Daily Archives: January 5, 2017

chef_featured

Helmut Kaschitz

At age 14, Helmut Kaschitz received the most basic lesson in cooking—cleanliness. And he instills that philosophy in his employees at Pepi’s Restaurant, where he works as the executive chef.

Kaschitz grew up in Austria, and after completing nine years of primary school, he began a cooking apprenticeship. An after-school program had introduced him to cooking and from the moment he stewed his first soup, he fell in love.

“I got such a kick out of it, how to slice the vegetables and dice the vegetables and cook,” Kaschitz says, reflectively. However, like any 14-year-old, when his Austrian supervisor ordered him to clean a storage pantry early in his apprenticeship, Kaschitz only wiped down the front of the canned foods. But, when his supervisor saw his superficial effort she was outraged. She removed every can from the shelves, completely clearing the edges before scrubbing down each one and neatly rearranging the wiped-down items. “She was tough! I was so afraid of her,” Kaschitz says. “But, I think she is part of the reason I became what I became.”

The supervisor’s “cleaning lesson” underscored what his dad had taught him: whatever task, big or small, do it 100 percent, and begin from step one–don’t take shortcuts. “If that means peeling 20 pounds of onions to make stocks, you do it,” says Kaschitz.

After a mandatory eight months in the Austrian military, Kaschitz accepted a job at a family-owned restaurant. He credits the family for one of the most unique practices he learned, which is to reuse rather than waste anything.

“Literally, nothing was thrown away,” he says, explaining how a “tiny thing” like the skin of onions would help flavor vegetable stock. “You can use everything from the whole animal.”

Two years later, Kaschitz moved to Germany to take a job at a restaurant, as he knew the the owner who hailed from his hometown. “It was extremely busy, especially in the summer,” he remembers. “You had to move fast and work fast. It was a great learning experience.”

After seven years, he partnered with the owner, Hans Sattlegger, to open Kaltenberg Castle in Lionshead. Now, as executive chef at Pepi’s, Kaschitz is particularly known for his variety of distinctive recipes for the Antlers Room, internationally known for its wild game dinners like rack of venison, steak tartar, elk steak and buffalo, to name a few. Although Kaschitz might have lot of paperwork to handle, he never remains in his office very long, partially because he loves working with people and partially because there’s always something to be done, and he’s humble enough to step in and complete any task, however “menial.”

“He’s the only chef I see go to work at 6 a.m. and stay till close,” says Richard Frazer, a longtime sous chef at Pepi’s. “He only takes Tuesdays off. He likes to be hands-on.” And Kaschitz gives associates like Frazer the freedom to create new cuisine and always gives new hires a chance. Once they show dedication, he teaches them how to move up the ranks.

“He works really, really hard, and I think that’s where I got it,” Frazer offers. “He pushes me to be better at what I do; as a chef, there’s a lot you have to know… I can ask him anything and, off the top of his head, he knows the answer. He doesn’t even have to think about it.”

According to Frazer, Kaschitz’s calm, compassionate demeanor rules and on the few occasions he might become upset he’ll call Frazer or another trusted friend aside, vent and move on. “A lot of things he brushes off his shoulders,” Frazer says. “He’s a happy guy.”

So how does a man who has worked nearly 100 hours a week for about 30 years maintain his energy and and happy demeanor? Seeing satisfied customers invigorates Kaschitz. “If you love what you’re doing, you don’t look at what time it is; you just keep doing it,” Kaschitz says. As a chef, he adds, “If you don’t have the heart for the hospitality community, you’re never going to make it.”

Kaschitz’s straightforward communication is just one of the characteristics his staff appreciates. “If you do the job right, you’re going to have a good time with me… then we can go a long way,” he says, “but if you’re slacking off, you’re going to have a hard time.”

And it’s because of his use of simple, quality ingredients with consistency, that Kaschitz excels at European cooking, “If I’m on the line, I see myself as a customer,” he explains, adding that if a dish doesn’t present correctly, he begins again—even on crazy days like Fourth of July, when Pepi’s served nearly 450 lunches.

