BrooksLooks@ Dying, Revisited

in thinking
about death
and lately–why
man-made things
and life itself
they all seem to die

i think it’s best to leave
the dead things dead
to focus on living now
and what might lie ahead

but looking back
at the many ‘bridges’
that provided
us some security
in life’s rear view mirror
we clearly see,
they were all
quite temporary

in the face of death
we may try
to stand our ground
to resuscitate
to hang around
if there’s even a shred
of life left
but we should really leave
dead things dead
focus on living
carry on
if only bereft

what else in our lives
is at a last resort?
what do i behold
just this one time?
i cherish the moments
knowing life is sublime
knowing now that
time is short

i learn to let go
sanctifying the space
knowing something better
will take its place
one of life’s lessons
is to let dead things be
to savor life and each
sweet memory

© Copyright 2020  Brooks Bradbury / BrooksLooks / All Rights Reserved

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BrooksLooks@ Our Beloved Country

senseless acts
so many whys
under a heavy knee
a good man dies

and the haters hate
and the extremists seethe
and our country falters
when good men can’t breathe

vigilante killers 
spread extremist lies
blood on their hands
a good soul dies

lost, grieving families
are shattered
thoughts and prayers
hardly mattered

who did this?
why did he hate?
what was his name?
what were the motives?
on hallowed ground
flowers are laid
with flickering votives

why my beloved country
have we not resolved
inequality and hatefulness
why when we need them most
have our leaders dissolved?

tears pour out
from so many eyes
our own children afraid
when a good person dies

can’t hold back this flood
as another dies
in a river of blood

a great nation cries

too many are gone
too many whys
an ocean of tears
in American eyes

© Brooks Bradbury 2020 | BrookLooks

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BrooksLooks @ The Big Dipper

sometimes a hat
jaunty and confident
when i feel like that

sometimes a ladle
pouring goodness
out onto our table

sometimes a question mark
compounding my doubt
written in stars
up there in the dark

sometimes a weapon
as to strike with a pan
as if holding it out
in defense of a man

one morphs to the other
as the weeks go by
and the stars re-align
i look for a sign

© Copyright 2019 Brooks Bradbury / BrooksLooks
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BrooksLooks@ Old Country Inns

walking through
the grounds
of the old inn
here in town
sad to see the
shades were drawn
guests were gone

the tavern’s dark
its kitchen’s cold

some peeling paint
a great old inn
a bit less quaint
a bit more old

it had bustled with life once
celebrations of love
were held in the dining room
and in guestrooms above
fine meals were savored
first dates were held
wedding parties danced
where happiness dwelled

now but a shell
of what it once was
an inn has died
perhaps because
of a focus lost
or changing winds
or foreboding times
for country inns

i still dream of these
authentic old inns 
along winding back roads
where the country begins

kindly innholders
welcome each guest
to creaky floors
and a comfortable rest
generous spirits
where joy is expressed
we will forever love
old inns the best

we would drive on for miles
past motels and chains
in search of a place
that still retains
the spirit of welcome
human kindness
in full measure
we find it here
life’s real treasure
lies within
the best place to be
is at an old country inn

© Copyright 2020 Brooks Bradbury / BrooksLooks

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BrooksLooks@ Chapters

life’s many moments
and all of its chapters
in ledgers and tomes
kept for years
in the rafters
of so many homes

now that it’s late
time to take a few down
to review, reconsider
what’s written
on ancient pages
turned yellowish brown

brushing away dust
in attempt to review
what transpired
back then
about when
and with whom
starting when
we were
brand new

what joy to re-think
all we beheld
moments savored
places we dwelled
halcyon days
souls we’ve known
horizons forever
under our gaze

in re-pondering
our bridges
to oases in time
the treasures in
the pleasures
of places
and sublime

some chapters
could have gone on forever
some but a page or two
some a bit tragic
some were pure magic
still the best part
about being out here
is being out here
with you

life’s many moments
and all of its chapters
in ledgers and tomes
stored for years
in the rafters
of our many homes

