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December 31, 2014

The Mountain Journal: The benefits of vacationing in the east, regardless of snow

By Tony Crespi

Sitting in the Killington Peak Base Lodge late last season I heard several skiers express annoyance with the unpredictability of Eastern weather. In fact, one fellow described jetting to Western resorts as a romantic adventure. Sure, high alpine resorts can boast reliable snow, and rarely are Western snow storms followed by frozen ice or rain (as happened last week). But commercial air travel? Romantic. Maybe once. Not now. In fact, commercial air travel – especially in winter — can feel like a nightmare without end. I know. Having written for multiple newspapers and magazines I’ve travelled a lot. This is, well, one of those stories. Here’s just one example of how that dream didn’t match reality.

The story took place a few years ago, when I flew into a Western resort with my wife. It started with smiles of anticipation. In fact I had assured my wife that we would easily balance writing with time together skiing. In this case we made a smooth transfer enroute, and arrived in Colorado during a major storm. Things looked great. Snow was fabulous. The forecast was for additional snow and we were scheduled to check into a cozy mountain A-Frame. Still, as we unloaded from the aircraft and headed toward the luggage claim area we heard our names on the loudspeaker. I knew this was not promising. To start, the airline attendant explained that our bags were delayed but would be delivered by evening… That night we learned the skis were somehow sent to New Mexico but our bags were enroute. An hour later, though, as I opened my luggage, I discovered that it contained women’s clothing! My wife chuckled. I groaned. While we both had carried our boot bags to ensure our boots are not separated, we were clearly missing clothing and skis. The confusion continued and the missing bags arrived the night before we headed home!

Welcome to the wows of travel.

In this case, as in most cases, it completely changed the tone and tenor of the trip. While the mountain kindly provided skis and somehow located some 1970s era ski clothing to loan us, the lack of our own skis and clothing took away from the joy of the “romantic travel adventure.” We spent so much time making phone calls tracking luggage! We spent so much time washing and rewashing our undergarments! We spent so much time feeling irritated.

I heard other travel writers travelling during that storm had missed their connections entirely! Some simply slept in airports scattered throughout the country waiting to catch later flights into the Rocky Mountains. If you travel enough; it’s bound to happen to you. Today we all know that because commercial airlines attempt to fill virtually every seat to maximize profitability, flight cancellations and delays – all too common when flying to high mountain, snow covered, airports – can spell disaster. It’s common that multiple cancellations create a domino effect creating additional cancellations and multi-day delays. Precious vacation days can quickly be lost.

At The Mountain Times we appreciate the virtues of Eastern skiing. It’s difficult to lose skis in our cars. If our luggage is misplaced, it is by us, and usually easily found. We can travel on our own schedule and bring liquids, gels and all the sharp objects we like. We control the audio. We control the video.

Understandably, not all trips on airlines resemble a bad dream. We have had fabulous escapes. But opening my luggage to find women’s clothing simply was not laughable. That nightmare lasted the entire trip. We wasted precious time and money and it spoiled the entire trip, despite us. Now, years later, I still recall the irritation.  Airline delays and lost luggage are just some of the reasons many are drawn to Eastern skiing. While snow conditions are unpredictable everywhere, travel nightmares don’t have to be, and that will put any “romantic escape” off on the right foot, anyway.

So toss in that additional pillow or blanket into the family car and head to the Eastern slopes. Skiing locally you can pack as much as you want and leave when you like.

We love Eastern skiing. May you, too. From that first run to the last.

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