These photos pretty much sum up the awesomeness (and retardedness) that was last weekend.
Thursday got off to a rough start, but staying focused on the trip and the good company helped me get through. The rest of the day was pretty laid back. We picked up Tolemur from the airport and headed toward downtown Denver to find REI, pick up a few more snow sport accessories, get some food, get Tolemur to the DMV to get a duplicate automobile title (his car was registered in CO, he lives in FL, his license is AK, and who knows where his insurance came from - needed the title to start cleaning some of that up), and grab some food. I wanted to get a neck gaiter, but REI didn't have any left. Luckily, there was another, little sport shop practically across the street that had them, so we took a quick walk over there.
The four of us had lunch at a little Italian place just down the street from REI. We split a tomato and mozzarella appetizer and two pizzas - one with artichoke hearts on it, and another one that was spicy and good, but I can't remember what was on it. Then, we all decided on desserts and shared them, round-robin. Pistachio gelato, calzone, cheesecake... mmmmmm.
After a quick stop at the DMV and a nearby liquor store, we were back on the road, headed to Copper Mountain.
Having never been to Colorado before, the landscape was just ... completely different than anything I had been used to seeing. It's super flat, with hardly a tree in sight, little to no grasses, prairie dogs all over place, and off in the distance, MOUNTAINS. They were calling to us, for sure. :)
We rolled up to the house we'd be staying in at about quarter past four, met up with Tek, found out that Redstorm and I would be staying at the Anaconda condominiums on the other side of the East Village, got our front gate key, garage door opener, keys to the room, and headed over there to unload. We decided to walk back, just to see how bad of a walk it was, and in the icy streets, it wasn't exactly a walk in the park. We made do, though, and hung out with the crowd at the main house for the rest of the evening. Had a few beers, met some new faces, chewed the fat with those and the familiar ones, had some pizza, called it a night at around 11pm, and headed back over to Anaconda.
Our group over in our subsection of the village was quite awesome: RedStorm, Pony, Cerise, TigerPaw, Joey, Kelar, Fire D Husky, and one or two others whose names are escaping me. (Ugh... I'm completely horrible at remembering names.) TigerPaw had just purchased a brand new snowboard, bindings, boots, and a travel case, and couldn't wait to show them off to me. He was so proud. I was so jealous. :D
We all got up fairly early, but the morning still started off kinda slow since we went over to the main house to see what people were doing, breakfast-wise, ended up eating cold pizza and oranges, had to go take care of getting our rental gear at Christy Sports. and coordinate meeting up with the people who wanted to start out on the easier trails at the Center Village. For that, we had Vish, Tolemur, Redstorm, Tigerpaw, Joey, Pony, and Cerise, I believe.
Tigerpaw was having a difficult time with the stance that the board shop in Atlanta set his bindings up with, but aside from that, we had a pretty smooth few runs.
We stopped for lunch at the Incline Bar & Grill, had a buffalo chicken wrap, and got to sample a small taste of Redstorm's Hot Apple Pie drink. It was amaaaaazing. Lunch was good, but it seemed like it took forever to get the check and get back out on the slopes. I think it was a combination of the anticipation of being back out there and a bit of slow service. At the end of lunch, Vish, Joey, Pony, and I decided that we were going to split off and try some of the more difficult trails, closer to the East Village.
We headed up the American Eagle lift, rode down to the Excelerator lift, rode that even further up the mountain, and decided to take "Andy's Encore" down. It turns out that people who are good on skis go a lot faster than I do on a snowboard, 'cause they'd ski for a bit, stop and wait up for me, go some more, stop again. I was having a hard time with it because it was the end of the day and the trails consisted of a lot of very hard pack snow from people riding on them all day, the wind taking the rest of the loose snow away, and leaving patches of ice. I still had fun, though, and instead of going all the way back to the base, we cut back over to hit the Excelerator lift back to the top and do another full run.
