Saturday, January 15, 2011

Where are you taking my car?!?!?!

Dave and I spent Christmas about 1,000 miles away from each other at our respective families' homes, so last weekend we used a groupon to stay two nights at a lodge in Beaver Creek, just up the road from Vail to have our own holiday.  These ski areas, similar to Aspen, are the places where rich people go to ski.  Beaver Creek's moto is, "Not exactly roughing it."  Now, that's not to say that normal folk like you or I can't ski there, it just means that we can't park anywhere near the rich people.  We must park far away, pay for parking, then take a shuttle to the slopes.  Dave's five-mountain season pass covers Beaver Creek.  This past weekend, Dave and I attempted to become one with the rich and pass the boundary where only people who are staying the night can bring in their vehicles.

We left Boulder pretty early for us, but a snow storm had started in the wee hours of the morning and ended up dumping about a foot snow in Boulder and the same where we were heading (fresh powder!).  During the snow storm we drove up I-70, through the Eisenhower tunnel, safely made it down the other side, made it through Vail pass, and luckily for us, most of the cars in the ditch were really on the other side of the road for some reason.  We arrived at Beaver Creek safely, but it was too late for me to get my money's worth out of a ski pass for the day, especially considering we had to be off the slopes by 2:30 to watch the Packer game.  So we stroll on up to our lodge, park, and try to check in, but our room won't be ready for another three hours.  We decide to take a bathroom break and then go for a quick snowshoe and get directions to the cheapest sports bar in town so we can catch the beginning of the Packer game.  On our way to the bathroom, a valet parking man says, "Excuse me, Mr. P?  We'd like to park your car for you."  We get them off our back for five minutes to use the bathroom, come back, and tell them we need to put on our gear to go snowshoeing, so if we could just have a few minutes to sort through our stuff, we'd appreciate it.

We open the back of the car and the valet man says, "Is all of this going up to your room?"  A valid question.  Having not just flown in to the airport like the rest of the guests, our luggage was not neatly organized in a clean rental car.  No, our luggage was dispersed among reusable grocery store bags, a cooler, suitcases, and an entire bag filled with cookingware, and sat among a pile of sweaters and a george forman grill and old espresso machine to take to Good Will.  This pile for Good Will has been in my car for at least two months, so it's now scattered in every direction.   

Why, you might ask, do we have cookingware with us on a three day vacation to a lodge?  Well, the day before our trip, I decided to map out some good restaurants that might have gluten free options so we could figure out the logistics of lunches and dinners.  In my search, I found nothing but $50 entrees and $30 salads.  There was no way I was going to pay for $120 meals for three days!  Unfortunately, our lodge room was not equipt with a kitchen, only a fridge.  What else could we do, but bring along a crock pot to make stew and a rice cooker to warm up our $1.50 cans of Progresso gluten free soups for lunches?  Of course the LAST thing I want my valet man to see is our slow cooker, green peppers, and stew beef to make Dave's favorite Pepper Steak Stew.

We talk the valet man into letting us keep our stuff in our car until our room is ready, then take everything up ourselves.  We start getting out our snowshoes and I put on some snowpants.  I got the feeling that changing in front of your car parked in front of the main entrance of a lodge at Beaver Creek is not Kosher.  The valet man is trying to push me along.  Really?  Don't you think that, outside of his job, he's totally just like me and is used to being the folks who drive to the ski area, park, get out and get dressed outside the back door of their vehicle?  In fact, on warmer ski days, Dave might strip down to his boxers right in the middle of the parking lot to put his snow pants on without too much insulation underneath.  Luckily, Dave held himself back this time.  I rushed to get out everything I needed to snow shoe:  snow pants, down jacket, boots (shoot, I have to put ON the boots so I can put my shoes back in the car!), neck warmer, hat, gloves, credit card, cell phone, camera, snow shoes.  Okay, okay!  I'll leave!  I gave the dude my spare key for the car, and he took my car, my gear storage, my purse, my food, to the far away land of valet-parked cars.  Two minutes later I realized I didn't grab my ski poles.  I'd have to go without.  :(  

