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Grand County Gems

Hey All,

I have recently had two renters ask for our personal recommendations as to things to see and things to do in Grand County. While admittedly a biased list, please find below some of our favorite activities and venues in Grand County. Enjoy! And, we'd love to hear of your own suggestions and additions.

       
Volario's

Eating and Drinking

There are many fine dining and drinking establishments throughout the valley. Here are some of our favorites.

Winter Park

  • Fontenot's Seafood and Grill -- excellent poor boy's and New Orleans-style related fare; interesting interior and bar
  • Fraser Valley Hot Dog -- the best and most varied selection of hot dogs for hundreds of miles around; be prepared to wait a bit to get your take-out dogs
  • Hernando's Pizza Pub -- a Winter Park classic with excellent deep dish pizza and a dollar wallpaper decor
  • Mountain Rose -- excellent breakfasts in a cozy setting
  • Rudi's Deli -- good sandwich lunches for take out
  • The Ditch on 40 -- upstairs overlooking US 40, this place has some of the best green chile around!
  • The Library Sports Grill and Brewery -- good bar-food fare, but the local brews and bar are excellent, plus nice pool tables upstairs
  • Volario's -- Superb Northern Italian cuisine with a great eating location outside in the Summer time next to Vasquez Creek in downtown WP.

Fraser

  • Crooked Creek Saloon -- good food (check out the chili!) with a friendly bar and often music; Tuesday's are trivia games night
  • El Pacifico X-press -- on US 40, with quick take out of tasty tacos and other Mexican favorites
  • Sharky's Eatery -- HUGE breakfasts that will last you all day; their breakfast burritos are great before a day of skiing.
Crooked Creek Saloon
Heck's Tavern at Devil's Thumb

Tabernash and Devil's Thumb

  • Heck's Tavern (Devil's Thumb Ranch) -- spectacular room with superb food; happy hour is also a great time to drop by for a drink, often with live music
  • Ranch House (Devil's Thumb Ranch) -- a bit pricier than Heck's, but the food is worth it
  • Tabernash Tavern -- some of the best dining in the valley; reservations are generally recommended.

Granby and Elsewhere

  • Brickhouse 40 (Granby) -- good pizza and burgers
  • Lewis Sweet Shop (Empire) -- on US 40 heading up to Winter Park, stop here for fantastic shakes and malts, and pretty damn good burgers, too!
  • Mustachio's on the Lake (Granby) -- on a nice day, superb deck to sit and have a drink and take in the view of Lake Granby; have not tried the food.
Mustachio's Deck
Skiing at Mary Jane

Activities

There are so many activities in the county, at all times of the year, that it is impossible to list all of them here. Below are some of our favorites. I end this article with some links to still further activities.

Skiing

If your group is intermediate level and above, we recommend Mary Jane, which is on the left side of Winter Park Resort. Besides the free shuttle, park at Mary Jane base or the Corona parking lot.

Winter Park has some of the least expensive annual ski passes in the United States; it is possible to also add Copper Mountain or Steamboat Springs to annual passes. If you will be skiing for more than 4-5 days, check out an annual pass.

There are also a tremendous amount of cross-country skiing trails across the county.

Fishing

Though there is flyfishing on the Fraser River in Winter Park and heading out of it to Fraser, you need to go further if you want to avoid seeing or being on US 40. Further, the combination of private lands and railroad rights-of-way makes finding good access points close to Winter Park a bit of a chore. Much further out on the Colorado River and on the Williams offers the best flyfishing. The BLM provides a basic intro to local fishing spots that I have found pretty good with my own experience. If you contact me offline, I will provide some specific recommendations for some of my favorite spots.