The three of them wanted to do a black diamond trail, and I didn't feel I was quite ready for it since the blue trails we were on were giving me a hard time. I think it was a combination of the fact that I was getting fatigued, and the conditions made for some more difficult spots. At that point, the lifts were shut down, and not a whole lot of people were left on the slopes, but we decided to separate, and I went at it alone. I think my confidence level went way down, my fear went up, and I was just plain getting tired, because I took a couple of spills - none that were really all that bad in any way, but one that was pretty hilarious. I somehow ended up on my back, head facing downhill, looking up at the sky, and sliding about 60-100 feet down a very hard pack, icy, steep section of a trail called "Oh no". I see where it got its name! I made the best of it, sprawled my arms straight out, and giggled the whole way down.
Since that was a bit disorienting, the trails aren't quite as clearly marked as they are at Killington, and because I was having such a hard time with it, I thought, for sure, that I was on a black diamond part of the mountain. After reviewing the trail map after getting back to the condo, it turns out that I wasn't, but, at the time, I wanted to be sure I knew where I was and that people were going to be around, so I ended up making a conscious decision to go down a black trail, called Rosi's Run. It basically followed the path of the Super Bee chair lift, and I could see what I was in for. Amazingly, I managed to do the whole run without falling or having too much trouble with it, but I did resort to doing a falling leaf so I could stay on the edge that I was most comfortable with.
It was closest, so I went over to the main house to see what all was going on. Everyone was back there, chilling and telling stories about the day. I was still in my snow-wet clothes, so I walked back over to Anaconda to get changed. Most of Team Anaconda were there, so we all piled into the SUV, and headed back over to the main house for dinner. It was a nice, home-cooked pasta meal with garlic bread. Again, since I'm horrible with names, I can't remember who was cooking, but kudos to them! They busted ass in the kitchen. :)
After dinner, Tigerpaw and I decided to make some hot chocolate with Frangelico, so I had to run back to Anaconda to pick up the liquor and bring it back. One thing's for sure, it's a winning combination. I think we made like 8-10 cups of it for people to try. It seemed that not too long after that, Team Anaconda cut out of the main house pretty early to get some sleep and be ready for another full day on the slopes.
Our nostrils and palates were greeted early in the morning on Saturday with Cerise's (and ultimately almost everyone's) culinary efforts in the kitchen: Pancakes, eggs, and sausages of goodness - nomnomnom.
I had some of my best runs on Saturday. An inch or three of fresh powder fell overnight, and we were out at the lifts only about 45 minutes after they opened. The conditions were BEAUTIFUL, especially on the American Flyer trail. It took us a while to take the Woodwinds Traverse and Scooter back over to the base of the American Flyer lift since it was a fairly flat trail and snowboards don't do very well where it's flat, but once we had some momentum, it was one of the most laid-back, leisurely runs we had done. I was lovin' it!
One particularly humorous incident happened when I was following a little too closely behind Tigerpaw on our second run. As one can imagine, he stopped a little quickly, and I wasn't ready for it, so I tried to stop, but ended up plowing right into him (at a pretty low speed). It was actually really funny 'cause I took him out at the knees, and he just fell back and landed on top of me. We were just giggling like crazy for a few minutes, finally decided to try to get untangled from each other, and continue on.
Everyone was planning on getting back together at the main house at around 12:30 to get into costume for a little bit of fursuit skiing/snowboarding, so Redstorm and I went to Endo's Adrenaline Cafe for an early lunch, caught the bus back to Anaconda, got into costume, and met up with folks back near the American Eagle lift. The reactions that we got on the bus ride over and while I was trying to locate where I had left my snowboard were priceless. I was asked to be in photographs with a bunch of different groups, which made locating the snowboard even more difficult. I finally got asked by one more group, and I had to indicate to them to hold on for a minute, located the board, picked it up, and went over to get into the photo. All in all, the costumes seemed very well received.
After everyone from the main house showed up, we headed up the lift to take the "Main Vein" trail back down. The most difficult part of snowboarding in costume was that it was nearly impossible to breathe. Sibusiso's head has fabric between your face and the outside world through his muzzle, so it's like trying to breathe through a couple of t-shirts wrapped around your mouth. Combine that with high altitudes and strenuous activity, and you have a near blackout experience. :p I somehow made do for the entire run down the Main Vain trail, mostly because we stopped at the top of each of the steeper parts to regroup. Monoscopic, limited vision and lack of oxygen was a bit disorienting, so I did fall a couple of times, but they were the kind of zero-impact falls where you just slide in the snow for a little bit, get right back up, and keep going. All in all, fursuit snowboarding was fun and looked really awesome from the outside perspective, but if I do it again, I'm going to have to modify the breathe-ability of the costume.
