Keystone, Colorado, USA
17 Jan 2005
|Despite what the poxy map shows, I'm actually flying East to the USA rather than circling the globe to get to Colarado!
My journey to the US was fraught with the usual failings of a vague traveller - for example, dropping my boarding pass whilst walking through Auckland international airport and leaving my jersey in the departure lounge and having to run off the plane to get it. Trip was pretty smooth on Qantas all the way to Denver.
A couple of examples as proof that Americans truly are insane -
1. "The Governator" t-shirts for sale in LA airport with pictures of Arnie from the Terminator on them
2. Lite Beer being advertised as both 'low calorie' and 'low carb'. I guess this is a place where appearance is everything.
3. 60 year old women at Vail wearing make-up like 20 year olds. All women caking on several kilos
4. For guys - an obsession with replacing gear when it has got some minor scratch - having to have gear that no one else has (latest stuff). Also due to prices being 50% lower in the US
Got to Keystone where I was struck down by a nasty bout of altitude sickness for a couple of days. Luckily I had got some Doxin from the Dr before I left, so I recovered quite quickly - but then managed to contract a headcold from Jess "Infectious Betty" Thomas. I also did not realise that alcohol has around 3 X the potency at altitude - leading to a couple of huge nights off 1-4 beers!
Got on pretty well with Jess's American 'room mates', and went out for a few drinks with them a couple of times (Jess being booted out of the pub quite early for not being 21. Also went 10 pin bowling, which for whatever reason is massive over here! Took a hiding in the first game, having not bowled since I was 10, then came a respectable 3rd in the second game bowling a 120 game.
On to the snow - well, it didn't snow for the first week and a half that I was here - only snowing in the last 2 days. Mostly rode at Keystone, but also went to Breckenridge and Vail. All the mountains are huge over here, but the lack of fresh snow meant that they were quite icy until the last couple of days curtailling my desire to ride in the trees or try much in the way of hard lines. The icy conditions meant my riding felt quite rusty for the first week or so, then it all came together. They have really good park facilities to, so I spent some time learning new grinds etc.
When Jess and I went to Breckenridge, we took a wrong turn and ended up on the 4 lane interstate highway to Denver! Took us 20 mins to find a dodgy exit where we could turn around (emergency vehicle tunnel...)
Also, saw a few guys from the Rookie Academy instructing at Keystone - they were pretty surprised to see me!
Keystone was pretty quiet most of the time, although we went out to Breckenridge for dinner one night and town was pumping! Keystone would have to be one of the most stupidly set out base resorts - its really difficult to move about and the bus schedules mean you have to change bus often to go to different base areas. And there is no Internet access (well, there actually is, but no one knew about it, including guest services). That said, still have not found somewhere where I can put pictures on this site...
$10 worth of food in the US also gets you a massive meal - especially if its not fne dining (e.g. burgers etc). In Breckenridge the meal was overflowing on the plate, makng for quite a challenge (still, I managed somehow...!).
Keystone also has a really weird 5 star restaurant in the 'outback' - luckily for me, Jess's room mate worked there, so we went there for lunch and paid about $12 for some of the best duck and veal I've ever had. It was the sort of place that provided complementary slippers for diners! This was how things seemed to work - if you knew people, and / or tipped well, they would try to hook you up - meaning we often paid 'happy hour' prices for beer, 1/2 price meals and I also never paid more than $30 a day for lift passes (usually around US$75) .
I'd like to thank Jess and room mates for their hospitality - overall had a great time even though the snow conditions were a little disappointing.