© Copyright 2020 Brooks Bradbury / BrooksLooks

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BrooksLooks @ Wild

there is a 
lovely wildness
that still lives
here within
a need to
go discover
Nature’s spaces
as they’ve been

untouched places
left untrod
in shadowed canyons
out beyond
places not yet seen
or pondered
places not yet
felt nor wandered

out here
in these saged lands
and red rock sands
high lonesome
condors call
aloft on desert winds
above it all

the need to
make a living
always plays a role
may it never
with the more
intrinsic goal
to go
to seek and there to find
the deepest depths
of one’s true soul

it’s taken years
and miles
to know what 
to leave behind
clearer now
the truth be told
as stillness
fills my mind

this place of
profound quiet
on a canvas
parched and painted
i savor every moment
lost in thoughts
at ease

there is a 
lovely wildness
that still lives
here within
a need to
go, discover
Nature’s spaces
as they’ve been

© Copyright 2019 Brooks Bradbury / BrooksLooks

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BrooksLooks @ Uncle Frank’s Fruitcake

Uncle Frank’s fruitcake!
It arrived in the mail today.
Christmas joy has finally come!
oh aromatic loaf of citron,
cherries and nuts
deliciously–the damn thing’s
three-quarters rum!

you see it’s not just any old fruitcake
it’s the ultimate version of same.
They say Uncle Frank’s fruitcake.
He’s baked. In a whole new rum-soaked way

You can tell that loaf is coming
from over a mile away
Uncle Frank’s fruitcake.
Now the UPS truck
smells that way.

i open the box
tear open the foil,
remove cheesecloth,
rubber bands, foil and string
oh to renew my taste buds
on the sweet goodness
Uncle Frank’s fruitcake.
can bring

A slice or two is hardly enough
before i know it
i’ve eaten it all
having to wait
another year more
when Uncle Frank’s fruitcake
arrives at the door

You see, Uncle Frank’s Fruitcake.
from years in the diplomat corp
always seemed like he was having fun
i never realized before
it was all of the rum
see, not all of it
went into the cake
Uncle Frank’s fruitcake.
And boy can he bake!

Now the holidays are finally over
and the fruitcake’s a sweet memory
Uncle Frank’s fruitcake.
will go down in history
and I heard him explain
as his last fruitcake bakes
More rum!
for goodness sakes!

© Copyright 2019 Brooks Bradbury / BrooksLooks

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BrooksLooks @ 40 going on 50

Forty some years ago an odd paperback book, “Country Inns and Backroads” caught my attention in the college bookstore. It was a travel guide of sorts about authentic, independent inns being marketed by author Norman Simpson. How little did I know then how the book would influence my life’s trajectory leading to a career in independent hospitality.

After our college graduation, lifelong friend Dan Hopkins and I took off on adventure thanks to a Greyhound bus special, “Go Anywhere in the USA for $50”. We purchased two tickets and boarded in snow-covered Syracuse, NY and endured countless bus changes, strange characters and endless highway until 72 hours later we recovered at the home of our mutual friend Rob Marks in La Mesa, California.

Returning home a year later from our ‘working vacation’, it was long overdue time to find gainful employment. I finally read Simpson’s book and was intrigued by the inn and hotel properties Simpson wrote about. With a pile of rejection letters and zero job prospects I donned my best $99 suit, borrowed my parent’s car and drove two hours east down I-90 to the one property in the book nearest our upstate New York home.

Incidentally, I wore the same navy-blue suit with my red, white and blue tie weeks earlier in interviews with the Central Intelligence Agency. That is another story, a path untaken.

Crossing the threshold of an old inn that dated to 1773, I arrived at the venerable Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, Massachusetts inquiring about a job–without any clue what a remarkable place this inn or the town would turn out to be. Centuries ago the Inn had been a remote stagecoach stop. It was and is now a bustling hostelry in this picturesque New England village.

Thanks to the inn’s manager and Red Lion Inn owners Senator Jack and Jane Fitzpatrick I was given a warm welcome. By the end of the day, I had passed muster. The Inn was very busy indeed and yes, they could use my help right away. Returning a few days later to begin work as a dining room host (whatever that meant!) I stayed for a while in a tiny staff room on the sultry, un-airconditioned 4th floor of the inn. I promised the owners I would work very hard for my $4 per hour wage and thus began a career in hospitality on July 2, 1979 that continues today.

I would soon learn that both Norman Rockwell and Norman Simpson called the village of Stockbridge their home. Norman Rockwell died the year prior to my arrival, and over the years I delighted in befriending Norman Simpson as a bon vivant marketer who told the story of authentic old American inns until his untimely death in 1986. Today, Select Registry lives on as the latest evolution of Simpson’s vision. Mrs. Molly Rockwell still lived across the street from the inn back then and her husband Norman’s spirit is still celebrated in the Berkshires and beyond.

