Long Weekend in Vail with Sugar Ski Team

Last Monday, Brian asked me if I wanted to go to Vail.  He didn’t have to ask me twice.  I did, however, have to ask Grace twice.  The first time, there was no response (uh oh).  The second time, she very graciously said to go ahead.

Within the week, it was pretty amazing how the team came together (Arthur, Brian, Aaron, Ryan, Andy and his son, Matt, and Brian W., who was our colleague at 2Wire).  Everyone got on the same flights to and from Denver, which made the ground logistics easier.  We were picked up by a fleet of Escalades big black van, for the two hour trip to Vail.

Arthur very generously hosted us at Manor Cinader, which is just a stone’s throw from chair 6 and a short walk to Vail Village.  When we arrived Friday afternoon, everyone took care of their rentals and lift passes.  We enjoyed euro-fare for dinner at Pepi’s in the village.  Afterwards, we spent the rest of the evening grilling Matt on his 11-year old taste in music while Brian twiddled with Pandora.  Joel, Arthur’s brother-in-law, drove in from Santa Fe and had also joined us.

Arthur has been talking about skiing together in Vail for years.  Even though I had no inclination (or lead time) to physically prepare, I was mentally prepared.  This included anticipating a 7:15am wakeup as everyone was gung ho to be on the first lift at 8:30am.  We almost made it.  Still, it might have been the earliest I’ve been on a lift in a long while.  Regarding being physically prepared, I knew I was in trouble when I was winded from walking to the lift and light-headed from buckling my boots.

It was a cold, white-out day on Saturday.  The snow was blowing so hard, I was wondering why my eyeballs were being pelted while on the chair lift.  On my second run, there was snow and ice on the inside of my lenses.  I was perplexed.  Arthur astutely pointed out that the foam on the top edge of my 20-year-old goggles was all gone.  I made a trip to Mid Vail to procure some new googles and skied by myself until I met up with some of the crew for lunch.

Just because you can order 3 pound of smoked beef brisket, pulled pork and ribs at 11,000 feet, it doesn’t mean you should.  I skied the rest of the day with Andy, Matt & Ryan and eventually met Arthur, Brian, Brian and Joel for drinks at Larkspur.

Dinner reservations at the Ore House were arranged perfectly by Brian and communicated horribly by Arthur, who actually meant for us to eat at the restaurant next door.  It was too late.  We sat down to what Brian called the worst meal he’s ever had (it really wasn’t).  Things turned around when 15 Brazilians rolled in for a bachelorette party and sat right next to us.

Sunday was a beautiful, sunny day on the mountain.  The nine of us did our best to stick together for most of the day, exploring the back bowls most of the time.  Half of us headed home early to watch football and grab a late lunch.  Of course, Arthur and Aaron skied until the bitter end.

We settled in at Vendetta’s in the village.  Five hours, two playoff games, $900 lost three ways (not me), 3 plates of wings, 2 pizzas, 1 Ukrainian, 50+ shots of Jameson (not me), and 7 or 8 Diet Cokes (me) later, we headed home.  What was supposed to be a short walk almost turned into a death march.  Arthur pointed us down some dark trail along the creek and all of the sudden people were being tackled into the snow left and right (see 50+ shots above).  Not wanting this to happen to me, and given that some of the guys had 60-80 lbs on me, I did what I needed to do – I started running.  Sugar was right behind me.

All of my instincts told me we needed to get on the other side of that creek, but there were no bridges and I thought fording it in sub-zero temps would be a bad idea.  Eventually, we ended up on the road along I-70.  I wouldn’t say were were lost, lost, but getting back took another 15 minutes with the help of GPS and a compass.  I knocked on Arthur’s door, very disappointed that there weren’t multiple search parties looking for us.  His face was bloody.  I said, “your face is bloody.”  “It is?” he replied (see 50+ shots above).

I learned later that Ryan was attacked from behind by someone (Arthur) and then someone was stuffing snow into his mouth and nose (Arthur).  He didn’t know who it was, but he managed to pile drive that person (Arthur) into the snow.

There were potential Darwin awards to be won that evening and I thought the worst was over.  Somehow, they rallied to the hot tub, attacked Sugar when they got back, and then all came back to our room.  Then Arthur and Brian W. (who made me and Ryan watch 2 hours of UFC the prior night) started to wrestle.  Aaron comes in from dinner with friends and immediately goes after Brian W., who quickly pulls some Jujitsu moves and puts him into submission.  Then Ryan piles on and the three of them head straight for the stone mantle … just missed it.  After some harmless Chappelle, everyone went to bed.  More Darwin awards averted. It should come as no surprise that Matt, the 6th-grader, was the most mature guy on the trip.

Monday was the best day of skiing by far.  I managed to keep up with follow far behind Arthur through bump runs and glades and followed Aaron through some other fun terrain.  Eventually, we each found our way back to Manor Vail for our ride back to Denver and flight home.

It was an amazing long weekend with the guys.  Thanks again to Arthur for his hospitality and Sugar for making the arrangements and rallying the team.  Let’s do it again soon.  I’m going to start training now (Jujitsu, of course).


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Arthur’s 40th Birthday Dinner

Our dear friend, Arthur, has the same birthday as Olivia. He turned 40 this year. Brian and Arthur’s wife, Heidi, went all out to throw him a lovely and memorable party. Arthur loves to cook, so what better place than a private catered dinner on the top floor of the Williams-Sonoma flagship store in Union Square. Brian brought in all the food and beverages and Gary cooked everything to perfection. Special shout out to Brian Dhatt for his delicious creamed corn. Along with the usual suspects, it was great to catch up with Rebecca and Chris Lien. One unnamed guest saved $12 on parking.

Happy Birthday, Arthur!

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