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Mudslide

When in Vail, you must stop by the Bully Ranch Restaurant at the Sonnenalp Hotel and treat yourself to their incredibly delicious, Mudslide. Whether you’ve had a hard day or the best day of your life – this drink will, literally, knock your boots off!

BUILD YOUR OWN
Put a scoop of ice cubes in a blender
1 1/2 oz each of vodka, Kahlua and Baileys
Blend like a milkshake
Voilà. Done.

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From Scratch

Though Dotsero is a few thousand miles from where many believe the best rum in the world is crafted, that geographic logistic hasn’t stopped owners Jim Benson and Max Vogelman from making a super-smooth liquor. Indeed, Stoneyard Distillery is giving people a reason to get off at Exit 133 on I-70.

“It’s not in town so it’s like an adventure to go,” said Gypsum resident Kristin Anderson. Anderson visited the distillery for a Gypsum Chamber Mixer event. “It’s a really cool setup outside. They have a great fire pit and it’s really scenic; they’re right next to the river.”

from_scratch_1Using beet sugar trucked in 40,000 pound increments from Fort Morgan, Colo., and water from the Eagle River, Stoneyard Distillery makes five varieties of rum: Silver, Barrel Aged (in barrels from Laws Whiskey House and Breckenridge Distillery), Cinnamon Fire, Lucky-Oh Horchata and the most recent addition, Colorado Coffee, added to the lineup in September.

Anderson has tried three of the five varieties and especially likes the Lucky-Oh Horchata. “They mixed it with real horchata and it was amazing,” she said. “I tried a little sample of the Cinnamon at Oktoberfest as well; I was amazed at how smooth it was.”

If you visit the distillery, you’ll see Twinkie, a 900-gallon kettle that in its former life likely mixed ingredients for the beloved Hostess snack cakes– yellow cake, cream filling or both, perhaps. Now it’s used to make something less sweet but slightly more fun, depending on your life view.

Vogelman, the company’s master distiller, purchased Twinkie in Atlanta, along with a slew of other scavenged parts that he used to build the still from the ground up. Two circa-1960s milk-cooling tanks from a dairy now serve as fermenters.

“We wound up building all of this for a tiny fraction of what it would have cost to buy a setup that was already built,” Vogelman said. “It allowed us to (start a distillery) without breaking the bank. I didn’t want to be reliant on another company if something broke or didn’t work. I know what’s going on because I put together this thing from scratch.”

It’s not the first thing Vogelman, 29, has built from the ground up. The lifelong Eagle County resident spent three years building a Vans RV-7A kit plane at the Eagle Airport. That’s where he met Benson, Stoneyard’s president, back in 2010. “He was doing the same thing; he had a home- built airplane at the airport,” Vogelman said. “I ran into him there and helped him finish his plane.” Soon Vogelman was working for Benson’s construction company. It was on the way to a job one day that the two started talking about the still that Vogelman had constructed in his parent’s garage using plans he found on the internet.

Intrigued, Benson started asking questions. The conversation continued for six months, “until we decided it was a good idea to turn it into a business,” Vogelman said. That was six years ago. It took four years before everything was in place. The distillery sold its first bottle in August 2014.

“When it came time to make it into a business, we really just stuck with the same exact thing I was doing back (in the garage),” Vogelman said. “I tried to refine it but in general, it’s remarkably the same.”

The distillery and the tasting room are located in Dotsero, in the middle of a stoneyard, thus the name. Vogelman’s uncle, Kurt Vogelman, owned and operated Vogelman Masonry for 30 years and used the property to store the rock “that ended up in Vail and Beaver Creek,” Vogelman said. While Twinkie is the centerpiece of the still, a Pennsylvania flagstone bar is the centerpiece of the tasting room.from_scratch_2

“It was laying out in the yard. It was leftover from some job in Aspen where they had a big old bar just like it,” Vogelman said. Prior to the stoneyard, the property housed a sawmill operation that dates back to the mid-19th century. Old buildings with a distinctly Old West feel and leftover from that time dot the landscape; the distillery is housed in one such ramshackle abode.

“There’s a nice feel to the place and a lot of history,” said Vogelman who lives onsite and says he hopes to put “Dotsero on the map.” See where the magic happens and sip the rum—both straight and in cocktails like “The Dude,” Colorado Coffee rum and milk over ice—at the Tasting Room, open Wednesday through Saturday from 4 to 8 p.m.

