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Shredding the Mountain – a Winter Park Fable

Traveling with friends!

We typically only vacay as a couple or with family, so this was definitely a new experience!

Here’s how it all down:

Our friend’s parents own a condo in Fraser, Colorado, and in a roundabout way, she and her husband invited Jake and I, along with another couple, to go with them for a weekend getaway. For the sake of their privacy but to make it easier to read the story, I’m going to give our friends fictitious names…like they do on tv shows.

Couple 1: The Host Couple - Channing and Jenna

Couple 2: Steve and Jo

Let me start by saying, Jenna is awesome. She had done some research before we left for our trip, and found an amazing restaurant to try, natural hot springs to treat ourselves to, booked our ski lift tickets, and coordinated the ski/boot rentals. She is a terrific trip planner and super supportive (you’ll find out why later), and we are just so grateful!


Packing for a winter vacation…where you have to fly…is interesting to say the least. So much stuff….and it’s all so big and bulky! Snow boots, snow pants, big winter coats, sweaters and cardigans, and scarves. Good thing we could check two bags for free! Yikes. And naturally, I waited until the night before to really start packing. I just had so many other things to do!

So our oversized luggage was tucked in the bed of Channing’s pickup Friday morning, and we may or may not have enjoyed a mimosa as we headed to the airport. You know, every aspect of vacation should be fun! We are swanky travelers! And could it beeeeee?! We were actually going to FLY after more than a year of no flying – thank you, Covid! So thrilling!

We made it through security with no issues, and hung out in the bar area of our terminal. No celebrity sightings this flight. Before long, it was time to board the plane. And then….Steve’s name was called over the loud speaker…what the heck? Had he been discovered as FBI’s Most Wanted? Did something else terrible happen? The anticipation was killing us. Jake and I had his wife, Jo, sit with us on the plane while we waited to see if he would board the plane.

Shortly, he came aboard….turns out the bar thought he hadn’t closed out his tab. They wanted his two dollars. FYI – he had already paid long before. They just made a mistake. Too funny.

So we made the short flight to Denver…Jo was smart and watched a movie about skiing, Downhill, during the flight. I watched a movie about time-traveling warfare. Sigh. I should have watched the ski movie. I don’t know what Jake watched….the Goonies? Speaking of the Goonies, I think we’re going to head out that way next year or the year after. So many vacations to be had. Anyway.

We landed in Denver, and that airport is quite different than Omaha’s perfectly sized airport. SO many people, and why were so many flights getting their luggage at the same baggage claim? And what the heck? A baggage claim just for golf clubs? Coffins? Oh. Skis. Got it. We’re in Denver. People actually travel with skis because some people own their own skis. If that wasn’t a sign I might have been out of my element, I don’t know what was.

So we strolled through the airport with our luggage and boarded the tram…took the longest route to get to the shuttle to the car rental lot. And then we made it….to our Chrysler Pacifica. The van-de resistance. Boy, could that beast turn on a dime!

Denver traffic kinda blows, if you’re wondering. Even at 2:00 in the afternoon….it’s at a stand-still. Ugh. And we were all hungry. So when you’re starving why not pull off of the interstate to find the ghetto?…and then get back on the interstate to find a better ghetto to find a ghetto gas station to get ghetto snacks??!! And so we did. We drove past an abandoned amusement park….(which I just now discovered is in fact NOT abandoned…how is this still functioning? Maybe Google misled me, and I found an entirely different park. Whatever….it’s irrelevant.). Then drove by a place called “Star Buds”….that had everyone all giggly and excited, which, again, I recently discovered was a dispensary…NOT a knock off of Starbucks as I had thought in the moment. Oh dear. The things you learn after the fact. Talk about naïve.

So we got our snacks and began our ascent into the mountains. Holy mountains. L-O-V-E them. Just incredible. And our sweet van didn’t struggle one bit! One of my memories as a child was traveling to California with my family in our brand new min-van and the transmission went out in the middle of the mountains during a storm. And we had to pile into a single cab tow truck with an oversized tow truck driver and his oversized son. Nice.

Fortunately, we only encountered a little bit of snow on the way, and the curvy road we had to take to reach Winter Park was nice and clear.

