Beaver Creek Spring Skiing

Thursday

Rachael and Madison flew first-class, using Jeff’s frequent flyer miles, from Pittsburgh to Denver on Thursday, April 30, 2011. At the same time, Jeff was in the air, flying from Newark, NJ. They met up without incident in the B Concourse of the Denver International Airport, and quickly headed out to rent a 4-wheel drive Yukon and head west.

The drive turned out to be not so easy. Loveland Pass was a mess, with avalanche controls shutting down traffic for almost an hour. The 2-hour expected drive took about 4 hours. But, we will made it in time to hit the slopes!

We started skiing at 2pm in Arrowhead Village, taking advantage of Dial-A-Ride to get to the slopes quickly. We ended up skiing over 10,000 vertical feet, including Arrowhead Village, Bachelor’s Gulch, and Beaver Creek. We ended the day with a great meal at Blue Moose Pizza. It was a beautiful, sunny day at Beaver Creek, while the passes were nasty, wet and snowy.

After finishing skiing, we walked over to the park in Edwards. The ski was amazing, with the red of the sun tinting the entire valley a surreal color.

 

Sunset from Edwards over Vail

Friday

We got up and headed out to Walmart to buy food for breakfast. I cooked chorizo and eggs and made breakfast fajitas. It was good and hit the spot.

Today, we took our time, and didn’t get started skiing until almost 1130am. This time, we simply drove up to Arrowhead Village, since no one was here. We got over 14,000 vertical feet in by skiing Arrowhead, Bachelor’s Gulch and all over Beaver Creek. There was never a single wait in a lift line – quite a bit different than over Christmas, eh?

Girls at Arrowhead

The sun was incredible and the sky was a perfect blue. Although the morning started overcast, the sun broke through before we ever hit the lifts, and we all got sun burnt.

We ate a great lunch in the open-air bar at Red Tail Camp. We ate Epic Burgers and enjoyed the heat of the sun and the incredible brightness of the snow and sky.

Red Tail Camp

Eventually, the hot sun prevailed and the snow got sticky. It is amazing, flying down in a tucked position, and all of a sudden – STOPPPP. You almost fly out of your skies in an end-o. It actually hurts your legs quite a bit. So, once this happened, we stopped skiing and headed back down.

Saturday

Ok – this was the perfect day. We started skiing at 930am, and got over 10,000 vertical feet in in just about 8 runs, all at Arrowhead Village on Little Brave. It was the weather that made today perfect – the temperature at the bottom of Arrowhead was 73F by noon. It was incredible – who’s ever heard of skiing in 70 degree temps? Incredible.

Rachael and Madison Top

We took a break around noon, and ate at the base of Arrowhead Village. The girls went out for another run after lunch, while I watched their coats. The snow had turned sticky, and that was the end of our skiing today.

Jeff Arrowhead

However, we had an action packed afternoon and evening. First, we sat outside on the deck overlooking the Eagle River and read books and enjoyed the heat. Next, we walked over to the Edward’s Park again, and watched soccer games. Finally, we went to the Country Club of the Rockies and had an amazing dinner. Then, we shopped in Beaver Creek Village.

Ski House Exterior

Arrowhead Village 73F

Published in: on April 3, 2011 at 10:27 am  Leave a Comment  

Beaver Creek – Christmas Vacation 2010

Beaver Creek Trail Map

December 22, 2010.

 

 

I take an early flight from Dallas (where I’ve been working since October) to Eagle-Vail. I am very surprised upon landing to see no snow at all around the Vail airport. The wicked “snow riding hills” on the road into the airport and completely bare, uncovered by snow. Where exactly did the 24 inches of snow that supposedly fell over the past 7 days fall at? After driving to the Ski House, I found more snow, but still nothing at all like I had expected.

The original vacation plan was for me to fly from DFW to Vail on December 23rd, and then Laurie and the kids (except for Branden) would fly out on Christmas Eve. I will fly back to DFW on January 4th, and Laurie and kids will fly home on the 5th. I grabbed the opportunity to fly out a day earlier! Branden is flying out on December 27th, since he wants to spend Christmas with his girlfriend.

Immediately after landing in Vail and getting a rental car, I stopped by Costco for the first (of many) stock-up trips. Since we are spending almost a full 2-weeks in Beaver Creek, we’ll need lots of supplies. I made a quick (1 hour) run through Costco and got out with only about $300 damage (a new record, at the low-side for a Costco run).

