On The Mountain Day 5: Powder Day at Beaver Creek

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We certainly hadn’t made it in early last night but my excitement for a snow storm and the elevation in general woke me around 7:00am. I tip toed downstairs since no one else was up yet to see what had fallen. Happy dance, happy dance it looked like this outside!! A powder day on a ski vacation is like (for lack of a better term) icing on the proverbial cake. I so badly wanted to ski this. Eff the day off thing. I could take a ski day off when I’m dead, old or both. I just hoped my man posse felt the same way. The lifts weren’t close to opening  so I went back to bed with The Weather Channel. I watched the Doppler radar every 8 minutes to monitor the snow blobs. Watching the Doppler in the mountains wasn’t like watching it in NJ. Small spot of clouds caused the snowfall instead of a big complex system. At the end of the day the storm netted us 14″ of glorious, exhausting powder.

It was Jack’s birthday and when everyone awoke to celebrate this morning he made us all blueberry pancakes.  They were awesome!!  There was a shifty looking bird out on the deck and he looked hungry so we put the last pancake out for him should he decide to return. Pros and very few cons are tossed around on whether to ski/not ski. Pros win (of course!). Tommy had gone down and spoke with the concierge and he said to get out there (thanks dude!) and enjoy, a day not to be missed. Stay off of the greens because they would be too slow (always are).

We made preparations for the powder day.  Jack and I are the real skiers and pretty prepared for any kind of conditions always. He reminded me that if I had powder cords, today would be the day to use them. They’re kind of a pain in the ass but much less so than losing a ski on the mountain in a fall. Basically it’s like a really long 80’s fat shoe lace that gets connected to your binding and the long part is shoved up your ski pant leg. If de-skied, the idea is for the cord to stay on top of the snow even if your ski gets buried. The PITA part was putting skis on and taking them off. I hated bending over in 10 layers of clothes, essentially suffocating myself.

All bound, corded and ready to go, I tried to head to the lift and errrrrrrt. No go. Ugh I needed a ski wax in the worst way and those babies did not want to go anywhere under their own movement. Pushing, poling, sweating, cursing I got to that lift.  The best part was I got to wave and say hello to a friendly and very lucky homeowner outside playing in the snow with his 2 dogs. I hope he didn’t hear the prolific F bombs I had dropped as I struggled along. A friendly face always makes a struggle easier or worthwhile.

It’s a goggles day, the kind I own goggles for. I hate wearing them but when skiing in a snowstorm you have to have them. I actually have callouses on my eyeballs from skiing without them for so many years. What can I say? Goggles or anything on my face annoys me.  My dutiful partner waited for me at the lift and we huddled for warmth on the seemingly (it was) dreadfully slow ride to the top.

Once we were on the slopes it was like skiing on pillows of snow! I’m not even exaggerating. It was  fluffy, I poufed around, control was minimal but so was speed so it was  all good.  More than good, wicked  fun! I noticed Tommy and Eddie struggling and instructed them to really sit back on their skis to keep the tips from sinking. Tommy heeded my advice and made me so proud. I just wanted to help and loved that he listened to my advice (I learned the hard way, head over heels). The two of them bailed early anyway but that’s ok.

It’s Jack, Joe, Steve and I left to enjoy the snow. We come to a fork in the trail. The trail Jack and I wanted to tale is named “Double Diamond” but is trail rated as only a  (1) black diamond. Steve mistakes the trail name for the rating and doesn’t want to ski it, until  I remind him “Dude, that’s the name of the trail. It’s not a double diamond. It is a stupid name for a diamond trail though.” (I don’t think I said it that nicely though.)

My good friend from Oneonta is a ski instructor at Breckenridge and we had been Facebooking and texting on and off for a month or so about connecting when I was in CO. It hadn’t worked out until I poked him in the butt with a ski pole while we both happened to be standing around waiting for people at the bottom by the lift. Even stranger, Tom is also friends with Michelle who is with our travel group and they also know each other from Oneonta. She graduated from there just prior to my Oneonta arrival. It was great and completely random to see him that way but such is my life.

It snowed all day long. The sun would peek through periodically and I would be enamored at the snow sun.

 It was a definite dine inside day for lunch. Too much snow, too cold. Despite pigging out on blueberry pancakes for breakfast I was hungry for lunch. Vegetarian chili was the winner. It’s hot and not just temperature hot, spicy hot. Oww almost too hot to eat. At least my insides were warm.

