Summer Adventure Camp

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I love Deer Valley Summer Adventure Camp. I’m not just saying this because on a recent day,when I had the chance to visit camp, I was declared the winner of Four Corners, a fantastic running-around game that took place on the stage of the Deer Valley Amphitheater. (Seriously, the very same stage that has featured the likes of Grace Potter, Kristin Chenoweth, and countless other superstars serves as a play area for the campers!). So, yeah, I achieved rock-star status, in the eyes of a bunch of four-and-five year olds, on that very stage. And, really, I can’t think of a group of people better qualified to confer such status.

There’s a special magic to Deer Valley Summer Adventure Camp. I can say this, with authority, because it was the camp that turned my kids on to the idea of summer camp, in general, the one that planted the seeds for all the cool camps they have attended both in town and in the mountains, for the last eleven summers. The day I visited was rainy and cool—yet the dedicated staff turned every possible corner of the Snow Park Lodge area into a fun-filled playground.

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There was some cool game called Shark Attack being played by a group of older kids in the locker room. You can’t really appreciate how big the room is, until you see it used by 20 kids, instead of a hundred or more skiers. (Oh, so that’s why it never feels crowded: it’s huge!)

Prior to that, a group of over 20 kids and five staffers sat in a circle in one of the home-base camp rooms, sharing their names and favorite animals. For the kids, it was a chance to come up with the most unusual choices they could think of—and see if the counselors could top it. When one child said her favorite was the hammerhead shark, Will, a counselor, said, “Oh, that was mine!” and then proceeded to tell the circle that his second favorite animal is a platypus. Cue the huge laugh from the peanut gallery. As the game went on, and chatter started to creep in, the counselors had the opportunity to remind everyone about taking turns listening and sharing, it was the kind of learning-through-play that really works, and also helps keep order in a larger group of kids.

“This has been our busiest season, ever,” says Kelly Witter, Summer Camp Supervisor for the 5-6 and 7-12 year-old campers. “People like that we change it up every day. The parents like that we are electronics-free, and that their kids are always trying new things.”

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Another bonus? “We are well under the state’s ratio for staff,” she says. “With our 5-6 year-olds, we have 6:1, and with our 7-12, it’s 8:1. And our staff is engaged all the time with the kids.

The low ratios allow for plenty of exploration in the greater Park City community. “We have our own vans, so we can pick up and take the kids to the Utah Olympic Park museum on a rainy day—they’re out there, having fun, and moving around and they don’t even realize they are learning something, too!”

The camp staff works hard to make the camp feel like a community. “The kids who are here for ski school in the winter, and camp in the summer, they really feel part of something,” Kelly says. “And we work to make it so they are aware of the larger community, too.”

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For instance, each summer, campers create artwork that is displayed in a show throughout the Children’s Center lobby and the Snow Park Lodge hallways. The art is sold with the proceeds going to a local non-profit. “This year, we are donating the proceeds to Recycle Utah’s glass recycling program,” says Deer Valley Resort’s Children’s Programs Manager, Mya Frantti.

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Which may explain why I spied Kelly spraying a multicolored picnic table, at one point. “The kids and I colored this with chalk, for the art show,” she explained. “So now I’m sealing it—which, it turns out, can only be done with hair spray!”

See? Even the adults learn things at camp, in the name of having fun.

How to Weekend: Park Silly Sunday Market

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Now, why are you looking at her like that? Maybe because that’s exactly the point. Welcome to the Park Silly Sunday Market on historic Main Street. It’s time to get your silly on.

Park City is one of the most unique towns in Utah with its dwellers beating to their own drum, often at the envy of those who don’t live close within its radius. But that doesn’t mean you can’t experience the sights, sounds and eco-friendly weekend every local can.

Park City’s Main Street is well known for it’s annual Arts Festival where artisans and vendors from around the world display and sell their handmade art and wares. But with the festival happening only once a year, and with more demand from shoppers wanting to purchase local art/crafts/goods/food in a festival-like environment, Park City saw an opportunity to create a weekly destination, an event in its own right. And Park Silly was born.

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The street fair is held every weekend from June through September with up to 30,000 visitors each Sunday, many of those coming to the mountain to escape the heat of the Salt Lake Valley below. But don’t let the thought of crowds keep you away, this is an event and one you want to be part of. Some vendors change from week to week, and some are nearly permanent fixtures, so variety is always happening. The booths extend from the bottom portion of Main Street at 9ᵗʰ to mid Main at Heber Avenue (map here) and are intermixed with food, art, clothing and even DIY crafts like building with alabaster for the kids.

