Tag Archives: rocky mountains

Skiing on a budget with kids in Colorado

If you’re looking for a great deal for skiing, then a little preparation is in order. Think it out early, and you’ll save lots. Leave it to the last minute, and you’ll be paying for it – literally. As a grad student mum with extremely limited funds, I have got hold of some great deals, and I wanted to share some resources with you.

The Colorado Gems Card. For a $10 initial outlay per card, you get a whole range of discounts and free ski days at various resorts across Colorado. The card pays for itself after the first one or two times of use – for example, at Eldora it will get the holder $10 off the price of a child’s lift ticket (normally $39 a day), and $15 off an adult ticket (normally $65 a day). (One per person, per card, per day.) The processing takes a week or two, so get it early to make good use of it.

The Colorado Passport gives your 5th grader three FREE days of skiing at over 20 resorts in Colorado, and four days for 6th graders. It’s a really great way to get some good savings across numerous resorts, from Eldora to Aspen. The Colorado Passport is FREE for 5th graders, and $99 for 6th graders. It’s well worth the investment for the 6th grader – look at how much the lift tickets would cost you at the resort you’re most likely to go to, and you’ll see what an impact having the card makes. You need to have a picture of your child to process, and online is the fastest way of doing the application. The site says it takes about 2-3 weeks for processing, but I did it two days ago, and it’s already on its way. Important: You do not have to be a resident of Colorado to get this passport – if you know your family will ski Colorado at any time this season, it’s a great one to get for your 5th or 6th grader!

colorado vail resort pass The School of Shred gives your 5th and 6th graders four FREE days of skiing at all the    Vail Resort properties. There is no charge for this card at all, for either grade – just take   evidence of enrolment to the pass office at any of the included resorts, and they’ll sort   you out with all of it done on the spot. (You can feasibly do this on the day you arrive  to ski.)

Additionally, you can get discount lift tickets through local supermarkets such as King   Soopers (you need to go there, not able to buy online). There the tickets this season      will save you around 5-10% off the ticket office price. Not a massive saving, but    everything helps and this is one option for those who find themselves considering  skiing the day prior to heading up the mountain.

Ski rentals are expensive on the mountain. If you plan it well, you can rent in town for  a cheaper rate. Just be prepared to pick up the afternoon of the day prior to your ski  day, and return either the same day, or early the day after you shred. For the front  range, Boulder Ski Deals is my rental location of choice, with rentals from just $10 a  day for kids skis and even better deals for everyone as the season gets older. You can also  try Crystal Ski Shop and the rentskis.com site. All these have deals for group rates, and extended rentals. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. 🙂

Food and beverages are expensive (and are kind of like airplane food in quality) on the mountain, so if at all possible, take your own lunch and snacks. The best skiing seems to happen in the mornings, with everyone winding down after lunch, so don’t think you need to take a heap of food with you – a sandwich, some juice/water and snacks is fine. Remember your chapstick and sunscreen (irritating to be so prepared and then have to buy them on the mountain).

And one final note: Please, rent a helmet. You can get helmets for $10 a day anywhere (in town or on the mountain). In fact, some resorts will charge $10 for the first rental and only $8 for the subsequent ones. We’re all about saving money, but medical expenses are far more than $10. It doesn’t matter how fast you go, if you’re learning, if it’s your first time, or if you’re seasoned – if you want to keep your head and what it has in it, protect it. Helmets keep your head warm, look good, and if you don’t wear one, you’ll be the odd one out on the slopes.

Hopefully this will give you a great start to getting out with your kids on the slopes in Colorado – have fun!

Why my family loves Boulder

I never dreamed I’d live anywhere other than Sydney, Australia.

When you’ve got a good job, a house you’re constantly doing ‘something’ to, kids, dogs, routine… the last thing you think of is moving. Anywhere. Least of all to a country you’ve never been to before. But then I came home from work one day and Jed told me his start-up dreams weren’t done with itechne. He had a bigger one. To go to the US and launch what was to become scribetribe.us.

And I said okay, we’ll Skype and email.

But he had a different plan. He convinced me to take (another) chance.

We packed up and moved to Boulder, Colorado in August 2008.

Now, lots of people have written about the great things Boulder has to offer in terms of nightlife, culture, the outdoors and the tech scene. And it’s all true and fantastic. I am loving being a part of all of those things. But above everything else, I’m a *proud* mum. And Boulder is an amazing place to raise kids.

