Friday, January 25, 2013

Colorado Ski Weekend - Part II

(See Part I here)

After our exhausting day of skiing the day before, I thought we might sleep in a little on Sunday.  But as soon as the sun came up over the mountain, I was up and ready to go again.  Surprisingly, I wasn't as sore as I was expecting.  Not as sore as I was last year in Tahoe, anyways. (Not sure I can say the same for Matt...)

It was a repeat of yesterday - shower (not for me), breakfast, lots of layering - and then we loaded up the car.  We decided to check out VAIL for day 2 on the slopes!  Luke was the only one who had skied there before, and he said it was his favorite mountain, so of course we were all excited to check it out!

We left around 8:30 and pulled in to a parking garage in Vail (after driving around trying unsuccessfully to find the "free" one on the map) a little after 9.  Not a bad drive at all from Breck!

The hike to the gondola was much further today.  And carrying skis and poles while walking in boots just gets old quick.  Thank goodness the line to get up the mountain wasn't too bad yet -- we must of beat the crowd since it was still pretty early!

Vail quickly moved in to the number one spot on my favorite list of mountains in Colorado.  It's the largest ski resort/mountain in North America (didn't know that before doing some research recently).   Big wide open runs, better snow than Breck, lots of easy runs and plenty of harder ones on the back side, a cute village...  It's just a great mountain!

Nothing but blue skies again.  Gorgeous, perfect day.

The lines were long again, but that was to be expected for a holiday weekend.  And I don't think they were as bad as Breck the day before.  I guess on a bigger mountain the people are spread out more?

Of course we found the Epic Mix people numerous times to take plenty of pictures for us.  At one particular spot, they did action shots, allowing you to ski down toward the photographer.  Of course we had to do that!  The skiing down part went well, and we got some cool pics, but somehow, at the very end, Matt crashed trying to avoid a guy standing around by the photographer and hurt his leg pretty bad.  He toughed it out after some Advil, but he was feeling it the rest of the trip... :(

The last time Ang and I skied together was in 2010 at Keystone/Breck.  We tried to take these jumping pictures (with my brother), and couldn't for the life of us get off the ground at the same time.  It's harder than it looks!  Here are the pics from three years ago:

 Obviously, we've been practicing, because this years pics turned out much better!

(We both fell after the pic.  Like I said, it's harder than it looks!)
Lunch break wasn't a bad view.

It was warm enough to take our jackets off and enjoy the sunshine. 

Thank goodness for my pb&j... ;)

At some point after lunch, Luke and I decided it would be a good idea to try some moguls that didn't look too bad.  Ang and Matt went to the bottom to watch us, and when we got up there...we realized they were black diamonds and MUCH steeper than they looked from down below.  Luke, the smarter of the two of us, decided to ski down an easier way.  I decided to give them a shot, without much success.  I did make it down without falling, but it certainly wasn't pretty...

They were harder than they look, I promise!

We continued skiing all over the mountain and found some awesome runs and cool spots.  We also took way to many pictures from the Epic Mix people at Vail.  Every time we saw one, we had to stop.  These are just a few of them...

Our legs had pretty much had it by 3, so we decided to head on down the mountain.  After some confusion and plenty of map studying, we found an easy way down, avoiding the icy moguls. 

Last pic on the mountain at Vail.  Wind-burned cheeks and chapped lips!
The hike back to the car - dragging our skis and poles - was not cool.  We were cold, hungry, tired, name it.    But once we got to the car and out of the uncomfortable boots, we decided to stay and check out Vail village and grab an early dinner again before heading back to Breckenridge. (I might of bought another ornament for our Christmas travel tree, too.)

 Found a cool place for dinner:  Mountain Standard right in the village.  It was a little fancy, so we were slightly out of place in our ski gear, but they let us in anyways.  I had porchetta - new for me - and it was pretty amazing.  Everyone's food was amazing, actually!  (Or maybe we were just that hungry...)

Ang and I had spotted a homemade ice cream place on our walk around the village.  Of course that's where we went for dessert!

(I went a little overboard with cotton candy AND birthday cake ice cream...)

Once we got back to the condo, Ang started a fire and broke out the champagne.  She had wanted to do that the previous two nights, and it just hadn't happened.  But that was our last chance, so we had to do it!  I still left the party early and went to bed around 10:30 I felt like 2am at least though.