Roads are closed to accommodate a steady stream of patrons from every walk of society, baby strollers, dogs on leashes and even stilt walkers eating chocolate covered bananas towering above the masses.

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Want to adopt a duck? You can do that. Chickens too.

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A changing line-up of bands play each Sunday keeping the crowd lively and on their feet. Or like in this photo, in the rings.

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At the bottom of Main Street is the famous Bloody Mary Bar. Self serve cocktails are sold to those 21 and older with a killer display of additions to add to your locally distilled Five Wives Vodka cup. It’s like tomato salad in a boozy cup. That’s my kind of Mary. If you’re not into bloody mary’s, local beers and cocktails like Huckleberry Vodka Lemonade are also available and extremely sippable.

Bloody-Mary

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Park City’s craft chocolatier Ritual Chocolate lured me into with the brownies. How could I not?

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Hungy? This cinnamon roll from Utah’s Own Backyard Bakeries that is LITERALLY the size of your head should do.

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Tongue in cheek art is easily purchased from The Hive Gallery and Boutique with a frozen banana from one of the multiple food vendors.

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What were you doing when you were 18 years old? This guy is designing jewlery like this! His booth had me captivated. And buying. I’ll be coming back to KGEK Design soon to do more damage to my credit card. Love.

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Another purchase of the day was this leather cross body bag from Sash Bags. I’m loving it still.

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After trolling up and down Main Street and receiving some much needed retail therapy, a rest was in order. We ponied up to a table under the tents and took in the sounds of locals Herban Empire. A little reggae/rock for Sunday never hurt anybody in my book.

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And how could we pass up this big old puppers looking for a new home. Oh if only we could…maybe next week?

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Sundays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., June 7 – September 20

Visit their website here.

Follow them on Facebook here.

Heidi Larsen is the creator of foodiecrush.com, the blog and online magazine featuring family friendly recipes and inspiring photography. She also photographs Deer Valley Resort’s food and fine dining when not enjoying quality time on the ski hill with her husband and 11 year old daughter. See more of what she’s crushing on at Facebook and Instagram.

 

Creepy Crawlies at Camp

I’ve done plenty of celebrity interviews in my time. I have even attended the Emmy Awards, and more than one red carpet. But never have I seen a crowd so thrilled to see a celebrity than the day Kim’s Cold Blooded Creatures visited Deer Valley Summer Adventure Camp!

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Kim, a Park City local for about seven years, has numerous snakes, spiders, tortoises, turtles and lizards that she and her family keep as pets. She makes it clear that the real stars of the show are her pets. She spends many days a week traveling to schools, camps and birthday parties for an interactive educational presentation, through which she educates kids (and any adults in the room, for that matter) about each creatures habits, habitats and defense mechanisms.

She is so popular around Park City, that when she brought out a baby Bell Python, a child called out, “You got a new snake!” prompting Kim to ask when the child had seen her last. “In June? Yes, you’re right this snake is about a month old!”

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Her passion for such creatures started early. “I had an older brother who used to take me hunting for frogs and lizards when we were kids,” she said. “He passed away at 13 from leukemia so having these pets and learning about them, and now teaching about them, has been a way for me to stay connected to him and to honor him.”

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And her educational business is a family affair. “These are all our pets, and they live at home with us,” she said. “I do this so people aren’t scared of insects and snakes when they might come across them in nature.” Assisting her on this day were her adult son, Alex, and his girlfriend, Kennedy (who initially had a snake wrapped around her head, prompting a camper, age five, to call out, “You’re Medusa!!”). “None of my animals are dangerous or I wouldn’t let you hold them,” Kim explained. “After all, I let my own son hold them, so you know you’re safe.” She also gently, but firmly, reminded the campers how to keep the animals safe by touching them gently.

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The children sat as she brought out a variety of creatures, promising along the way, that there would be opportunities to hold them. “You don’t have to hold anything or touch anything,” she assured her audience. “None of my animals have ever bit or stung a person.”

Over the course of an hour, we learned that no one has ever died from a tarantula bite, that tarantulas will kick off hairs from their abdomen to irritate and scare off a predator, and that if you want to find scorpions, you can go out at night with an inexpensive blue light and the scorpions will glow under the light. We also learned that the Australian Prickly Stick insect, which are harmless (Alex was wearing one on his face at one point in the presentation), were used as doubles for poisonous scorpions in the movie Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

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“It’s a very cool insect, and it hangs on really well,” Kim quipped.

