This Year’s Peaceful Colorado Adventure

On the heels of freezing and fun in Las Vegas, we made our way to Colorado to continue ski season in the Rocky Mountains. That meant more fun for me and more freezing for Diana, as her knee wasn’t up for the ski challenge. Still, I was thankful for the company.

Getting to Colorado

Our journey started in Salt Lake City since that was where it would end a month later and one-way car rental is typically stupidly expensive. Even so, I wound up paying quite a bit more for the SUV than I hoped since I was unable to find an AWD at SLC airport among the Hertz Presidents’ Circle offerings. I had to fork over for an upgrade, but the concept of a month in the mountains without AWD seemed even more stupid than the alternative.

Our first destination was Frisco, Colorado, about 7 hours drive away. For a change of pace, we chose the southern route, which took us through Provo, then near Moab, and through Grand Junction. We enjoyed some of the views along the way, particularly the unusual geological formations. The beautiful rocks accessorize the road.

Visiting Frisco

We were fortunate again to partake in the hospitality of friends who made their home in Frisco. Their place is a short walk to the quaint, historic downtown and within a 30-minute drive of several ski hills. I even got a chance to make soup in their full kitchen. This is a treat for us nomads as we frequently lack the facilities to do so.

Another benefit of this location is its proximity to good medical care. A fully equipped hospital is 10 minutes away. This was helpful while Diana was dealing with an unusual collection of illnesses. Proximity aided in diagnosis and action plans.

The Snow-Covered Deck

Our friends were traveling while we stayed at their house, although we did manage to meet up for dinner with one of them prior to leaving the area. The only thing they asked of us during our stay was to keep their back deck free of snow. Of course, we’d (I’d) do it.

The deck work was, shall we say, more than I anticipated. Having never lived in a snow belt, I was surprised by how much snow I found. Clearing over 200 square feet of 18″ deep snow wasn’t trivial. It took me a while to figure out how to manage the battery-powered snow blower, especially when it got clogged. After several hours over a couple of days, I got it done. Not bad for a total novice, methinks. I would do it again, but I’m glad my condo in Mexico isn’t likely to be so afflicted any time soon.

Vail Never Fails

A few years ago, I tried to ski as much as possible over two months. My pace of 2 days on and 1 off proved too tiresome. By the end, I was heading to the hill just to chase a personal best number of days in a season. I learned then I could have as much fun and be less tired on an every-other-day cadence.

For my week in Frisco, I managed 2 days at Vail because Vail Never Fails, nor did it this year. Skiing on- and off-piste there is always a pleasure. Another way it doesn’t fail is to test how much people are willing to pay for the experience. I and many others have season passes, so we don’t feel it much, but the walk-up rates for tickets and, gulp, private lessons, are eye-popping. This is not your grandpa’s ski hill.


Another nearby gem on my ski pass is Keystone. It is the closest Vail-owned resort to Denver, so weekend warriors sometimes overrun the place. The 80-minute drive from the Mile High City can balloon to 4 hours. Parking can get filled up. It can take an hour to get from the parking lot to the base and then you get to wait in a lift line to get up the hill. Staying nearby, I didn’t face such torture. But it was crowded.

Why bother? When you finally start up the hill, you realize this place has serious chops. Lots of great groomed and tree runs. Really good pitch. They used to have some awesome on-mountain dining, but COVID and weather concerns have curtailed them. Even so, I always look forward to visiting.

Breck Town & Ice Sculptures

After a week in Frisco, we moved to a ski-in/ski-out Marriott timeshare in Breckenridge, about 20 minutes away. Breck has a classic mining turned ski town feel. There are lots of historic buildings in the very walkable downtown. It’s worth a visit any time of year. An unsolicited plug: our friends at Summit Mountain Rentals will be happy to help you find your bliss there.

We were fortunate to be in town for the annual International Ice Sculpture competition again. The submissions were quite varied and entertaining. Not everyone agreed with the list of winners, but they were all impressive nonetheless.

Of Peaks & Pals

While I enjoy Breck for what the town offers, I’m less thrilled about the ski hill. To be sure, there are some good runs at the resort, but the place is quite spread out. It can be a chore to get over to where you want to ski. Recent additions on Peaks 6 & 7 are fun, but a long haul from where I was staying at the base of Peak 9. On the other hand, if that is all I can complain about…

Since Diana wasn’t skiing, I valued it when I could share the hill with folks. My son recently moved to Denver, so it was fun to ski with him and his girlfriend at Breck. We had room in our timeshare for them to couch surf, which worked out well.

Another pleasant find was a group of seniors that meet Tuesdays at Breck and Thursdays at Keystone. I hooked up with them at Breck. The group has volunteer guides and is large enough for everyone to find others who want to ski what you want to ski. Diana and I met in a ski club in San Jose, so the format was familiar to me. I will definitely seek them out when I return to the area.

Breckenridge Food

Much of the food in town we have reviewed before in these articles, Hanging Out in Breckenridge and Frisco Colorado in the Winter and Vail Never Fails and Food Finds in Frisco.

Butterhorn Bakery is a popular brunch spot on Main Street in Frisco. We managed to grab a table without a problem. The chili and half sandwich combo hit the spot. Another low-key spot we hit on Main Street Breckenridge was the Motherloaded Tavern. Their Mason Jar Cocktails were tasty, but their loaded Tater Tots were quite the guilty pleasure. Tater Tots rule and they are impossible to find outside the US/Canada.

We paid a visit to Aurum, an old favorite in Breckenridge. Unfortunately, they seem to have lost a step. The flavors on the dishes were muddled. I will have to hear about improvement before heading back. Not to worry, Breck has a lot of other options.

Hearthstone, though, another old favorite, is still rockin’ the hits. The plates we got there were well interesting and well-executed. I’m sure we will give them a try next time we are in town.

What outdoor art competitions have you enjoyed?

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