catching up with good friends. Jay and I moved from one of the tall standing tables to the next trying our new brews and meeting new people.  We got some tips on hiking trails from some locals and met people from as close as Draper, Utah to travelers from Palm Springs, Calif.

Mister Sisters5. The music.  In the middle of the event, we heard music and realized Tuesday nights at 7 p.m., there is a free concert at Stein Eriksen Lodge lawn just below the patio.  After our fill of food, we finished our last beer tasting on the patio looking down over the concert.  We had a chance to listen to local band “Mister Sister” with the amazing harmonies that only sisters can have.

I love watching people dance almost as much as I love dancing myself. It’s fun to see how each dancer interprets the music once they have shaken off their initial shyness.  Concertgoers got up to dance on the grass to Mister Sister’s covers of oldies such as “Cecilia” by Simon and Garfunkel and more recent tunes such as “Black Horse in the Cherry Tree” by KT Tunstall.  Little girls did twirls and cartwheels. Ladies got up and danced together in small groupings.  Couples walked up hand-in-hand to enjoy a tender moment on a summer evening.

With those five reasons, can you see why Hops on the Hill at Stein Eriksen Lodge made our favorite’s list?

For more information on Hops on the Hills, click here.

 

Savor Your Summer at the Royal Street Cafe with Deer Valley’s Signature Cocktails

 

three cocktailsWhat are your favorite memories of summer?   One of mine is a girl’s weekend (before I moved here permanently) in Park City – three California girls came in for a four-day weekend.  Dressed in short sleeved t-shirts and shorts, we rode the chairlifts from Snow Park to Silver Lake Lodge and to the top of Bald Mountain.  It was a beautiful warm summer day so we didn’t dream of bringing a light jacket!  It got chilly on the lift so the three of us huddled together for warmth.  We each pulled our arms out of the sleeves wrapping them around our waists underneath our shirts to slow the goose bumps.  When we arrived at Silver Lake, we ran into a shop and bought sweatshirts!  We enjoyed the second half of our lift ride to the summit much better and have laughed about it ever since.

On the way down, we stopped for lunch at Royal Street Café and enjoyed a lingering lunch on the deck in the full sun with our new sweatshirts draped across the backs of the chairs and Blueberry Mojitos in our hands. Now, I live here full time and always bring visitors on that very same scenic lift ride and to bask in the sun for alfresco dining on the deck.  As a local, I’ve learned to always bring a light jacket or sweatshirt as temperatures change frequently in the mountains, and I’ve also picked up a thing or two about cocktail options at the Royal Street Café.

My friends and I lucked into the Blueberry Mojito because we saw it come out on a tray to a patron sitting at a table next to us.  We said to the server, “We’ll each have one of those.”  What we didn’t know at the time was the Royal Street Café scours the farmers markets each week to choose local seasonal fruits such as raspberries and apricots and herbs such as rosemary and basil for their cocktails.  They make juices and mixes fresh each day. When we were enjoying our day in the mountains, we were sipping the freshest local fruit juices and tasting hints of freshly picked local herbs from right here in the Wasatch Mountain area.  To us, the experience was seamless but to the team at Royal Street Café, it was intentionally designed for us to really enjoy a sense of place – the mountains and the summer season.  It worked!

nancy and bonnieA lot of the inspiration for seasonal cocktails comes from lead bartender, Bonnie Ulmer, who has been a part of Deer Valley since the beginning. I had a chance to spend some time with Bonnie, observing her skills in action, chatting with her on the deck and having a taste test of the latest signature cocktail. In case you need some help deciding which drink to sip as you drape your arm over a chair sitting on the deck on a summer afternoon, here are some suggestions for making your summer cocktail decision:

sipping rosemary collinsTry this summer’s signature cocktail – Rosemary Tom Collins. If you like something a little on the tart side with the freshly made sweet and sour mix and you want to completely blow your mind with the addition of the hint of rosemary, this is the one for you.  When I tasted it, I couldn’t put it down because of the unique flavors.  You’ll notice when I snapped some photos of the drinks on the deck, the Rosemary Tom Collins had been sipped quite a bit.  I’ll admit it; it was me! You try taking just one sip and let me know how that works for you! The rosemary adds a unique sensory experience that encourages you to take sip after sip.

