Sunday, January 23, 2022

Three Strikes of Bad Luck

We just finished up a great family vacation, where we enjoyed some perfect weather and no one got hurt on the ski slopes. What could possibly go wrong now? We did the last minute packing and hugs this morning, and we left before 8:30 a.m. That's easier to do with the help of our grandson, Eli, who gets us up around 5:00 a.m. After  long good-bye hugs, the three vehicles of friends and family took off for their different destinations. We chose the south direction down Highway 9 out of Breckenridge. The Colorado Department of Transportation warned us that this route was icy and perilous four days ago when we were driving to Breckenridge. But there were no travel advisories for Highway 9 on this sunny day as we left Breckenridge.

We could see the tall walls of snow on both sides of the highway in the picture above, and the layer of ice and snow that still remained on the road in the picture below. But it was a smooth drive over Hoosier Pass 

With all this snow and slick roadways, one would guess that our first bad luck strike may have happened here. But no, we all enjoyed the uneventful ride through this white mountain beauty. Our carload agreed that we were glad we chose this route instead of the more-traveled and less-scenic road through Denver.

It wasn't until we were at a lower, less beautiful altitude that "Strike One" happened. We were driving through the town of LaJunta, Colorado, when Mark slowed down because the pickup in front of us was making a right turn. It's too bad that the pickup behind us didn't slow down too. Instead, he plowed right into us. We pulled into the nearest parking lot, and luckily that other driver did too. We have been blessed that we haven't had one of these fender benders before in all our travels. We had to google to see that it was probably a good idea to get a police report. So we waited until the LaJunta police officer arrived and determined that the other driver was at fault. 

The good news is that the damage isn't too bad, and we could still drive home. "Strike One" delayed us around an hour on this long travel day. But we arrived safely to the Oklahoma panhandle just as another beautiful sunset was unveiling across the western sky.

"Strike two" didn't happen until the next day. Our daughter-in-law works as a Physician's Assistant, and she had a routine Covid test before going back to work. She had no symptoms, but she called to let us know that she tested positive. Any time you have a family member with Covid, that would qualify as a "strike."

It was the next morning when Denisa began feeling bad. It wasn't long before we got reports of sickness from others in our group. Jordan's Mother, Eli, and Denisa all had the classic Covid symptoms--head ache, congestion, cough, sore throat, aches. That would be our "Strike Three" for this blog. Our situation is complicated by the fact that we are spending these last two days with Mark's Mother as we load the motor home and prepare to leave. We sure don't want to expose Mark's 93-year-old Mother to Covid. What a bummer as we're dealing with three strikes of bad luck! 

Friday, January 21, 2022

Breckenridge, CO - Day 3 - Sledding and the Gondola

On our last day in Breckenridge, we are all spending the day with our group's youngest generation--our grandkids. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that we all acted like kids. We started the morning out with a great home-cooked breakfast, and then started the sled-fest.

We brought one sled with us, but we were glad to see that our rental house was equipped with half a dozen more. That means that everyone could sled as much as they wanted. But for some reason, we took most of the pictures when a child was also on the sled.

We found our best option for sledding was the road in front of our house. It's icy and slick, and seldom-traveled by cars. It's also a very long down-hill run that goes all the way to the stop sign out of sight!

At 14-months of age, this is one of Eli's first snow experiences. Uncle Blake is teaching him about snow balls and the fun he is going to have with this strange cold white stuff.

Just like Carter, Eli had plenty of people that wanted to go sledding with him. We let Dad take him on one of his first trips down the hill.

Eli prefers his Grand-dude to anyone else, so he loved going down the hill with him as well.

The only problem with all these long sled rides down the hill . . .

is that you have to make the long walk back up the road to do it all again. We should have counted the number of times that we all made that walk today!

It's a tough walk for Eli's little legs, so he got to ride on the sled both ways.

That's a back-breaking exercise to walk uphill carefully dragging a sled at the proper angle when your uncle is six feet tall.

Some of our sledders weren't as careful. Our older son liked to run and then throw his body onto the sled for a quick start down the hill.

That's probably why we have the most pictures of him falling off his sled.

We wonder where he gets this unabashed sense of adventure and need for speed?!?

But sled wrecks happen to even the more (ahem) mature sledders that smash into the snow walls on the side of our slick road.

Eli would find that his favorite form of sledding would be going down the snow bank on his belly. He has been practicing this technique for the last three days inside the house, whizzing down the three flights of stairs on his stomach.

We were blessed with another perfect-weather day, and we took way too many pictures in the snow this morning.

Some of us where shedding coats this morning when it warmed up from all the calories being burned while sledding.

After a delicious lunch of leftovers, all twelve of us opted for a walk to downtown Breckenridge. It's a half-mile walk, and we thought that was simpler than loading up into three vehicles and trying to find three parking places in busy Breckenridge.

We soon found out that Carter was only interested in this downtown shopping until she made her purchase of an over-sized cookie at the local bakery.

Then Gram and Grand-dude took her on an adventure. We started at the downtown park, where your trip down the slipper slide now ends in a snow drift.

Then we took her on the gondola that starts in downtown Breckenridge. Called the BreckConnect, it allows passengers to ride effortlessly up the mountain to the base of Peak 7 and Peak 8. This is the same gondola that the skiers have taken the last two mornings to start their ski day. Carter loved it!

