Friday, January 16, 2009

Hardly Breck a Sweat

Headed out to hit the slopes in Colorado a few weeks ago. Breckenridge to be exact. I had been there a few years back with my sister but it was during the summer and I was curious about what the town and mountain would be like during ski season. Back then, my sister and I stayed at a hostel a few blocks from the center of town and it turned out to be more of a bed and breakfast than the simple accommodations I was looking forward to. I had formed this idea of a hostel in my head and wanted to realize it by arriving to a young crowd of travelers sharing stories and experiences. A community of strangers you could say. I guess that sort of thing appeals to me. Instead, the place was very comfortable, very spacious and the party sized jacuzzi was very hot. It was a good consolation prize and a clue to the kind of clientele the town catered to. Although the aesthetic is very upscale, Breckenridge still manages to keep that old town mountain village feel mostly because it was built over an old town mountain village. I remembered checking out the people on the restaurant and coffee shop lined streets thinking it was yuppie central. Totally not my crowd, but where there are yuppies there is ease and comfort. Prefect for a no hassle ski weekend out west. And the snow usually brings out the adventurous types anyway so problem solved. Neat town, cool people, big ol hill, close to Denver International... choosing Breck was easy.

The conditions on the mountain weren't optimal and not all the runs were open the first couple days we were there but I still had a grand ol time on my skis. It's hard to say what ability of skier I am. Sometimes I feel like I'm in the advanced category and sometimes, like on the diamond glade runs up on Lift 6, it's like I'm putting skis on for the first time. Breck goes from intermediate to expert in a flash with little in between. Not all that bad for families or those into cruisers I suppose. Though I would have preferred something a bit more challenging without having to negotiate mogals and pine trees on near vertical descents. My ego is still bruised. But I'm nitpicking, there was a lot of variety and when peak 10 opened up we had our fill of great views and great all around skiing.

Breckenridge has way more upside than any downs I can think of. I'd recommend it to anyone. I wish I could go into detail about all the wonderful places to go and eat but we had fun finding them on our own so I wouldn't take that experience from you. Just talk to all the friendly people on the street and in the hotel and you'll have an easy time. I'm already looking forward to my next ski trip our west... whatever that may be.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Santa with style

A popular event during the holiday season around the DC Metro area is a Santa bar crawl, though I'm sure this sort of thing happens all over the place. The premise is simple, dress up like Santa, an elf, Christmas tree or maybe even Rudolph and head on out to your favorite bars. Since the elements of the Santa myth are a hosh posh of traditions from various religions, this outing can appeal to persons of any religious background.

I chose to class up the tired ol Santa shirt a little and reconfigure it into a Santa suit jacket. But this is still a pretty low key event so I accessorized with the Santa ball cap I made for last year's crawl. Although time intensive, the hat was pretty easy to put together. I took an old baseball hat I had laying around and covered it with the fabric from two Santa hats. An Exacto Knife with a very sharp blade made short work of the de-stitching duties. Totally necessary to maximize fabric coverage. And of course, attaching the fabric to the hat was a breeze with hot glue... what else. Now, the jacket was a completely different story. First, I bought a generic Santa costume from Party City and a swath of white fuzzy fabric along with a few buttons and some thread from Jo-Anne Crafts. I proceeded to de-stitch the whole Santa coat so I could adjust the measurements. I used one of my sport jackets for size comparison. After a little scissor work and a ton of hand sewing (and hot glue), the jacket was born. Originally I didn't attach the bottom trim thinking that it would look more like a coat than a suit jacket, but the red felt from the Santa suit is too thin to create an adequate border even when doubled over so I opted for it. I think that was the right decision.