Utah, Day 7: Time Flies

The Bird had been good to us so that’s where we spent our last full day in Utah.

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We knew we weren’t going to take the tram so we parked at Creekside (parking lot 1) instead of parking near Snowbird Center (parking lot 2).

The conditions had become spring-like as the week progressed so we stuck to the top half of the mountain where the snow wasn’t completely slush. In fact, there were still great stashes of powder in upper Gad Valley and Mineral Basin. For the first part of the day, we were in search of fresh lines in upper Gad Valley, which proved to be difficult because of the rocks that were in the way.

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Little Cloud Lift

After a quick lunch at the Birdfeeder, we took Peruvian Express lift up and then took the Peruvian Tunnel to Mineral Basin. Yes, I said tunnel. SNOWBIRD HAS A TUNNEL.

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Awesome, right?!?!?! 😀

It took about 4 minutes to go through the tunnel. We spent the rest of the day in Mineral Basin.

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I tried to get a picture of Henry jumping over rocks, but I didn’t bring my DSLR and my phone camera is too slow. FAIL.

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Even though it was another great day at the Bird, I started getting bummed out because I knew we would be going home the next day. Time flies when you’re having fun.

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Our last dinner in Utah was at The Copper Onion.

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I was nervous because we didn’t have a reservation, but there happened to be two spots available at the counter when we arrived. I love watching chefs in action so I thought we lucked out. An interesting thing I noted was the number of gloves the chefs blew through during our time there. One of the chefs wore a glove over a glove and kept changing the top glove after prepping certain foods. Is this standard food safety protocol?

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Looking over the menu, I saw bone marrow, pork belly and mussels offered as appetizers; three of my favorite things! How could I say no?

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Pleasant Creek Ranch Wagyu Bone Marrow: Parsley, Caper, Fennel salad, Charred baguette, $13

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Braised Kurobuta Pork Belly: Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Parsnip, Preserved Cherries, $11

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Mussels: Creamy Black Pepper Sauce, Toast Points, $15

The bone marrow and pork belly were AMAZING, probably the best I’ve ever had. The mussels were perfectly cooked, but the pepper sauce was a little overwhelming.

We decided not to be complete fat asses this time around and only ordered one entree. 😀 It was tough because I was really interested in the poutine!

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Lamb Riblets: Warm Cauliflower and Potato Salad, $18

The riblets were fall off the bone tender and less gamy than I’ve experienced elsewhere. I really enjoyed the side salad.

For the first time in a long while, we actually had room for dessert. Usually our buttons are popping off and still, we would order dessert.

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Special of the Day: Strawberry, Grapefruit and Basil Sorbet, $3

The sorbet was definitely light and refreshing. I first tasted the strawberry and the slight bitterness of the grapefruit came through at the end.

After dinner we went on a night walk around the State Capitol Building, which is just a few blocks away from our condo.

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If you look closely, you’ll see people sitting on the front steps and on the surrounding wall. I guess it was prom night or something because we saw lots of kids in fancy dresses and tuxes. Damn, I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since I graduated high school. 😥

After a week in Utah, Henry said he still prefers Colorado. Given how horrible this season has been, I don’t think a fair comparison can be made. I really do hope this season is an anomaly and I’ll get a chance to come back and fully experience why Utah has “the greatest snow on earth”. So for now, I’ll just say that I ♥ Utah as much as I ♥ Colorado.

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SLC Eats (+our verdict):
The Copper Onion, 4/5

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Utah, Day 5 & 6: The Other Side

Day 5

After 3 days of good to great conditions (at the end of March, GASP!), it was due time for a reality check.

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Bluebird skies, HOT (60°), SLUSH

Adult Half Day = $76
Adult Full Day = $96

$96?! Damn. The cost of half day at Canyons is as much as a full day at Snowbird! I learned, after the fact, that the local Costco sells discounted tickets to Canyons.

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To get to the base of the mountain from the parking lot, take a ride on the Cabriolet lift, which is basically a small, standing only gondola. The view up from the parking lot got me totally pumped up…

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This pic is from winter, I swear.

