Taos Forecast: Steep Upgrades

Rainbow Trout
Whole Rainbow Trout with Red Grape Balsamic Sauce, Glazed Carrots, and Baked Potato


From New Mexico magazine’s Nick Heil.

Here’s what he says about The Blonde Bear Tavern:

We made a few more runs before I knocked off that afternoon and headed to The Blonde Bear Tavern, in the lobby of the Edelweiss Lodge and Spa, for an après beer. What the Ski Valley has in abundant untapped terrain it has long lacked in base-area amenities—at least compared to other A-list resorts in the region. But that’s changing, too, and the Edelweiss offered a glimpse of the future. The Blonde Bear Tavern has a more upscale and cosmopolitan vibe than the other watering holes in the base-area village, with a polished stone bar, leather stools, and a discriminating wine list.

“We want people to come and enjoy a meal in a warm atmosphere that has some sophistication, but that is still casual,” said Jon Mudder, The Blonde Bear’s executive chef and a New York City transplant. “The Ski Valley is always going to have a laid-back attitude, and we don’t want to lose that.”

Read the whole thing here.



Are You Ready? Part 2

Ski season is right around the corner and here’s one more short film to get you in the mood.  If you have high-speed Internet, adjust the YouTube settings to allow for HD viewing.


After each ski season, I assemble pictures and videos and we show them at our end-of-year staff party. This is the last chapter of four in the film we presented in April.

It’s titled “. . . Of Which We are a Small Part”, because, well, we are — when viewed  from atop Wheeler or Kachina Peaks.  In addition to my own filming, I shamelessly borrowed other pictures and video, some of which I found on the Internet.

As with Part 1, I think it’s a great way to gear up for the 2013 – 2014 season.  We received another 14 inches of show on Tuesday, with more to come.

Bring it on!


Film Credits:

  • Jay Goebel
  • GoPro
  • Mark Gordon
  • Moby Dickens Bookshop
  • Britt Runyon
  • Taos Ski Valley, Inc.
  • thiago1029
  • Peter Walker
  • Nate Wixom





Are You Ready? Part 1

The first day of skiing is less than a month away and this short video will surely get you enthused about the upcoming season.  If you have high-speed Internet, adjust the YouTube settings to allow for HD viewing.

After each season, I assemble pictures and videos and we show them at our end-of-year staff party. This is the second chapter of four in the film we presented last April.

It’s titled “Our Magical Workplace”, because, well, we are lucky enough to work in such a beautiful place.  In addition to my own filming, I shamelessly borrowed other pictures and video, some of which I found on the Internet.

I watched this chapter the other day and think it’s a great way to gear up for the 2013 – 2014 season.  It’s already snowed five times up here, and we’re expecting up to 10 inches on Tuesday.

Bring it on!


Film Credits:

  • Jay Goebel
  • GoPro
  • Mark Gordon
  • Britt Runyon
  • Sky News 13
  • Taos Ski Valley, Inc.
  • thiago1029
  • Peter Walker
  • Nate Wixom






First Snow of the Season

Okay, a dusting really.  What a difference a day makes.  A front moved through yesterday and brought with it a cold air mass and moisture.  I don’t even think it broke 50° today.

I snapped these pictures this morning of the snow that had fallen overnight.  Note the aspens are beginning to turn.

Sure seems like we had a lot of rain this summer.  An indicator of heavy snowfall this winter?

I’m optimistic.




Up Up and Away: Ballooning over Taos


New Mexico is famous for its hot air balloons.  I’ve wanted to experience air travel this way since I moved to the state.  This past Saturday, I did just that – along with two of my favorite cousins who were visiting from Arizona.

The Rio Grande Gorge cuts through the high desert mesa west of Taos like a 650 foot-deep miniature Grand Canyon.  The famous Rio Grande River flows through the 70-mile canyon on its way to the Gulf of Mexico.  Gently gliding on the soft desert winds into the Gorge in our purple hot air balloon, with the Sangre de Cristo mountains as our backdrop, we had the premier hot air ballooning experience.

