Ski Sojourn Highlights (there were no lowlights)  

Trip Facts

Departed Hopkins December 25, 2018
Returned Hopkins March 24, 2019
90 days
31 days skiing
10,018 miles
One oil change
16.1 MPG

Ski Tracker
Ski Tracker 308,759 Vertical Feet

308,759 Vertical feet skied (it was actually more because I forgot to turn on the tracker once or twice after lunch.)

Longest Day Crested Butte, 16,583 Vertical feet

Shortest Day Vail 2,177 Vertical (bad boot day)

Skied 361 miles

Highest Altitude Arapaho Basin, 12,442’

Highest speed skiing: 46 mph at Heavenly. I might have been falling at that point. Average high speed was around 38 mph. To put that in perspective, Lindsey Vonn skis 85 mph.

13 states

  1. Minnesota
  2. North Dakota
  3. Montana
  4. Idaho
  5. Wyoming
  6. Utah
  7. Colorado
  8. Nevada
  9. California
  10. Arizona
  11. New Mexico
  12. Nebraska
  13. Iowa

20 ski resorts

  1. Red Lodge, Montana
  2. Big Sky, Montana
  3. Grand Targhee, Wyoming
  4. Jackson Hole, Wyoming
  5. Alta, Utah
  6. Snowbird, Utah
  7. Steamboat, Colorado
  8. Aspen Snowmass, Colorado
  9. Vail, Colorado
  10. Beaver Creek, Colorado
  11. Breckenridge, Colorado
  12. Keystone, Colorado
  13. Arapahoe Basin, Colorado
  14. Ski Cooper, Colorado
  15. Park City, Utah
  16. Heavenly Valley, Nevada/California
  17. Squaw Valley, California
  18. Bear Valley, California
  19. Mammoth Mountain, California
  20. Taos, New Mexico
  21. Crested Butte, Colorado

Best Ski Region
Summit County, Colorado
Only an hour from Denver, it’s close to a major airport, so many ski areas, easy access, cool little mountain towns.
Runner up: Salt Lake/Park City, Utah This was a tough call. I really like Utah, too.

Best Large Resort
Mammoth
Runner ups: Big Sky, Vail, Aspen, Heavenly

Best Smaller Area
SkiCooper
Runner Ups: Grand Targhee, Red Lodge, Bear Valley

Top of Long Shot, Aspen Snowmass
Top of Long Shot, Aspen Snowmass

Best Run
LongShot, Aspen SnowMass
Runner Ups: Back Bowls Vail, Kachina Taos, Mammoth Mountain Climax run

Scariest run Jade Glade/Dragons Teeth, Back Bowls Vail. Following Tanya down deep powder
Runner Ups: Kachina and Hunziker Bowl, Taos; Top of Mammoth Mountain Climax

Best restaurant
Best Restaurant on the mountain–Collins Grill Alta, UT

Best on Mountain Restaurant
Collins Grill at Watsons Shelter, Alta

Most interesting person met at a
At the Cbar Beaver Creek met Harriet, owner of ColoradoPrimeCBD.  

Nachos, Trap Bar
Best Bar Appetizer–Nachos, Trap Bar Grand Targhee

Best Bar Appetizer:
Grand Targhee Trap Bar with Bill Boyt. Nachos with the “Grand Teton” chips at the top of the stack

Best Meal—Home-Made
Karolyn and Tom, Marinated Tri-tip at Heavenly Condo
Runner Up: Valentine’s dinner with Carol—I think I cooked steaks from her freezer

Best Restaurant Meal
The Mint in Silverthorne, steak cook on a communal grill by the guests.
Runner ups: Chart House at South Lake Tahoe; Wooden Nickel at Crested Butte

Best Kept Secret Restaurant
The Lost Cajun, Frisco, Colorado

Pork Chili
Pork Chili at Butte 66, Crested Butte

Best Chili
Butte 66 at Crested Butte, pork chili

Most Beautiful Drive
Owens Valley, California, Ridgecrest to Mammoth
Runner Ups: So many, can’t name, but here’s a few:
Grand Junction to Eagle I-70
Eagle to Grand Lake—Eagle to Wolcott, Wolcott to State Bridge, County Road 1 State Bridge to Kremmling, Hwy 40 from Kremmling to Granby
Frisco to Ski Cooper
Silverthorne to Kremmling Hwy 9 north
South Shore of Lake Tahoe
Bear Valley to Merced—two lane roads through small towns and blooming almond trees
29 Palms Hwy 62 to 177 to Interstate 10 en route to Albuquerque.

Best ski town
Frisco or Taos
Runner up: Driggs, Idaho
Breckenridge but too crowded.
Crested Butte

Most Dsappointing Ski Town
Alta/Snowbird (I don’t think there is a town)

Best Western Stores
Murdocks in Silverthorne & Little’s in Steamboat

Best Worldmark Ski Condo
Steamboat or Heavenly (location, location, location)
Runner Up: Taos, New Mexico (beautiful SW décor in lobby, but 15 miles to resort)

Best AirBnB
Little Cottonwood Canyon, Ronnie & Lisa
Runner ups: Driggs, Idaho (fabulous log cabin) Beth’s place

Best Hotel (Only stayed at one hotel at a ski town.)
Beach Bungalow, Morro Bay, CA
Runner Up: Santa Maria Inn, Santa Maria, CA

Best Bloody Mary
Crested Butte Paradise Lodge. Just enough spice and great conversation. Pickle spear, olive, pepper, bacon slice.

