Weekend Recap: Vail “Meet in the Mountains”

It was another busy week at work, and my day on Friday was a bit crazy. I ended with an event at the office that went until 5pm… which was a lot of fun, but meant that I was leaving downtown Denver at peak rush hour! Not ideal for getting out to the mountains, unfortunately :(

To my surprise, though, traffic wasn’t too bad. I only lost about 20 minutes from the no-traffic drive time, and made it to Silverthorne without any frustration. After a quick stop there to drop off some stuff at a friend’s house, I was back on the road to Minturn, and got in around 8pm.

While my typical Friday nights in the mountains are all about relaxing with a book and a glass of wine, tonight I had a job to do: put together the new hall tree I had bought to serve as a mini-closet in the corner of my room. I was so happy to be rid of the gigantic monstrosity of a wardrobe that had been there before I sold it on Craigslist!

Hall_Tree_Minturn

It definitely opened up the room a lot to replace the giant wardrobe with an open hall tree, and it’s not like I really need much space for hanging things anyway.

A lot of people complain about putting furniture together, but I… kind of like doing it? I don’t consider myself to be particularly handy, so it always feels like an accomplishment to me when I build something. I remember the first time I was in college and built an Ikea bookshelf by myself, and I was so proud! I still get that same pride of ownership after putting something together, so while it can be a little bit of a pain, it happy to do it. And this particular hall shelf took me just under an hour – not bad at all. (Though it did mean I headed to bed shortly thereafter, without catching up on any email / blogging, like I had originally wanted to do.)

The next morning, I was up bright and early for a little bit of work, and then off to Vail ASAP for a work event I was organizing. You may remember that every year, I plan a bus trip to Winter Park for the Denver office. This year, we decided to branch out and offer a less formal “Meet in the Mountains” trip as well. Since so many Coloradans spend their weekends going out to the mountains to ski, we decided to tap into that and arrange lunch and a happy hour at Vail for those who were going to be there anyway. It ended up going really well!

I arranged for us to meet at Henry’s Hut on the mountain about 30 minutes after the lifts opened – and had a small group who arrived then. We spent the morning mostly skiing the Back Bowls, and then I cut out a little bit early to secure a table for lunch at Two Elk Lodge. It’s never easy to get seating at an on-mountain restaurant at noon, but I managed to score a table for twelve – and then emailed the group to let them know where to find me.

Pretty much the only thing that wasn’t perfect about the day was the weather – it was brutally cold! I have always had trouble keeping my hands and feet warm, until last winter when I got heated boots… so on Saturday, I was testing out a pair of heated gloves in hopes that those would be equally effective. Unfortunately, they were not – I think a lot of heat was lost by them being gloves instead of mittens (where my fingers can stay pressed together for warmth), and the battery turned out to be somewhat abysmal, conking out after just two hours. I suppose I could have brought the charger to get them some more juice during lunch, but two hours is nowhere near enough for me! Unfortunately, I think these will be getting returned as I continue the quest for something better – I just ordered these Hestra Army Leather Extreme mittens, which I am hoping will be warmer than the Hestra Helis I normally wear. I’m open to other recommendations though!

But that cold made me extra hungry for lunch, and wanting something hot – so I chowed down on a bowl of chicken ramen plus a side of french fries. I regret nothing :) I had a great time at lunch catching up with the colleagues I knew and getting acquainted with those I didn’t, and pretty soon it was time to head out for the afternoon.

While I had been skiing with an advanced group in the morning, I chose to spend the afternoon mixing it up and skiing with an intermediate group. Although I guess I am an advanced skier, I’m definitely not as confident in my abilities as I should be, so I really enjoy skiing with intermediates and feeling like I am an expert! :) It was fun to show my colleagues around the mountain and be able to recommend the perfect terrain for their abilities. I have definitely gotten to know Vail a lot better over the last year!

I broke off from the group for my last run of the day, wanting to get one more mogul-filled run in before I headed down the mountain. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a bit of a mistake, as I went down a run I know in the past gets tricky at the bottom. Last year, I took this run and got stuck at the edge of a cliff due to some uneven snow coverage. This time, I had a similar thing happen – there was a cliff to my left, and a very narrow gully to my right that I’d have to go down and up to get out of there. However, I was really proud that while last year I had a bit of a panic moment, this year, I calmly assessed the situation and figured out exactly what I needed to do to stay safe. I definitely had a bit of finger crossing before I made my move across the gully, but I’m proud that I was a lot more confident about this type of situation!

