Ski Week in Beaver Creek and Vail

While we were committed to skiing for the kids’ ski week, we were not committed to Tahoe due to the ski conditions there this season. Eddie and his family have been enjoying Beaver Creek, so we decided to give it a try. It was snowing when we arrived and the Vail Pass was closed just as we approached it. Without local knowledge, we just did what Waze told us to do and ended up driving an extra 45 miles around the pass on white-knuckle, slow-paced roads. The most important thing was that we made it safely, but it was a long day of travel.

We stayed at the Westin, which was a very nice property, but required a bit of extra logistics to get everyone to ski school in the morning. The kids and Grace all attended school on Monday and Tuesday. I was alone and unsupervised, which allowed me to get some respectable vertical feet in between drop off and pick up. I had my greatest hits on shuffle on Spotify for two days straight and it was awesome.

On Wednesday, the kids had negotiated a family ski day, which was a lot of fun for all of us. At times, it ended up being Grace and Lucas and me and Olivia. Because they were relentless in beating me down on ski school, I thought carefully (but didn’t consult an attorney) and came up with the following proposal. If either kid could ski three different black diamond runs without crying, falling or stopping, they would no longer need to attend ski school and I would happily ski with them wherever and whenever. Immediately upon putting it out there, they were trying to negotiate me down.

Olivia decided to test the challenge and wanted to ski President Ford’s (the Wolverine connection was of course explained) at the end of Wednesday, which was a periodically steep groomer that turned into a blue at the bottom. I tried to say it didn’t count, but in the end gave her half credit even though she did stop (not the most important requirement) and admitted she had some tears in her eyes, “but didn’t cry.” I was proud of her for trying and getting down nonetheless.

Between the Alpine World Ski Championships, which were finishing up just as we were leaving, and some other events at the hotel, we could only stay there through Thursday. However, we didn’t want to cut our trip short, so we moved over to Vail for a night. On Thursday, Grace and the kids switched to ski school at Vail. The kids were resistant after recalling their last 4-day stints there a couple years ago.

I ended up hooking up with Arthur that day, which was part of my motivation of moving over to Vail. Unfortunately, Kjell was ill and didn’t make it out. Arthur, as always, did his best to destroy my spirit while I did my best to keep up. We skied non-stop (no lunch, no water and I even had to pee in the woods). I survived the longest (unexpected) drop I can recall since my 20s as well as a slight groin pull.

The stinkers were a little leery of moving to the Four Seasons after our Santa Barbara experience. Thankfully, it exceeded their expectations (and ours). Although it isn’t right next to the mountain, they more than make up for it with their shuttles and other services that make skiing in and out as painless as possible.

On Thursday night, we had dinner with Arthur, Heidi, Kjell, and their friends, Jean and Lars. We didn’t have a sitter arranged, but Heidi was kind enough to let our kids join theirs for a few hours. The sitter literally had her hands full with Aurelia and the rest of the crew. We had an amazing and hilarious dinner at Left Bank. Arthur says he’s never been there in 43 years, which is ironic because Grace and I went there a couple years ago. It has since been remodeled and was excellent. The boys all shared rack of lamb, while the ladies enjoyed beef and elk. Lars ordered wine and someone else ordered 9 desserts.

Friday was supposed to be another family ski day. We slept in and had a very leisurely breakfast. In the end, only Lucas wanted to ski with me. By the time we got to the top of the mountain, it was dumping snow. He wanted to show me a couple runs, but about a quarter of the way down, with a snow-covered face, he told me he was done. I told him we could try to ski the bottom of the mountain where it might be less snowy and he agreed. I knew he was fine because he talked non-stop on the way down, which I loved. I couldn’t hear much, but what I did hear was about the trees (he didn’t know what kind they were) and how they shared the same roots and were like one big tree covering the area of Rhode Island. When asked where he learned this, he couldn’t recall. My other favorites were “hey, was that a bunny hole?” and “c’mon, Dad!” We stopped at the base for hot chocolate and Olivia and Grace ended up meeting us at The Red Lion. It was now snowing sideways at the base, so Lucas was done. Even though he only lasted one (long) run, it was one of my best days ever. I borrowed Lucas’s goggles and headed to the top for one last epic run in 4-6 inches of fresh snow).

It was another slow and treacherous drive out of Vail, but we made it to the airport with several hours to spare and managed to have a civilized meal (after talking Olivia down from Panda Express). Lucas wanted to sit in the 2nd row of the airplane, but we were actually in last class. For some reason, he stayed up almost the entire flight and was barely conscious when we arrived past midnight. It was nice to be home after a great family vacation.

