Top 5 Close to Home Ski Slopes

This year, looks like I will be skiing closer to home.  Last seasons adventures in Utah were great, but airfares seem to be up, new TSA rules are definitely a factor and I bet some others are thinking along the same lines. So….2009/2010 ski season starts with a road trip!

For the benefit of our readers  here’s a list I compiled of ski slopes you can actually drive to (and can afford):

  1. Mountain High Ski Resort
  2. Hidden Valley Ski Missouri
  3. Big Bear Ski Resort
  4. Snow Creek Ski
  5. Mt Pinos Ski

Of course, if you are lucky enough to actually live in Vermont, drive to Stowe Ski.

Good luck out there and look for more adventurous posts later this season (or next winter).
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Fall Foliage – the Golden Aspens

Hello friends! Long time no speak. I’m sad to say that my travels have recently been…bleak. Arizona is just too hot to do anything outdoors, I’m afraid. I have, however, been to my fair share of (highly air conditioned) driving excursions—which is what I’d love to share with you today. ( I am skipping the part about the shopping malls I have been to.)

People think that New England is the only place to find fall colors, that Massachusetts fall foliage and Vermont fall foliage are the only places where the trees turn majestic colors to welcome in the new season. Well, those people could not be more wrong! Beautiful fall colors can sneak up on you just about anywhere where there are trees, and sometimes as early as August. Just the other day I saw a lovely maple changing. Arizona and New Mexico fall foliage is absolutely stunning. I plan on driving out the forests around Santa Fe at the end of September when maples really are at their peak. And I’m not going to get a chance this fall, but a few years ago I drove up to southern Colorado and fall foliage in Colorado, against the blue mountains and blue streams, are the image of perfection.

So I’m not knocking Catskills fall foliage or  New England fall foliage or the colors of other northeast towns that become completely covered with oranges, golds, and deep reds—I’m just saying that you shouldn’t forget about the changing colors of the southwest! If you happen to be in Arizona this fall, give me a call and I’ll show you what we’ve got to offer!
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Road Tripping on a…Bus?

It is too expensive to own my car. Insurance, gas, and upkeep take nearly half my paycheck and basically all I ever do is drive back and forth from work; I never do anything exciting anymore even though there are so many fun things to do in DC. (Yes, I got a job, and no, it doesn’t help that I drive a 1982 jalopy.) I’ve decided to sell my car, yet I refuse to believe that that means the end of roadtripping. In fact, I think considering my last cross country excursion, I’m pretty well equipped for any sort of travel!

Here’s my plan: My dad is actually paying for a flight out to Madison to see him (thanks dad!). I’ll be with him for a few days and then take the Madison to Chicago bus (I think it’s Van Gelder Bus Lines). I’ll be in Chicago for 4 days and I’m already got a list of places to visit in Chicago that’s as long as my arm.

Okay, so then some more long bus rides—this time to Denver. Got another long list of places to visit in Colorado, both in Denver and Colorado Springs, and I even found AN AMAZING deal on a shuttle from DEN to COS which is great because…I have a conference for work (my first!!) in Colorado Springs and then they’re paying for my flight back!

Meanwhile, when I get back to D.C., I think I’m going to start to like my car-less life. The Metro goes straight from my apartment to work and I figure that since I work for an environmental lobbying group (yes, I got my dream job J), it’s really the right thing to do. And since I’m new to the area, Greyhound is going to become my new best friend as I explore all the cool places to visit in Washington, D.C. I’ve been there for months and have barely done anything.

Wish me luck!

(P.S. Ryan and I broke up. Last I heard he was working on an Orlando Casino Cruise….It’s a long story, but all I can say is…Good riddance!)
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Top 10 Most Adventurous Ski Slopes

I’m not 100% confident with my skiing abilities that I’m up for the MOST adventurous slopes, but…maybe…

In terms of my travel plans, I’ll be flying out to Utah next week – ski place is yet to be determined. I’m still taking recommendations! I’ll be there for a week, and then will be driving back with a bunch of friends, one of whom needs to get his car back to the east coast. So….hello roadtrip!