Experiment and go with this week’s special.  The restaurant and beverage team at the Royal Street Café all weigh in on the weekly special cocktail.  I got to try the RSC Berry Crush with Grey Goose vodka, splash of Chambord, fresh raspberries, and house made lemonade served over crushed ice.  The weekly special is one of the things Bonnie loves most about summer! She had a twinkle in her eye when she talked about plans for a cucumber and basil combination she was planning.  Whatever fruit is ripe and herbs are available, a new special cocktail is created to pair with the weekly food specials. If you want to be adventuresome and try something new, try the current creation.

mojitoGo with the winner – Deer Valley’s Blueberry Mojito.  This drink is the winner of the Park City’s Best Cocktail Award in 2007/2008 and for good reason. With the combination of mint, lime and blueberries, how can you go wrong?  People from all over the world come to Royal Street Café asking for this special drink and the recipe to take home.  Even the culinary challenged (such as me) have been able to make this drink at home with success!

Stick with the classics.  It’s fun to experiment with something new, but you certainly don’t have to!  You can order anything from a Manhattan, a High West Distillery Rendezvous Rye Whiskey, to a locally brewed lager from the Wasatch Brewery to enjoy on the deck at Silver Lake Lodge.

deck cocktailsThe diners who stop at the Royal Street Café are an eclectic group and the drink choices certainly fall right in line.  Whatever choice you decide, make it memorable. The important thing is to savor your summer and create lasting memories of your time in Park City, whether you live here year-round or you are here for a short stay.

For a peek at the menu and more information for Royal Street Café, click here.

 

 

Adventures in Fly-Fishing

Flyfishing-cSince I have a Type-A personality, I didn’t know what to expect when I embarked with All Seasons Adventures, a local outfitter, for a fly-fishing excursion on the nearby Provo River. For those who don’t quite know what fly-fishing is all about, and I was one of them, it’s a form of angling in which an artificial lure, or “fly,” is used to catch a fish. All Seasons Adventures typically takes its guests to some great local streams that are referred to as “blue-ribbon.” The Provo River, where I went, happens to be one of them.

Flyfishing-aJustin, a guide for this local outfitter, picked us up at our door and drove us along the Jordanelle Reservoir, all the way down to the road to Midway, where we eventually stopped at a secluded parking lot, tucked away along the Provo River. There, we were outfitted with all the necessary gear starting with waterproof waders and wading shoes. In terms of personal difficulty, getting in and out of the intimidating waders was the highest challenge of the day. Once strapped into these protective garments we were given rods and disappeared into the woods coming out on the river bank.

The sun was shining; the temperature absolutely perfect and the ambient air was just cooled enough by the cold mountain water. Justin began by telling us about fish eating habits and the conversation quickly turned into an entomology lesson about all of the creatures, big and small, that are part of a Utah trout diet.  Justin literally left no stone unturned as he picked up a variety of rocks from the river bed and showed us that they represented a well-stocked pantry for all fish swimming in the Provo River.

flyfishing-bSoon, it was time to get acquainted with the rods, the lines and the different types of lures. At that point, we were told to get into the element and our guide warned us to walk very carefully, one step at a time, making especially sure to only take the next step when the other foot felt fully anchored on the river bed. Now, with our group in the midst of the cool river, with water well above our knees, Justin explained to us what “catch and release” was all about and how it was an essential practice in recreational fishing for conserving the fish population.

Flyfishing-dFinally, we went over casting. By that time I had received so much information that I felt overwhelmed and ready to mix it all up. That’s when Justin re-assured us that being a bit confused wasn’t as bad as we thought, and that all these bits of data would fall into place as soon as we began practicing. Began we did; quite tentatively at first and then gaining confidence until we almost felt we had done it for a lifetime.

Justin had also warned us that patience was the key to success and that catching a fish was a statistical number’s game. As the morning unfolded, time flew so fast that I couldn’t believe I had been in the water for more than one hour, until our guide summoned us to move to another spot. There were only three in our group and were able to spend quality, one-on-one time with Justin who emphasized that – as a matter of policy – All Seasons Adventures had never more than three guests per guide.

flyfishing-eSoon someone in the group felt the tension on the rod and realized he had a bite. This was fish number one and a large one to boot! The fish was aptly netted by Justin and the lucky fisher had the chance to release it into its natural habitat. As the morning came to a close, eight fish had been caught by the group, but I could unfortunately lay claim to only one of them! Soon, time sped on and suddenly it was early afternoon when we packed up, took of the waders (which again was the hardest part of the job) and left the beautiful Provo River.

I surprised myself by having remained so calm, so quiet, so patient, and for once let time go by just like the flow of the river, without realizing that I had spent about four solid hours just concentrating on some elusive trout… I sure didn’t expect to be “hooked” on this fly-fishing proposition, but had been smitten and never did I feel the urge of checking my phone the whole time I was in the water. This, in and of itself, should be considered a remarkable achievement!