The distillery is located at 4600 Highway 6, Dotsero. You can also find the rum in liquor stores in Eagle County and Denver. Visit stoneyarddistillery.com for more information.

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Sleigh and Play

If you want to enjoy a truly unique Colorado experience why not hitch a ride on a sleigh or snowcat? Why not get cozy under a couple of blankets and let the star filled night sky light your way to a delicious meal? It’s a wonderful way to enjoy the kind of tranquil evening that you can only find in the mountains. The snow glistens. Stars so bright, it’s breathtaking. And if you listen closely you might even hear the distant cry of a coyote. If you sleigh ride during the day, keep your eyes open for wildlife. You never know what’s just around the bend.

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Eagle Ranch

About 20 miles west of Vail, 4 Eagle Ranch, in Wolcott, is the best choice for those looking for an authentic Western experience. Centered around the historic Nelson Cabin (ca.1890), and far from any city lights, the stargazing from the ranch’s horse-drawn sleigh, is incredible. And, while dining on a Colorado-style buffet dinner or roasting marshmallows around the open-hearth fire, you will be serenaded by the resident entertainer.

Bearcat Cabin

Nestled in the Squaw Creek Valley in Cordillera, 15 minutes west of Beaver Creek, Bearcat Cabin is the original cabin the Bearden family homesteaded during the early 20th century. The Cordillera Preservation Foundation and Bearcat Stables lovingly restored the Cabin and is now one of the areas most historic restaurants.

Allie’s Cabin

Situated in a quiet aspen grove on Beaver Creek Mountain, Allie’s Cabin offers featured wine dinners with a celebrated group of wineries on select Thursday evenings. Guests will arrive via open-air sleigh and enjoy multiple courses and wine pairings while enjoying views of the fireworks lighting up the evening sky for Thursday Night Lights. New this winter are Allie’s Cabin Family Dinners, when guests can savor gourmet fare that caters exclusively to children and families. The menu is a three course buffet dinner–complete with kids’ favorites.

Beano’s Cabin

The only way to get to Beano’s Cabin for its award-winning cuisine it to take a different kind of “animal”–a Beaver Creek snowcat. You will be wowed by the elegant ambiance and multi- course dinner served at the cabin which is high atop Beaver Creek Mountain. Dinner is a leisurely two to three-hour affair, so relax and enjoy. It will be a one-of-a-kind, exceptionally delicious gastronomical experience!

Mountain Mushers

On a private ranch in Wolcott, Mountain Mushers will take you through glades of aspen and pine trees—and if you watch closely, you might even catch a glimpse of wildlife—including fox, coyote, deer and elk. A musher stands behind you and controls a team of huskies who lead the way up and down the trail. Halfway through your adventure, you’ll have a photo op and have some homemade pumpkin bread and hot cocoa. With only two guests per sled, there may be as many as 60 dogs, if six sleds are running.

Talk about photo-ops!

For any of these exciting activities, you want to keep warm even though you might be cuddled up in a blanket or two. Good boots, hat gloves or mittens and coats are a must.

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Athletics

The state of the world today, not unlike the past (more apparent). is that if one wants to create an environment of success it is up to YOU! The easily recognized terminology of just Do It’, speaks for itself. Since the school system eliminated physical education in the cirriculum, there has been an increasing BMI i nthe U.S. Whether there is a correleation is not known. THe wide world of sports has been instrumental in world geopolitical communication throughout history in a very positive way. It allows us all to share a common interest, and the language barrier can be broken through sportsmanship in the battle.

There are so many atheletes who persevered and set the bar higher fro everyone. There are countlyess inspiring srories through out history and in athletics. Until recend days, this was one ofthe few arenas in life and news in which one could appreciate these accomplishments without hte negative presentation of the media per se. This information should now be filtered along with the rest of the world news to stay on the positive path of life.