Stockbridge is a rare community in the Berkshires, rich in history and continuing to attract writers, artists and performers as it has from its earliest days as a mission community serving the native Mahican tribe. Today, a few miles up the road in Lenox, the Boston Symphony Orchestra performs each summer at Tanglewood Music Center as it has since 1937. Many of the BSO musicians lodge at the Inn with the hallways filled with the sweet sounds of practiced instrumentals.

Years later, I had begun to learn a few things and was by then well-versed in many aspects of the Inn’s operation. ‘Mrs. Fitz’ called me to her office one day in 1993 and offered me the Innkeeper & General Manager position. After working in every department of the inn, I felt as though I had pulled the sword from the stone. ‘Mrs. Fitz’ as we called her was an inspiration, a mentor and a powerful force.

While there, I had the pleasure of being a part of the management team that re-opened sister hotel, Blantyre, in the early 1980’s. Later, as GM of Red Lion Inn I led our team effort to open the Porches Inn at Mass MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts.

Leaving this Camelot experience, I felt as though I had graduated and was ready for more of life’s lessons. My wife Susan and I embarked on a path that would lead us ever onward across the country. Before that, twenty-one exciting and wonderful years would pass there in Stockbridge until Jack and Jane retired.

We never looked back as our adventure in hospitality continued across the country. Fast forward to today, and we have happily called beautiful southern Utah our home for over a year now. Kanab followed our other ‘homes’ in Stamford, Vermont; Stockbridge and Dalton, Massachusetts; Madison, Connecticut; Sheboygan, Wisconsin; Meadows of Dan, Virginia (where we opened the luxury Lodge and Spa at Primland); Pearce, Arizona; Waynesville, North Carolina and Clark, Colorado in about that order.

Iroquois, Mahican, Stockbridge, Hammonasset, Winnebago, the Eastern Band of Cherokee, Apache, Yampa Utes, Anasazi, Navajo and Paiute native peoples preceded us in all of these areas. Their spirits permeate the communities on our path.

Berkshire, Blue Ridge, Great Smokies, the Rockies and Chiracahua mountains have all served as the beautiful backdrop of our lives along the way. Now, the dramatic vermillion cliffs of southern Utah surround us.

This charming village of Kanab (our 10th such home, and 17th move since our October 2000 wedding in Stamford, Vermont) has provided a warm welcome to a growing yet remote southern Utah community of 4,500 residents with thousands more U.S. and international visitors arriving in season to explore national parks, extensive BLM lands and extraordinary state parks such as Coral Pink Sand Dunes.

Kanab and Kane County are centered among Zion, Bryce, Grand Staircase Escalante and Grand Canyon National Parks. World-class challenging hiking trails traverse the area. Kanab was originally settled by Anasazi, Ute and Kaibab Paiute followed later in 1864 when ten Latter-Day Saint families moved into the area finally establishing Kanab in 1870.

Now a thriving city, Kanab is growing with the arrivals of outliers like us and the discovery of Kanab as an up and coming destination. Kanab’s town fathers and commissioners work diligently to balance Kane County’s growing tourism business with residents’ quality of life all the while honoring Kanab’s history as Little Hollywood, once the setting of many classic western movies and television shows.

Our many moves have resulted from the vagaries of a career in independent hospitality and working for a range of owners from beloved to indifferent whom we discovered would unfortunately retire and die, sell their real estate holdings, change their minds, endure the great recession, suffer from dementia, etc. In short, we experienced life with all its uncertainties and changes.

Executive hospitality recruiters have played an important role in our lives, enticing us to consider new properties and explore wonderful new horizons. I learned early on that these were some of our most important business relationships.

Most of all I am grateful to my wife Susan and our petites Cotons de Tulears who have endured these many moves. Susan has faced the unenviable task of managing each move with all the resulting household changes and upheaval—all while re-inventing herself and finding a place in these new communities. This has been the most difficult aspect of moving, along with saying goodbye to new friends who have been so kind and helpful. We cherish our friends whom in spite of time and distance continue to keep in touch.

Above all, we found amazingly good and generous people wherever we went including our staff, our guests and our neighbors. We have discovered beautiful places, some that most American’s will never see. Out West, we have come to know what quiet really means. And we learned to count on each other through all of life’s vicissitudes. Susan is fond of saying that I seemed like a stable guy once, and ever since our first date at the grand opening of Mass MoCA on May 29, 1999 our lives together have been a wild and beautiful ride.