Winter Park is not a very large town…at least from what I could tell. I mean there were houses and condos tucked into the mountain and on the outskirts, but as far as the business district went, it was fairly small. Which I appreciated. If I needed to drive in the town, I would have been able to get around there juuuust fine. And most of the buildings on the main drag were new and modern….and there was of course a moose statue somewhere that we drove by multiple times…although, we never did stop to visit it, but it was a topic of conversation. Pretty sure one of our friends had “dibs”…to take a picture with it. Right Jo? ;)

Our friend’s (Channing and Jenna) condo was in Fraser, Co….just outside of Winter Park. The road up to the condo had adorable signage – “slow your donkey down” and there was a dip at the 3 way stop at the top of the hill. Yah, Jake. There was a dip….and the backseat of the van didn’t appreciate it. Anyway…

We got lost for just a minute (Do we turn here? I don’t remember having to drive down gravel. Oh. We turn here), and then found the condo. It had it’s own underground parking, and it was like we were spies or something! There were several other condos in the area, but it was fairly quiet. Not too much action. Maybe it was the end of the ski season? Again…the fact that I didn’t know when the “ski season” was, should have been a fairly good indicator that….well….you’ll see.

Ok. So we got settled in, and our gracious hosts, Channing and Jenna, insisted Jake and I, and Steve and Jo got the two bedrooms, and they would sleep on the sofa bed in the living room. Like how generous is that?!

Jenna had made reservations for a special dinner that night. We (and by “we” I mean mostly the guys) had planned for this dinner for awhile. I hate to say it this way, but I don’t know how else to put it…the guys basically bought “costumes” to wear to dinner.

Big sigh.

They were inspired by Dumb & Dumber. If you haven’t watched that movie, all I can say is “WHAT??” Yah, it’s a dumb movie, but it’s kind of great, too. The guys had visions of themselves dressed up like Lloyd and Harry…either in the tuxedos or the authentic Aspen gear. Another big sigh. I’ll reveal the decided upon costumes in a bit.

But the girls decided to get ready while the guys went into town so they could stock the kitchen. Honestly. They didn’t too bad of a job. Busch Light, White Claws, Box Wine, Meat & Cheese Trays, Tortilla Chips, Dove Chocolate….I mean….okay. You can buy me vacation snacks whenev.

Anyway….so the guys went into town for snacks, and the gals and I checked out the hot tub sitch because apparently Channing was really into hot tubs? Boy was he going to be disappointed! It was gated up. You needed a key card to get in, AND it was still tarped up and covered in snow. Oh gosh. So dang funny. Seriously….like he brought up the hot tub so many times prior to the trip…and on the way there, and while we were there at the condo….and his dream was crushed. It was like kind of perfect in a mean sort of way.

So…the guys returned with their goodies, and we all got ready…and it was time for the big reveal.

Channing and Steve opted for the “refined cowboy” look. Please note…these two guys do NOT typically dress that way. And then Jake…well…not wanting to have to buy a cowboy hat and carry it around through the airport, etc…went the hipster route. Being in Colorado after all, he thought it was an obvious choice. He had accessories. Yes. Plural. Not one accessory, but accessories. Fake glasses, an earring (he still has the earring hole from high school, folks), bracelets (?????), a scarf…it was too much. While packing for the trip, he came out of the bathroom in his ensemble to show me to make sure he had the right “look”. All I could do was cover my face…with my fingers split apart just enough to see him…like “Is that real?” O. M. G.

Accessories were not the only thing completing this look. Tiny. TINY navy blue chinos from Old Navy that he rolled up. A thermal shirt he cut the sleeves off of…because he didn’t want to get too hot…a chambray shirt (a new term we all learned at dinner that night. Thank you, Jo, for educating us!), these weird boots that he claims were hipsteresque, but they looked like something else, and then the infamous cardigan. The cardigan…he wore it every day afterwards on the trip. Going to a hot spring? Let me grab my cardigan. Going to a pizza place? Better bring my cardigan. Going tubing? I’m definitely going to need my cardigan.

The dudes looked ridiculous. I don’t know if others would have thought they were in costume, but we all knew they were. Our fashionista friend, Jo, had the most adorable little white boots and this fun silky black blouse with beaded fringe on it. She was pretty hey-duded up. ;) Jenna and I just had on sweaters…and the BOOTS WITH THE FUR. ;) Oh gosh. So fun.

