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NEMS Article - 2015 Geezer Ski Bum Tour – EpicSki #1

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2015 Geezer Ski Bum Tour – EpicSki #1

Jamesj
By: Jamesj
Posted 1/28/15  Last updated 1/28/15  871 views  11 comments

2015 Geezer Ski Bum Tour – EpicSki #1

By Jim Kenney

 

The Prologue, January 28, 2015

 

I retired on January 2, 2015 after 37+ years as a U. S. Government employee.  This Saturday, January 31, 2015 I’m going to take advantage of this crossroads in my life and head west for the months of February and March to pursue a dream long deferred.  The yearning to go “ski bumming” comes from my deep and insatiable love of skiing, but it’s also a response to a missed opportunity I had many years ago to do something similar after I graduated from college (Go Terps). 

 

In the winter of 1977 I was fresh out of school with no immediate job prospects.  I thought about heading west then, but I was compelled to find a serious career. Instead, I stayed home near Washington D.C. and bided my time clerking at a drug store while applying for numerous federal job vacancies. The civil service finally called six months later and I can’t complain how things ultimately worked out, but I always felt I blew a golden opportunity to do a winter in ski country.

 

So a lifetime later I’m going to give it a go. I have set a somewhat ambitious itinerary for an older dude traveling solo and I’ll be on the road for 64 days, logging approximately 6,400 miles in my Subaru Outback.  I’ve identified a string of cheap motels, hostels, and possible couch-surfing opportunities along the way.  Hopefully, things come together and stay together.

 

The vagabond and his kit for this trip.  Photo by Jim Kenney

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I’m going to start driving from my home in Northern Virginia on January 31 and spend the first half of February in the Vail Valley skiing mostly Vail and Beaver Creek.  Then I am going to head west stopping in the Park City/Canyons area for a few days and eventually making my way to Kirkwood, CA to ski with friends for part of a week.  From there I plan to drive to Jackson, WY and catch the first half of the EpicSki Gathering at the end of February.  I rendezvous with my wife Kathy on March 2 at Denver International Airport and we are going to stay in a condo in Summit County, CO for 30 days skiing at Keystone, Breckenridge, Arapahoe Basin, and possibly other nearby resorts.  I’m planning to drive home by April 4th.

 

My prime directive is to remain in one piece and survive the experience, but there are a lot of questions. Will my body hold up for two months of skiing and traveling at age 61 after residing in Dilbert’s cubicle-land for nearly four decades? How will I work out logistics and keep things convenient and affordable? Will I have anyone to ski with?  Will this voyage of later-life discovery reveal to me the true meaning of life?  And most importantly, will I be in the right place at the right time for any killer powder days?

 

What about things at home while I'm off being Mr. Irresponsible?  I’m leaving my wife to manage significant family issues, especially elder care for her mom.  Knowing my wife will get a break of her own when she joins me for the month of March eases my guilt a little bit.  Also, I’m just getting over the flu.  Things like that make you wonder about spending three unplanned days bedridden in a dinky motel room without the comforts of home?

 

I’m sure there will be concessions to age, but age will also have its privileges on this trip.  My wife is not into ski bumming and when she joins me for the second month of the trip things will get a little plushier as we make like a pair of senior snowbirds in ski country.  By that point I expect to be grateful to conclude the vagabond phase, put away the instant ramen noodles, and stay in one, respectable place with her for stability. 

 

I hope to document much of this trip with regular posts on EpicSki and through additional outlets. I’ve followed and been inspired by others here who have made similar journeys.  It’s just that this time it’s me and I can’t help having a little pre-trip apprehension.  However, I’ve been to about 85 ski areas in North America and Europe and I know that part of the excitement, trepidation, and adventure of travel is that leap of faith; letting go of the familiar and embracing the new. 

 

Full disclosure:  as a fledgling member of the media I received an Epic Pass and my reporting this winter will include, but not be limited to coverage of numerous Vail Resorts.  Destinations in the Vail family of resorts are, to borrow Beaver Creek’s slogan, not exactly roughing it.  Nonetheless, I’ll try my best to share authentic ski stoke, albeit the mature variety.  I also want to pass along travel info and lessons learned about making a lengthy ski trip from both the ski bum and more typical veteran vacationer’s perspectives. 