In the meantime, here’s a list of the top 10 most adventurous ski slopes, courtesy of Cheap O Air, which, if you know anything about me and my spending habits, you’ll know is right up my alley.

  1. Squaw Valley Ski Resort – Olympic Valley, California
  2. Jackson Hole Ski Resort Area – Teton Village, Wyoming
  3. Chamonix – France
  4. Mad River Glen Ski Resort – Waterbury, Vermont
  5. Whistler – British Columbia
  6. Val D’isere – France
  7. Alta Ski Resort Area – Albion, Utah
  8. Verbier – Switzerland
  9. Snowbird Ski Resort Area – Salt Lake City, Utah
  10. Crested Butte – Colorado

Good luck out there at these death trap capitals! (I’m not saying I don’t see the attraction…but it’s good to know what you’re getting yourself into.)
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Hot Springs Spas in America

Yes, I’m still a little spa crazy, but this time it’s with a new twist. I went on an impromptu weekend getaway with another recently divorced girlfriend (though I guess for me it’s been over a year already – wow.) to the Ojo Caliente Mineral Hot Springs Resort & Spa in New Mexico. I really feel like my first massage was some sort of gateway drug. Now I just can’t get enough and I’m trying more expensive and more intense varieties. So now, not only do I love spas, but I love spas with hot springs on their premises or nearby. What better way to relax both before and after a spa treatment then by soaking in hot mineral waters, sweating out toxins, feeling the cool air whisk around you, and to just feel cuddled up in healthy warmth? Especially as it gets colder out, these hot springs make for fantastic warming up – though when it’s cold outside, it does make it nearly impossible to get out of the pools! So apparently this one in New Mexico is not so unique (though it was spectacular and I highly recommend it). There are hot springs spas all over the country. It is a genre of relaxation that you must try! Here are the ones I could find:

Enjoy!
Martha
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Snowboarding Paradises – Terrain Parks in the US

In continuation of my ski research, I’ve decided to include some info for snowboarders. I’m the occasional snowboarder and have been thinking about trying to work on some of my “moves” this winter. And like I said before, if I’m going to trek all the way out west for a ski trip, I want to make sure that I’ve chosen the right places to go to. Here’s a list of some of the best terrain parks in the country, according to some of my friends (who are mostly skiers, but definitely are in the know about snowboarding too) and just general research from the web. If anyone has any more to add, please let me know.

Note: These aren’t all specifically for snowboarders; many of these are open to skiers as well. So if you’re looking for a snowboard-exclusive park, make sure you inquire within.

These should keep you busy for a while.
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Christmas in Albuquerque

I have a daughter, Janet, with whom I’ve been mostly out of touch for the last five or six years. It is a long and painful story, which is now in the past and I feel as though a huge weight has been lifted. Feelings of guilt and inadequacy have plagued me (and her too, it turns out), and this holiday season, we made our amends and spent some time together. It was intense, emotional, and very special, to say the least. The best part of it all, is that I saw my six year old grandson, Shane, who I had only met once.

Janet lives in Albuquerque, so it was fun to travel around a new city, take Shane to some parks and museums, and do a little roadtripping on the way there and back, while I was at it.

Shane’s favorite place by far was the American International Rattlesnake Museum. It wasn’t his first time there either. Apparently it’s a popular spot among the six year old boys… though, I must say, less so with the 60 year old women…eek! I also took him to the Explora! Science Center and Children’s Museum, which was much more my speed.

Probably the highlight of our trip was riding the Galaxi Roller Coaster at Cliff’s Amusement Park. I’ve never been so scared in all my life, but seeing Shane’s excitement made it all worth it.

Janet is a historian, so found a babysitter one day for Shane and took me to some of her favorite sites, including the Pueblo Cultural Center and the Turquoise Museum (which I LOVED), and had lunch at a nearby reservation where she’s got a few friends.

It all went by so fast, like a dream. There were certain moments, like when Janet and I stayed up late talking over a cup of tea, one single woman to the other, where I literally had to pinch myself. We’ve all made mistakes in the past, and this Christmas we each gave each other the gift of forgiveness and family.

I wish the same to all of you and a wonderful holiday season,
Martha
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