The other good news is that this ride is free for everyone, all year long. This is the same free gondola ride that Mark and Denisa took in the summer of 2020. We took the free bus from Frisco to Breckenridge, then this gondola to the top of the mountain, then hiked ten miles down the other side of the mountain to our car back in Frisco. So we are big fans of Breckenridge's BreckConnect any time of the year. But today it had particularly lovely snow views from inside this enclosed gondola--and we had particularly lovely company to share it with!

This trip also allowed us to get off at Peak 7 to see the skiers coming down the mountain. For the last two days Carter has known that all of her relatives were going skiing, but she really didn't know what "skiing" looked like. Her parents are planning on her going to ski school next time, so now she has seen what that means.

We shared our gondola ride down with two groups of skiers finishing up their day on the mountain. Then we made the half-mile walk to our rental for one last dose of sledding. It was a great way to start and end our last day in Breckenridge.

We've been blessed with another day of great weather while we wandered more of God's wonderfully white wonders. He sealed the day with a beautiful sunset that we could watch from our patio balcony beside the snowman family. Life is good!

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Breckenridge, CO - Day 2 - Skiing!

We were up early this morning with our grandson Eli (whose Central time 6:00 a.m. wake-up time is now 5:00 a.m. Mountain time). So it was easy to be ready to ski when the chair lifts opened at 8:30. The fresh powder is beautiful on the mountains of Breckenridge Ski Resort this morning, as pictured from our second ski lift ride of the day.

Mark is taking pictures on the chair lift. He did pretty well doing a tight selfie of the two of us. Check out the beard he started last week to keep his face warmer while we are in the mountains.

But when he tried to take random backwards shots of our kids in the chairs behind us, he wasn't quite as successful. That's a perfectly-focused icy bar on our chair lift that completely hides the passengers of the chair behind us.

We got a better picture of them sitting right beside us on the next chair lift that was big enough to hold six people.

The other set of grandparents are baby-sitting the youngest generation today, so we are skiing with the middle generation of our group. These six people range in age from 29-32. If you do the math, that means they are half the age of the oldest generation--us.

But that doesn't mean that we won't try to keep up with them on the slopes!

Our youngest daughter-in-law has snowboarded for years. But this year she decided to try skiing. She did great!

We have seen our other daughter-in-law ski the black diamond slopes. But after major knee surgery after a skiing accident a few years ago, she is content to hang out on the blue slopes with us.

After taking several ski runs together, we got this picture of the six adult members of our family together at the top of the mountain. Then we started splitting up into different groups.

The more experienced skiers headed to the highest chair lift all the way to Peak 6. At 12,302 feet in elevation, we were well above tree line on this slope.

It was fun skiing above the trees. But it was also cold and windy this high, so once was enough to ski down from Peak 6.

The middle generation stopped for a leisurely lunch on their second day of skiing.

But Mark and Denisa are only skiing one day this year, so we intend to go strong all day. After eating the snack lunch we had packed, we were back on the slopes by ourselves. 

We're finding that Breckenridge Ski Resort is a huge area covering several mountains. Our goal is to ski at least one run on Peak 6, Peak 7, Peak 8, and Peak 9. We were blessed with absolutely beautiful weather for our one day of skiing! The skies were blue and the winds were light. It is a wonderful day to be on the mountain!

We love the mountain-top views from the hikes we take in the summer, and it almost feels like cheating to get these views via the ski lifts here in Breckenridge. It feels like we are wandering God's wonders today!

After lunch, the girls headed back to the house to help with baby-sitting. They were enjoying the nice weather outside as well.

They used all the snow that had piled up on one of our balconies to build a snow family. Rumor has it that they had to replace several carrot noses because a 3-year-old kept eating them!

After lunch, our sons met us for more family skiing. When they were growing up, we did so many things together. Now it is a rare treat for just the four of us to be together. 

Bound to get our money's worth out of those expensive lift tickets and ski rentals, we kept skiing even when our sons decided to call it a day. Members of the oldest generation are the only ones still left on the slopes! We rode the maze of chair lifts all over those mountains today. We'll give Breckenridge a big thumbs-up for big chair lifts that can carry 6-8 people. That keeps the lift lines from getting so long. We also love that almost all of them have leg rests to support the weight of your skis while riding the lifts. That's important when you are trying to conquer as many runs as possible in one day. We were in the shadow of the mountain because the sun was getting low in the sky when we were riding up our last ski lift. We started early and we're ending late. We are definitely getting our money's worth today! 

Our house rental is called a ski-in-ski-out, but that is a rather generous description. This morning we had to walk about a quarter-mile in our ski boots, then put on our skis and skied down-hill another quarter-mile, then walked another quarter-mile to the BreckConnect gondola in downtown Breckenridge. Then it's another walk to our first real ski lift once we got up on the mountain. This evening was an easier commute back to the house, but we were so tired that the flat section close to home was really tough! We are going to be sore tomorrow! Mark and the boys returned our ski rental equipment, and it was so nice to have dinner ready and cooked by Blake and Claire! We love vacationing with this group!

Day 2 in Breckenridge is a wrap! We were blessed with a great day of good fellowship and skiing God's wonders!