Goodbye Breckenridge!

When we were initially planning the trip and decided that we wanted to do some serious snowboarding as part of the trip it took me about 2 seconds to suggest Breckenridge as the place to go. After all the places we have been skiing and boarding it is one of the few places were I could still remember runs after all the years.
It was a big call to suggest it was the best skiing in the world but after the season we have had it certainly backed up the comment. I honestly cannot remember how many powder days we have had! Couple that with the size of the resort and the unpisted bowls and the experience has been amazing!
January was I admit absolutely freezing, we’ll actually it was well below freezing! Some of the temperatures had to be experienced to be believed, we are talking minus a lot. In fact one day we had to come back down off the mountain as it was seriously too cold. The rest of the season had the odd cold day but wasn’t too bad and I won’t go into a blow by blow account of the weather, but I will say that we had a dump of snow in March which resulted in four straight days of new snow. 9, 9, 7, 11 were the magic numbers and the result was fresh tracks everyday and some of the best powder boarding I have ever experienced!!
We were extremely lucky with the apartment we got as we only had to cross the road to catch the chairlift in the morning and then were able to ski right up to our back door in the afternoon. We have to admit we spent a lot of time in the apartment as we had to avoid spending too much money on nights out and restaurants.
The resort itself was pretty expensive but we got some exceptionally cheap season lift tickets and once or twice a week we donned our backpacks and walked to the local supermarket and cooked at home. Lunch was sandwiches up the mountain, breakfast was burritos and dinner was an assortment of stews, pastas and pulled pork. Anything cheap really. PBR beer.
The idea was to board as much as possible and we certainly did that. According to the tracker on our ski passes we managed over 1,000,000 vertical feet of snow boarding. We made first lifts almost every day (a couple of late starts towards the end.) But all in all mission accomplished…we boarded a hell of a lot.
It was what we set out to do and we did it, our bodies were pretty sore but thankfully the complex had three hot tubs so every afternoon after we had finished on the slopes we recovered in the heat of the tubs.
The town of Breckenridge itself is an old American town and while other resorts nearby try (and fail) to model themselves on European ski resorts Breckenridge remains American. I have to admit we liked that about the place it retained its individual charm. We certainly fell in love with the place.
According to the locals, the summer is just as spectacular as the winter and I have a feeling we will be trying to visit to judge for ourselves. The last runs we had down the mountain were sad and it was even sadder to leave but I really hope we will be back.
The last few days of packing up were difficult but we certainly have loads to look forward to and I am sure that once we are on the road again we will regain that excitement but I do hope we will return to Breck one day soon. T

   
Our spots, first in line.

    
So that’s maybe how I got frostbite!

 
Sarah getting the first tracks of the day.

   
Our first tracks on the virgin snow.

 
Me on the Horseshoe bowl.

   
Sarah riding up the T-bar to the top of the bowls.

 
This is actually a shot of a run called needle’s eye.

   
Some more great names of the runs.

 
A few shots of Breckenridge town.

   
    
The mountain and the runs are clear to see behind the town itself.

 
Sarah at the top of Devil’s Crotch

   
Me coming down.
   
A rare sight…me airborne 

 
Sarah stylishly getting some fresh powder

 Bags packed, ready to go.
  

Coming out of (skiing) retirement!

When we suggested meeting up with Mum & Dad on our trip I will admit I was a little surprised when they decided Breckenridge was the place but then we found out that the plan was to come out of retirement from skiing!!
The memories of our skiing holidays here all those years ago were just as strong for everyone. The lovely wide, perfectly groomed greens and blues were going to be perfect for M&D getting back on skis!!
There had been a couple of advancements in the ski technology since they last skied and while the skis were about half as long ,I was assured that the boots were just as difficult to get off!!
In fact, for me the biggest change was the slight role reversal as it was me helping with getting lenses changed in goggles and helping carrying skis around. But the funniest was meeting up after their lessons to check if they had progressed enough for a family ski!!!
One of the best feelings of the holiday was when we all met up after the first lesson and the excitement mum and dad had about how well they had gone!! It only took two lessons and they felt they had mastered “lazy skiing!”  
It was fantastic as it meant that we were able to all ski together in a traditional “O’Keeffe snake” winding down the slopes.
Sarah and I had been focused solely on boarding for the season so we were very much looking forward to being taken out for some meals by mum and dad and we weren’t disappointed at all and had some fantastic dinners. The pick of the bunch by far was Hearthstone but there weren’t any bad ones.
We had thought we would have been doing some walking but the snow was so good that we spent most of the time skiing and then filling in the afternoon with some Canasta. I think mum and dad got the game by the end of the holiday and in fact Sarah and I just escaped with a win at the end with a couple of lucky hands and I am sure it’s going to be the start of another fierce competition.
All in all absolutely fantastic to catch up with Mum & Dad and we had a great holiday at the end of our season. T

   

Back on the slopes!
    

Above is us going right up the top after Mum decided that greens were too easy!

