After spending the prior 3 ski seasons in Breckenridge, Colorado we decided to try Park City, Utah this year instead. We stayed at Mountain Valley RV Resort in Heber City. The weather was a lot warmer than Breckenridge so we did not have nearly as much snow as I would have liked. The rest of my people however really liked the milder temps. I guess they’re just not as hard core snow fanatics like me. 😉Continue reading
Posts Tagged With: skiing
New Ski Adventures
Back to Breck
If you have been following along for awhile, you might remember that we spent last winter (2019) skiing in Breckenridge, Colorado. We loved it so much we returned for another ski season this year.
We had a another fabulous season until it abruptly ended due to COVID-19. We are living in very strange times these days, right? I haven’t posted anything lately, and it has been hard to even motivate myself to post this because it’s difficult to see these pictures and not feel sad about how much things have changed in our world since then.
After spending the holidays with family back east, we headed out to Colorado to get back to one of our favorite places. Thankfully we had 2 good months of skiing before everything shut down.
In addition to Breckenridge we skied at Keystone and Beaver Creek. Arapahoe Basin was no longer included on our Epic Passes so we didn’t go there, and we had intended to ski at Vail but never made it there before everything closed.
We found our “bear cave” from last year, which we now think we should call a “beer cave” due to all the beer cans we saw in there. 🙂
Our first day back to skiing we had to take it easy and get used to it again, but it didn’t take long at all for these boys to get back to doing what they do best, the double-black diamond trails. They even talked me into doing The Windows once. Trust me, once was enough!
Chris did the Needles Eye with them, but I refused. Later they told me I made the right choice. 😉
At Beaver Creek the kids’ favorite run is 4 Get About It. We did that one a few times this year. I keep trying to tell them “forget about it, I’m not doing that!”, but they won’t take no for an answer. Somehow I manage to keep up with them. 😉
One day at Beaver Creek Chris had a bad fall just after we took this picture.
Hmm, maybe we shouldn’t be going down trails for “Experts Only”?
Chris was out of commission for a couple of weeks due to his injury, so the boys and I had to ski without him while he recovered.
In February we had some epic amounts of snow! Check out all that powder!
One day Chris & Jake tried to take Fat Cat for a sleigh ride at the campground. She wasn’t amused.
We love going to Keystone during the week for night skiing. The weekends are pretty crowded at Breck, but we’re usually working during the week so we have to just deal with the weekend crowds. Going skiing after work at night during the week is so much fun!
Last year we celebrated my 50th birthday at a ski-in/ski-out resort at the base of one of the ski areas at Breck, which was definitely one of my best birthdays ever. We decided to do the same thing again this year for Chris’s 50th. Yes, he’s younger than me, lol! Our birthdays are 3 days apart so we are the same age for 3 days until I become the “older woman” again.
For this year’s birthday celebration we got an amazing VRBO at the base of Peak 8.
But that is not even the best part! My parents came out to spend the week with us, along with some of the Picariello family (life-long friends). My parents hadn’t skied in 12 years, and we were so super excited to show them and the Picariellos around Breckenridge.
Jake and Jesse showed Gramma and Grampa around town while we got everyone’s luggage moved into the condo. Then the boys brought the Grands for a ride up the gondola to get to the condo.
Looking at these pictures reminds me of just how super excited we were for this vacation week, not giving much thought to the invisible enemy that was out there, about to change the world as we knew it.
We talked Lauren into trying Devil’s Crotch. I won’t go into details about how that went. Hint, hint… it wasn’t pretty, lol!
We did much better on Imperial.
Well, all good things must come to an end, right? The night before my birthday we found out that all the ski mountains had to close immediately due to coronavirus. I can’t even describe just how disappointed we were!
However, I am thankful that we at least had a few good days of skiing before that happened. We got to ski on Chris’s birthday, and the Picariellos got all of their skiing in before the closures. In fact, we had just dropped off some of the Picariellos at their shuttle to go back to the airport when we got the news.
My parents were still with us for a few more days, and we had planned to ski some more, but that was not meant to be. We made the best of it and used the empty ski mountain as a sledding hill.
After Mom and Dad went home, the only thing left to do in Breckenridge was sledding, so we did that a few more times.
Eventually even the sledding hills closed, so it was time for us to go. The RV park in Breck is not cheap and it just wasn’t worth spending the money to stay there any longer when everything was closed.
