Janet Day: Christmas a great day to spend on the slopes | SkyHiNews.com

Janet Day: Christmas a great day to spend on the slopes

Janet Day
Talk of the Valley

Happy Holidays. Merry Christmas, everyone. I hope your day is spent with people you love, or at least people you like, or at a minimum those who cook well.

Resort Revelations. Many of us in this area will be working today, keeping the tourism beast fed. I’ve always enjoyed hitting the slopes on Christmas Day, when the crowds aren’t as huge as the rest of the week and everyone is generally in a good mood. If your Christmas week plans include going out to Winter Park Resort and the main base area, and you decide to drive rather than take a bus, consider going the extra half mile or so to the main entrance and the Vintage Hotel parking lot. It’s so much easier than dealing with the crowded North Bench lot on a busy day. The

Vintage lot has hundreds of parking spaces and never seems to be full. The new front- and rear-loading shuttle buses run frequently and drop you off just steps from the Zephyr lift. The C lot just north of the Vintage is another option. You can pick up the shuttle on the road or just walk to the base, past what used to be the A and B lots.

The distance isn’t much longer than the walk from the far back of the North Bench lot and everyone who lives at this altitude should be able to do it without huffing and puffing.

It’s still amazing to me that the resort has just about everything open except the chutes and the Cirque, given what conditions were a month ago. A few good dumps of snow and cold enough temperatures to run the guns have turned things around.

Reports from the new Panoramic Express lift have been overwhelmingly positive.

Other than a first-run glitch that on-site reps from the manufacturer fixed, the lift seems to make people happy. It’s the same bowl up at the top, same trails (just two new ones), same trees (opened up a little), but the change in perspective has turned even some local grumps into believers. Parsenn Bowl just looks and feels different after riding a smooth, fast six-pack to the top instead of the creaky little Timberline lift. But I do wish they had kept the Timberline in place as a second means of getting to the top.

Several people reported seeing celebrated Colorado photographer John Fielder riding the Pano before his book-signing gig at Cooper Creek Square. I hope he had a camera with him. Also spotted at Winter Park last week was former resort Slope Maintenance Director Bill Wolvin, who said he’s loving life at his new country home near Durango where the area is full of wildlife and the lifestyle laid back. But don’t expect him to easily let go of Winter Park, as every time he comes back up here, he has second thoughts about selling his Fraser Valley home.

If you don’t subscribe or haven’t seen it yet, check out the January edition of Ski magazine, in newsstands now. Denver writer Peter Heller (Outside Magazine, Men’s Journal, National Geographic Adventure) spent days with Winter Park Ski and Ride School Director Bob Barnes, learning to conquer the big bad bumps of Mary Jane.

The story gives the Jane her due and makes me wish a creaky left knee hadn’t forced me off the bump runs years ago. By the end of the story, Heller’s confidently skiing Outhouse, but it must have worn him out, or the altitude got to his brain, because the last sentence misidentifies Parsenn Bowl as “Persimmons Bowl.”

Sol Vista opened last week. I’ve said before and still believe that the sweet little resort up the road is one of Colorado’s best kept secrets. It’s a great place to take children and feel comfortable letting them go off on their own while the short gentle runs and small crowds are perfect for practicing new skills or, as in my case a couple years ago, rehabbing a nasty injury.

Happy New Year. And that year is 2005, the new Cabernet vintage at Verso Cellars. Owner Linda Cumming opened the first bottle last weekend and was rightfully proud. It needs some age and some air, as do all new bottlings, but a couple sips are enough to think the ’05 cab could turn out to be something as fine as the award-winning 2003. For a tasting of the ’05, ’04 and ’03 Cabernets from Verso’s Palisades vineyard, as well as many other Colorado wines, stop by the Cooper Creek Square tasting room.

Development Updates. The billboards along the Maryvale Meadow have changed. The message is a little less offensive, but the size and placement are still inappropriate for this area. Now the four huge signs boast that “good things happen in the park.” I’m hoping most people driving on US 40 will think the message refers to Winter Park in general. Because, for many of us, there’s not much good happening in Grand Park ” not the suburban-style developments, the disregard for highway view corridors or the construction of a second tubing hill in what looks like an effort to force out of business the long-operating and beloved-by-many Fraser Tubing Hill right next to the planned new one.

The damage may have slowed somewhat after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last week stopped the work at the base of the tubing hill in order to determine the status of the wetlands, many of which are federally protected. Salting the wound to the land is the fact that the developers didn’t even apply for the permits required for all work that in any way affects a wetland area in this country.

While I hated to see The Shed close (I hated the changing menu even more), at least the building is now being put to use and doesn’t look like it had been condemned.

From a drive-by visual standpoint, having a development office operating out of what had been the bar is better than having it sit empty. A nice fence has been built in front, interior lights are on and art adorns the walls. I wonder if the pool table is still in the back?

It always makes me gasp to see signs like the one outside The Shed advertising “vacation condos” with prices starting at $400,000. Apparently, the credit crisis and softening housing market aren’t having an effect up here. Overall, I have few problems with in-fill development. I’d rather see The Shed’s property turned into condos than have the same density built out in the open, out of town.

For people who want a weekend home near a resort, I’d think being in town would be attractive: Walking distance to restaurants and shops, access to bike trails and the free shuttle. I hope The Shed plans call for buildings with a lot of curb appeal since they’ll sit on what essentially is our Main Street. Most development in town in the past year or so has generally been attractive and suitable for the area. The Red Quill homes behind Untamed Grill and the Sawmill Station townhomes behind Hideaway Park are packed a little too tightly together given their height, but overall I think they’re visually OK. And I’m surprised how much I like the new condos behind Hernando’s and Lost Boys for their soft exterior color scheme, reasonable size and exterior architectural details.

Watch Out. County Road 73 going back to the St. Louis Creek Campground and on to parking areas for Spruce Creek, Dead Horse and other trails has always been a popular winter track for runners, dog walkers, snowshoers and cross-country skiers as well as snowmobile tours. But be careful this winter as the logging operations in and around the Fraser Experimental Forest continue and increase. Huge logging trucks go in and out of the area frequently on a road that gets narrower as winter progresses and the plowed snow piles up on each side. The best thing to do seems to be to simply pull over as far as you can and stop to let the truck pass in the opposite direction. Truck drivers I’ve encountered go slowly enough, but it’s sometimes a tight fit.

Keep in Touch: What’s got your attention around the area? Let me know. I’ll try to find the answer or spread the news. Send it all to JDayQuilts@msn.com.

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