Loveland ’15

Loveland Ski Area review + Checking out/in Salida
(2nd in the string “Competing CO” @ end of ’14-15 ski season)

My Colorado bucket was proving to be a tough one to fully fill.  There were three sticklers, all in the southwest corner of the state. I had made two previous assaults there , but both had to be prematurely halted. This was now my third attempt. But through this trip, I could fill the CO bucket – drop it from; and chalk it off my master list of states. Just two more resorts, within reach by extending our annual pilgrimage to Denver and the Rockies.

March is the time for our traditional familial ski adventure.  But in this year 2015, there are complications. Kinsey in Denver with youngest son Kji had just a few weeks to go in the birth our third granddaughter. Yes, they were smart enough to view their sonogram and know. Kinsey was out of commission. Kji couldn’t commit to more than a day.

My younger daughter Kiki was expecting too. Although our eighth was not due until September, their Boston household was not available.  And Kiki was silly. She had decided not to study her sonograms opting to “be surprised” upon the birth of the baby, No, Kiki won’t view the full picture. Yes she wants to remain in the dark. She wants to be surprised. No, she won’t let the doctor inform me. Bah! I despise surprises.  What does she think science is for? What color do you paint the nursery? What clothes do you get for the baby shower? Does she think I can’t keep a secret? Hmmm, maybe she’s right.

My senior-most daughter; my offspring-Heidi in Richmond -, she and her kids are game. But my son-in-law – less than exuberant of skiing – Doug, had declared “every-other year”. Thus since last year was “in”, this March was “out”.  Darn! But at least we can look forward to next season.

So the Nashville house was our only hope. And Angela came through. At the last minute, she called to announce, “We’re in, It’s a go!” Great but, it’s actually a last-minute decision, essentially determined by the input and whining of two of my cherubs of the southern-most of the clan. Aw, we have to ski!” Those are my grandchildren. I love ‘m!

Well better said than done at this late date. It was spring break in Colorado. Erik luckily jumped on an incredibly priced, Southwest, direct flight BNA/DEN! And we could even spend an evening with the Denver “home-bound household”.

It was a snow-starved snow season out west. As the more to schedule our first day skiing Loveland, a local favorite and oft chosen area by our clan. Loveland’s elevation and location combined with opportunistic snow making practically guarantees good coverage. The season always runs late in the spring, often closing from lack of interest rather than snow. Loveland is always one of the first to open , often just as the trees are turning color in the lowlands. The terrain is expansive and varied.  Loveland is noted for off-piste areas for the young and energetic who are in shape for the requite hikes.

So it was 1. Opa (that’s me. German for “grandfather”, but much easier to say.) , 2. Omie (That’s Carolyn, an iteration of grandma) and 3-6. the entire Nashville crew. But being lower in the over-all count this time around, we could freely wander, explore and experiment.

Arriving in the late afternoon, all would gather for the evening at Kji and Kinsey’s house. We booked two rooms at DEN to: 1. make ready before hand, 2. overnight upon arrival, an 3. stage a timely  departure for the mountains early the next morning.  Our first target: Loveland, our oft-selected, first-stop area .

Loveland review

Loveland has a “separate but equal” beginner (child-perfect} attached area labeled “Loveland Valley” It even has a great watering hole where enthused parents, supportive family, and exhausted grandparents can watch and recuperate while “secretly” observing the educating and training of the kids.

The instructional program is excellent!  These kids are experienced skiers and moan when they hear “lessons”.  So we’ll term it “training” and turn ‘m over to Loveland’s best.  Sawyer-boy melts at first glimpse of his beaming (yea – beautiful) female “trainer”. Rachael pops an attitude at the on-set, but is crying when she has to leave at 3:00. This ski school knows their stuff and how to do it.

Why 3:00? So they kids can show us their stuff: what they mastered this day. Rachael is controlled and graceful glides to and from like a butterfly riding the warm zephyrs of her homeland Tennessee. Sawyer is a wild man bombing the sleeps with alacrity; weaving the troughs and bumps with skill and abandon. We obediently follow, expressing our delight and recognition of their native talent.  But beware when following “midgets” on their worn-slick tails in the woods. They are short and pass untouched beneath the boughs. We aren’t. We don’t. Say no more.