Jack skied another run with us after lunch and then bailed too. It  was an admittedly tough day, no finger of blame placed there. Steve, Joe and I powered out a few more survival over skill runs before retiring for beer runs instead of ski runs.

Apres ski Joe, Steve and I headed to McCoy’s for a warm up and pitcher of Blue Moon around 2:30pm. Early finish for the day, but skiing powder is an exhaustion that is like no other. Skiing on the tails used some other muscles that don’t get used much and the effort that goes into not falling and trusting your feet is great. Warren Miller films were playing on the flat screens in the bar and it was nice to watch someone else ski for awhile. There were supposed to be fireworks at the base later. The other group is meeting up down there sometime but we don’t run into them. I figured I’d run into Harry, Mike and the gang sometime throughout the day but not so such luck.

For Jack’s birthday we wanted to take him to a really nice steak house but the weather didn’t make traveling outside of the village seem like a very good plan. Why not go with what you know? We headed back to The Dusty Boot to actually eat before/while drinking to celebrate.  Tommy and I decided to drink Rum (Yar) and my salmon salad was so big I couldn’t even finish it. Tommy bought dinner for everyone – what a guy! Dinner discussion was jubilant and we agreed for about the 9 millionth time that we’re having the best week ever.  Jack and I toasted & cheers each other for organizing the trip. He had all the connections, I just brought the crazy crew.

After gorging ourselves on dinner we retired back to condo de la heaven and played rummy 500, for which I had no skill and got my ass handed to me. It was still early and Tommy, Steve and I headed back to “The Boot” to have night caps. We ran into Mike and Harry sitting at the bar. We all took turns talking about the crazy snow day. Somehow it comes up that my birthday is this weekend and we had rounds of shots in celebration. This is when I found out Michelle knows Tom also. I had just missed him at the bar. They were all there and just left. (Another small world moment: after I got home I found out my friend Leah worked at The Boot for awhile when she had lived in CO.)

Mike, Harry and I talked about skiing on what would be  tomorrow. They planned to go to Vail and asked me to join them and I wanted to ski again. I was pretty sure the guys in my condo are out on skiing tomorrow so we exchanged numbers to connect in the morning. Sweet. I have a surrogate ski posse.

Somehow Harry and I got separated from the crew and we wandered around a desolate Beaver Creek Village. It was nice to talk about life, relationships and fun things with a fresh face. We had very similar interests so the conversation was easy. We bid farewell and I went home.

Steve and Tommy were still up drinking when I got back around midnight and we were up talking until about 3:00am, which explains why when in the next post I talk about feeling tired and weird….

On The Mountain: Day 4 Yesterday Was So Good, Back To Vail

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The enjoyment factor of Vail yesterday scored a 10 out of 10 so we had decided unanimously to return for some Wednesday fun. I had downloaded the full version of the Ski Tracks iPhone app the night before and was so ready to try it out. (It’s too bad I didn’t realize it would shut off when the battery life got to 20% and I didn’t get the whole day. Darn you text messages.)

We took the 9:30am Turtle Bus from Beaver Creek to the mountain and managed to take some group photos while we waited for it to arrive. The first one we used the timer setting and second and better shot was taken by a kind stranger waiting with us. We departed  having very high hopes for a great day.

It was much colder; the  snow was really hard and lumpy. Save the lumps for the mashed potatoes please, I hate skiing on the hard stuff. We ended up in the Sun Up Bowl on the first run. Eddie bailed and said “No way see yous later.”, we were kind of in over our heads.  <– Accurate depiction of both lumpy mashed potatoes and what the Sun Up Bowl looked like on 2/16/11. Imagine tiny people on the face of that pile trying to arrive safely at the bottom.

I ended up having to lead Tommy and Steve down the easiest way while Jack and Joe headed a different direction. Needless to say we were out of breath and sweating by the time we got to the lift despite the chilly temps.

At lunchtime we were reunited with our funny friend the Wapiti “You Want Me To Put What? Where?” Lift. We shot over to the Two Elk Lodge and decided to eat inside since it was cold; the sun was being elusive. Sat with a nice older couple that were obviously not mountain rookies. Out of their bag came cheese, fruit and other healthy lunch goodies. I felt guilty hoovering down another cup of chicken & sausage gumbo. Still scarred from yesterday’s episode (bird food), I skipped the chips even though we ate inside.

