Snow Bros and Snow Bunnies

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In the trees at Stratton

On the heels of a ski trip with my preancée (a term I have coined to describe my pre-engagement girlfriend), I couldn’t help but notice the significantly different experience I had in comparison to a recent ski trip I took with a couple of buddies. Despite the relative similarities of the two trips—both times I went to a large ski hub in Vermont, both times the central focus of the trip was to get outside and ski, and, luckily for me, on both trips I was blessed with not only good snow but fresh snow—in the end, the trips were very different.

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Still finding powder at the local stash

Some simple vacation math from the boys’ trip proves that not everything added up correctly: one room, two beds, and three guys equals a lot of stuff, a small space, and someone sleeping on the floor or cuddling a buddy (I opted for the floor). In contrast, the room Ashley and I ended up with was pretty substantial with two queen beds, a large bathroom, and plenty of room to move around in. We slept in one bed and she used the other bed to lay her stuff out on. On the boys’ trip, our room was super small and incredibly cramped; additionally, it was stuffed with gear in various states of airing out/drying and a makeshift kitchen (more on this in a second) was set up in the corner. With the girl, there was plenty of space to hang stuff up without ever feeling cluttered or like we couldn’t move.

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In the woods at Stratton

Now, about that makeshift kitchen in the corner of our hotel room… Skiing bell-to-bell is hard work, and so is making sure you keep up with the boys. It takes a lot of calories to keep yourself fueled for those types of days and getting them all at the resort (read: at resort prices) is daunting. So the boys and I dragged along a slow cooker and griddle and fueled up in the room on chili, beef stew, pizza, breakfast sandwiches, and some sort of slow-cooked breakfast concoction of Joe’s. In spite of our efforts, we still did our fair share of dining out in town and around the resort. Somehow the girl and I managed not to drag along our own mess tent—just a few snacks from home—and consumed the majority of our meals at the resort (perhaps pushing the limits of how many meals you can make out of a continental breakfast) and still had enough money left over to make a stop at the Craft Beer Shop on the way home.

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Powder day at Stratton

Speaking of beer, another difference that helps distinguish the two trips is the amount of alcohol consumed. While skiing first chair to last chair everyday with the boys was hard work, going beer for beer with them was no small feat either. Every day started with a cup of coffee and a small juice and after that we didn’t drink anything but beer and maybe a little whiskey until the next morning’s coffee and juice. “Grab a quick beer for lunch?” Sure. “Hang out and have a few aprés cocktails?” Sounds great. “Have a beer in the room before dinner?” Why not. While Ashley and I did not shy away from stopping for a beer at lunch (11:30am can be considered lunch, yes?) or a few aprés ski libations, I certainly had a more diversified consumption of beverages.

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Powder day

The overall intensity of the two trips also differed dramatically. My girlfriend and I are fortunate in that we ski together at least once a week throughout the majority of the season, and I get to ski almost every day. Furthermore, with the exception of our responsibilities at work, Ashley and I have little else in the way of real responsibility. Our mini ski vacation was a nice excuse to get away, do something we enjoy, and see some place we have never been before. The boys, however, are both family men who are sometimes lucky enough to ski once a week but realistically only get to ski once a month. So with the boys, everything was intensified. There was no time to just sit back and enjoy a cruiser—every trail had to be the most challenging. The trip with them embodied a first-chair-to-last-chair mentality as well; no amount of cold, wind, or fatigue was going to stop the boys from making the most out of their time away. (This is not just about skiing, these guys tackled everything from aprés to just going out to dinner hard.)

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Freshies at the stash

During the first run on the last day of my trip with the girlfriend, we veered into the woods to ski some trees we had heard someone talking about on the gondola. The trees were beautiful and the ground was covered in fresh snow that had blown in overnight. About halfway down, Ashley fell/collapsed/laid down claiming she was done. I goaded her on, we took a few easy groomers, had a beer, and in the end I milked almost a full day out her. On the last day of the boys’ trip, I took a big fall on a steep bump run; on the next run, while coming through the trees, I hit a tree pretty hard. Not wanting to push my luck, I bailed on the boys and cruised groomers solo the rest of the afternoon.

"I quit!"

“This is where I live now.”

While both trips were certainly different, they were also both fantastic and it’s the memories from them that will help carry me through the summer, as I begin plotting for next ski season.

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