We started our day with the Orange Bubble Express. This lift is pretty famous because it’s the only one with heated seats and a sun/wind visor. Ballin! I guess it’s kind of cool, but seriously, do you really need these things? Don’t be a pansy.

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This must be why my ticket cost $96!

OK, so maybe if it was like 10° and windy, I totally would’ve raved about it 😉

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I heard great things about Canyons while I was planning this trip, but I knew I had to lower my expectations a bit given how horrible this season has been. Then we came to Utah and was totally blown away by Snowbird so I figured we would get more of the same at Canyons. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case. AT ALL.

Mid-mountain was slushy where the sun hit and icy in the shade. Stop and go, stop and go, was no fun. We tried to make the best of it, but it seemed like all runs leading back to the mid-mountain lifts were catwalks and slushy catwalks are pretty much the worst things EVAR. We hoped the top of the mountain would be better, but before we headed up, we had to re-energize with a waffle break.

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The waffle was OK. I was confused because some of the sugar was still crystallized inside the waffle – that’s not how it’s supposed to be right? Eating chunks of sugar was strange.

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After our quick break, we took the Ninety-Nine 90 lift to the top of the mountain. I didn’t understand the name of the lift at first, but then I realized DUH, 9990 ft is the elevation. The top wasn’t much better than mid-mountain since it was all icy. We did one run and didn’t bother going back up. I’m not sure what I hate more, ice or slush.

Based on my one day experience, I’m pretty sure I won’t be coming back to Canyons in the future. For a ticket price that is almost as much as Vail/Breck (and more than Mammoth!), I just don’t see how Canyons is worth the money, even in good conditions. Anyone who disagrees, please let me know what I am missing!

Although Canyons was a bust, dinner at Himalayan Kitchen partly made up for it.

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Himalayan Assorted Meat Platter, $12.95
Lamb Kabab, Chicken Tikka, Shish Kabab and Chicken Tandoori with Lamb Samosa

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Fish Curry, $16.95
Traditional dish made with wild Mahi-Mahi, onions, garlic, ginger, tomatoes and curry spices

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Lamb Vindaloo, $15.95
Boneless lamb cooked with potatoes, onion, tomatoes, vinegar and spices in a tangy sauce

We ordered “medium” spicy for the curry and vindaloo and man, they were SPICY, but good spicy, not uncomfortable spicy… though… I did contemplate ordering a mango lassi after we started eating. 😉 Everything was delicious and the lamb and fish were especially tender. My only complaint, as with Mazza, is that the prices are steep. I understand the curry was made with Mahi-Mahi, but $17 for a small bowl of fish curry is a lot.

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Day 6

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Park City’s famous Eagle Superpipe

When we checked the ticket prices for Park City, the website wasn’t updated so the prices were the same as Canyons. Not wanting waste another $96, we decided to ride a half day and then go back to Snowbird for our last full day in Utah.

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Partly cloudy – snow (mid afternoon), spring conditions

When we arrived at the ticket booth, we were quoted different prices:

Adult Half Day = $65
Adult Full Day = $80

First of all, thank you, Park City, for being reasonable and adjusting ticket prices based on conditions and late season. Having to pay only $65 was a nice surprise and guess what??? If I had paid $96 for Park City, it still would have been WAY more worth it than Canyons.

For the most part, the coverage was decent.

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There were some areas, especially near the bottom of the mountain, that had limited coverage.

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Silverlode lift

Since we didn’t have a lot of time, we rode mainly in the King Con and Silverlode zones. Park City is divided into 7 zones: Crescent, Jupiter, King Con, Silverlode/Bonanza, Motherlode/Thaynes, Payday/Town and McConkey’s. The runs in the King Con and Silverload zones were wide blues and reminded me a lot of Breck’s Peak 9 area. Despite the conditions being what they were, I actually had a good time and wished we could have spent a full day here instead of Canyons. I would definitely come back to Utah and ride Park City again 🙂

So yesterday was bad day at Canyons, but good dinner. Today was good day at Park City, but bad dinner.

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Bayou supposedly has a great beer selection, but we didn’t go there for the beer, we went for the food. Perhaps that was our mistake.