Incubated and supported by Nike, Galen Rupp was a recent in track town USA during his college career at the University of Oregon. He was coached by Alberto Salazar and fueled by his training regimens and dreams starting in childhood. He became the only American in 48 years to medal in an event involving a 10,000-meter dash. He will create further success in the future for others who choose to follow in his footsteps. He has demonstrated that winning a race by a quarter of a second is accomplished by a strenous trainign regimen practiced over many, many years. His story demonstrates how hard work and dedication can make dreams come true. Buit it takes drive and disclipine practiced on a daily basis, each day laying down bricks to bbuild our house. This can be translated into life, as parents role models for our children.

This is occuring and is exemplified by a phenomenon in the healthcare field. Much like atheletes, those who choose to raise the bar in medicine drastically improve and transform the lives of many others. Think as simply as the average life-expectancy increasing in the U.Ss by 30 years in the 20th century. During this time, the human body has not genetically changed from birth. Healthcare professionals have worked wirelessly through trial and error, until they succeed in accomplishing something that can better healthcare for everyone. So much of this mentality can be learned from sports participation, as the results and feedback can be experienced by children and young adults in a direct way. The will of an individual to prepare to win and lessons gained from losses (and the way one experiences defeat) and their response will assist them greatly in life in the future. Our losses used correctly can only make us stronger and more motivitated to work harder.

Having my children heavily involved in athletics is a decision, as a father, I will never regeret. Not only have athletics kept my children fit, but they have also taught them disclipine and a driver for success. I have wathced these values carried over into their daily lives.

During the course of life, we can look at everything from an athletic mindset. It may simply be through the competition we find within ourselves in accomplishing daily activities. We incorporate the athletic mindset of fitness into our children’s daily lives, so that conquer­ing everyday tasks can become less strenuous.

My recommendation is involving your children in athletics so they can realize the human body, mind and spirit utilized to their fullest extent. One must stay active and nourished properly to excel on a daily basis. The laws of physics have stood the test of time. Striving for accomplishment to a great extent will allow children and young adults to learn many great lessons. Life is not a spectator sport, each of us is involved in our own Olympic venue on a daily basis, even if it is to improve just the level of activity of daily living. Whether we know it or not, we are athletes. It is probably controversial teaching our children that working hard towards goals can help them succeed.

These fundamentals come standard with athletics. These are the very lessons that can fuel our children for the rest of their lives.

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Eagle County Wildlife

On a cool, crisp evening in the heart of winter, you’re taking a moonlit walk through the neighborhoods just west of Lionshead Village when you hear a rustling from the pine trees ahead. You hardly think twice about it—could just be the wind—but another round of rustling makes your ears perk up and hair stand on end.

Is it a dog? A deer? A bear? A mountain lion? You stop in your tracks and listen to silence. By now your heart is beating a mile a minute and you still haven’t caught sight of whoever—or whatever—is in the trees ahead. Then, with one final rustle, it appears: a red fox, one of the most common predators in Eagle County and easily one of the most skittish. He (or she) is frightened but sticks around long enough for a final look at this odd, two-legged creature before disappearing back into the snow-white forest.

Like skiing, biking and slopeside cocktails, wildlife sightings are part of living and playing in Eagle County. Colorado is home to a whopping 135 different species of mammals, according to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and the vast majority calls the High Country home. Most humans can name 20 or 25 on a good day–think big critters like deer, moose, elk and the like–but that’s only scratching the surface.

“We have a pretty biodiverse corridor here in the Eagle Valley, where you have black bears, bobcats and mountain lions, bighorn sheep—all of that,” says Kaitlyn Merriman, the community programs director for Walking Mountains Science Center in Avon. “It’s pretty incredible that even at a small place like Vail Mountain you’ll see something like moose, and in a heavily trafficked area.”

For decades, humans and mammals have comingled in Eagle County and the surrounding White River National Forest, where 2.3 million acres of pristine woodlands, meadows, riverbeds and alpine tundra are a sprawling sanctuary for dozens of animals. The forest is also home to 11 ski areas and dozens of small towns, including the one you’re sitting in now, which means the chances of running into one of nature’s most elusive denizens are almost better than first tracks on a powder day. It’s all about knowing where to look.

The Mysterious Lynx

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One of North America’s most intriguing native predators is also one of the world’s most mysterious. In fact, lynx (Canada lynx in Vail) are so good at evading people that scientists aren’t quite sure how many live and breed in the Colorado Rocky Mountains.