The rest of the day on the mountain was relatively unremarkable but still way better than any day at work  or skiing any other mountain. We headed home on the 4:00pm and had some quality deck time. The sun returned and the remaining afternoon was quite enjoyable. We discussed plans for our newly rescheduled off day tomorrow. There had been a casual eye and interest in the impending forecasted overnight snow snow storm and the implications it would have on the ski conditions tomorrow. (For the record.)

I sat around lazily, forgetting about the invite to the No Bozos party that evening. When Steve announced we would be meeting them around 7:30 I had to scurry to get ready. Steve kindly went and picked up beer for everyone while I anxiously got ready for the night’s events. I kind of felt like we would be crashing their party and socially awkward (me?) about the whole thing. While we walked to “the party condo” I hung back and told Tommy I felt weird, he told me I was being stupid. I was the last one to walk in and hadn’t felt so shy and out of place in a long time. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

What a fun and welcoming group of people they were! I had a long talk with Barb Dempsey who I had met on Saturday at the airport. We discussed their ski group, skiing and life in general. She told me I had a great personality and would fit right into their group. She was right that I would fit in. People that like to ski, drink and have a good time are my kind of people!

Looking back on it, I wonder if so many people would have spoken to me if not to comment on my red face. Joe made a pained face and fun of me. Hugo and Lucille who I had met on the bus on the way in were very kind. Hugo even commented that I cleaned up nicely and apologized for butchering my name during role call on the bus. When you’re a Youchah, it’s understood no one can pronounce it. It’s “You-cha” or for the southern folks, “Yew-chaw”. Lucille and I had similar issues with waking up with the “we’re way up in elevation puffy face and carrying luggage under our eyes”. I was really glad to not be alone on that one.

As I worked my way around the room like I was at a networking event for work (go with what you know), I approached Mike to thank him for hooking me up with the Ski Tracks app. When I tell you this guy could pass for Jack Black I mean it, but it turns out he is just an officer of the law and by that I mean an Air Marshall. I tried not really hard NOT to brag about my 55 mph max speed the first day I used it but the beer and conversation it will create won’t let me. As the only boarder in the group he attained 52 and I thought it was because he was a boarder. (I hit 51 when I rode at Hunter Mountain on March 27th and I’m not so great at boarding. For whatever that’s worth…)

The commotion and hub bub caused by a 100 (way more) something pound girl out speeding boys brought Chip (thx SJB) out of what I thought was the woodwork. People are having a good time at this point in the evening telling me how good looking he is. Which is all well and fine but I’m not here for finding a man or anything. We discussed skiing and outdoor sports at length and I’m secretly loving his 55mph envy. It’s not often anymore that I’m a boy beater, but he’s beating me by 10 years in age (so let it be sister).  His tops was 52mph, (don’t crush the man’s ego, although you could).

The kicker was when hashing over tomorrow’s plans he said “You’re on a ski vacation and you’re gonna take tomorrow off?”. I thought it was cool to take a day off out of 5 ski days. I’ve never skied with people that didn’t take the day off at least once. (I’ve never wanted to have a ski day off.. for the record).  The Chipster wanted my condo # which I of course did not know, I left it to my man posse to be in charge of getting home so I wouldn’t lose them. Meanwhile it was clearly printed on the key in my pocket and I knew it was there. Our keys were for real keys not random looking hotel keys.

Never straying from my bartender roots, I grab him a beer from the fridge and realize I’m out of beer. My dear friend and partner for the week actually makes the trip back to our condo to get me a Stella so I can continue conversating with my new friend.  We talk running which I love. Odd that he is wearing the same exact trail sneakers I have (Salamon) and love but is also training like me for a big event in the near future.  Not much longer down the road, not only am I out of beer but my friends have left me.

I called Steve when I realized I was alone (the buddy system has it’s reasons) and he came back to retrieve me. We decided to continue the evening at the Coyote Cafe and invited Chip to join us. We’d planned to meet in the lobby in 5 minutes after grabbing our coats. Chip never makes it, we have night caps meaning a shot and a beer. We head home as a unit. There’s really no reason to stop partying since we aren’t skiing tomorrow so the party rolls onward at home.

As everyone who tries to be quiet can tell you, sometimes it just doesn’t work. Somewhere in the 2:00am area a glass lid follows Eddie off of the counter and shatters all over the kitchen floor.  We don’t live here and struggle to find cleaning items but eventually get the mess under control. Not before Jack is awake and out hanging with us again. We put The Weather Channel on and we had  started to take the now Winter Storm Warning seriously. Could tomorrow be a POWDER DAY? For real?

