It took a while for my skis to come out in SLC, and I wasn't 100% sure where my suitcase was going to appear (there was only a garbled announcement, my flight never appeared on the boards above the bag claim belts). Luckily I spotted it sitting in front of the baggage office and grabbed it before it could get locked away. I had forgotten to make a shuttle reservation more than 24hrs in advance, and the next one leaving the terminal for downtown was in 20 minutes, so I decided to take a 10 minute cab ride instead (half the time, twice the price, sort of evens out). Downtown felt *deserted*, there was a fair amount of snow on the ground and it was pretty chilly, it felt like a wasteland rather than a Sunday night near midnight. I think I only saw the Marriott desk clerk who gave me my key and the porter who brought up my luggage (they wouldn't let me use a cart myself). My room looked down on the colourfully lit Gallivan Plaza and it was empty as well. I quickly unpacked my clothes for the work week (I hate having to iron, so hoped that any packing wrinkles would fall out overnight), had a quick shower and fell into bed. I'd stayed up until 1 or 2 the nights before so I wasn't completely jet lagged, but it had been a long day.
I got swept up in dinner plans made by the guys at my table (a lot fewer women this year than in previous ones :-/ ), and I met them in the lobby at around 6:30 or 7. I grabbed a restaurant sheet from the hotel desk clerk and tried to help along a consensus on where we'd go eat. Daniel liking steak and me not made it a bit of a challenge, but we eventually settled on Mexican food at the Blue Iguana. It was chilly on the walk there, and not crowded once we arrived, so they were able to seat us at a table for 6 right away. Tina and Sandy were at a table across the room, but no other familiar faces except at our table (Daniel, Peter, Adrian, Kehan and Ramesh). The food was awesome, I went with a vegetarian enchilada with a non death nut mole sauce while Daniel got his spiced steak. I abstained from the margaritas, but encouraged the guys to join me for a night cap at the Red Room. It was *cold* in there, we all kept our coats on while the space heater struggled to warm up the air (high ceilings, maybe just opened for the night?). We claimed the huge leather couches under the monkey shrine and kept trying to steer Adrian out of depressing topics. :-) I had a raspberry tuxedo drink, and Ramesh enjoyed his death by chocolate drink after I pointed it out. It was pretty empty when we came in, maybe one person at the bar, but it filled in a bit by the time we left. We walked back to the hotel and settled by the fireplace at the first floor bar to warm up some more. I missed the drink ordering round when I popped out to the bathroom, but was content to marinate in the heat and talk sleepily. James and someone else joined us after a bit, and I remember talking with them about near death experiences. I could stand having fewer of those on my vacations (not that they've been that near, but I had one story to tell that sort of semi counted and could have ended much more badly than it did).
We just made it, but two groups were going and James and I ended up in different ones as I played baby duckling to Sonia's mamma duck. :) I wanted my sushi, dammit! Sonia led me, Junichi, Laurent from Boston and Adam, Csaba and Tomas from Queens to Takashi, where we found that we faced an hour wait. We left a cell number and went next door to Kristoff's for a drink, claiming the couches in the front window. Another party was there waiting for a table, and one seemed pretty enthusiastic to talk to us. Turns out he was a stand up comedian out helping to celebrate a friend's birthday. He had quite a few inappropriate for a work gathering jokes, he was funny but it was a bit uncomfortable. My first drink was incredibly sweet and I couldn't really drink it (sake pear cosmo), but then I had a good bombay sapphire gimlet. Once we were seated, the sushi was amazing, and the agedashi tofu was one of the two best I've ever had. I decided to go for things I'd never had before, the torched black cod that was amazing, the monkfish liver was very rich (a bit too foi gras for me), but the Tasmanian tuna wasn't that great. The other fish I had was also good, blanking on the name. Adam let me try his mackerel for some monkfish liver. I think we closed the place out, we didn't get seated until maybe 9:30 or so. I was feeling a bit out of sorts, so headed right to bed once I got back to the hotel.
We almost slid through a pedestrian crosswalk on the short drive to the Crystal Inn and Suites and I didn't push to go night skiing that night. I think I ran over to Canyon Sports to claim my skis that night. Sue and I were sharing a room, and Dad was next door, this time at the far end of the building from the lobby and on the 4th floor. I was a bit nervous when I saw the huge group of highschool kids checking in, but we didn't hear them more than once. I sent a text message to Luis inviting him to join us for dinner at Squatters since he and I hadn't had a chance to hang out this week, and he joined us there. Dinner was good, I always have a hard time deciding what to eat there. I unpacked a bit after dinner and set my alarm for the same time it had been all week, 7:15am, so that we could hit the breakfast buffet and the slopes in a timely manner. :)
Bathroom break and then back again to the lift ticket window to get our hotel issued passes turned on. The lines were minimal (like never more than 60s), but the woman at the lift let us skip anyway when we came back with our passes. We skied off of the Collins lift all morning, I skied straight through while Sue and Dad stopped for warm up breaks and early for lunch (my India gear shopping paid off in keeping me warm). Did a couple of diamond runs, but tried to stick to groomed blues. I didn't realise that lower High St wasn't groomed, I tipped over in some powder, then made it down cautiously - asking Sue for any tips paid off, keeping my weight back made a huge difference. I might sign up for a lesson next year if the snow is that good again. Met up with Sue and Dad at Watson's Shelter midmountain for lunch at just after noon, then started up again at 1:30. Dad wanted to stick to the Collins lift and warming up when he needed to, so Sue and I went off to try out runs off of Sugarloaf. Sue did a warming break at Alf's, I explored for a bit on my own, eventually doing the long flat pole along Collins Return (not as miserable as last year, no blowing snow, though it was windy and consistently -20 to -22C at the peak). Did a straight run down, thighs were burning by the time I got to the bottom. I had a chai latte at Goldminers Daughter and contorted my face as my toes made it known that they'd frozen on the last run and were not happy about thawing. No shot of whiskey at that building to warm me up, so I just had to make do with tea and steamed milk. We knocked off at 3:30 and had an easy drive back down the canyon to Salt Lake City.
