U of M Ski Trip to Vail

A group of guys have been going on this ski trip for a while. This year, Thorne let me know he and Blaine had space in their room and invited me along. Among the other first timers were Blaine, Jon, Lamarchial and possibly some others. Some people departed as others arrived, but my guess is that there were about 16 or 17 people in this group (almost all Sigma Nus, plus some relatives and close friends).

The SF crew arrived Thursday afternoon, but some others had already had a full day of skiing and were gathered at the Red Lion for après. We spent hours there catching up before moving over to Vendetta’s for pizza and the Michigan basketball game. We finished the evening at the hotel before calling it a night. It’s no wonder why some of them did not make it to first chair, but the committed were waiting at the Gondola 1 before service officially started.

It’s not easy to keep a group this large together on a mountain like Vail. To that point, we lost Lamar about 3 minutes after getting off the gondola and didn’t see him again until lunch. It was almost as bad as losing your kid at the mall. There wasn’t a lot of new snow, but it was good enough. The groomers were a lot better than the back bowls, and we covered a lot of the mountain in search of good terrain.

How many old dudes can you fit in a hot tub? Too many is the answer. The size of the group also made it hard to find fine dining, but that was okay because we all fit inside the Blü Cow. Those guys behind the bar had no idea a group would come in and pay for the next 3 months’ rent. I wasn’t there to shut it down, but they reserved half the restaurant for us for the following night as well.

Although I’ve seen most of these guys here and there over the years, I hadn’t met John before because he was a little after my time in the house. The Flint crew showed up on Friday, and Paul and I decided we hadn’t seen each other since college. That meant it was awesome to catch up on almost 30 years and also learn he has 580K TikTok followers. Who knew!

The number of skiers/boarders dwindled on Saturday, with some opting for recovery. Greg and Scott had a beautiful champagne lunch at the Four Seasons. We’re all very happy for them. The rest of us were dining on burgers and chicken strips at the Eagle’s Nest and only the bravest continued on through the end of a very full day of skiing and riding.

Saturday’s Michigan-OSU game did not end as well, but we shook it off with more Vendetta’s (sorry, Blü Cow crew) in Greg’s room. Things got a little crazy with our all-night Euchre tournament. No punches were thrown, but let’s just say some people will do anything to win.

Sunday, I ventured out alone for a few runs in the morning before packing up and saying our farewells. Thorne, Idema and I had our first civilized meal of the trip at Sweet Basil before heading out to Eagle and home.

One thing I loved about this trip was that I got to really catch up with everyone, unlike at a tailgate or a game. There’s lots of time on the chairlift and while hanging out to meaningfully reconnect. On the mountain and in the bar, everyone is still 20. But our conversations really reflect our age as we celebrate our children (and babies!) and partners, support each other with our aging parents, lift some out of unimaginable hardships, compare colonoscopies and cholesterol levels, and contemplate the next phase of life.

However that next phase plays out for each of us, I hope we can keep doing this trip while our knees and (some) livers will allow. Until next time.

Note: I can’t be in all places at all times to capture all the shenanigans, so these are a collection of photos from the trip.

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Ski Week in Beaver Creek and Vail

We had a great time during our first time in Utah after Christmas. The next big decision was where to go during ski week. Had we known Tahoe would be dumped on by an atmospheric river, we would have considered it, but maybe they got too much snow? We settled on our trusty Beaver Creek, which turned out to have just the right amount of snow, especially compared to our last trip there.

The other upside was that Jea and Eddie were going to be there with Audrey and Ethan. They’re often skiing over the long holiday weekend, but they don’t have the whole week off. We’ve had one other chance encounter several years ago when they were in Vail, but this time we were staying at the same hotel.

Coincidentally, Eddie and I went on a couple ski trips to this area just after college. Once, we drove with Bobby from Ludington, MI, stopped at a Cracker Barrel to pick up my buddy, Eric (Grub), in Illinois, and drove to CO. We stayed at the Comfort Inn in Avon, which is a stone’s throw from the Westin. Those trips were the last time I skied with Eddie, which was why it was so awesome to ski with him again. It was just a few runs over a couple days before they left, but still fun like old times.

Poor Audrey wasn’t feeling well, so we didn’t see her on the slopes. We spent some time with their friends from DC, who were their hosts. Olivia and Lucas have apparently been playing too much Nintendo as they seemed to school the bigger kids.

The rest of the week it was just us. We tried a couple new restaurants in town, but mostly stuck with the old routine, including countless runs through Jack Rabbit Alley. One day we went over to Vail and tried to find Arthur and Sophia, but between timing and a big mountain, we didn’t hook up.

This was the kids’ first time skiing 6 days, which isn’t that impressive because we’re not a first-chair kind of family. Some days we got on the mountain just before lunch. It snowed a little while we were there, leaving just enough powder to keep everything soft. It was perfect conditions for Olivia and Lucas to tackle their first double-black diamond runs. They thought it was no big deal.

