The Winter Wonderland of Steamboat Lake

2013-02-10 17.39.19Right now I am cozy in a chair by a warm fireplace while snow is falling outside, glistening from the dim light of dusk. This relaxed comforting state reminds me of my recent weekend visiting Steamboat Lake. My friend Jenni is from Steamboat Springs and invited my boyfriend and me to join her on a weekend visit to her parent’s cabin. So Michael and I left the suburban and city-sprawl of Denver by lunch time on a Friday and began the beautiful drive along I-70. This highway has become so familiar to me thanks to countless visits to the southwest corner of Colorado and for fun-filled days of skiing at the winter resorts that this area is popular for. We passed the ski area of Loveland and the turn-offs for Arapahoe Basin and Breckenridge, which is where we exited I-70 and headed west on US-40. Although I had driven this route so many times before, I thrilled in the majestic Colorado scenery of towering mountains and cascading rivers. Even though it was early February, there wasn’t much snow on the ground until we came out on the other side of the Eisenhower Tunnel just before descending into the gorgeous valley that holds Silverthorne and Lake Dillon.

About one hour before reaching the town of Steamboat Springs, we passed through the tiny town of Kremmling. Here we stopped at the Middle Park Meat Co., which is the supplier of some of the most top-quality, delicious meats in the entire state of Colorado and I bet, most of the United States. As a legitimate foodie, Michael was ecstatic about the stacks of bacon they were freshly packing when we arrived. They looked more like slabs of actual ham meat, there were so much meat to each piece. The people working there were wonderful to us, answering our questions and giving great recommendations and tasty bites to help along our decision process. Once we got back on the road, we had some bacon, red wine sausage that was made right there, and jars of homemade peach-rum jam and hot-pepper marmalade.

After our small road-trip drive of 3.5 hours or so, we entered into the town of Steamboat Springs just as the day was fading into night. The white lights on buildings and light posts along main street looked even more beautiful dazzling off the white snow that was piled on the ground and covered everything. It was even snowing at that moment and since it was getting dark, we continued passing through town to where we took the turn that led us away from Steamboat Springs and out to Steamboat Lake. The lake is about a thirty-minute drive from town and is located in what can certainly be considered “the boonies”.

Despite the falling snow and pitch-black darkness, I remembered the way to the Stanford cabin and Michael and I were the first ones of the weekend to arrive. Jerry and Shelley Stanford are my friend Jenni’s parents and they now live full-time in their beloved Stanford cabin that overlooks Steamboat Lake. There were a couple of years where I visited the Stanfords several times a year, especially in winter for skiing, snowmobiling, and most importantly, good times with great friends. So this visit was long overdue since it had been almost two years since I was last there and I was eager and excited to be with Shelley, Jerry, and Jenni in their home.

Jerry and Shelley Stanford…how do I use words to describe what fun, loving people they are? Words simply don’t do justice unless it’s the words in the stories about their lives that they tell and that we all heartily laugh through with them. Most of all, what describes them best is to simply experience them and their beautiful cabin home on Steamboat Lake, because who they are as a couple and family is demonstrated through their home. Living there full-time now is Jerry and Shelley with their dogs Sanger and Vetty (short for Corvette).

My favorite are their stories…like Jerry’s story of how he came out to Steamboat Springs in his hippie van to ski and he simply never left. He would wake up in the mornings in his van where he was living and the moisture from his breath would be frozen over his mouth and mustache. After his initial moments of panic subsided, he would have to warm up and thaw out his face with the propane camping stove he had. Later, his middle-school sweetheart Shelley, moved out from southern California to join him and they owned and ran Mattie Silks, a fantastic restaurant in Steamboat Springs that served amazing food and great wines. Although the restaurant is no longer existing, they made it a success for over twenty years and it lives on through their great stories and the remaining western-saloon-style wood bar that now resides in their cabin basement. I’ve spent many crazy-fun nights sitting at that bar and enjoying the laughter and company of the Stanford’s in their cabin…this is what describes the Stanford’s to me.

2013-02-10 17.09.15

This particular recent weekend was the best Stanford Cabin weekend yet…and I hardly went outside in the snow! I know, I know…chide me all you want, but I plan to make it there again and what Michael and I really needed was a weekend of rest and coziness. Whether we were snuggled upstairs on the couch next to the wood-burning stove with a view of Steamboat Lake and the surrounding mountains or cooking and drinking wine together with everyone in the kitchen or having snow fall on us as we sat soaking in the hot tub, I felt as though we were living in this magical winter wonderland snow globe. For three days the snow hardly stopped falling. Not only was it covering everything on the ground and layered on the trees like powered sugar, but it seemed to be constantly filling the sky with endless snowflakes shimmering down to add to what was already blanketing everything around us. We read and talked, played guitar and sang songs, we drank and ate, and all along we laughed and shared. We laughed and shared so much! With all the laughter and joy, we got to know each other better and shared stories, some already heard and some new. There were moments of sad stories and touching experiences that had left their mark on us and that now could be richly shared with others.

The Stanford cabin…it is so much more than a place, it is a home that accepts and loves on everyone who visits. The Stanford’s and their family are some of the most welcoming, hospitable, friendly, loving people I know and have the wonderful fortune of being blessed with as friends. Interesting how on this visit, it is not snowmobiling or show-shoeing, skiing or sledding that I experienced or write about…instead it’s of the people and their warm generous hospitality and loving friendship that embraces me with warm cabin walls and a cozy kitchen, grand views of nature’s mountains seen through large windows, and the fun-loving laughter and stories from enjoying each other’s company. I loved this special, restful weekend in this winter wonderland snow globe of the Stanford’s cabin.

Michael and I give our heartfelt thanks to Jerry, Shelley, Jenni, and the rest of the Stanford family for their friendship and hospitality. It means so much to us that we will even promise to sing and play guitar again for all of you…perhaps next time we visit???

Thank you! We love you all!

Sanger enjoys the snowy cold!

Sanger enjoys the snowy cold!

6 responses to “The Winter Wonderland of Steamboat Lake

  1. Pingback: Winter Weekend Get-Away to Steamboat Lake | Amalia Travel

  2. Wow, I didn’t want your story to end, maybe because I did’t want the weekend to end. I could have kept reading for hours. You summarized our gathering with such joy and emotion that I felt like I was reliving it. My passion for frendship and socializing was a gift passed to me by a friend who is now long since gone. Your rendition of “Knocking on Heavens Door” at the Road House brought back a memory of a time that was very special to me. That night at the Road House is now a new special memory and one to never be forgotton. I hope soon we will be able to create so more new ones. Somehow, just somehow, I think that with you and Micheal we just might be able to create a few new stories to put in the old book of “Ones that have to be told again and again”. Thanks for everything.

    Love you,


    • Wow….thank you so much Jerry. Your words and amazing heart are what I love about writing…to connect and make memories so special like the ones we have made and are going to make more of.
      Michael and I are excited to already have precious wonderful memories with you and your beautiful family and thank you for sharing your memories and family with us. We’re excited to share our family with you, especially now that we’re engaged!
      We will see you soon and I look forward to singing for you again too.
      With all our love and deep appreciation,
      Amalia & Michael

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