Tuesday, April 1, 2008

St. Patrick's

On Sunday, March 16, we decided to get a little bit of exercise by heading out on a snowshoe hike. We picked the Peaks Trail, which, we found, starts on Peak 7 in Breck, within walking distance of our house. The trail goes all the way to Frisco, but we just hiked maybe a mile out and back through tranquil forest. Here’s Sarah the snowshoer:

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That night was St. Patrick’s Day eve, so we went to Burke & Riley’s Irish pub in Breck, where a duo was playing Irish music. As we walked in, they were playing “What Do You Do With a Drunken Sailor?” This made us think fondly of our Seattle Ultimate Frisbee team, Stella, the king pirate’s daughter. This is the song we always sang before cheering our opponents at the end of a game.

We proceeded to sit at a booth right behind this large group of middle-aged European men with matching shirts custom-made for their trip to Colorado. They were having a great time, making all sorts of noise and ordering rapid-fire rounds of drinks. They bought shots for the performers, and one of them went up on stage and danced badly for the duration of an unfortunately long song. There was a minor disagreement when the owner of the place wouldn’t let them order a round of shots for all the waitresses, but their waitress appeased them by doing a shot with them. They knew the words to songs that we’d never heard before, and when they didn’t sing along, they clapped and pounded their table to the rhythm. They were a complete riot. The duo was quite good, too – they sang and played bagpipe, fiddle, and guitar.

The next day we went boarding on yet another powder day at Breck and then went to Napper Tandy’s, another Irish pub, for happy hour. Napper Tandy’s was much tamer than Burke & Riley’s had been the night before, though, so we didn’t stay long.

The following day we were meeting friends from Seattle – Evan and Sarah and their new baby Walter! They were on a ski vacation with Evan’s family at Keystone, so we agreed to meet them on Tuesday for a day on the mountain. It turned out that their friend Nate had recently moved to Denver, so he was also going to meet us. The snow was great yet again, especially in the trees, where Brian kept going on his snowboard. Then we did a tree run with Evan where the trees started a bit narrow but gradually opened up more and more. That run went well, and Nate was gathering confidence after not having skied in a decade, so he decided to join us on another run in the same area. This time, we didn’t find the area where the trees opened up, and instead they stayed dense the whole way down. We didn’t see Evan or Nate for a little while, but then we saw Evan a little below us and skied down to him. It turned out that he had reached a steep dropoff with trees immediately behind it, so he fell awkwardly and dislocated his shoulder. Ouch! He’s done this several times before, so he was able to pop it back into place, but he was still in a lot of pain, so this was the end of his ski day.

We were in the Outback, which is the third of Keystone’s three ski mountains – from where we were, we had to finish our run and then take two more lifts and two more runs to get back to the base area. This was also spring break week at the mountains, so the slopes were way more of a zoo than usual, with densely packed novice skiers filling the groomed slopes. Also, for whatever reason Keystone typically has the worst snow on the trails of the mountains around – it’s often icy, and there are more bare patches than anywhere else. As we made our way back to the base area, a tentative skier surprised Brian by stopping abruptly in front of him. He tried to stop his snowboard, but he slid on the ice, ran into her, and slid toward a group of snowboarders who were sitting on the side of the trail and scattered to get out of the way. Fortunately, the snowboarders were quick to avoid getting taken out, and the woman, while understandably miffed, turned out to be none the worse for wear. It was definitely time to finish our day.

We made it down without further excitement and headed to the Kickapoo Tavern, probably the most popular of the Keystone apr├Ęs ski destinations. It was still early afternoon, so we managed to score one of the last available tables and settled in to enjoy Colorado microbrews on tap. After we’d been there a while and were on our second or third pitcher, who should appear but the European guys from Burke & Riley’s! They were a bit more somber today, perhaps tired after a long day of skiing. But it was definitely the same guys. Summit County is a small world.

Evan and Sarah invited us over to their condo for dinner, where salmon was on the menu. Of course we couldn’t turn that down! We hung out in the living area of the condo while Evan’s mom kept putting food in front of us and Brian’s empty beer bottles kept magically being replaced with full ones. It was wonderful. And of course we got to play with Walter, who is very cute. He even did a trick for us – he rolled over! Apparently, this was the first time Sarah had seen him do it, so this was a big deal. And this was all before dinner!

Eventually we sat down at the dinner table and had a wonderful meal. The salmon was great, and Evan’s family was all really nice. Finally it was time for us to go, but we didn’t go empty-handed. Oh no, there was way too much food in the condo, and the family was leaving the next day, so if we’d eat it, we were welcome to take food off their hands. No problem! We wound up carting home two six packs of beer, a bottle of wine, and a shopping bag and a very large cardboard box filled with all sorts of food. Score! We would be eating tasty meatballs, pork loin, salmon, all sorts of sandwich meat and fancy rolls, potatoes prepared several ways, and assorted other goodies for the next week! Our kitchen access isn’t all that convenient, so it was a huge treat to have dinner ready to be reheated on our hotplate at the end of the day.

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