So we headed to my friend Rachel’s campground in St. Louis to hunker down and wait things out. We had plans to spend the summer in Michigan, and St. Louis was close enough to continue on with those plans if things re-opened. However it doesn’t look like that will be a good place to go this year.
Anyway, I’ll leave you with some pictures I took at our RV park in Breckenridge before we left. It’s so beautiful there!
I’m not gonna lie, it was really hard to leave this winter wonderland. We all love skiing and playing in the snow so much, it was so disappointing when it ended early.
I hope and pray that you are all staying safe & healthy. Let’s hope we can all get back to adventuring and exploring soon!
Skiing at Beaver Creek and Vail
Beaver Creek and Vail Mountains were a little further away from where we were staying in Breckenridge so we only went to each of those one time. We loved Beaver Creek and wished we had made time to go there more than once. We didn’t love Vail as much but that was because we went the day before they closed for the season when the snow conditions were not the greatest and it was pretty hot for skiing that day in late April. Anyway, we would like to go back and ski at both of those areas another time.
It was snowing the day we went to Beaver Creek. The visibility in the morning was pretty bad and there was so much new powder that it was challenging to ski on, although I love skiing on fresh powder.
By late morning it cleared up and the views were incredible!
They had some fun Kids’ Adventure Zones that we loved like this one.
I knew once Jake saw this double-black diamond sign that I was in trouble!
This trail was so hard, but the kids kept saying how much fun it was. I just don’t get it, are we on the same trail here?? I mean, I don’t think I’d say this was fun. I was just happy to make it down alive.
I took so many pictures that day because the views were so beautiful!
Doesn’t it look like a painting in the background? The mountains almost didn’t look real!
The views from Vail were also very beautiful, I just wish we had gone earlier in the season because the snow was so slushy the day we went it was very hard to ski.
Well, I should clarify that last statement and say that it was hard for me to ski, not the kids. Here is Jake going down something so steep I could barely see over the edge.
I had heard the Legendary Back Bowls were the best but most of them were closed for the season. We did get to experience some of it though, which only made us want to come back again someday when it’s not springtime.
We had gotten so spoiled with the soft, powdery snow at Breck all season that I found this so tiring. Slushy snow is very different and I was so sore the next day! I guess I wasn’t the only one who thought it was a little more tiring to ski on this type of snow.
That wraps up my posts about our winter ski adventures in Colorado. If you missed the first 3 posts you can see them here: An Epic Winter in Breckenridge Part 1, An Epic Winter in Breckenridge Part 2 and Skiing at Arapahoe Basin and Keystone.
What an amazing winter it was! In our 4+ years of traveling I think I can safely say that this was our favorite thing we’ve ever done.
I’ll end this with some fun statistics. With my Epic Local Pass I was tracked all season and can see my stats on the Epic Mix app. In 3 months we spent a total of 38 days skiing, rode 347 lifts and went 466,736 vertical feet. The # of lifts and vertical feet do not include A-Basin since they are not included in the app, but I did include that resort in the # of days skied. I’d say we got our money’s worth out of our Epic passes. 🙂
Skiing at Arapahoe Basin and Keystone
Besides Breckenridge, we did a lot of skiing at Arapahoe Basin and Keystone. A-Basin is where the kids took lessons. We took a Monday off work for their lessons in the hopes that it would not be crowded and they would have a smaller class. I was also praying that they would not need to take too many lessons because the lessons are expensive, and I wanted them to be ready to ski with us as soon as possible. Chris and I had our own ski date for the whole day while the kids were in lessons.
It turned out they had a private lesson that day since it wasn’t crowded at all, and I was thrilled at the end of the day when their instructor told me they are naturals. By the end of the day she was taking them up on the lift and they were going down green (easy) slopes. We still had about 30 minutes before the lifts closed, and Chris & I were able to ski with them for a little while to see just how well they were doing. I couldn’t believe it! In one day they learned to ski so well!
Their instructor was so awesome and the kids couldn’t stop talking about her and how much they loved skiing. My prayers were answered!
Arapahoe Basin is the highest elevation of the 5 ski areas we went to and had some amazing views!
We eventually started getting brave enough to try some tougher terrain like this trail through the woods complete with lots of moguls. I may or may not have run into a tree or two skiing through here. 😉
Eureka was the kids’ favorite. I tried it once and hated it. So the other times they wanted to go down this one I told them to go ahead and I would see them at the bottom. However, by late April after Jake had challenged me with lots of double-black diamonds at Breck, I started going down Eureka with them and I no longer hated it.