We flew with Pueblo Balloon Company of Taos – Ed was our pilot and Lisa was Crew Chief.  The company does a fine job and I have no hesitation recommending the company.  We loved every moment.

Images in the film are from yours truly and Taos photographer Jared Yankowy.  Music is by Blush.

Pueblo Balloon Company
PO Box 361
Taos, NM  87571
Jared Yankowy

The Gardens of Edelweiss Lodge & Spa




I’ve been gardening since I was a kid in Nebraska.  A few years after planting my first seed – a Lima bean I had plucked from a sack in our pantry and stuck it in the ground – I asked my dad if we could clear some bushes and trees in our back yard to make way for a sunny garden plot.  He agreed and I’ve been gardening ever since.

During the off season here in Taos Ski Valley, we only operate Café Naranja for breakfast and lunch four days a week.  That gives me time to tend to the beautiful gardens that surround the Edelweiss Lodge & Spa.

The Lodge is nestled within the heart of Taos Ski Valley on Sutton Place.  The crystal mountain waters of Rio Hondo meander through the north side of the property; these gardens we keep largely in their natural state.  To the south and east, we offer a more cultivated expression of our microclimate – our terroir.

Our terroir presents unique gardening benefits – and challenges, but this is my second year, so I think I’m getting the hang of it.

Friends and family have asked that I send pictures of my handiwork, so here they are, both for them and for folks that only come to Taos Ski Valley in the winter.

I spend many hours working the gardens, and do so with great pleasure.  My favorite time of day is near dusk, after perhaps a few hours of huffing and puffing in the thin dry mountain air:  tilling, planting, watering.  At sunset the light turns warm, the breeze becomes soft, and I feel close to God.

The music is the favorite of my grandma – Alice Hopp – to whom I dedicate this short film.


Alice and John Hopp
Alice and John Hopp, painted circa 1948


Granite Mountain Hotshots: How You Can Help




Taos Ski Valley is enveloped by Carson National Forest.  During the dry months of May and June, we residents become wary of fire danger.  We keep an eye on the sky, fearful of lightening strikes, a careless cigarette smoker, or perhaps an uncontrollable campfire that sets off our worst fear:  forest fire.

Our Fire Department up here is all volunteer.  The only time I’ve seen the fire truck in action was when our volunteers successfully extinguished a small hotel fire this past ski season (which could have been disastrous), and of course every July 4th when it rolls down the parade route, squirting laughing children with water.

Many of our residents are also forest fire fighters during the summer months, rounding out their winter employment on the ski patrol or as ski instructors.  Some are even Hot Shots, including our own Alex Mithoefer, who made his debut this summer.  He works in The Blonde Bear Tavern’s kitchen during the winter months.


Tragedy at Yarnell Hills Fire

And so we were stunned with the tragic loss of 19 members of the Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshots near Prescott, Arizona.  Our hearts sank and the local talk in our café was nothing but these brave firemen, with names and faces; lives and families.  New Mexico and Arizona make up “Region 3” of the National Forest Service, so there is a lot of back and forth between the states, and thus many friendships have been forged.

On July 1st, our Governor Susana Martinez ordered flags throughout New Mexico to be flown at half mast.  Just a few weeks prior, members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots were in New Mexico to battle the Thompson Ridge fire southwest of here in Jemez.  She represented the state at the memorial service held in Prescott Valley.


About Hot Shots

Interagency Hotshot Crews (IHC) are diverse teams of career and temporary agency employees who uphold a tradition of excellence and have solid reputations as multi-skilled professional firefighters.  Crews are available for each fire season and are employed by the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, various Native American tribes, and the states of Alaska and Utah.

Their core values of “duty, integrity, and respect” have earned Hotshot crews an excellent reputation throughout the United States and Canada as elite teams of professional wildland firefighters.


