On Saturday, Mrs. Cutter and I headed to Dulles airport to begin our journey to Breckenridge. Given my past experiences with Dulles, I was prepared for the worst, but there were no major problems.
Because we flew Delta, we had a brief layover in Atlanta. And by brief, I mean only a little over 30 minutes, so we knew we would have to rush to make our connection. We tried to alert other passengers that we were in a hurry, and while some people did let us through, others figured that since people were clearing space, this was their invitation to jump ahead of us. Of course after rushing to the other terminal, we learned that our flight was delayed anyway.
Finally, after another flight we arrived at the Denver airport. At the Denver airport, there’s a train that transports you between terminals, and when it starts and stops, it plays a quick burst of catchy music. They also have people standing there giving you directions on how to get to various places, which was quite helpful. So the Denver airport gets high grades from me.
We made our way to Enterprise Rent-a-Car, and after they tried to talk us into upgrading from our economy car (because the small car might not handle well in the mountains), they didn’t have any economy cars available and had to upgrade us to a pickup truck anyway for no cost! This would have been surprising if this didn’t happen every time you rent a car. I stupidly opted for the prepaid gas, which in hindsight is a scam. I’m still a bit mad at myself for doing so.
We then began the hour and a half drive through the mountains to Breckenridge. And if I had upgraded to this truck because I was worried about how the car handled, I would have been sorely disappointed. The truck didn’t seem to want to go over 60 mph uphill, nor did it seem to shift gears all that well. But the car got us there without incident, so I can’t complain too much.
When we arrived at our hotel – the River Mountain Lodge – they told us that the customer garage was full, so we’d have to park in the employee garage. The employee garage was a tight fit, and I had to park next to a pole. I found that its a lot easier to park in a tight space when the person sitting in the passenger seat isn’t gasping and flinching every time you get close to the pole. Once I sent her away, the parking job became much easier.
We were a little wary of the River Mountain Lodge, because some of the review online were not that positive. But those reviews were wrong, as the place was awesome. We had a clean room (some complaints dealt with cleanliness) with a private hot tub on the balcony! And the staff there was very friendly and helpful. So if you’re ever going to stay in Breckenridge, I recommend the River Mounatin Lodge!
The hotel had a ski rental place, so we got ourselves some skis for the weekend. I was excited to learn that I’d be getting relatively new equipment. When I was younger, I had a crappy old pair of skis, so this would be a definite upgrade. After trying everything on, we sought a place to eat. Unfortunately, its very difficult to find a restaurant in Breckenridge that isn’t super crowded on a Saturday night after the slopes close. After sensing that every place would be packed, we settled on a sports bar that at least had some video games to play while we waited.
People talk about the thinner air in the mountains, and we learned that it isn’t an exaggeration. If we walked around outside for awhile, occassionally we would get a bit lightheaded, and we’d have to concentrate on breathing slowly through our noses. This caused some problems when we woke up in the middle of the night feeling congested.
With our internal clocks two hours ahead of the local mountain time, we were able to get off to an early start on Sunday. Unfortunately, the town of Breckenridge doesn’t necessarily get things started until close to 9 AM, so we had to wait a little bit to buy breakfast and lift tickets. This allowed us some time to stretch a little which would prove beneficial later on.
The last time we went skiing was 2005, so we wanted to take it slow at first. For the first few runs, we stuck to the easier green trails. We soon found that if you used to ski, it only takes a few runs to get your skills back. We also found that if you have good equipment, good trails, and good snow, skiing is a lot easier and more fun. The last time we had skiied it was at the somewhat crappy Seven Springs in Pennsylvania. There is little comparison between the two environments.
We soon moved onto more difficult terrain, and were doing pretty well. After a few hours we didn’t want to stop, but we had to head back to the hotel so we could watch the NFC Championship game. There was a ski trail that led all the way down from the slopes to the street in front of our hotel, so we were able to ski the whole way back. That was pretty cool.
I won’t go into detail about the football game here (That deserves a blog of its own), but afterwards, we went out to dinner and returned to the hotel. I can’t recall the last time I felt so exhausted, both physically and mentally. Between the time zone differences, the skiing, and the mental drain that watching the football game put on me, I was lucky to be able to stay up until 9.
That exhaustion, that led to one of the best night’s sleeps I ever had, and we were ready for a full day of skiing the next day.