The Ski House is as beautiful as ever. It’s a magnificent design, with thick wooden beams overhead, solid-heavy planked flooring, marble countertops, stone fireplaces, and much more.

Ski House Great Room from loft above

December 23, 2010. I went straight to the Arrowhead Village ski pass office to pick up our Epic Passes. This year, the cheapest route (if you wan to call $639 per ticket cheap!) was to buy season passes for the family. Even though all the paperwork had been done online, it still took the best part of an hour to get the Epic Passes printed, and getting Emily and William 5-day Peaks Cards (also ski passes).

Epic Passes

The other big task of the day was to buy a new TV for the Ski House. I looked at Costco, but everything there was nice, but too expensive. Then, I went to Walmart this weekend and found a 55″ Vizio. It took a longgg time to get it purchased, and then…the big question…would it fit into my rental car? Luckily, it fit (with less than 1″ to spare). I was able to unload it myself, unpack it, and put it in temporary place on the kitchen table (see following pic), just in time to watch the Steelers’ game.

New 55" TV for Ski House

 

December 24, 2010. Laurie and the kids will arrive today! Laurie had to get up at 3am to make the 6am flight, and then change planes in Chicago. She’s going to be tired, since she never sleeps the night before one of these super-early flights (well, who can?). I was up most of the night talking to her (I’m 2 hour behind on Mountain Time, so it was 1am when I got up to talk to her).

Trail behind Ski House

I decided to go running this morning. The temperature was about 21F – very crisp with crystal clear blue skies above. A gorgeous, perfect morning. I decided to run on the trail behind the Ski House – which was a mistake, since it was all crusty, messed up hard snow and ice. I ran almost the whole way to Avon on the trail before taking one of the golf course bridges and coming back on the paved trail on the edge of Route 6.

I ended up running almost 3.5 miles in 37 minutes (yes, that’s how bad the trail was!). It was a hard effort, with every footstep threatening to turn an ankle, or breaking through the snow’s crust and almost losing your shoes on foot push-off. But, it was a good workout!

Eagle River

Published in: on December 24, 2010 at 7:54 am  Comments (1)  

Auerbach, Alsbach, Frankenstein – Amazing

Three Castles in One Day

 

View from Auerbach Schloss

View from Auerbach Schloss

Jeff (me) drinking wine at Weingut Steinmueller, Bensheim

Jeff (me) drinking wine at Weingut Steinmueller, Bensheim

MTB Ride in Morning

After having been in the office until about 8pm (or later) each day this week, I was so eager to go rent a bike and ride outside. In fact, I actually went out and ran yesterday evening, just before dark, since I needed some type of physical activity and to breathe fresh air (not in an office!).

T-Mobile forest is still beautiful

T-Mobile forest is still beautiful

I went to Velocity and rented a mountainbike. However, they didn’t have my “normal” bike, so I had to settle for another. This ended up being a not-so-good experience. I started riding around 11am, and headed out through T-Mobile forest, and then down to Pfungstadt. Then, I headed over to Jugenheim, and really started to notice problems with the bike. First, the front tire was low on air, and second, both front and rear wheels were both slightly out of true, and the rear brake was worn down way too much, AND the rear shifter would work sometimes unless one pushed upward as well as inward to shift.

The best part of this ride was finding that blackberries are in full bloom (everywhere) in Germany! I stopped and spent about 5 minutes picking and eating blackberries in a remote part of the forest along a train tracks near Pfungstadt. It was a HUGE patch – as big as I’ve ever seen in the wild.

Blackberries near Pfungstadt

Blackberries near Pfungstadt

Mountain bike with problems, while picking blackberries

Mountain bike with problems, while picking blackberries

I stopped at a Tankstelle (service station) and found a free tire/air pump. In about 2 secs, I had me front tire filled up. Then, I decided to top off the rear tire too, since it was also feeling soft. However, this was a BIG mistake. The rear tire had a strange adapter on it, and when I unscrewed it, the whole tire went flat! I played with it for about 15 mins, and finally managed to fill it back to about 75% full.

