Anyway Saturday morning I woke up at ConFusion. I spent the morning/afternoon hanging out there, doing a variety of fun con things. Then around 3pm I drove to my house and finished packing. A couple of hours later, I was on my way to the airport. I parked my car, checked in, and discovered that I'd been upgraded to first class. (yay silver elite!) I was torn though -- to travel with my boyfriend in steerage, or to enjoy the free upgrade? With his encouragement, I decided to accept it. After all, we'd be together the entire week to follow.
We had dinner, and I confessed to him that I felt the stirrings of a cold haunting my nose and throat. We agreed that getting sick on vacation would be a real bummer, so I wouldn't do it. Thus I treated myself with soup and Jack Daniels.
First class wasn't full, which made M's banishment to the back of the airplane even more tragic. I tried to pull the sympathy card. "My boyfriend's back there -- it's our first big vacation together -- is there any way you could let him sit up here, if this seat isn't taken?"
I was hoping he'd be convinced out of the goodness of his heart, but the steward apparently called the gate to see if M's ticket was worthy of upgrade. It wasn't. "But I could send him a complementary drink, if you'd like." I accepted the offer; it was better than nothing. I think it gave M an unexpected smile (even if the beer turned out to be nasty).
I then sat next to Not-M's empty seat the whole flight, drowning my not-a-cold in orange juice and vodka, and working on web development.
We landed in Denver and rented an SUV with 4-wheel drive. When we saw the snow blizzarding at the top of the mountain, we were glad we had sprung for it! They actually had a police car with his lights on escorting folks down the windy mountain path on other side, since visibility was so poor. It was nice to have a guide/protector along that dark path.
Eventually we found our way to T's condo. T is a friend of M's who had generously agreed to let us stay at her place for the price of some small home improvements. It was after midnight by the time we arrived, so we tip-toed our way in, found our bed, and were soon fast asleep.
Sunday dawned slowly. By the time I dragged my sniffley sneezy nose out of bed, I had to admit that I'd come down with a cold. On vacation even! No fair. I said 'hello' to T, who was all geared up in leopard print fleece for a fine day of skiing. That woman really likes leopard print. She can pull it off though - not everyone would be able to.
M and I had coffee and orange juice, and I think we found something breakfasty to eat. It was a slow morning. We both enjoyed relaxing for a bit, recovering from our stressful work-weeks and the trip.
Eventually we got ourselves moving, and went to check out the local bus stop. T lives just blocks away from the free shuttle bus that goes all over Vail. We memorized the important parts of the schedule: red goes away, green brings you home. Red leaves our stop at 25 and 55 past each hour. We never did a good job of memorizing green.
Then a red bus came, and we got on it. Shortly after, we were in Vail Village! I was thrilled to finally be there. We spent some time investigating prices and debating options, then settled on a 3-day lift ticket, which could be used for 5 days. We arranged a semi-private all-day lesson, since they were running a great special.
Then we browsed around the Village for awhile, checking out the cute little shopes. T called us from the slopes, saying that visibility was poor so would we like to meet for a late lunch? We did, and met her at a little pub nearby.
Upon returning to the condo, I decided it was time for a nap. I curled up with a good book and used it as a pillow for an hour or two, trying to de-virus myself as rapidly as possible. Dr. T (an anesthesiologist) suggested Cold Ease, with a very "scientifical" explanation, so they picked some up for me while dinner-shopping.
Dinner was good, as T's boyfriend and his two sons came over and cooked. We had wine and relaxing conversation. He was a really nice guy. He even generously offered to get us lunch at the Ritz on one of our ski days, but our ski days turned out to be too full-of-fun to venture off the slopes.
After dinner everyone but M and I took off for their various work-week homes. No work-week for us, we were on vacation. We had a quiet evening then headed to bed early. Our first big day was tomorrow!
Monday morning was a bit frantic, as each of us scrambled into our various ski clothes, and ran around making sure we had our various hats/mittens/scarves/boots/etc with us. We grabbed some breakfast on the go, and hurried out to the bus stop. Just as we were putting the skis into the bus, I looked around. Then around again. M looked at me worriedly. "I don't have any... do we have our poles???" He exclaimed an expletive, asked me to hold the bus, and sprinted back to the house. I got on the bus and asked, but the driver said he was already behind schedule. At least he let me out -- jumping off, I grabbed both of our skis from the rack. Hoping against hope I hadn't just grabbed somebody else's skis....
Poor M came gasping up, his body not yet used to the altitude, carrying four ski poles. Too late. Oh well, the green bus wasn't far behind, and although it was slower it still got us there only a few minutes late.
We found our ski instructor, Jurgan. We got rid of our street shoes, donned all of our gear, and we were ready to do some skiing!
Jurgan was friendly and patient, and taught me a lot about how to turn and keep my skis parallel. I'm still not perfect at it, but my turns were worlds better by the end of the week. Also I think I'm keeping my skis much more parallel, and I'm learning things like how to slide sideways on them and stuff. He taught M some trickier stuff beyond my skill level, but it looked like he was learning lots.