“Most people absolutely won’t see a lynx around here,” Merriman says. “It’s a very elusive creature, and you hear that even people who study lynx won’t come across them unless they’re tracking them for a long time.”

Lynx might be elusive, but they’re easily one of the most recognizable wild cats, with wispy ears, a trademark spotted coat and massive hind legs built like snowshoes. The Canada lynx is the smallest of the family at 18 to 24 pounds—about half the size of the Eurasian lynx—and is sometimes mistaken for a bobcat, which range from 20 to 30 pounds and belong to the lynx family (lynx rufus).

Another adaptation is the lynx preferred prey: snowshoe hares. They’re the cat’s main food source, Merriman says, and the two species have coevolved in the Rockies. If you find snowshoe hare, a lynx might be nearby. As solitary animals that don’t hibernate, lynx prefer the sub-alpine terrain around tree line (from 8,000 to 11,000 feet) and cover massive swaths of land. A study in the ‘90s took several dozen animals from Canada and reintroduced them into the southern Rockies, where researchers tracked their movements with collars. Within a few years, many had made the 1,500-mile journey north to their home territory.

“The sub-alpine gives them the protection they want so they aren’t seen from predators or humans,” Merriman says. “They like to stay hidden.”

The Curious Marmot

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, Eagle County introduces the one and only Rocky Mountain whistle pig. “If you don’t see them, you hear them,” small mammal expert John Demboski says of marmots, the high-alpine rodents with thick fur coats and chubby bellies. “They have a very distinctive call and that’s how they got the nickname ‘whistle pig.’”eagle_county_2

For 10 years, Demboski has been curator of mammals at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. The position puts him in direct contact with many of Colorado’s montane (aka mountain) critters: red squirrels, pine squirrels, shrews, porcupine, nearly 20 species of bats (seriously!) and marmots. Alpine and yellow-bellied marmots are two of the most recognizable—and most studied—montane mammals in Colorado.

Since the ‘70s the Rocky Mountain Biological Institute (RMBL) in Crested Butte has been watching the state’s marmot population to track everything from diet and territory to social habits and the effects of climate change. Because it’s one of the largest animals living in the high alpine (above 10,000 feet), the seven pound whistle pig is a scientist’s best friend. It’s relatively easy to track, and it’s curious enough about humans to get near before scurrying back into rocky, subterranean homes.

Along with the one-of-a-kind, high-pitched call—it’s almost like a dog’s squeak toy on steroids—marmots are known for living in talus fields at the base of craggy peaks in the Gore and Sawatch Ranges, home to this area’s sole 14,000-foot peak, Mount of the Holy Cross outside of Red Cliff. They hibernate for nearly eight months out of the year, and so they spend the summer months from June to September madly putting on weight for the winter to come. This long hibernation period is the crux of one RMBL study, Demboski says. It’s meant to show how climate change has impacted high-alpine mammals like marmots. Over time, marmots have wandered lower and lower, sometimes getting below tree line to 8,000 feet, and the study looks at how warming global temperatures might have altered the whistle pig’s habits.

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In the past year, mountain lion sightings in Eagle County have been on the rise. It began with a few isolated run-ins—there are typically a few every year—and then grew into attacks on local dogs, including three that were killed between Red Cliff and Vail in January and February of 2016.

Does this mean humans are next? Hardly, experts say. In the wake of the sightings, Colorado Parks and Wildlife asked Eagle County residents to be wary of their habits, especially during the prime hunting times of dawn and dusk. Even though mountain lions range from 80 to 100 pounds, CPW reminded folks that they rarely hunt for two-legged prey. They’re more interested in four-legged creatures—dogs, deer, raccoons, foxes and coyotes—and tend to disappear when loud, rowdy humans are around.

In fact, Colorado mountain lions have caused just three confirmed deaths since 1990, and each of those involved someone separated from a larger group. There’s a moral to this story: When in doubt, don’t hike alone.

The Playful Pika

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It’s easy to think of pika as the small, chipmunk-like cousin of the marmot. The two share a high-alpine habitat and are known for a piercing call—but that’s where the similarities end.

