Friday, December 18, 2020 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm.
Your reminder to join the fun! This is an opportunity to gather around the virtual campfire and celebrate the season safely. Join others from the OLT community; hear from familiar faces or make new friends. You are invited to share stories, songs, art, poetry, photos, and any other personal expression you choose. Stay for the entire event or just drop in to say hello. No designated driver needed! Toast the season and be part of this first of its kind virtual event.
See you next Friday!
As we approach the holiday season and year end at Valley View, we wish all of you a happy, healthy and safe Holiday Season! This time of year is also the season of giving. This has been a difficult year for the land trust, as well as for many of you. We had to close the hot springs for a few months and have had to limit capacity since reopening, with additional restrictions. While closed we kept on staff as much as possible, maintained the beautiful environment and facilities, as well as completed some needed improvements. The Everson Ranch is still closed to visitors.
We miss all of you! So...this year we're having our first Virtual Holiday Open House/Party! Please plan to join your OLT friends, acquaintances, and community in a celebration of the spirit of Valley View during this season of peace and giving. Please share stories, photos, songs, dance, art, poetry, etc. Stay for the whole party or drop by to say hello. Bring your own holiday drink and toast the season online!
Hope to see you then!
This summer saw spikes in the populations of a variety of wildlife. Numbers of individuals for a variety of species are characterized by years of low population and other years when the populations soar. Mice, rabbits, and squirrels are prey for coyotes, hawks, and owls. When the population of the species that are lower on the food chain spike, a little while later there is a spike in populations of predators. We are already seeing and hearing more coyotes. This past weekend some people saw a snowy owl catch a squirrel near the heated pools.
There have been a lot of squirrels. They are cute and they are everywhere. We are extra aware of keeping doors closed and trying to keep the outdoor animals outdoors. With the arrival of cooler temperatures, the mice have been moving into the cabins and indoor spaces. We are setting traps and patching holes. Mice can get in a very small opening and they are a fact of life in the country. We are not putting out poison. Because mice are low on the food chain, poisoning mice poisons the entire hierarchy.
What can you do? Keep your food closed up in mice resistant containers, keep doors closed, and let us know if you see a "full" trap. The little creatures are more numerous this year than they have been for quite some time. We expect to see them try to enter the indoor spaces as they seek warmth and food. Be prepared, be patient. We are making efforts to minimize the impact of the high population of "varmints."
In response to an alarming increase in hospitalizations due to COVID-19, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) today amended its Safer at Home public health order to limit personal gatherings in all counties at all Safer at Home levels. The revised order reduces the size of personal gatherings to no more than 10 people from no more than two separate households.
Recent case investigation data show that since July attending social gatherings and community exposures have become more common among new cases. This suggests people have relaxed their precautions and are interacting more closely with a greater number of households.
Normally, OLT is closed from December 1 through December 28 every year. This year, we are closing December 20 through December 28. We will be open for the first part of December. We will reopen on December 29, as usual. During the closed period, the office will be closed and we will not be making reservations, answering the phone, or responding to messages. Think ahead if you want a reservation for January. Enjoy the holidays and be healthy!
For more than 40 years, our second home has been Valley View Hot Springs and OLT. Over the years, when we thought about buying or building a place in the mountains, we always came back to "Why would we want to do that? We have Valley View."
Recently, in an Orient Land Trust (OLT) External Affairs Committee meeting, we were discussing a topic that has been on the minds of many of us who treasure this special place; How will we be able to sustain OLT in the midst of the challenges of this time of uncertainty? As we pondered these questions, only half joking, I (John) said we would mortgage our house in Denver if necessary to help save Valley View. I realized after the meeting, that I wasn't entirely joking; that is how much OLT and Valley View mean to me (and us).
That being said, like many people right now, our financial resources are more limited, given that we are living in a time of economic instability. Yet as we are struggling to rebuild our own financial stability, we also are wanting to help sustain and fortify those causes that matter most to us. This, we realize, is a dance of balance that we all must do --- a balance between self-care and care of and for the greater good. For us, OLT is among those causes that are at the top of our list of what matters most.
As we reflect on why OLT matters so much to us, we find ourselves thinking more broadly about why it's come to matter so much to so many. In ways, it's hard to express in words why this place has grown to be so important to us. If there was a place on earth that comes close to being "home" (which for us is more than a physical place), it's Valley View. The very nature and nurture of this place reflects what home feels like to us.
At Valley View, we can experience the safety and freedom of being oneself in the context of caring and mutual respect for one another and for the land. In that context, we care about the safety of everybody who comes to the hot springs, whether they are visiting for the first time, or have been a part of the OLT community for many years.