Flyfishing the Colorado River
Hiking in the Rocky Mountain National Park

Hiking

There are hundreds of great hiking spots in Winter Park and Grand County. Maps contained in the townhome should be reviewed to see some of the options, both close and further away. However, here are some of our favorite spots:

Seasonal Activities

  • Sleigh rides (Devil's Thumb Ranch) -- the Ranch puts on a good ride, with a chance to meet the various horses, bulls and cattle that make up the animal population; hot cocoa or cool cider brackets the trip depending on season
  • Snowmobile Guided Tour (Winter Park) -- form a group and take a 1/2 day trip up to Corona Pass on the Continental Divide. On clear days, this is SPECTACULAR and a helluva lot of fun! Make sure and ask for Snowmobile Steve
  • Snowshoeing -- many local trails
  • Free Thursday music in Winter Park -- free concerts are offered at Hideaway Park in downtown WP in the Summer
  • Mountain biking -- many trails, and competitions at Granby Ranch and Winter Park Resort; learn why Winter Park is called the "Mountain Biking Capital USA"
  • Music Festivals -- jazz, blues, bluegrass . . .
  • Pole Creek Golf Club (Tabernash) -- an absolutely spectacular setting with a 27-hole professional course and very nice clubhouse
  • Rodeo -- in early Summer, there is rodeo in Granby in Jun/July, in Fraser in July/Aug . They are a hoot!
A Winter Park Music Festival
Grand Lake, Colorado

Drives and Places to Visit

Short hour drives to multiple day trips can center around our Winter Park location. Here are some of the drives and places to visit we particularly recommend.

Drives

  • Berthoud Pass (generally need to cross to get into the valley)
  • Colorado River Headwaters Scenic Byway -- follow the start of the Colorado River down toward Vail; the last portion beyond Kremmling requires a capable vehicle on the gravel; to State Bridge
  • Gore Pass
  • Grand Lake -- a charming, Swiss-like town of restaurants and galleries on Grand Lake; also boat rentals available
  • Rocky Mountain National Park -- the western gateway is in Grand County; can cross the Continental Divide to Estes Park (pass closed in Winter)
  • CO 125 to Rand and Walden (Colorado Moose Capital).

Places to Visit

Aspen on Road to Rand
Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre

Other Noteworthy Locations

  • Elk Horn Gallery (Winter Park) -- the other nicest art gallery in the valley
  • Frameworx (Winter Park) -- framing and gallery store next to the Elk Horn owned by our next-door neighbor
  • Grand Lake Art Gallery (Grand Lake) -- extensive, nicest art gallery in the valley
  • Grand Park Community Recreation Center -- with fitness center, climbing wall, water slide and pool; fee charged
  • Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre (Grand Lake) -- great repertory theatre in the summer time (June - Sept) with professional acting
  • The Foundry Cinema and Bowl (Winter Park) -- this new facility is the only cinema in the valley and also offers bowling, beer, pizza and games and pool; beer and food allowed in the theatre; movies often sell out early!

Also, check out these standard listings of activities in the county:

I hope you can find something worthwhile in the listing above. And, again, we'd love to hear of your own suggestions.

Best, Mike Bergman

Monitoring a Rental by Internet

As newbies, we had a number of concerns when we first were contemplating getting a townhome and renting it out. We wanted a rental property that doubled as a second home in a ski resort with great summer activities, so right off the bat we were facing a long-distance choice. Winter Park, our first choice and where we ending up buying, is a minimum 12-hr drive from our main residence.

Heat, and the loss of it, was my biggest concern. Rental units stand idle much of the time. When not rented, we did not want to pay for heating up unoccupied space. Turning down the thermostat meant that renters and ourselves would also enter a cold unit, with the need to wait hours until the temperature got comfortable again. We could pay someone to go to the house and turn up the thermostat before arrivals, but that is just one additional cost on top of the other costs of a rental unit. And, losing heat can mean frozen pipes or even worse.

I had heard that Internet-based thermostats were starting to prove useful and reliable, but it was difficult to learn much or gain confidence they could be relied upon. Also, everywhere I looked, it seemed pretty complicated how to install and monitor one of these units.

I tend to do much research on the Web before major acquisitions, and while an Internet thermostat has a relatively low initial cost, a poor choice can have big financial impacts. I also wanted to do the work myself so I could properly install and maintain the unit.BAYWeb Thermostat

After much investigation, I chose the standard model of the BAYweb thermostat (part number: BW-WT1-[COLOR]). It can be used with conventional single stage heat and/or cool systems. It supports unlimited X10 wireless, and one wired alert inputs. BAYweb also has heat pump-capable thermostats and commercial units. I paid $222 on Amazon last December (can get it now for $195).