We met a Madagascar hissing cockroach and a Peppered Roach, both of which serve as “nature’s recyclers,” eating dead plants, some animal carcasses and helping to create holes in the vegetation canopies in the jungle, so that sunlight can reach the lower plants.

We also met a Crested Gecko named Pop Tart, whose tail or lack thereof, proved cautionary (the pun is mine—apologies to Kim!) to the kids. “Someone wasn’t gentle enough with her at a birthday party, and her defense mechanism was to shed her tail,” Kim explained. “Dropping the tail distracts predators, but it doesn’t ever grow back.”

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As she introduced a bearded dragon and various breeds of non-venomous snakes, Kim took the opportunity to educate kids on what it means to take responsibility for a pet. “You shouldn’t go to a pet store until you and your parents have done some research on exactly how big the pet will grow, and what kind of care they need,” she said. “Some people think if it doesn’t work out, the pets can go to live at a zoo. But zoos don’t want our pets, and pets need a forever home. So you need to be responsible about adopting pets.”

After all of the introductions were made, kids lined up to meet the pets, some wearing snakes, others holding tortoises, lizards and yes, even the tarantula. And, I daresay, they were gentler with the stars of this show than most adults are with human celebrities.

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“This has been our most successful guest speaker, yet,” said Kurt Hammel, childrens programs assistant manager at Deer Valley’s Summer Adventure Camp. “I’ve never seen the kids so engaged.” (Word to the wise: I noticed Kurt snagging Kim’s card—so don’t be surprised if you bump into Kim and her Cold Blooded Creatures someday during the winter season, too!)

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Park Silly Market Passed The “Kid Test”

On Sundays in the summer, I look forward to going to lower Main Street in Park City for the “Park Silly Market.” Everything is there for you to enjoy a relaxing Sunday afternoon.

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There are booths with all kinds of unique items to peruse and purchase. Music fills the air and you can enjoy a burger and a beer or a Pad Thai bowl and juice in a giant pineapple.

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This past Sunday was the first time I went to Park Silly with a kid, our silly 5 year old granddaughter. Enjoying the market through the eyes of a child was enchanting.

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When the cowboy on stilts came by, she said, “How did he get so tall?” But when he invited her to help with a trick, she shyly ducked behind me.  Before I could explain his extremely long legs,  we were off to look at a bubble machine and puppets.

Her culinary choice for lunch was cheese pizza, though she was adventurous enough to try the piece of basil on top, it didn’t pass the “kid test” and was spit out into my hand.

What passed the “kid test?”

A lot!

The Jump House sponsored by Bobby Lawrence Karate was a big hit. They let a few kids in at a time so each one of the children could have a safe and fun experience. Our girl had three turns.

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The Rock Climbing Wall “easy” side was still a challenge for her and she made it three quarters of the way to the top.

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Note her “climbing gear” which included her new bracelet and a rose hair clip.

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Motherlode Canyon Band was performing on the Main Stage.  We grabbed a chair and sat in the shade to watch and listen to the band.

A bubblegum snow cone was her choice for a treat. I guess it had the right mix of super sweet sugar and cold. Fortunately, no brain freeze was involved.

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After all the jumping and climbing, she was worn out and needed a piggy back ride back up to catch the trolley to our car. She slept all the way home.

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Park Silly Market is a fun afternoon for anyone but it’s especially a silly good time for kids.

For more information on Park Silly Market, click here.

For more information who is playing where and when in Park City, through Mountain Town Music, click here.

Deer Valley Grocery~Café Summer Menu

Deer Valley Grocery Cafe, Park City, UT foodiecrush.com

Anyone who has heard the slightest whisper about Deer Valley Resort has learned it is synonymous with quality. But quality doesn’t always mean pricey, precious or pretentious.

The folks at Deer Valley know their guests well, and when it comes to dining, they know that it isn’t always about sipping champagne and cracking crab legs. Even though that is always welcome in my book. It’s about simple, delicious food served by some of the most attentive staff you’ll find in the U.S. of A. The world even.

So of course food served in a grocery store would be held to the same standards. Really? A grocery store?

Simple. Fresh. Inventive. Deer Valley nails it every time at Park City’s best kept dining secret: Grocery~Café.