We now have the pleasure of representing Best Friends Animal Society. Its founders had a vision years ago of saving the lives of animals with a mission to bring about a time when there are no more homeless pets. It is a joy, and a responsibility that we now dedicate our work to end the suffering and killing of animals in shelters all across the country by the year 2025.

None of us ever gets where we are without the help of others. To explore this extraordinary country has been our great privilege and we remember all those who sacrificed for us, our parents who raised us, our families who have given so much to us, our neighbors who have sustained us, the communities who have welcomed us, and the owners who have challenged us.

We have made a career in the work of managing, opening, marketing and growing private clubs, guest ranches, lodges and inns since those precious first years in Stockbridge.

I treasure the vendors, suppliers and consultants who have supported our work, and the guests and colleagues whom I have come to know and serve. It is all of you and especially my parents who have taught me the lessons of graciousness and service.

Time flies when you’re having fun.

© Copyright 2019 Brooks Bradbury / BrooksLooks
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BrooksLooks @ Circle the Sun

quantum quarks
in astral planes
dance above the hurricanes
lightning sparks
on earthly plains
over milleniums
of man-made schemes
of man-made myths
the cost of dreams
what’s been lost
in our awesome toll
Nature finally on the run
species are lost
damage is done

and all we can do
is circle the sun
abiding in time
having our fun
another year
still alive
enjoying the ride
through time and tide
no reason to fear
we can’t even steer

who knows when
life ends as it must
and the ride continues
one new layer
of human dust
and all we will do
is circle the sun
without a sail
year upon year
unaware of the scale
through time and tide
beyond forever
all we’ve got is fear
we can’t even steer

until that day
the end is near
the time is short
in reality
there’s never been
any guarantee
all we can do is
circle the sun
taking our time
having our fun
year upon year
enjoying the ride
enduring time and tide
we ride through the night
through darkness and light
all we’ve got is fear
we can’t even steer

mystic voices
foretold the day
ancient wisdom
would have no more to say

and all we can do
is circle the sun
abiding in time
having our fun
another year
still alive
enjoying the ride
through time and tide
no reason to fear
we can’t even steer

© Copyright 2019 Brooks Bradbury / BrooksLooks
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BrooksLooks @ Colorado City Child

Colorado City Child

born into the maelstrom
where false prophets once decreed
illegalities and debauchery
for their own self-serving greed

pedophiliac demons enslaved you
erased your personality
corrupted your soul
laid waste to your remote community
its beauty fenced, unhealthy un-whole

Colorado City child!

your life’s moment is at hand
may you have the strength
to rise above
to fully understand
i pray you never settle
that you one day have enough

transcend such so-called religions
banish them from earth
collect your life’s precious pieces
regain your boundless worth

until then your mothers know
the price already paid
for lives on hold way too long
stolen moments, joy delayed

false leaders rightly arraigned
incarcerated and chained
Celebrate your new Salvation!
a Creeker’s Abjuration

long may you fly
may your tears sanctify
their every wrong
their every lie

© Copyright 2019 Brooks Bradbury / BrooksLooks
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BrooksLooks @ 44 East Avenue

my soul still roams
through the woods back there
where every tree was a tower
every branch was a stair
a child’s discoveries
in each stone, leaf and flower

the simplest of joys
came in climbing above
into the sanctuary of trees
these were precious days in time
oft’ recalled
well beloved

out there beyond
our small forest of pines
we’d run on forever
time would freeze
through fields of tall grass
we look back
at how far we’ve come
moments imprinted
remain ever still

a dinner bell rings
it’s time for supper
Nature softens to gloam
little actors
in a golden age
hurry home
to a place backstage

© Copyright 2018 Brooks Bradbury / BrooksLooks
Special mention of my hometown and our family residence at 44 East Avenue in Springville, New York!
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BrooksLooks @ Red Rock Canyons

red rock canyons

these red rock canyons
recall the forces
we face
experiencing our own
cataclysmic events
upheavals, changing times
uncontrolled quakes
and the tumbling down
the glacial pace of erosion
until the eventual arrival
at our own
angle of repose

these red rock canyons
reveal the millennia past
sand grain by grain
layer on layer
in gravity’s fate
records cast in reddish-brown
then a layer of ashen gray
perhaps an epochal era
when the sun went away
violent tectonics
pushed up
what water wears down

these red rock canyons
once oasis, once desert, once ocean
now stacked stone mountains
of petrified lives
that were once in motion
pressed into time
surrounding us
shoulders of boulders
out beyond our companions
we’ve found
sanctuary here
in these red rock canyons

© Copyright 2018 Brooks Bradbury / BrooksLooks
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BrooksLooks @ Graciousness & Gratitude

On Graciousness and Gratitude

The veneer of our cultural kindness has worn thin. In some places, it has long since worn off leaving an ugly rudeness that we all feel in our country these days. It doesn’t help that unacceptable and offensive behavior emanates from our highest offices, or that acts of great violence and injustice are reported to us each day.

