For Off-Season and Year-Round Enchantment: Taos, New Mexico

Contemplating Nature's Beauty at Hacienda del Sol in Taos

Contemplating Nature’s Beauty at Hacienda del Sol in Taos, New Mexico

Ahhh-hhh, off-season. Anyone that has lived in a resort town knows the true meaning of off-season. Whether it occurs in the winter or summer, spring or fall, this lull in peak travel times provides a much-needed respite from the busy-ness of high season. In Telluride, Colorado it means tons of available parking spaces, no lines at the Post Office or grocery store and a certain quietude akin to a ghost town, something that delights some and bores the heck out of others.

Most don’t mind this downturn of activity, since many take advantage of our seasonal slowdown (during the spring and fall) to go off and seek fun for themselves elsewhere. Since the mountain closed two weeks ago, we’re in the throws of off-season now, also referred to as shoulder season and in the case of the spring off-season, mud season.

Many people take off for exotic locales for as many as six weeks travel; others find their bliss within a two- to six-hour drive from our southwestern Colorado mountain town. Indeed, we’re located just a few hours away from some of the best recreation around in Utah, Arizona and New Mexico, all sunny and warm destinations this time of year where spring arrives with the intensity of the desert sun.

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Front Range Fun: Mountain Travel Symposium, Breckenridge and Keystone

Mountain Travel Movers and Shakers AKA T-ride's Top GMs in the Powder Line at Breck

Mountain Travel Movers and Shakers AKA T-ride’s Top GMs in the Powder Line at Breck

I’m back home after a terrific week on the Front Range of Colorado where I experienced  three different ski resorts, a few nice restaurants and some fun hobnobbing with the folks attending Mountain Travel Symposium (MTS), the largest and longest-running annual gathering of travel professionals in the world. The conference took place in Breckenridge, which served as an excellent base for discovering one of the biggest ski resorts of the country, neighboring ski resorts and the surrounding area. (The drive over Hoosier Pass, just outside of Breck, upon arrival and departure was especially beautiful and one that I definitely recommend.)

Now I feel like I have more of a sense of this part of our Rocky Mountain state—less than a two-hour drive from Denver. The majestic scenery and near limitless options for fun and adventure in these mountains help me to understand why so many people plan their travels around Front Range destinations. Crowds can be a big drawback, however if you go in April, you can enjoy primo spring skiing on half-empty mountains where lift lines only occur on powder days.

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Arapahoe Basin and Vail: Where Spring Skiing is King in Colorado

Spring Fun After a Spring Storm in Vail

Spring Fun After a Spring Storm in Vail

Spring Skiers and Riders

Spring Skiers and Riders

Now that the Telluride Ski Resort has closed, I’m on the Front Range reveling in the great skiing of this part of Colorado. And boy, there are so many resorts from which to choose, including Keystone, Copper, Loveland, Breckenridge, Arapahoe Basin and Vail. You can make a town such as Breckenridge—where I am currently for the Mountain Travel Symposium (MTS)—your base and ski or ride at a half dozen resorts during your stay.

After this season’s historic snowfalls in this part of the Rocky Mountain state, many of Colorado’s top ski resorts including Aspen have extended their closing dates through early May. A-Basin typically closes toward the end of May/early June, so who knows what this season will bring? (They don’t announce their closing date in advance. It’s contingent upon the spring storms and crowds, both of which swell in this part of the Rockies.)

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The Joy of Nordic Skiing

Steve Hindman on His Skinny Skis

Steve Hindman on His Skinny Skis

I sat down with DeAnne Gabriel and Steve Hindman, two professional nordic ski instructors, back in February to do a Travel Fun interview. They shared a wagonload of tips about cross country skiing from how and where to do it in and around Telluride, Colorado to recommendations for first timers.

As we approach the end of the alpine ski season here in Telluride, I thought I’d post the interview below as a podcast since April and May provide many great opportunities for heading out to embrace the glide.

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Skiing with Rock Stars: Schussing with Telluride’s Synchronized Ski Teams

Southern Synchro Skiers Practicing in Telluride, Colorado

Southern Synchro Skiers Practicing in Telluride, Colorado

My View of the Ghostriders Last Run Just as the Sun Was Peaking Over the Mountain

My View of the Ghostriders’s Last Run Just as the Sun Was Peeking Over the Mountain

OK, well I wasn’t exactly skiing with these elite snowsports professionals. I was actually tagging along to watch them perform. I’ve been telling many of my fellow Telluride Ski and Snowboard School friends these past couple of months that I’d come out and watch them do their stuff. But I admit that the idea of getting on the slopes before the sun rises over the mountain hasn’t thrilled me, especially since I’ve been working as a ski instructor myself almost nonstop since mid-February. But I set my alarm earlier yesterday and greeted members from theses two teams—Telluride Ghostriders and Southern Synchro Skiers—in the locker room and at the top of the gondola before I had time to have my second cup of coffee. A few  warm exchanges were shared but from the get-go, I could tell they were all business. The task at hand was to charge down the mountain three times, accomplishing a total of six expertly coordinated formations, within a half hour before Telluride Ski Resort officially opened for the day and before they had to go to work as ski instructors potentially teaching every level of student from first-time beginners to level eight all-mountain skiers. Wow, what a way to kickstart your morning.