Okay. So we had our costumes on. But we needed to figure out our transportation situation. Our reservations were for a ranch about 10 minutes away, and we really didn’t want anyone to have to drive. And so…Channing found….the most eccentric and informative taxi in Fraser….Unicorn Rides. That’s not made up. That’s what the guy calls himself. The guy…has a name, you know…Philip. Or Phillipe, as we like to call him when he’s not around. You just have to check out his website. I mean…I don’t even know how our friend was convinced he should even contact him. But whatever. Channing texted him, and then Phillipe texted back, and then it was on.

Philip showed up right on time, and we all loaded into his Honda Pilot (with a third row bench seat – a discussion point, of course), and then we hadn’t even finished turning around in the parking lot / street, before he just stopped driving to talk about something…it escapes me now, but I’m sure it was not even remotely important….but that’s how our adventure started with Unicorn Rides.

He drove so calmly and smoothly, and unhurriedly to Devil’s Thumb Ranch in Tabernash. So, along the way, Phillipe talked about avalanches that occur nearby occasionally, blocking the highway…and how they could keep people from coming in and out of the town…and we were like, “How long does the avalanche keep people from coming in and out of the area?” and Phil’s all like, “A long time. Like one time, 2 hours, maaaan.” Biggest and longest silence, okay? Just insert a GIANT pause after that. We thought he was going to say “days”. But no. He said hours. People were inconvenienced for 2 hours. I’m pretty sure stores didn’t run out of any supplies in the two hours everyone was “trapped”. Eye roll.

Oh gosh. I forgot the funniest thing he said, and it was as we were driving down the road with the “slow your donkey down” signs. We had commented on how beautiful the area was, and he was talking….blah blah blah blah, and then said, “And then the sun, when it sets over here…” And I lost it…he said it in such a way that implied the sun didn’t ALWAYS set over there…but just sometimes, and when it did it was just lovely. Thankfully, we all had our masks on, so I could giggle in my mask in the very back of the Honda Pilot…Jenna kept telling me to stop, but I couldn’t help it. It was so ridiculous!

But then we got closer to the ranch, and he started talking beef. He knew a thing or two about it. And I believed everything he was saying. The ranch raises their own grass-fed cattle – Wagyu and some Scottish breed. And then he said that if you are going to visit Colorado, you should have the pork green chili or the trout. Hm??? I’ll stick to the Wagyu.

But then….we pulled up to the most enchanting ranch I’ve ever seen. If I’m being perfectly honest, I don’t know how many ranches I’ve actually seen in real life. But this one is magical! It’s a Ranch Spa Resort….”Wow!” is all I can say!

Philip dropped us off and was apparently quite trusting – he didn’t accept any payment at drop-off. He was going to be picking us up later, and said we could settle with him then. Okay maaaannn…

And then we walked down the sidewalk to the Ranch House Restaurant, and walked into the most loveliest barnesque building. We were quickly seated at a table….right next to the door. Weird. If you go to the website for the restaurant, you can see exactly where we sat….right by that lamp on the left side. They must have moved a table over there after the website picture was taken.

But it was so charming. The staff was friendly enough. Not overly friendly (which seemed to be a common theme out there). We learned about the soup of the day, and our waiter described the appetizers and informed us that the restaurant was out of the deviled duck eggs (another common theme – restaurants seemed to be out of menu items. I don’t even see this item on their menu anymore). So our waiter leaves, and comes back to get our appetizer order, and Steve grabs his vest collar, leans back in his chair and says, “So…tell me about those duck eggs…” We all in unison say, “They’re out of the duck eggs.” Classic.

We ordered a couple of the Wagyu Tartare apps and something else….that came on spoons? Honestly, I didn’t even know we ordered it, and I wasn’t even sure how to eat it. But that was okay. We all grabbed a spoon and ate whatever it was.

They brought our rolls served with raspberry jam and butter smeared onto a slate tile or something. My friends are going to read this and wonder what the heck I’m talking about…they are probably remembering this much differently than I am.

But as the night went on, Channing did his very best to tell us about all of the silverware. “This is the butter knife. This is the salad knife. This is the butter knife.” And was perfectly corrected by the gal who happened to be pouring his water at the time, “No. That’s a salad knife. Not a butter knife.” Nice try, buddy. Turns out Channing’s boots were way too tight, also. He doesn’t know what knife to use, his boots are too tight, the hot tub is closed. Basically, his pet’s heads are falling off. It just wasn’t his night.

