Vasquez Creek is ‘Old-New’ Inn at Winter Park

Devil’s Thumb Ranch reopens classic inn as Vasquez Creek Inn.

VasquezCreekInn-logoThe family-owned Gasthaus Eichler was for decade a simple, lovely little Winter Park inn and fine Austro-German restaurant on the main floor. Hans and Hannelore Eichler got into the hospitality business in 1980 and built the distinctive chalet-style gasthaus in 1987. Now in their mid-70s, they retired and sold the property, which is right on US 40 across from Hideaway Park and five minutes from downtown Winter Park. It has been renamed Vasquez Creek Inn.

The Gasthaus Eichler had a definite chalet design. Photos of the new Vasquez Creek Inn are not yet available.

The Gasthaus Eichler had a definite chalet design. Photos of the new Vasquez Creek Inn are not yet available.

The Winter Park Fraser Chamber of Commerce recently named Hans and Hanne Eichler as the Fraser Valley’s Pioneers of the Year. In selling to Bob and Suzanne Fanch, owners of Devil’s Thumb Ranch in nearby Tabernash, the Eichlers couldn’t have left their inn in better hands. The Fanches, who have carefully and respectfully rebuilt and expanded Devil’s Thumb Ranch in nearby Tabernash, have a track record of environmentally aware renovations and updates.

The restaurant component of the old Eichler’s has been completely renovated and is becoming Volario’s, offering a casual bistro-style dining experience with menus described as “Spanish-influenced Northern Mountain Italian cuisine.” It is scheduled to open in mid-August for happy hour and dinner. Dining options include scratch-made pastas, pizzas, cheeses and charcuterie, along with  microbrews, creative cocktails and extensive European, domestic and Australian wine selections.  Guests can choose from dining in the restaurant, bar or on the new creekside patio.  A new private dining room with open kitchen viewing provides additional options for up to 40 people, and there’s a hot tub along Vasquez Creek for guests.

Room rates start at $175 per night, including daily European-style Continental breakfast. Summer visitors can enjoy the myriad activities at nearby Winter Park Resort or Rocky Mountain National Park, roughly 45 minutes away. The Vasquez Creek Inn is located at 78786 US Hwy 40, Winter Park, Colorado 80482; 970-722-1188.

Airlines’ Extra Fees Soar Ever Higher

Extra revenues are passengers’ burdens. posted “Airlines with the Most Extra Fees,” citing a new study by industry consulting firm IdeaWorks. which “found that the airlines’ ancillary fees had increased by almost 1,200 percent between 2007 and 2013, from $2.45 billion to $31.5 billion,” adding that “lthough the overall trend is clear, and inescapable, not all airlines are equally oppressive when it comes to tagging every imaginable atomic particle of air travel with a surcharge. There are more and less egregious gougers. According to the report, on a per-person basis, the airlines imposing the highest fees are as follows:”

  • $55.61. (a UK company that bundles travel components and thereby  manages to hide extra fees)
  • $51.22.  Spirit (a US nickel-and-dime champ that I flew this past spring — and never again)
  • $45.67. Qantas
  • $44.87. Allegiant (from what I understand, a Spirit-like carrier)
  • $44.43. AirAsia
  • $40.97. United (no surprise)
  • $38.93. Korean Air
  • $34.41. Wizz Air
  • $33.92. Virgin Atlantic
  • $32.61. Alaska Air Group

Most dispiriting of all are the add-ons by low-fare domestic carriers, because the extra fees are a hefty percentage of the fare. When a robust add-on is charged for long and pricy trans-Pacific or even trans-Atlantic flights, the percentage isn’t quite so bad. I’d rather pay an extra $35-$45 to, say, Qantas or Korean Air than to Spirit.

Buffalo Bill Days Are Here

Great Western showman celebrated Golden.

BuffaloBillDays-logoBuffalo Bill Cody was probably buried atop Lookout Mountain in Golden, though there are those he believe that a posse of Wyomingites spirited his casket to his namesake town of Cody. If so, they didn’t erect a marker. Golden, however, has a commanding monument.

Rocks, rocks and more rocks mark Buffalo Bill's Grave atop Lookout Mountain high over Golden, Colorado.