Harry and Charlie are aged 8 and 11 and have come to Boulder with us. They have swapped their Sydney private school blazers and ties, frenetic life-by-the-clock, mum out teaching three nights a week, no friends within walking distance, and a home where they weren’t allowed to play out the front due to the traffic – for this:

september-2008-002 A lifestyle that is similar to that I remember as a kid. One I thought you couldn’t give your kids any more, because “times have changed.”

They’d never seen snow before we moved to Boulder. Here they love it. december-2008-004

On top of all that, the (public) school they go to has the best educators I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. They have been wonderful in helping my kids move to not only a new home, but a place where feet and inches, and American history are completely different for them. They’ve made the transtition incredibly smoothly – and it’s largely due to the school. (I’ve already celebrated Bear Creek Elementary in an earlier post.)

For me? The start-up widow? I’ve swapped a lifestyle where the drive to work each day took an hour of fume-laden highways, teaching in this college at Granville:

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For being a part of the University of Colorado, which is slightly more attractive.

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And on top of everything else, my husband is throwing himself into his life’s dream. He’s happily working on seemingly endless adrenaline, at all hours. But he tries to take a run each day and instead of it being beside a road where it’s simply not safe after a certain hour, it’s up around NCAR where deer graze.

So I guess the thing is, when you think you’re settled and couldn’t think of moving, think again. A bit of unsettling could be the best thing you do for your family. Especially if Boulder is where you end up. If you’re in tech and thinking about moving to Boulder, get in touch with the guys at Boulder.me.

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Our visit to Vail

Yesterday we took a road trip to Vail. It’s just two hours away. I found a great sledding area in Vail courtesy of a website which lets you locate good sledding runs (free) in your neighbourhood. We entered the address in the GPS, and off we went!

The day cost us nothing apart from the car’s petrol and wonderful pizza we ate for dinner. We’ve discovered the following:

a. I need snow pants. Now. Because when I have a frozen wet bum I get grumpy.

b. Charlie is a daredevil on the flexi-sled. He’s worked out that he needs to keep his whole body off the ground and entirely on the sled for the best run and for speed. He flies and cares little about danger… or direction.

c. Harry seems to be a natural snowboarder. He doesn’t even own a skateboard, but managed to stay upright for a long way on his new snowboard. His balance is amazing and he just loves it.

d. Vail is spectacular. We are definitely going back, and will probably make it at least an overnight trip. The whole place is like a gingerbread storybook land. You can see a little in my video!

Hiking with Harry

Harry loves to hike through the Rocky Mountains. There are more trails around here than you can poke a … hiking staff at. (Sorry.)

Harry’s decided to do a series of Hiking with Harry videos, which will show everyone a little bit of what new things he’s experiencing in hiking in a completely different environment. This is his first one, where he is seeing his first ever frozen lake. The quality of the video and editing limits this talented young man because it’s done by his mum! But I’ll get better, I promise! 🙂

Day of the Dinosaurs

Colorado is not just about snow (the lack of which in 2008 is duly noted). Colorado has some absolutely incredible dinosaur excavations, including stuff that’s still being dug up to this day. That’s something I didn’t know until we went on a day-long excursion/adventure this week.

First stop was one of the sites about half an hour from where we are living, at Dinosaur Ridge. The dino footprints have been preserved and you can walk up and see them! While the Ridge is on the side of a roadway, the road has now been blocked off (except for the little tour bus), so you can safely walk up.

Looking at Dino tracks

Looking at Dino tracksThe tracks have been coloured black and go right up the side of the cliff

The rock is shale, and the history of this part of Colorado is that it used to be a sea. After the landforms changed the sea disappeared, and the dinosaurs were preserved and fossilized within the shale. It was great stopping at this site first because we looked first-hand, and touched the shale in the mountain. The layers of the rock were really cool.
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From there we took a drive for another hour and a half to the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center (RMDMC) at Woodland Park. It features lots of exceptionally cool stuff for adults as well as kids on the Dinosaurs they’ve found, how they preserve them, and lots of those cool skeletons. You can even see the paleontologists at work preserving the fossils! It was great because they described the shale excavation and some of their discoveries came from exactly where we had just been.
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  november-2008-043The RMDRC has interactive kid activities, free hourly tours of the centre, two movies running all the time, and full displays of how they create the casts, and preserve the remains. Everything is presented in such a great way, it kept every one of us enthralled. There was no whingeing at this one! This was a day trip well worth taking!