Saturday, November 19, 2016

Ski Vacations

As our skiing skill improves, ski vacation has become our most favored winter vacation.

I started skiing more than 16 years ago at small hills, Boston Mill and Brandy Wine at northeast Ohio, which were only 5 miles away from our home then. I bought the season pass and the whole package of skiing equipment, ski, boots and poles, the second year I skied after I could ski green trails. To ski was not a vacation then, but more a weekend excursion. I skied every weekend during skiing season!! The whole family would go to skiing with me every three or four weeks because the perk with my season pass was that I could have quite a few free tickets for family or friends each season! The only skiing vacation we had during the early years was a trip to holiday valley ski resort in New York, with another family, which I don't remember much. But the thrill and excitement of skiing, the blue sky and white snow, and the crisply cold fresh air of outdoor in winter made us, me in particular obsessed with skiing.

When we moved to Texas, one of the first things I did was to locate where the closest skiing location was. It turned out that Taos Ski Valley is the best ski resort in driving distance. Our tradition of annual family ski vacation started.

Driving or Flying

Skiing is very expensive, flying to far away ski resort can almost double the expense - airfare plus more expensive lift ticket and ski rental. There are a few ski areas within driving distance to North Texas - Ski Santa Fe, Sandia Peak, Taos and surrounding ski resorts, and Wolf Creek in southern Colorado.

Driving to ski areas has quite a few advantages -  bringing your own equipment conveniently, side trips to visit great places along the way, family bonding, .... and more economical.

We have been to Albuquerque to visit friends from our graduate school time, and many other places for sightseeing, including Santa Fe, Banderlier National Monument, Las Alamos National Lab, Palo Dura Canyon State Park, Petroglyph National Monument and Pecos National Historic Park., Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, Great Sand Dune National Park,  Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge .....

Driving long distance is also twosome time for Lily and I  as Kids were quietly watching a movie or playing computer games, we had time to talk about topics other than kids' education and discipline, such as tax cut, health care reform, politics, ...; we also spent time talking about our work, long term career plannings and expectations, exchange or re-exchange research philosophy, personnel management, team building ... Occasionally the boys actually stopped watching movie, stopped listening to music, to listen our conversations with great interest for extended period of time.

Due to the side trips and sharing of driving responsibilities, the main disadvantage of driving to ski vacation for us is the inclement weather on the road which can make driving hazardous.

After numerous ski trips in driving distance for over 10 years, we started thinking to explore other, much further away ski resorts, we thought about Colorado, Utah, California and Canada. We flew to Denver to ski at Winter Park in 2015 and Keystone during spring break this year.

 Hotel or Vacation House

For single family ski vacation, staying in hotel will be more economical for lodging. In addition to that the beds will be made by house keeper everyday,  the family will have more opportunities to taste local food. For multi family group ski vacation, staying in vacation house may not be too expensive if a few families share the house.

condominium complex - rental home
For the Keystone trip, we went with another family. They love to stay at vacation home and we went along. The home rental was taken care of. It was about 2 miles away from the ski lift and very roomy for two family to stay.
dinning area of the rental home
Since our friend Jean purchased all the necessary food/drink/fruit, we had freshly made hearty breakfast made right at the kitchen every morning. After a full day on the mountain, Lily and Jean would then make dinner for the whole group while chatting about skiing and many other topics. Communal cooking and eating is always fun and pleasant. It will make kids have more fun together after skiing, and parents have more time to chat and get to know each other much better.

We had lunches at the ski resort restaurants 100 yards away from ski lifts - first day at kickapoo tavern for sandwiches and burgers, and second day at spoon cafe.

decoration in the living area
Skis on the wall

Enjoying Skiing

Since we only ski once a year, every time we go to ski, we always start with an easy green trail and gradually increase the difficulty level as we move along the day.

At Keystone, we started with the longest green trail schoolmarm, and then explore the three mountains there via mostly blue trails.We enjoy ski because of the excitement of skiing and curiosity of exploring the mountains.  We  spent three full day to ski. The first two days were exciting, but by the 3rd day, we explored the mountains already and were a bit tired. We would then tried to ski on black trails, moguls a bit, skiing on green or blue trails as breaks.

Lily and I sometimes hike to areas we were unable to ski on, just to get a feel of what it was like to be there, we hiked the peak at Taos and  the peak at wolf creeks. Because of these experiences, I recommended to other who was unable to ski at the top of mountains, to take a gondola rides to there to enjoy the spectacular vistas. One family took the advice - it was awesome for them!

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