We started with two appetizers: popcorn shrimp ($5.99) and seafood balls ($6.99).

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The popcorn shrimp were OK. It was interesting that they were so lightly breaded and I don’t quite understand why the shrimp were placed directly over the sauce. According to the menu, the seafood balls are a mixture of salmon, crawfish and shrimp. The mix must have been 80% salmon because that’s all I could taste.

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Crawfish Etouffee, $12.99

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Gumbolaya (+ shrimp), $16.68

Our entrees weren’t much better. The etouffee had no flavor and the few crawfish in the dish were overcooked. The gumbolaya, on the other hand, was sooooooooo salty! The shrimp that we added to the gumbolaya were flavorless so it was pretty obvious that they were just thrown in right before the dish was plated. I could also tell they were frozen shrimp since they had a rubbery texture. Yuck.

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SLC Eats (+our verdict):
Himalayan Kitchen, 3.5/5
The Bayou, 2/5

(to be continued…)

Utah, Day 3 & 4: Bird Is The Word

Day 3

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Bird bird bird…

Today was one of the best powder days OF MY LIFE!! Though visibility was poor, the amount of powder definitely made up for it.

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POWDER, windy, zero/low visibility

The forecast called for snow, and snow it did. The Snowbird website reported 4 inches, but it felt like a lot more.

Half day Tram & Chair (12:30 – 4:00) = $68
Full day Tram & Chair = $78
Full day Chair Only = $72

After we purchased our tickets, we headed straight to the Tram, which is basically a huge, standing only, gondola. It fits about 100 people and takes 10 minutes to get to the top of the mountain (Hidden Peak). If you don’t care to have direct access to the top, save $6 and purchase a Chair Only ticket.

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At the top, we strapped in and could not see SHIT. Since it was white out conditions, we decided to ride the “easy” blue run down. Well, this blue run from the top (Chip’s Run) is relatively narrow and flat; it reminded me of Heavenly’s Skyline trail. I ride regular so I tend to freak out when my back faces the edge of the mountain. It didn’t help things AT ALL that I couldn’t even see where the edge was!

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Chip’s Run on a clear day (Day 3)

We rode a few runs on the Peruvian Gulch side, taking the Tram up every time. Another advantage of the Tram is not having to battle cold and wind during a snowstorm.

For lunch, we at Forklift, which is a serviced restaurant on the top level of the Snowbird Center. Henry ordered the Pastrami Burger ($13.75) and I had the Halibut Fish & Chips ($15.75). I thought fish & chips came standard with fries because… oh, I don’t know… the name?… but apparently at Forklift, the Halibut Fish & Chips comes with a choice of fries, cottage cheese OR side salad. UM OK. I ended up paying extra for a side salad ($5.50) because I got confused. The food was expensive but good. There are two other options if you are at the Snowbird Center and want to save a few bucks: Birdfeeder (outdoor grill) is right next to Forklift and Rendezvous (cafeteria) is located one floor down.

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Awesome name!! 😀

After lunch, we explored the Gad Valley side. At first it seemed like a bad idea since the top area was pretty icy with only a thin layer of powder. But we traveled a bit further down and found paradise. Every trail was covered with powder. I felt like I was gliding on clouds the entire time. And the tree runs in this area rivaled those at Vail! We didn’t want to leave the area so we kept riding down to the same lift (Gad 2).

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Ahh Heaven.

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Day 4

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The next day, we were blessed with partly cloudy skies. Since the storm prevented us from riding the backside (Mineral Basin) and the upper bowls of Gad Valley, we spent Day 4 in these areas.

Mineral Basin can be accessed from Hidden Peak via Chip’s Run/Lupine Loop and Path to Paradise. The name Path to Paradise should be renamed to Going Through Hell to Get to Paradise because it was another narrow trail where my back faced the edge mountain. OK, it wasn’t that bad, I’m just chicken shit. 😦

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Path to Paradise (Left to Mineral Basin) and Road to Provo (Right to Gad Valley)

If riding Path to Paradise to Mineral Basin, you can actually drop in mostly anywhere on the trail, but we tried and found that some areas near the top were icy so we stuck with groomed runs: Junior’s Powder Paradise, White Diamond and Silver Dipper.

