Archive for category Ski to Sea Roadtrip

I’d like to thank…

I’ve now been back in Toronto for 4 days…but have only slept in my apartment once, and haven’t yet unpacked, so I still feel like I’m a bit on the road.  I’ve been busy, of course, with things like visiting a client, taking my mom to the airport, letting in the cleaning lady, and assembling the particles for doing my own taxes (getting tired of paying $450 for someone else to do it).  So far I’m down to $11,700 that I have to pay and I haven’t even added any business deductions or rent yet.

But I digress. People have been asking me how it feels to be back, and surprisingly it feels completely natural and just fine. Ten weeks is quite a long time to be away, even though it was broken into many sub-adventures.  Not a moment of ennui to be had.  Where would I have fit it in?  Being the “Sherpa” meant I had designed this trip rather perfectly.  My Toronto seminar leader friends call me Sherpa, not because I carry their gear, but because I’m the ultimate travel planner and guide.

A trip like this, however perfectly designed, could not have been accomplished on my own.  There are MANY people to acknowledge, thank, and mention, for making it as extraordinary as it was.  So I have 3 categories of people to whom I wish to express my eternal gratitude… 

  • Hosts
    • Major
      • Zan, Patrick & Sophia, Vancouver
      • Kathy & Dennis Nesbit, Whistler
      • Lisa Grim, Encinitas, CA
  • Slightly less major (only because of duration!)
    • Helen & Hardy Palethorpe, Canberra, AU
    • Carol & Arthur Rothwell, Faulconbridge, AU
    • Geoff & Kylie Bell (and Katie, Jaime, Molly, and >>>>>), Avalon Beach, AU
    • Natalie Edmonds, Sydney, AU
    • Julie Ryan & Shayne Kneen (and Jack & Aarkey), Newcastle, AU
    • Diana Ferris, Denver, CO
    • Randah McKinnie (& Lia), Corte Madera, CA
    • Meet Ups/Reunions
      • John Hewson, Vancouver
      • Andrew Bell, Tracy & Carolyn Galloway, Canberra, AU
      • Gini Hole, Canberra, AU
      • Patty Garforth (Diana Ferris’ youngest sister!), Manly, AU
      • Ken & Sue Moffitt, Sydney, AU
      • Heather & Rick Bolstler, Sydney, AU
      • Ashton Mills, Newtown, AU
      • Joseph Edwin, Sydney, AU
      • Shelby Benedetti, Sydney, AU
      • Norm Harvey, Whistler
      • Shayne Le Poer Trench, Whistler
      • Barb McLean & Mark St. George (and Sophie & Nicky), North Vancouver, BC
      • Maggie Leithead, Vancouver, BC
      • David Nickel, Vancouver, BC
      • Darci Larocque, Vancouver, BC
      • Pilots
        • Pam Hanson – Toronto friend/Air Canada Jazz pilot, and my cheap ticket Down Under!
        • Michelle Mackenzie – Seattle friend/Honda Pilot owner,  Ski to Sea partner!

Details may follow, but the point is that it was truly wonderful to be with each and every one of you.  There was nothing I would have changed about my adventure at all.  It was perfection – and I have you to thank for receiving me with such generosity.  THANK YOU! 

What shall we plan for 50???

Last Chance for Romance

There was an interesting timing coincidence on the Ski to Sea road trip that began about 2.5 years ago on  That’s an internet dating site, for those of you who have been married so long that it wouldn’t be on your radar.  But I guess you do read the news…

Anyways, I met John online 2.5 years ago, and we started writing and talking on the phone for about 6 months.  We never did manage to meet in person. He’s a tall, sporty 40-something retail entrepreneur who lives in Sun Valley, Idaho.  As soon as I had formally decided the route for the road trip, I checked in with John for recommendations on places to stay, etc.  He said he wasn’t going to be in town (he would actually be in Seattle), but provided some suggestions nonetheless.  On my last morning in Vancouver, post-Olympic volunteering, I emailed him to see if he was still in Seattle, as I was on my way there for one night en route to Sun Valley.  He replied immediately saying “I’m in Vancouver!!!”  So I finally met John in the Whole Foods on Cambie Street.  He’s mighty handsomeJ

As it turned out, he would also be in Denver, Southern California, and again in Seattle at the same times I would be.  We met up for a cold drink in a mall in south Denver, and had a phone call on my last night in Seattle (he got back to me too late to get together before my return bus ride to Vancouver). I will be in Maui just a week or two after he’s going to be there in May.

Unfortunately, that’s all there is to tell of that tale.  Who knows – we may connect again.  But it did lend an air of romantic excitement to the background atmosphere of the trip.

