Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Actually, it kinda IS about the destination...

Happy Spring!!!

Ernesto & I are just home from a fabulous spring break...

  Thursday the plan was to be on the road by 6:00 am for our 12+ hour road trip to Breckenridge, CO.  Of course we overslept so it was more like 8:30.  But, oh well it was vacation after all.  We decided to take the scenic route rather than the more direct but crowded & boring Interstates.   This led us through lots of pretty scenery particularly as we got in to the Rockies.  Coming in from the south we passed through miles of farms tucked in to gorgeous mountain vistas.

"The Scenic Route"

 Ernesto's coworker, Jennifer, has a connection in Breckenridge for lodging.  So we were hooked up with a sweet one bedroom ski in/ski out condo. We arrived in town @ dusk & once we picked up our keys we headed out on foot to find something to eat.  This was spring break week after all, so the town was bustling.  Lots of places looked good but seemed full.  One place, Relish, was on Jennifer's recommended list but couldn't seat us for over an hour.  Instead we made a reservation for Saturday night & continued on until we found what turned out to be an excellent BBQ joint.  They had a special platter with several kinds of delicious meat specialties (sorry, vegan friends) plus a beet salad that was plenty filling for both of us to split.  Especially once we added in a blonde brownie sundae concoction!!!  After that we hopped back in the car & drove the few blocks to our condo.  

Our comfy home away from home

  The unit turned out to be perfection.  We were on the 4th floor so had a great view of the mountains.  Everything we needed was efficiently tucked into the space.  The king size Temperpedic mattress in the bedroom had us rethinking our set up at home!  And we had a full kitchen which was great even though we didn't plan on making much more than coffee.  
  Friday morning we got up & hit the slopes early.  Breckenridge is part of the Vail group of ski areas & we have a pass through them that rewards you so it turned out we got one free day of skiing!!  We each loaded our passes for three days.  Even though we were there for four full days we knew we might want to snowshoe one of those days.  The weather was gorgeous.  It got up in the mid 40's & we actually got hot.  The mountain was huge!  Breckenridge is composed of 4 peaks & a 5th is being developed this summer.  I was skiing great even though I hadn't been very physically active through the winter.  

  We broke for lunch on the mountain.  It was delish but EXPENSIVE! 
Here's what $32 gets you 

 After this first day we figured out the true beauty of ski in/ski out.  The rest of the week we would go out at night for big dinners, bring home left-overs & ski in for lunch @ home.  LOVED LOVED LOVED this!!!  Also, we were able to come in & leave off some of our warmer gear & finish the day out in lighter weight clothing.  The condos also had two hot tubs, one indoor, one out. 

 So we took advantage of this every day!!!  The only thing that could have made it better is if we'd had our dogs.  (Only owners can have animals @ the condo).

This crepe place always had a line out to the sidewalk

  The next day was COLD & snowy.  We bundled back up in our heavy gear & headed out to do a mountain tour w/one of the volunteer guides.  I had done one similar in Beaver Creek a few years back.  If you are ever skiing somewhere that offers this it is a great way to get a lay of the land.  Friday I wound up in an ocean of moguls, which I suck at & had to remove my skis to get down (Oh the shame!!  If my best ski buddy, Jantha had seen this she would have been so embarrassed for me!!) So my hope was (correctly) once I'd had the tour that wouldn't happen again.  The majority of Breckenridge is expert (black) runs.  Although many of them were more of what I consider blue (intermediate).  Every place is different.  Taos' blue runs seem more like blacks.  I am most comfortable on a wide open "groomer" & that is what Breckenridge had LOTS of!  So it was great skiing all week.  There is an entire upper mountain that we never got to because I wanted to go up when we had better visibility & that never really happened again the rest of the week.  The lifts closed @ 4 & the weather really seemed to whip up around three.  One day it was pelting tiny ice needles in our faces & you couldn't see the terrain you were skiing at all.  The light was really flat & you just had to go by "feel".

  Our last day we decided to snowshoe.  Breckenridge also has a Nordic Center so we drove over to check out their trails.  Incidentally, this was the only time we used our car.  Not only were the slopes just out the back door, but the rest of town was walking distance from the front.  The Nordic Center caters to cross country skiing & snowshoeing.  We could see the gorgeous drawing and actual construction of the new & improved center that's being built.  The current facility is in a funky old building.  I've never tried cross country but it's next on my list.  It's also quite a bit more affordable that alpine.  A lift ticket runs an average of $100 a day while a trail pass is only $20.  So skipping that last day on the slopes helped keep our trip on budget :)

Drawing of the new Nordic Center
New Nordic Center in Progress

  Snowshoeing is basically hiking in the snow.  The shoes help keep your feet from sinking under the snow.  I found some for cheap on Overstock.  A little too cheap maybe.  They just didn't feel as substantial as those we have rented in the past.  They did the job though & we will keep them until they wear out & then invest is more solid equipment.

One of the more primitive "Huts"
  The forest was a breathtaking winter wonderland.  We only saw two other groups of people all day.  We followed a trail to one of the "huts" for a picnic.  The one we went to had been relocated & was over 100 years old.  It was a one room log cabin with a little stove available if you wanted.  There was a table covered with candles presumably if you were there at night.  Although there weren't any beds I guess you could sleep there if you wanted & had a sleeping bag.  I don't think anyone would show up to tell you to leave.  Although passes are required we never saw anyone to show them to.  I guess we could have just gone up on our own & maybe paid a fine if we were caught?  Anyway, I like supporting the trails & $20 hardly seemed like we were being gouged.

Inside the "Hallelujah Hut"

  So that was our week.  It was a grueling 13 hour drive home.  In this instance it was definitely about the destination rather than the journey.  And spring was waiting @ for us at OUR destination! :D