On with the tale

We recruited a photo-master to “click” a family portray on our I Phones. DONE! The women pack up while Erik and I return the kids’ rentals (stopping to “top off” at the watering hole en route – no snitching please!). We enter I-70, to steer the two vehicles under the continental divide (Eisenhower Tunnels), over the pass to then motor along the exceedingly scenic Arkansas River gorge to arrive in Salida, our base for the next several days

Now, I’ve had the pleasure of skiing Monarch before. Truth be told, I “purchased” and sported a ’15 season pass. A super-senior can ski free any day without restriction. But since I collect area passes and cherish season passes, especially with the pictures they all laminate on these days, I signed up for my pass paying the administrative fee of $29.00. But wait! It also carries the ancillary benefits like local merchant discounts.  Included are three craft breweries most notably the well-regarded and recognized “Elevation Brewery”. It’s just a stone’s throw up the main drag in little cross-road hamlet of Poncha, CO.  Monarch season pass, what a deal! Elevation Brewery with associated food-truck sandwiches, what a treat!

Having picked up my pass in December, I knew the town of Salida well. So Angela although an experienced commissioned me, the ski bum with the responsibility of arranging the accommodations.  But realize we not staying in a major commercial center, This is the southwest corner of Colorado. Salida translates from Spanish to: “exit”.  It is a quaint tourist town, more regarded for it’s summer offering than a Mecca for hoity-toity ski models. (And Angela could well pass as one!)

So there are no high rises in this town. It’s all turn of the century, railroad vintage, historic structures,. The state road does anchor a “modern” business strip, but the structure sprawl horizontally as opposed to vertically. And remember, it’s Spring Break. Of the 22 properties (motels) 11 are sold out.  The vast majority (and the only one of chain notoriety) are better termed “motel” You know: outside entrances with dive-up convenience of unloading and repacking. I reserved the Super 8. A good name I feel, And the owner/manager boasts a career with Hilton Hotels. (He does run a good operation!)

Well Angela turned pale as we pulled in. I could read her mind. “Where is the high rise? Where are the porters? The doormen?” and so on … OK OK. “Erik use your cell phone, she’s saying. “Use you treasure chest of accumulated points. Find me a Hyatt!”  I imagine her words echoing off the courtyard (er … parking lot) walls.

Well, let it be known, there is no Hyatt in Salida. In confirmation of my well-intended efforts, be aware: there were not even two rooms for the duration of our stay in Salida or greater Salida area. Whew, I was vindicated but not yet off the frying pan.

“Angela” I react, “Let’s check over the facilities … PLEASE?” “Pretty, please!”, I plead.  Of course it didn’t help there was some sort of rally or rendezvous somewhere in the high desert. Somewhere or other. Thus every parking slot was occupied by dusty- encrusted pickups towing like adorned four-wheelers!

I diverted directly to the large, indoor pool; the building dead center in the parking courtyard; the one with the three hot tubs. “You know how vital hots tubs are after a day of skiing, right?” (I knew the kids would take to the pool.)  “And look, continental breakfasts are included to our package. (Erik is a product of  my genes, He’s fugal!) “We eat at our leisure and go directly to the slopes with full tummies”. (Angela is pragmatic.) I attempt to introduce and appeal to reason. (And it’s been pre-paid with penalties for last-minute cancellations! Erik help me here!)

Well we do ever so slowly, even more cautious and diligent, finally make our way to the rooms. The door is swept open to assess the accommodations. All is neat, clean, organized and are well kept. And the two rooms are adjacent. They kids are bounce with ease from one to another to receive the best from , loving grandparents. And Erik can’t find a single alternative.  So it’s a “no-brainer”. We have no choice. We’re here for at least the first night.

As I hoped. The large pool is a hit with the kids. We log a good night’s rest, with the kids choosing to play games with Omie well into the night; until they fall asleep in our room, unit #2 . (Unit #1: second honeymoon assumed!) Things look a little better in the morning. We enjoy a casual breakfast, plus the kids really blossom in the informal set up. Additionally we amass very useful local info and glean  insightful suggestions from the very informative staff. And no other alternatives for housing have opened up.

Things continued to progress and improve through and over all. We continued on to “hit a home run” at Monarch. (But, that’s another story),

Come, Ski With Me!

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Skier, rider (of sorts), wanderer, teacher, coach, blogger (wannabe), perpetual child, ...