The Trip of a Lifetime

US Wealth Napolitano |

By: Tom Fletcher, CFP®

I've been a recreational skier for probably a couple of centuries.  When excluding my first few times when I was a mere tadpole learning to ski in Wisconsin, the balance of my experience has been spent skiing on the east coast - mostly in New England.  I'd categorize northeast skiers as a hardy lot, as we all seem pretty adept at skiing on surfaces that mostly include frozen granular (i.e., man-made snow), loose granular (man-made snow that has refrozen) or just plain ice.  

I'd often heard rumors about western US ski slopes where ice is a rarity and skiers often ski on the real non-granular natural stuff.  When viewing photos of skiers out there, they always seem to have a sunny smile on their faces and a slight sunburn to go with their smiles.  For whatever the reason, I never had a chance to experience that joy for myself until this year. 

After musing for several years about taking a ski trip out west with my two brothers, this year we decided to take the plunge, so to speak.  Through good fortune, one of my brothers happens to have a neighbor who offered us his Breckenridge, Colorado home for the week.   As a bonus, the house was right on the mountain.

When we showed up on Tuesday, at 1:30 AM (Mountain time) from our cross country flight and two hour drive from Denver, I couldn't wait to find my bed, get some sleep and hit the slopes later that day.  Not so fast! Unfortunately to our shock and horror, no matter how many times we tried, the combination to the front door lock wouldn't work.  Instead of a good night's sleep, we had to attempt to sleep in a cramped Kia without a whole lot of gas.  This meant running the motor every 15 minutes or so, just to keep the outside 20º temperature at bay.  I learned the hard way that Kia's are not particularly well insulated vehicles. 

March isn't a great time in New England for the ski resorts, but I'm told in Colorado some of the best snow of the year takes place in early spring.  I was absolutely amazed at how much there was.  Once we got the door lock combination figured out, I discovered that the rumors were true.  It was difficult (but not completely impossible) to find icy spots, I did have a sunny smile on my face for the week, and I did get a good sunburn to go with my smile.  Overall we wound up skiing three days at Breckenridge, one day at Keystone and a day at Vail.  It was such an awesome experience, that next year I'll be taking the rest of the family with me for our (now) annual trip!