We took things up a notch for this year's ski season: we bought a ski bus (a.k.a. The Syncro) and rented our ski shack out for the season. Our goal was to ski all over Colorado since Abbie had free days at every resort. Personally, I racked up 28 days of skiing, Trish had similar numbers and, Abbie and Jack got between 15 and 20.
We picked up the ski bus with a road trip from Sun Valley, ID to Denver. We were hoping to ski at Jackson Hole on the way home. The sub-zero temperatures quickly changed our minds and we learned about its sub-par wind resistance driving through Wyoming.
Around this same time, Trish sold her Xterra and we became a one-vehicle family. The Syncro had its first (and only!) breakdown on the way to my parent's on Christmas Eve. We raced Santa Claus to The Cabin, packed in a rented sedan with two kids, two dogs and two cats. We realized afterward the car had bald tires and a broken windshield-washing system. Thank goodness the roads were dry.
The Syncro remained in Bozeman for a week while getting repairs done at Straightaway Motors. We enjoyed the beauty of Montana without it, sledding, skiing at Big Mountain and celebrating New Years with good friends in West Glacier. Taking Trish and the kids skiing in Montana was a ski-life highlight for me. As a teenager, I learned how to downhill ski at Big Mountain and it was really cool to show my family its awesomeness.
Both Abbie and Jack started the season snowboarding. They switched to skiing when Trish took them to Steamboat the same weekend I went heli-skiing in British Columbia.
At the end of January, we stayed with our good friends, the Tillis, and skied at Breckenridge.
The next day we skied Copper and had an 11" Powder Day at Mary Jane a few days later.
The snow continued to fall when we drove to Aspen for Superbowl weekend. It took us six hours to drive there in a blizzard, but the 36" of fresh snow the next day made it all worth it. We skied Snowmass and had a ball.
The Syncro burst a cooling hose clamp going over Vail Pass on the way home. It was Superbowl Sunday and we were rushing home to watch the Broncos. Luckily, I was able to fix it enough to get to a gas station and buy some new hose clamps. I'd rather not talk about the Broncos performance that evening.
In mid-February, I replaced the propane tank on the Syncro and installed a portable heater.
We celebrated with our first winter camping excursion in Mary Jane's Challenger Lot. The next morning, we found ourselves plowed in. We learned you're supposed to move when you hear the snow plows in the middle of the night. We enjoyed first chair that morning and all our runs with fresh tracks.
The next weekend, we camped for two nights in Avon for WinterWinderGrass. We skied at Copper and Vail that weekend. In the evenings, we drank delicious Colorado beer and listened to some really great live music. We left the propane heater at home and got along just fine with sleeping bags.
At the end of February, we took the kids to Beaver Creek, where they had their first 10-run day with us. That was the day we realized they could keep up with us on the blues.
For St. Patrick's Day weekend, we drove to Crested Butte, one of our favorite resorts in Colorado. The kids both had 20 runs that day and impressed the hell out of us. It was a beautiful weekend, and I even got to hang out with James Ward on Saturday night.
In April, we gathered with friends at an A-Basin Beach Party. It was the first time the kids camped with us in the Syncro and they loved it. We woke up at 5am to get a good spot and there were already two cars ahead of us in line. They opened the gates around 7am. We stayed at our friends, the Ellens, in Breckenridge that night and skied there the next day.
By my count, we made it to 11 unique resorts this year. That's a far cry from the 25 resorts we have in Colorado. Nevertheless, we had a great time and put almost 10,000 miles on our Syncro since we bought it. It's been a slightly stressful winter as a one-car family. But, like I mentioned, the Syncro has been humming along nicely.
In January, I realized the only way the Syncro was going to work long-term was if I became a VW mechanic. My Dad is an excellent mechanic, so I talked with him and learned how to fix most problems we've had. It's been a fun learning experience so far. We did wrestle with some cooling-system issues every-so-often, but we were able to fix them by tightening clamps and keeping the cooling tank full. Last week, Rocky Mountain Westy upgraded the cooling tubes and tank. Next week, we'll be getting axles replaced and some steering enhancements - things that tend to go bad after 185K miles.
Our biggest regret of the season was renting out our condo in Fraser. We thought we'd enjoy traveling all over Colorado and camping in the van. We did enjoy the trips, but working from the van wasn't great and it was too small to bring all our pets (two cats, two dogs). It also lacks a hot tub.
Next year, we're psyched that Crested Butte has been added to the Rocky Mountain Super Pass. We'll likely hit many of the same resorts again, and I'd like to spend more time at Steamboat, Telluride and Wolf Creek.
In the meantime, mountain biking, camping, rafting and VW show season is right around the corner. We're heading to Moab next week for Syncro Solstice, entering our first show at Volkswagens on the Green, rafting/dancing with our kids at Campout for the Cause and doing a 5-day river trip down the Yampa in Dinosaur National Monument. Yeeeeee haaaw - I love Colorado!