So, if you don’t enjoy great scenery, great food, really great company, and big fun, you might as well go on to the next post. This one is the “I loved my weekend at Red River” post, and most specifically the “I love the 3 Bears Lodge” post. I could go on for pages about the fun Dave and I had over the past weekend in Red River (see previous post for amazing food at the St. James. . .), but what I really want to do is give the old “hats off” to our new pals Chris and Debbie Yates.
I’ve stayed all over Red River – I’ve had wild girl weekends, family reunions, romantic getaways that ended up not being so romantic (don’t you hate it when you bring the wrong date? I did that once to one of my weddings. . .), music festival weekends. I spent some portion of my early adult life being a little snooty about Red River – let’s admit it, it’s quite a bit less chic than Taos, and overrun with Texans and Oklahomans, both groups we native New Mexicans tend to avoid, and it has had, in the past, more kitch than charm. Or so I thought. But about fifteen years ago, the wild girls in my softball team and I were looking for an inexpensive place to spend my birthday weekend. Someone mentioned that the ABQ Journal had run an ad about half-price weekend in Red River, and we decided (after much hemming and hawing and trying to blame this marginal choice on the catcher) to give it a try. We rented a condo at Lifts West that would sleep somewhere in the neighborhood of 22 people, loaded a couple of coolers, our tight jeans and ropers, and off we went.
And had an amazing time. I went back to the Motherlode, this time as an adult rather than a just-learning-to-ski junior high girl with my best pals, Shelley and Glena Henry, and their parents (Who by the way, in 1974, could go back to the room and sleep while leaving us to listen and dance). On this occasion, in 1994, the softball girls and I danced all night to the house band, generally had a screaming fine time, and the Red River weekend was born.
So, yeah, over the years I’ve tried every place in town. I have no complaints that I’m going to voice now, but finally, finally, finally I’ve found the place where I want to stay every time I return. In fact, I wish the 3 Bears Lodge was large enough to accommodate my family reunion in July with its 120 cousins and aunts and uncles. Too bad. . .
The 3 Bears Lodge is comfortably rustic – knotty pine floors, walls and ceilings – and a kitchen straight out of the fifties. We rented a two bedroom cabin with a fireplace, and instantly felt at home when we carried in our bags. There was an oversized futon for a couch as well as a rocking chair in the living area, and a large dining table that would seat six. I found myself wondering if the oven was large enough to cook a turkey for Thanksgiving (I’m pretty sure it is). New queen beds, an extremely clean bathroom, and even a flat screen tv with satellite (who the heck watches tv when you’re in Red River? The Bull of the Woods is just around the corner!). Our lodging was fabulous.
But the best thing about the 3 Bears Lodge is the owners. I was referred to them by the guy who answered the phone at the Sitzmark (another great place to stay, also mainly because the hired help is so friendly and eager to please) – he told me there was a couple from Dallas who had just bought the old El Western. He thought I would like it. So I got the number and called, and Debbie answered.
Debbie has that amazing British accent that immediately makes all us westerners feel like total clods. (How does that happen? It’s a freaking accent, numbnuts!) Even though they’re kinda sorta from Dallas (moved there 27 years ago from England), they’ve had a home in Red River for years. When I called, Debbie was extremely friendly and told me all about the renovations to the place, and gave me that half-price rate, and I called Dave and said, “Sweetie, we’re not going tomorrow. We’re going tonight! Pack your bag.”
When we arrived to check in, there was a sign on the door that said “At the firepit. Come around back.” So we did. And we were greeted with open arms. And bottles of red wine. And the other guests. Kids played in the snow and adults sat around on stumps or in the wooden swing near the fire and we all traded introductions and stories, and Debbie did things like taking the odd child inside for a cup of hot chocolate, or to meet their 22 year old macaw (who has quite the vocabulary, sometimes in Spanish). Because it was my birthday week, Chris brought out an extra bottle of Cab and they all toasted me. He loved to talk about skiing (he’s an instructor) and how much fun they’ve had with the Lodge, and he said several times, “Is this a great way to live or what?”
And, crazy as it sounds, we did this two nights in a row, enjoying the near zero temps around the fire and getting to know everyone on the property.
On the second afternoon, we caught Debbie putting corn under the tree. “Oh, the deer will be here any minute,” she said, as though her dinner guests were about to arrive. Sure enough a 10 pt buck and his doe showed up, the doe eating out of Debbie’s hand. Really good stuff. I wished Dave’s girls were there to see it and help her.
Yes, our weekend included the requisite trip to the Bull for a drink, dinner at the Timbers (yummm. Yet another post to be made), daytime strolling and shopping, and standing under the chair life wishing I had packed my boots and skis. But the entire weekend was made fabulous by our hosts and the place we stayed. I want to go back again this Friday!
You can find them at www.3bearsrr.com or at 575-754-2272. Tell Debbie I sent you!