The boys loved the jumps at the terrain parks. This is Jake going over a jump. I did not get a good picture of Jesse doing it, but I did get him on video at least.
I don’t have nearly as many pictures from Keystone because most of the time we skied there at night. They are the only resort that has night skiing which we loved! Most of the time we skied on weekends except for a few days here and there when we took a day off work. But with Keystone having night skiing we were able to go there after work to ski several times. That was awesome, but the pictures don’t always come out great in the dark.
We had a great time skiing at Keystone with the Biles family.
You know what’s funny is I used to love when Daylight Savings Time started, but I did not this year. Once the time changed, night skiing at Keystone just wasn’t the same. It didn’t get dark early enough! 😉 Also, Keystone’s night skiing ended for the season by late March so we had to find something else to do in the evenings, which is when we took up sledding.
Breck was my favorite ski area, but with the Epic Pass it was really nice to be able to go to these other mountains to ski sometimes. If you missed my first 2 posts about wintering in Colorado you can see them here: An Epic Winter in Breckenridge Part 1 and An Epic Winter in Breckenridge Part 2.
An Epic Winter in Breckenridge Part 2
As much as we loved staying at Tiger Run RV Resort in our own comfy home on wheels, sometimes it’s nice to stay even closer to the slopes. I’m talking ski-in/ski-out type of close. We had the chance to do that twice during our time in Breckenridge.
First, we stayed in a slope-side condo at the base of Peak 7 in Crystal Peak Lodge. We did this to celebrate my birthday. Not just any birthday mind you, but the big one. The big 50! Believe it or not, I turned a half a century in March. I can’t imagine a better way to celebrate that milestone than to spend it at a slope-side condo and ski as much as my heart desired.
In addition, I had the pleasure of a friend from New England come out to stay with us. Unfortunately her original flight was canceled because there was a huge “bomb cyclone” blizzard going on in Denver that day (Google it, I had never heard of a bomb cyclone). Anyway, she was persistent and thankfully made it to our rental place at 1am on the morning of my birthday.
Like me, she grew up skiing in the northeast and really wanted to try out some Colorado skiing. I don’t think she was disappointed!
While Lauren was with us we enjoyed the best weather and surprisingly light crowds, especially considering it was spring break. Maybe the canceled flights to Denver had something to do with that.
We also got more adventurous while she was with us and went up to the highest point, Imperial Express which is also the highest lift in North America.
One of the expert lifts at Breck is the T-Bar. We hadn’t tried that previously either, but with Lauren we must have felt braver for some reason. The funny thing is that back in New England the T-Bar was on the easy slopes, typically called the “bunny slopes”. It was funny to see that the T-Bar here at Breck is for experts only and goes up to some very advanced trails.
We have a very funny story about riding up this T-Bar. Jake and I were riding up together and Lauren was behind us by a bit. Jake and I noticed some people a few T-Bars ahead of us fell off (that is not unusual on the T-Bar, it’s difficult to stay on that thing the whole way up). There are signs all over the side instructing you to move off to the side quickly if you fall off. So Jake and I assumed they had plenty of time to get out of the way before we caught up to them. Wrong! They started rolling down the hill towards us! They took out the people in front of us, then continued rolling and crashed into us as well. Once we finally got ourselves under control and got out of the way of the other oncoming T-Bar riders, Lauren rode by and saw a mess of people and skis all over the place. I so wish I had that on video! It was really quite funny and we laughed about it for a long time afterwards.
Jake started to get really brave when Lauren was visiting and that’s when he wanted to start trying some double-black diamond trails. Lauren pointed out some interesting sounding trail names on the map like Devil’s Crotch and Pergatory. None of those sounded even remotely like something I wanted to try, but we did try a couple of double-blacks with names like Cucumber Bowl and Southern Cross. Those names don’t sound nearly so intimidating, right? About a week after Lauren left though, Chris and Jake found Devil’s Crotch and decided to give it a try. Not me though!
You know, turning 50 is not so bad. I can honestly say that was one of my best birthdays ever!