The American pika, also known as a “rock rabbit,” isn’t even in the same family as marmots, squirrels and other rodents. These animals are about the size of a guinea pig (six to seven ounces), Demboski says, and actually belong to the rabbit family, with close relatives like the jackrabbits and cottontails. Pika also don’t hibernate like the majority of high-alpine natives. Instead, they use gray-and-white camouflaged fur to disappear into the rocks, talus, scree and boulders of their habitat during long, cold winters above it all. Along with marmots, this makes pika the subject of climate-change studies. Demboski cites one published paper from the Great Basin ecosystem on the border of Nevada and California, where researchers have found fragmented and ephemeral pika populations that disappear with little warning.

“Because these guys live so high, when it gets warmer higher up, their habitat will shift even higher into the mountains,” Demboski says. “The pika population is already fragmented on terrestrial islands — the areas above 10,000 feet. I’ve heard of them referred to as a bellwether for climate change, similar to polar bears.”

The Regal Elk

Think of the Eagle Valley—the meandering strip from Vail to Eagle—as a migration superhighway for nearly a dozen montane mammals. Along with moose and mountain goats, elk are common in the area and use the slopes of local ski resorts to move from

the “high highs to lower elevations” between seasons, Merriman says. This makes them vertical migrators, meaning they migrate up to the sub-alpine for summer foraging and down to meadows and riverbeds for winter foraging.eagle_county_6

Between summer and winter are spring calving season and fall mating season—two of the most important times of year for elk. Sightings are most common during these in-between seasons, when elk move through the aspen groves at Beaver Creek and Vail Mountain to protect their young. It’s why the two resorts shut down in mid-April every year, no matter how good the snow is—elk are on the move. Elk are part of the deer family and stand five to six feet tall at the shoulder. During the fall mating season, or “rut,” males display enormous racks to attract females. They also bugle loudly to win mates and, on occasion, challenge other male to spar. Males shed their rack when the rut ends—year after year, season after season—and then regrow a new one in time for the next rut.

“I think it’s pretty amazing that the males shed their antlers when they do,” Merriman says. “They use those to show off for females and keep the harem. Potentially, depending on the size of elk and his rack, he can have hundreds of female in his harem.” In the grand scheme of things, these four animals are more conspicuous than most alpine wildlife, and it’s all because, just like humans, they’re active during the day. Yet, there’s an entire world of nocturnal life underfoot from mice and bats to the red fox you might run into on your moonlight walk.

Of course, there’s bound to be contact when humans and animals live in such close proximity, and it’s just fine to enjoy and appreciate that special moment you come face-to-face with a wild critter. Just remember to keep a safe distance and let the wild animal be wild. After all, this is their home too.

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Welcome to the Ranch

The sign as you approach the cozy little cabin reads, “Welcome to the Ranch.” And a more welcoming, friendly place is hard to imagine. Whether you are a kid, or a kid at heart, Bill and Maggie Rey’s laid-back little ranch is an enchanting place to be come winter or summer. Every door, every turn holds yet another surprise, another treasure to uncover. And, each weaves another fascinating story.

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Although “the Ranch” may seem a bit of a grandiose moniker for this humble, yet charming, one-acre property, it is nonetheless apropos on many levels. The low lying home, with its wide, sunny deck, surrounded by rambling woods, truly is the proverbial log cabin. But don’t let the modest size, rustic exterior or gravel drive fool you. Here is a home filled with fine art, western heritage and thoughtfully accumulated collections fit for any ranch – not to mention many a collector’s dream. But this is no hands-off establishment. This is a place meant to be lived in and laughed in, and a picturesque base for pursuing creative and intellectual passions.

 

Funky Little Cabin

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welcome_ranch_3Bill Rey has owned the cabin for 19 years. Maggie DeDecker joined him 17 years ago, when they married, adding to Bill’s family of two daughters. The family has since expanded with seven-year-old twins who undoubtedly help keep the place lively. The couple, that owns the Claggett-Rey Gallery, finds their home a down-to-earth respite, and a perfect place to raise children.