We were having a great time together until our very last run, we wen’t through some trees we had never skied, which seemed to be endless. Lucas straddled a decent sized tree and got stuck, which required me to hike up a fair way to dig him out. We were all ready to get off the mountain after that.

I knew no one was going to want to ski on our last day, so I went out early by myself. It had snowed about 4-6″ up top overnight and was a bluebird morning. I got in a few hours and called it quits while I was still in one piece.

Hoping to get in a few more days of skiing this season. With all the snow in Tahoe, it could be in June!

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Colorado Ski Trip with WB Guys

This past weekend Steve, Scott, Herb and I met again in Beaver Creek for our annual ski trip. We had a great time last year in Colorado, so we decided to head back again. We were missing some of our regulars, but four was still a great number on the slopes.

Friday was Steve’s birthday and although we didn’t convene until Saturday, his request was to watch the Michigan Basketball game. This year, we had a large suite at the Westin (where we usually stay). Rather than go out, we just watched the game in the room and ordered room service. It was a stressful game right up until Poole’s buzzer beater. We went nuts.

On Sunday, we skied at Beaver Creek. The conditions were a little firm, but the snow was infinitely better than it was back in December. We had dinner at Splendido, which I had been wanting to try for a while.

It snowed a lot starting Sunday afternoon and throughout the evening. Although it snowed 7″ in Beaver Creek, we opted to go to Vail, which received 5″ of fresh snow. We covered a lot of ground and had a great day on the mountain as it continued to snow. Sunday night, we had dinner at Grouse Mountain Grill, where we celebrated Nick’s birthday last year.

On Monday, we skied again at Beaver Creek, which receive another couple of inches overnight. We did some laps on Larkspur in the morning, which we hadn’t tried yet. The snow was amazing. Before lunch, Steve, Herb and I went up Grouse Mountain and skied Royal Elk Glade (at Eddie’s suggestion). It was the best run of the week – lots of run and everyone made it down safely. We met Scott for lunch before heading up again for one last run down Royal Elk Glade again.

Herb was staying an extra night, so Steve, Scott and I left around 3pm to get back to Denver for our flights. Another great trip is in the books. We’re already talking about next year and hope more of the team will join us.

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Skiing in Beaver Creek and Vail before Christmas

The kids had the week off before Christmas so we decided to ski again before the holidays. We had settled on Beaver Creek, but didn’t make our plans until the last minute. I was showing the kids the World Cup, which was held in Beaver Creek at the end of November and it seemed fine. It wasn’t until after we made our arrangements and checked the weather that I found out there was hardly any snow and very little open. Uh oh.

We were locked in, so we just decided to make the best of it. Like last year, we were on our way to our holiday destination (Michigan this year), so we had 8 bags of luggage on the way there, as Elin was joining us for the week. Thankfully it all fit in the car. We have bad luck on I-70 as the road was closed at the Eisenhower Tunnel and we were forced to take the Loveland Pass, which caused a little delay.

On the way there I saw that our old friends, Betty and Andrew were already in Beaver Creek so we hoped to meet up. When we arrived at the mountain the next morning, they were the first people we saw. We met up with them again at lunch as they were leaving the next day.

The kids didn’t get to show Elin all their favorite runs because none of them were open. Despite that, there was still plenty of terrain to ride and we spent the whole week working on our turns (and hockey stop for Lucas). For months I was getting Lucas mentally ready to ski parallel this year. Up until this year, he skied a very wide stance, which made skiing parallel virtually impossible. We started with hockey stops (on both sides) and lots of sliding. I realized that both Olivia and Lucas could turn and stop pretty well when going right, but going left, not so much. From then on, they were only allowed to stop left (though there wasn’t full compliance).

We stayed at the Westin in Beaver Creek again and got a little more space for the five of us. We finally made it to Grouse Mountain Grill as a family, which I enjoyed for Nick’s birthday during the last season. On our third day, we skied a half day and headed over to Vail to watch Star Wars. Afterwards, Arthur invited us over for dinner. It was great to spend time with his mom and his sister’s family, who we see often in Vail.

We skied Vail on Thursday. The coverage was surprisingly thinner than Beaver Creek and it was a day of unsuccessfully avoiding rocks. Arthur made it out in the afternoon for a few runs together. We had more meals at some familiar places as well as tried some new restaurants in Vail during the week.

By week’s end, it snowed a few more inches and actually got quite cold. The last afternoon on Saturday were the windiest conditions in which I’ve skied (seemingly hurricane force). But, it was only my second chance during the week to let my new skis run as Grace and the kids called it a day early.

Even though the snow wasn’t the best (i.e., the worst), we still had a great time and both kids made great progress on their form and speed. I’d call it a success. Can’t wait to get back on the mountain under better conditions.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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