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KOTO Fundraising: Fun and Great Giveaways

KOTO Radio:  The Soul of Telluride, Colorado

KOTO Radio: The Soul of Telluride, Colorado

Join me today, Thursday, March 20,  A LITTLE EARLIER at about 6:20 pm (through 7pm) in Telluride, Colorado and within the outlying area and on the internet for my Travel Fun talk radio show. This will be a special live show for KOTO fundraising featuring a variety of movers and shakers from Telluride’s hospitality/tourism world. I will be giving away lots of great premiums including lodging stays, restaurant and retail gift certificates, books and even ski lift tickets in exchange for a donation to KOTO.

KOTO is a local NPR station and one of the few entirely community supported radio stations in the country. Please consider making a contribution to KOTO, so that we can keep community radio alive and well in America. That’s also a way of showing your support for Travel Fun!  Please email me from my Contacts Page with your pledge or donation. Many of my Travel Fun interviews are posted on this blog as podcasts here.

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Powderhorn: For Family Fun and Great Skiing at Half the Price

Major Pow Wow in Powderhorn

Major Pow Wow in Powderhorn

We’re in the throes of spring break madness here at most Colorado ski resorts and frankly I’m left wondering how a family of four does it these days. Between the price of lift tickets, lunches, instruction and overall travel expenses, a family ski vacation in Colorado can represent as much as a down payment on a house. I’m fully appreciative of the ski getaways I did with my family when I was a kid but still we went mostly to down-home ski areas in western Massachusetts and upstate New York, all a far cry from the destination resorts of the West. Mom and Dad would pack my bunch of brothers and me into the station wagon along with a picnic basket loaded with Mom’s homemade submarine sandwiches and peanut butter cookies and off we’d go for a fun day on the slopes.

Not a ski day goes by that I don’t feel a pinch of nostalgia for those simpler times, so I was especially thrilled to discover Powderhorn Mountain Resort, a terrific little ski area on the western slope of Colorado just a short drive from Grand Junction. I skied there recently with my dear friend Paula, another northeastern gal who shares the same fond memories as I about family ski trips of a more modest scale, and was delighted to discover the many charms of this little-known resort. From the parkas and pants for rent at the ski shop, to the cubbies and lockers for boots and other belongings to the sack lunch room to the enormous deck at the Sunset Grille to the lift tickets at half the price of major resorts, I loved the vibe of this place from the get-go.

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Telluride, Monument Valley and the Oscars

In Living Color:  Monument Valley

In Living Color: Monument Valley

How about those Oscars? Wasn’t it a great show? I was thrilled that I had seen most of the films nominated for an award here in our little mountain town of Telluride, Colorado way back in September. Yes, just as in recent years, many of the movies that gained high acclaim from the Academy of Motion Pictures were shown here in T-ride—either as premiers or sneak peeks—during the Telluride Film Festival (TFF) long before they were officially released. Telluride’s selection of films seems to be filled with Oscar contenders more so than the lineups presented at other renowned film festivals in New York, Venice and Toronto.

Much of the Oscar buzz takes place before and after this annual awards show. I was thrilled to tune into CBS Sunday Morning, one of my all-time favorite TV shows, to see Monument Valley:  Mother Nature’s scene stealing movie star, last Sunday. It was a wonderful segment that featured the extraordinary sense of place of this iconic site and the many Oscar-worthy movies filmed there including “The Searchers,” “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon,” “Back to the Future,” “Forrest Gump” and many more. This majestic landscape has appeared in dozens of films as well as countless commercials. Almost a half a million visitors go to Monument Valley every year, largely because of the prominence it has enjoyed in the movies. Thanks to Harry Gouding and his wife, Leone (known as Mike), film director John Ford discovered Monument Valley and its perfect setting for great western movies and feature films. This was highlighted in the CBS piece although Goulding’s Lodge and its terrific Trading Post Museum, which also showcases the history of movie-making in the area, were scarcely mentioned.

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