First stop on our mountain adventures is the small town of Fraser, CO. It is just as quaint as we were hoping for. Located next door to Winter Park and the resort where we’ll ski for the month, it’s the perfect location for us! We arrived in early January to give us some good days on the mountain before school starts and Cory’s work is in full force after the new year.
We wasted no time getting to the mountain! Our first morning in town, we got an early start on the slopes; and, it was a glorious, sunny day. Everyone felt good getting our ski legs back under us. However, one family member’s feet didn’t feel as good…our pup dog’s! We had been warned of the bitter cold that we would experience and the humans were prepared. However, we forgot about the dog! He had a jacket to keep his body warm but that poor dog also needed shoes for his pup pads. Don’t worry, we bought him some…at the Ace Hardware over in Granby, which is just a 15 minute drive if there’s no snow, but where’s the fun in that!
As we settle into our new town and mountain, we’re starting to figure things out. We found that parking at the Mary Jane side of the Winter Park resort was a much closer walk to the lift (if you leave early enough) than Winter Park base. We’re also figuring out that since we’re skiing some half days due to school and work, you can also get great parking after lunch when morning parking spaces are coming available. The days we skied mornings, we’ve enjoyed being one of the first groups on the lifts. It’s such an electric feeling especially the day that we got 16″ of snow. The crowd couldn’t wait to get to the summit and get in the powder! I don’t believe I’ve ever skied in that much snow; and, boy, was it hard! There were lots of laughs though. Teddy kept losing one of his skis as he likes to fall a lot when he skis; he’s a total risk taker! Bea, on the other hand, is so cautious and was very patient as we slowly skied down the mountain. I was horizontal half the time too as the snow was to my knees. Then there was Cory, the sweeper, taking care of all of us as he’s, by far, the veteran skier. The kids first skied just before the pandemic hit in 2019 and I didn’t begin skiing until I was an adult and met Cory.
Our first Friday in town was met with much excitement as the kids had their first day of their multi-week ski school session which meant Cory and I had a date day. Luckily, Cory’s work schedule has been lighter this week for him to ski with us each day so far. The kids have the same ski skills so they were put in the same blue/black class to work on moguls. We were so excited to see what all they would learn! The kids had a great first day and so did the adults even if I did accidentally take us down our first black diamond mogul run of the season. Remember, I’m not the most veteran skier so moguls for me on week one were comical!
You also have to throw in some rest days from the slopes but it doesn’t normally keep us inside. One day, we took sleds and the dog to Hideaway Park for some fun. Sledding didn’t disappoint especially with the snow coming down while we played. We also went on walks on the Fraser River Trail which was located right behind our house. The kids also had room to build a snowman and play in the snow behind our condo. Tally loves to sit on the back porch and watch them and any action going on. He also likes to eat the giant icicles on the porch.
If you’ve been wondering how we’re making this happen with school, let me share. We unenrolled our children from public school and enrolled them in an online church school. The main reason is the church does the reporting to the state for me for attendance purposes. For their curriculum I wanted to stay with what the kids would have been learning with their teachers. On that note, we could not have been more fortunate! The kids’ school graciously went above and beyond helping me prepare to teach my kids. Both of their teachers gave me outlines of what they would study as well as notebooks of details in order to help them stay on track with the rest of their classmates. The administration has also been incredibly supportive through it all! We could not be more thankful for their encouragement of Bea and Teddy and of me to successfully teach them while we’re away.
We were so lucky to have some friends come ski with us one long weekend in Winter Park. The Cawyer family have three kiddos close to Bea and Teddy’s age and they sure have a blast when they’re all together. But first, it’s ski school Friday for the kids and adult double date! As much as I love my kids, this was a fabulous day! The snow we got made Parsenn Bowl (12,080 elevation) even better! We enjoyed a few days navigating the mountain with all nine of us and everyone did amazing! The hardest part was being so cold. Since we usually got to the mountain for the first lifts up and doing this means you ski in single digit or sometimes negative temps. Do you know what that does to your toes and fingers? You guessed it…makes them numb! Winter Park has a few great warming huts around the mountain and they’re perfect for just that. You know what else warms you up? The hot tub…have I mentioned that already? It’s just the best after a cold day on the mountain.
Want to hear a funny story about being cold? First, let me tell you we’re driving our 10 year old vehicle (with an engine that’s solid but the windows are a bit creaky when cold. I know this; but, I must have forgotten) and I rolled my window down before we left for the mountain then it wouldn’t go back up! Did I tell you the temp was -11 degrees F outside? Brrr!!! It took the whole 15 minute drive for the window to slowly warm up enough to roll up.
Fast forward to our departing Winter Park and we have fallen in love with this little town. Here’s why we love Winter Park! As I mentioned, we have learned many ins and outs of the mountain starting with parking. If you can ski blue runs, you can park easier on the Mary Jane side of the mountain. However, if you’re heading to ski school you need to park at the Winter Park lot. The closest lot is a bit of a walk though especially at the end of the day when you have tired legs. This resort also has great staff and amazing amenities at the base as well as on the mountain. Not only has the kids’ ski instructor been super encouraging but liftys love seeing the kids. One particular guy called Bea and Teddy “mini shredders” every time we saw him and they loved it! Shortly after that, Bea told us “skiing makes me feel free and alive!” We were quite impressed with the variety of restaurants, Waffle Cabins (I’ll tell more about this deliciousness later) and warming huts.
