Unfortunately, this past month meant the end of two really fantastic things: a road trip, and the ski season at Vail. The Colorado-California-Utah adventure—a super-inspired ski trip—didn’t end as smoothly as it began, as you’ll gather from the following photo:
Yep. I broke down in Salt Lake City and spent a day sitting in a café instead of skiing while a gracious mechanic wrenched away. The problem? I’m still not entirely sure, but I knew it didn’t look good when I took a peak in the engine compartment after noticing several pools of oil that formed just in the time it took me to stop for gas. The engine wouldn’t turn over when I returned from inside the station, but thankfully I was within a few miles of my destination that eve, and a friend came to pick me up.
The van repairs cost what I could have spent on a plane ticket, but I didn’t regret those two weeks on the road. And I still got to ski at Brighton before returning to Colorado (bonus: free lift tickets through said friend’s cousin’s friend!).
I made it back to Vail in time to ski the last few weekends on the mountain and went up on the final day to celebrate a good winter season with a bunch of other folks like me, feeling happy and nostalgic about the season’s finale.
Most people skiing on the last day wear costumes and wigs, or they flash a lot of skin. I saw girls skiing in bikini tops and skirts, people dressed up as storm troopers, elves, pirates, and princesses. I stood at the top of Chair 5 (High Noon) waiting for a friend and watched them cascade from the lift. Instead of going all-out, I simply wore a pair of 80’s-inspired hot pink pants.
Towards the end of the day, a gigantic crowd gathered at the top of Chair 5/Chair 4 (Northwoods) area.
I saw some guys in police uniforms, which at first I thought were costumes, but then I realized that I knew them as a Vail police detective and a deputy with the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office. These two don’t sing like Snow Patrol (the band), but they’re pretty cute, Vail’s real snow patrol:
I stayed on the mountain and watched as Chair 5’s last empty chair came up the hill. A newer, faster lift will replace this one next season, and everyone cheered when it slowed to a stop.
At the same moment, ski patrol set off a bunch of explosives, which boomed like fireworks and shook the ground, adding to the already-festive air. I didn’t ski back down the mountain until police and ski patrol started shooing people away. That final run off the front side was a bittersweet end to a beautiful day, a beautiful season.