Deer Valley Grocery Cafe, Park City, UT foodiecrush.com

The Deer Valley Grocery~Café was originally concepted as an easy stop for lodging guests or concert goers to pop in and gather prepared take-away meals and essentials like morning coffees while staying in the nearby condos and lodging. It has morphed into my go-to dining destination thanks to crave-worthy breakfast, lunch and now dinner eats.

While the food at Grocery~Café is amazing, the views are just as stunning.

Guests are welcome to sit indoors, or out on the large deck that overlooks ducks and standup paddleboarders coexisting in the large lake at the Deer Valley base. It’s my daughter’s favorite pastime as you’ll see in this post.

But take my advice, when the weather warrants, outside is where it’s at.

Deer Valley Grocery Cafe, Park City, UT foodiecrush.com

I had the opportunity to sit down to a menu tasting at Deer Valley’s Grocery~Café to sample their summer dinner menu. This is a big perk of my job and I relish every bite of it.

Our dinner started with homemade beet hummus and a tequila and orange cocktail. Have you tried beet hummus? This one is made in house (naturally) and is a combination of garbanzo beans, roasted beets and tahini. A perfect starter, it’s served with Deer Valley’s famous flaxseed crackers and sugar snap peas. Those crackers…so addictive.

Deer Valley Grocery Cafe, Park City, UT foodiecrush.com

Next, we sampled three newly refined items on the menu.

First, the Green Goddess Grilled Cheese with fresh mozzarella, cabot white cheddar, herb pesto and fresh arugula grilled on toasty housemade sourdough bread. I love a good grilled cheese and this one is tops as a perfect combo of cheese and flavor, still retaining it’s grilled cheese status rather than an overstuffed sandwich.

Next, the Garden Gazpacho. Heirloom tomatoes are blended with more veggies, spices and then topped with cilantro oil and sautéed shrimp. Slightly vinegar-ed bites of freshness come with each spoonful, and the garlic scape as an accents was an earthy touch.

Finally, Grocery~Café’s signature Salmon Tacos, one of the most popular dishes on the menu and rightfully so. A generous portion of salmon tops corn tortillas. It’s then topped with a tangy grilled scallion citrus slaw and roasted poblano guacamole. A little crunch comes in thanks to a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds.

And this was just the beginning.

Deer Valley Grocery Cafe, Park City, UT foodiecrush.com

Deer Valley Grocery Cafe, Park City, UT foodiecrush.com

You may have noticed a supremely stunning caprese salad at the beginning of this post. The table just about fell silent when this was presented. This salad has been served at Deer Valley Grocery~Café for a number of years but only recently was reimagined by Chef Kristine Thorslund in a stunningly new, minimalist presentation. When you have ingredients this gorgeous, why over do it? The salad is composed of local Copper Moose Farm heirloom tomatoes, sweet basil, marinated baby mozzarella, lemon mosto oil, aged balsamic pearls (I know! Molecular cooking is crazy and here’s how they do it) and blackberry tar.

Then my main course: Seared Salmon. It was almost too pretty to eat. Almost. Okay, I finished the whole thing. How could I not?

A perfectly cooked filet of King salmon that flaked at each forkful rested on a bed of chilled sugar snap pea salad, micro greens and pickled onion and was topped with green goddess pesto, crispy quinoa and more delicate micro greens. The drizzle of olive oil left the dish feeling homemade rather than pretentious. Just my style of eating.

Deer Valley Grocery Cafe, Park City, UT foodiecrush.com

A new menu item was the vegetarian Cauliflower and Quinoa Fritters and in short order was deemed a new favorite by all at the table. Ground cauliflower and quinoa are mixed with fresh herbs, Spanish red onion and lightly fried, the set on arugula and microgreens to be dressed with a lemon yogurt. If you’re watching what you eat, watch yourself easily consume this.

Deer Valley Grocery Cafe, Park City, UT foodiecrush.com

Newly appointed Food and Beverage Director Jodie Rogers was center stage at the table, sharing behind the scene stories and the ingredient list of each dish for those of us wishing to know the secrets behind the dishes. Even so, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to remake these dishes at home.

But then, why would I when I can come here and not have to do the dishes?

Deer Valley Grocery Cafe, Park City, UT foodiecrush.com

A welcome surprise dessert was served in the form of popsicles. After enjoying a rather large tasting, the cool pops were more than welcome as a light finish to the night. However, don’t think they weren’t full of flavor too.