I started heading toward Alsbach, but the bike felt so unresponsive, and I began to worry that the rear tire was going to flat, that I turned around and limped back to home (actually, to the Maritim Rhein-Main Hotel in Darmstadt).

Cool House near Jugenheim

Cool House near Jugenheim

Going Exploring

My goal for the morning’s MTB ride had been to make it to Auerbach, to see the “better” castle (better than Alsbach’s, as told to me by a very nice person). However, I never made it due to mechanical issues. So, I decided to just head out and start driving by car down along Naturpark Odenwald, and explore the small villages that way.

FRANKENSTEIN’S CASTLE – Castle #1

Frankenstein's Castle!

Frankenstein's Castle!

My first discovery was that Burg Frankenstein (Frankenstein’s Castle) was only a few minutes away from my hotel! Burg Frankenstein is a castle about 5km south of Darmstadt, and sits on top of a hill near the Naturpark Odenwald. There is actually a Naturpark built around the castle. The road up the castle is very windy and climbs quite a bit. It would be a great climb on a road bicycle…not too steep and not too long, but a great workout.

The Frankenstein’s built this castle in 1250 (YES, I said 1250!) by Konrad Reiz von Breuberg. Today, two towers, a chapel, and some ruined walls remain of the original castle, which was a much bigger fortress. It is believed that one of the castle’s inhabitants used to steal dead bodies for the purpose of studying anatomy, and that perhaps Mary Shelley (who wrote “Frankenstein”), was influenced by this legend. Who knows? All I know is that someone was getting married there while I visited, and it wasn’t scary in the slightest.

It was an absolutely beautiful day – temps in the low 70s, blue skies punctuated by puffy white clouds, and long shadows being thrown in the late afternoon sun. Here are some more pics from this fabulous location:

Fortress wall at Burg Frankenstein

Fortress wall at Burg Frankenstein

Tower at Burg Frankenstein

Tower at Burg Frankenstein

Amazing view over Darmstadt/Frankfurt from Tower at Burg Frankenstein

Amazing view over Darmstadt/Frankfurt from Tower at Burg Frankenstein

I have to say that I was really enjoying myself this afternoon – I think it was the combination of having been penned up in an office for the past several days, and the wonderful fall-like weather. I wish that Alyssa had been here with me (she wanted to come with me to Germany this week, but the rigors of work for Go-Live would’ve made most of her stay here boring).

Alsbach Schloss – Castle #2 

Although I have ridden to Alsbach Schloss several times on my MTB, I still drove up and visited again. I’ll only include one picture here, since I have shown pictures in my blog before. I only spent about 15 minutes here, and then headed out to Auerbach. 

Alsbach Schloss

Alsbach Schloss

Auerbach Schloss – Castle #3 (and most amazing)

View from Tower at Auerbach Schloss - Amazing

View from Tower at Auerbach Schloss - Amazing

I was amazed that a wonderful castle like Auerbach Schloss was so close to my hotel (which I’ve spent months in here in Darmstadt), and I’ve never been there before. It was beautiful. The pics that I’m including don’t do justice to its magnificence. Plus, there is a great restaurant in the castle, and one can shoot a cross-bow or throw an axe. There’s even a jousting lane!

The entrance to Auerbach Schloss is beautiful

The entrance to Auerbach Schloss is beautiful

Restaurant at Auerbach Schloss, as seen from entrance

Restaurant at Auerbach Schloss, as seen from entrance

Upon entering the castle, you are facing a beautiful building attached to a wonderful restaurant (on the left side). The castle towers rise majestically on your right – there are two completely intact towers which one can climb. I walked around the lower portion of the castle, inside the outer fortress walls, but outside of the inner walls. I found a tent where a group of period-dressed people were showing off cross-bows and other knight’s weapons. It looked fun! There were also several cool implements and a large round grill.

Knights Weapons Display

Knights Weapons Display

 Then, I climbed the steps and entered the inner part of the castle. I climbed the steps up to the top of one of the towers, and the 360 degree views were incredible. The rolling green hills of the Odenwald were on two sides, and the outstretched flat valleys were on the others.

Beautiful view of countryside around Auerbach Schloss

Beautiful view of countryside around Auerbach Schloss

Valleys below Auerbach Schloos

Valleys below Auerbach Schloss

After spending about an hour in theh castle, and taking some neat videos (for everyone at home to watch), I left down starting driving down. Now, the interesting thing is that the road up is one-way and another road down is one-way. So, at the bottom, I had to drive through Bensheim, which turned out to be a gorgeous little town. I quickly found a place to park and walked up and down its narrow streets.