While we waited for our appetizers to come out, the gals and I explored the restaurant – there was a back dining area full of windows. We were a little envious of their view! We snuck out the side door to check out the deck. We saw the most spectacular view, and so we took a lovely picture with the mountains behind us. Then we headed back to the table.

The steak tartare came out on another piece of tile along with baguettes and various garnishes for the tartare…olive puree’s, pesto, capers, mustard, etc. It didn’t have quite the fanfare of our first tartare experience in DC, but it was still pretty delicious. And Steve made all of us laugh when he informed us that he “likes stuff” as he tried another tartare variation. Oh brother.

We could occasionally see resort guests wandering about outside in robes (as they went from their hotel to the spa). And then it began to lightly snow. It was like we were in a magic snow globe. No. It was like we were in a Hallmark Christmas Movie.

But then it was time to order our dinner. Steve, Jo and I ordered the wagyu. Channing and Jenna ordered the scallops, and Jake ordered the….trout. Are you kidding me? You’re taking Unicorn Phil’s food recommendation? When in Colorado, I guess!

The wagyu was AMAZAZING. It is one of the best steaks I have ever had. Worth every single dollar. Jake’s trout tasted like trout, but its presentation was as beautiful as trout could be! Our friends’ scallops were good, but Channing reminded us later that he only got 3 scallops. Guess that wasn’t enough food? He was probably regretting not trying the tartare.

We finished our dinner, and decided to head down to Heck’s Tavern at Phil’s recommendation. It was about as good of a recommendation as the trout. The tavern was actually the restaurant located inside the hotel on the ranch (another beautiful building, by the way). It was full of the hotel patrons. So we texted Philip to let him know we were ready to head back and waited on the leather couches in the main entrance of the hotel.

I just have to tell you that there was a wine dispenser in the main lobby of the hotel. The hotel guests could swipe their key card and get a glass of wine! How awesome is that?! And lucky for us, one of the staff members needed to change out one of the bottles, and there was a little left, so Jenna and I got to have a glass of wine for nada. Score!

But then Phillipe showed up, and we loaded into his Pilot again. He was clearly a free spirit who happened to migrate from the northeast part of the United States and just couldn’t leave the mountains. He gave us all kinds of tips about where to ski in Colorado – what each of the ski destinations had to offer. It was during this ride home, that Jake and I learned about the infamous Mary Jane Mountain.

After what seemed like an hour, we made it back to the condo (only 10 minutes from the ranch, mind you). We had a few of the snacks and then all headed to our assigned rooms. Day 1 of travel had been an exhausting success.

We woke up the next morning and made 4 of the tiniest cutest pots of coffee ever, and then got ready to head to breakfast. Jenna recommended Randi’s Grill & Pub. So we loaded into the mystery machine and headed to the restaurant with a cardigan clad driver (aka – Jake).

When we arrived, we were seated…by the door again. No big deal. The restaurant is an Irish Pub – kinda fun! Our waiter, first thing he says to us, “Hey, I like your cardigan.” Made Jake’s day. All I wanted was a Bloody Mary. Sounded so good! And it was absolutely perfect! Breakfast hit the spot!

We went back to the condo to get ready for out next adventure….natural hot springs in Hot Sulphur Springs. The drive to the spa was beautiful…rolling hills and quaint mountain towns.

When we arrived to the spa, excited for our two hour session of relaxation, we were greeted by the scent of…rotten eggs. This was going to be spa-tastic.

We entered the building (circa 1973), and there were a handful of young folks running the joint, “Sir, pull your mask up please.” Okie dokie. Darn Covid. The restrooms and locker rooms were limited. It made getting changed a bit challenging…especially when a guest from another party “reeeallly had to go”. ;)

It was finally our turn to go outside and explore the pools. The pools were not quite what we expected. We thought they would be “natural”. You know… water coming from the rocks, and the pool was literally….like a pond. But no. These were little concrete man-made pools scattered throughout the mountain. As you climbed higher up the mountain, the hotter the temp of the pool. Jenna had warned us that this place was going to be “skitchy”. LOL! We weren’t disappointed, by any means. It just wasn’t quite what we expected…that’s all! So we wandered around looking for a pool large enough for the six of us. Of course, the pool we wanted to go to was occupied by a group of gals that apparently could stay as long as they wanted. Bummer.