Strawberry and Black Pepper mingled in one set of pops while Coconut Lime and Pineapple were easily licked as the other. True to Deer Valley form, the pops were served on a tray of frozen fruit and flowers worthy of any Pinterest board.

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Chef Jodie Rogers, Chef Jodie Paris and Chef Kirstine Thorslund are busy creating a name for Grocery Café, and with food prepared and presented like this, it won’t be long before this spot isn’t much of a secret anymore.

Deer Valley Grocery Cafe, Park City, UT foodiecrush.com

Deer Valley~Grocery Café

Menus: breakfast, lunch and dinner

  • Location: Snow Park Village – base area
  • Address: 1375 Deer Valley Drive South
  • Telephone Number: 435-615-2400
  • Dining Type: Café/Deli/Bakery
  • Business Hours: 7:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m., daily

Heidi Larsen is the creator of foodiecrush.com, the blog and online magazine featuring family friendly recipes and inspiring photography. She also photographs Deer Valley Resort’s food and fine dining when not enjoying quality time on the ski hill with her husband and 11 year old daughter. See more of what she’s crushing on at Facebook and Instagram.

 

Beating the Back-To-School Blues

Every year, it happens. I’m nicely settled in to the routines of summer, and boom, just like that, it’s August, and the Back-to-School Crunch begins. This year I’m staging a full-on protest.

My primary weapon in this protest is denial, coupled with a healthy dose of over-scheduling fun and entertaining things to do. Lucky for me, Deer Valley is here to aid and abet, offering a packed schedule of activities, extending well past the start of school (August 20 in Park City, for those of you keeping score at home). And lucky for you, I can offer you a curated list of the best antidotes to those back to school blues.

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There are still two awesome Guided Historic Hikes left in the season, September 20 and October 18. You can meet up at the bottom of Sterling Express (wear sturdy shoes and bring your own snacks and water, but leave your favorite four-legged friend behind please) for a fun, informative lesson on area history with Michael O’Malley.

In August alone, there are 4 concerts on the schedule, including the Gypsy Kings performing as part of the Big Stars, Bright Nights Concert Series. And with acts like the Crescent Superband on the bill for the Grand Valley Bank Community Concert Series (free every Wednesday), it’s hard not to find an excuse to get your boogie on.

Eric Schramm Photography 2015

But it’s the month of September that gets the credit for helping locals and visitors beat the Back-to-School Blues. A Labor Day weekend outing to Deer Valley can include watching mountain bikers race by Silver Lake Lodge as they participate in the Park City Point to Point Race, heading toward the Mid-Mountain Trail between 9 – 10 a.m. Combine this with a hike and scenic lift ride, followed by a great lunch at the Royal Street Café, and you’ve had a fun, jam packed morning.

Plus on September 6, Aloe Blacc performs as part of the Big Stars, Bright Nights Concert Series.

September 12 is another jam-packed day at Deer Valley. For starters, the Mid-Mountain Marathon departs from Silver Lake Village, with runners doing a couple of laps before they head out onto the trail. In the afternoon you can join The Christian Center of Park City’s 4th Annual Hike For Hunger. The Snow Park area will be transformed into a family entertainment area, with a bounce house and a climbing wall. “This year we are incorporating rides on the Silver Lake Express chairlift,” says Cindy Skelton, Senior Events Coordinator, “and there are trails that are appropriate for every level of hiker, some for families with small kids, and some for those looking for a bigger challenge.” Registration fees even include a meal prepared by Deer Valley chefs.

If by mid-September you’re already wishing you could run away from it all, you’re in luck at least for one day as the Discrete Peak Race Series hosts its final run of the season at Deer Valley Resort. Okay, so maybe it’s not so much running away, as it is running up but by the time you race from Snow Park Lodge to the top of Bald Mountain, you probably won’t remember why you were so stressed out in the first place.

See? I told you I could fix those Back-to-School Blues. What’s your favorite late summer pleasure at Deer Valley? Tell me all about it in the comments.

Behind the Scenes: Royal Street Café Summer Photo Shoot

Royal Street Summer Deer Valley Resort, Park City UT

You look at this photo and you see a pretty girl and a handsome guy sipping away on a sunny day. And that’s all you should see.

