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Saturday, March 7, 2015

Rocky Mountain High

We just returned from a glorious week in Colorado!

We stayed in a small town about 10 miles outside of Vail called Avon, the home of Beaver Creek Resort where the World Alpine Ski Championships were held just the week before we arrived. Good timing, because it was a relatively quiet week with small crowds.

I think I was familiar with the name Beaver Creek, since I grew up in the heyday of Wide World of Sports. They were always broadcasting ski competitions from there.

 
The drive in from Denver was a bit precarious. We kept saying we were up for an adventure, and we were about to get one. There had just been a huge storm and the roads were a mess, and it was still snowing a little. We had what should have been a two hour drive, though it was slippery at times and dark by then since it took a while to get our rental. Why didn't we take a shuttle and let someone else do the driving? We like being able to do what we want when we want, and because my hub is an online shopping genius, our rental cost less than the shuttle. Luckily we had an SUV, but without 4WD. The biggest fear was not knowing where we were and what was ahead (kind of like life in general, right?) So we just kept it slow and steady and prayed a lot! Once we made it to Avon, the wind was blowing so hard we almost couldn't get the car doors open. It ended up taking just over three hours. We had frazzled nerves, but we were SO happy to be there.

Waiting for our luggage at DIA - we didn't have a clue!



The roads looked like this up and down the mountain passes
 
We are Starwood timeshare owners, so we stayed at the Sheraton Mountain Vista. The location was so great - everything we needed was within a short drive or walk. Our one bedroom condo on the 6th floor was very nice and had everything we needed to live comfortably for the week. The condo was very warm from the heat rising in the building, so most of the time we had a window or the sliding door cracked open. Surprisingly, we never turned on the heat and never used the TWO fireplaces. It was just too warm inside! We ran a humidifier constantly because of the dry air and also the ceiling fans to keep the air moving.

View after a heavier snowfall

On our first day, after stocking up on essentials at their lovely Walmart that is nestled in the mountain (everyone was so friendly), we took off to sightsee and get the lay of the land.

Why yes, I did take a picture of Walmart!

I'd spent weeks acquiring warm clothing for what we might encounter. We had lows in the 0s and one day it got up to 45, but for the most part it stayed in the 20-30s, but it just didn't feel the same as it does at home. It's a dry cold, and it just doesn't smack you in the face when you walk out the door like it does here (unless the wind was blowing). We were able to bundle up in our ski jackets and hats and walk comfortably for miles in the low temps when the wind was quiet. My $29 Totes boots and $59 Jessica Simpson parka from 6pm.com were the smartest purchases I've ever made. My feet were never cold, and the fur collar and zip off hood on my coat were perfect for all conditions.

Our first look at the slopes at Beaver Creek

Yours truly, contemplating my fate
 
We skied twice, one day with official lessons and one day without. The first day both of us were fitted incorrectly for our ski boots, and we limped around with too small and too narrow boots thinking this was how it was supposed to feel since we weren't used to them. This is what we looked like after that first ski day:
 
Our legs were like noodles

Chuck did better than I did, but I was still proud of myself for lasting as long as I did with sore feet and legs, in the high altitude thin air, and using muscles I hadn't used ever in years.

After a day of rest, we were fitted correctly in our boots and took off for the slopes on our own. What a blast! We put our lessons to the test and, thankfully, stayed upright for the most part. I was even able to figure out the chair lift and actually enjoyed it (after thinking I'd somehow miss the chair or somehow fall getting off, but they really make it easy!)

There were times that we actually got too warm and had to shed our ski jackets. We noticed a lot of the more experienced skiers were wearing shorter, less bulky ski jackets and layers underneath. I did feel like a stuffed sausage at times with all my gear. Live and learn!

Thumbs up!
 
My hub, the phantom skier
 
A view from the lift on a clear day

We didn't stay still much during the day, and one day was spent in Vail. There are a couple of villages surrounding the ski slopes, and the day we went to Vail Village it was snowing and so beautiful! We felt like we were in a winter wonderland. They still had evergreen wreaths and bows up in places so it felt very holiday-like.

A view of Vail Village

My handsome hub


Feeling a bit stuffed, but warm

Willow Bridge in Vail Village
 
Lionshead Village

We thought about skiing there but then changed our minds. Since it was our first time, we stuck with what we knew. We know we'll be back and can try the slopes there next time. We shopped, walked for miles, and just enjoyed the beauty of where we were. With every step we just thanked God for the opportunity to be where we were together. It was a special day.

Our resort had two hot tubs, one indoor and one out. We enjoyed the one outdoors, especially when it snowed. We'd put our bathing suits and sock caps on, take a glass of wine, and sit and chat with other guests while we soaked. Then we'd RUN from the tub in the freezing air into the building and go straight for the eucalyptus steam room, which was hot but so relaxing. I miss that part of the day the most!
 
Our happy spot

We enjoyed so much good food, a lot of rest and a lot of exercise, and just the joy of doing what we wanted every day. Starbucks greatly benefitted from our visit! (Be sure to take a registered gift card and rack up the points!) Most of the time on vacation we are ready to go home by the end of the week. I can't say that we weren't this time because we love our home, but we both felt much more sad leaving. It was that good!

At Beaver Creek after a heavy snow
 
Pristine beauty
 

Happy us

On a side note, we had all kinds of preconceived notions about CO and the legalization of marijuana there. Are there really that many people who take advantage of the new law? Would we smell it? Would we see it sold in stores? What we found were a few stores off the highway that sold it only for medical purposes, one car driving around advertising it for sale elsewhere, and we didn't smell it or see anyone smoking anywhere. I think the media makes a bigger deal of it than it really is.

After seven nights, we left for a full day of traveling. We finally flew in to Greenville at midnight, and were home by 1:15. After indulging in freshly made donuts (heavenly) and milk from our 24-hour QT, we were finally in bed by 2 a.m. Oh, and I lost 4 pounds on the trip. Yay me!

This little girl was so happy to see mommy and daddy.


Thank you, Colorado for the best vacation and for the happiest memories made. We will be back!