A few weeks later we had the opportunity to spend a whole week at another ski-in/ski-out lodge. I joined an RV club called RVillage a few years ago. They gave out gift certificates to some of us who joined way back when they first started. The gift certificates were for a Dream Vacation Week at certain hotels around the country for a greatly reduced price. I thought it was a scam or too good to be true when I first received it, so I discarded it and forgot about it. I received a reminder that it was about to expire in April, so out of curiosity I checked to see if there were any hotels in Breckenridge included in this deal. There were a couple, but I still thought it was a scam so I contacted someone at RVillage to confirm it was legitimate. It turns out it was for real and we enjoyed a fantastic week at Grand Timber Lodge.
The pools were awesome! You could swim under the flap to go to the outdoor part of the pool, and even though it was cold and snowing outside, the pool was so warm. They also had several hot tubs to enjoy!
The lodge has private family movie theaters so we reserved one for an evening and watched The Greatest Showman. What a great movie, and also a great time having this theater all to ourselves!
There were 2 moose hanging out at the lodge that we saw often. Once they were hanging out right outside our window!
Sadly, they were taken away by wildlife control while we were there. Apparently there was an incident between the moose and a guest staying at the lodge. I was sad to see them go. They didn’t seem to be bothering anyone as far as I could tell.
I did a lot of skiing with Jake that week and he really challenged me on the double-black diamond trails. By the end of the week I think my skills had improved.
We had a snow storm that week also which was pretty cool to see in April!
I mentioned in my previous post that we skied at 5 ski areas included on our season pass. We bought the Epic Local Pass which includes the ski areas we went to as well as several others that were too far away including Park City, Whistler and even a ski area in Vermont and Japan! The Epic Local Pass was perfect for us since we were planning to be in the area for 3 months.
I will write about the other ski areas in my next 2 posts, but first a few helpful hints for anyone planning to winter in Breck at some point.
The town of Breckenridge is at 9600 feet. Some people can be affected by altitude sickness. It’s important to drink plenty of water before heading to Breck and while you’re there. We didn’t suffer from altitude sickness, but I did feel out of breath frequently. Sometimes just walking from the truck to the slopes carrying skis felt like such a workout! Everything seems harder at that altitude.
Another way to help prevent altitude sickness besides staying well hydrated is to climb to that elevation slowly if at all possible. If you are flying to Denver and heading straight to Breck you wouldn’t have that option, but if you are driving or RV’ing, take your time with the climb. We stopped in Denver for 3 nights before continuing on to Breckenridge which I think helped a lot.
It was also nice to stay in Denver for a few days to take care of getting all of our ski equipment. Epic Mountain Sports sells inexpensive kids equipment on a buy-back program. We were able to get the kids skis and boots for $99/each and at the end of the season trade it back in for 50% store credit. Chris and I got seasonal rentals from Breeze Rentals. It was about $225/person for the season which was a lot less expensive than buying equipment, and we were able to return the rentals to the store in Breckenridge rather than take them back to Denver. We really don’t have room to carry around ski equipment year-round, so rentals and the kid’s trade-ins worked perfectly. Also, we learned that by the time we were heading to Breckenridge they no longer had any seasonal rentals so it was good to get them in Denver. Another tip: if you need any other equipment like helmets, goggles, etc., get them in Denver. Everything is more expensive in Breck.
Incidentally, while staying in Denver we met the nicest couple! It just so happens they were dealing with cracks in their RV just like we dealt with last year. We were able to share our story with them about how Heartless Heartland refused to help us. Thankfully their story had a better ending. Their RV was manufactured by Forest River who apparently cares more about their customers than Heartland does because Forest River took the RV back to Indiana and repaired everything for them. It didn’t hurt that they also had a lot of help from their dealer, unlike our dealer (Dick Gore’s RV World in Jacksonville) who did not help us at all. This is my shameless reminder to you to not buy a Heartland RV and be very careful about the dealer you purchase from. It’s so important to have a dealer who will back you up if you need it.
One last tip for getting to Breckenridge. This website was very helpful in planning our travel days: https://cotrip.org/home.htm. We watched the weather and the road conditions to make sure we traveled on a day when the roads would be clear.
I hope you find these tips helpful if you ever plan to make the trip. I’m also happy to answer any questions so feel free to email me.
An Epic Winter in Breckenridge Part 1
It has been a long time since I posted anything here, I think it’s about time I catch up on what we’ve been up to lately. We just spent a fabulous 3 months in Breckenridge, Colorado skiing and playing in the snow. RV’ing in the snow is a novelty to us being from Florida. We weren’t quite sure what to expect and if we would be warm enough in the RV. I am happy to report that our Grand Design RV was plenty warm enough and we had the most amazing 3 months ever!