For me, I see all of the behind the scenes work that goes into producing a photo like this one. Hours of coordination, contemplation and creativity to create a single moment in time. And when it works, and all comes together, it’s magic.

I have years and years of experience producing and art directing photo shoots, more than I’d actually care to admit given I’m just shy of my 29ᵀᴴ birthday for the umpteenth time. I’ve concepted the ideas behind the the shoots, hired photographers and stylists, scouted locations, rented studios, homes, and motorhomes, scouted models and made it all happen while staying within budget. It is probably one of the most exhaustive parts of my job because the brain goes into overload to be sure each detail is attended to for a successful outcome.

But that was then, and this is now.

These days I’ve transitioned from directing the photo shoots to being the one behind the camera making “the magic happen.” For the past three years I’ve been photographing each of Deer Valley’s restaurants, chefs and anything else I’m lucky enough to point my lens toward for use on their website, advertising and yep, even these blog posts.

Royal Street Summer Deer Valley Resort , Park City UT

Royal Street Summer Deer Valley Resort , Park City UT

As in every successful mission, it takes a village. For these shoots it always starts with Deer Valley’s tip top marketing team including Emily, Lara and Ryan who work out all of the details of where, when and what will be photographed. Next, the talented chefs at Deer Valley make my job that much easier, creating subjects that are always colorful, seasonal, drool-worthy, and that hardly ever talk—or bite—back.

This summer there are several photo shoots on our to-do list. We kicked the first off at Royal Street Café where we gathered 20 or so real-life friends of Deer Valley, spending the afternoon taking photos. Kudos to all of our real life models who were total pros and beyond patient as I made my way around the patio doing what I do which usually means making people do the same motion over and over until we get it just right.

Patience. It’s a virtue.

Royal Street Summer Deer Valley Resort , Park City UT

Royal Street Summer Deer Valley Resort , Park City UT

Here’a a sampling of me sneaking into the kiddos lunch, that turned into…

Royal Street Summer Deer Valley Resort , Park City UT

This photo of this sweet blondie with a cheesy grin. Literally. A grilled cheese grin.

Royal Street Summer Deer Valley Resort , Park City UT

Royal Street Summer Deer Valley Resort , Park City UT

This time around we were fortunate to have Deer Valley’s creative agency represented by Struck’s creative director Scott Sorenson who shared his creative vision. It was great having another creative alongside me to make decisions, create the perfect sprinkle of crumbs and decide when the shot was just right.

Royal Street Summer Deer Valley Resort , Park City UT

Royal Street Summer Deer Valley Resort , Park City UT

Scott also makes a mean clean-up guy when the beer gets spilled. I have a feeling it wasn’t his first time.

Royal Street Summer Deer Valley Resort , Park City UT

Royal Street Summer Deer Valley Resort , Park City UT

I may have snuck a fry. Or two. It’s all in the name of food styling.

A Few More Faves to Savor

Editing photos is one of the hardest parts of my job, but just like going through my wardrobe in my closet, you have to make hard choices and edit, edit, edit. Following are just the smallest sampling of a few favorites from the edits of the day’s 1,700+ photos that will be shared on the website and in upcoming advertising soon.

Royal Street Summer Deer Valley Resort , Park City UT

Royal Street Summer Deer Valley Resort , Park City UT

Royal Street Summer Deer Valley Resort , Park City UT

Royal Street Summer Deer Valley Resort , Park City UT

Royal Street Summer Deer Valley Resort , Park City UT

Royal Street Summer Deer Valley Resort , Park City UT

And now, it’s time to get back to going through the rest of those 1,700 photos. Cheers!

Royal Street Café, get more info here.

  • Location: Silver Lake Village – mid-mountain
  • Address: 7600 Royal Street
  • Telephone Number: 435-645-6724
  • Dining Type: Casual Dining
  • Business Hours: 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., daily

Heidi Larsen is the creator of foodiecrush.com, the blog and online magazine featuring family friendly recipes and inspiring photography. She also photographs Deer Valley Resort’s food and fine dining when not enjoying quality time on the ski hill with her husband and 11 year old daughter. See more of what she’s crushing on at Facebook and Instagram.

 

What Could Be Better than a Picnic With Smokey Robinson?

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Who doesn’t love a picnic? I love to picnic so much that I made my New Year’s Resolution for 2015 to have 32 picnics throughout the year. This is true.

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When you think about it though, to enjoy a whole lot of picnics is not really a resolution, it’s a goal.  Either way, I set it for this year.

