Shadowcliff Opens for the Season on Memorial Day. Now Taking Reservations!

by Rick Robson


At Shadowcliff, it’s easy to track our annual efforts on facilities.  Closing through the winter months provides a hard break in activity and the time to plan for the next year.  This blessing is offset though by harsh winters that often deliver a list of maintenance needs from broken water pipes to structural parts stressed by snow loads.  Every year we identify several projects significant to accomplish along with the usual spring cleaning, painting, and routine maintenance needs.  We have a long list of prioritized needs as well as things we’d love to do.  Projects happen through the season but large projects, particularly those disruptive to access and services, are done prior to the Memorial Day opening in a narrow time window between winter in the high mountains and the arrival of guests.



Recent Projects by Volunteers


Although we do hire contractors for some of the work, JJ, staff, and a very amazing group of volunteers do the majority.  Knowledge of omission and the length of the volunteer list keep it from these pages but I’ll mention the recent work of Steve Petrehn as he’s been leading spring projects for a number of years.  He’s on site as Shadowcliff wakes up from a winter’s nap and is often there for 2 or more weeks.  Steve led the first build of JJ’s shop as well as the extensive expansion of the shop last year.  Other recent projects done by Steve and others includes roofing on Riverbend, Cliffside kitchen gut and remodel, new stair stringers and treads in several locations, floor refinishing, and the Bob Mann and Judith Christy Laws of Nature Trail dedicated in early 2014, a large all hands on deck project.

Our challenges are primarily resources… time, finances, volunteers and finances (yes, double attention).  The age of our facilities is the elephant in the room, or in this case maybe better said as the bear in the kitchen.  We’re seeing signs that we’re loosing ground in our effort to stay even.  We can all relate to this in our own personal lives as we balance needs and resources, particularly with an aging house or car.

JJ and Staff Provide Ongoing Maintenance

We’ve been working to relocate JJ’s shop to provide more useful work and storage space for that important function.  At the same time kitchen storage was a major motivation.  Now that the first domino has fallen, JJ can fully move to the new space.  The old shop and it’s neighbor the old massage room/rough storage/office extension will be renovated this Spring to meet food storage standards… not exactly a kitchen expansion with well designed accessibility, but certainly a solution to a big problem.
2014 facility managers Karen Bigelow and David Grossman did a terrific job with so many things this year.  They’ve been a blessing to the Shadowcliff family for many years but as facilitymanagers this year their contribution of time, energy, and materials resulted in some very welcome changes including shower heads and curtains, new carpet for the lodge, improved Wi-Fi with added hubs and antennas to expand accessibility, and deep cleaning all around.


Upcoming Projects

old shop

  • Old Shop Remodel:  The old shop space and what’s been
    called the massage room, right next door are both underneath Hideaway along the circle drive at the entrance to the Lodge.  We’ve talked about installing new doors, new windows, and even new siding there to improve the look of our entrance.  Our budget usually drives very basic work and we patch as opposed to replacing things.  This approach rings well with an eye to sustainability, yet a complete lifecycleanalysis might suggest replacement sometimes.  All projects, particularly materials, incorporate sustainable choices when practical.-Roof Leak: Karen and David worked with a local contractor to fix a persistent leak around one of the lodge dormers coming through the 3rd floor and the ceiling of the 2nd floor.  We think this might be temporarily stopped but an inspection indicates the need for roofing and likely some structural work (sheeting) in the future.  This work will be extensive and expensive so it’s on hold for now.  Please keep us in mind as we contemplate a roofing fund for this need.
  • Fire Escape Rebuilds:  We identified the 3rd floor exits as a safety concern several years ago.  The remodel of the 3rd floor several years ago added a long hall from end to end with exit doors to the fire escapes, a vast improvement from crawling through room windows to escape.  The fire escape structures are weak and pulling from the lodge a bit.  Access openings to ship’s ladder stairs are very small.  These need to be rebuilt but working them into the existing decks and porches is a challenge let alone the base material cost.  We’re not specifically planning this project this year but it is a growing need.


About Shadowcliff Facilities

Shhadowcliff’s facilities include 3 main buildings, Rempel Lodge, the Chapel, and Cliffside.  These along with Riverbend, Overlook, and Fireside cabins and now JJ’s shop and the Laws of Nature Trail provide plenty to keep us busy.  JJ gets a huge high five as he keeps the wheels on the bus, so to speak.  Harsh winter conditions and aging facilities keep him busy


Join Us!

The family we know as Shadowcliff is the cohesion for what’s special about this wonderful place, although the place Warren and Pat fell in love with is a magic ingredient.  As we maintain, upgrade, and evolve, we’re interested in your comments and help.   Several key volunteers have “retired” from the physical part and aging infrastructure increasingly challenges us.  Things you’d like to see done are best accomplished by contributions (shameless plug), leading the effort (ditto), and/or your comments that are very welcome as we strive to balance what we must do along with what we’d like to do.  Please let us know.

Volunteers come and go throughout most of the month of May to help us gear up for the season. We would love to see you and your friends join our family of volunteers!  Contact us to ask how you can get involved!

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rickAbout Rick Robson

Rick is a retired environmental chemist at Hallmark Cards, Inc. in Kansas City, Missouri, where he worked as a sustainability project manager to identify and implement environmental and sustainability initiatives. Rick was a member of the City of Kansas City Climate Protection Work Group that developed recommendations for the City’s long range carbon emission reduction and green initiatives plan. Rick has been passionate about environmental affairs for years. A home builder of passive solar homes in the early 80s, he and his wife Kelly recently completed their own energy efficient “greener” passive solar home. They are active participants and members of a local community supported agriculture (CSA) farm. Rick has attended a number of sustainability workshops at Shadowcliff and regularly volunteers on site. Rick chairs the Shadowcliff facilities committee.