Family Ski Trip to Monarch Resort in Colorado

Title: Anderson Family Ski Trip 2001
Point of Departure: Saint Louis Missouri
Destination: Maysville Colorado
Purpose: Family Vacation to go Snow Skiing
States: Missouri, Kansas, Colorado
Duration: 7 days
Vehicle: 1994 Nissan Altima
Odometer: Start: 97,261 End: 99,341
Distance: 2,080 statute miles (round trip)

Trip Diary: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7
Photos: Cabin | Family | Grandma | Grandpa | Mountains | Prices | Skiers | Snow Bunnies

Day 1 - Thursday 03/15/2001
Travel day from Webster Groves MO to WaKeeney KS. We left Webster Groves, Missouri about 1:20pm - Kelly left school early so that we could get a jump on our long drive to Western Kansas. Traveling west through Columbia and Kansas City. Grandma called from her cellular phone just as we hit KC and informed us that they were making the turn west onto I-70 at Salina and the Interstate was dry and in good shape. We were relieved to hear this as I-70 had been closed at WaKeeney for several hours earlier in the day. We stopped in Topeka, the capital of Kansas, for fuel and dinner at Burger King. Leaving Topeka we hit some bad weather for about 40-50 miles, rain that changed to driving snow. We made our way through Salina and Hays then on to WaKeeney, Kansas, the "Christmas City of the High Plains". We drove about 540 miles in just under 9 hours including 3 stops. In WaKeeney we stayed at the Super8 Motel.

While in the car we listened to the unabridged version of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Book 3) on audio cassette. We borrowed the tapes from the Webster Groves Library. Listening to the book was fun and kept us all entertained for hours.

Every once in a while a small voice in the backseat would say "Joshua, Joshua, I want Joshua". Joshua is a song off of Raffi's Baby Beluga album that Cousin Val was so kind to send us several years ago when Kelly was baby. Kerry loves that tape and especialy the song about Joshua giraffe. It's a very good tape for young children but this adult did tire of the frequent playing of Kumbaya.

Day 2 - Friday 03/16/2001
Travel day, WaKeeney KS to Maysville CO. We met my Brother X, his wife Y, Baby Z and our parents at the Real Country Cafe for breakfast. We left WaKeeney about 9:20am and headed west toward Colorado. About 30 miles from the Kansas/Colorado the time zone changes to Mountain Time so you gain an hour. We drove about 138 miles to a reststop/visitors center where we took a health break. Another 75 miles brought us to Limon Colorado where stopped for lunch at Wendy's - no sign of Dave. As you approach Limon you can see the magnificant Rookie Mountains - such an impressive sight.

We left Limon on Highway 24 which we followed through Colorado Springs to Green Mountain Falls. We stopped there to search for the old Southwestern College (Winfield KS) cabin that we had stayed in when I was just a boy (25+ years ago). After some searching Grandpa found the cabin on Hondo Street. Years ago it was painted a dark green - now the cabin's exterior is covered with vertical log pieces (not to attractive in my opinion). Leaving GMF our Altima starting making a horrible racquet. The noise sounded like something was loose around the front of the engine. We headed for a service station an the noise got worse then disappeared. Apparently some stones of gravel had gotten caught around the drive belts and pulleys and were eventually thrown free. At least it wasn't a fuel injector like what happened on last year's ski trip.

We stopped at Wilkerson Pass and took a couple of pictures then continued west through Trout Pass We skipped the scenic overlook east of Johnson Village as it was cloudy and had started to snow. We stopped in Johnson Village at a liqour store and bought 2 six-packs of Tennants Lagar, the largest selling beer in Scotland. This was the brew Mary and I drank often on our Honeymoon to Scotland in 1988. In Buena Vista we stopped at a grocery store to stock up on a few essentials (one must have pretzels to go with ones beer).

We arrived at the cabin in Maysville about 7:25pm, 953 miles from Saint Louis. Maysville was a booming mining camp once apon a time in the late 1800's. To read more about it click here.

Day 3 - Saturday 03/17/2001
Ski day 1. We awoke to fresh snow, about 12 inches worth on the ground. The moutains are very pretty when covered in snow. Grandpa and I shoveled the driveway. A neighbor stopped by on a quadrunner and helped to plow the snow. A couple hors later a road grater cleared the snow from the county road that connect up with Highway 50.

We made it to Monarch about midday and enrolled the girls in private lessons which lasted about one and one quarter hours. They are a little disorganized at Monarch as they had told us that they did not take reservations. The gentleman in line behind me had been told the same thing. Well, as it turns out, they do take reservations for children just not for specific times! They want to know that you are coming but the lessons are provided on a first come, first serve basis.

By the time we got our equipment fitted we qualified for reduced rated since it was after 1:30pm. Grandpa rented standard skies and boots for $11 per day less a 20% senior discount. I rented "sport" skis and boots for $18 per day. I prefer the "sport" boots as they have more buckles and I can get them tighter. We discovered that it was cheaper to buy lift tickets from the person that rented us the cabin rather than at the ski resort. We paid $28 for an adult lift ticket versus $35 at Monarch.