Setting goals like this helps to stretch my imagination and make special memories in daily life. Park City is such a beautiful place, I figure, why just take a hike? Why not bring a picnic to savor the experience?

But there are more to picnics than food. Picnics are:

  • an outdoor activity
  • a chance to relax and linger
  • a time to be with friends and family
  • a time to enjoy a beautiful setting

When I saw that Smokey Robinson was coming to Deer Valley to sing with the Utah Symphony, I thought, “Picnic with Smokey Robinson, I am in for that!”

At the age of 75, Smokey still has it “going on.” He was stylin’ with a green satin jacket and matching leather pants, and he sang with his signature sweet, sweet voice as he shared the music of Motown.

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The picnic? That was so easy. Deer Valley prepared it for us so all I had to do was pick it up at the concert. One call ahead and I ordered not one but two baskets; salmon and filet mignon.

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We ended up with a group of six people and there was plenty of food for all since the baskets have such generous portions. I just brought extra plates!

The gourmet picnic baskets came with antipasto, brie and baguettes, grapes, two salmon entrees and (since we ordered two double baskets), two filet mignon entrees with horseradish sauce. We also added a bottle of red wine.

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And there was more. They each contained two servings of lemon cake and brownies (on a stick – so easy to devour). My friend Michelle brought some individual cheesecakes for dessert too for everyone to share so we had no limit on choices.

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Smokey Robinson and the musicians from the Utah Symphony entertained us with our favorite songs including:

  • You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me
  • Stand by Me
  • Tears of a Clown

He even sang my husband’s favorite song, Fly Me to the Moon (Smokey style).

This was a picnic I won’t forget anytime soon.

For more information on the Deer Valley Concerts at Snow Park, click here.

To order a gourmet picnic basket or bag, click here.

Summer is all about trails! 

I started hiking and biking in early May this year, and to keep my excitement high through the rest of the summer, I recently chatted with Charlie Sturgis, Executive Director of the Mountain Trails Foundation. This organization is involved with everything trail related around Park City. Charlie told story of his Foundation, its current projects and its future goals.

JF: How did you get involved with outdoors sports and activities?

Charlie Sturgis: I’ve always been an outdoorsman, I grew up in Chicago but was always involved with hunting, fishing and skiing. I remember visiting Snowbird in 1974. That’s when I fell in love with the Wasatch Mountains and declared then and there: “This is really cool!” That is how I made Utah my home. I finished my college education at the University of Utah and went to work for Mountaineer Sports and then Wasatch Touring in Salt Lake City. I had a ball! I skied, rock climbed, ice climbed, mountain biked and kayaked wherever and whenever I could.

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JF: What brought you up to Park City?

Charlie Sturgis: Contrary to what many people believe, I didn’t actually start White Pine Touring. I came in when it had just begun in a teepee near the old Park West. The original owners asked me to manage the business for them and they eventually sold it to me. The timing was perfect and that’s when I added biking to winter sports, and we became a year round outdoor shop. My wife and I made Park City our home in 1985.

JF: How did you get involved with the Mountain Trail Foundation?

Charlie Sturgis: Jan Wilking and I started establishing the Mountain Trails Foundation, a non-profit organization, to promote trail development around Park City. In 1993 we hired Troy Duffin, our first executive director. Mountain Trail Foundation has been around for 22 years already! I eventually sold White Pine Touring, stayed on for a few more years, and as the Mountain Trail Foundation executive position opened up in 2009, I seized the opportunity.

JF: What was your vision at the start?

Charlie Sturgis: My vision was to make this nonprofit organization work and run more like a business that would become financially sustainable. At first this wasn’t the case, but today memberships represent 40% of our income, 20% to 25% comes from corporate sponsorship, another 20% to 25% is the product of races and events we organize, and the balance comes from special grants. This allow us to make decisions because we have money in the bank.

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JF: Did you find inspiration at other resorts?

Charlie Sturgis: Not really. From the get-go, things have really worked out well for us. Our growth has been organic, and when success came, we decided to share our best practices; IMBA (International Mountain Bicycling Association) is the “mothership” of an organization like ours, but we really stand as the good example out there. We’re in assuming a leadership position in the outdoors community and remain willing and ready to share our expertise and mentor other organizations.

JF: Who was your audience then, and what is it today?