13 Audio Books

  1. Fire and the Fury, Michael Wolff
  2. Crazy Rich Asians, Kevin Kwan
  3. What Happened, Hillary Rodham Clinton
  4. Becoming, Michelle Obama
  5. The Alice Network, Kate Quinn
  6. Lilac Girls, Martha Hall Kelly
  7. Pachinko, Min Jin Lee
  8. Alexander Hamilton, Ron Chernow
  9. My Own Words, Ruth Bader Ginsburg
  10. Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro
  11. When We Were Orphans, Kazuo Ishiguro
  12. How to Be an American Housewife, Margaret Dilloway
  13. Educated, Tara Westover

Other Audio:

  1. Podcast Reply All, Gimlet. Hosted by PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman (recommended by Tom Z)
  2. TedTalks
  3. Local radio

APPS I LIKE
I used an app on my iPhone called SkiTracker for the ski stats. It doesn’t require cell coverage for GPS to track vertical so even with spotty cell coverage, the app worked great. It also measures actual vertical versus the Vail Epic Mix which measures chair lifts ridden and calculates vertical on those measures. The beauty of the Vail Epic Mix is that you don’t have to remember to turn it on… ☹ It senses your lift pass as you ski under a scanner at every lift, so there’s no additional hardware to carry. It needs no battery, or additional battery pack. Every time you get on a chair at a Vail resort that has the Epic Mix you get measured… No forgetting to turn it on or off. While it only happened once on this trip, sometimes I have been tracked skiing 80 miles an hour only to find out they were highway miles in my truck.

Gas Buddy was helpful to check on where gas stations were located and also where the cheapest gas was. Costco was consistently inexpensive but lines there were consistently long. Cheap gas station chains varied by state.

I used Hotels.com frequently to find a place to stay, but sometimes searching Google for hotels near me gave me cheaper prices. I love AirBNB and used them for longer stays vs overnights when I used Hotels.com. * see my comments on using AirBNB below.

When I was tracking storms and snowfalls I used Accuwesther.com for temps, precipitation forecasts, hourly and daily predictions. Opensnow.com was great for predicting what was happening weather-wise at ski resorts. And I would use the Epic.com site for individual Epic resort snow conditions.

The states are finally normalizing on the 511 road conditions app by state. You still have to download each state’s 511 app. Google Maps was my app of choice for navigation, and it is good for road conditions, too. I used Waze in the cities, but it wasn’t as useful in the mountains or rural areas. Waze is nice because it uses input from users (aka Wazers) so the information is up-to-date.

The United States Postal Service offers a service called Informed Delivery. I would recommend this to EVERYONE who travels. Basically, the post office scans virtually every piece of mail that it handles through automated scanners, and they post a picture of your daily mail and what’s going to be delivered.  Every delivery day I get an email with pictures of each piece of mail that is being delivered. IT IS THE BEST. I could tell if important mail had arrived, and then periodically I would use the service offered by the PO where they would send me my mail. That service is somewhat expensive, but worth it to me.

I use Wink Hubs which might now be older technology, but it still works for me. Linked to my Wink Hubs are my Schlage WiFi door locks, one camera, Honeywell thermostats and a water sensor. I have these Hubs at both my Landing Pad Condo and Lake Irene cabin. Three cameras don’t link to the Wink Hub—my Samsung Smart Cams. I love the cameras, they give me eyes on stuff. I could also “spy” on the guys who were doing my Lake remodel—it was fun to see the cabinets go in.

I listened to as many books as I normally read in a year! I mostly use Overdrive or Libby for the Hennepin or Douglas County libraries. I like using the libraries, but the wait time for most of the books I wanted were unreasonably long. I switched over to a free trial of Audible.com but for the number of books I was reading I felt that Audible got too expensive. Finally I subscribed to Sribd.com that seemed like a good compromise between availability and cost.

* Thoughts on AirBNB
I love AirBNB. It’s a great way for a solo traveler to have connections in a strange town. I would only warn a novice to AirBNB to really think about what you’re comfortable with: I realized after staying at the Driggs, Idaho, home that I wanted a room to myself, not a dorm-type situation; I don’t mind sharing a bathroom; I don’t mind sharing a room in a house, I don’t need a whole house. I read the reviews to determine how safe the neighborhoods might be. I need parking; and in retrospect, I think if I had known Kris’ house boarders were all young men, I might have looked elsewhere. But I never felt threatened or unsafe. Well, maybe I felt a little uncomfortable with all those twenty-something men. I did lock the door.

One of the features AirBNB calls out is if the bedroom has a lock on it. It lists if you have your own bathroom. Many will specify how close they are to public transit. It’s something to consider whether it needs to be a requirement. Some AirBnB homes are cleaner than others—reviews can help narrow that down. I have learned a lot about myself and what I am comfortable with. I have been on the road and living out of suitcase for three months. Not a lot of people would enjoy that, for sure. I have stayed in AirBNB homes, Motel 6’s (PS: no hair dryers or many other amenities), Day’s Inn, WorldMark condos, Santa Maria Inn (where, in its day, hosted Bing Crosby, Bette Davis, Doris Day, Clark Gable, Cary Grant) and friends and family across the west. I have learned what makes for a great guest room and I have stayed in many very nice guest rooms; I have slept on couches and in my sleeping bag. You would think I was 20, but I am 64!

Ronnie and Lisa made for great hosts in Sandy, UT, at the mouth of the Little Cottonwood Canyon about 6 miles to Snowbird/Alta. They shared their kitchen, had a spare fridge in the garage for us guests, and Ronnie was welcoming and chatty. Their home had been one of the cabins that housed the workers who mined the granite for the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City. Lisa’s ancestors were part of the mining crews and the cabin’s been in the family ever since. They had plenty of parking right next to the creek with one little tree—that I backed into. Oh, well. I’ll pay attention to all that reverse beeping noise next time.

But what I have learned is I don’t really care where I sleep—fancy or not fancy it hasn’t been about where I sleep, but the company I keep.

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