In 2009 the Tompkins added a bridal facility, Western Riviera Lakeside Weddings. Since the venue is located on the lake with mountain views, the natural beauty of the area has created some memorable weddings. Both Jackie and Mike describe their experience living in Grand Lake, as "living in a postcard."
Much to the Tompkins’ surprise, in 2011 they were approached by the Travel Channel to be featured on the program “Hotel Impossible,” hosted by famous hotel "fixer" Anthony Melchiorri. The Tompkins were at first a bit skeptical. Mr. Melchiorri can be a bit brusque and rough around the edges. However, being the brave souls that they are, they decided to see what would happen.
The Tompkins couldn't have been happier with the outcome. Melchiorri was absolutely charmed with The Western Riviera as well as all of Grand Lake. He participated in the Winter Carnival, snowmobiling and many of the other winter charms that Grand Lake and the Tompkins have to offer.
If your spirit needs renewal, Grand Lake and The Western Riviera are a wonderful destination, summer or winter. As Melchiorri told Ski-Hi News, "I will go on record saying it is the most beautiful place I've ever been.”
– Style Staff
See the entire Ski-Hi News article at: http://www.skyhidailynews.com/article/20130206/NEWS/130209995
Dusk has fallen over Colorado. The fading sky traded orange and pink for indigo. Orion now pronounces victory over the Earth, protecting the planet with his shield and sword. Just to his left, over the eastern horizon, an incredibly bright object catches your eye. What is that?
If you are like most people, that's about as far as your star gazing goes. Big Dipper, sure. Orion? No problem. But, identifying the transient bright object loses out to dinnertime and later, bedtime. This isn't so for everyone. For a core group of devoted amateur astronomers, love for the night sky demands more than a flight of fancy.
The volunteer-run, non-profit organization, Northern Colorado Astronomical Society (NCAS), has been dedicated to learning and teaching about the night sky for 19 years. They provide public star gazing events, monthly astronomical lectures and educational events for schools across the region. NCAS wants to be sure anyone with the desire can not only identify the aforementioned bright object as Jupiter, but see it's raging red storm through one of their enormous telescopes.
Club Vice President, Greg Halac, suggests that people who want to learn more about the night sky begin by coming to a public star gazing night. See the club calendar here. “Don't go out and buy a telescope first,” he cautions. First, talk with NCAS members, try their scopes to see what you like and don't like before dropping hundreds or even thousands of dollars. The club even has loaner equipment for new members to check out. Halac encourages newbies to ask questions. “If you're interested, there is a core group of volunteers who will go out of their way to help you.”
Within this group of science enthusiasts, there are sub-specialists who concentrate on niche hobbies. Some folks are in it for the research aspects (hello near-Earth asteroids), some just love helping the public see Saturn. Robert Arn is passionate about astrophotography. At least once a week, often more, Arn drives to a dark sky location in order to shoot his elegant nightscape photos. “I really like to create images that are uncommon – that really highlight the connection between the Earth and the night sky,” he says. “They aren't separate things.”
He explains that creating photos with both the night sky and landscape images are his way of reminding people that there is a lot left for humans to explore. “When I'm out there at night, I often settle in, look up and get lost in the sky, thinking about all the places we have yet to explore. There's a lot more possibility out there,” muses the CSU grad-student. (He's pursuing a Ph.D. in mathematics.)
Arn is another generous NCAS member who readily shares his techniques. His website details his shooting and processing methods. He also responds to website queries from new learners and regularly presents at regional astronomy club meetings.
Both Halac and Arn admit that there is a learning curve to get really good at finding and/or photographing night sky images. But the fun is worth the missed sleep and the cold nights. They suggest budding astronomers start by identifying the major constellations using a star chart like this one. “They're kind of your road map through the sky,” Halac explains. Then, using a simple scope or binoculars, try for a deep sky object like the Orion nebula in winter months or the Andromeda galaxy in summer. Also plan to be looking up on the evening of April 7 and 8 for the total lunar eclipse. NCAS will be hosting a viewing that night as well and would love to see you there.
Public Star Viewing Pro Tips
• Dress for 20 to 30 degrees colder than the expected low.
• Bring a beach chair and blankets if you're going to be there a while.
• Try a bunch of different sized telescopes and various mounting systems before buying anything.
• A flashlight isn't necessary because your eyes will adjust to the night. If you must have one for safety, shine it only at the ground and never in people's eyes.
• If the skies are looking cloudy, check the NCAS website before heading to one of their viewings. They'll post weather-related cancellations.
• When heading out alone, aim for the darkest skies you can get to. Pawnee National Grasslands is probably the closest dark-sky location for Northern Coloradans.
Corey Radman is a writer and amateur astronomer who, in a former career, was the Star Lady for Discovery Science Center.
Starry Starry Night
By Corey Radman
February 5, 2014
Exploring Grand Lake
January 21, 2014
In our November 2013 issue of Lydia’s Style Magazine, our travel writer Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer introduced our readers to the winter joy of Grand Lake, Colorado. Being a bit of an undiscovered gem for many Coloradans, even those who have spent summer months enjoying its beauty were unaware of the wealth of winter activities that makes this community a great cold weather destination.
Heidi’s article introduced us to Grand Lake’s many wintertime amenities: snowmobiling, ice climbing, cross-country skiing, even the arts. Be sure to look at the online November/December 2013 issue for the full article, “Grand Lake, A Winter Gem.”
In the course of putting that magazine together we were able to get to know a couple of the interviewees, Mike and Jackie Tompkins, owners of The Western Riviera, a bit better. Their story speaks of the pull of Grand Lake.
In 1979, during his third year as a student at Colorado State University, Mike visited Grand Lake for the first time and knew instantly he had found his future home. Soon after marrying Jackie in 1986 and starting a successful career as a patent attorney, the Tompkins were able to purchase The Western Riviera. The Western Riviera is a charming destination, and the only lakeside motel, cabins and entertainment venue in Grand Lake. It has become the perfect getaway destination for a weekend or holiday vacation.