Utah tales: Solitude review ’11: Shaping the Vision
(Part 1 of 7 part series: Utahan Tales, a 5/5 frolic in Utah: ’11-12 ski season)
The opportunity arises
My friend Bob shares a mutual friend, a corporate “trouble-shooter” who is dropped into companies that need “helping hand” or a “fix”. Jeff by name, was sent out and assigned a position with a distance-learning company in Provo, Utah. This being a short-term, temporary position, Jeff was provided a studio close to corporate headquarters as a residence for his use when comminuting from his residence in Annapolis Maryland. His wife remained at home while he fought the battles that transformed and saved the business.
This situations created a opportunity to powder hounds such as Bob and me. 1. We had a place to bunk-up. 2. Utah is positioned as my top choice for skiing in America – Salt Lake City; Wasatch powder; a plethora of resorts; and more! 3. Jeff is a skier of sorts and welcomed our company especially over a long weekend like we had. 4. Bob’s better-half, Jane dropped a couple airline tickets on us for Christmas that ski season. I’d like to think she was rewarding my loyal support and extended time of voluntary coaching for her Xtreme Team program, but as it turns out she was simply willing to pay the price to get Bob out of her hair for a time. And she actually “bought” my support to make sure Bob would go.
So Bob gave me total control over the trip planning. I set the trip schedule and labeled the excursion “five n five” or simply “5/ 5”. Five ski areas in 5 days. Bob went along with it felling I was joking. NO! I was not! There were more than five areas I’d never visited in the Salt Lake basin, and now I was free to go. And the going was free!
Up in the Air:
We flew on an evening Southwest airline flight to take advantage of the two hour time-change bonus. Well, there’s more: Southwest charges nothing for the first two bags, hence the ski stuff flies free. And to top it off the (very pretty) stewardess even “compted” (that’s slang for “complimentary” or free) a Heineken on me. Look, I enjoy it whenever I can. I do appreciate it! (The pretty girls AND the beer that is!)
One of the many reasons I love Salt Lake skiing is the proximity of slopes. We arose before dawn to enjoy our comp breakfast buffet. We bought multiple day passes at the Provo Christy Sports store and motored up the Big Cottonwood Canyon to Solitude. Yes it is a resort ’cause it does have overnight accommodations at the base or close by. But I consider it more a local favorite than a hoity-toity destination.
Solitude Ski review:
I love this place. It was mid week, but still consider: there were a few inches of fresh powder; There were no lines; The sky was bright blue; The sun was brilliant and warm; and in the fresh tracks were available throughout the entire day. We popped our own brews and compared notes with the locals in the parking lot during lunch as well as at the end of a fantastic ski day.
Yea, proceeding 12 miles up the Big Cottonwood Canyon takes you to an surreal place. There’s a where the sense of calm and, well solitude. Wow 1,200 acres with vertical of 2,047 ft. Eight lifts and lots of powder; mmm … dry powder; Wasatch’s best!
Well Bob and Jeff’s ski day ended long before mine. I think they did make a run after lunch, but I can’t be sure of that. I had to go ’til closing and met a couple guys who showed me some very slick runs in a gnarly area off the groomer track. It was on the lift rides up that I shared my aspiration of skiing everywhere. Well they loved it! They were “millennials”, younger than any of my four children back east My new friends put up with me maybe ’cause I could keep up them and thus they couldn’t get “shake” me.
But maybe they got a kick out of the old guy who has a vision and is chasing his dream. But they did encourage me and wish me the best. And hey, why not go “social”? Huh, “social” what’s that mean? They tried their best to explain but had little luck. It’s got something to do with web sites or media or cell phones.
The beat goes on
The drive back home was all downhill. Jeff was the designated driver and I popped a couple making Bob join me in a happy hour. We stopped at Five Guys for the typical “male-gourmet banquet” favorite: French fries and a hamburger fest.
The extended-stay facility, home away-from-home for Jeff, did have a hot tub – so vitally-important for weary muscles and “5/5” trips. I staid up late into the evening – maybe until 8:30 or 9 PM. Late as it was I set the alarm to make certain plenty of time for the next day’s visit: Brighton, the ski area adjacent to Solitude.
Come, ski with me!