Thankfully, graciousness and gratitude still flourish among people who choose to treat others with dignity and respect. After all, what we give to others we reap in return.

It is an important choice that we must make, one that is really neglected today. Why would we choose to be small-minded and smugly miserable? Or choose to do battle, rather to find a way to peace? To choose to divide because of differences rather than celebrate our common diversity? Or to be associated with a religion that means we can’t love someone, or can’t bake a cake for someone or one in which only one gender can advance?

Whether we know it or not too many of us have traded graciousness for speed and efficiency. We have traded generosity of spirit for more cell phone time and less family time and we have traded personal connections for digital ones. We accept religious affiliation at the exclusion of others.

In the process, we have also turned away from the needy of our society compounding global misery. We have watched in horror how each such neglected person becomes a time bomb who takes others with them in a final, agonizing and grand-standing death rage. We have simply stopped hearing their cries for help—locally, out on our borders and internationally. These souls have been backed into very dangerous corners.

Instead of looking out for everyone, especially the least among us or the most different among us, we have long since looked out for ourselves. This has left too many trapped and failing within our system, or even too many trapped and desperate fighting to get in.

If we were to measure the cost of what we have gained it would in no way compare with what has been lost. Most Americans will recognize “this isn’t us anymore,” knowing full well that we have fallen behind in kindness and courteousness as though offering the simple joy and kind words to another no longer matters.

My wife and I would take a private poll when walking down the beach near our home. We would purposely offer a warm hello to each person that walked by us, and then privately tally the results. There was never a night when everyone said hello in return, and there were plenty of times when our simple greeting was ignored, or we were simply stared at in surprise. A very few inspired souls would actually say hello in return, or in a more rare case someone might add, “have a wonderful evening.”

And yet, I know there is still graciousness in the hearts of many Americans, and some gratitude for this great country of wealth and the age we live in.

It takes so very little to make sure someone is heard, to add enthusiasm or kindness to your voice or to simply say hello. To always remember that someone is doing the best they can do just to be here, is the very lowest measure of empathy.

Just as it takes no additional effort in a fancy hotel to provide a guest with top service compared with a mediocre effort, life doesn’t require much of us except a little compassion, being generous and demonstrating gratitude to others.

This is after all, a miracle: that at this place and time we even exist at all–to ponder beauty, nature and goodness while looking out from the lonely universe we inhabit. There are challenges to be sure, but isn’t it an easy choice? Rather like when you get up in the morning and choose to live your life, or you choose to die.

I attended a recent meeting in my community and during a period of public comment, a resident got up and actually said, “We don’t want any more of your kind here,” referring to the county’s largest employer and its staff. It was quite a shock to think that anyone would say such a thing! How then are we to deal with the differences among people?

Goodness always seems to spiral upwards, and I therefore recommend we begin to choose graciousness and gratitude in our interactions with others, even those different from us. It is a subtle and powerful change, and without it, well, we are already beginning to see the results.

Since my first visit to Findhorn, a simple yet dynamic ecovillage in the north of Scotland, I have kept with me the strength of spirit and the resolute power of intentioned kindness that I found there in that rare place. There are other such places, centers of light and ecovillages around the world that are transforming people and consciousness.

I believe it is such feelings that inform graciousness in my life and the generous way we interact with others. What gratitude I feel in being able to write this to you!

