It’s hard to believe that last Friday Kim and I were on our way to Vail, Colorado. Up until now, I had never been to Colorado, unless you count catching a connecting flight in the Denver airport. I knew that Vail was a posh ski resort area, but other than that, I didn’t really know anything else about it. I grew up skiing on Mt. Hood and Mt. Bachelor, so that left me with little need to explore out of state ski parks. And after trying to ski on the East Coast, my appreciation for those two beautiful northwest peaks and their real snow grew to new heights.
Well, after visiting Vail, Colorado we’re officially Rocky Mountain High junkies. Why?
Well, first of all, the view of a mountain range is a whole new experience. One of the things I love about skiing is being out in nature, interacting with an unbelievably large mountain and taking in the gorgeous view. The view of continuing peaks here seems endless. We skied two days; Saturday was sunny, Sunday was snowy, but both had fantastic powdery snow!
Oh, and in case you don’t know, thought I would pass it along since I didn’t know, you may be affected by the altitude here. So, be sure to drink plenty of water. Seriously, make yourself guzzle as much water, tea, and liquids in general (sorry, caffeine and alcohol don’t count). We only felt a bit lightheaded the first day. It’s kind of like you are a bit tipsy. Uh, not that I know what that feels like, Mom. We had fun blaming every airhead moment on “altitude sickness”. In fact, I’m going to continue using that excuse!
Sidenote: I love snow. I don’t think there is anything more beautiful than an evergreen loaded down and highlighted with snow. (I’m getting verklempt as I write this, that’s how much I love trees and snow.)
Yay! A yurt! I don’t know what they use it for, but it was cool to see a yurt at the top of one of the chair lifts.
Another thing that Kim and I couldn’t get over was how NICE everyone was in Vail. We made friends right away on the first chairlift we rode. Here we are with our new buddy (above) Rick Rauch. He was chatting away on the chair lift, and I noticed his name tag and asked if he was an instructor. Turns out he is not only a ski instructor, but he runs the Vail Snowsports School! He mentioned that he was just out enjoying the rest of the afternoon and offered to ski with us for a while and show us some pointers. Uh, yeah, like we had to deliberate about that offer!
Kim is still editing some little mini videos of us skiing. I’ll tell you more about what Rick taught us when I post them. He was great, and super fun. So, if you go to Vail and want ski lessons, definitely look him up. (Vail Snowsports School 970.754.4311)
We also loved the cute snowboarder dudes in the rental shop! They were super young of course (meow!) but hilarious! See my ski glasses in the photo at the bottom of this page? One of them asked me about them, since he liked them and they were a bit different. I explained that I bought them in the 80′s out of a J.Crew catalog after saving up my babysitting money, so they are technically “vintage” now. He said, “Heady score!” And I was like, “Uh, translation, please…” And he explained that it means I scored something good. Later he mentioned that something was “skeezy”. He couldn’t quite articulate a translation, but from the context it sounded like an alternative to the word “cool”. He then went on to relate how he once found some very skeezy French sunglasses, a brand that he had never heard of before, “…something like Var-net?” [giggle]
THE DESIGN AESTHETIC
Another cool thing about Vail is there are restaurants and lodges all over the mountain! And they are well designed with a rustic flair. Overall, all of Vail is well designed. You can click here to see some photos Vail Village. It feels like you are in Europe! It sort of reminded me of Tallinn, Estonia, where I half expected to spot Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs peeking around every street corner. It’s also super easy to get from your accommodations to the rental/storage shop and out to the lifts, another feature of smart design.
Imagine eating your lunch with this view out the window!
Look what Kim noticed about the soup menu!!! See the little GF symbols next to the soup choices? Something exciting is definitely going on at Vail mountain in regards to gluten-free awareness. Kim ate the chicken posole, said it was delicious and felt fine. I was a little unsure, so I enjoyed my snacks that I had stashed in my ski jacket.
THE SLOPES & SNOW
We thought these photos showed some perspective of how high up we were. Here is a map of the ski trails. Since we were staying at The Lodge At Vail in Vail Village, the closest ski rental and lift was right smack next to the Vista Bahn Express lift. We would take that up to the Mountaintop Express Lift and then ski the Timberline Catwalk, which was super fun with a great ridge, to the Sourdough Express Lift. We pretty much played all day on the Sourdough and Tin Pants trails. There was the cutest little jump off to the side of Sourdough that we would make us squeal and laugh. We are SO intermediate I’m sure we entertained a few people observing from above.
On the way down we would take Flap Jack to Northface Catwalk all the way over to Riva Ridge all the way back to Vail Village Mountain Plaza.
There’s a super innovative way to track your experience on the mountain called Epic Mix, but we were lame and didn’t realize we had to log on and register before we got on the mountain. (duh, see, an example of altitude sickness!) Basically, what I just told you above would have been tracked on Epic Mix and you can share the info with other skiers, track your mileage, etc. It looks like you can sort of collect achievements and get acknowledged for them. You can check it out further here. Next time I definitely want to play with it.
As you can see, our version of “wild” as gluten-free ski bunnies is about as tame as a Peter Rabbit tale, but we definitely worked up an appetite for our visit with Chef Paul Wade at The Wildflower restaurant later that evening. Wait until you see the photos from the gluten-free items on the dinner menu! Coming next…