“We want it to just be simple,” says Bill, whose gallery is in Vail. “It’s a quiet respite from the office.” Bill describes their home as a “funky little cabin.” The term is an endearment of a place that isn’t quite the norm in a valley liberally strewn with multi-million dollar homes.

welcome_ranch_4Ed Steinle, an old time local, first built the cabin in 1973 out of a log kit. The logs were shipped via train through Wolcott, and then transported to the site which took over 60 trips. The cabin was even smaller and more basic back then. Bill bought it when he was looking for something smaller than his previous Singletree home. After doing the condo thing for a while, he happened on this small jewel. It was on the market one day, before he snapped it up. Finding a cabin surrounded by trees this close to Vail, where he worked, and so accessible was irresistible. “There is something wonderful about being in a little space,” says Bill, contentedly. There are only10 homes in this neighborhood, which shares well water. It is an enclave of builders, veterinarians, jewelers, real estate agents – people who move and shake this valley. And, says Bill, “all the homes are a little different.”

“One of the greatest challenges in the Vail Valley is there are these wonderful homes, but they have no soul,” observes Bill. “Even if you have a vacation home – a second or third home – it should tell the soul of the owner.” If there is one thing the Rey cabin has, it is soul, – unmistakably and uniquely its own. The Reys tried to modernize the home a bit for today’s needs, but kept the integrity of the original place, with its log walls and quirky floorboards. Just under 3,000 square feet – with the add-ons the Reys created – the rustic cabin supplies a surprisingly perfect backdrop for the couple’s passion for Western memorabilia and fascinating collections.

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The wide, wooden front door has historic roots of its own as, at one time it adorned the Meadow Mountain Ski Lodge, long since a memory. Today, the house boasts two guest rooms, including the twins’ bedroom, a new master bedroom and bath, living area, TV room and kitchen.

Westward Ho

welcome_ranch_6The living area alone is a treasure trove of western art and memorabilia. An impressive, river-rock fireplace was created by Gerald Gallegos, who had just opened Gallegos Masonry. A buffalo head overhead the substantial log mantel came from a buffalo ranch, the Diamond Tail Ranch, which is owned by one of Rey’s partners in the gallery. “In the wintertime, sitting by the fireplace, this is a cozy little place,” assures Bill. Spurs lay on the mantel, and an adjacent wall holds a steer skull, festooned with Indian beads. Beaded pouches, surely from the days of Wild Bill Hickok, hang next to it. On the other side of the doorway, full cowboy regalia, complete with rope, hang waiting. Every other wall is filled with fine Western art, years of personal collecting by the Reys. Both Bill and Maggie grew
up appreciating fine art. Bill’s father is Jim Rey, an accomplished artist, and Maggie’s sister is Jane DeDecker, an accomplished sculptor. Western sculptures adorn tables along with treasured collectables – not necessarily collected for their inherit value, but rather for the personal memories they supply. “Everything we own means something,” says Bill.

“It’s a visual gallery of our life.” And their passion for all things western comes from childhood, too. Bill grew up on a ranch near Durango, after his family, which included four siblings and parents moved from Palo Alto, where he was born. Maggie, the youngest of 10 children, moved from Iowa to Loveland, Colorado, where the Reys still own a duplex. “Collecting from the West and living with the west, they are antiques of our life and relationship,” says Bill.

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The TV room used to be far more museum-like, explains Bill, but had to be kid-proofed after the arrival of the twins. Art covers walls and an ornate, vintage butcher-block table holds one of their Joe Beeler sculptures. But a wide bookcase is now caged to ward off sticky hands. It is filled with an enviable collection of books – everything from tomes on fine art, Western history, classics and philosophy – to satisfy Maggie and Bill’s equally passionate love affair with literature. “We love to read and learn; ours is a life of learning,” explains Bill – whether it’s wine, art, antiques or history.

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In the bead board hallway leading to the bedrooms, another collection of artwork hangs – this time, predominately sketches and paintings by Joe Beeler. A framed letter, penned by Beeler, is brought to life with clever sketches. Despite their passion for Western memorabilia and artists, the Rey’s art collection is surprisingly eclectic. This is demonstrated to perfection in the master bedroom and bath. Breathtaking Western scenes from some of the finest contemporary Western artists are found on the bedroom walls, as well as those of Eagle Springs, a lake in the Rocky Mountains and a Wayne Wolfe piece of the Mount of the Holy Cross.