The non-skiers spent the day working on a Harry Potter puzzle and visited Safeway and Walmart in Salida. We tried several times to the get the Direct TV to work without success.

The girls stayed at the cabin with Grandma and Grandpa, ate hot dogs and played the game Pass the Pigs. Mary and I went out to eat and dined at Grimo's Italian Resturant on Highway 285 in Poncha Springs. The food was very good and we enjoyed a bottle of Melini Borghi D'Elsa Chianti 1999. Perhaps you have heard the saying "mama-mia those are spicy meatballs". The meatballs at Grimo's were spicy and very good!

Day 4 - Sunday 03/18/2001
Ski Day 2. It was a bright, sunny day so we dressed lighter for what promised to be a fine day of snow skiing. It had snow an inch or two the previous evening, far less that the night before. As we traveled up the moutain in ski became cloudy, then it began to snow. It was amazing the difference in weather from Maysville to Monarch considering they are only a few miles apart. Girls lesson wouldn't start for awhile so we climbed aboard the quad lift and headed to the top. It was cold, the wind was blowing and it was snowing. As we neared the top the snow turned hard and stung the face. Katie said "Daddy I'm ready to go home". Once we were on our skies headed back down it was better.

Most of the morning was like that. Girls lessons ended early and they didn't want to ski anymore. Grandma, Mary and Kerry had come up the moutain this day to see them ski but it was just to cold. The sun peaked out a couple of times during the afternoon. Still lots of powder so that skiiing continued to be hard on our legs.

Day 5 - Monday 03/19/2001
Ski Day 3. Another bright sunny day. This time the skiing was great. No new powder and slopes had been groomed. The skiing was faster and easier on the legs. This day made the long trip worthwhile. Kelly and Katie skied with Grandpa and I. We made two runs down the moutain on various green slopes. Kelly and I went back up for a third run. She was skiing well. We skied in opposite directions coming together near the middle of the slope making giant figure eights. Most enjoyable.

Grandma, Mary and Kerry showed up and shot some video of the girls skiing down the bottom portion of the green Glade slope. We took a few group pictures then made one more run with Kelly. Grandpa and I did another couple of runs from the top of the mountain.

Day 6 - Tuesday 03/20/2001
Travel day from Maysville CO to WaKeeney KS. We left the cabin about 8:30am and headed for WaKeeney. We decided to try going north on Highway 24 thru Leadville, then Highway 91, to I-70, then east thru Denver to see if his route offered any advantages over Highway 24 to Colorado Springs and Limon. We stopped at the scenic turnout and took pictures of Shavano Peak. The drive to Leadville is very pretty as it follows the Arkansas River. Leadville had the most expensive gas at $1.679 a gallon (that was for 87 octane since we were headed down out of the mountains - 85 octane was a dime cheaper).

We became interested in this route when we tried the brand new on-line version of AAA's TripTic shortly before we began our journey. This route is about 54 miles longer. I not sure I like it that well as there is lots of traffic on this stretch of I-70, it's a long descent down out of the mountains and travel around Denver is limited to 55 mph. There was quite a haze hanging over Denver as we passed.

We stopped in Limon at the Wendy's (again) and had lunch. We were entertained by 3 families that were traveling together and the borish behavior of their children. They seemed to get as much pleasure out of throwing their food on the floor and at each other as they did from eating it. It was sad commentary that the parents seemed oblivious to the rude behaviour of there offspring.

About 35 miles into Kansas from the Colorado border the Time Zone changes from Mountain Time to Central Time so you lose an hour. We made it to the Super 8 in WaKeeney about 4:45pm and checked into the hotel. I took the filthy Altima to the carwash in WaKeeney and cleaned off a few pounds of colorful Colorado.

Tuesday evening we meet my brother X, his wife Y and baby (cousin) Z at the Western Kansas Saloon & Grill on North Main Street in WaKeeney. We had a nice meal. Afterward to went X and Y's place to celebrate Z's first birthday. Z has grown a bit since we saw her at Christmas and she is now standing and walking. After Z opened her presents we retired to the basement to hear some of X's compilation CD's and to sample some single malt scotch (on the rocks) while the four girls played with Z's toys.

Day 7 - Wednesday 03/21/2001
Travel day from WaKeeney KS to Webster Groves MO. Brother X stopped by the motel to pick his girl scout cookies that we had forgotten to give him the night before. We piled into the car about 7:45am and headed east into the sun on I-70. After a couple brief rest stops we stopped for lunch and fuel in Concordia MO at the Travel Center of America. We had never been to a TA Center before and we found it to be very nice with large clean bathrooms and a variety of food choices. We ate at Subway. Continuing east on I-70 we stopped for a health break at the reststop in Wright City then on to Webster Groves arriving home about 4:40pm.

This was a very similar trip to last year except it was condensed from 10 days down to 7 days. It would have been nice to have those 3 extra days this year. The trip boiled down to 4 days of driving for 3 days of skiing and visiting with my family. Well worth it my estimation!

Happy Trails.

Trip Diary: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7
Photos: Cabin | Family | Grandma | Grandpa | Mountains | Prices | Skiers | Snow Bunnies

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