Champagne and a fire.  (Photo courtesy of Angie's Instagram feed)

Monday morning we were up early again.  Poor Matt was not feeling too hot this morning, but of course he agreed to one more day of skiing anyways.  Keystone this time!!

Last pic together (on our deck)
 We said good bye to Luke and Ang, who were headed back to Denver to spend the day with some friends, and then we took off for the short drive to our third mountain in three days.

Matt's only request for skiing was that we park as close as possible to the gondola so he didn't have to walk very far.  Keystone has a free parking lot, but he insisted on paying $20 to park about as close as you can get.  (Money well spent, in his eyes.)

So up to the top we went.  Our first run down - an easy green - almost made us stop for the day.  It was freezing cold!!  Much more cold than it had been on the previous two days - or it felt that way at least. 

Another perfect day on another gorgeous mountain
The lines were much MUCH shorter at Keystone - we hardly waited at all anywhere - so we actually covered a good portion of the mountain in the morning alone.  (With a couple of stops for more Epic Mix pictures...)

We eventually decided to take a break for water and snacks in a lodge...and that turned out to be a bad idea.  We had only been skiing a few hours, but once we sat down and warmed up, neither of us had ANY desire to get back out there and ski again.  Already at the top of the mountain, we took one more long run all the way down and called it good.  I'd say that's still a pretty successful ski trip!

Barely making it down the stairs after our break...

We drove to the outlet malls in Silverthorne (just outside of Keystone) and actually changed clothes in the parking lot, haha.  We had some time to kill before our late flight out of Denver, so we decided to just shop around.  We got some buffalo beef jerky, and I got the coolest purple Nike boots ever.  And the best part is they were only $20 at the Nike outlet.  For real.  There was no way I could pass those up...

Once we had had our fill of shopping - that didn't take long - we started the trip back to Denver.  I was a little nervous about hitting traffic later, so we wanted to try and beat some of that.  It was smooth sailing -- for about 30 minutes.  Then it was barely crawling.  I have no idea why, but traffic was just not moving. 

We started to get a little nervous, but convinced ourselves to pull off and eat at Beau Jo's pizza in Idaho Springs anyways.  Matt used to stop there to meet his uncle when he and his family traveled to Colorado in the summers, so it was a must.  The place was packed - even at 2pm - so we snarffed our food down and got right out of there to sit in more traffic to make it back to Denver.

You dip the crust in honey.  Delicious.

Luckly, traffic started moving again not too much further down the road.  We returned our skis, and then sat in more Denver traffic to make it out to the airport to gas up and return our rental car.  We actually didn't have that much extra time once we got to the actual airport.  We grabbed a Jamba Juice and went to our gate, only to find out our flight was delayed.  Great.

We eventually  made it home -- a little later than hoped, but home nonetheless.  My mom was waiting for us outside the airport with a warm car and we filled her in on our awesome Colorado ski weekend on the drive back to my house...

Poor Matt's knees had had it...
 Even with all the sore-ness that comes with skiing three days, we had the best time in Colorado.  We're already thinking about next years ski trip - hopefully with Angie and Luke again! :)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Colorado Ski Weekend

We made a quick trip out to the Rocky Mountains for some skiing over Martin Luther King weekend.

Our 1/2 day of vacation and short flight to Denver made the hour and a half drive out to Breckenridge much more enjoyable (ie we still had daylight to make it up the mountain).

Picked up our rental car at the airport, stopped in Denver to get our ski rentals for the weekend - found a little family owned place right off I-70 -  another stop for groceries, and we were off...

Heading to the mountains! (Yes, I took this WHILE driving.)

One of my BFFs from college and her boyfriend (Angie and Luke) beat us there by a day and already had the place in Breckenridge.  Cool little condo with the perfect location:  5 minute walk to the downtown Breck area, and less than that to the chair lift.

We ended up at a very packed Breckenridge Brewery for dinner -- after a nice walk down Main Street.  We window shopped all the super cute stores and picked out which ones we were going to check out on the way home.  The whole town was still lit up like Christmas! 

Ended up waiting about an hour for a table at the brewery, but I don't think anyone minded the extra time to catch up (and drink local beers).  *Random side note:  As we were standing around the bar, I turned around and was face to face with a guy I went to high school with - and probably hadn't seen since high school.  Such a small world sometimes...

I particularly enjoyed my ribs at dinner!                    Ang and I trying on silly hats at a cute shop on Main

After eating way too much food and making the hike back to our condo, we were all ready to call it an early night.  Big plans to get up early the next morning and start the skiing off right!