Typical Bensheim building

Typical Bensheim building

 

The one side of the ancient cobblestone street had a small stream running down in (in an indented section of the cobblestones…really cool). There were beautiful, old German buildings all along this street. After walking up and down a few times, I found a wine cellar/store called Weingut Steinmueller. I saw a group of pretty German girls all dressed in white doing a wine-tasting there. After they left, I went in and spoke with the owner. I asked her to recommend a red wine for me, and she suggested the St-Laurent. I bought 2 bottles (only $11 each) and then she opened one and I sat down in the old courtyard with her Newfoundland dog and sipped on my wine.

Me drinking wine in courtyard of Weingut Steinmueller in Bensheim

Me drinking wine in courtyard of Weingut Steinmueller in Bensheim

The street name was called Bachgasse, and it had not only beautiful homes, but also nice restaurants, too. I ended up eating right next door to the wine cellar at a restaurant called Dorfmuehle, which means Village Mill. I was starving, and the schnitzel hit the spot. The restaurant owners had a sense of humor because when one opened the door to the WC (restrooms), it pulled a rope and it lifted something over one of the tables. Also, they interspersed hand-drawings of pigs on the menu whenever they meant schnitzel. It was fun, and I ate outside in the warm evening sun.
I ate Schnitzel at this Bensheim Restaurant

I ate Schnitzel at this Bensheim Restaurant

Flowers and stream on Bachgasse in Bensheim

Flowers and stream on Bachgasse in Bensheim

More beautiful streets

More beautiful streets

Published in: on August 9, 2008 at 6:45 pm  Comments (3)  

Beach Vacation 2008

Hilton Head Island, July 2008

Once again, the Huff family (sans Alyssa, who was on the island of Trinidad) headed to the Lugaila’s “Beach House” in Palmetto Dunes, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Branden and his girlfriend drove a second car behind ours, so we split the drive into two parts, rather than the normal 12-hour all-day grind that we normally do.

The weather and tide were absolutely perfect the first week of the vacation. William and the girls absolutely loved playing on the beach and in the warm waters of the Atlantic every day.

Beach at Palmetto Dunes, HHI

Beach at Palmetto Dunes, HHI

Every morning, Laurie and I would get up and wish we could go run or ride a bike together,  but instead, we’d cook breakfast for the kids (usually pancakes,  sausage and bacon – the normal Huff breakfast!). Then, we’d spend the next 30-45 minutes putting suntan lotion on the kids, packing up drinks and toys, and then head to the beach…always at least 1 hour later than we wanted to go!
But, once we were there, it was perfect. The hot sun, the soft sounds of the waves, ahd kids running around and squealing with happiness. We’d setup the tent usually, to provide extra shade for the kids that got my (fair) skin. And, then, William would want pulled on a boogie board in the surf, and the girls would want to go out into the water. So much for sitting down and relaxing on a chair, or so much for Laurie tanning!
Kids at Hilton Head (without Alyssa - Trinidad)

Kids at Hilton Head (without Alyssa - Trinidad)

So, after building sand castles, or homes for their Polly Pockets, and swimming, Branden would come down and do some surf fishing. He’d catch a few small sharks, and get them off his line before the nearby life guard could come and make him stop fishing! We’d also use the castnet and catch some other small fish. Well, I never caught any, but Branden always seemed to.
Then, it would be lunch time. We’d head over to the Hilton Buoy Bar, and spend a mere $100+ for lunch. But, it was fun, and the food is really good – especially the hamburgers. The highlight of this trip was always William and Emily feeding the huge fish that swim around the bar.
Some mornings, we’d get on our bikes and do about a 1-hour ride. My favorite was to ride out of Palmetto Dunes, turn towards the mainland on the trail beside 278, and then, at the park, turn right and go back on the beach. The first time we tried this, we had to cross a small river, which Laurie and Jessica (on her tag-a-long behind Laurie) plowed into, and Laurie soaked her new running shoes! Rachael and I crossed in a shallower place and kept our shoes dry!
Published in: on July 12, 2008 at 1:27 am  Comments (1)