Published in The Lebanon Democrat Tuesday, March 3, 2015.
PARK CITY, UTAH – Weather is claiming more attention than usual across the country.
While most of the country has been inundated with snow, ice, and cold, the Southwest corner has been validating a reason for my living there.
Of more immediacy, lack of snow in the Sierras, the Rockies, and in particular, the Wasatch Range here in Utah, the normal abundance of the white stuff has been missing.
The Sierras have been especially hard hit. Skiing at Tahoe has been questionable all season. As for our favorite skiing area, Deer Valley, we have watched the “snow reports” with concern. A 48-inch base equals the lowest I can remember since we began skiing here in 1988.
But no longer.
Yesterday as our shuttle ascended to this old silver mining town from Salt Lake City’s airport, the driver continued to claim skiing was just fine. We remained sceptical. Then flurries began to spatter against the windshield wipers and fell until we went to bed.
By the time Alan Hicks, my Vanderbilt buddy of many adventures; his daughter Eleanor, a San Francisco attorney about to launch a new adventure as part of the Google team; Maureen; and I arrived at the Deer Valley resort on Sunday morning, recent snowfall totaled 11 inches and was predicted almost continuously for at least the next three days. Our concern turned from there not being enough snow to worrying about white-outs.
But our first ski day, at least the first half was rewarding…except for our equipment. Before we hit the slopes, Maureen’s skis and boots fell apart. When we stopped for lunch, I discovered the bottom of my boot heels had disintegrated. When you read this, we will be skiing on rented skis.
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Back in September, I wrote of the magic of our first non-winter visit to Park City. It was a discovery we hope to revisit as we played golf and admired the beauty of the yellow gold of the aspens and the autumn landscape of the Wasatch without any interference from crowds. The town was almost vacant.
Now in the high season, Main Street and all of the resorts are jumping. People are everywhere. Dining must be made in well in advance of arrival at the best restaurants and even the hamburger joints are full to the gills. It is a wonderful but expensive vacation. Yet in our opinion, well worth it.
We have been coming here for the majority of winters since 1988. We bought a timeshare condominium in 1987. While there is some financial advice attempting to dissuade timeshare purchases, our timeshare has been well worth it. We bought it before we knew we would like skiing because we felt it would require us to take at least one vacation annually for ourselves. That has worked out beautifully.
Alan and Eleanor agreed that Deer Valley is one of the nicest places to ski in the world. The resort has storage for skis and boots allowing us to avoid hauling the awkward loads back and forth. The food at the lodges well placed throughout the slopes is plentiful, unique, and delicious. the service is world class quality. The only real work involved is the skiing, and that is a pleasure on what the resort claims with some justification as the best groomed slopes in the world.
Try it. I think you will like it.
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My delight on this trip, however, includes some sadness with a tinge of hope. News of Bobby Gwynn’s fall on the recent icy conditions in Lebanon has not been good. Complications from the broken hip he suffered and the following surgery have left Bobby in UMC fighting for recovery.
Bobby is one of my enduring ties to Castle Heights. I visited with him in almost every return to Lebanon. His first date was with my sister Martha, also her first date. They were in the first grade. Bobby took her to a movie at the Capitol Theater. I was the chaperone.
Bobby’s father Stroud was my head football coach and also my general science teacher at Heights. Stroud remains one of the more influential men in my upbringing. He was a major driver to keep Castle Heights alive, crossing the country to raise funds before the military academy closed its doors in 1987.
Some of my enjoyment of this ski trip has been held in check as I await more news on Bobby’s condition.