Strawberry Park Natural Hot Springs

Dec 16th, 2015 Travel

Away from the ski slopes, at the end of a long, twisting, snow ridden, and frequently perilous, road lies a series of hot springs that take on an almost etherial and magical quality against the snowscape.

This is Strawberry Park Natural Hot Springs – just outside Steamboat Springs – and we had ventured out, without the boys, to explore and possibly even decompress.

Strawberry Park Natural Hot Springs

On our way, we passed these horses grazing in a field.

Horses in the Snow

Be warned, once you arrive, the trek down to the springs from the parking lot is steep and the log cabin assigned for changing, is cramped and rudimentary.  But it’s all part of the experience and the effort is very much worth it.  Don’t make the mistake I made of going barefoot down the steps once you have changed.  The distance down is further than it looks and the snow and ice gets very cold underfoot, very quickly.  I picked the wrong moment to embrace my inner Bear Grylls. Fortunately everyone else there was either similarly navigating the icy flagstone path (just not minus the footwear) or were luxuriating in the springs and so failed to notice my foolhardy attempt to appear rugged.

The more popular spring to the right is milder in temperature.  The pool on the left, where we spent most of our time, is considerably warmer – “hot” you could say – and contains pockets of blisteringly hot water bubbling up from the ground.  Geography not being my forte, I had to keep reminding myself that this is not man made.

Strawberry Park Natural Hot Springs

Beyond the safety of the walled hot springs lies a natural river.  Which was freezing.  Perfect for a reviving dip and some natural plunge pool action.

Strawberry Park Natural Hot SpringsStrawberry Park Hot Springs

Literally, and figuratively, a breathtaking scene and experience.

On balance I think it probably a good idea that we left the boys out of this one.  These days I always end up feeling guilty if I exclude them from an experience that they might very well enjoy, but what with my school boy error in navigating the pathway down, and the emphasis at the springs on relaxing,  I feel as though adding two small boys into the bubbling mix would have been a bridge too far.

Strawberry Park Natural Hot Springs

Steamboat Springs, CO

Dec 4th, 2015 Sport, Travel

Quite what a “steamboat” has to do with a landlocked, Rocky-Mountained, be-snowed ski resort town was never clear to me.  And, sadly I never found out.  I guess I should have asked, as it troubled me both before, and after, our trip.  But I was so caught up in the moment while there, and everyone was so darn nice, welcoming, and non ski-snooty, that I did not want to come across as gauche by asking the question.  Because that just wouldn’t fly.  Or slide for that matter.  Not in laid back Steamboat.  Especially as we are not a family of skiers.  Or at least we weren’t until we visited, the aforementioned, confusingly named, town.

We resolved on this trip to learn, and though we are certainly no team of Bodie Miller’s, we did alright.  Even if a do say so myself.  Particularly for a bunch of novice, city-dwellers.  We can navigate our way down the side of a mountain, albeit somewhat cautiously.  And we know how to stop when we get to the bottom of it without crashing into something, or somebody.   We know our “Champagne Snow” from our chair lift, our plough from our parallel, and we certainly know not to call our poles, “sticks” (talk about gauche).  And this is a start.

As only having been a failed novice skier before, I finally began to get the allure of the slopes. Both the boys took to it like a duck to water.  (Odd analogy on reflection, as any such lake would be frozen and any self respecting duck sheltering – but there again, this is a ski resort named after a nineteenth century riverboat, so indulge me.)

IMG_3776

With the help of the folks at the Steamboat Snowboard and Ski School, the boys wasted no time in getting to grips with the basics:  “pizza wedges”, “banana splits” and the magic carpet.  All pretty impressive given the fact that the last time Jaxon saw snow it had quickly turned to knee deep Manhattan sidewalk sludge, and Skyer I don’t think can even remember seeing snow as he left New York when he was still too young.

Kids Skiing Lessons SteamboatKids Skiing Lessons SteamboatKids Skiing Lessons Steamboat

Jaxon quickly got to grips with the lower level bunny slope and graduated to the next level.  Yikes he was catching me up!  I can’t be THAT parent.  You know, the one whose kids ski and he just watches from the comfort of the lodge.  I had my work cut out.

Kids Skiing Lessons SteamboatKids Skiing Lesson

Given my previous experience on skis (nothing horrendous, just a pervading sense of incompetence and ineptitude that had lingered long after I had petulantly thrown the skis and poles down in frustration) and skill level at the start of the week this was always going to be challenging.  But I resolved that for now I had to stay ahead of the boys.

I managed to make it down this green run which helped me keep my nose in front and my dignity intact.

Steamboat Skiing

Skyer just seems so comfortable no matter what situation we put him in.  Here it looks like all he’s ever known are the Rockies.

Kids Skiing Lessons SteamboatKids Skiing Lessons Steamboat

Back to the sanctity and safety of home base after a tough day of aches and pains and bruised egos.

Steamboat Springs

Away from the skiing we explored the low key streets of downtown Steamboat.  Skyer managed to find the best action of the morning at the local diner with some Mickey pancakes.

Mickey Mouse Pancakes

Leaving no alpine experience unturned, Jaxon and I also took to the ice in these specially designed bumper cars.  He got pretty good at driving ours – trusty number 8 – which allowed me to take a quick selfie of the two of us in the car – whilst in motion I hasten to add.  Something else they are catching me up on.

Ice Rink Bumper CarsIce Rink Bumper Car Selfie