Traveling from Bozeman to Hartford is always an ordeal. I’ve become accustomed to losing a day to travel each way- but it’s a small price to pay to get home for the holidays. Thomas has family in Connecticut as well, so we travel together, which takes a lot of suck out of a normally stressful experience. This year, we decided to complicate things by packing our ski gear up and taking it with us for our epic ski-cation on top of our holiday travel.
- Part 1 involved a 2 day foray into the Green Mountains of Vermont… Well, the very southernmost parts, anyway. We rented an Air B&B, bought lift passes, and sussed out a schedule for 2 days of shredding with Siblings and Significant Others at Mount Snow.
- Part 2 involved flying into Idaho falls, crashing at our good friends parents (Thanks Greg and Mary!) home in Driggs, and skiing down the last hours of 2018 at Grand Targhee Resort in Alta, Wyoming.
What this meant was a lot of meticulous research and coordination to get the most gear packed for the least amount of money possible. By the way- we didn’t spend ANY extra money- Thanks, United Credit Card! We measured, crammed, stuffed, begged, squeezed, and finally zipped our bag shut. We managed to fit all of our skiing accessories, 2 pairs of powder skis and poles, helmets, and boot warmers. The bag weighed in at a cool 48.5 lbs.
We made it to Hartford with little excitement as far as travel goes- The 11 dollar Goose Island IPAs at the Chicago Airport were spendy but delicious and necessary. As we stepped off the plane and into the familiar terminal at BDL, I relaxed- I was glad to be home. The next few days were a happy blur- Holiday festivities, amazing food, baking, family, and friends took precedence over everything else. I’m happy to say that once we left the airport, I didn’t check work email for the entire trip- usually easier said than done.
I’d like to talk about food at home for a minute. Living with a chef, I get treated pretty well. Thomas and I aren’t afraid to get wild in the kitchen with adventurous ingredients, new recipes, and fun flavor combinations. Going home for the holidays, however, is on a whole different level of luxury. I am spoiled with amazing food the minute I get home. This trip was no different; I settled into a hot plate of classic French meat pie only minutes after walking through the door.
The treats didn’t stop- We had an abundance of Mince Pies courtesy of my recently repatriated sister, snowball cookies, and sugar and gingerbread cutouts. Christmas eve was a smorgasbord of seafood complete with some fresh haddock, clams casino, crab cakes, tuna steaks, and scallops wrapped in bacon. Christmas day was accompanied by a traditional breakfast of morning glory muffins and chocolate, followed by biscuits, bacon and eggs. Our holiday party spread had creamy potatoes au gratin, Lasagna, rice pilaf, green beans almondine, and a holiday Ham, and I can’t forget the cheese platters that were omnipresent.
I spent most of my time visiting friends and seeing family, which is exactly how trips home are meant to be. However, by the time Christmas was over, I was pretty tired from all the visiting- just in time to ship up to Vermont and relax a little on the slopes of Mount Snow. Despite it’s namesake, the warm weather has not done this southern vermont resort any favors. We skied on boilerplate all weekend. That’s not to say we didn’t have a blast- we just had to alter our technique a little bit. As I navigated the treacherous and unfamiliar trails, I found myself asking- “Can I turn here?” And the answer would come: a loud scraping sound emanating from the bottom of my skis and an unchanged trajectory suggesting a resounding “NO”.
What Mount Snow lacked in it’s namesake, it more than made up for in local brews in stock. We cracked some cold ones at the lunch hour- I chose the Stout Trout Milk Stout, while Thomas had a Sip of Sunshine. As the day wore on, we broke into our own stash on the Bluebird bubble lift, possibly to the chagrin of a lady with a penchant for dirty looks. To her I say- Who doesn’t enjoy the crisp aroma of a Coors Light on a cold winter day, even if you aren’t in the Rockies? And when 3:00pm rolled around, our group reconvened at the Bull Wheel, the summit bar where beers are served up with a side of classic New England attitude.
