Colorado Ski Town USA Steamboat Springs: Making Fast Friends on the Slopes

Champagne Powder of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The Cattail plants peaking through the snow symbolizes peace and well-wishes of prosperity for its recipients.

HOW TO MAKE FAST FRIENDS WHILE TRAVELING

Conversations are a funny thing especially now with the social media influences changing how people communicate.

The art of making fast friends is a dying art form and the alternative leaves people feeling lonely and disconnected to the spaces they occupy. I hear passive conversations around me about “where to go” and “what to do” in a city and immediately see people begin clicking on their phones all while they’re standing in the company of a community of locals and others travelers.

While there are many amazing travel blogs and websites there are unfortunately many of them that explore only regurgitated travel information pre-gathered through query of other travelers and online searches and they’re missing the hidden adventures and gems that can be discovered through talking in person with a local or educated traveler along their paths.

I still enjoy making personal connections with people and listening to the parts of their lives they choose to share. Wherever we travel I’m frequently engaged in conversations with strangers and gain knowledge of an area.

During our Christmas ski trip to Steamboat Resort in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, I had the pleasure of speaking with many people as we rode the ski lifts, journeyed out on shuttles, waited in lines and relaxed at various eateries.

Apres ski, Gondola Square Steamboat Resort, skiing
Gondola Square has many fire pits to warm up next to as you take a stroll around the shops and eateries. Check out the Gondola Square cam.
Truffle Pig, Apres Ski, Steamboat Resort, skiing
Truffle Pig is centrally located in Gondola Square and has many excellent drink and menu selections.
Head Super Joy Skis, skiing, Steamboat Ski Resort
Heading up Christie Peak Express for the first run of the trip. I didn’t travel with ski equipment as I wanted the opportunity to try out the demo shop rentals. They put me in an amazing pair of 2018 Head Super Joy skis. I loved them.

Of my favorite conversations was one with a young teenage girl from Chicago that we had the pleasure of sitting down next to at the lobby of the Steamboat Grand while waiting for our shuttle downtown. She told me she skis Steamboat every year with her brother as they spend the holidays here with her grandparents.

Steamboat Grand, Christmas decor, ski holiday
Steamboat Grand Hotel Lobby was decorated for Christmas with fresh flowers, poinsettia tree, wrapped presents and lights. Hotel.
Letters to Santa, Steamboat Grand, ski vacation
Writing letters to Santa. Each afternoon Steamboat Grand offers complementary hot cocoa and cookies for hotel guests to enjoy.

I wonder if I can get my parents to relocate to Colorado so we can spend Christmas with them as well as on the slopes? My son met and chatted with Steamboat Realtor, Doug Labor on our flight and apparently they had a good discussion of market trends. I’m pretty sure my parents will never go for a move to Colorado as they’ve had enough cold weather and are well-settled with 25 years in the southern sunshine but, my tween son has a real estate connection in case they change their minds.

Back to the conversation in the lobby: Our conversation took us down the various runs and the challenges of Steamboat. It makes me smile whenever I see the cautionary statement “Degree of difficulty ratings and symbols are relative to Steamboat Ski Resort only,” and what that means is that the easy-going green circles of the Midwest are more closely related to the Midwest black diamond. It’s all relative! Einstein actually said, “Everything is relative” and vantage points are the point here as is understanding your skiing abilities and ego.

Steamboat Resort, ski slopes, Steamboat, ski trail, black diamond ski
Vantage Point: Everything is relative.

Our new friend started talking about her early morning on the slopes following a long night of snowfall; first tracks.

Winter Colorado, snow trees, ski Colorado
First Tracks tickets must be purchased and they will earn you access to the Gondola between 8am and 8:15am.

First Tracks. Freshies: The first to hit the newly fallen snow and groomed slopes. AKA: Morning people. I spent my years as a competitive figure skater hitting the ice at 4:15am. I did my time. I’ve earned my mornings to sleep late and with that said there is still the draw to those early mornings that athletes know too well… there’s something in the air that’s a tangible excitement of what’s ahead in the day.

Gondola, winter gondola, Steamboat Resort gondola, winter views
Low visibility on the Gondola during some heavy snowfall. As we skied we could hear the snow tapping on our helmets.

I digress: She said it was an amazing few hours with several inches of fresh champagne powder topping the packed powder and how her edges were precise and carving deep.

The quiet of a morning on the slopes with fresh snowfall; effortlessly leaning forward into your turns and carving your tracks. I know this feeling well…

Yes, we missed it. I told our new friend we decided to sleep late and order breakfast to the room. She had a look of sympathy for our ski-day loss.

Steamboat Grand, room service, Hot chocolate, vacation
Steamboat Grand has a great room service dining menu and the food was prompt and warm.

The way she articulated her morning on the slopes was incredible. We were right there with her sharing her stories of excitement over the fresh powder. We really should have set an early alarm for first tracks… next time.

Champagne Powder, Steamboat Springs, Colorado
A handful of Champagne Powder: Steamboat boasts their dendrite snowflake having only a 6% moisture level whereas most moisture levels of snow are around 15%. This allows for some of the best skiing snow in the nation and was originally described as feeling like champagne bubbles hitting your nose.