How You Can Help

My cousin Georgia Burns has been with the Forest Service for over 30 years in the Tonto National Forest office in Mesa, Arizona.  This morning, she sent me this e-mail:

Just wanted to pass along this information, it’s another way to help the family members.  I am on the same fire team as Darrell (see flyer).  He is such a wonderful person, and is the one who started the Granite Mt. Hotshot crew, it’s the only hotshot crew in the U.S. within a structured fire dept.

Thank you for your support, it has been such an emotional couple of weeks.  I was so honored to attend the memorial service and cannot begin to put into words all of the love and support that was felt the day of the memorial.  Some of us in fire have gotten together at different times just to support each other has really helped.  All of our operations folks on my team were the ones who walked in and found the firefighters.  They stayed with them that night and then had a CAT cut a line in so they could carry them out.  They really have and will continue to struggle through all of this that does not seem real.

Our team is at a stand down so I have been working 12 hour shifts in dispatch which has really helped me to stay busy but yet still be helpful within fire.

Here’s the flyer Georgia is talking about:


The Prescott Hotshots are raising funds for the direct support of the families of the Granite Mountain Hotshots.Hot Shot Crew  This fundraising effort and the shirts are officially sanctioned by the Prescott Hotshots and the Prescott Fire Department.  100% of the proceeds will be given to the families left behind.  I ordered mine today and hope you will consider helping out as well.

There is also a Facebook page for the Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial.


The Worst Firefighter Disaster since 9-11

It’s been over ten years now since I was in New York and witnessed first hand the tragedy of the September 11 terrorist attacks.  At the heart of the story were the firemen.  The heroics those men demonstrated were no different from what we have just witnessed here in the Southwest.  Perhaps you can just substitute the word “mountain” for “building” in the moving accounts of New York’s Finest.

A local New York TV reporter Dick Oliver was asked how it was that so many firemen died in the Twin Towers, couldn’t they have escaped, and he said, with a rough voice that had love in it, “Firemen don’t run out of buildings. Firemen run into buildings”.

The Christian scholar and author Os Guinness said after 9-11 that horror and tragedy crack open the human heart and force the beauty out. It is in terrible times that people with great goodness inside become most themselves. “The real mystery,” he added, “is not the mystery of evil but the mystery of goodness.”

And Peggy Noonan wrote a moving article for The Wall Street Journal, one that was talked about for years to come, titled “Courage Under Fire”:

In the now-famous phrase, they ran into the burning building and not out of the burning building. They ran up the stairs, not down, they went into it and not out of it. They didn’t flee, they charged. 

Firemen put out fires and save people, they take people who can’t walk and sling them over their shoulders like a sack of potatoes and take them to safety. That’s what they do for a living. You think to yourself: Do we pay them enough? You realize: We couldn’t possibly pay them enough. And in any case a career like that is not about money.

It’s that what the New York Fire Department did–what those men did on that brilliant blue day in September–was like D-Day. It was daring and brilliant and brave, and the fact of it–the fact that they did it, charging into harm’s way–changed the world we live in. They brought love into a story about hate–for only love will make you enter fire. Talk about your Greatest Generation–the greatest generation is the greatest pieces of any generation, and right now that is: them.

[The firemen] gave us a moment in history that has left us speechless with gratitude and amazement, and maybe relief, too. We still make men like that. We’re still making their kind. Then that must be who we are.



Click on image to order your T-shirt and support the families of these lost firefighters













Rushan Perera: American Citizen

Rushan 1189 sm















While we were celebrating Independence Day, The Blonde Bear Tavern’s Mixologist and Wine Manager, Rushan Perera, became an American citizen.  A native of Sri Lanka, Rushan officially became an American, participating in a ceremony held at Bandelier National Monument near Los Alamos, NM.

Our hearty congratulations, Rushan.  We’re proud to call you a fellow citizen.