We marched out the back door of the lodge and about 20 feet up the ski path, run into people briskly jogging in snow shoes.  Really?  I can barely walk in these things without occasionally tipping over or tripping over my other foot, and these people were in an actual snow shoe race!  We waited for the majority of them to go by and then followed, walking, down the path they had went on.  We climbed up the mountain for a bit, took a path covered in fresh snow around the side of the mountain, and popped out on a blue ski run (oops!).  The Packer game was about to start, so we "walked" down the blue in our snow shoes.  Honestly, I went down on my butt for a while, then realized my snow shoes could be used like skis at a certain angle and just slid much of the way.  We made our way to the cheap sports bar at the bottom of the mountain and there was no where to sit, so we asked the information lady for another option, and we found a sweet place called the Dusty Boot that had ample TVs, a classier crowd, and good food.  We watched the first half of the Packer game, then got the call that our room was ready and watched the win from the comfort of our room.

After the game, we realized we had to face the reality that we had to tell the valet man to bring our car back, unload it, then re-park it.  This would involve needing to give them a tip.  Well, my purse was in the car, so I guess I'd be able to manage this.  How much do you give to someone bringing your car around?  They are doing me no favors, I'd rather just go find my car, get out my stuff, and take it upstairs.  I'll give them $4.  (I found out later that a $66 fee was included in my bill to cover valet parking, but tips were still appreciated.)  Okay, Dave was going to make his move on the cookingware so the valet man didn't hear it rattle and wonder what we were up to.  I got the rest of our stuff loaded on a cart and we took it up to our room.  The valet man earned his $4 by taking our skis to the ski storage area.  We left our ice skates in the car, thinking we had already brought too much for three days.

Finally, we could relax.  We put on our suits and went out back to the outdoor hot tub and sat in it with some other friendly folks while it snowed on us, which is a really cool feeling. 

The next day we skied, my first day of the season and my first time ever skiing in powder.  We had soup for lunch.  I did well skiing, until about 2:30 or 3:00 when we were at the tip top of the mountain (11,440 feet), the wind picked up, and it started snowing again.  When getting off the lift, the thermometer read -14 degrees.  I started having problems with my nose stinging.  No wonder:

No wonder my nose was cold, but why wasn't Dave complaining about his cheeks?
The last run of the day, we went our own ways and it took me like a year to get down to our lodge.  I stopped at a cafeteria cabin to get the ice out of the inside of my goggles to I could see.  Then, I was in a mild white-out for a while, but just kept following a group in front of me.  I took a green to a blue to a green and my nose and frozen fingers wished I would have just skied straight down.  My Costco gloves failed me, time and again, despite their cool zipper to hold a hand warmer.  I'm moving towards mittens for my next buy.  However, I am loving my Ebay buy of my down jacket for 2/3 the regular price.  This thing at least kept my core warm. 

We made stew, sat in the hot tub with some younger folks (8 people staying in one room, I'm sure), and were just totally wiped after the full day of skiing.  That night it got down to -22 degrees at the base.

Tuesday we skied all day again and had sandwiches for lunch at one of the buildings on the mountain with amazing views.  It was soooo cold out.  I was having a hard time staying warm, but still managed to ski almost a full day and Dave managed to put up with my complaining.  Here's a few pictures I took during my last run of the day when I had to take breaks to thaw my fingers.

At the end of the day our car was waiting for us, out of its secret valet hole, and we tiredly made the trip home in great driving conditions.  The lesson to take away is that even a grad student and college professor can hang with the rich folks of the world.  Even if we're really faking it and rather than having a $50 steak for dinner, are hiding out in our room with a crock pot and $3 stew meat, we still managed to enjoy the facilities at Beaver Creek. I highly suggest spending some time there!