Matt and I got the little pull out couch, and didn't sleep too bad - for it being a couch.  As soon as the sun started coming through those blinds, we were up.  At 7am.  Pretty sure the boys were not pumped about that!

We had breakfast (the groceries we bought in Denver came in really handy), showered - well, some of us showered - and started the long process of layering up for the day on the mountain:  long underwear, another pair of thicker long underwear, thick socks, sweats, ski pants, four layers on top, two pairs of gloves, etc, etc.  Hey, I hate being cold.

It's such an effort to get ready to ski, but oh so worth it when you actually get ON the mountain!

We lugged our skis and poles up the little hill by the parking lot - which took some skill in ski boots - bought our lift tickets (right there by the lift) for the three days, and set off for some fun!  We were on the chair just shortly after 9am. 

Angie and Luke on the chair in front of us.  I dropped my glove right after taking this...
 The snow at Breckenridge wasn't so great - some dirt showing through and some icy patches here and there - but the weather and the great company more than made up for that.  Not a cloud in the sky and the sun was perfect.

Thank goodness Angie loves pictures just as much - maybe more than - I do.  And Luke is super in to his GoPro cameras, so stopping numerous times to take gloves off for pictures was no issue.  We did plenty of that throughout the day...

Top right: Angie      Bottom left:  Matt

As the day went on, the lines got longer and longer.  It was pretty ridiculous at some of them.  I mean, waiting on line for 30 minutes to go down a 3 minute run got kind of old!  We tried to steer clear of the busier parts of the mountain and find some shorter lines.  I'm not sure how well that worked, but it was worth a shot.

We took an early break for lunch to try and beat some of the crowd.  Ang and Luke had been there the day before and found a great spot with an outdoor patio - and reasonably priced beers - so we grabbed a spot there.

Being the frugal person I am, I made pb&j sandwiches for everyone to stick in their pockets.  Ang and I had ours for lunch, along with the giant order of nachoes we all got to share.

We had the perfect view of the crazy skiers practicing jumps in the terrain park.  Found out later it was actually the competitors practicing for the X-Games coming up in Aspen the next week!

Seriously.  Look at those lines...

After we had our fill of food, beer, and sunshine, we set back off for some more skiing.  We took the gondola over to a different sectino of the mountain, but again, more long lines.  Good news was we found the EpicMix photographer who took our pictures for us - for free!

Day 1 is always rough.  You use weird musces and it's just hard work being out there all day!  We made it a few more hours, but eventually decided to call it a day.  Lucky for us, there was enough snow to ski directly down the hill and through the parking lot...stopping perfectly in front of our door right around 4pm.  Not having to hike back and drag skis when you're already worn out is amazing. (Probably not good on the 'ole skis, but hey, they're rentals...) 

Once inside, it took a few minutes to thaw out and re-gain enough energy start moving again.  We all agreed we were hungry, and actually decided to go to dinner at 5:45.  We felt so old and out of shape!  The early dinner turned out to be a really good idea though.  We totally beat the rush and didn't have to wait in line at the little Italian place we picked out.  And the food was delicious.

(Neither Ang nor I had showered yet...)
Even though we were full, we had been eyeing this crepe place every time we walked by.  There was always a line, so we knew it had to be good.  We decided to bare the freezing cold and wait in line.  Well, the boys wussed out and went in a Patagonia store, but Angie and I toughed it out. ;)

And man was it worth it!  I don't even remember what all was in mine - bananas and nuts and cool whip for sure - but it was SO good!  Found the perfect little spot off the main road and got a little fire all to ourselves to enjoy our warm crepes and hot chocolate!

In order to not freeze to death, we stopped in several shops on the walk home.  Partially to warm up, partially to shop. : )  I mean, I had to find a Christmas ornament for this trip!  Of course I found the PERFECT one in a little shop.  I mean, does it get any more perfect than this??

Kind of hard to see, but it has our names on it, and the part hanging down says 'Breckenridge 2013'
Luke bought a hat at one stop and a cool KU Jayhawk carved out of a piece of wood with a chain-saw.  I'm certainly no KU fan, but it was a cool piece of art.  Angie bought a Colorado sweatshirt at another stop.  And we eventually made it back to the condo...

...and were ready for bed at 9:30.  No joke.  We're officially old.

(Part II - Sunday/Monday - coming soon!)