Monday, February 2, 2015

Ringing in 2015

Between the marathon weekend and the end of the year, there was plenty of relaxing, Christmas shopping and time with friends and family. The day after Christmas I headed west towards Denver. The last few years, I've gathered with friends somewhere new to ring in the new year. This year we all headed to Stephanie's condo in Winter Park which has been dubbed the Frozen Tundra Chalet (FTC). I drove out and was nervous about the weather, road conditions and driving in the mountains in my 2WD vehicle (why didn't I get 4WD??). But everything worked out perfectly! I was able to crash in Des Moines at my brother and sister-in-law's place the first night and made it all the way to Winter Park in the sun and minimal traffic the next day.

Sunday we did some snowshoeing - only Mary and Stephanie were there so far. We rented snowshoes at a nearby shop and headed out. It was a first for both Mary and I. We had a great time! Well, except that one time Mary's shoe fell off, lol.

Out snowshoeing

Time for some snow angels :)

That's me behind Mary who had lost her shoe halfway back up the hill! We had decided to go off trail and the snow here was 3-4' deep and a little harder to maneuver in. We got our workout for the day :). 

Everyone arrived on Monday starting midday. We had just finished grocery shopping for the week and had started in on the chili. Since I now have the most free time, I had volunteered to organize the meals for the week. It would be really cold outside, we would have up to 15 visitors at the chalet, people would be skiing all day and there was no plan to eat out. I came up with one dinner entree and one soup for each day and just planned some basic groceries for breakfast, PB&J lunches and snack foods. I used my friend's website,, for all the meal planning. It was GREAT! I tried out a couple recipes on my family before hand and everything really came out well. By the last day, there were practically no leftovers. If ever you are in need of a recipe, I've never gone wrong with something from my friend Nicole's website. In case you're curious, we had the following:
 Chili (I did leave out the sugar in this recipe because I subbed red peppers for green peppers based on my own personal tastes and didn't want it to get too sweet)
It all worked out to $6 per person per night - so pretty economical too!

Monday we had new arrivals, so we rented gear and headed to the slopes on Tuesday. I was happy there were three others besides myself who were new to skiing and we decided to take a full day lesson together. 

Our friends the pros.

The newbies! From lower left clockwise: me, Cindy, Brian, Mary and then Tony our instructor. We also had five 14 year olds from Texas on a church ski trip, which turned out better than you might imagine :). The only sad part was when the instructor divided us into two groups by those over 30 and under 30. I mean he could've picked 18 or something?!

By the end of day one, we could all come down the bunny hill and weren't doing too bad. But we all decided another half day lesson the next day would be beneficial. And with the four of us a private lesson with Tony was not too much more of an expense. Tony was a really great instructor!

Mary getting her ski on.

It was pretty cold on the mountain, but I stayed warm except my nose and toes. I think our second day they were saying -20 degrees on the mountain. I had a lot of fun and have decided I do enjoy skiing now, contrary to my horrible experience as an 8 year old :). But I also decided I would definitely need a job if skiing becomes a more frequent activity. 

We left the slopes by 1:30/2 to get home and have a late lunch (leftover lasagna, yum!) before our sleigh ride! 

It was New Year's Eve and we were ready to celebrate. It was a cold ride, but so beautiful on a sunny clear day in the mountains. By this time we were up to 11 and the last four would join us after the sleigh ride.
Stephanie, Brian and I

The whole group and our trusty horses

We stopped to roast marshmallows and get some hot chocolate. 

We could see the back side of the mountains we had skied earlier in the day :). 

Brian, Gareth, Stephanie and Mary

We headed back to the house and met the last of the arrivals. We had quite the group from all over the world! Many Americans from Chicago, Kansas City, Denver, Buffalo, New York, Milwaukee, Minnesota, California along with a couple of Brits and Americans living in Singapore, Switzerland and Dubai. Whenever we were asked "where are you all from?", there was this pause and we'd respond "it's complicated". The next question inevitably was "how do you know each other?", which is an even harder explanation.  Basically Stephanie is the glue that binds us but many of us have other random connections. It is a great group though and I'm happy to count them all as friends.

We celebrated the New Year, there were fireworks, a mini bar crawl and plenty of cheers at midnight! The next day was our last ski day - the first and last for those that arrived NYE! So we made the most of it. I was thoroughly impressed that everyone but me and one other couple (only late because they had to rent skis that morning) made it on the 8:30 bus to the mountain! I was tired, moving slow and a bit hungover. I did make it on the 9:00 bus and skiied for a couple hours. But no pictures as I was just concentrating on not falling on my butt!

The group of pro skiers made it to the top of the mountain for the Bloody Mary special :).

The pro group went all over that day, through trees and black diamonds. I cannot imagine. 

On January 2, we said our goodbyes and everyone took off. Stephanie and I packed up so we could leave in the morning and drive back to Kansas City. I stayed with her the night there before continuing on my way back home. I actually think the drive through Nebraska may be better than the drive through Kansas :).

I hope everyone else has started 2015 off well. My next adventure was to plan for my Central American winter escape!

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