Rocks, rocks and more rocks mark Buffalo Bill’s Grave atop Lookout Mountain high over Golden, Colorado.

Golden also honors the great showman with Buffalo Bill Days, (July 23-27), a huge celebration that turns 60 this year and has never looked better. The local Lions Club organizes this free annual festival, which is jam-packed with Western entertainment, live music, kids’ activities, food trucks, beer garden, muttin bustin’ and the beloved Best of the West parade. Beginning with a simple trail ride up to Buffalo Bill’s Grave in the 1940s, Buffalo Bill Days has turned into a multi-day that includes:

  • Best of the West Parade- A highlight of the festival, the Best of the West Parade starts at 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 26. A feast for the eyes, you’ll see trotting horses, colorful Old West characters and fanfare, collectible cars, real cowboys, Native American dancers, and more. Saddle on up to Washington Avenue in beautiful historic downtown Golden early – you won’t want to miss the fun.
  • Cody’s Wild West- In the spirit of the original traveling show that brought the Wild West to the world, this year’s Cody’s Wild West reflects a rugged American spirit and originality. Western performers make up this 90-minute extravaganza on the west end of the Lions Park Ball Fields on 10th Street on Saturday, July 26 at 12:30 p.m. 
  • Live Music- The entertainment starts at 5 p.m. on Friday, July 25 with live music by Chris Daniels and the Kings and continues all weekend in Parfet Park in downtown Golden. Brad Lee Schroeder is the featured band on Saturday night along with other local bands. The Long Run “Colorado’s Tribute to the Eagles” closes out Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m.
  • Muttin Bustin’- If you haven’t seen muttin bustin’ before, make sure that you don’t miss this raucous show and Buffalo Bill Days tradition. On Sunday, July 27 at 11 a.m. children aged five to seven years strap on a helmet and vest and hang on to a sprinting sheep for as long as possible in Lions Park.
  • Car Shows- Though Buffalo Bill was known for his horsemanship, it’s safe to say that he would have appreciated the gorgeous automobiles in the classic and orphaned car shows on Sunday, July 27 beginning at 10 a.m. on the Clear Creek Bridge to 14th on Washington Avenue.

FoMoInfo contact the Buffalo Bill Days Committee, 303-279-3342.

Colorado’s First Summer Tubing Hill

Snow Mountain Ranch debuts summer joy ride — I mean, joyful summer ride.

SNW-SnowMtRanch-logoSnow tubing is an increasingly popular adjunct to skiing and snowboarding at ski resorts across the country. Now Colorado’s Snow Mountain Ranch, a huge YMCA-run facility in Colorado’s Grand County, has inaugurated the state’s first summer tubing hill — and the third in the country after Sunrise, Arizona, and Red River, New Mexico. The hill mimics a snow surface using SnowFlex technology and has been an 11-month build-out.  A tow ferries tubes and riders up the hill.

Colorado's first summer tubing hill at Snow Mountain Ranch/YMCA of the Rockies.

Colorado’s first summer tubing hill at Snow Mountain Ranch/YMCA of the Rockies.

Guests staying at Snow Mountain Ranch can slide down the hill at no cost, while members of YMCA of the Rockies or any other YMCA (with proof of membership) buying day pass can use the tubing hill for $15 per person. Fees for other day visitors are $35 for age 13 and older; $25 for ages 6 to 12, and $15 for ages  3 to 5. It includes access to the mini-golf course, tennis courts, indoor pool and sauna, hiking and biking trails, free family programs and much more. The facility is just off US 40 between the Winter Park Resort and Granby at 1101 County Road 53,  Granby, CO 80446;  970-887-2152.

Rockets Land on German Cruise Ship

No damage but big scare for passengers.

"AIDAdiva" with her colorful hull.

“AIDAdiva” with her colorful hull.

As if norovirus, pirates off the Horn of Africa and the occasional grandstanding captain weren’t enough, cruise ships being in the wrong place at the wrong could be recipients of unwelcome rocket fire in the eastern Mediterranean That reportedly happened to the “AIDAdiva,” a cruise ship carrying German passengers [that] was under rocket fire attack when leaving Ashod, Israel’s largest port.