With that trail behind me, I headed down the mountain, taking Riva Ridge / Tourist Trap all the way down to Vail Village. This was a new to me way to go, since I typically get on / off the mountain via Lionshead, but it turned out to be a nice way down, and fairly direct. After a quick stop back at my car to ditch my skis and boots and put on some Uggs, I walked over to Frost, where I had scheduled our happy hour.

Not sure if I’ve written much about this before, but I have two roommates that live full-time at my house in Minturn – and they are wonderful! Tyson is head chef at the Sebastian in Vail Village, and his girlfriend Michell is a bartender at Frost. Michell was kind enough to set me up with a private area for my group, so I didn’t have to worry about the apres-ski crowds, and it worked out perfectly. And we all oohed and aahed over the amazing hot chocolate setup.

Sebastian_Hot_Chocolate_Ball

The ball is made from solid (but thin) chocolate; when hot chocolate is poured over it, the ball breaks, and out pop marshmallows and some little bits of crunchy chocolate confetti, all of which floats to the top of the drink. How awesome is that?? Evidently this was featured in a recent Hallmark movie, Christmas in Vail, which I am now dying to watch.

Although work wasn’t paying for anyone besides employees, we had encouraged people to bring their family / friends… and my coworker Grace brought a friend who was visiting from Dallas. We got to talking at happy hour, and it turns out that he is as much of a fan of moguls as I am! Score. I have come to absolutely love moguls, and my favorite days are when I just ski the bumps over and over. Unfortunately, most of my friends do not feel the same way, and will only indulge me for a run or two. I was thrilled when Mark invited me to come ski with him the next day, with a promise of lots of mogul runs :)

But before that – home to do some more building. Saturday night’s project was a corner cabinet with an electric fireplace embedded inside. It was a lot more challenging than the hall tree, and it took me 2.5 hours to put it together. But after I did, I was thrilled with how it came out.

Minturn_Fireplace

I chose this model in part because it’s controlled by a physical on/off switch, rather than electronics. This means I can leave it turned to the “on” position, then plug the cord into a smart home plug, so that I can control the fireplace via my Amazon Echo! “Alexa, turn on the fireplace.” I am super happy with it!

The next morning, I woke up super early, but then got distracted with work and was a little later than I wanted getting out the door. But then that was compounded when I got to the parking lot and realized I had left my ski boots at home… can’t ski without those! Luckily, my house is only 5 minutes away from Vail, so it didn’t lose me too much time. With my boots in hand, I headed back to the mountain, and was over to Game Creek to meet my new friends by 9:15am.

Game_Creek_Pow_Day

Oh my gosh, the powder was incredible! This was the best snow I’ve had all season – so light and fluffy, and with beautiful blue skies to make me smile too. I was so happy!!

As it turned out, while Mark was an avid mogul skier, his friend Paul was not! Haha. We dragged Paul on a few mogul runs, but I mostly tried to steer the three of us toward areas where it was easy for Mark and I to ski big bumps while Paul took a more tame path to the lift. The two of them were a lot of fun to ski with, and it was great getting to know them as we chatted on the lifts! Skiing is such a fun way to make friends :)

Laura_in_Ouzo_Glade

Especially friends who offer to take a pic of me in the trees while we’re waiting for our other friends to catch up :)

We didn’t end up stopping for lunch until 1pm (hooray for no lines in the cafeteria!), and by then, I think all of us were a little tired. But thanks to a tip from a coworker at happy hour the night before, we had a goal. There is a bar in Vail Village that gives you a free beer if you ski 25,000 feet in a day – so we set that as our target. After just four runs after lunch (and one extra for me since I started later than the guys), we achieved it! We ended up doing another two runs after that, then headed down the same Riva Ridge / Tourist Trap run down to the Village that I had done the day before. What a great day!

Almresi_Vail_Free_Beer

If you visit Vail, check out Almresi – not only is it a pretty sweet deal to get a free beer, but it also has a really cute atmosphere, and the food looked good as well. Looking forward to staying for dinner next time!

The guys invited me out for dinner to cap off the night, but I declined – I was tired and just wanted to get home to my little “chalet”! (One of my teams at work is trying to get me to start calling it that. I have told them it’s like “fetch” – not going to happen. But here you go, team.) I wasn’t that hungry, but cooked a light stir fry dinner, and then got to curl up in bed and call it a night. Alexa, turn on the fireplace!

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