You may wonder what could possess someone who does not ski to take a trip to a place that is famous for skiing and winter sports. Well, depression hits the north east by the end of February, and when it sets in, it doesn’t mess around. Having something to look forward to really helps get through the bitter cold and slush, even if that something is an escape to the Rockies and even more snow! I met someone over the weekend that really put it into perspective for me… vacation snow is fun, snow at home is not. Plus, I don't like being out of the loop when everyone talks about how fabulous the snow is in Colorado. My plane departed Boston Friday evening with a direct flight to Denver. Approximately 4.5 hours later, I picked up my rental car and made my way out to the Sheraton Denver West. The hotel was a 45 minute drive from the airport, and wasn’t the best decision for a late night arrival because I was exhausted by the time I checked in.
By 9 AM the next morning (this was obviously a strategic move to avoid traffic, not because I wanted to sleep in), I stocked up on the SPG free breakfast and started to drive on I-70W. A good amount of snow had fallen the day before and with typical weekend traffic, my drive was delayed by about an hour. If I had left earlier, it would have been even longer. Fortunately, the views along the way were gorgeous and I stopped multiple times to snap some pictures. Eventually, I crossed the Vail pass and pulled into the Westin Beaver Creek Riverfront. I did some research beforehand for activities in the area, but didn’t make any reservations until after I arrived just in case I was delayed due to traffic or any other reason. I also wasn't sure how I was going to adapt to the altitude, especially since sometimes my grand plans are a little too over the top. Fortunately, I was feeling just fine. I quickly called Nova Tours to secure my spot on the 2 hour snowmobiling tour of Tigiwon Trail. This company had great reviews online and they had van to come pick me up from the hotel so I didn’t have to drive out to their camp.
|Sharp turns through the woods|
Before the pickup, I stopped into a local pub walking distance from the hotel, Bob’s Place, for lunch and a beverage and to decompress. The food was delicious and the company was nice. The van arrived right on time and shuttled about 10 people out to the trailer where we all got geared up and had our payments processed. After a brief walk through of how to operate the machine, we were off! I had never operated a snowmobile before, but didn’t have any trouble figuring it out. I did go a little slower than the norm, but the guide stopped frequently so we could all catch up. There was a good mix of straightaways and turns through the trail. We stopped for photos and the guide was more than happy to take pictures on our behalf. We also had a stop about half way through to warm up with hot cocoa. Overall, I think the tour itself took just over 2 hours not including gearing up and transportation, because we did not get back to the hotel until after 5. I highly recommend this activity, especially if you’re not quite adjusted to the altitude yet and don’t want to exert yourself the first day.
|Beaver Creek Village|
That night, I visited another local favorite within walking distance, Vin 48 in Avon, for dinner and drinks. Vin 48 is a wine/tapas bar with a packed reservation list on weekend nights. Fortunately, a seat at the bar opened up shortly after I arrived. I was not overly impressed with the selection of wine by the glass, but I was able to find something reasonable. The prices are almost shockingly high, even with me being from Boston. Between a few small plates and a couple glasses of wine, I was creeping up near $100. My pescetarian diet (only for lent) limited what I could order, and there were a few dishes I just didn’t like. The smoked salmon fell short, but the scallops were delicious. After dinner, I made my way back to the hotel lobby to listen to the live music and relax before bed.
|Views from McCoy Park|
Because of the time difference, I had no trouble waking up bright and early before the 10 AM cross-country ski lesson in Beaver Creek. I picked up a coffee from The Lift marketplace in the Westin hotel and then jumped on the Riverfront Express gondola up to The Landing. From there, I grabbed a shuttle to the Beaver Creek Village. I walked around the shops a bit to peruse and grab a bottle of water before making me way to the Nordic Center for the lesson. As luck would have it, no one else signed up for a lesson that day, so I had private instruction. The instructor was wonderful! She even walked me through how to get on the lift and what proper etiquette is. The next 2 hours consisted of progressively moving from standing with no skis to going down a hill and around a bend on my two skis. We had some time at the end to move out of the instruction area and into McCoy park. The tracks really help with keeping your feet in line. Sadly, the park was not tracked, so my skis ended up going every which way. I have no control in moving my feet in the same direction apparently and almost slid down a hill into a tree. At that point I just laid in the snow until she came over and unsnapped my boots. I was totally exhausted by the end of the lesson. All my grand plans for going ice skating in the village went out the window… In replacement, I took a 3 hour nap. J
|Is this a joke?|
After my nap, I went to check out the 3 infinity hot tubs back at the hotel. They were great, but there were a lot of kids there… not exactly relaxing. A quick shower later, I was back out in for dinner at Ticino. Ticino is a tiny little Italian restaurant; jam packed with both families and adults. I sat at the bar and ordered a bottle of Malbec to share. I started my meal with a delicious rustica salad and had the quarto formaggi pizza for my entrée. The pizza is big enough to share if you get your own salad. The food was wonderful, but the company at the bar was far better. Everyone was very chatty and engaging. Not wanting to call it a night, I went back to the hotel to order a make-it-yourself smores kit and some sparkling wine. Sitting out by the fire roasting smores was a wonderful way to end my mountain trip.
The next morning was mostly uneventful – just checking out of the hotel and driving back to the Denver airport. I am glad I went for the experience, but I’m not sure I will go out of my way to return. I’m not an avid skier and while the views were beautiful, we have some pretty awesome mountains nearby too.