Vail Trip With Cinaders and Sugars

The last couple years, Arthur, Brian and I have been doing father-daughter trips with the girls. This year, the younger siblings were ready to hit the slopes. So, the weekend of February 22nd, the entire family headed to Vail with the Cinaders and Sugars.

Both Olivia and Lucas did 4 full days of ski school. Grace tried Jason’s ski school for a day and then need a break on day two. I was really proud of her when she signed herself up for two full days of ski school. She made a ton of progress by the end of the trip. Lucas had been on skis one day earlier this season. He started at level 0 and made it all the way to level 3 by day four. Everyone did great and I actually got to ski quite a bit on this trip.

It wasn’t easy keeping up with Arthur and Kjell, but I did my best.

Thanks, as always, Arthur, for your hospitality. It was the best ski trip ever.

Spring Skiing at Vail with Sugar Familia


On Friday, April 15th, most of our Sugar family including the Cinaders, Moatzes and Brian and Katie, headed to Vail for a long weekend of skiing. Notably missing were Lisa, Juliet, Grace and Lucas. Abigail and Joel (who joined us on our last ski trip) also came from Santa Fe with the boys to host us at Manor Cinader.

The first night, we went to Lionshead and had bbq for dinner. It was a pretty long walk from Golden Peak for adults and 4-year-olds alike. We smartened up and took the bus home. The girls planned a slumber party in the Cinaders’ room and Arthur was happy to lead story time for them. Everyone retired to their rooms and at about 9:30pm, there was a knock on our door. Katie and Olivia decided to sleep in their own room after all. Olivia was the last one up.

Katie already had a week of ski school under her belt from December, but Olivia was a little more apprehensive at drop off. To be honest, I was, too, given it was 8:30am to 3:15pm on Saturday. Olivia shed some tears and even a warm chocolate chip cookie couldn’t cheer her up. They asked if we wanted her “teacher” to come out to meet her and Olivia said yes. I don’t think it was a coincidence that they sent out the Asian one to greet her (Brian was actually the one who made this observation). Olivia reluctantly went with him and they disappeared under a rainbow without looking back.

We skied the back bowls and blue sky for most of the day, had lunch at Two Elk, and then skied a bit on the front until it was time to go pick up the girls. I went a little early to watch Olivia, but stayed out of sight. She seemed to be doing well. She told me she had fun, but I do think it was a long day for her.

Saturday evening, we prepared a big meal at home for everyone, which was great. It turned out to be another late night for all the girls.

The next morning, Olivia successfully negotiated her way out of ski school. We skied together on the bunny chairlift. Although she wanted to quit after two runs, we got over the hump and skied some more before having a snack with Sadie and Arthur, who were also skiing together. Olivia was making good progress skiing by herself, so we skied into the afternoon, before taking a break to head to Vail Village for lunch. It was really an excuse to ride the bus, which Olivia enjoyed. We had lunch with Heidi, Sophia, Sadie & Arthur at Pepi’s.

Heidi graciously offered to take Olivia with the girls so I could ski with Arthur, but I was determined to get Olivia back on the slopes after lunch. We ended up skiing until the lift closed at 4pm. Olivia’s goal was to ski from the top of the magic carpet by herself. On her last run, she was ready to try and did a great job.

The last night, we (tried to) enjoy a nice dinner out in Lionshead. Nate Dogg, and the girls were a little restless. Olivia, on the other hand, could hardly stay awake, so we cut out a little early. She crashed on the bus. We had some quiet time at home, but once again, Olivia was the last one up.

The last day was only a half day of skiing. Ski school was closed for the season, so Olivia already had an out. We all took the girls and Nate Dogg over to Lionshead to ride the gondola up to the top where there was a nice hill for them. We got in a few runs (including Nate) before deciding to take the girls all the way down and across the mountain to Golden Peak. Katie Sugar was amazing. She went down the entire way by herself and happily. Sadie made it about half way down with help from her dad without a complaint. Olivia, on the other hand, was scared. Although we were skiing the roads and switchbacks that were not different from her hills, she was understandably scared by the imposing view down the mountain. She was not happy. Arthur called me a tiger dad (low). Half way down, I just picked her up and we went down the rest of the way together. At the top of her hill, she skied the rest of the way down herself to finish the season strong.

We had a nice ride back to Denver before flying home. It was smooth sailing until everyone boarded except Krista, Nate, Olivia and me. Alarms went off, announcements were made, and all the doors were closed. There was a “security breach.” After about 30 minutes, the all-clear was given and we resumed our trip home.

This was a special father-daughter ski trip. Olivia was an awesome travel partner and a good sport throughout. She had a great time with her girlfriends, Nate Dogg, and all of her aunts and uncles.

Hope we can do it again next year. Brian and I already got our season passes for 2011-12! Thanks, Cinaders, for putting us up.

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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