Both Redstorm and I were wiped out by the time we got to the base, so we headed straight for the buses and went back to Anaconda to change. Meanwhile, it seemed like almost everyone else who was in costume went up for a second go of it.
By the time we were ready to head back out, Tigerpaw had come back to the condo as well and let us know that we only really had about 15 more minutes to catch the lifts back up! Neither of us realized how late it had gotten, so we decided to just head straight for Super Bee, and see what we could do. This was the first time that either of us had been on Super Bee, and it was her first day on the blue trails. Her confidence level was kinda low at first, but once we got out there and started making our way down the mountain, we had a really great time with it! Originally, we were going to try to take Ptarmigan down to Main Vein, since we were already familiar with Main Vein. When we got up there, though, we found out that Ptarmigan was closed for the day. So, Andy's Encore, down to Collage, down to Skid Road for us, then!
We got to a particularly moguly spot near the top of Andy's Encore and asked someone up there for advice about which trail they thought would be easier. They pointed us at Collage, which was on the other side of a small patch of glades, so we ... went through the glades! It turned out that Andy's Encore and Collage both had moguls in places, which were a bit intimidating, but I was amazed at how well we were able to manage them. I somehow did both sections at a decent speed without falling. I did stop near the middle of the first section to make sure that Redstorm was going to make it, but it was a controlled stop. :)
Because practically nobody was on the slope at that point in the day, it was like we had the whole mountain to ourselves, and it was a beautiful run. I was even able to take a couple of small jumps and land them without falling. What a great way to bring an end to the weekend of snowboarding!
It may have been the end of my snowboarding for the weekend, but the trip still had some life left in it. The entire group had dinner reservations at a place called Pug Ryan's over in Dillon, CO. The service was spectacular! They managed to handle all 41 of us in record time and made very few mistakes. A++++ will dine again!
Sunday consisted of getting up kinda late, getting everything packed up, trying to find a place within walking distance to get breakfast, failing at that, meeting up with folks at the main house, figuring out ride share back to Denver in time for people who were leaving that day to get to the airport in time, grabbing lunch at a BBQ place, and waiting at the airport. After dropping off all of the passengers I had, I returned the rental car, went through security and then continued on to the C gates to meet up with Tolemur and Vish.
Vish boarded his flight only about a minute or two after I got there, so Tolemur and I headed over to his gate and stopped at TCBY on the way. I ordered a large (emphasis on large), berry-based smoothie. Apparently, my ability to juggle a laptop bag, carry-on wheelie bag, neck pillow, large smoothie, and a straw was a bit much, 'cause shortly after sitting down, I perched the smoothie between my legs in my lap, leaned over to situate my laptop bag, and put a bit too much pressure on the smoothie. It exploded all over my legs, the seat, and the floor! *POOMMF!* The most heartbreaking thing about the whole incident was that I didn't even get so much as a sip out of it. D:
We immediately informed the nearest airline agent, and they called for custodial services to come take care of the chair and the floor. Meanwhile, Tolemur and I did our best to wipe up some of the excess, and clean purple smoothie mess off of my pants, shoes, laptop bag, and carry-on luggage. Luckily, all of my clothes were in my carry-on, so I grabbed another pair of jeans, went into the nearby bathroom, and got changed. It was kind of embarrassing, but meh... accidents happen.
I had checked into my flight super early, so my checked bags ended up beating me to Orlando on an earlier flight. It was a surprise to me because it didn't show up on the carousel while I was waiting. After seeing that none of the bags left on the carousel were from my flight, I went over to fill out a claim form at United's baggage services kiosk. When I put in my claim number, it reported that the bag was at MCO, waiting to be picked up. Sure enough, there it was, sitting over next to the carousel instead of on it. Well, I wasn't looking there! :p
Kuddlepup is, of course, and awesome roommate, 'cause he stayed up to pick me up from the airport at about 1am. I gave him a brief synopsis of the weekend. We talked a little about things that were going on at his workplace, a little about Furp, got home, and he went straight to bed.
This had to be one of the most fun experiences of my life! I can't wait to do it again!