Our friends found a pool that would accommodate us, and we all got into the stinky water! I set my mask next to the pool and then, of course, Jake made an unnecessarily large splash and soaked my mask with the delightful water. Ugh. Fortunately I had another one in my purse.

We just relaxed in the water…joked about the green slimy stuff floating around….looked around for wildlife….got snowed on….and then we realized there was no way we were going to last a whole 2 hours in the egg-sauna, so we decided to leave after an hour. Ha!

We piled into the Pacifica with scrunchy noses. We all smelled super peachy. We couldn’t wait to get back to the condo to shower off our stench!

But along the way home, we noticed that there were Subarus and Jeeps everywhere. So…the gals decided to play a game. It involved Subarus. And Jeeps. And White Claws. Don’t worry. It wasn’t TOO far of a drive back to Fraser.

We cleaned up and got ready for dinner….but where were we going to go??

Somehow margaritas were mentioned, and I was dead-set on getting a margarita. So we went to Pepe Osaka’s Fish Taco Tequila Bar and Grill. We found the perfect parallel parking spot for the van. Piled out and then were treated so awesomely by the folks there. Not. “Only one person from your party can come in.” Okay. We’ll wait out here. “It’s going to be like twenty days before we can get you a table.” Exaggeration, but it was going to be a really long wait. Nope. Ain’t gonna do it!

So we piled back into the van. Still dead-set on a margarita, I said, “Let’s go to Lime!” Which happens to be a restaurant actually in the Winter Park Ski Resort, come to find out. But I assumed margaritas were a thing at a restaurant called “Lime”. We found another stellar parking spot, and walked through the most charming little ski resort! It was like a little village, and I was just so….pleased!

We found the restaurant, and realized it was going to be like another twenty days before a table would be ready for us, and we would have to wait outside, and it was windy and cold, and we just weren’t dressed for that. Well, Jake was. He had his cardigan.

Back into the van we went, and found a pizza joint – Hernando’s Pizza Pub! It looked like it was built in the 70’s….had some Dutch flare….I don’t know why I’m describing it that way, but it was just like….Dutch. And there were dollar bills all over the walls and table tops with notes people had written on them. It was a fun touch. Of course one of the guys tried texting someone who’s number had been written on one of the bills and sent them a picture of it. There was no reply.

The pizza was pretty good. The margarita I ordered was pretty good, too. They kind of had a limit on how long you could be there, so it was just kind of weird. But oh well. ;)

We weren’t ready to end our evening though, so we found a bar in Fraser, Tin Cup Tavern – just down the road from our condo, and had a drink while we waited for a very small and eventually probably very "high" musician (he kept going out to his car to “do something”) to play his music behind a plexiglass wall. Did he ever actually play anything before we left? I can’t remember.

But…it still wasn’t time to go home. So we drove around and explored the area….searching for Subarus and Jeeps in the parking lots. I really think we were looking for a hot tub for Channing. What was his deal with hot tubs?

When we got back to the condo, we started playing a card game…which I didn’t know how to play. And so they taught me, and I was a really poor sport about it because I kept losing and I didn’t understand it. I’m not much for cards! But I’m a great spectator!! ;)

Then it was finally time to hit the sack. We had a big day of skiing to look forward to!

Day 3. Ski Day.

The day we all had been waiting for had finally arrived! We were going skiing!!

Jake and I drove into town and picked up coffee, Coke, and McDonald’s breakfast for the crew and headed back to the condo. We all ate our breakfast and then got on our ski gear.

Jenna handed out the ski lift passes, and it was like so exciting.

Have you ever seen the Saturday Night Live skit, “Can I get my ears pierced, Rick? Please?” “Rick, I don’t want to get my ears pierced, Rick.” That was me. I was trying to be enthusiastic, but I just wasn’t sure it was going to be all that.

But we got in the van…and drove to the resort. Parked. Got out. Talked about the gondola. Got in said gondola. Got off of the gondola. Stopped at the Columbia shop so Steve could buy a stocking hat because he forgot his. Took some group pictures. Then checked in to get our skis and boots.