On The Mountain: Vail The Return To My Mountain Love

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Trip Notes: This song was stuck in my happy little head all day as I lived and re-lived all of my memories and heartfelt feeling for the mountain that is Vail. Have a listen, my friend Steve knows what I’m talking about. Plus it was recorded at Saratoga Performing Arts Center, located in my homeland. I can’t begin to convey the utter joy I felt by being reunited with my favorite mountain of all on such a gloriously perfect day.

Jack had taken care of all of the arranging for the trip on the Turtle Bus to Vail. We lost Joey and Eddie to the aftermath of last nights festivities, but it was a great day nonetheless.The Turtle Bus was designed to be a party bus complete with a bar, stripper pole and limo style seating with cup holders. Like the cool kids we sat in the back of the bus and stowed our gear.  The dude driving was a  typical CO stoner dude that had a self proclaimed, (and I agreed), David Spade look to him. The bus acted up, we did not, and at the commuter lot we had to switch drivers and buses.

Once we arrived, the bus dropped us off at the top of Vail Village. Luckily we were smart enough to wear real shoes so there was no *clomp clomp* to get slope side.  A few dollars in the token machine and we had a locker for the shoes and we’re rarin’ to go. With the warm sun on our faces we headed up the Vista Bahn lift to the tent aka “Henry’s Hut” to find a guide for a mountain tour.

While we waited… and waited for our never would happen mountain tour, I stood and digested the amazing view of the Rockies that were surrounding me. Close to shedding a tear of happiness I wasn’t sorry to hear we had missed the mountain tour and were on our  own.  The morning was spent owning the Back Bowls of Vail. There was hardly a soul around, one of the perks of skiing on a Tuesday.

As morning faded into afternoon, we’d skied through all of the Sun Up and China Bowls and catch the most hilarious “you want me to put what where?” lift called the Wapiti. It’s basically a between the legs tow from the chair lift to the Two Elk Lodge for lunch. Jack and I find the lift most giggle worthy and fun. Click to enlarge, Jack is in black and I am talented for managing to take this picture.

Lunch was enjoyed outside again and I partake in some amazingly good chicken and sausage gumbo. I decided to treat myself to a bag of sun chips too. I should have saved my money because they blew all over the ground only to become bird food. You’re welcome birds.

As we sat outside at a picnic table, Mike from the No Bozos approached us and asked if anyone had an iPhone. Not embarrassed that this could be in regards to my giant luggage I freely divulge my iPhone ownership status. He told me about this super cool app called Ski Tracks that tracks the trails, distance, speed, vertical distance, basically the dirty details of the day on the mountain. He explained in his (Jack Black excited manner) that it’s a must have and to try the free one and if it’s likable to go with the $0.99 one, it’s worth it. I downloaded it over 3G at the top of on of the highest mountains I’ve ever been on. (Yeah, that’s  a rare thumbs up and boo-yah to you AT&T!) . Once downloaded we were set and ready to go and record the second half of our day.

This is all the data the app collected while sitting quietly running in the background nestled in my jacket pocket.  The GPS functionality of the iPhone allowed all of this to happen. Simply touch the  “world” button and it opens your ski day in Google Maps with Standard, Satellite, and Track views. The right view is the Satellite view. The max speed of 55.4 MPH caused a lot of jealousy amongst the other guys using the app who didn’t beat me and couldn’t understand how I did it. Skills boys, mad skills. Fire On The Mountain.

We were able to ski together for the rest of the afternoon with the exception of the last run. (for ). It looked like Tommy and Steve headed to the right to catch the Riva Bahn lift so Jack and I naturally followed. They weren’t there and they never arrived. We consulted the map and decided to take this lift and catch the Northwoods lift to do my favorite  run EVER. I call it Riva Ridge but it changes names as you descend, it’s that long.

The first part of the Riva Bahn was unmemorable until the monster took a turn and heads directly and steeply downhill. This isn’t normal for a ski lift and felt really weird. I’m no lie scared shitless, sorry for the swear but sometimes it just is true. I couldn’t speak words, words may have moved the chair and I’d fall off. I haven’t been that scared in a long, long time. It was quite literally breathtaking. At that altitude, I needed all of the breath I had.