Charlie Sturgis: Based on surveys, we seem to have as many hikers as we have mountain bikers. We support and advocate for non-motorized recreation. Our audience is everyone from grandparents to their grandkids, hardcore athletes and casual weekend recreationists.

JF: Non-motorized? Then tell me, how do electric bikes fit in the picture?

Charlie Sturgis: The dust has yet to settle on the use of e-mountain bikes. At this point, I’d like to leave you with a few thoughts: Besides some legal issues related to the way conservation easements are written, the electric assisted bike offers an opportunity to someone who wouldn’t normally be getting out, to enjoy the outdoors. It provides an option to easily leave one’s car home. These two goals can easily be accomplished. If today, someone on an e-bike is straying on a trail by mistake, the overall good outweighs the occasional incursion.

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JF: Over time, has your work evolved or is it still the same?

Charlie Sturgis: My job has become more administrative, something I’m not too crazy about, and more regional, in the sense that our influence reaches beyond Park City which is a very good thing.

JF: What are the opportunities for your Foundation in the greater Park City area?

Charlie Sturgis: We’re working on plans to connect all seven adjoining ski areas by trails, so bikers and hikers can go from town to town and use all lifts in between. I’d like to see the Great Western Trail be completed, but at the same time would like to see a more organic growth to our programs, so we don’t get carried away by doing too many things, too fast, and lose control over the users’ experience.

JF: Is the local business community supporting what you do?

Charlie Sturgis: Yes, they are supportive and they would be foolish not too!

JF: How do you see Deer Valley’s Mid Mountain extension fitting into the overall picture?

Charlie Sturgis: Anytime someone is willing to let us build a trail across their land, as it is the case with the Bald Eagle Homeowners Association, we should jump on the chance! Steve Graff, Deer Valley’s Ski Patrol/Mountain Bike Manager, wanted us to get involved with the build. Deer Valley’s Mid Mountain extension is going to provide an easier way down the mountain for the typical family, a gentler trail should make it a lot easier for mom, dad and the kids to get down in confidence. No matter what the size of trail infrastructure a resort can offer, it is important to think of easier access and egress points.

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JF: How can readers of this blog help Mountain Trail Foundation?

Charlie Sturgis: All non-profit organizations often go unnoticed and the Mountain Trail Foundation is no exception. Any contribution, no matter how small, is always meaningful and in the long run, contributes to the non-motorized cause!

 

Kicking Off Summer – White Water Rafting With All Seasons Adventures

Summer may be a season but it’s also an attitude.

Grabbing lunch is suddenly transformed to more than a meal but an experience with al fresco dining or an impromptu picnic. Forget sitting inside or at your kitchen counter – you want to be outside enjoying the sun and the fresh air.

Summer changes our outlook to where we want to get outdoors, try new things, and make every hour of sunshine count.

The question is, how do we kick off summer in the best way possible? Is it an ice cream cone?  A day at the pool?  Perhaps an outdoor concert with a picnic and your best friends?

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My husband Jay and I decided to kick off our summer with a white water rafting trip with All Season’s Adventures.

What better way to enjoy a summer day than hot sun, cold water and an experienced river guide named KaiLin?

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We drove about 45 minutes from Park City on Highway 89 to the Weber River where All Seasons Adventures puts in their rafts. (Transportation is available for Deer Valley guests, of course.)

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After greeting our guide, securing our life jackets, and listening to a safety lesson, we were ready to head out on the river. Our trip was about 2 1/2 hours of rafting down the Weber River. Since this is a Class II whitewater river, we were engaged and active paddlers with just the right amount of excitement on the river!

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The Weber river trip kept our interest because there are three distinct parts of the trip. During the farmland portion, we returned the gaze of a few horses as we viewed working farms as well as some vintage farm equipment from our vantage point on the river.

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After passing a more industrial section, we were treated to the gorgeous red rock mountain views that Utah is famous for. We passed rock arches and rock formations called “Devil’s Slide.”

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We had the chance to get a little wet as we hit a few rapids.

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We had to duck under a low bridge.

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Our guide had us spinning through waterfalls and navigating a “rock garden” in our raft. With her seven years experience on the water, she had no problem anticipating the flow of water around bends, over rocks and under trees.

With some directions like, “Pull two” or “backwards one” she skillfully had us negotiating our river journey with ease.

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You can see by the smiles on our faces that we had a great time.

It’s now official: it’s summertime!

For more information on whitewater rafting with with All Season’s Adventures, click here.