I was attracted to BAYweb because of its clean wall thermostat design and the fact it offers a free online monitoring site. Via your own personal thermostat site you can monitor inside and outside temperatures, set various duty cycles, keep logs of performance and use, and, of course, best of all, change your temperature settings and schedules at will.BAYweb thermostat monitor

I was a bit intimidated by the actual thermostat controller unit and did not like the fact that the standard configuration uses a dedicated cable or a recommended power line carrier over the in-house wiring system to communicate between your Internet router and the controller (which needs to be located adjacent to your heating system). The actual thermostat controller then communicates with the wall thermostat via your existing thermostat wiring. Direct wiring was out and I had used power line carriers in the past and wanted to stick with standard WiFi. Despite finding no examples of others who had tried this configuration, I figured so long as I could get the Internet signal to the controller I should be able to replace the powerline carrier with a WiFi adapter. I thus purchased a Netgear universal WiFi adapter for $50.BAYweb energy monitor

The instructions were clear about how to install the units. But, I took my time to make sure the unfamiliar connections were done right. I installed the thermostat controller unit and WiFi adapter on their own mounting board in the utility room. After a few hours of careful steps, the thermostat came up immediately once I plugged in all units.

Aside from one power outage that took out all Internet service and required a proper sequenced reboot, the system has been online and working flawlessly for months. I also put in a motion sensor for another $8 which is another great way to monitor the unit when unoccupied. I have had a couple of offline notices on my BAYweb monitoring, but that has not affected my standard schedules.

I also like the fact that we can set our unit such that renters can completely override the settings to set their own comfort levels. I always liked that when we have rented, and we can always set the temperature back to where we want it after the renters depart.

So far, the Internet thermostat has proven to be the perfect answer to my main opening concern.

Update: After a Year

In the time since we first installed the BAYweb unit we have had no problems, save one. When we installed the wall thermostat, we strictly followed instructions. However, during the dry Winter months we found that users adjusting the thermostat could generate static electricity and cause the system to trip. To restore proper operation, it was necessary to power down and then power up the unit. This was difficult for renters to diagnose and hard for us to do remotely.

The fix was found in this service alert from BAYweb that describes how to ground the wall thermostat. After making this fix, we have had no further problems.

Why Not the Phone, Too?Ooma Telo Unit

Well, once we got hooked on the thermostat and motion monitoring, we also decided to swap out our local phone service with an Ooma Telo unit (over the Internet) with free home service. You can get your own phone number, and the system offers all of the standard goodies including phone messaging, etc. For a nominal monthly fee (that we don't use), you can also get caller ID and other services. You can pick up a Ooma unit for a one-time fee of about $179.

The net result is that our townhome is now completely powered by the Internet and satellite (for full house HD television). Pretty cool. Or, should I say, hot!

New Home! and New Listing!

After dreaming about it for some years, our family has just acquired the lovely 783 Timber Lake property and have today also released it for rental! We are looking forward to many years of enjoyment and welcoming many, many guests -- perhaps you! -- into our home.

Our kids grew up on skis and we have skied many of the most notable places in the West over the years (plus some Eastern ones; our daughter was on a college ski team out East). We rank Park City and (what was) Big Mountain pretty high, but have come to like Winter Park (and Mary Jane) the most. We think the annual lift tickets at WP are the best deal in skiing and have found the people and slopes here to be the best.

After years of mooching off friends, we began to think about getting a place of our own. We'd love to see our children teach their children at a young age. And, we'd love to be there -- winter and summer -- as everyone grows older.

In years past we have tended to stay at the other end of the Valley in what is known as the Innsbruck area near Sol Vista (Granby). That area has some great views and is very much dominated by single-family homes.

But, after looking at nearly 50 properties up and down the Valley, we decided to be closer to the Town of Winter Park and the resort. We love the setting of the Timber Lake properties with its privacy, views and serenity, We also were much taken with the open floor plan and light of our townhome.

We want to use this Web site to talk about what we discover and amazes us about the Fraser Valley. Besides talking a bit about the home and letting you know what is happening with it, we also hope to assemble a great source of links and information for everything "Grand County".

So, enjoy! And, we hope to have an opportunity to meet you in Winter Park sometime soon.