And finally, after my disappointment of not finding a great romance during my trip, particularly my time at the Olympics (where there were THOUSANDS of men), I had one bright light happen when I picked up my snowboard bag at Toronto Pearson Airport late on Saturday night, my last phase of the 10 week journey.  This very cute guy was sitting on his backpack, awaiting his special baggage to be disgorged from the mysterious machine called Airline Luggage Handling.  He looked up and said hi when I walked in.  A friendly conversation ensued, and in typical fashion of my conversations, much information and a business card were exchanged.  His name is Craig.  Australian.  Cute (did I say that already?). Been travelling for 7 years!  Finally I mentioned I had volunteered at the Games…”I worked there too!” he said.  And then he burst out with “I’ve met you!” and it dawned on me that we had met sharing a table and wi-fi connection at Blenz Coffee in Whistler, one of the few places with free wi-fi.  I had even given him my card then (which he claims he still has somewhere, though he never used it). So playfully I said “It must be fate!!!”

Haven’t heard from him yet.  Despite the fact that he has 2 of my business cards.


San Geronimo Lodge, that is. The cutest little hotel off the beaten path of Taos, New Mexico.  Here is what it looks like…

Cutest adobe-style hotel ever!

The offer a hot tub, quaint rooms, and a fantastic cooked breakfast – today’s was a poached egg, crisp bacon, fruit, and blue-corn blueberry pancakes!!!

The hotel’s road has speed bumps, but they call them “Speed Humps”.  We’ve been speed humping all day long!

Speed Humping!


The best treat yet was the snow we woke up to!  Can you imagine a powder day at Taos – the feature Taos is best known for.  The base of the mountain is 9,500 feet, and the top (though we didn’t all quite all the way) is over 11,000.  Arriving at Taos Ski Valley is daunting – almost as daunting as Snowbird was.  BUT there was a sign that says “Don’t Panic – this is just 1/30th of teh hills at Taos!”  Besides, 11 inches of powder makes the steeps very forgiving.  I think it was my best snowboard day ever.  A good one to end the ski portion of our trip on – unless Tahoe gets a dump on March 28…

Two Days in Denver

Arriving in Denver is always a bit of a homecoming for me, but this is the first time I arrived by car and not by air.  And arriving via the Rocky Mountains is always spectacular.

Michelle and I unloaded our gear at Diana Ferris’ and finally decided on a plan for my first birthday party…dinner and margaritas at Mezcal, to be followed by a little jazz at Dazzle.

I seriously can’t get enough Mexican food.  It’s SO YUMMY.  Michelle, Diana & I were joined by Gabriel Christy, and a little later by Jennifer Coken (Coken4Colorado!), both of whom I met on the Wisdom Course Year End Cruise 4 years ago.  So great to see my friends!  I haven’t laughed that hard in quite a long time :)

After we ate and drank our fill at Mezcal Jen dropped us off at Dazzle where we met Eric & Laurel for a little live jazz.

All in all, a great night.  And boy did we sleep in!  Until 10 am – our latest yet.  But that suited us, as we ended up having a full day – Michelle & I had chart reading sessions with John Joseph, world class astrologist!  JJ confirmed that I am in a period of immense, expanding joy, power, clarification of purpose.  It was a really insightful and interesting session.  Sometimes all you need is a new perspective on your past to make peace with it, even if it’s an astrological perspective. 

Our last main activity was shoe shopping at DSW.  I wish they had those in Canada!!!!  I did find a simple pair of black Teva thongs, but alas, I have not been able to find the Privos I want ANYWHERE.  The spring shipment seems to be delayed everywhere I’ve been.  Boo hoo.  I hope they arrive while I’m in San Diego.

As per usual, Diana knows the BEST places for brunch.  This time it was Encore, to which I will say…ENCORE!  I enjoyed Apple-Walnut Bread Pudding French Toast.  Wow.  I am going to have to do a serious cleanse at the end of this trip.

Star Sightings

As we were walking up to the front desk of the Sun Valley Lodge to check out, a guy was just leaving there. But not just any guy. Michelle, the front desk clerk, and I were left BREATHLESS by the presence of this guy. He was so obviously a star, but I just didn’t know who at first. The clerk informed us, after we’d all caught our breath, that he had been in Gilmore Girls and Supernatural. He was 6’4″, with longish hair, and the physique of a Greek God. So being the resourceful girls that we are, we looked him up. It was Jared Padalecki. And here’s his photo…although I didn’t take it.  See what I mean?


Jared Padalecki


Delicate Arch

Today was sightseeing and hiking in Arches National Park.  We noticed, as we purchased our park entry fee, that it was a bit windy.  The park staff person informed us that a BIG storm was blowing in from California, due with rain, and potential thunderstorms and even snow.  Besides the wind, which blasted us with red dirt from all angles, there was no sign of said storm, at least not until about 3 pm when the clouds started to block the sun.

