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travel: steamboat springs, colorado

Saturday, January 30th, 2016

Anyone who has happened upon this blog between October and May (sometimes June!) will have probably noticed that we like to ski around here. It’s hard to avoid when Colorado boasts about thirty ski resorts (give or take a few). Multi-mountain ski passes are popular because a single pass offers unlimited access to a handful of mountains plus a few free days at a sampling of other mountains. This year we have the Rocky Mountain Super Pass Plus which allows unlimited skiing at Copper Mountain, Winter Park, and Eldora (our local hill), as well as some bonus lift tickets at other mountains including six days at Steamboat Ski Resort. Jeremy and I had only ever visited Steamboat Springs in summer, and briefly… but Steamboat always gets the goods when snow falls in Northern Colorado. The resort has even trademarked “Champagne Powder”. We had to see what all the fuss was about.

elevation map of colorado (warmer colors correspond to higher elevations)

Nestled in the upper valley of the Yampa River, Steamboat Springs rests at the base of the Park Range. As ski towns go, Steamboat is an actual town with services, a bustling pedestrian-friendly main street, cheerful residents (numbering around 12,000), and more terrific restaurants than you could shake a stick at. While the town has spendy options, folks aren’t there “to be seen” so much as to simply enjoy mountain living. It’s a good vibe.

The day we arrived, Steamboat was reporting seven inches of fresh powder overnight and continued snowfall throughout the day. We parked in the Meadows Lot (free) and caught one of the frequent (and clean) shuttles to the base area. From there, we hopped the gondola to mid-mountain and a lift to the summit where we began exploring a foot of untracked new snow in the trees. This was some of the fluffiest fluffy fluff I’ve ever had the pleasure to ski. Okay, Steamboat – you get to keep “Champagne Powder”.

from the lift – all that new snow

jeremy bounces his way through the aspens

We skied until our legs were jelly and took the gondola back down to the base area, not wanting to waste our energy on blue and green groomers as we had already scoped out more potential powder stashes for the following day. Once in town, we checked into the Rabbit Ears Motel – a good option for folks who are budget travelers. We got an especially good mid-week rate and AAA discount. While the lodging was decent, I think it may have been a little too budget for our tastes as we had almost no room for the both of us to sit down and work. Neva’s doggy daycare person suggested The Nordic Inn, which is a little nicer for a little more coin. From the motel, we walked several blocks to Sake2U – a popular spot right on the Yampa River – for a fantastic sushi dinner. Any day you can ski and sushi is a GOOD day.

sake2u under pillows of snow

hamachi (yellowtail) poke over seaweed salad with enoki mushrooms

kombat roll: spicy tuna, spicy salmon, spicy hamachi, with three tobiko and house fire sauce

ama ebi (sweet shrimp)

hamachi sashimi

**Jump for more butter**

long weekend in the burg

Monday, April 27th, 2015

I was planning to have a recipe for you, but USAirways didn’t want that to happen and managed to botch every possible way for me to get home to Colorado. All I have on my laptop are a bunch of photos from my extra long weekend in Williamsburg, Virginia. Jeremy joined us for the actual weekend between meetings and talks in Charlottesville (Virginia). So enjoy the photos and I’ll talk about great places to dine around here in the next post if I ever get home!

visited with a dear childhood friend and her adorable little girl

the view from my parents’ deck

flowering dogwood (virginia state flower)

my old neighborhood is like a park (jeremy running the path)

while running, i bumped into a childhood friend who was also visiting from out of town

a little freshwater fishing with dad

showing my folks how to take a selfie without a selfie stick in colonial williamsburg

**Jump for more butter**

crested butte: uley’s cabin and ice bar

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

[Note: Even though this is posting on April 1, this is not an April Fools Day post – it’s totally real and totally awesome. -jen]

Crested Butte goes by many monikers: The last great Colorado ski town, Wildflower Capital of Colorado, The birthplace of mountain biking (along with Cupertino), The Nordic Ski Capital of Colorado, Powder Magazine’s #1 Ski Town in the US (2014)… We call it Paradise. Whether you’re hiking, biking, fishing, skiing, riding, or running – you are immersed in stunning mountain scenery that can only be described as God’s Country. Winters in Crested Butte are idyllic – lots of sun and snow, beautiful landscapes, friendly people, and a great ski resort 5 minutes up the road.