© Copyright 2017 Brooks Bradbury / BrooksLooks
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BrooksLooks @ Genealogy


a study of our family
and its genealogic scope
sheds light on how we got here
and who we are, i hope

hard to believe our forebears
birthed children through the ages
until down to me at last
begat of serfs and kings and sages

there were knights and lords and ladies
even earls, a marquess or two
viscounts, Indians and sheriffs
worldly explorers through and through

some were un-wedded
some were beheaded
some drawn and quartered
some well-rewarded,
some died in the tower
some wielded great power
some lost now to time
some worked to death in factories
a few were the thriving kind

each one an accident of history
brief islands of DNA
passed on through sex unto the next
’til ‘poof’ here we are today

wouldn’t want to invite ’em all
to dinner on any one night
but i’d like to invite the notables
the notorious, the somewhat bright

then we’d drink to our common family
dance in life’s teeming streams
celebrate our ancestral gifts
born of stardust and ancient dreams

© Copyright 2018 Brooks Bradbury / BrooksLooks
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BrooksLooks @ Home on the Range

Sometimes we are lucky enough in our lives to run a Relais & Châteaux affiliated guest ranch along the continental divide in the Colorado Rockies. If so lucky, we live and work on one of Nature’s most beautiful stages with some of the most talented and dedicated employees one will ever meet.

Our staff is made of wonderful individuals who attend to amazingly specific details like repairing an in-room guest safe door lock at midnight, and those arriving at work before 5 a.m. to make specially requested menus and baked goods for breakfast.

Of course, clearing snow from guest vehicles, fixing flat tires, preparing meals, cleaning guest rooms every day, caring for 90 horses on 5,000 acres and leading horseback rides that can truly set the soul free are all de rigueur in this world.

It isn’t because it is an easy post, as there is certainly plenty of work and stress along with myriad moving parts among rapidly changing micro-priorities. The days can seem very short as the team arrives well before breakfast each day and will leave after dinner only when the dining room has been set for breakfast.

At this level of hospitality, there is far more to remember than simply each guest’s name. Flight arrival times for transportation, pre-purchase of rare and specialty foods, beverages and amenities, knowledge of guest allergies (i.e., feathers, cleaning products, nuts, etc.) along with all manner of dining and amenity preferences are only the beginning of the list.

In short, every member of the team must anticipate, respond to and resolve each and every guest request unless their responding could be considered illegal, immoral or unsafe. Consider then the breadth of possible requests that remain, such as organizing an impromptu helicopter tour or an all-day backcountry hike in the nearby Zirkel Wilderness.

There is without a doubt a very long list of joys concomitant with serving in such a unique place. When I consider the amazing people we’ve met, the finest foods, flavors and beverages we have enjoyed and the worldly perspectives and contacts we have made, our cup has certainly runneth over.

Running a guest ranch here is to actually live and breathe in the West’s wide open spaces we have come to love. We will always consider it a great honor to get to know the rare individuals who come to the ranch and those who stayed on to make their homes in this remote and pristine ranching community. These neighbors, guests and staff members have enriched our lifes by their kindness, by their joy and friendship. They have forever imprinted their kindness in our hearts.

Challenges out here are plenty though. How much I have appreciated the cheerful colleagues who handle them gracefully while retaining their wonderful sense of humor and focus after working 70 hours or more week after week. There were moments of anguish and tears to be sure, mostly the result of someone really caring about their responsibilities, and not wanting to let you down.

We saw first hand the wonderful impact a guest ranch vacation has on a person, and on a family. There were occasional tears too from young guests who really hated saying goodbye after their weeklong stay. You see, they came to know their horse and wrangler, our kids counselors, guides and staff as their friends after so many wonderful moments together.

Some of the great joy we felt was in welcoming those former children now as adults, who returned to the ranch for the first time with their new young families. A wonderful cycle continues.

I suspect this may have been my life’s last opportunity to manage such a special guest ranch, but who knows? Maybe my friend, Gene Kilgore, the leading authority on western guest ranches has a different idea?

What an interesting chapter it has been, as we count our blessings and reflect back on this time in our lives.

Sometimes we are lucky indeed.

© Copyright 2017 Brooks Bradbury / BrooksLooks
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BrooksLooks @ The West

The West

there are places…
out west
where all there is
is quietness
where souls are healed
by letting go
of all that
never mattered
beyond the man-made din
of life’s raucous clatter

there are places…
here out west
of clarity
where you see every star
on a night’s display
however far
when wasted light
is left behind
along with blinding pointlessness
that once got in the way

there are places…
here out west
where people
are still simply true
who understand
the who that’s you
how to give and leave you space
share pain and joy
can mend a fence
most of all they still make sense

there are places…
here out west
like a Stegner dream
where bluebirds sing
to the lemonade spring
and rivers thrive and all is grand
way out here on Abbey’s land
where native spirits still survive
roaming on forever
in a perfect place
for a final stand

