Spring Break at the Park - Winter Park, Colorado
March 13 through March 19, 2015
By Paul Ghilino, Trip Captain
Our Windstar coach departed Kansas City on a unseasonably warm Friday the 13th. It was perfect day making one wonder if you really wanted to go to Colorado to ski. We had full trip of 38, 15 minors and 23 adults. One of which was a fly/drive.
It didn’t take long to realize we were jinxed by Friday the 13th. The bus was hot inside when we departed. The driver assured us it would cool off once under way. It didn’t. Also, we quickly discovered that the power outlets and Wi-Fi were not working.
The driver reluctantly stopped near the race track to look into the power outlet and Wi-Fi issues. After multiple phone calls and considerable search under the passenger side of the bus we found the circuit breaker in back and flipped it on. Viola! We now had power and Wi-Fi.
We settled in and had a nice meal from Subway and a few cold beverages. But the bus was getting hotter and hotter and turning into steam sauna. Everyone was sweating except the driver who had cool air blowing on himself. Rebellion was about to happen! The driver, with reluctance again, finally stopped in Topeka to sort out the heat issue.
After multiple more phone calls and another thorough search on the driver side of the bus, we finally found two inline pipe valves that turn the heat off and the air conditioner on. We had instant relief and all was well from there on out. We had to stop three additional times during the trip to manually flip the valves from air conditioning to heat, or vice versa, to keep us from freezing or burning up.
We arrived at Winter Park early Saturday morning and McDonald’s was open and ready for us. We had a quick breakfast and then headed to The Vintage Hotel. Friday the 13th was behind us, the sun was bright, we were there, and all was well!
Everyone hustled to their change rooms, changed, and headed for the slopes, rental shop, and/or lessons. To my knowledge, only one person wasn’t able to ski the first day due to altitude sickness. Some people chose not to ski the first day but made it up on the last day. So nothing was lost.
Over the next five days we had awesome spring skiing conditions. The highs were 50-55 degrees with bright sun and bird blue skies. We had some cloudiness the last day so it was a little slower to warm up. We generally restricted ourselves to Green and Blue cruisers on groomed runs early in the morning. Unless you liked ice! By noon the snow was pretty much loosened up everywhere and you could bang the moguls and ski tree runs to heart’s content. Even the Cirque and Eagle Wind areas were open and skiable. The snow base was surprisingly good and everything was open. There were not many bare spots, rocks, or roots present. By 3 PM the snow got very slushy and sticky, especially near the base. So if you didn’t like to pole or walk, it was about time to hang it up for the day. Rinse and repeat for the next day(s).
We were surprised how small the crowds were considering this was a trip to Winter Park during Spring Break. The crowds and lift lines were only about half of what I anticipated. Maybe less! Many times we just skied right on in and hit the chair. No line at all. At least that was my experience, other than the new Lunch Rock Restaurant at the top of Mary Jane. That place was always a zoo! Avoid!
My Sunday evening Captain’s Social seemed to be a big hit from what I recall. We held it in the Blue Spruce Room behind the front desk. It went on for much longer than anticipated. The hotel manager thought we were getting loud and rowdy, even though it was a family trip, and closed the door on us a few times. We must of been disturbing the people in the hotel bar nearby. I suspect they sent someone in to sneak out our beer cooler and lock it up in the adjacent room to end the party. It wasn’t there when we cleaned up! I had to retrieve the beer cooler the next afternoon. All the contents were still there!
The hot tub and swimming pool were a big hit since the weather was so nice. We had a nice gathering out there every afternoon and evening soaking up the sun and suds. Wine was leftover from my Social and was polished off the next couple of days in the hot tub.
The Five Mountain Tavern in The Vintage Hotel was very convenient for us. Many of us grouped there for après ski, basketball games, and dinner together.
Late Wednesday afternoon we departed Winter Park and headed back to Kansas City. I was happy to see many skiers take advantage of the final day on the slopes barely making it to the bus right before departure time. Way to go! We stopped in Denver to pick up the traditional KCSC Pizza Hut dinner home. We made a final stop in Burlington before the bunks went up.
Overall, a fantastic trip it was!