Rockies Road Trip
Sunlight, Glenwood Springs, CO
Too much snow today so we lay off skiing because we don't think we can drive up the steep and twisted road. We instead discover the hot springs of Glenwood Springs. At Iron Mountain Spa there are a dozen pools each at a different temperature. The natural minerals are to provide a therapeutic bath and if that doesn't do it for you, you can find a full size heated swimming pool and a community size whirlpool. We spent about three and a half hours testing the different pools and all the while it was snowing. We did have a lifeguard, actually, "Crisitina the lifeguard" who wore full snow gear and stood out in the driving snow all the time we were in the hot water. The car had an additional 5 inches of snow when we departed to drive back to the hotel.
(photo of the snow monkeys of Japan)
Next day and the roads are clear and we are up and on the mountain. Although school was canceled we were unfettered by any crowd and there were no lift lines. The sun didn't break through and it was cold and a bit snowy but all in all a good day. We put in one more day at Sunlight and ran into a seniors group that skied Sunlight every Wednesday and Aspen either Monday or Friday. One lady was 79 and still no free lift ticket.
We arrived in Snowmass several hours before Brad, Kimberly and London who are meeting us for a long weekend. We were fortunate to get a condo for only four days since most of these type of rentals require a week. Next morning we were all out on the slopes, London in snow board lessons, Kimberly in beginner lessons and Brad ripping up the slopes on a snow board even through it had been twenty two years since his last outing. This was Friday and the next day the crowds picked up with ski lessons for local kids and a contingent from Brazil. It is carnival week in Rio and sane people want out of town so they come to North America to ski and Snowmass is one of their favorites.
Two days of skiing and its back to work, Brad, Kimberly and London off to Indy and we are off to complete our epic ski journey (did I say epic again). But it is Super Bowl Sunday so we need to find a hotel early in order to watch the game.
We drove all the way to Taos (well actually Red River) checked into a hotel and made it just in time for the Super Bowl. It is difficult to approach Taos from the north, first we had to drive north back to Glenwood Springs then east toward Denver then south toward New Mexico. After Cooper Mountain there is little to see except the plateau. The adage is that to ski Taos "you really have to want to get there". There are small twisted road that wind through a collection of antique (read junk) stores at 15 MPH. When you arrive you find construction everywhere and temporary walkways. I don't know, it just didn't look to be a top 20 ski resort in the US. The skiing was good but not great and it's hard to explain why. Anyway we headed home after just one day of skiing maybe because our knees were getting banged up, maybe because it was our last stop and we had had enough or we were just homesick (no way). Anyway that's just what we did.
Heading back to the midwest we zig zigzag our way out of New Mexico and arrived in Cimarron NM where we caught the Santa Fe Trail, wow, this is the most boring drive imaginable. We were glad to arrive in Kansas since it's rolling grassland looked like the Smoky Mountains compare to the flat dry empty Santa Fe Trail.
Kansas Highway Patrol cars were lined up on route 70 in their effort to interdict drugs coming from Colorado. One patrol car pulled out and ran alongside of us for a while looking in to see if we were worth a stop. We did have a midwest license plate, plenty of luggage and I was wearing my reflective skiing sunglasses. But he peeled off after seeing my grey hair.
We took three days to travel back to Indiana primary because we were stuck in a snow storm in St Louis.
Back Home Again
We no longer are in the arena of making a living so now we must search for ways to test ourselves and compete with the aging process. Skiing is all about muscle memory as it is with any athletic endeavor. It's best when you start at a very young age and practice it consistently, however that's wasn't our case. So we struggle to remember all the lessons we have taken and the video's we have watched and every days we improve and feel better about ourselves. Yea, we sometimes wear a knee brace and pack a knee in ice upon returning to the hotel room and our favorite treat is Ibuprofen. It's also not about the fact that we are wearing vintage ski wear (and we are) it's about how well we can carve a turn, how gracefully we can ski and keep our skis parallel and how we can handel powder. That's the great fun of what we are doing. We also realize we are not about the future, we are not searching for restoration of youth, we are just refusing to go on autopilot and becoming cranks in the present.
Let me suggest that if you ski or are thinking about going on a ski trip use the website liftopia.com to find deals on lift tickets. I am certain there are other sites and this winter Shell Oil will give you two for one at certain resorts if you buy ten gallons or more, want more try COSTCO or REI, there are deals everywhere. And of course the same is true of hotels.
If we spoke to some one about our road-trip one of the first questions anyone would ask was what kind of vehicle will you be driving. I believe there is a misconception about what kind of vehicle you need to get around in the winter. You see the automotive industry has sold us on the idea that you need a large vehicle to drive in winter weather, which are the models that bring in the highest profit margin. Many western states require four wheel drive vehicles in certain mountainous areas or snow tires or you may be required to carry chains. We never had a problem in our Chevy Malibu and neither did the Porches driving around Ketchum.
The best all around information about ski locations, weather and a link to every resort website:whitebookski.com
Oh, it's great that we have been to a wide variety of resorts but at the end of the day it's up the lift and down the hill. With a great number of stops comes the pain of lugging the equipment in and out of the car everyday. If you go on vacation to a resort its usually ski in ski out and you lug the equipment once. So this was a once in a life time road trip (at least for us) and was better than we imagined it could be.
We all of us are on a vector to extinction, what matters is the slope.