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Getting There Was Not Half the Fun

March 19, 2007

I’m back from a week in Colorado–my last ski trip of the season. It started well, when our friend Kurt arrived at our house not only on time but early. Amazing. We’re so used to him being late that I was still in my bathrobe when he got there. Things went smoothly at the airport in Detroit and on the flight to Denver, but then things started to go awry. There was a long wait for the luggage (at least an hour). Okay, fine, we’ll just get the rental car and be on our way. Nope. National there has managed to make the annoying process of getting a vehicle even more annoying; there was of course the re-typing of all the information they should already have from the reservation and prior rentals and having to initial about seventeen places on the form, but that alone did not get me the keys to a vehicle. To get the keys to a vehicle, I had to go to “customer service”, which was mobbed by customers not getting much service. Eventually I got both keys and a vehicle, and we were on our way. Until we got about a mile from the Eisenhower tunnel, at which point traffic stopped. Completely. We’d just gone by the exit for Loveland Pass, which is the other way to get around, but that didn’t really matter since the pass was closed due to weather conditions. We talked to the friends we were heading to see and they got online and found out an accident had closed the freeway on the other side of the tunnel. We sat and sat and eventually I had to get out of the car and post hole my way behind the trees on the shoulder to pee–nothing like a butt full of snow, I tell you what. We finally got rolling again after about two hours, only to have to stop again inside the tunnel itself. At that point, I began to wonder if we’d ever get there, but we did, eventually.

After that frustrating beginning, the rest of the trip went well, even though we didn’t get any more new snow after that first night. We skied at Vail, which unlike other times I’ve been there did not make me frown–perhaps because I’m a better skier now or perhaps because my skis were a better match for snow conditions or perhaps because I’m becoming less cranky in my old age (we can only hope). I didn’t even get annoyed when we had the quintessential Vail experience: hiking up one catwalk to get to another catwalk so we could avoid waiting in a long line for the lift to take us to the other lift so we could get to the lunch spot. We skied at Copper Mountain, which was overrun by Denver school kids on spring break and an unusual number of people from Texas and so did not delight me the way it used to, though it got better when we fled to the black diamond bump runs which were not crowded at all and amazingly didn’t make me swear or cry or lose equipment (though I did get a little testy about two-thirds down the last bump run of the day when I started to run low on awesomeness). We skied at Beaver Creek, which was fun once we got to the part of the resort with softer snow and public bathrooms (hint: not Arrowhead or Bachelor Gulch).

Midweek, we left our friends Sue and Dan in the Vail Valley and drove up to Steamboat Springs to stay with our other friends Bo and Gretchen. I took our first day there off to go into town to look around; I did a little shopping and toured the small but charming Tread of Pioneers Museum, which among other exhibits had an antique quilt I absolutely loved. It was stitched before the quilt police came on the scene–none of the corners matched each other and triangle points were cut off to make them fit and the whole effect was perfectly charming. Then it was back to skiing. I wanted to demo some skis I’d tried on one of our earlier trips this season, since my non-powder skis are ancient and long overdue to be replaced, but the pair I wanted was just being signed out to someone else when I got to the shop. Cue sad face. But then Bo went to the demo yurt and found a pair of the other model I was interested in, so I checked those out and ended up buying that demo pair at the end of the day as an early birthday present for me. They performed well in the variable spring conditions, and I got a great price, so what’s not to like. The conditions were so variable and the weather so warm that we decided to spend our last day snowshoeing instead of skiing, and went up to Rabbit Ears Pass to take in the scenery. We capped the trip off with viewing the St. Patrick’s Day torchlight parade and fireworks on the ski hill, which was very cool.

Then it was back to the airport and back to Detroit. No highway closures or weather to deal with this time, just the typically inefficient oversized baggage handling at DTW. Why oh why have they made no changes to this process in the five years this terminal has been open? Just assigning more than one person to work the counter when flights from Denver or Salt Lake City come in would be an improvement. Getting rid of the counter entirely would be better, but let’s not get too crazy all at once.

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