Steamboat setting inspires angler’s dream home
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. When most people are asked to describe their home, they talk about the actual structure of their house. But when you ask Marvin and Tish Meyers about their home, they talk about the land, more specifically the river that runs through their property. Water has been the source of inspiration for Marvin in so many ways that it only makes sense for him to have purchased one of the few river properties available around Steamboat Springs. As soon as Marvin gets to his second home, he says his blood pressure drops 100 percent.While ranching estates border his property, it was a love of fly-fishing that drew Marvin to Colorado. Even though Tish gets tangled in fishing wire, the river is the main attraction for her as well. She enjoys the serenity and the changing seasons at the prettiest location ever. When Marvin found out the land was available, he decided to buy. Consulting Jake Henry with Jakes Drafting Service, Inc., the two sketched plans for a 6,230-square-foot log house and garage with 1,118 square feet of decks and 148 square feet of covered porches to take advantage of the 360-degree views.In order to maximize views of the Yampa River, as well as surrounding wilderness, the home has an abundance of windows positioned to look out on the twists and turns of the Yampa. In keeping with his environmental philosophies, Marvin sourced dead lodgepole pines from Montana to build the home. The Meyers were huge participants in choosing the materials for the cabin, flying up to Montana and down to Hamilton to inspect all of the wood for the house, the cabinets and the floors. Gabe Butler, the builder and owner of Montana Log Homes, is hand-crafting a natural wood tabletop for the dining room. What Tish appreciates is the openness of the great room, kitchen, dining room, living room and sun room. The first floor is basically one enormous room where everyone can come together and interact.
The interior of the home comes across as comfortable. Everything is wood golden pine that seems to capture the sun. Logs brace the ceiling, adding to the authenticity of the cabin. Naturally, the floor is wood, stretching the theme of simpler times throughout the house. The furnishings are classic lodge, as Tish says, no antlers, bear or deer heads. Instead, leather couches, area rugs and an iron chandelier fill the home.The Meyers arent typical second-home owners. While they fly in on their private Beechcraft King Air, taking only an hour-and-a-half to fly from California with good tail winds, Marvin is a first-generation almond farmer who has used his success to educate the school children of the San Joaquin Valley in California. Marvin privately funded a wildlife habitat as well as a curriculum to educate kids about how farmers use water beneficially for agriculture. One of the techniques he teaches is water banking, where water is put in the ground in wet years and extracted during drought years. The classes are taken for credit, and so far 60 classes have come to learn about wildlife habitat and water conservation. The program has recently expanded to include the Fresno Unified School System. Marvin practices what he preaches. During his trips to Steamboat, he teaches his son and daughter and their children, ranging in age from 5 to 22 years old, about the environment. Thirteen beds offer plenty of space for the entire family, plus visitors. Working with the Army Corps of Engineers to restore the stream bed on his property and create a spawning habitat for trout, Marvins family can see first-hand the importance of preserving the wild. He wants to return the river to its original flow. As part of his conservation efforts, hes working with Trout Unlimited to make the river catch-and-release only. One of the features that makes the Meyers property so unique is the type of fish that spawn there. Because the house sits just past the confluence of the Elk and Yampa rivers, fishing is world-class. According to Tim Kirkpatric, one of the owners of Steamboat Flyfisher, people can find rainbow, brown, cutthroat trout, northern pike and smallmouth bass in the area. The result of having northern pike, which are voracious feeders, is that the trout tend to be in the 16- to 20-inch range; otherwise they end up as pike food. Like the trout that inhabit the river, Meyers is a survivor. Originally a cotton farmer in California, he switched to almonds because of the perfect Mediterranean climate. When he invested in 3,500 acres of almonds at $7,000 an acre, waiting four years for production, he was taking a big chance, but it paid off. Marvins success has allowed him to pursue his real passion: fly-fishing. A cotton buyer took him to Alaska in the 1980s on a float trip through Lake Clark. Once he got the hang of fly-fishing, he was hooked. He has taught his kids how to fly-fish, and now his grandkids are taking interest. Within the house, a secluded space is designed for Marvin to work on his fly-fishing tackles. His intent is to build a fishery thats second to none, and he thinks that is doable. One step he has taken is to restore Horseshoe Lake and stock it with rainbow trout. As for his stretch of the river, hes created fingers to help prevent erosion. In the two years prior to the Meyers owning the property, 20 to 30 feet of riverbank were lost.With high snow falls cycling through the Yampa Valley, flooding is a huge concern. Gabe Butler raised the residence 6 feet to match the height of the railroad tracks, which havent flooded in more than 100 years. That, combined with pumps in the basement, is meant to keep the place dry. Upstairs, in the great room, the Meyers built the fireplace with river rock to use as much indigenous materials as possible. With floor-to-ceiling views throughout the first floor, the Meyers can watch bald eagles fishing. The birds nest across the river every year. Elk graze the approximately 500 acres of land the Meyers own, along with several hundred more acres leased from the Bureau of Land Management. While the kitchen cabinets are made with rustic hickory and red pine, they are overshadowed by the views of Mt. Werner and surrounding wilderness. In fact, the house seems to be a shelter inspired by views and natural beauty. The log cabin was built around and influenced by the river from the structural positioning and grading of the land, so it appears to be on the same level as the river, to the openness of one room into the next so that nothing seems closed off. Like the Yampa River, the Meyers lives continue to flow on a course of appreciation and love for the land.
This article is a feature of Mountain House & Home magazine, distributed quarterly throughout Colorado.
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Max Weintraub has been senior curator at the Aspen Art Museum since January 2019.