   

The morning commute up snowflake lift

 
    

Lazy skiing in the family snake.

  

Coming home down the four o’clock run
    

Relaxing during a day trip shopping in Silverthorne

   

Hiking along the Boreas Pass.

 
    

The view back across the valley to Breckenridge was spectacular.
    
   

  
All in all an absolutely fantastic time had by all!  Thanks very much Mum & Dad xxxxxoooo

Kelly & Ben

We had been having such a great season with the snow that it seemed a little unfair that just before Kelly and Ben were coming out, the town got unseasonably warm and the snow started to melt.
No fear though as the weather forcast was for snow and four days before they were due to arrive the weather delivered in spectacular fashion. (Just for my records we had 9 then 9 then 7 then 11 inches per day of snow). So Sarah and I had been lucky enough to enjoy three amazing days of powder and as Kelly and Ben arrived there was a huge amount of snow falling. We were all very excited.
All in all for the whole time they were here we had more powder days than normal and they got some great conditions. The resort was busier than we had seen it all season but we got up for first lifts most days and that meant we got the best of the skiing. In fact most mornings we were getting fresh tracks although there were a few occasions when I had to battle to get everyone out and I definitely heard some murmurings of dissent when I suggested just “one more run” at the end of the day.
The highlight was playing around with Ben’s GoPro which I admit we had been poo pooing previously but we managed to get some fantastic videos which are going to be a fantastic memory. It was absolutely superb to catch up with them and we all had a fantastic time. T

   
Easy to be happy at the start of a powder day!

 
Well that looks thigh deep to me!

   
A few more shots of everyone enjoying the powder.

    
 
The sun did come out and this is us enjoying one of the bowls on peak 7.

   
 
A few snaps of Kelly and Ben.

   
    
We decided to go sledding on the last day, we were the oldest there but certainly had loads of fun!

 

Beaver Creek

So for our last day with the car we wanted to go and ski Beaver Creek which was just next to Vail and apparently is where all the super rich go! The day before we were there they had had 10 inches of snow so we were pretty excited as it had been fairly warm there for the preceding week and we had heard that the slopes weren’t in great condition.
As soon as we arrived in the resort we knew it was pretty flash. The centre of the village was dominated by an ice rink and there were escalators rather than stairs to get up to the lift. We had heard rumors of people handing out cookies but unfortunately we didn’t see them.
We were there for first lifts but the place was pretty quiet and we soon found ourselves up on some of the best groomed slopes we had done. It was obviously just a combination of the new snow and the early morning grooming but we had a fantastic time carving down the slopes it was great.
We also figured out that there weren’t a lot of people skiing the blacks either so we enjoyed fresh powder all day and a couple of the longest mogul slopes we had done.
The resort was really easy to get around and we had no trouble in getting around the whole mountain in the day and once again we couldn’t believe how lucky we were to experience such great conditions. We were both taken by the resort but we both feel that we made the right decision in choosing Breckenridge, I really think it’s the best of all!! T

   
A view of the packed pistes and Beaver Creek below.

 
Downtown Beaver Creek.

   
Beaver Creek 

 
Beautiful tree lined runs all over the resort.

   
    
Sarah was quite taken by the benches for us to put our boards on.

 
Some of the bumps on another busy slope!

Vail

So after a great weekend in Denver we were going to use the car to go to Vail and Beaver Creek through the week. Unfortunately the snow hadn’t been too good for the preceding week but luckily it started dumping on the Sunday night and when we woke up Vail had had 5 inches!!
We decided to spend one day doing the bowls and the second doing the front side of the mountain. We were so lucky to get the snow and the bowls were immense! We boarded hard all day and got to see 6 different bowls, it took all day and while the conditions weren’t perfect we had an amazing time. The back bowl area is absolutely huge and we could see why everyone recommended it as the place to go after snow!
We were absolutely exhausted by the time we finished and the snow started falling as we got in the car to drive home. The road became pretty snowy as we were driving back and just as we were taking some photos of the conditions the traffic ahead was stopped so we pulled up in the queue. As we were waiting I noticed that a few of the cars behind were struggling to slow down and as one started fish tailing I knew it was going to hit us! I told Sarah and tried to move out of the way but he clipped us before hitting another car then the side of the road.
We were fine and the damage was minimal and I got outside to see if the other was okay. There is a joke about Americans being unable to drive as they only aspire to driving round in circles in NASCAR and the guy who crashed into us only confirmed the truth behind the joke. He was driving a Dodge Charger with his leg in a cast and complained that he could not stop because he was downshifting gears because of the snow. I told him I just braked and stopped and then we waited for the police.
There were so many crashes that we were told to go online and report our own accident reports and then carry on home. The road was shut though and we soon came across a police block where we had to wait. After an hour we were told to follow the police home so got to drive in a police convoy behind two snow ploughs which was pretty cool!
We went back a second day to Vail but it was far less exciting. We spent the day on the pistes and it was good but not as good as Breckenridge but we had a great time anyway. Once again it was very impressive as to how big the resort was but we did struggle a bit on the boards with all the catwalks but still a great resort. The most impressive thing about Vail is the back bowls and an experience we won’t forget. T 

   
First run of the day

 As you can see visibility was low but still so much fun

 
 Sarah in one of the back bowls

   
More views of the back bowls     
The drive back just before the accident. As you can see it was pretty tough going

 The damage to our car

   
The damage to his

 Our escort on the way home once the roads had opened up

   
Day 2 in Vail. As you can see a little nicer weather 

 
  
Frost on our windshield in the morning. Such amazing patterns! 