The Ice Bar at Uley’s Cabin

Crested Butte Mountain Resort is a very fine mountain to ski. There’s something for everyone and then some. But after you’ve had your share of the corduroy, the powder, the parks, the glades, or the cliffs, you can give those legs a rest at any number of dining spots on and around the mountain. The coolest – literally and figuratively – place to wet your whistle between runs is The Ice Bar at Uley’s Cabin.

uley’s cabin

the ice bar – it’s made of ice (except when it’s been really really warm)

To get there, ski or ride down Twister (one of my favorites on a powder day) to the bottom of Twister Lift. If you aren’t feeling the love for black diamond bump runs, you can also scoot to Uley’s from the cruisy green Peanut to Lower Twister (also green). Once there, put your skis or boards up at the racks and belly up to the outdoor bar, grab a table on the deck, or claim a loungy Adirondack chair and watch folks kill it on the mountain (Crested Butte has some ridiculously badass skiers and riders). The views of surrounding high country are spectacular, unless it’s dumping snow – and then you don’t need views because you’ve got powder and a big fat happy grin on your face. The menu at the bar includes cocktails, mixed drinks, shots, beer+shots, hot drinks (spiked hot cocoa, coffee, cider, toddy), various White Russians, and a Build-a-Bloody Mary. If you’ve worked up an appetite charging down the mountain, you can order some quick hot bites just behind the bar. I spied bowls of chili, bags of piping hot french fries, pulled pork sandwiches, and other ski mountain fare in people’s hands.

serving up colorado bulldogs (white russians with coke) on a bluebird spring day

my libation (ginger beer) and the summit of crested butte

If you have a hankering to dine on something more refined for lunch, then you’ll want to check out Uley’s Cabin. Just go through the front door of the building to the beautifully rustic mountain cabin/restaurant. While waiting to be seated, you can park yourself in a comfy leather armchair and warm up by the fireplace. Uley’s Cabin serves a sit down lunch daily from 11:00 am to 2:30 pm with a selection of salads, soup, shared plates (mussels, charcuterie, or cheeses), and entrΓ©es like salmon filet, Colorado elk bourguignon, seared pork belly, and risotto (usually a vegetarian option). Call ahead for reservations or walk in – just be aware that they are typically busiest starting around noon to 1:00 pm.

the inside of uley’s cabin

I spoke with the staff about their lunch service, which was when they mentioned dinner. Dinner? But if the mountain closes at 4:00 pm, how do people get up here for dinner? Funny I should ask… Uley’s Cabin offers sleigh ride dinners starting in mid-December to early April, Wednesdays through Saturdays (so no bookings for Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday nights), one seating per night. It’s $100 per person for a 5-course meal with your choice of entrΓ©e. Gratuity and alcohol are not included. It sounded so fun – a little adventure, a little fine dining, a lot of awesome – not too unlike The Magic Meadows Yurt Dinners. We had to check it out, so we booked a reservation for dinner.

Sleigh Ride Dinner at Uley’s Cabin

Our instructions were to meet at the Waffle Cabin (a place from which wonderful aromas emanate when the ski lifts are operating) at the base of the mountain at 5:15 pm and to have warm hats, gloves, and jackets for the open sleigh ride. Even if it is warm in spring, you’ll want the warm things for the return ride after dark. About 25 people were dining the night we went in late March, but Uley’s capacity is 50. We were greeted by Daniel, a nice young man with great knowledge of the local goings-on in Crested Butte. He had us each sign a waiver that said we understood the risks of riding up the mountain, and then invited us into the giant sleigh, pulled by a snow cat. There were cozy blankets set out on the bench seating for guests to use. I highly recommend wearing smart footwear. Smart footwear is NOT HEELS, ladies. Something with good grip is advisable as the floor of the sleigh can be icy and slick – so just keep that in mind. I also recommend sitting on the left side of the sleigh to avoid catching the exhaust from the snow cat. Hey, I’m always looking out for you.

meet at the waffle cabin

the snow cat pulling the sleigh

view of the summit on the way up

**Jump for more butter**