Small-town girl makes her home in Summit County
SUMMIT COUNTY – Fourteen years ago, Sandy and Bob Ruggaber moved to Summit County and started Mountain Vista Bed and Breakfast. Sandy sold the business this summer and is planning to take advantage of her newfound freedom.
Sandy is a small town girl. She grew up in Camp Hill, Penn., just outside Harrisburg.
Bob was from the other side of the state. His parents had moved to Camp Hill, and he was visiting them during military leave when he and Sandy met on a blind date.
Within 30 days, Bob returned to his military base in Germany, and about a month later, Bob proposed to Sandy – by mail. She accepted and the couple was married within the year.
This time, when Bob returned to Germany, Sandy went with him. It was the first of many homes together.
For the first part of their marriage, Bob and Sandy (and soon, their daughter, Anita, and son, Mark) moved about every three years. The transient lifestyle was normal to Bob, who grew up in a military family, but it took Sandy some time to get used to it.
When Bob retired from the military in 1978, the family packed up the car and moved to Colorado.
“We loaded up two kids, a dog and the two of us – no home, no jobs, nothing,” Sandy said. “We felt like pioneers – modern pioneers.”
Sandy and Bob both found jobs and started a new life in Colorado Springs.
“With two kids still in school, you don’t retire,” Sandy said, and laughed.
Sandy and Bob came to Summit County often in the 11 years they lived in Colorado Springs. Each time they came, they stayed longer.
“I said I would move one more time if I could move to the mountains,” Sandy said.
So in 1989, Bob and Sandy moved to Summit County and started Mountain Vista Bed and Breakfast in Silverthorne. It was a natural transition for Sandy, who loved to cook and entertain.
“I always said staying at a bed and breakfast was like visiting your aunt, but you didn’t have to make your bed or do the dishes.”
And Bob loved it, too.
“With that kind of work, I could walk the dog and my husband could go fishing – so he thought he was in seventh heaven,” Sandy said. “We could ski half the day and still be there to greet the guests.”
Sandy saw many of her guests again and again.
“They’re not just guests, they’re friends,” she said.
Sandy became the sole hostess of Mountain Vista after Bob died of cancer four years later. It may have been more difficult running the business alone, but she was determined.
“I’m an independent cuss,” Sandy said. “All I could do is try. I found I had to hire a lot more people to help me do things – my neighbors would get upset with me when I climbed up on the roof.”
Now in her 60s, Sandy has decided it’s time to move on. She sold Mountain Vista this summer and bought a home in Dillon Valley for her and her dog, Muffin.
“It was difficult,” Sandy said of the decision. “It’s hard to let go, and yet at the same time you can’t continue to be the owner when you’re not the owner. I’ve been able to let go.”
Sandy has no plans to leave Summit County. This is her home. She even loves the long winters.
“I love the snow – that’s why we came here,” she said. “(Being) from Pennsylvania, we knew what snow was all about, and we knew how to drive in it.”
But where once she was limited by her commitment to the bed and breakfast, now Sandy has the time to make new friends, get involved in activities and really get to know Summit County. She’s enjoying her new independence.
“I’m free to do stuff now, so my horizons are definitely expanding,” Sandy said. “It’s wonderful.”
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