We spoke of various ski resorts and she shared with my two young skiers her path toward Steamboat black diamonds. She reminded me of my own teenage years and the fearless pursuit of conquering black diamond slopes.

Ski like a girl, Steamboat Resort, ski vacation
My future black diamond girl. She carves the slopes and makes it look easy. Next up my daughter is planning to snowboard for which our new friend in the lobby said, “I’m not cool enough to snowboard,” which earned remarks from many around us adding “skiers are cooler.” I agree.

Steamboat black diamond runs: As I age the ground gets further away and hurts more when I unintentionally crash into it, so I keep it at intermediate skiing skills with my kids and maintain my vertical position. I did push myself and my alter-ego told me I could take a jump to catch up with my lightning-fast daughter and after I actually landed and pulled it off my cautious-side yelled “Let’s not do that again!” Truth be told… when my kids advance to being able to handle Steamboats black diamond runs I will be right there behind them.

When the shuttle arrived our new friend politely said, “It was a joy talking with you. Have a wonderful stay.” What an amazing way to end an enjoyable conversation. I’m going to start saying this when it’s time to leave. What a wonderful young girl.

Steamboat Grand saves you money on car rental needs as they provide a complementary shuttle service around town each afternoon through 10:15pm each evening. The drivers were all fantastic and very knowledgeable and saved us having to find parking at the resort or downtown which can be a battle of wits to get a spot or squeeze into one.

Whenever we find ourselves in Steamboat Springs we always visit Old Town Hot Springs. The springs are amazing and only get better when the snow falls. It’s breathtaking to see the mist hover above the springs and to feel the cold on your face as you soak in the healing hot waters. Getting out can be moderately traumatic and eventually you must get out; all good things come to an end. This end comes with a brisk walk to the locker room.

Old Town Hot Springs, Steamboat Springs, Colorado, hot springs, natural hot springs, oldest hot springs in Colorado
Old Town Hot Springs in downtown Steamboat Springs is a winter wonderland. It’s open 7 days a week until 10pm. Steamboat Grand Hotel offers free guest tickets and shuttle transportation. Advertising image: Old Town Hot Springs

After soaking in the various healing pools we made our dash inside to get out of our wet swimsuits. I struggled to get my daughter out of her wet suit and into dry clothing; she wasn’t completely dry and dressing a damp child is like trying to hand-stuff a sausage casing with a live pig.

I was officially tired from the day on the slopes and from soaking in the hot springs; just wanting to get back to the condo and into my bed for the evening and the war with her leggings was getting the best of me.

Steamboat Grand, hotel linens, comfy bed, vacation bed
I’m not always a fan of the bedding or mattresses at some hotels but Steamboat Grand Hotel offers cozy and comfortable beds with amazing views.

The woman across from me on the benches in the locker room was a local and mentioned she had her entire family in town for the holidays. We laughed about how difficult it is to dress a wet child and how difficult it is to then get on our own clothes. This could possibly be one of those “put your oxygen mask on first and then help others around you” moments you hear on every in-flight instruction. Next time I get dressed first then battle my daughters leggings.

We talked about the hot springs and laughed about the joys and the struggles of motherhood. We both concluded we would have Christmas cookies and hot cocoa to finish up our evening. As we were finishing up the battles of getting into our dry clothing she asked my daughter, “Do you know why your mommy and I are talking like old friends?” Then she tells her, “because we’re both mothers and we share some of the same stories of parenthood.” We laughed and she agreed that so often strangers are friends you just haven’t met yet. I look forward to bumping into her again on our next trip around to the springs.

Truffle Pig, pig cookies, Christmas cookies, Santa cookies
Truffle Pig had a dessert offering of cookies and milk. We loved the gingerbread pigs which were tasty and so much fun to put on Santa’s cookie plate on Christmas Eve. Christmas Pig!

There were many other conversations along the way during this trip and I’m always reminded how much we all have in common in the ski towns: It’s a collective experience.

As I sat in the hot springs I heard a gentleman talking to the man seated across from him about his summer biking, as in motorcycles, all around the west and how he joined a group that made him feel he belonged.

We all do so much on our own. We work to handle the loads but really the comorodery of shared life experiences, passions, parenthood, awesome slopes, injuries, heartaches and celebrations connect us together and make us feel connected to something larger than ourselves in small ski town USA and beyond. It’s always wonderful making new friends in passing and hearing another’s stories of life.

Steamboat Grand views, condos Colorado, winter window views
Steamboat Springs has a Winter Elk Habitat. Steamboat area offers many excursions from sleigh rides, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and horseback riding through the wildlife areas. Saddleback Ranch offers snow tubing, horseback riding and even a dinner sleigh ride pulled by two draft horses and luxury shuttle service from your hotel.

Listening to a conversation on the shuttle ride we started talking to a family who was recalling a conversation they had the previous year with a gentleman from Arkansas that shared many strange but true Arkansas facts including that it’s not permitted to transport a goat in the back of a truck on Sundays.

I didn’t know that tidbit.

Conversations are a funny thing because you never know where they’ll take you or what you’ll learn if you take the time to engage with those living their lives around you.

Downtown Steamboat Springs, Colorado, things to do in winter in small town USA
Take a stroll through downtown Steamboat Springs to find this prince. Hint: He can be found on Main Street USA.
Chain of Gossip, Norman Rockwell

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