According to a report in ETN Travel News, “It is unclear if the rockets were those from the Israel Defense Force or from Hamas, the radical Palestinian organization currently firing dozens of rockets at cities in Israel. When the cruise ship left Ashod, sirens were sounding in Ashod and other Israeli cities warning of attacks by the radical Palestinian Hamas organization…Rocket parts landed on the cruise ship. Fortunately the rockets exploded  before hitting the vessel deck. No casualties or significant damages to the cruise ship have been reported.

“The ship is currently on its way to the next port of Crete in Greece. It should reach Crete on Wednesday morning.. A Statement released by “AIDAdiva” voices its regret. The cruise liner said no travel alert was issued by German authorities prior to them sailing to Israel. After the incident, German authorities issued an alert.”

Certainly makes for a memorable vacation, and not in a good way.

Vicarious Visit to France Via the Tour de France

TV coverage is about cycling — and scenery.

TourDeFrance-logoThe 2014 Tour de France is beginning in a few days with three opening stages in England followed by the remainder in France. This will be an unusual route — no Alpe d’Huez, no Mont Ventoux, just nip into the Pyrenees but lots of Yorkshire. Longtime commentators Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen know the roads and landmarks of France very well, but both are born Brits, which should make for interesting words. I really admire the French TV feed of the landscape, villages and cities on the Tour route. Every time I watch, I want to go to Europe. Right away!



Alta’s Summer Side Eats

Iconic ski resort a quiet and idyllic summer place with food service.

alta-logoI’ve always thought that there is nothing happening in summer at Alta, Utah’s classic deep-snow mecca for skiers. It seems that while I wasn’t paying attention, this vest-pocket resort at the head of Little Cottonwood Canyon has slowly discovered summer. Sure, once the summer road up to Albion Basin opens for the season, there’s

Case in point: The Albion Café on the main level of the Albion Day Lodge is open for the first time in summer serving light lunches, snacks, sandwiches and great views of Albion Basin and Devil’s Castle.  Indoor seating, outdoor seating and to-go food for a hike or a bike ride up this charmed valley — or  refreshment stop afterwards.  Summer hours are 11 a.m.  to 6 p.m. Mondau through Friday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekends and holidays. FoMoinfo: 801-832-1710.

Yosemite Celebrates Its 150th

National Park designation for Yosemite came in 1890, but 150 years ago today, the foundation was laid for its protection.


Vail Adds Zipline for Kids

High adrenalin attractions added for children. 

AdventureRidge-logoAdventure Ridge, at more than 10,000 feet above sea level, is Vail’s premier summer and winter playground for activities other than skiing. The newest attraction is a single-line, 200-foot-long zipline for Vail’s younger guests. Kids aged five and older and weighing between 30 and 100 pounds can enjoy flying through the air on this new summer activity ($12). Children weighing 75 pounds or more may ride the four big ziplines, provided the provided harness fits properly. Later this summer, a ropes challenge course designed especially for kids is opening at Adventure Ridge at the top of the Eagle Bahn gondola.


Other Adventure Ridge activities include climbing walls, rebound trampoline, disc golf and tubing, or just taking in the views while eating BBQ on Talon’s Deck. The Friday Afternoon Club (FAC) is a family-friendly happy hour live music, lawn games and a great sunset view.  

Bravo! Vail Launches 2014 Season

Music fills the Vail Valley in summer.

BravoVail-logoCoincidentally, when an E-alert reminded me that the Vail Valley’s Bravo! Vail was about to start, I was wearing a vintage T-shirt from the early years of this fantastic summer music festival. The 27th annual Bravo! Vail festival, this year from June 27 through August 2, again welcomes the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra and my nostalgic favorite, the New York Philharmonic, in another dazzling summer of music. I last heard them a few years ago, stretched out on the lawn at the Gerald Ford Amphitheater, having happily picnicked and then listening to the music.

In addition to these big name orchestras, world-renowned chamber musicians join artistic director Anne-Marie McDermott for the Chamber Music Series, and such internationally acclaimed classical soloists as violinists Joshua Bell and Midori, and pianist Yefim Bronfman.

As always, there are free concerts, as well as pre-concert talks, children’s events, and other ducation and community engagement events at a variety of venues in the valley — as far west as Gypsum, in fact. Concert tickets are available online or through the box office at 877-812-5700.