A recent example of this experience of feeling safe, respected, and cared for was when we were there this past August, shortly after the hot springs reopened after many months of closure due to the pandemic. While we really missed being there soaking in the soothing waters, walking the wild trails and taking in the beautiful vistas, we were grateful for the thoughtful planning that went into the timing and the precautions taken around decisions about the when and how of reopening. While there, we so deeply appreciated all the measures that were taken to keep everyone safe.
While there are limits to freedom right now, the freedom and renewal of one's spirit at Valley View did not for a moment feel diminished in our recent experience there, and is in fact, always enhanced when we visit this extraordinary place. As we walk the trails, our spirits soar with the hawks, the eagles, and the wonderful bats, and in the healing waters of the hot springs, our bodies, minds and spirits are renewed. Thoreau had his Walden Pond, and we have our Valley View ponds. We wouldn't trade him for a moment!
In extending this care and respect out beyond the people, we deeply value the rare, raw, extraordinary beauty and nurturance of the natural environment. The growing call in our lives to protect and nurture this place is both a shared responsibility and a shared opportunity to be a part of something that is exceptionally uncommon, and in fact incomparably unique and truly precious.
The hot springs have been reopened at a drastically reduced capacity, which comes at a great cost to the Orient Land Trust. That being said, this decision was made in alignment with the values of OLT, to protect all who visit. As members of the OLT community, we invite you to join us in shared stewardship. In giving what we can, together we will help to ensure that this special place and all the gifts that it offers, will continue to be here for us and for future generations to cherish and enjoy.
John and Suzanne Mariner
Valley View has been open for seven weeks. The plan seems to be working fairly well. Having a reduced capacity makes it feel spacious and relaxed. The one area that could use improvement is wearing masks. Some people are a little too relaxed about this detail, which is the one thing we can do to dramatically reduce the risk. One person related that it was confusing as to when to wear a mask and when it was OK not to wear a mask. A good rule of thumb: If someone else is visible, mask up! The only time you should be without a mask is in the pools. The state requires masks around swimming pools. We are less crowded than some pools but we still want you to wear a mask when you are on the swimming pool deck. With your cooperation, we can remain open. Our capacity is much reduced to help prevent the spread of the virus. If we could step up the use of masks, we might be able to increase the capacity a little, which would give more people an opportunity to be here.
Our revised guidelines state:
WEAR A MASK! REQUIRED ANYWHERE NEAR OTHER HOUSEHOLDS OR STAFF!
REQUIRED - INDOOR COMMON AREAS except your own room or camp site.
REQUIRED - OUTDOORS You may encounter others at any time. Have your mask on so you don't forget. Please wear your mask when sunning on the swimming pool deck
OPTIONAL - IN POOLS where breathing may be difficult
We wear masks to protect others more than ourselves. Homemade and cloth masks are adequate. Bring more than one mask. Wear your mask at check-in. No Mask - No Entry
Another concern is intoxication. We added a statement to our new guidelines in an attempt to clarify OLT's position on the consumption of alcohol and drugs on our property and at the pools & ponds. We have a long history of tolerance for both alcohol and, more recently, marijuana use, as long as guests were respectful and behaved responsibly, not impacting others. That has not changed.
Unfortunately, the nature of alcohol and drugs is that the user relaxes, may consume too much and may not be aware of their impact. High altitude and hot water intensify the effects, also adding to dehydration. It's been our experience that when guests over indulge they lose the ability to make good decisions, to follow guidelines and be respectful of others. This often results in not just impacting other guests' experience but in a medical emergency, this puts our staff, our local Emergency Medical Personnel, and other guests at risk.
During this time of pandemic, it's even more important that you think of others, make good choices, keep alcohol consumption and other substance use to a minimum. Stay away from pools & ponds and hiking trails if you are impaired so that you are not putting our staff, volunteers or others at risk. Responsible consumption is acceptable. Intoxication or the use of illegal drugs on OLT property is not.
OLT says goodbye to long time patron, member and dear friend, Germaine Fraley.
Since 1997, Germaine Fraley has been a Patron and Member of Valley View Hot Springs and then in 2001, Orient Land Trust. Most likely longer than that, but that's as far as our records go back! A strong woman with a big smile, Germaine was down to earth, friendly and honest. She is someone who always told you exactly what was what with grace and kindness and took the time to get to know our staff and other guests. Germaine and partner Joe were the first to visit us once we reopened this August. She brought us flowers along with well wishes for a successful reopening. Germaine passed away in September, 2020. We are so grateful for her decades of patronage, support and friendship, we will miss her greatly.
You may notice on the calendar that MAW (Member Appreciation Weekend) is still showing. Obviously, we can't have the event that everyone looks forward to every year. Having people dancing for hours in the Pavilion is just not in the cards. We would like to do something to recognize and appreciate the members so we are leaving it there. If nothing else, realize that you, the members, are appreciated. Your support this year is even more crucial to our continued viability. We are discussing ideas about what we could do as an event and will keep working toward that goal. We would like to have the annual dance party but we are not going to do that.