That night, after a collective hour long nap, the savory scent of garlic filled the house as we prepared dinner- spaghetti and meatballs, courtesy of Dad. Beers were flowing, Alexa was playing all sorts of music from Grunge to Ariana Grande. We were determined to get rowdy, but despite our best efforts, a few spirited rounds of slap-cup and beer ball (and a manly exposition of shotgunning skills) were all it took to knock us all out. Doris had called it on the car ride up- we were all in bed before 10 pm.
A second day of skiing was filled with better weather- and much larger crowds. And the quad to the top of the mountain broke down (a regular occurance according to some frequent flyers) which meant >30 minute wait times for the Bluebird express. Sigh. We played the system by going in singles lines, and cut our time down to about 15 minutes. Still, the skiing was just okay, and the long lift lines encouraged us to get the heck out of there by 3:00PM. We caravaned down to Berkshire Brewing Company and enjoyed a flight each of tasty beers, rehashing our epic turns and, for Thomas and I at least, getting ready for our next set.
A few days later, Thomas and I packed our stuff and headed to the airport once again. Goodbyes are always hard, but it was also hard to not be excited for what the next few days held- skiing and ringing in the new year with good friends we hadn’t seen in a long while. Two flights, 4 free beers, and one mad dash through DIA later, we were out on the tarmac, deplaning at Idaho Falls. It felt glamorous; I always enjoy the tiny flights.
Our friends gave us the warmest, loudest, and most attention drawing greeting in Idaho. Barring the use of fireworks and loudspeakers, I don’t think they could have done a better job. The warmth especially was appreciated, since the walk from the plane to the tiny regional airport was long, snowy, and cold. Good for skiing, bad for travel. A hearty dinner of Chili courtesy of Mary was much appreciated, and we settled into an early night of movie watching, catching up, and prepping for our skiing adventure the following day. Greg informed us that we would be departing promptly at 8 AM.
At 7 AM, Greg informed us that there were 12″ of fresh pow on top of 10″ that had fallen the day before, and the weather looked clear. He had already left for the hill. We rushed to eat and pack, and by the time we got to the resort the lots were filling up quickly. An hour later, we looked back at the windy mountain road from the chairlift and saw a long line of cars. While we were getting freshies, the people down below were undoubtedly cursing those 5 extra minutes of sleep.
What can I say about the skiing? It was PHENOMENAL. It was the best ski day I’ve ever had. We were carving fresh lines, rushing to the lift, and repeating. It was frigid, but we didn’t care. Everyone was giddy (except maybe the lifties- unfortunate for them, I know) had a giant grin plastered on their face- My cheeks were almost as sore as my quads the next day. The whole experience was just outrageously good, and I can only describe it as otherworldly. Every time I skied down an untouched powder stash, the only thing I could hear was my own breath (and whoops of jubilation, of course). The snow was so soft and fluffy that it was silent. No crunch, no whoosh, not the crackling of the East Coast ice we had experienced days before- just silence. Unreal.
We eventually had to stop for lunch to refuel, rehydrate, and defrost. Did I mention it was cold? A few more long laps from the top fried my legs, so it was time to see how Dan was doing on the bunny hill. For his first day on downhill skis, he was crushing it! We took a break to crush some Deep Powder- the appropriately named Golden Ale from Grand Teton Brewing. After a few cold ones, we rode to the summit and took the Teton View Road down- a leisurely green run that meanders across the whole mountain, with beautiful views of the Grand Tetons.
We finished our day at the Trap Bar with a few hot drinks (Hello Peppermint schnapps and hot chocolate) and headed home with many snacks and grand plans for our NYE celebrations. We all almost fell asleep by 8:00 PM, and managed to stay awake only through sheer willpower and a hilarious game of Taboo. Happy New Years celebrations were at 12:01, and we were all in bed by 12:05. A happy year indeed!