The artwork also reflects travels afar, including paintings of the Tivoli Fountain and Italian studies by Gerald Fritzler, which hang alongside some of the Colorado landscapes for which he is known. “Everything has a story,” assures Bill. “You won’t find matching sets of anything.”

Hanging above a wooden side table is a beautifully stylized painting of Christ by Walt Gonske. Beneath the table, with its Southwestern adornments and statuettes, sits a colorful row of cowboy boots, both ornate and traditional leading the mind to wonder what tales they would have to tell, if they could. The inevitable stacks of books cover shelves and wooden floorboards, waiting to satisfy this pair of voracious readers.

Heart of the Home
Inevitably, all activity in the Rey home starts and ends in the kitchen. “The kitchen is attractive to all, even though it’s small,” observes Bill. When not eating or helping Maggie and Bill cook, the twins have the glue guns out to create some new art project on the mesquite plank table, crafted by Maggie’s brother, David. “Everyone in her family is an artist, in some way, “assures Bill. The kitchen, he explains, used to be a tiny little room. The room was expanded and now has new ash kitchen cabinets designed by Jake Steers. But the Reys kept the funky old floorboards for character and authenticity, and the room’s fire burning pot stove enhances that character. Above the upper cabinets are collections of colorful bottles, an old-fashioned birdcage and vintage lunch boxes, while the children’s artwork and pictures cover the fridge. A pie cupboard sits in one corner near a freestanding block table that used to be a wine display, pre-twins.

The home’s surroundings is magical year-round. In the winter, snow blankets everything and elk and deer are always wandering through. In winter, the property becomes the home of Club Igloo, a winter-wonderland tradition, inherited from their friends, the Dobsons, which still draws awe and lively winter gatherings. In the summer, the wide expanse of grass is dotted with dandelions and wildflowers. “We may have six months of dandelions, and the bees love it,” shares Bill. “We wanted to raise tour kids in as healthy an environment as possible.” Sculptures dot the landscape, too, including one by Maggie’s sister. There are still a lot of trees on the property today where trails, maintained by the Reys, run through them. A fire pit near the house adds a favorite family gathering spot to make s’mores. A ditch was also dug to create a water flow through the cottonwoods and edging the property. A tiny stone bridge leads to a perfect little arbor under some of the giant cottonwoods. The outdoor space, when strung with lights, is pure enchantment summer and winter.

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One of the old cottonwoods that came down a few years ago nearly took out the shed. Since then, with downed trees removed, the shed was converted into a handsome barn, a nice 1,800-square- foot, stand-alone addition to the property. Inside, lies more of they Rey’s extensive Western collection, which includes Indian artifacts of blankets, drums and moccasins, as well as finely-tooled saddles and an entire coatrack of diverse cowboy chaps. Tooled leather stools and leather chairs provide a comfortable place to relax and enjoy the Western art, sculptures and literature.

“We did a lot of serious collecting before the kids came,” states Bill. Now the kids have their own special place above, where a wide-open playroom completes this kid-friendly haven. The Rey’s home combines a down-to- earth feel and encourages creativity and togetherness – from the kitchen’s plank table used for art projects to Club Igloo. The family has certainly put its spin on what it is to live in the West – the Rey way.

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Avon

The Town of Avon’s Nottingham Lake is the epicenter of all things associated with entertainment from concerts and festivals in every season, to its extraordinary 4th of July fireworks plus paddleboarding and swimming all summer and into the fall. The town is also the gateway to Beaver Creek and is home to a plethora of restaurants that serve everything from simply pizza or hamburgers to dishes that will satisfy the most sophisticated palate.

For those who like adventure, Avon has hiking, biking and snowshoe trails from easy to challenging.

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Forest Road

Forest Road, one the premier streets in Vail, showcases the area at its finest. In some cases, Vail Mountain is in your backyard. From this location you can watch the action all year round–from skiers to snowboarders to cyclists to fireworks. Just down the road apiece is the quaint Vail Chapel, the Sonnenalp Hotel with its famous eatery, the Bully as well as its late night lounge, the King’s Club. And then, of course, the rest of the entire Town of Vail is at your fingertips.