After that hairy ride we scurried over to the Northwoods Lift which by comparison was uneventful. Between the two, we were on the lift a long time. At the top, we spoke to a  mountain guide next to the giant map to confirm our long Riva Ridge run. He kindly gave us directions and some history with a warning about the Tourist Trap portion of the run that it was a bit icy and yard sale inducing. Jack looked a tad squeamish and I assured him all was good.

As we took off from the top, there is a nice green circle lead in that toured us past trails that were like old friends once I saw their names. Hello Gandy Dancer, Espresso, Whistle Pig, Cappucino, Swingsville, long time no see. Once on Riva Ridge, Jack and I cruise through the run; it’s every bit as wonderful as I had hoped. At the bottom Steve and Tommy wave our grinning faces down. We all finally de-boot (I had the key as the responsible one), re-shoe and head back to catch the Turtle Bus.

The evening was pretty tame. We had the usual apres ski drinks on the deck reliving the day. Subs from the local delivery equaled dinner and everyone but Steve and I was asleep by 9pm. Bored with the snoozers we headed back out to the Dusty Boot to share a pitcher of Colorado Native. We saw some people we had met the night before and chatted with them. Tired ourselves, we were back in the condo and respective beds by midnight, surely the earliest of the entire trip.

On The Mountain: Beaver Creek Day 2

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We’re now on Monday of epic ski week at Beaver Creek and mountain day 2.  As I had slept with The Weather Channel on all night long, I knew it was going to be another perfect day. Forecast was 43 degrees and full on sunshine, again, perrrrfect ski weather. The dudes had been scurrying around and loudly chatting for a while so I knew I should pull myself from my comfy bed.

All was good until I went into my most awesome bathroom and saw a most HIDEOUS face. No, there will not a picture link to that and it’s really bad when hideous and my face are in the same sentence. Other than breaking my eye socket in high school, I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen myself look so awful. Giant bags (pretty much the size of my luggage) were located under my eyes and my beat red face was swollen to the max. I’m really good friends with the guys downstairs but I didn’t dare to go down there without a hat on to shade the awful.

They are all pretty much in the same shape as I without the help of a hat. I’m the only complainer. “I look like a bag of a..” Tommy replied, “Barbara we all do.” (with the exception of Jack, the smart sunscreen wearing guy)   Eggs and sausages fly around the kitchen, I had to hit the box of cereal I had chosen at the store.  The coffee was gone; at that point I needed water to heal and stay hydrated to fight off altitude sickness. We discussed the weather and what to wear on the mountain. I made a bold (and unlike me statement) I’m forgoing my helmet and wearing a baseball hat because it will better shade my beaten face. Jack agreed that today is a no helmet day. The other yo-yo’s don’t ever wear one. Upon later review, it was decided that forgoing the helmet wasn’t so smart. Not wearing a helmet is nice, brain injury is not.

(I did a very BAD job of notes on  this day, there’s a 1/3 of a page, compared to other days where there’s page-s.) I know we hopped back across the street, popped skis on and headed down to the lift. Day two on the mountain moved way faster. We know where we want to go and a lot less standing around. There’s no need for warm up cat tracks thank goodness. Steve does look ridiculous in those kid glasses so I try not to look at them. He decided he needed to assign partners: Tommy & Eddie, Jack & Joey, and  Barb & Steve. “Don’t lose your partner.”  He must’ve been a kindergarten teacher in a former life. We stop for a moment to gather ourselves and the “snow snakes” came out of no where and bite Tommy. He topples like a sack of potatoes for no good reason.  Almost really hurts himself but we laugh about snow snakes for rest of the trip.

We skied all morning and the answer to the question “Which way?” was responded to with “Down.” and that too, lasts all week. Lunch came again at about the same time and the same place, Red Tail Camp. Looking for lunch seats in *clomp clomp*ski boots is never fun.

I waited in line alone and made friends again with the people near me. I assumed they are hoity toity wannabes or something from their bragging about being at Beaver Creek and it being so expensive in front of people at Beaver Creek. (Whatever, dudes. Not impressed.) I see the sign explaining Gerald Ford’s history at Beaver Creek which I had been wondering about. He had a trail named after him along with the Performing Arts Center in the village.  I couldn’t decide on lunch so chili and mac and cheese it was. A winter without chili is not a winter.  It was damn good. Eddie took offense at my salting of the mac n cheese. For Pete’s sake, I do everything else in regards to eating pretty well most of the time. He walked away, I added more and they all threatened to tell on me. Bunch of effers.