Monday's Apres Ski was at the Red Lion, which featured live music, long crowded tables, and lots of drinks. People wearing all sorts of odd combinations of ski and street wear. It was fun!
We then went back to the condo, changed clothes, and attempted to hit the town for dinner. It (sadly) turned into a bit of a disaster, with missed buses, buses that didn't stop where they were supposed to, then more missed buses and standing out in the cold. However in the end we did manage to eat dinner, drink something warm, and find our way home. And we finally learned the green bus's evening schedule.
Tuesday was a recovery day. We started by doing a bit of shopping, wandering through the little shops in the village. We tried on some hats.
Our friends had clued us in that the Hilton in Beaver Creek had a marshmallow apres ski. Although it was supposed to be for guests, nobody checked. So we spent a leisurely morning, then headed the Beaver Creek in the afternoon. We strolled confidently through the Hilton, found the back deck, and there was a huge bonfire. Uniformed chefs and staff were handing out a variety of flavored marshmallows and s'mores fixings.
It was a treat! After that little decadence, we had a drink at the hotel restaurant (to alleviate my guilt about being there). We struck up a fortuitous conversation with the bartender, who told us that our planned drive to dinner was all wrong. She showed us a much shorter route, and shortly thereafter we were at Ti Amo for a lovely Italian meal.
Wednesday started out clear and sunny, and we hit the slopes for our first day of "on our own" skiing. M played tour guide, and he did a great job of finding us fun runs and showing me around more.
It started snowing quite a lot later in the day, and the visibility got really poor. At one point we were picking our way through China Bowl, and realized we weren't even sure where we were going! We couldn't distinguish the snow on the ground from the snow in the air. "Follow us!", the group ahead of us called. "We have an instructor who can find her way down!" We followed them until visibility cleared a bit and we felt less lost. It was a little creepy there for awhile though!
For our Apres Ski we went to Los Amigos, which is famous for looking right out at one of the harder black runs. A lot of people decide to make it their last run of the day, when they are already tired, and they sometimes wipe out spectacularly. The bar has an excellent view of this, and people cheer and rate the crashes. It's good fun!
Thursday was another recovery day. In fact, it was a day of luxury, decadence, and spoiling ourselves. We went to Glenwood Hot Springs to spend the day rejuvenating ourselves.
First, we did something we've always wanted to try: we each had a hot stone massage. It felt lovely, and it did really good things for all of my tight skiing muscles. After that, we went for a dip in the naturally heated pool.
We sat, relaxed, strolled, swam, and I even tried a couple of inward dives (my favorite trick from diving class), since they had a diving board. Kind of strange to have rock-salt on your diving board, and to be swimming and diving outdoors in below-freezing external temperatures.... but really neat, also.
After the springs, we had lunch. Then we went home and cleaned up a bit, then we boarded a bus to Lion's Head. We did a little bit of looking around in the shops there, then took the gondola to the top of the mountain.
There we were met by a snowcat, which drove us to an isolated little restaurant up top, the Game Creek Club. We had a prix fix menu. It was expensive, but every bite was delicious. It was a special place to spend a special evening.
Friday dawn clear and cloudless, a perfect day for skiing. We hurried out to get on the slopes right away. It was beautiful!
Check out the double-black diamon EXtreme course M is eying...
Shortly after posing for this picture, my boyfriend tried to kill me. "Come on," he says to me, "this will be a nice, easy, groomed, blue run." I foolishly believed him, until we turned the corner....
...to find mogul insanity. This is blue?? I'm not afraid of steep, but moguls freak me out. However, really the only way to go was down. And we'd accidentally encountered some moguls earlier in the day, and they'd been kind of fun....right??
I started working my way down. I'd make a few turns smoothly, then miss one and start bouncing over the bumps, desperately lunge through another turn, then get nervous and sit down on a convenient mogul beside me. It actually WAS pretty fun, if a little nerve-wracking. And I got through it!
In fact I survived not just one mogul hill but three of them. Each time we found ourselves on one M would look surprised and apologize, but we kept "accidentally" finding them... I dunno. Maybe he was looking to make a few extra co-pays to help afford the vacation.
We also spent some time visiting Vail's famous Back Bowls.
They were beautiful. And fun!
Saturday was a less exciting day. We cleaned up, did laundry and took out the trash, and generally tried to be good houseguests. Since our only assigned chore/payment turned out to be my work on T's computer, setting up her wifi and removing some insidious spyware she'd acquired, we felt we'd made out well.
We drove down the mountain, encountering fine weather the whole way, and eventually settled ourselves in the airport for lunch. A flight home (first class again!), a drive to M's house to drop him off (sorta makes up for the first class), then a drive to my house, and the vacation was over. Alas! But it was a really great week.