For Christmas, I surprised Alison with a quick trip to Chicago.
We arrived around midnight and took the train to our hotel.
Our first stop the next morning was for some deep dish pizza at Giordano's. Every once in a while I'll get a craving for some deep dish pizza and I'm not aware of anywhere in Utah that can satisfy. Maybe I'll have to have some shipped to me sometime...
Next stop was the Museum of Science and Industry in Jackson Park. This is where the 1893 Columbian Exposition (i.e. World's Fair) was held and is the subject of the book The Devil in the White City. on the South Side. This fair was the first time that electric lights were used in grand fashion, the first Ferris Wheel and more than 200 buildings were built to house the exhibitions. Only two buildings are still standing, one of them being the Palace of Fine Arts where the Science Museum is now housed.
We caught a bus back downtown and stopped at The Art Institute of Chicago (which incidentally is the second remaining building from the Columbian Exposition). Anybody who has read this blog for very long knows that we are big fans of going to art museums.
I love admiring the Monets.
Alison and The Drinkers (by Van Gogh).
Georges Seurat - A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.
We met Ben and Jenn Iverson for dinner at The Gage, right across from The Art Institute. Somehow, we didn't end up with any pictures of them on our double date.
And after dinner was the highlight of the trip, Hamiton at the PrivateBank Theater along with the Iversons. We were ecstatic!
The show was as fantastic as you probably imagine. I've listened to the soundtrack dozens of times, but there were still a bunch of surprises and I just love how the story fell into place.
The next morning while Alison slept, I went on a mission to find some donuts for breakfast. First stop was Stan's Donuts.
Next was Firecakes.
And last was Glazed and Infused.
We stayed at the new Virgin Hotel Chicago and we appreciated our guard dog.
Breakfast of champions. I don't remember which place was the best, so we'll just have to try them all again next time we're in Chicago.
Our last event was an architectural river cruise. It was great.
We had a few minutes to spare before we needed to leave for the airport, so we stopped by Good Stuff Eatery to grab a couple of burgers. Good Stuff.
Such a lovely time with my lovely wife Alison (and great company at Hamilton as well). We make good traveling partners.
The moment that everybody has been clamoring is here. My unofficial rankings of the ski resorts that we visited last season, based on things such as mood, energy levels, weather and irritable bowels (if applicable).
1. Park City/The Canyons. 2. Deer Valley 3. Powder Mountain 4. Solitude 5. Eagle Point 6. Alta 7. Snowbird 8. Brian Head 9. Brighton 10. Sundance 11. Beaver Mountain 12. Nordic Valley 13. Snowbasin 14. Cherry Peak
Notes: For detailed information, you'll need to peruse my last 14 blog posts, but in general we like resorts that are sunny with lots of snow. Wind is a major downer as is difficult/crowded parking and long lines.
2017/2018: I'm still hoping to get out to many of the resorts above, but probably not on the same level as 2016/2017, especially because the Yeti Passes were sold out before I was committed to purchasing one. Here's to another super snowy winter!
Last but not least, we made our way up Logan Canyon to Beaver Mountain. This was one of the 5 new resorts for me this year and it was alright. We didn't spend a ton of time here, but we took a ride on all of the main lifts. It was snowing pretty heavily which made it really hard to see the contours of the slopes. We probably need some different lenses for our goggles for days like today.
Next will be one last post recapping our season and the official resort rankings based on scientific reasoning and calculations, but mostly my gut, the weather and opinions.
We invaded the snowboarders paradise of Brighton on this Saturday.
Neither Ada nor I were really feeling it today, so we only got in 5 runs. It was a little slushy and our energy levels were low. I just low the views that you can get from the top of the lifts at Brighton.
Because we were at Brighton for less than 2 hours, Ada decided that she wanted to use on of her passes to Solitude. You may remember that she ditched me way back in January, so I let her ski a few runs while I hung out on the patio because I had already used my pass to Solitude.
We had saved Park City until late in the season in the hopes that our ski legs and stamina would continue to improve and that we would be able to take advantage of the big resort.
I wish that the Canyons and Park City were still separate resorts (that would have given us one more resort to ski), but instead they are now combined into a mega resort. In high school I spent a lot of time on the slopes at the Canyons (including cutting a good number of school days chasing the best snow) and ever since it has been one of my favorite resorts.
We started on the Canyons side and then slowly skied our way over to Park City. By the time that we got there, we were feeling pretty tired and we had to start making our way back over to the Canyons.
We traveled 36.5 miles on the mountains, including 21.7 miles of skiing, making this our most productive day of the year.
The orange is from the snow/wind shield on the lift (See the photo below for example).
I love Snowbird. I love the long runs and all of the different options. Today, though, it was too windy for the tram to be running, so the lines were really long on all of the other lifts and when we got closer to the top even the chair lifts were swinging and swaying precipitously.
Because of the wind we only took one ride up to the top of the mountain and we spent the rest of the time lower down.
Sadly, due to the wind the tunnel to Mineral Basin was also closed. I've yet to be able to ski Mineral Basin as it has been closed the last couple times I've been to Snowbird.
Surprisingly, this was my first time ever at Nordic Valley. I remember my friends coming here often, but I never made it.
This was also Ada's first time night skiing. It was alright. It was cold, the lifts are really slow and the runs are short. On the flipside, the lines were also short and there were still some fun areas.
I wasn't sure if we would be able to make it to the Southern Utah resorts or not. However, we found out that my parents would be staying in my grandpa's house in La Verkin and Ada and I decided to join them.
We drove down separately and stopped at Brian Head on the way down. I had never been up to this resort and I was surprised by how big the resort area was.
Also surprising was how few of the cars were from Utah. I would guess that 50-60% of the cars were from California, 20% from Nevada and the remaining from Utah and other states. For people from LA it is worth the drive to pay way less than the resorts down in their area.
I should have been taking pictures of the bra trees all season. They're at nearly every resort and Ada would always get a kick out of them.
We brought our latex heads to wear at Brian Head.
Lunch in Cedar City while on our way to La Verkin.
We went to church in La Verkin then went up to Zion National Park. It was rainy, so we didn't do any hikes but it was amazing to see waterfalls all over the walls of Zion Canyon from the rain.