So whether you’ve already tried fly-fishing or are a complete novice, this is the kind of experience you’ll want to repeat again and again. With such a pristine river only minutes away, all you need is to sign-up for a half-day or full-day trip and your fly fishing experience will become a memory that you will be eager to share with everyone you know.

flyfishing-hIf you are not quite sure yet about the idea, All Seasons Adventures, offers Casting Clinics late afternoon and early evening, not far from your Deer Valley summer home, just by the Deer Valley Plaza, where Central Reservation check-in and Deer Valley Grocery~Café are located. These Casting Clinics will teach you how to cast a dry fly, tie a knot, you’ll learn about entomology and the rest of it. Just call All Seasons Adventures at 435-649-9619 or visit them on the web at www.allseasonsadventures.com

Check out the video below for more fly-fishing with All Seasons Adventures!

Mountain Biking Lessons: Zero to Intermediate in One Morning

nancyHave you ever had a song stuck in your head?  Over and over you hear something like, “Wake me up before you go-go… I’m not planning on going solo.”  The words keep coming back in a never-ending loop and finally when you think its over, there it is again.

Doug, our Deer Valley mountain bike instructor, got in my head during our lesson last weekend but fortunately in this case, it was in a good way. You see I have a bad habit.  I look down.  When I ski, instead of looking at where I am going, I look down right in front of me at all the obstacles I am about to hit.  Of course this means I have no time to react because I see them too late.

dougDuring our mountain biking lesson, my husband Jay and I learned a great many things including balance with the platform stance and transferring our weight way back on the bike so we are almost sitting on the back tire for steep declines.  We learned to trust the bikes; we employed controlled momentum and the 29” knobby tires took us over rocks, roots and gravel with no problems. The third important lesson we learned was vision.

Doug explained,  “When you look ahead to where you want to go instead of where you are, your brain registers everything in front of you even the fuzzy stuff in your peripheral vision.”  I took that to mean, looking down is a complete waste of time.  It’s also no fun.  When all you are looking at is obstacles, all you experience is fear.  When you look ahead to where you want to go, your brain is actively engaged in the strategy to get there, which is way more fun!

Somehow this concept I had been struggling with suddenly became very easy. The words, “Look up” were stuck in my head and I was automatically doing it.  Why now? I wondered.  Maybe it was because Doug, from a large Italian family, is a loud talker.  He told us growing up he couldn’t get a word in at the dinner table unless he spoke really loud and over top of his brothers. To the casual observer, his family dinner might sound like a heated argument but to them, it was a normal every day occurrence.  His loud clear instructions stuck with me – “Look up! Vision!  Choose your line.”

When you coupled the loud talking with his step-by-step instructions and attention to detail, we had a winning combination.  Since Deer Valley mountain biking trails start at the intermediate level, Doug started us in the parking lot where he built skill upon skill. He had us riding the bumpy stairs from one lot to the next.  He taught us how to take turns on specially prepared switchback trails beneath trees on the side of the lot. When we got the “Let’s do it!” from Doug, we headed to the lifts.

Nancy on Tour de Homes

Nancy on Tour de Homes

 

The lift operator handled each of our bikes hooking them onto the chairs behind us.  When we got to the top, we headed to “Tour des Homes” – the easiest mountain bike run but still an intermediate trail.  When we hit the first steep decent, I was prepared and looked up to where I wanted to end up – not at the ground in front of me.

The first turn – I looked ahead.

The first bump – I kept my eyes on where I was going.

When I encountered:

Rocks,

Gravel,

Grooves,

A narrow single trail,

And switchbacks with all of the above, I looked up the whole time!  I just kept hearing, “Look up!” both from Doug and also in my own head. I was cured!

Nancy's husband, Jay, on Tour de Homes

Nancy’s husband, Jay, on Tour de Homes

The most important part is we were also having fun. Jay and I hadn’t even dusted the cobwebs off our bikes this year. We’d never even ridden a single track in our lives and Deer Valley got us from zero to intermediate in one morning.  We were pretty amazed.  Our friends were amazed.  Our children were shocked.

after the lessonWe’re looking forward to taking our bikes up the lift and hitting the Tour des Homes many times this summer.  I love having that voice in my head saying, “Vision! Look up!” I hope it stays with me for the entire ski season, too.  Now, that would be wonderful.

The only problem I have now is I can’t get this tune out of my head, “Wake me up before you go-go … I’m not planning on going solo.”  Anyone have a cure for that?

To learn more about the mountain biking lessons and experience at Deer Valley Resort, click here.