Well combine a business trip to Denver and a couple of free tickets on Southwest Airlines and what do you get, an impromptu CurbCrusher ski vacation. To end the month of February and start March, the CurbCrusher gang ditched the RV and hopped on a plane and then drove a bit and spent five days at the Keystone Ski Resort in Colorado.
We found a condo in the Buffalo Lodge located in the River Run area of Keystone through Summit Cove Properties on the web. The price was very reasonable, and the location was great. We were about a five minute walk from the Gondola so it was easy to head out skiing the morning, take a lunch break and head back out after lunch. At the end of the day, we took a short walk and were “home” for the evening. We had a one bedroom unit that had a king-size bed in the bedroom and a murphy bed in the great room area. There was plenty of room for all three of us. the kitchen was good sized and well equipped, so we were able to cook all our meals in the condo. The condo was on the fifth floor, so we had a decent view of the River Run Village and the side of the mountain.
Our only real complaint about the lodging was the key system they had in use. We were issued two different electronic keys, one for the room and another for the common areas (lobby, ski lockers, garage, hot tubs, etc). The common area keys were awful. The first keys issued got us into the garage and up to the room. When we returned after getting our skis later that day, the common area keys would not let us in the garage or the lobby. So we went back to the rental office and got new ones. The new ones would not let us in the garage, but one of them would let you in the lobby. So we called the rental office. A representative came out and gave us two new keys that worked, well sort-of. Over the next four days we found that sometimes they worked and sometimes they didn’t. It was lucky that we had two common area keys and patience , because sometimes after 10 or 15 tries with one key, the other one would work on the fifth try. It sort of became a joke as to whether we’d be able to get back in or not.
Activities — And of course by this we pretty much mean skiing. We spent most of our days skiing at Keystone, and with Little CurbCrusher we spent most of the first three days on the green slopes. Finally on the last day, Little CurbCrusher wanted to zip down the blues in front of us, making the old people work hard to catch up. Night skiing is available at Keystone, but it feels a bit dangerous. It’s not because the runs aren’t lit, it has to do with the people zipping down the mountain that don’t seem to be paying much attention. The slow ski zones and caution seem to be discarded once the sun goes down, and with the slopes being a bit emptier, folks are more willing to take chances and you feel like you’re going to get run down in the dark. In our four days of skiing, the only time we saw the Ski Patrol hauling anyone off the mountain was Saturday night. The final day we spent about three hours skiing over at Arapahoe Basin, which is only about four or five miles from Keystone. A-basin was a great place to ski. Very wide runs and a lot of fun. The day we were there was fairly warm with the temperatures in the upper 40’s and lower 50’s, so it was very comfortable skiing. I think a couple of us even ended up with goggle face.
One evening we went Tubing at Keystone. A couple of years ago we’d been tubing at Steamboat, where the tubing was on a beginners ski slope, and that was pretty much what we’d expected here. No, Keystone’s tubing is more like a toboggan run. They’ve got tube runs that are iced down, and very steep. The ride probably last 20 – 40 seconds, but you are moving. Then you get to ride a “magic carpet” lift back to the top. We probably got about eight or nine runs in during our hour on the tubing hill. There are also a couple of lanes where you can go down up to five at a time. It was a blast whether you went down tied to someone else’s tube or by yourself.
Equipment Rental — Since part of the purpose of this blog is to tell our travel stories, I’ve included this and the next section on ground transportation, because both are important when you go to Colorado to ski. We rented our skis from Mountain View Sports in Keystone. There were a short drive from the condo, but located in the same shopping plaza as the lodging rental company, Summit Cove. Their prices were great, about 40% off what we had seen online at the other places located at Keystone, and free rental of a kids package when an Adult rental. My skis were ok, but looked like they had been repaired with a fiberglass repair kit in a couple of places. Lady CurbCrusher’s skis, when held together looked like they had spent a good amount of time riding a bull they were so bowed. I don’t know what fare the other rental places offer, but you seem to get what you pay for at Mountain View.
Ground Transportation — One of the choices we faced when making the trip was how to get from Denver International Airport (DIA) to Keystone. In the past we have always tried to avoid driving in winter conditions, assuming that it is best left to the folks that live there. However, this time our cheapness (or is it frugality, that sounds better) got the best of us. When pricing the shuttle van rides on the internet, the best we could do was about $150 per person round trip from DIA to Keystone. At worst a car was going to cost the same $450, plus give us the freedom to do some grocery shopping on our way up (a half-gallon of milk in the Keystone “grocery” store was $4.00, at the Super-Walmart in Denver on the way up a whole gallon was only $2.29). With a little bargain hunting and daily watching of the prices we were able to get an SUV class (it turned out to be a Suzuki XL-7) from Advantage Rent-a-Car for over $150 less than what the shuttle van would have cost. So we rented the car, stopped at the Super-Walmart that is about 10 miles from DIA (and thus saved a bunch more on groceries for the week) and then headed up to the mountains. The drive is mostly on I-70, followed by about 12 miles on US-6. There were snow showers and freezing temperatures on our way up, and it was sunny and warm on our way down. The Colorado Department of Transportation does a great job clearing the roads, so even though there was some limited visibility on the way up, the road was fairly clear and the drive was non-eventful. I wouldn’t want to drive the RV in those conditions, but it was not uncomfortable driving the car, it just required paying a lot more attention to what I was doing. The trip is about 80 – 90 miles and we completed drive in under two hours each time. Apparently there are times when the tunnels back up and road conditions can make it a three or four hour trip, but if you are a competent motorist, there’s not reason not to drive yourself.
All in all, the CurbCrushers had a fantastic, week. It was nice to get back to Florida and the warmer temperatures and even more importantly the humidity. We’ve discovered that were a family that likes our humid Florida air, and too much time in the dryness of the west sucks the moisture out of our bodies and leaves us feeling like sandpaper. All that’s left are our pictures of Keystone and Arapahoe (I think there are some videos in these picture sets too.)