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Two lifts service Mineral Basin (see left in picture above): Mineral Basin Express, which takes you back to Hidden Peak, and Baldy Express, which skiers can take to access the adjoining skier-only mountain, Alta.

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Henry gettin’ cray

We took a quick lunch break at Rendezvous, the cafeteria on the second floor of the Snowbird Center, and then took the Tram back up to Gad Valley.

Remember what I said about narrow trails? So I had NO problems with Road to Provo since my back was not facing the edge. GEEEEEEZ. What’s my problem?? 😦

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Anyway, as with other areas, you can drop in pretty much anywhere, but we followed Road to Provo to Mark Malu Fork. And…… Wow. Just WOW.

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Sorry, Mineral Basin, I’mma let you finish, but Gad Valley has the bestest runs of all time. Riding the upper bowls of Gad Valley was like riding down from the Summit of Peak 8 (Breck) without having to hike up and almost die from exhaustion. Win-win.

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Our last run of the day and not a person in sight. I love that feeling ♥

(to be continued…)

Utah, Day 2: Solitude

Day 2

Waking up early certainly didn’t happen. It was a half-day kind of day. Our excuse was that we only slept a couple of hours the night before 😉 We finally left the condo at 12:50 and arrived at Solitude at about 1:30.

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Half day ticket (12:30 – 4:00) = $56
Full day ticket = $68

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Partly cloudy, packed power, borderline slushy

Despite several days of high temps after a storm that dumped a couple of feet of new snow, the coverage was still decent. The first thing we tried to do was go to the summit, but unfortunately, the most direct route was closed off for avalanche control. Bummer! We decided to just stay on the right side of the mountain. Solitude is not a big mountain; I thought it was about the size of Big Bear and Snow Summit combined. The runs and lifts are short, which was fine given our limited time. Our favorite run was Eagle Ridge (off Powderhorn II Quad) to Challenger (can also be accessed by Eagle Express Quad).

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Powderhorn II Quad

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wwwwwwwwwwwweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!

On our last run, I smiled to myself, thinking about how we lucked out with the conditions. But as we headed towards the bottom of the mountain, we encountered sticky slush! TOTAL LEG BURN! It was such a drag to have to expend so much energy just to finish our run. Perhaps using all-purpose/all temperature wax could have helped us. I don’t know. I think we’ve only used winter wax.

(to be continued…)

Is It Winter Yet?

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Mammoth Mountain, 1/6/12-1/8/12
Conditions: Spring, icy patches, minimal coverage

This is what January is looking like, folks…

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No bueno

I’m pretty sure these conditions are the worst I’ve seen and experienced at Mammoth. We tried to make the best of it, but it was difficult given all of the browns spots, rocks and ICE. My board is seriously tore up! 😦

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This is usually one of favorite runs – I love to bomb it down to Canyon, especially at the end of the day. So I’m riding down and everything was OK until I turned the corner. I, along with everyone else, was surprised by large patches of ice. People were breaking. People were falling. People were breaking and then falling. @#$*&@%. Icy crowded runs = accidents waiting to happen. I’m glad I survived with bruised knees.

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Season Opener

How did we celebrate 11/11/11?

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By taking a day trip to Mammoth for opening weekend! Yes, we actually thought it was a good idea until it was time to drive back and everybody wanted to just knock the effff out.

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Mammoth Mountain, 11/11/11
Conditions: Snow with low visibility, fresh powder, early season terrain

I have a love/hate relationship with snowboarding during snow storms. While I love cruising through fresh powder, the low visibility usually kills the fun for me. I know my goggle lens is definitely too dark for these conditions, but I used Henry’s for a bit, which has a higher VLT, and I still couldn’t see shit!

So now that I’ve experienced a day trip to Mammoth, I’ll probably never do it again. I didn’t even do any of the driving and I felt physically exhausted. Oh well, I’m planning at least one weekend trip to Mammoth every month… can’t let our season passes go to waste!