winter park, colorado

I might have written about my local ski-and-ride resort before, but as snowboard season is upon us (snow is falling as I write this), Winter Park is on my mind. Located on HWY 40 off I70 (getting off I70 early is always a plus in ski season), it's about a 1 1/2 hour drive from my house.

Most of the folks have been skiing and riding all their lives and much of the staff are New Zealanders who ski and ride all year long. That makes it safe and polite. As a snowboarder, I get my fair share of nasty looks. They're usually from out of town. The regulars know that the only snowboarders to fear are the ones who are just learning and the skiers to fear are Texans carrying their skis over their shoulder--sorry Travis, but it's a well-known hazard!

The conditions and trails are among the best in the nation, with two resorts, hidden trails, back bowls, extensive trick parks for all levels, and a top-notch ski school, which, incidentally, invited the husband to teach for them. He decided to stay with the Eskimos program again for this year at least. They're the folks who introduced the trail color ranking system (green, blue, black).

Winter Park is going upscale with a new Village. I'm guessing it's one of the most beautiful designs of its kind going up in the US today. I'm not sure who the architect is, but they're brilliant. I was opposed to the notion at first, but as it develops, I'm liking it quite a lot. I think it will give us more options to go out apr├Ęs-ski and a little shopping, too. I still don't want to live there, but I spend enough time there I'm sure I'll enjoy visiting for years to come.

Starting next weekend, we'll be at our other house and at Winter Park almost every weekend. We drive up Friday night, check conditions as we drive past the resort, and then head into Panchos for a quick bite. Then to bed and up early (7 am--yawn) for the 45 minute drive back to WP for a fun day of teaching, riding, and skiing. Then back to Grand Lake to usually a dinner at home and a movie. We're always tired, but it's well worth the fun. And our kids are now getting old enough that we can all go together. Learning a sport we all can share, and making Winter Park our ski home has been one of the best things we have done as a family.

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