Do you take your American citizenship for granted, perhaps because you happened to be born here?  My ancestors entered the United States through Ellis Island and witnessed the Statue of Liberty when they arrived.  This  sonnet, written in 1883 by Emma Lazarus, appears on a bronze plaque at its pedestal:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”







Taos Opera Institute Celebrates its Sixth Year in Taos Ski Valley



The first thing I noticed upon arriving in Taos was the music.  Live music was everywhere.  Good music by talented musicians.  Anything and everything you can imagine:  rock, country, jazz, alternative, reggae, classical, and yes – opera.  And part of the opera scene here is the renowned Taos Opera Institute (TOI).

TOITOI is a highly intensive program for the serious singer, held annually in beautiful Taos Ski Valley.  Singers from around the country audition for the privilege of participating in this program, which is designed to bridge the gap between academia and opera apprenticeships.  Graduates are prepared for careers in regional, national, and international opera companies.

The TOI Festival is a series of free performances of the world’s most beloved opera arias, featuring the Taos Opera Institute Singers and the Cantos de Taos quartet.  Concerts are performed during the month of June at various locations throughout Taos and Santa Fe.  The final performance is a gala fundraising event on June 29th at the Taos Center for the Arts.  The Gala, which is a ticketed event ($25 per person) includes a pre-concert reception, raffle and showcases individual singers and ensembles from the entire Institute.

Taos Ski Valley performances include:

  • Saturday, June 1 – Opening performance in our lovely garden right here at the Edelweiss Lodge & Spa
  • Sunday, June 9 – Resort Center Stage
  • Sunday, June 16 – Resort Center Stage


For a complete schedule, click here.

The Taos Opera Institute was founded and continues to be directed by Mary Jane Johnson and Linda Poetschke.

Linda Poetschke
Linda Poetschke

Professor Poetschke is on the University of Texas at San Antonio faculty as Voice Area Coordinator, Voice.   The soprano has been the featured soloist with the New Mexico Symphony, the Charlotte (NC) Symphony, the Western Michigan Symphony and with the major symphony orchestras in her home state of Texas, including the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s Christmas POPS at the Meyerson and numerous appearances with the San Antonio Symphony. She has also performed as soprano soloist with the New York West End Chamber Ensemble in a Carnegie Hall appearance of REQUIEM by W.A. Mozart. Ms. Poetschke’s orchestral repertoire encompasses more than 40 oratorical and concert roles, and she has appeared under the baton of Margaret Hillis, Nicholas McGegan, Christopher Wilkins, Elmer Iseler, Lawrence Leighton Smith, Roger Melone, John Silantien, and Kate Tamarkian.

mary jane johnson
Mary Jane Johnson

Mary Jane Johnson is counted amongst the great dramatic sopranos, and is considered one of opera’s premiere interpreters.  Her career highlights include the role of Emilia Marty in Janacek’s The Makropoulos Case, which she sang at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, Lady Macbeth in Verdi’s Macbeth as well as Katarina Ismailova in Shostakovitch’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, which she performed at the Opera Bastille of Paris.  She has also performed the Shostakovitch as well as Minnie in Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West, and Strauss’ Salome at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan.

Ms. Johnson’s career went to the next level when she appeared with Luciano Pavarotti in a televised performance as Musetta in Puccini’s La Boheme with the Opera Company of Philadelphia.  Other important highlights of Ms. Johnson’s television appearances include the nationally televised Pavarotti Plus Gala, Live from Lincoln Center and the CBS “Sunday Morning” with Charles Kuralt.

 LA BOHEME : Luciano Pavarotti – Leyla Guimaraes – Mary Jane Johnson – Franco Sioli – Laslzo Polgar

We’ll be feeding these talented young singers at The Blonde Bear Tavern throughout the month of June, something we look forward to each year.  Their talent is always inspiring.

I can’t recommend these performances enough for any lover of music, especially classic opera.  The setting is magnificent, with the Sangre de Cristo mountains as backdrop for the two Sunday outdoor concerts.

Toi, toi, toi!