Jack and Joe wanted a picture and Jack offered  to take one of me with the other guys. I had to gratefully decline, “this face does not belong in pictures” and pulled my hat down farther.  Behind us was a table full of the No Bozos and Steve went to say hello. Hat got pulled down even farther. Not quite strangers shouldn’t see this; I might run into them later. Steve returned to the table and they invited us to a party tomorrow night. Running into them will come sooner than I thought.

Time to  finish up lunch and the crazies polished off their third beers and we’re headed back to the mountain.  It was time for Birds Of Prey ! Joe lead the BOP run like a dog gone champion. That was no easy run. It’s the home of the Men’s World Cup and Super G ya know. Started steep and had the only ice I’d ever seen in Colorado. Past it, we skied like hellions. This run IS fun! Fun, but exhausting. Two more trips down and we called it quits and headed back to the village.

Steve, Joe and I shared a Blue Moon pitcher at McCoy’s and watched the cookie frenzy again. Sunshine, beer and friends, life is good.  Back at the condo for 3 hours of deck time. Steve and Tommy made a beer/booze run. I ran too. To the store for some aloe, thank you Scott for the suggestion! We showered up to be more presentable and layer on the aloe. Pasta dinner, salad and bread from our lovely kitchen and we yet again feasted. I took small portions. I could feel I was eating too much.

Drinks were poured and we hung for a bit until it got festive up in here!  Time to head out to The Dusty Boot. We met the bartender Johnny and some local flavor, took pictures and drank lots. Eddie ended up hammered so we had to find Joey and leave. Back to the condo and it was relative mayhem and tomfoolery. Some of us will make it to the Turtle Bus to Vail tomorrow for the BEST day of skiing I have ever had and some of us didn’t…

(I have no idea why the comments are closed or how to fix it.)

On The Mountain: Beaver Creek Day 1

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I’ve never skied Beaver Creek before. In all of the times I’ve skied Vail, you’d think a little adventure would call me a little farther down the road into Avon to ski the mountain with the tagline “Beaver Creek Not Exactly Roughing It“. They aren’t kidding about that. For real. If you are a skier you can appreciate the fact that Beaver Creek has an escalator. Or two to be more exact. No clomp clomp clomping up the stairs to and fro the mountain. Getting on and off said escalator always gave me the dicey feeling of uncoordination but that’s natural in ski boots that aren’t attached to skis. It was nice to rest and enjoy the ride until get off time. I’m not so good at not falling  down so it worried me every time I stepped on but it was better than walking.

The weather at Beaver Creek: 43 degrees and sunny. Really sunny at 8,100 feet in elevation in the Village and 11,400 feet at the summit. So far my breathing and overall health has not been affected by being in the thin air. Other than climbing the stairs to my room.  I wish I didn’t have to pee so much. The partying probably had something to do with that. The smart guy was Jack, the rest of me and my dudes: not so much. Sunscreen? Who needs or thinks about that when your mind is full of happy mountain thoughts?  If I could step back and correct that error, I could have talked to people about something OTHER than my red face all week.

A short trek through the garage and across the street, we’re popping bindings; racing to the longest, slowest lift but a lift nonetheless. Visible smiles, merriment, hooting and hollering on the lift… vacation is on like Donkey Kong. Get these sticks on the ground! Once we’re off the lift we take the obligatory moment to grasp the beauty that is the Rocky Mountains. The view is amazing, life is so so perfectly good. I take a moment to be grateful that I can have this experience again and vow to make all of it I can just in case it is the last time.

I’m immediately annoyed by everyone wanting to “warm up” on the easy crap. Cat tracks are for beginners and me when I’m riding a snowboard.  GET ME ON THE MOUNTAIN! I’m always like that in my head but comply and ride around and around. I guess warming up is a good idea when it’s been a year since the last shushing.  The morning is spent exploring the mountain. I’ve never been here, I can’t lead, I follow and we have fun. A lot of fun. This mountain is great and will be even better when it’s empty tomorrow. Today is Sunday so it’s busier than probably the rest of the week will be. (I am right other than Vail on Friday which is the start of Presidents Day weekend – a skier/boarder favorite holiday weekend.)