© Copyright 2018 Brooks Bradbury / BrooksLooks
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BrooksLooks @ Final Injection

an injured leg
an ominous break
the inevitable steps
a vet must take

adrenaline runs wild
with anguish and stress
the only relief
in a wrangler’s caress

first needle, he falls
with wild, uncertain eyes
then a fatal, final injection
until his strong heartbeat dies

only broken hearts
after the quieted storm
tears fall down
on his neck still warm

we’ll miss his life
the love he shared with all
there are new hoofbeats in heaven
here an unused saddle,
an empty stall

the herd diminished
as Frino dies
and a ranch is sanctified
by tears
from a wrangler’s eyes

© Copyright 2017 Brooks Bradbury / BrooksLooks
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BrooksLooks @ Synergy

all was right with the world today
i was where i wanted to be
at times it comes together like this
along life’s trajectory
i know it will change again one day
as this sweet tide goes out
for now i treasure each moment
until that turnabout
such moments i know
will come and go
lives are lived
through high and low

though, all was right with the world today
i was where i wanted to be
i thank the Lord for days like this
and the gifts he gives to me

© Copyright 2017 Brooks Bradbury / BrooksLooks
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BrooksLooks @ Hamburger Heaven

Jimmy Buffet wrote a song about a cheeseburger in paradise, but he never tasted the flavor of the beef from cows raised in an unincorporated ranching community in northwest Colorado, at least that anyone here knows of.

Sand Mountain Cattle Company is raising a growing herd of Red Angus cattle on 7,000 acres including the rich Elk River Valley bottom land. Owners Doug and Adele Carlson and their two sons Danny and Kelly and their families produce a range of beef products for Steamboat Springs area restaurants, including the centerpiece of the sought-after Sand Mountain Cattle hamburger.

Their premium cattle are lovingly raised the all-natural way in vast pastoral fields along County Road 129 here in Clark. They are “grass fed and finished” on native Colorado grasses and forages without any chemicals or animal by-products, the way it should be.

All of their cattle are ‘age and source verified’ (i.e., well bred) and Danny, Kelly and Doug take turns getting up every 4 hours during calving season to head out to the barn to make sure “everything is in order”. They are expecting almost 300 calves to arrive this spring which tells you something about the virility of their stock.

Clark, Colorado itself is worthy of mention as a proud outpost town, midway between Steamboat Springs and the Wyoming line. This alpine community thrives along the western slope of the continental divide way up in the Rockies at an elevation of 7,000 feet. These conditions provide a heavenly destination for tourists, and a home for SMCC’s well-loved, grass-fed cows.

The town’s only store, aptly the Clark Store, is an old-fashioned general store that serves as the nerve center and the community’s cultural heart. Here is one place where Sand Mountain Cattle’s heavenly hamburgers are served in a true paradise, from the grill at the back of the store. The ‘American Burger’ is only one of the options on the menu, but it is clearly the best one.

Incidentally, the Clark Store makes world class buns, baked from scratch with special flour. Really! Heck, the cows are raised right outside the window, and that’s picturesque Sand Mountain in the distance behind them, usually snow-covered into July.

Get the picture? Sort of an ideal farm-to-table deal with tables at the edge of the farm. The future beef cows themselves are part of the view from the Clark Store making them easy to inspect while you wait for your hamburger to be prepared by Jim the chef / manager of the store or his sidekick, Diego.

The Clark Store is also where locals come for mail, alcoholic beverages, coffee, news and gossip. If the store doesn’t carry it, it’s a 20-mile drive one way into town. People from out of town think it’s quaint. Norman Rockwell would surely see the potential here.

Until you taste a Sand Mountain Cattle Company / Clark Store hamburger, you just haven’t lived. With all of this fresh Colorado air and wholesomeness cooked right in, there isn’t a better one anywhere. Sure, you can take a motorboat to Cabbage Key in Florida (supposed home of ‘cheeseburger in paradise’) or get off I-95 in New Haven, Connecticut to dine at Louis’ Lunch for their vertically cooked hamburgers—but I can tell you from personal experience that none of these burgers compare in taste to what Sand Mountain Cattle Company produces.

To enjoy one of their hamburgers at The Clark Store is reason enough to make the trip to Clark, Colorado out on the road less traveled. There is also some dramatic scenery, a Relais & Chateaux affiliated guest ranch, Orvis-endorsed fly fishing, awesome skiing in wintertime–and some fascinating characters who all call Clark their home. Bon Apetit!

