IT’S A POWDER DAY. Yes, you read that right! On to other news…I met my other roomie just before I fell asleep last night. I honestly don’t remember her name; she was around 60 years old I’m guessing. She also snored loudly all night. That being said, my bed was rather comfortable and I was quite reluctant to leave it this morning. At 7 I awoke and took possession of a bathroom before the rush at 8 AM. My hosts, Andy and Nikki, are the neatest people ever, also very British (would you like coffee, love?). I checked in this morning and had a fabulous parfait for breakfast along with coffee and orange juice.
I met a couple of other guests and they all seemed fairly normal, no hostile tendencies noted (not that I was worried.) After breakfast I hurriedly gathered my gear and took off for Breck station where I would catch the Swan Mountain Flyer to Keystone. A couple of wrong turns later, I arrived in time to catch the 8:20 AM bus. By the time I arrived, I was covered head to toe with snow. What a great feeling! Currently, I am passing the Breckenridge Golf Course…I have a good feeling about today-Madison, over and out.
I landed safely in Denver with a little turbulence over the Rockies. After claiming my suitcase and board bag from claim 7, I checked in at the Colorado Mountain Express shuttle counter. They put me on standby for the 5:30 PM shuttle, but thankfully, I was checked in for the original 6:45 shuttle instead. I wrestled my bags up to Panda Express, ordered some food stuffs, then searched in vain for an available power outlet. I finally found an empty seat and proceeded to devour my chow mein and grilled chicken (both quite fabulous, I might add.)
Our shuttle departed 10 minutes late from Denver International Airport and soon we were winding our way through the mountain passes. Through the Eisenhower Tunnel, Silverthorne, Keystone, and Frisco we drove. A rush of nostalgia filled my heart as we drove past the Rec Center and Airport Road- suddenly, all anxiety was gone and I felt as though I was returning home.
Our driver, Todd, dropped all but 2 of us off in Frisco and soon my seatmate and I struck up a conversation. Michael was from Columbus, OH, and was completely new to the mountain/ skiing/ snowboarding scene. He had skied once-17 years ago, and was on his was to meet his friends for a bachelor party here in Breck. We stopped briefly at City Market for some basic groceries for Michael (apparently, his friends were surviving solely on Hot Cheetos and alcohol) and for some shampoo for me. Soon, we were on our way to drop me off at the Fireside Inn.
I used a keypad to gain entry to the Inn and stepped through the door into a mud room lined with skiing and boarding paraphernalia. Just my style! I shepherded my luggage into the dining room where I found my information packet. Inside were my room keys and a welcome letter that provided a little more info on policies and such.
I made my way to room 5 bed C-which turned out to be a rather comfortable (albiet, small) dorm room with 3 twin beds. I unpacked the necessities and went in search of the bathroom, where I later showered. When I got back, I met one of my fellow roomies- a 50 year old woman named Sylvia from Chicago. As I write, my eyes grow tired and I must sleep for tomorrow is a full day of riding at Keystone. Goodnight from Breckenridge and I will continue this Odyssey on the morrow.
Well, like it or not, the first leg of my Odyssey is completed and my, what an adventure! I have had the privilege of spending time with dear family and friends, experiencing world class snowboarding, hitchhiking, and partaking of some truly delectable food.
As I write, I am sitting on the floor near gate B 17 at Boise Airport, clinging to the power outlet like a lifeline. We begin boarding in 10 minutes and I don’t like to admit this, but I am nervous. Catching a shuttle into Breckenridge from Denver, checking into my Bed & Breakfast/Inn, learning to navigate the Breckenridge Free Ride bus system, and learning the layout of 2 completely new resorts looks daunting to say the least. Nonetheless, an adventure is in store, me thinks. Alas, my group is boarding- see you all on the ground in Denver.
6:00 AM- The buttery aroma of fried eggs woke me, as Dillon and Renae prepared to depart for work in La Grande.
6:20 AM-12:20 PM- Oh blessed sleep…how I have missed thy warm embrace.
12:20-5:00 PM- As I prepared for my imminent departure from Baker City, I washed laundry, repaired my left binding (it got caught on a tree), repacked my suitcase and boarding backpack, drank copious amounts of water in preparation for my ascent in altitude, and in general rested up for the next leg of my journey.
5:00-6:00 PM- Dillon’s and I packed my luggage into the well traveled Valley truck and departed for the Weatherby rest stop where I would meet Uncle Marshall’s.
6:00-10:30 PM- Bid Dillon and Renae farewell whilst transferring luggage to Uncle Marshall’s vehicle. We then sojurned unto one “Idaho Pizza.” That being said, we continued onward to Kale and Lynette’s where we had the privilege of eating some truly delectable bread pudding for dessert. Amanda, her husband-Jared, along with baby Summer were their saying their goodbyes as they depart for their new home on the morrow. A lovely evening it was with good food, lively conversations, and most of all-people I can call family.
This evening, while at Kale’s, the gravity of this journey impacted me as it never had before. As a child, I remember thinking snowboarding was the neatest thing but I never thought I would learn how. I remember paging through Transworld Snowboarding and deciding which board I would choose given the opportunity. Mom and Dad fostered this dream of mine when they purchased a plastic snowboard from Walmart. Many an hour was spent on the snow pile in our backyard that served as my “mountain.” As I got older, I bought my first snowboard at a thrift store for $12. It (surprisingly) was in excellent condition and, paired with $20 boots, rode like a dream. Time progressed as well as my skills. After moving to Michigan, Dillon and I truly discovered snowboarding for what it was to become-a lifelong passion.