Around 1:00pm the fiber cereal has been burned off and I’m hungry like the wolf and cautiously suggest lunch. It is greeted with a unanimous vote for food at the Red Tail Camp which is at the bottom of a most excellent fast and steep run. (where’s the map? what’s the name of the run?) I’m pretty sure it’s Raven Ridge that lands us onto Golden Eagle that leads us to our feast.

Red Tail Camp for lunch. *clomp clomp* Ski boot clomp to find a table. We’re gonna eat outside and love every second of it. Our faces won’t later but whatever.  Clomp clomp back down the stairs to wait in line for my chicken sandwich. I make friends with the other skiers in line, shockingly. (not so much) I forget a knife and fork from condiment row and shout to Jack and Joe to grab them for me. Macaroni and cheese is my chosen side for my sandwich and I kind of can’t wait to eat it. Tommy had put his jacket on the other table and walked away to get food or something. Steve had found an open table kitty corner and Steve, Ed and I parked our crap there. when Tommy returns he can’t find his coat and freaks out before asking the people who are now sitting there if his coat is there. When he finally asks, it’s there. Sheesh.

The weirdest thing about lunch is when I’m ready to pay for my $4.90 bottle of water and at the check out she says you can get water for free inside.  My mouth was a desert and I opened and chugged half of the bottle of water whilst I waited in line so it’s too late. It looks like I’m paying $.10 less for water than I would for a beer. (I’m pretty sure that is BS) Sandwich and mac n cheese are yummy and we’re enjoying the sunshine and being on the mountain. While we eat someone skis by and sprays snow over everyone on the other side of the table. Glad it wasn’t me!

We head back to the “hill” and ski ski ski all afternoon or at least until 2:45pm. Jack and Joe break off and go to search for the trail that leads back to The Centennial successfully. Eddie and Tommy go to bring their skis back to the rental shop. That leaves two: Steve and I. We head to “Meet Me At” McCoy’s for some  New Belgium Enlightened Black Ale 1554 that is brewed in Fort Collins, CO. It is delicious. I am happy to unhook those God forsaken boots that have been strapped on all day. I decide I must take a happy feet picture to at least jog my memory later of how happy I am at this moment. We notice some people dressed in chef hats pulling a large wagon type thing past us. Around 3:00pm the mountain guests all headed straight for the same location. We sat like two dopes staring at them. *Insert gaped mouth picture, if I had one*

Come to find out, Beaver Creek serves fresh, hot chocolate chip cookies on the mountain everyday at 3:00pm. How freakin’ nice is THAT??! Let me tell you, there were a lot of happy people leaving the mountain. Big smiles and brown spots on their teeth from the hot chocolate chips.  Once we knew what was going on, we directed people to the “cookie man” including one woman who was desperate to get cookies for her six, yes six(!) kids. I can only imagine what that day of skiing cost them. A regular price adult ticket at Beaver Creek is at least $10o and lunch was about $25.00.

As we sat there enjoying the weather, the people and the beer we realize just how much we should have worn sunscreen and start to complain about our aching faces.  Two apres ski beers down the hatch and we head towards home. Steve has decided he wants sunglasses so we stop by a ski shop. He comes back out with glasses and hasn’t taken the stickers off. He looks kind of like a mutant … because the glasses are for a 4-6 year old! They look ridiculous but he’ll wear them until he breaks them on the third day at Vail. Eddie is sitting outside at the Coyote Cafe and I spy cam take pictures of him sitting alone drinking a Heineken until he is collected by cat calls from us and we walk home.

On the way we encountered more friendly mountain guides, they were handing out postcards to people as they left.  Not only that, but they said to just fill it out and hand it back to anyone wearing a red jacket and they would mail it out for free. What a great marketing idea!  It’s as good as the cookies. Write home about the wonderful time you’re having at Beaver Creek (and they had just given you cookies) that’s word of mouth advertising at it’s finest.

Back at the ranch our deck over looking the mountain we just skied is well used. The boys are starving and we briefly discuss making a pasta dinner. Since we don’t have any of the fixin’s we decide to table that until tomorrow. “Tube of meat”  cheeseburgers with potato chips was the meal of the night. I can’t find a picture of what it looked like, the “tube of chopped meat” but it was nothing I would ever buy or normally eat but hunger has a funny way about it.  Along with beer, Captain Morgan and Sambuca. We opt to stay in again tonight and promise to go out the night after.  We pass out relatively early in order to be ready for mountain day two! This giant bed to myself is so excellent and so is sleeping with the Weather Channel on with a sunny forecast and snow on Thursday woo hoo!