It was an interesting situation. There’s like a stage. And you get called onto the stage. And there’s an employee below you behind the plexiglass next to the stage, and they bring you boots to try on and then fit them to you, and then you trudge off of the stage like an awkward buffoon. And then you get your skis, and then you get your poles. And they give you a helmet, cuz you clearly don’t know how to ski. And then you walk across the resort, without bending your ankles because of these boots, until you find the bottom of the mountain.

And then you put your skis on…awkwardly… cuz you don’t know how to put them on because the one and only time you ever went skiing was on your senior sneak trip twenty years ago…and the first time you got on the ski lift twenty years ago, you literally fell off of the ski lift. And the ski lift operator said, “I’ve never seen that before,” as you got up out of the slushy ice hole at the bottom of the ski lift with slush all over your sunglasses. And that’s why, twenty years later, you’re not sure about this whole ski thing. “Rick….I don’t want to go skiing.”

But I started sliding my skis over towards the lift gate, and then I heard behind me, “$xpo@, Lindsey, watch out!” And then Jake knocked me over.

See…this whole time, while I was reliving the terrible start to my one and only ski experience, Jake was telling himself a story, too. A story that was equally as discouraging. The poor guy couldn’t stop. He couldn’t slow down. We weren’t even on a slope. And he knocked me over. And I couldn’t get up.

But somehow I wasn’t on the ground anymore. And Jake said, “I’m not doing this. I'm going to hurt somebody. I’m going to take my skis back and go to the bar.” And trust me. If my skis hadn’t been wedged up to Jo’s ski’s ahead of me, and I had had any idea of how to get my skis off, I would have turned right around with him. But I was kind of stuck!

So I had no choice but to keep going.

Channing and Jenna had skied plenty of times before. They knew what was what. Steve and Jo were in the same situation as Jake and I, but they weren’t having nearly the trouble Jake and I had! Maybe it was the movie Jo watched on the plane ride to Denver? It gave her all of the tips and trick! ;)

Channing and Jenna guided me to the ski lift. I felt like a senior, alright....a senior citizen. I was like….how do I even get on….recalling my first ski lift experience. And so I got on…..and we rode up the mountain….and we just kept climbing. I was certain, they had said we were going to go down a GREEN trail. Why was it so high up?

Then I had to get off of the ski lift….and I waited until like 10 seconds beforehand to ask how I should do that…and then I got off and slid backwards and fell….like a nerd. And got hit in the head with the chair.

Yes. That happened! And they had to stop the lift. And then I got up.

And then we kind of skied towards a trail…and we passed an area with little kids (like it looked safer)…..and I was thinking I should probably hang out with them….but we just kept going….and then I fell again….and then I got up. And at this point, Channing was thinking to himself, “Dude. I can ski. I’m not sticking around.” And so he goes skiing. And Jenna stays with me. Bless her heart.

Steve and Jo are doing pretty good…..skiiing down the hill. And they’d go down a ways, and then stop and wait. And I’m all like…criss-cross these skis. I’m not going off of this cliff on the trail that’s marked Green. And Jenna’s behind me….ready to pick me up if I fall.

It was the longest hour of my life. I really don’t know how long it took. It was probably twenty days. Anyway, anytime I would try to go a little faster, I would veer left (towards my imminent death - a was this trail a Green???…I would have come home in one of those ski bags….aka a coffin….I would have just been going round and round the golf bag luggage belt at the airport). Anyway.

I’m all crouched down trying not to die, and little kids are whizzing past me, and Jenna’s behind me telling me I’m doing great, and that we were almost there.

I felt like I was in labor. Seriously. Like I don’t want to do this anymore. It hurts. But I can’t stop. Like there’s no stopping. I have no choice but to keep going. So I’m just gonna almost cry until this is over.

And then a little boy flies by….bawling. He is just zooming down the hill…crying….and I said, “I’m right there with ya!” That boy was a kindred spirit.

But eventually, I make it to the bottom, and Jake meets me, and we pose for some pictures. Jake claims to have shredded the mountain, tackled Mary Jane or whatever nonsense he said. Totally driving Channing crazy. And I take my skis off. And we turn it all back in. And finally get a table at Lime while the other two couples keep skiing.

Jake and I posted up with nachos and the worst Bloody Mary I’ve ever had. But I was in a much better place! We were perfectly content to watch March Madness at the bar while our friends truly shredded the mountain.

