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Vail Vacation

(Photo Gallery)

Some of us don’t live near the mountains, so a ski trip is a big event :)

Getting There

Our first concern started before we even left. I-70 was being closed due to rock removal. If they weren’t done by the time we got there, we would have to take a 1.5 hour detour. Ugh. Doris and I had already booked a shuttle to Vail, so this would be an annoyance only, since we weren’t the ones driving. Our shuttle van was almost full; surprising for this time of year. We made one stop at a convenience store for a break. Rock removal was complete, so we charged on to Vail.

I did get skittish on the way there, as snow was not abundant. This really surprised me considering the amount of snow the area was supposed to have received. Even at Vail, I didn’t see much. The problem was I was looking on the north side of the interstate. The south side, where the resort is, had plenty of snow. Whew.

Obligatory Denver airport photo.

Lodging

We looked at two places, Eagle Point Resort and Sun Vail. Both were supposed to be very nice, but on the cheap side due to not being right in the major villages. We would definitely have to take a shuttle from Eagle Point, so we voted for Sun Vail.

Sun Vail at night (one of my favorite photos)

The condo was quite impressive and extremely well stocked. We had a couple of problems but maintenance was very responsive, even fixing something we hadn’t reported. Being right next to the interstate, you will hear noise inside, but it’s mild and I would say it’s not a factor (this from a highly noise sensitive person). WiFi was free and strong. Parking was free. We obtained discounts on lift tickets, the Denver shuttle, and rentals through their site. While our stay was very nice, I would avoid staying there again, through no fault of theirs. The problem is simply the walk to Lionshead. Depending on how fast you walk and which unit you’re in, it’s a 10-15 minute walk, half of which is uphill. This is tiresome at the beginning and end of each day; particulary when you’re trying to get acclimated to the elevation.

Day 1

The first day was a bit tiring, since we weren’t accustomed to the altitude yet. Regardless, we booked a snowshoeing tour at Golden Peak. I was expecting the tour to be around the base of the mountain, as we did in Snowbird. Instead, the guide drove us and another couple up to Vail Pass, around 11,000 feet. This was really nice. We were high enough up that we didn’t get too hot and the views were amazing.

Snowshoeing at Vail Pass

Afterwards we walked around the town a bit and picked up our equipment at Vail Ski Tech. They were really friendly and had good equipment. Doris was thrilled with her snowboard :) Conversely, avoid Ski Base at all costs. My friend got bad equipment, and the people were generally clueless (and acted like they were stoned). WTH?

Hotel in Lionshead

Day 2-3

Snowboarding. As usual, it took awhile to get back up to speed. And to learn what I was doing wrong. Things were going well by the end. I discovered that slushy conditions do not bother me. I consider slush to be like powder. Same ride. But I also enjoy moguls, though I can’t do anything with them. Go figure. We tried some new greens on Day 3, but they were slow and narrow catwalks.

Snow

I tried something new this year, which was to carry around a Camelbak. I was unsure of carrying around a bunch of water on my back while boarding, but it worked perfectly. Much easier than carrying around a plastic thing of water. It also holds more than my previous container, so even when drinking as much as I could, I never finished it. Definitely a good idea!

Eagle's Next. The center of mountain life. This is where the gondola takes you.

Day 4

We were scheduled to drive back to Denver on Sunday morning (Day 5), but with a big snowstorm coming in Saturday night, we couldn’t afford to be stuck in Vail. (I-70 closed the previous weekend due to a storm). This day of boarding didn’t go as well for me. The middle of the mountain was a little icy, making it hard to dig in and turn. And the new areas we tried didn’t go well. We went back to where we started at Lionshead and things went better.

Golden Peak Terrain Park

We cut the day short after lunch and drove to Denver. The checkout process at Sun Vail was better than expected. They said housekeeping will take of everything. Excellent service at this place. We lost a night of lodging, but I used a Marriott reward for our stay in Denver, so nothing really lost.

In Denver, we went to the Capitol and the 16th Street Mall. I like Capitols, but they generally look the same. And they are always under renovation when I go!

Colorado State Capitol

The Mall is 1.25 miles long. It is a “pedestrian” only street. I say that in quotes because you will still need to watch out for shuttles, horse carriages, and cross traffic. We made the long trip walk down to Biker Jim’s Hot Dogs as one of our friends had seen it on TV and wanted to try it. While definitely unusual, it was pretty good. I have to say, the people on the mall are a very, very strange mix. Honestly, not my crowd, but I’m glad to have experienced it.

16th Street Mall at night

Coming Home

This should have been easy. Get in car, drive to the airport next door. When we got to the car, we found a plastic bag taped over the driver’s windshield! We saw a few more broken windows around. After reporting it to the lady in charge, we learned that thieves had hit several airport hotels. We hadn’t given the hotel our rental’s plate so they didn’t know it was ours. Still would’ve been nice to have a sign or something in the lobby. I am glad they covered it, since we had that big storm come through. They were nice enough to thoroughly vaccuum the glass up. So much so that we came close to being late for our flight after already having been delayed. The credit card company (not mine) should cover the car and the rental company didn’t seem to worried about it, either.

And that’s it for an exciting trip. I don’t think we’ve a boring ski trip. I am very please to be able to properly snowboard now, more or less. Looking forward to next year. Vermont or Breckenridge?

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