My first real snowboarding excursion took place at Snowsnake, Michigan. Hours were spent there mastering the basics: standing up, stopping, linking turns, and eventually carving. Oh, it was not pretty. Black and blue knees, a strained ligament in my shoulder after a particularly nasty fall, and head to toe soreness were all common side effects of learning. Then one day at Crystal Mountain, I had it. Just like that, I had lost my debilitating fear of falling and for once, I could control my board without fighting for every inch.
When I moved to Colorado, I had to relearn to snowboard on this “powder.” At first, I hated it. It was slow, unpredictable, and if you fell, it meant a lot of stuggling and a few near death experiences. After time elapsed and some great storms, I fell in love. I learned to love the soft groomers, the deep caches of powder found nestled between towering pines, the steeps you could straightline without fear. So began the hunt for powder and, as previously mentioned, the planning for this Odyssey.
I got a little sidetracked; I will admit that tends to happen when I reminisce of snowboarding and winters gone by. Anyway, as I was saying, I have dreamed of this journey most of my life. And now, I have had the privilege to be casting off, setting my own course, and following where the winds might take me. Blessed- that’s what I am.
This morning dawned cloudy and cool with a fresh blanket of snow on the ground. Dillon left early for work and Chey and I left around 9:15 am for Anthony Lakes Ski. Chey planned to continue on toward Pincher Creek after dropping me off at Anthony Lakes. Renae decided to stay home for the day and meet up with us later.
We departed for the Lakes after much consternation (aka, we got stuck) and continued up into the mountains. About 2/3 the way up, the road turned into a sheet of ice. We were unable to keep driving, so Chey pulled over and a vehical pulled up next to us. The two people in the front seat asked if we had chains and we said no, but could I possibly ride up to the resort with them? They were more than happy to oblige so I grabbed my gear and loaded it into their Toyota Tacoma. I found myself sharing the small backseat with a moody child and a large, rather boisterous dog named Quince. They talked nonstop and we bonded over a mutual resort- Wolf Creek! It’s amazing how small of a world it really is.
Anthony Lakes Ski Resort itself is quite large, the single lift serving serving over 1,000 acres of steep groomers, rolling off piste meadows, and some truly pristine glades. I immersed myself in a particular run that started out steep and deep with a bit of a drop, then through trees with a traverse over a trail and into more trees. I spent a good share of the day following that route.
Thankfully, the conditions were much improved over Sunshine. There was 8 inches of fresh powder and the clouds parted later in the day to reveal the sun. Due to high winds, we were forced to take chairs in triples and later, in doubles. The people were so friendly and the resort had a very family oriented feel to it. I had some very interesting conversations with the ski patrol and all too soon, the lift was shutting down. Dillon picked me up on his way home from work and we drove into Baker for supper at Piazano’s Pizza where we met Toby’s and Renae. We topped the day off with chocolate cake at Toby’s- the perfect finish to a perfect day. You can’t respect your board and expect to excel, you have to ride it like you stole it. -ds
Church at Baker City was an interesting affair. Dillon (yes, my brother Dillon) is Sunday school superintendent so we got to listen to his inspiration. He also led Sunday school while Renae taught the children’s class. They called the sermon in from West Valley, California and not kidding, it lasted 10 minutes. We ate at Dillon’s for lunch and what a fabulous lunch it was. Grilled chicken with white BBQ, garlic parmesan potatoes, whole grain rolls with jam or Canadian honey, and delectable Rolo cookies for dessert.
During the afternoon, it started to snow. Large, soft flakes gently settled on the towering trees and not a breath of wind disturbed them. We napped for a short while and then, as darkness was falling, we left for Baker. After sampling some lovely coffee drinks at Sorbenot’s, we made our way back up to Toby’s. The teachers came after church and we had a very merry evening around the fire. So ended another day on my Odyssey.
We arrived at Pincher Creek late Thursday evening and stayed at the teacher house for night. The next morning, as per usual, I overslept my alarm so I got up 30 minutes late. While I got ready, Chey drove to Timmy’s and got coffees and Timbits for breakfast.
Chey’s class had a CE service for devotions, so I got to meet some of the mums that came to listen. Her class is so cute! At that point, I was still planning on journeying on to Fernie; I went to town and brought back a my gear and a lunch for Chey. When I arrived back at school, I made a decision that surprised even myself.
Now Fernie, BC, is home to the legendary “5 bowls of powder”. Nestled in a quaint valley, the resort is sheltered from most prevailing winds from the west. The result: some incredible powder. I had been following the weather forecast, snow reports, and live streaming cameras on the resort’s site, but it was all sub par news. The weather was holding steady with low visibility, above freezing temperatures, and a chance of freezing rain into the late afternoon. After boarding in nearly identical conditions at Sunshine Village, I didn’t think I could withstand another day in such claustrophobic weather. So yes, I actually voluntarily gave up a day of boarding.
Instead, I got to do art with Cheyenne’s class and later, went for coffee with my cousin. We had supper at Ted and Dawn’s with Jerrys, Justins, and some youth kids. Excellent evening although it was over far too soon.
Because after all, is not family our most important choice?