Steve and Jo eventually showed up and had some lunch with us. And then Channing and Jenna arrived. Channing was ready to go back out. And Jo wanted to go, too…but we noticed that she was starting to get all blotchy….almost like she was having an allergic reaction. Jenna wasn’t sure it was a good idea to go back up the mountain like that….so Channing went skiing for a little while longer while the rest of us returned ski apparatus and just hung out (and just an FYI – Jo ended up being okay – but it was a little scary at first!!).

It was packed at the resort that day. Do you want to know why? Because the U.S. Paralympics Alpine Skiing National Championships and NORAM Cup were being held at the park that weekend.

The skiers were amazing to watch! So much talent!

So….we ALL finally decided we were finished skiing and headed back towards the van. Jake stopped at the Columbia store to buy the ugliest Winter Park cap he could find, and then we were on our way to go to the tubing hill in Fraser.

We quickly stopped at the condo to drop some things off, switch up some attire, and then found our way to a hill that was much more our speed. I love a good tubing hill!

We went down a few times. Did a few tube chains….you know…fancy tube tricks, and then decided we were spent.

We went back to the condo, cleaned up, and then went into town for dinner at The Peak Bistro & Brewery.

It was a pretty neat bar. Kind of industrial. Kind of modern. Kind of lodgy. It was neat…and the basketball games were playing…and they had crazy burgers and beer. So we were set.

I think we were all kind of tired at this point. So much mountain shredding. So many Subarus. It had been an exhausting couple of days! We ate and then headed back to the condo.

Jake tried to get us all to watch Ace Ventura. It makes my eye twitch just thinking about it. But we sat around and watched terrible movies, and started cleaning things up and packing for our flight back home the next day.

The next morning, we loaded up the van with all of our crap. Stopped at the coffee shop.

We waited in line to order our coffee and one of the skiers from the competition came in. He was wearing his medal. He said he traveled all over skiing. I think he lived in his van. Like how crazy would that be….to just drive around without a care in the world… “shredding” mountains as Jake says. Goodness.

Anyway, we waited for an incredibly long time to order our coffee, so the gals and I went back out to the van while the guys stayed inside and talked to their new friend and handled our orders.

There was some old guy in a Suburban (???) parked next to us or behind us or something….and we watched from inside the van as he tried to get out of the parking lot. We thought for sure he was going to smash into us. Somehow he missed. That was our excitement for the day, I think!

And then the guys came out with our coffees….and the coffee shop had put a few Sixlets over the hole on the lid to keep the coffee from spilling. Oh my gosh. Love.

We got on our merry way. Channing got car sick. We had to stop at some po-dunk mountain town for him to get unsick. There might have been a cowboy hat smashed along the way…

Then we drove and drove through the mountains until we made it back to Denver. Filled up the van with gas before returning it to the car rental lot….and then took the shuttle back to the airport.

The Denver airport is under construction, so it took us a few tries to find the right way to get to the security checkpoint. Up and down the escalators….through 8,000 people. But once we found it, Jake flew through security – Mr. TSA Pre-Check. The rest of us weaved our way through. And then we found our gate and sat next to the windows…and had the sun beating down on us.

At this point, I was starving. And baking in the sun with my mask on with low blood sugar was not anything I really wanted to do right then. So Jake and I went looking for some food. Channing and Jenna joined us. And uh….we found some food! Channing and Jenna headed back to the gate, and Jake and I found a table on the second floor to sit and eat and people watch. Then we walked about. Got in line to board the plane. Boarded. Jenna sat with us this time. I watched the rest of my terrible time-traveling weapon movie….and then we disembarked the plane. Grabbed our luggage. Boarded Channing’s pick-up. And drove home. It really was that simple. No funny stories….aside from the boring AM station Channing insists on listening to. No wild games. Just quiet talk about our upcoming Easter plans.

I guess it was back to reality!


I never really know how to end the posts about our vacations. I know it seems quite blasé – “Oh we drove to the airport and got on the plane and then drove home,” but the trip home was a nice quiet way to ease back into…Monday. It might have seemed much less eventful than the trip “there,” but there’s always a silent excitement about heading home. The allure of your own bed. The quiet of no plans. The hugs from your kiddos. Every great vacation needs a great homecoming. And I think we got just that!

Thank you, Channing and Jenna, for inviting us on the trip! We hope you invite us back next year, but Jake and I will just start at the bar at the ski resort….y’all can shred the mountain without us!

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