 

Most of all I look forward to the opportunity to get a lot of slopetime and make turns with fellow ski freaks around the country.  If I happen to cross paths with any of you I hope you will let me know and perhaps we can make a few runs together?  I’ll be the old guy with EpicSki stickers on his gear and wanderlust in his eyes.

 

Send me a private message or comment on one of my posts if you’re game for some company and think we may be sharing the slopes on any given day.  My approximate itinerary:

Jan 31 start driving to Colorado, 

Feb 2-16 staying in Minturn, CO, skiing mostly Vail and BC

Feb 17-21 staying in the vicinity of Park City, UT, skiing PC and The Canyons

Feb 22-24 staying at Kirkwood, CA

Feb 25-Mar 1 skiing Jackson Hole with EpicSki Gathering

Mar 2 picking up wife at Denver airport

Mar 3-Apr 2 staying in Summit County, CO, skiing mostly Keystone, Arapahoe Basin and Breckenridge, may be joined by adult children and friends.

Apr 2 start driving home

Apr 4 arrive home. 

 

Besides a bunch of text and one lame picture of me, I thought I’d add scenic value to this post with a few old photos from places I hope to revisit this winter.

All photos by Jim Kenney (click to enlarge)

 

2007 - Moi at Keystone with Breckenridge in the background

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2009 - My son at Arapahoe Basin (Vince may join me later on this trip?)

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2010 - Trucking on I80 near the WY-UT border

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2012 - Beaver Creek has an amazing staff to guest ratio

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2013 - Kirkwood’s False Peak Chute

LL

 

 

 

Comments (11)

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What a way to celebrate retirement! I'm looking forward to reading about your adventure.
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Fantastic plan!  Good for you!
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Very jealous!   Have a great trip and look forward to hearing all about it.
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My take on some of your questions:
 
Will my body hold up for two months of skiing and traveling at age 61 after residing in Dilbert’s cubicle-land for nearly four decades? Absolutely ! Do you think you would be in better shape if you postponed this for 5 years ? No, I don't think so.  Don't compare your self to how you were in your 20's - start from today and go for it ! I know too many people that put things off for 'someday' and someday never came for them. Better yet, make this your annual plan and you live to 120 ! How will I work out logistics and keep things convenient and affordable? Figure it out as you go along - it'll all work out - a 37 year Government pension - sounds like no worries to me mate.  Will I have anyone to ski with? For sure - keep a smile on your face - drop inhibitions and treat everyone you meet as a friend and you will have plenty of new friends to ski with on this trip as well as next years trip ! Will this voyage of later-life discovery reveal to me the true meaning of life? Yup - will give you enthusiasm and direction for the next 60 years ! And most importantly, will I be in the right place at the right time for any killer powder days? At least 1 or 2 more than you probably got the last 40 years while working for a living.
 
What about things at home while I'm off being Mr. Irresponsible? Mr. RESPONSIBLE - you're nourishing your soul !   I’m leaving my wife to manage significant family issues, especially elder care for her mom. Ummm - key word here, HER mom - unless of course she's on the fence about a big inheritance ? Knowing my wife will get a break of her own when she joins me for the month of March eases my guilt a little bit.  Not only that, you'll probably be a lot more fun to live with after nourishing your soul as well as hers ! 
 
All kidding aside - awesome plan ! I envy you decision to go for it now - you won't regret it.  Why not live the life you've always dreamed of !  Best of luck and have a blast !
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Love the plan!  I'll bet the reality will be a bit different and a bit better.
 
Sure hope we can meet up for a big pow day.....perhaps Basin in March.
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Picture #3 is right by my home.  It's the Kissing Rock near Green River, Wyoming.  It's said to be bad luck for opposing high school sports teams traveling to Green River to even look at it on their way to the game.
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Thanks for the encouragement folks.  Now in Denver.  Heading towards Vail/Beaver Creek tomorrow.
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Kudos to you!
I have family in Summit County and my Neprhew is a coach on the Vail ski team.
If they can be of help, fire me a private message.
Cracked Edge
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enjoy the experience; sounds like you earned it...
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WOW.  I just read this.  I knew you were out travelling/skiing the West, but didn't know all the details/circumstances.  GREAT FOR YOU, Jim.  I'll be in Summit Co end of March.  Maybe we can get together.
 
Jamesj

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