As you can imagine being on an extended adventure means you cannot eat out each night. However, we did enjoy a handful of great eateries starting with our favorite Tabernash Tavern. It was a fine dining experience that was delicious as well as comfortable to have our kids with us.
Waffle Cabin– It’s a must eat snack at WP! You can get your liege waffle plain, with cinnamon sugar or chocolate drizzle; yum! There are multiple located around the resort too.
Fraser River Beer Co with food truck Shreddy’s Taco Truck– The tacos were delicious and there were board games to play. The best part was that it’s dog friendly so you can bring your dog along. One evening it was like a dog party with so many dogs and Tally loved it!
Hernando’s Pizza– This is another restaurant we frequented more than once because of the food as well as you could make a day of reservation. That was very handy with 9 people! My favorite part was the honey on the table for your crust. It was like dessert was already on the table for you! The kids also loved walking in to see their ski instructor Amanda as the hostess.
Winter Park Pub– It was a fun vibe where we didn’t have to worry about noise level when our kids played on their foosball table.
Granby Garage– A neat, modern place in Granby with classic American and Southwest inspired dishes. It would be a great spot in summer as they have a huge patio and outdoor music venue.
A few other recommendations we have if you’re in the Winter Park area…
-We were lucky enough to see another family, the Millers, from our hometown who have kids similar ages to Bea and Teddy. We took the kids to Colorado Adventure Park for tub sledding and it was a huge hit! An hour was perfect timing for fun and ensuring a good night’s sleep by all!
-Through a local vet’s recommendation, we also found Lucinda at Wagaway Dog Walking to walk Tally on days that we skied all day. She was excellent! She sent pictures of her adventures with Tally (she’s quite the photographer!) and is very polite, well prepared and dependable.
-If you bring your dog along, go see small business owner, Tenille at Leaving Pawnet Earth to bathe your dog. Tally came home so clean and happy!
-For any ski boot help, Local Experience is your place! It’s a husband and wife duo whose knowledge is vast about ski boots and fittings. Because of their expertise, Cory and I have the perfect boots for us that helped change the way we ski.
-The Lift bus in Fraser and Winter Park is a great way to get to and from the mountain without having to worry about parking. Unfortunately, they’re short staffed (like everyone else) so buses didn’t come as frequently as advertised this season.
-Fraser River Trail- We lucked out that part of the trail was behind our condo so Tally got plenty of walks down this path.
Cory tried a new way of skiing, skinning up, thanks to a great deal on skis, bindings and skins from a local backcountry expert he met doing his research. We’ve seen lots of people doing this and it’s as hard a work as it looks! Cory sure enjoyed himself though.
We took a day to ski in Steamboat Springs. It’s 2+ hours away from Fraser so we left at 6am (hoping to get a good parking spot). It was a beautiful drive! We saw the sunrise and a herd of 50+ elk. The elk were crossing the road and jumping a fence when we came upon them. It was awesome to see! On to Steamboat for a glorious ‘blue bird’ day. That’s what a sunny day on the mountain means; Bea calls them ‘blue brrrrr’ days. For the skiing, we were at the rope drop of the first run on the top of the mountain. That was super fun! Steamboat is a big resort and we wanted to hit as many lifts and runs as possible including a crazy black mogul run that left everyone giggling. It was a wonderful day at Steamboat! We saw more elk, deer and a gorgeous sunset on the drive back.
Let me go back to ski school. The kids received such excellent instruction and were requesting more mogul runs so I needed some tips. I took a weekday afternoon group lesson but it ended up being just me and my instructor. What luck! I learned four main takeaways and feel like my instructor completely changed the way I will ski in the future. I was SO excited!!! The kids’ last day of ski school was met with their first black diamond mogul run. We were so proud of them for that as well as the compliments their instructor gave us about their bravery to try new things and listening skills. Their instructor said she wanted to see them in ski races in a couple of years! Cory and I were so proud of their progress and couldn’t wait to ski more with them!
On our last full day of skiing at Winter Park everyone picked their favorite run to do. Of course, Bea picked a tree run and Teddy the terrain park. We also traversed some tree lined black diamond moguls runs in the Eagle Wind Territory that were quite challenging and the kids rocked it! I believe we have turned these kiddos into ski lovers! We also had to eat at the Waffle Cabin one last time!
After being in one location for a month, you can imagine we had settled in quite nicely but we’re packing differently for our next leg. We’ll only be in Jackson Hole for a week so we don’t need our kitchen or dog bins, condensed our school bin, etc. We have 11 bins, 3 suitcases and a couple of duffles but we’re only taking 5 bins and 2 suitcases into our next destination. Organizing is my jam and Cory is the vehicle packer. That makes for good teamwork!
Next stop, Jackson, WY!