Day 2 in Denver

The morning started with a walk around downtown Denver, looking at architecture and walking along the river. I took me a while to realize why it reminded me of an English city rather than American. It was because we saw all the other cities in America in summer, and the trees where lush and green. As it was winter here they were just bare bones. Still beautiful just different, bleak almost. Trust a Queenslander to forget that everyone else gets real seasons and the trees lose their leaves!
We then walked back to Pepsi Stadium as we had tickets for the Denver Avalanches! The local ice hockey team. Before the game Tim purchased his ice hockey jersey. Which like all hockey jerseys has to be about 4 sizes too big and come down to your knees. As you can imagine Tim was well chuffed.
I had never really taken much notice of ice hockey as a game, other than watching The Mighty Ducks as a kid. Well it is a weird sport of extremes. On one side you have grown men who skate so elegantly while seeming to have the puck on a string to viciously trying to beat up the opposition with no real interference from the referees. Everyone stands up and cheers when two players get into it. On one rather long fight, the Rocky theme was played! Absolutely brilliant! The atmosphere of the game was electric and it was a must win game for them to make it to the playoffs. The game came to a head when 3 mins to go, our goalie was substituted for an attacker to try and get an overlap. We were down by one. We had a shot at goal but then the other team quickly had it down their end with an empty net. We lost by three. 

After the ice hockey we went for another walk around down town, this time to the Capital building. It was a mini replica of Capital building in Washington. As the one in Washigton was covered in scaffolding when we were there it was nice to see it complete! Around the area they have a really cool arts area with funky buildings and art galleries. It really was an enjoyable walk.
We were pretty parched after that so we went and had a few drinks in a bar we had previously scoped out. It had its own indoor bocce pitch. It was very cool but unfortunately the pitches were booked so we had a few of the local beers on tap instead! 
Not surprisingly we met a few locals who took us under their wing and decided they needed to show us a good time. They took us to 1 Up Bar which was a computer game geeks heaven! The walls were lined with pinball machines and old school arcade games. Luckily we decided to call it a night after that as we really would have had sore heads the next day!
On the drive home from Denver we passed a little town that had a frozen dam. We noticed people out in the middle and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go for a walk out on the ice. Now I must admit if we hadn’t just seen the Park Ranger out there and had asked him if it was safe I don’t think I would have had the nerve to walk out there! You could see cracks in the ice and it made noises when you were out there. We were a little reassured when we found out they were racing cars out there last week. Apparently it is 12 inches thick.  
So glad we got to explore Denver and see the basketball and ice hockey. That means we have seen live games of NFL, baseball, basketball and ice hockey. Surely we get green cards for that right?? S

   
A few shots from around Denver

    
    
    
Tim displaying his new hockey jersey and our superbly high seats!  

We may have been high but it was an awesome view!

    

  A view from the 1Up bar showing all the arcade games. 
  
Out on the frozen dam on the drive back home the next day
 

Go the Denver Nuggets

We had always planned to try and see a bit of Denver and the surrounding area when we were here and seeing as the snow wasn’t as fantastic as it has been we decided to hire a car a spend a weekend in Denver and then a few days boarding in Vail and Beaver Creek next week.
After picking up the car and doing a bit of a shop for all of the heavier items we wanted but didn’t want to lug up the hill we headed off to Denver (only 1.5 hrs). We managed to get a fairly flash place to stay in the middle of town and went off for a wander. We soon stumbled upon one of the thousand breweries in Denver and actually enjoyed a great beer.
The city centre of Denver was nice and we enjoyed a stroll down the main mall of 16th street and ended up at the Pepsi Centre where the Nuggets were playing NBA against the Brooklyn Nets. Not exactly two powerhouses of the game at the moment but we were keen to see some basketball so this was going to be great.
The stadium was pretty impressive and we got a good overview from our seats up with the gods!! We had a great time though the game went to overtime where the nuggets lost by a single point. There was always loads going on, not only the game itself but music, games for the crowds, a very entertaining mascot and of course plenty of food and drink (not much beer for us as this was the first place not to accept our drivers licenses for ID, I was pretty chuffed to pass as a 19 or 20 yr old!)
Anyway nothing distracted from the evening and we had a superb time, best thing is they turn the stadium around and we are watching ice hockey there tomorrow after lunch!! T