Being in Arches National Park brings on the feeling of being insignificant, particularly when you consider your life against the scope of space and time of these rocks and salt valleys, the remains of ancient seas flowing and evaporating.  But not insignificant in a pathetic, small, empty way.  But rather insignificant in a powerful, life is short so get on with it kind of way.  There are some places on earth that make you feel like you are nothing, and some that make you feel like you ARE the entire universe.  Both are powerful and important.

The entire drive from Salt Lake to Moab was a bit like that.  Plus a taste of rarely unseen Americana – coal mining, a town called Helper, and vast, desolate spaces that would freak most people out if they were stranded there.  Easy to observe from the fast-moving, detached safety of a Honda Pilot.

When all is said and done, my skin is ultra smooth after that blasting.

This sure ain’t Sun Valley

Not sure how I missed this, but Snowbird, UT is for serious SKIERS only.  It is a huge, steep mountain where just about the only Green runs are narrow cat tracks traversing the mountain.  This doesn’t work for snowboarders.  Like myself. 

And the people here aren’t half as friendly and fun as those in Sun Valley.  The staff, the visitors, the environment.  The margaritas are pretty good, but that’s only half the story.

And after it took us just about an hour to get down the crazy mountain, I discovered that my bindings had not been tightened after we had our equipment tuned.  No WONDER it felt so very wrong. I had to crank on all 8 screws!!!

All of that meant that we snubbed the mountain by 2 pm in favour of our laptops and wi-fi.  Hmmph.

Extolling the Virtues of Tequila & Flirting

I’ve often considered myself something of a late bloomer.  But there is one thing that frees me up to have fun in a social situation – margaritas.  Especially margaritas at higher elevations, namely those found in the US west and mountainous states. 

Michelle and I were extremely impressed with the $4 happy hour margaritas at Duchin’s bar (a.k.a. Wrinkles, according to the locals - cuz there are SO MANY old timers there!!! )  They actually use Grand Marnier, usually reserved for Cadillac margaritas with the commensurate increase in price.  Two of these beauties set the stage for some wicked flirting. 

First, the ambulance-chaser lawyer.  Then the guy who let me try on his Patagonia down “sweater” jacket.  His name was Griggs (yes, that’s his first name.  I asked.)  And Howard, a friend of Griggs.  Then the Brian/Greg/Tad trio (Tad is the most American of men’s names).  Then the large table of people who started singing Oh Canada.  Of course I was compelled to go say hello.  Turns out one of them is the owner of Hemingway’s bar in Yorkville (Toronto) – Martin is his name, a Kiwi.

I must say, there are a LOT of men in the mountains.  This is excellent practice, and ever so much fun!

Sisterhood of the Comfortable Traveling Pants

The Epic Rockies Roadtrip has begun.  Michelle Mackenzie (aka MicMac) and I departed her Kirkland, WA home only 2.5 hours later than planned.  It was all good though.  The 11.5 hour drive to Sun Valley, ID went without a hitch, and included stretch stops and a Walmart shopping spree.  Perhaps spree is too strong a word.  We bought a pack of 30 blank disks, chips, Wheat Thins, and 2 bananas.  The disks were the result of flash of brilliance on my part -  we didn’t have much variety of music, nor an iPod, but I knew I had lots of my favourite tunes on my laptop.  I’ve burned 3 great mixed disks so far, ideal for driving.

We lost an hour due to our move from Pacific to Mountain Time, but we would have arrived in the dark anyways.  We didn’t see ANY snow until we pulled off I-84 onto State Hwy 20, bound for Sun Valley.  But the entire west has had a dearth of snowfall this year.  The real visual treat came when we opened the blinds on Sunday morning – it’s called Sun Valley for a reason.  We hit the slopes at the crack of noon, and could not stop whooping from sheer delight!  The snow was a little harder packed underneath than I generally prefer, but it didn’t matter.  We were in the MOUNTAINS, and it was stunning.  And of course we got to watch the OT period of the Gold Medal hockey game.  Yay for Canada!

Vancouver 2010 moves to Idaho

Surprising fact: Sun Valley has a shuttle that will take people to their cars in the parking lot.  That is the driver’s job all day.  We got on by mistake, thinking it was the bus back to Sun Valley Lodge.  Once we gleaned the purpose of our less than scenic shuttle ride, I asked him how he entertains himself.  He plays a solitaire game of concentration – trying to remember where each person parked the vehicle in the morning, to facilitate the après ski drop off.  Wow.

FYI I know Michelle from when we met at Matt Goodrich’s 40th birthday week at the castle in Ireland, summer 2006.  We became fast friends after commiserating over tales of heartbreak :)