© Copyright 2017 Brooks Bradbury / BrooksLooks

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BrooksLooks @ Hospitality Recruiters

As a young hospitality manager, you may have begun receiving calls from recruiters without knowing they could one day be instrumental in shaping your career. Perhaps you are very happy where you are and generally ignore their calls. I suggest that you will appreciate their calls the day you need them.

The following are points of wisdom, now shared with you that are the result of personal experiences. This is to emphasize how important Hospitality Recruiters can be in helping you to transition out of situations–such as when an owner dies, your property is sold or the economy tanks–and into a new and satisfactory position. You’ll really appreciate your network of recruiter relationships when that day arrives.

  1. Why do I need to communicate with a recruiter when they contact me?

Unless you have a lifetime contract or you are independently wealthy I recommend you thank every recruiter who calls you and begin to establish a relationship with them.

If you are a young hospitality manager, I recommend staying in touch with those recruiters who show an interest in you. Make sure they have your most up-to-date information at all times and if asked, be sure to recommend other colleagues in your network that you feel may be interested and qualified.

  1. What if more than one recruiter is contacting me?

Then you are indeed a lucky person! Each recruiter can present new opportunities. My advice is to get to know each one, and nurture the relationship. Make sure they know exactly what you are looking for. You never know when it will be critically important. Build relationships!

  1. Do I have to tell each recruiter that I am working with other recruiters?

You will need to maintain a very high standard of discretion in working with recruiters, especially when you are working with multiple recruiters. You’ll need to make a judgement call in the event of a conflict, and be the professional. Let the other recruiter know as soon as possible that you are considering other solid offers. You will play games with recruiters at your own peril.

  1. What if I receive multiple offers, from different recruiters–how do I handle this?

The professional recruiter is well qualified and eager to help you negotiate the best compensation package possible. In the event of multiple offers at the same time, be up front about it and follow your heart to the opportunity that is the best match for you. You may need to pursue each offer almost to its conclusion until you are able to make a decision. These can be some real moments of soul searching.

Give feedback to the recruiter, and speak up if something doesn’t feel right. In the end. it’s your deal. Remember that the sooner you can give regrets to the other recruiter, the better and kinder it is. Who knows when you’ll need to reach out to that same recruiter in the future! You will be amazed at what a small community it is of hospitality professionals.

  1. How do I know if a recruiter can help me, and if they are trustworthy, honest and professional?

Word of mouth from your colleagues is important in getting to know the right hospitality recruiters. The Recruiter’s job is one of complete discretion, and they wouldn’t last long if they divulged information that jeopardized a candidate’s current position or future opportunities. Remember that they are generally on your side, are only paid when you are hired, and usually only when you are employed for a minimum period of time. In the event you don’t work out, they may be required to perform another search without additional compensation.

  1. What does a recruiter most need from me?

Honesty and integrity. A full disclosure of your skills and talents. Updated résumés and updated professional references. Referrals to strong candidates.

  1. Should I keep in touch with recruiters, or am I just bothering them?

If you are personally in a search mode, regular contact shows that you are enthusiastically interested in working with them. The recruiter will let you know if you are overdoing it. Remember that your other full time job is marketing yourself.

  1. How do I negotiate offers through the recruiter?

I have found that top recruiters are expert at this.They will help you assemble your minimum requirements for the job well in advance. Often, the recruiter will back away and let you handle the negotiation. Use the recruiter as a consultant and take your time. Much more goes into salary negotiations than just a few numbers.

  1. What if I feel the recruiter isn’t presenting me accurately?

Sometimes it doesn’t seem like the recruiter has a clear picture of your experience. You need to speak up, defend yourself or better present yourself to him or her. The recruiter is only trying to present you and your skills to their client in the best possible way. The ball is in your court. You should also have a complete understanding of the process the recruiter will go through in representing you to clients.

Don’t let a recruiter entice you with pie in the sky job opportunities or the fact that he/she will be blanketing your resume all over in order to gain greater visibility for you. This indicates the recruiter’s level of professionalism and how they go about their work.

  1. What if a recruiter doesn’t call me back?

Move on. Life is short. Be tenacious in introducing yourself to other recruiters that might be a better fit for you. You’ll find plenty of recruiters (and people) who aren’t interested in getting to know you, or who will make you feel like you don’t amount to much anyway. They simply need to weed you out from the pack as quickly as possible. Don’t take it personally. They have a job to do too. Be tenacious and move on.

Good luck!

© Copyright 2017 Brooks Bradbury / BrooksLooks


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