Chris and I have skied before, but it had been 11 years since we last skied. Also, we have only ever skied in New England so skiing in Colorado was a totally new experience. The kids have never skied so they took lessons the first day. I’ll talk more about their lessons in a later post, but suffice it to say they had an excellent instructor. By the end of the season they were taking us down double-black diamond trails (if you’re not familiar with ski terminology, those are the hardest for sure!)
We skied at 5 ski areas that were all included on our season pass (more about that later as well). After 3 months of skiing, I’m sure you can imagine I had tons of pictures to sort through. I can’t possibly fit everything into one post as that would be way too long, so I’ll try to organize this into a few smaller posts. This first post is about skiing at Breckenridge and also includes where we stayed.
The Breckenridge ski area is huge! There are 5 peaks and so many lifts and trails, it was several visits before we had explored most of it. At first we stuck to the easier green (beginner) and blue (intermediate) trails, but eventually our kids wanted to venture onto the black (expert) trails.
I’m glad they advanced in their skills and enjoyed it so much, but I have to admit there were times I wish they would have stuck to the greens and blues. Those black trails were quite challenging for me. I got better as the season went on, but there were times I was praying I would make it down alive! 😉
There were some trails called Kid’s Adventure Zones which were basically trails through the woods with fun props along the way. We loved those! I was glad we had kids with us because the sign states adults must be accompanied by a child. 🙂 At Breck our favorites were the Haunted Forest and Ripperoos Forest.
We stayed at Tiger Run RV Resort. It was a great place to call home for 3 months. It was a 10 minute drive to Breck, 15 minutes to Keystone, 25 minutes to Arapahoe Basin and about 40-50 minutes to Vail and Beaver Creek. I’ll write about those other ski areas in a later post. There were several other Fulltime Families staying at Tiger Run. In fact, we learned all about how to winter RV in the snow from a family that we had previously met at a couple of FtF rallies. That family was staying at Tiger Run also, and we had so much fun hanging out with them.
Fat Cat was not crazy about this snow thing. She loves to go outside, but she did NOT love it here. I think she was mad at us for staying so long in a place where she did not enjoy going outside. By late April however, most of the snow at our site had melted and she was happy to be back outside again.
The kids loved playing outside in the snow with their friend Jacob.
I also loved playing in the snow! The snow was so soft and there was so much of it!
The RV park has a really nice indoor pool and hot tub which we enjoyed frequently.
One day we even saw a moose wandering through the campground!
Another fun thing to do in Breckenridge is sledding at Carter Park.
I can’t even describe what an incredible 3 months this was, it was a season I wish could have lasted forever. However, I don’t want to give the impression that life is always perfect like social media tends to portray. We had our share of challenges — RV’ing in the snow is not the easiest thing to do.
There are a lot of preparations necessary for RV’ing in the cold and snow. We had to put up foam board skirting along the outside of the RV to keep the underneath part of the RV from getting too cold. We had to use heated hoses and heat tape to keep the outside water and sewer hoses from freezing, but that didn’t always work which is why we sometimes had no water in the morning.
In addition to the preparations, it seemed like our RV home was in a constant state of chaos and mess for 3 months. We were always tracking snow into the house when we came inside, and there were jackets, boots, ski pants, hats, gloves, etc. always taking up space because there is just no extra space for that kind of stuff in an RV. I am one of those people that is very organized and likes everything neat and in it’s place. The mess of those 3 months could have driven me crazy if I let it, but I had to remind myself that it was worth it, the memories we were making far outweighed any of the inconveniences!
I’ll admit we were nervous about how we would survive spending 3 months in an RV in the cold and snow. Many times we came close to canceling and going someplace warmer. But I’ve come to realize that if we didn’t do things because of fear of the unknown, we would have missed out on some amazing experiences. This is one of those amazing experiences I’m so glad we didn’t miss out on due to fear of trying something new.
So, is there something in your life that you want to try but are letting fear hold you back? Please allow me to encourage you to give it a try. Don’t let fear prevent you from experiencing something new. It’s possible it may turn out to be a mistake, but it’s also possible it may turn out to be something amazing and incredible. You’ll never know until you give it a try. 🙂