SKI TRIP 2022
At a certain age you realize you’re utilizing the banister more than you use to. It’s unconscious at first but then maybe you trip on a rug that has always been there, but you still do it. Well despite what this may be a precursor to, we put in the work at the Earlham Wellness Center (after it reopened). So after six months of cardio activities and more than a normal amount of work on the BOSU ball, cross stepping and other balance activities, we’re ready to ski.
Because of Covid, we didn’t even attempt to go skiing last year but oddly enough it was partially COVID that drove us to go this year. You see Wayne County is only 46% vaccinated and with the surge created by Omicron the county was about (and eventually did) turn red on the Indiana dashboard. Hospitalizations and deaths reached a new time high and from what we could see mask were worn only by older people. We figured that our odds were better pursuing an outdoor activity in areas where masks might be more universally used.
So it was off to Montana to start our ski road trip 2022.
Bozeman, Montana is exploding in population but the downtown still has the old town charm of a tourist destination. New houses are monstrous or so they appear, but you must remember that in Montana houses include a significant square footage to store snowmobiles, snow plows, mountain bicycles, kayaks, ski gear, and a plethora of other equipment for activities such as fly-fishing, big game hunting…… Anyway, the houses with attached garage or detached outbuildings appear large. First stop, Bridger Bowl.
Bridger Bowl is a great little ski area and like most is suffering from a shortage of labor. This manifest itself into on-line ticket sales, in fact tickets are $25 more at the walk-up window, no rentals during the week, one liftie per lift assisting little kids and seniors, no night skiing and I am sure there are other ways labor was reduced in the cafeteria, parking etc. It felt great being outdoors. There was no waiting at the lift lines and we never shared a chair. Conditions were a bit icy, with day temperatures above freezing and in the teens at night.
Hotels and restaurants are sufferingg the same labor problem and no longer offer housekeeping unless requested and many restaurants have reduced hours. But and a big but, masks are everywhere.
We have started most of our road trips in Bozeman and it’s a familiar town but since our last visit Montana has gone green starting the first of the year and with tourism and agriculture as the leading industries it’s a natural (by green I mean that marijuana is now legally available for recreational use). Oh yeah, and micro-breweries will soon out number filling stations. Every pizza shop now has a micro-brewery and you can’t find a Bud Lite even at your favorite carry-out.
The Bowl is a favorite small venue of ours, kind of a family resort with no nearby housing and lots of tree skiing if conditions are right. Cold Smoke is and has been an advertising theme for Bridger Bowl and now it is most apropos.
Big Sky is close enough to stay in Bozeman so that’s what we did. The drive to Big Sky follows the Gallatin River and even in the dead of winter fly fishermen could be seen working the frigid waters.
We had forgotten how ”big“ Big Sky is. Two lifts at the base carry eight people at a time up the mountain to the many trails and smaller lifts. These lifts have padded and heated seats. It’s also very busy at the base with condos, restaurants, bars and small shops but no center of town.
Again, the conditions were a bit icy with the sun out during most of the day and temperatures above freezing. If you want good skiing you want snow not sun.
After a day of skiing, we would scan the TV looking for familiar TV programs now at different hours and what we noticed was this guy who sells pillows had bought a lot of ad space promoting a whole host of sleep products. The pitch was one of support me and my political ideas, buy my products. It was pitiful.
Grand Targhee, next stop. Drive to Driggs, Idaho and you'll get the best view of the Grand Tetons. Snow conditions are great but the resort is a little crowded due to MLK weekend. There are lots of kids and a teen race was being held down one of the slopes.
We stayed in Driggs where the population is estimated at 1850. In 2010, 1660 people lived in Driggs and the official 2020 census results are not yet available. In Driggs, the average house cost $100k more than the rest of Idaho (even with low-cost housing provided for resort employees). At the resort the parking lot is full of luxury cars and the airport on the edge of town appears to be enormous for such a small town. In fact, it is so large it required some investigation. What we found was that you can personally own a hanger on airport property and the hanger can include living space. This conjures up all kinds of possibilities that I’ll leave to your imagination.
People wear the strangest ski outfits. It's as is they lost the bet from the drinking contest from the previous night . From a pink bunny suit to the young man standing in line with a backpack and no shirt.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
One of Americas finest ski resorts and the view through the Teton Pass is worth the drive. You just can't say enough about the gondola lifts and the long runs back down to the base. The bus system from town to the resort cost $3.00 per person (seniors pay half) and saves so much hassle, we encourage everyone to use it.
Powder Mountain and we stay in Ogden a short 15-mile drive to the resort. We have been reading about the expansion taking place and were surprised by the number of condos that line the winding road up to the resort.
A few super luxury houses have also been built on the slopes. Lots are anywhere from $650k to $1600k
Conditions were perfect and this the largest ski resort in the US, and it only allows 2000 tickets per day. There is plenty of space and a great amount of off-piste terrain. It is quiet, there is no central little town, no music at the lifts, no bars and the food service is a half-step above a taco truck and that’s the way we like it.
Oh yeah, if you’re 75 you ski free and I know someone who recently turned 75.
Restaurants on 25th Street in Ogdon provide almost everything you would want in a dining experience.
Arches National Park
For our next stop, we drove to Arches National Park in Moab Utah. So close we couldn't say no and we were glad we took time to visit. It’s a stunner as the pictures attest to but as Rene’ said ”it’s no Petra“.
Aspen Snowmass was our last stop and familiar territory since we had visited there in 2016 with Brad, Kimberly and London. This place is way upscale and although there are a lot of people it’s not crowded. Only a few lines and it was rare if we shared a chair lift and the gondola was ours alone most of the time. Good conditions and plenty of sun which encourages us to sit outside and enjoy a beer or other adult beverages.
But we didn’t want to ”stay too long at the fair“. It was a good trip, no problems and no one got hurt and nothing was broken. But it wasn’t a great trip. Skiers love it when there’s plenty of snow and it only snowed one day during our entire trip so great is not the adjective we can use. But it’s not all about the conditions on the slope, it was just good to get out. We broke some new ground by going to Moab but no new ski locations.
So with climate change and a warming environment, what is the future of skiing? Well the most recent trend is the rise in popularity of back mountain skiing. This is when the skier makes his own up the mountain by hiking or putting skins on skis in order to make way up the hill. This of course gets you to any remote area where you might be able to find fresh snow and at the same time be rewarded with an abundance of cardio activity, probably beyond the capabilities and interest of this couple.
Upon our return our local paper, the Palladium Item, had an article about local pandemic conditions. During the month of January, Wayne County recorded two and one-half times more Covid cases than any previous month ever.
Another reason we were glad to be out of town.