11th annual family ski trip, take 2 (getting there)

This would have been the 12th annual trip, but #COVIDchaos prevented us from going last year. So it’s the 11th annual, take 2. Little did we know we’d end up stuck in #snowmageddon2021 in Denver.

Saturday, March 13

There was some rumblings of a snowstorm that was going to hit Denver late Saturday night – Sunday morning. But we planned to get to Denver by Saturday afternoon, so we thought we’d be ok. We called our place in Avon to see if we could drive all the way through and stay there, but they were booked … as were all the hotels along the way between Denver and Avon.

We dropped Ali at the kennel at 8:30 a.m. It was foggy the entire trip. If you thought western Kansas/Eastern Colorado drive on I-70 is boring, try it covered with a fog blanket. According to the weather radar, we are driving into a thunderstorm and then a snowstorm.

We arrived in Denver round 3 p.m. to flurries and rain. We sent Scott out for Freddy’s burgers (there was talk of pizza, but then we decided no because we were planning to eat at our favorite pizza joint in Idaho Springs, Beau Jo’s, and we didn’t want pizza for dinner and then pizza for lunch the next day).

The boys watched disc golf and I read (Current selection: Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family).

Sunday, March 14

It snowed. And it’s still snowing. I went out to get my coffee and the van slid several times. There was no one at Starbucks. Not even in the drive thru. That should have been a clue.

The storm was supposed to taper off around noon. It didn’t.

We started out around 11 a.m. Several times I said casually “Should we be doing this?” and “This probably isn’t a good idea.” It was hard to see the road. Basically whiteout conditions. This is the view. There’s a road there somewhere.

For a while we were behind a couple of snowplows, which helped. Then Google maps steered us off I-70 for a “faster” route. We ended up getting off at a gas station and then trying to take a two-lane road back to I-70. We couldn’t get up the hill.

We finally made it back to I-70 by retracing our steps. Still cannot see anything. The police set up flares and required us to take the next exit.

We stopped on the exit along with all the other crazy people out driving. The exit is on an incline and we are driving really slow.

Me:” Can’t we go faster? There’s cars.”
Scott: “I’m flooring it.”

We could barely see a gas station down the road, but we were in the wrong lane to make the turn. We see a pick up truck plow through two feet of snow and make the turn.

Scott: “Is there anyone in that other lane? I think we should go to that gas station.”
Me: “No way we can get through that snow.”
Scott: “That pick up just did.”

Right then a van (similar to ours) tries to to make the turn to the gas station and gets stuck. It’s the black van on the right side of this photo.

We are moving slowly and try to get back on I-70 to find a hotel. Again, we can’t see much. We miss the exit for the first hotel. We find a Marriott and make it into the parking lot. We get a room and unload our luggage. Scott goes to park the van … and gets stuck in the parking lot. The boys run out to help. Along with a hotel worker who is trying to keep the parking lot cleared, but it isn’t working.

After 30 minutes of pushing and putting yellow grid thingys under the wheels, we moved it a foot. The maintenance guy at the hotel said to just leave it. Also, we’ll find out the next day that someone accidentally left the passenger front window down about an inch. πŸ˜’

So. We have a day to spend in Denver. But we can’t leave the hotel.

We watched disc golf.
Watched other hotel guests playing with their dogs outside in the snow.
Checked out the lobby and pool and walked around the hotel.
Saw a cool owl outside our hotel window and remarked how heavy the snow looked.

It’s now about 4 p.m.

Turns out they did close I-70 east of Denver, as well as over Vail pass and in between some mountain communities. Our friends were just east of the Denver airport and ended up spending the night in their car at a closed gas station.

We did have plenty of food: bread, peanut butter, whales, cheez its, golden Oreo’s, regular Oreo’s, animal crackers, granola bars, clementines, apples, bananas, life cereal and water. The funniest snack was Zach’s peanut butter and banana sandwich. We didn’t have utensils, so he just put a whole banana between the two pieces of bread. 🀣

We watched more TV. Sometime after it got dark we saw a line of snow plows either going to or coming from I-70. We were near the highway, but couldn’t see it because of the weather conditions.

Turns out, this snowstorm was the 4th worst in Denver in history! The Denver area recorded 24-27 inches.

Monday, March 15

Monday morning the storm has passed and all roads were open. We headed to Idaho Springs for our traditional lunch at Beau Jo’s. Because of the weather, Beau Jo’s was opening an hour later, at noon. So we walked around the town for a bit. Made snowballs and tried to hit an orange construction cone.

And then just went and sat in the car until noon. This time we met up with some friends (the ones who slept in their car).


On to Avon! We are not staying with my friend (this will be the first time in 10 years we aren’t) because… ya know… COVID. We rented a 2 bed, 2 bath condo in Avon. Let’s hope our actual skiing goes more smoothly than the “getting there.” We are skiing in Beaver Creek tomorrow and Thursday. On Wednesday, the boys are skiing Vail and I’m spending the day with my friend having lunch and getting massages πŸ‘πŸ».

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