After showering and changing, I convinced the other two to try out Eva's with me. We made the chilly walk over to the main downtown area and were able to get a table right away (just beating the rush). We were seated at the end, so out of the eventual crush/bustle, and our server reminded me of someone I know in Boston, very chill. I ordered the cheese plate again and the spanish salad with manchego, Sue and Dad helped me finish them. I also had the crab cakes but didn't share more than a taste of them as they were my "main course". :) I shared in the ricotta donut holes with (not spicy) drinking chocolate and the fig bread pudding. Sue got the lamp chop and the steelhead trout, Dad got the sweet potato gratin and the steak with gorgonzola cream sauce. I had the desert sage cocktail (tequila and st germaine and lime) and the eva's whiskey (maker's mark muddled with oven fired lemon slice). Back at the hotel, I did a quick change in the pool dressing room and made full use of the hot tub's jets to pound out sore spots in my legs. A few families splashing around in there, it wasn't quiet and restful, but I did get to eavesdrop on one mother talking about her lovely vine and quote tattoos. The heat made me sleepy, right to bed after drinking lots of water.
We'd arranged to meet for lunch at the halfway point of that lift, not quite realising that it was a sit down table service restaurant. We were cold and hungry and Dad offered to treat us, so we stayed. I had a delicious and filling mac and cheese dish as well as some kick ass hot apple cider. I explored more on my own in the afternoon, found the far right most (from the bottom) lifts and the runs would have been fun but for low snow cover and having to edge around some grass and rocks. I found Sue at the shortcut lift when I made a wrong turn trying to get to another part of the mountain (I think I skied maybe a quarter of it?). We stuck together for a bit but I think she knocked off early, while I went right up to 3pm. At one point I saw a cut rescue dog rolling around in the snow trying to get his vest off. I pushed myself a bit and ended up wiping out on my last run down lookout ridge - another skier blew past me and kicked up a cloud of snow that obscured my vision and I didn't manage to recover before catching an edge. No injury, just a long slide down a steep section, head first, with an elbow brake before I got stopped by anything solid. I walked into the lodge at the bottom and my toes immediately felt like they were on fire, it took a couple of minutes of grimacing at the pain before they warmed up enough to make it worthwhile to get myself something hot to drink. I tried to get a shot of alcohol in hot chocolate but they only had beer, no liquor. I settled for a big hot chai instead and that hit the spot.
I'd spent sometime during the day texting with people and managed to organise what turned into a huge group dinner at Squatter's (I requested a table for 8 and as we were sitting down I got a text that five more people were coming after all). But before that, back to the hotel to clean up. Sue jumped into the shower first and I took a perfectly timed phone call as I was relaxing on the couch, talking with a driver on a long haul trip in Louisiana. We wrapped up our chat as the shower stopped running and soon I was cleaning up and changing to head out to dinner. We walked over to Squatters (Red Rock is also very close, but I really prefer the menu at Squatters's) and Madelyn and Paul soon joined us. Sonia and Josh and Josh's partner came a little while later, and then JC and his friends grabbed a table next to us when they arrived. I was in the mood for a refreshing cocktail and ended up having two of their lemonade-like ones (very weak). I also stayed fairly glued to my seat, realising after the fact that I could have circulated a bit more. Sonia had a red eye flight at midnight, and the locals had to work the next day, so it wasn't a long dinner, but it was fun.
I grabbed my stuff from my room, checked out, and settled in the lobby to wait for the free shuttle to the airport. I've used it often enough now that I recognised the shuttle driver, and she and I had a nice chat on the way to the airport (I was the only passenger). Check in went quickly but somehow my opt out pat down stressed me out enough that I forgot something without realising it. I found my gate then grabbed a burrito bowl for lunch. It wasn't until I was back at my gate and checking the organisation of my carry on to make sure I had quick access to my book and headphones that I realised why my bag was so light - no laptop. I hurried back to the security screening area and finally managed to catch someone's attention. Luckily they'd put the laptop aside and after I logged in, they let me take it and I made the tail end of the boarding line. I had a window seat, then a space between me and the person in the aisle, for both flights. Great views of the mountains around SLC and the Grand Canyon as we flew over to Phoenix. I had a chicken sandwich in Phoenix as I waited for my connection to Boston. The flight was fine, I read a book that I bought in the airport since I finished my library book.
I quickly got a taxi in Boston after getting my stuff (skis out on the
conveyor belt again, why is it so hard for them to put it in the special
sized areas???), but soon regretted it. The guy took the long way through
the big dig to get to the MOS bridge, and almost crashed us into a jersey
barrier in the tunnels. Then he almost merged right into an SUV, and was
coughing the whole time (yay, germs in a confined space). When he finally
dropped me at my apartment, he just left my suitcase and skis in the
road. I didn't leave a tip. Ferried my stuff into my apartment and
gratefully closed the door behind me at just after midnight.