Saturday, June 2, 2012

Winter/Spring Skiing


Last post to catch up - and I am sure that with summer in full swing, you will enjoy reading about snow.  :) Disclaimer:  This one is a long one with tons of photos! Enjoy!!!

Bret and I vacationed at the end of March/beginning of April in Colorado (yep, this post has been a long time coming) with a few friends. With our new found love of skiing, we thought we could take advantage of the winter mountain snow and get in some end-of-season skiing.  Too bad this winter was not really winter at all....

When we arrived in Denver on Friday night, it was a comfortable 50 degrees.  Driving up into the mountains, that temp didn't change that much.  In fact, the whole weekend was a comfortable 50-75 degrees, meaning that the little snow that Colorado received earlier in the year was melting rapidly.  On of the first things we did was stop to see the mountain goats.  Can you find the ram?
Where's the Mountain Goat?

On Saturday we went to Loveland and had an afternoon lesson with a ski instructor to get us back into downhill skiing shape.  I would say that the lesson was more for me than Bret.  He is a natural skier, and doesn't let his head (something like "oh, I am going to die going down this hill") get in the way of the natural movement of the body down the hill.  Our instructor, while a bit gruff, was super helpful. 
Loveland ski slopes - on the way to the top!
Rocking some goggles...
Bret on the lift.
Up and up and up....
Finally to the top!  What a great view!! Note how little snow there was left!
The next day we headed to Winter Park, CO for more skiing fun.  There we met some good friends from Pella, who are excellent skiers (talk about naturals - they haven't even had a lesson!).  Sunday was unusually warm, in the upper 60s, so the snow was slushy; in some places there wasn't any snow at all! All of us ended up taking our coats off and skiing in long- and/or short-sleeved shirts! Overall, it was a frustrating skiing day for me, because I couldn't get the motions I learned the day before to happen.  The afternoon was much better in terms of coordination.  I can't thank Jenny and Bret enough for being so patient with me!
Skiing in long-sleeves.  Photo by Jenny Hesseltine.
Monday, the weather turned, and it mostly snowed/sleeted/rained all day with high-winds.  As a group we decided to spend the day not on the slopes, but in Idaho Springs.  A decidedly quaint, old gold-rush town.  After making it safely down the mountain, we headed to Phoenix Mines for a tour of an non-operational gold mine.  The history of mining is fascinating!  Our tour guide was so knowledgeable about the mining process in 1860 and today.  He made the tour very enjoyable! After the tour we tried panning for gold.  Unfortunately, none of us found any gold nuggets! :(
Entrance to the Phoenix Mine. 
Jenny and Brad rocking the hard hat.
Gold vein in the mine.

Chip panning for gold.
Can you see the gold flecks?
Hoping to find the nugget that will make me rich!
What fun at the gold mine!

After a delicious lunch at Beau Jo's (est. Idaho Springs, but now a chain), Jenny and I headed to the Indian Hot Springs.  I have never been to a hot springs before, and it was an interesting experience.  The springs were used for a number of years before the current building was over the springs was constructed, in the early twentieth-century.  The geo-thermal caves were an underground chamber, dug into the rock, and consisted of four or five baths varying in temperature from 104 to 112 degrees (  I can say that the first bath at 104 degrees was plenty hot!

After the baths we went to pick up the boys at Tommy Knocker brewery - one of Bret's favorites in Colorado.  The evening was spent watching Kentucky beat KU in the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship.  It was a sad moment, especially for all of the KU fans in the restaurant.

Tuesday was to be another day of skiing, but the weather didn't improve enough for Bret and I, so we decided to head back to Denver early.  We spent the afternoon at the Denver Nature and Science Museum - totally cool!  We saw hands-on exhibits about space, watched a short film about black holes in the planetarium, went to see the live snakes and lizards exhibition, and checked out the dinosaur bones.  We could have easily spent the entire day there, and ran out of time to see some of the other displays. 

Another lizard.


Another dinosaur.

Many dinosaurs.
Overall, it was a great trip.  Honestly, though, the best part wasn't the skiing - it was getting to spend a few days with some really wonderful friends!