That’s a skier, obviously, but Liz and I bonded over bikes – kids’ bikes, specifically. We met and then spent an intensive 2 months together, every year for 5 years, planning and hosting the Mad River Valley’s annual bike swap. It was so much fun and we executed so well, it was like an annual dance. We passed the bike swap along to another organization, Doug and I went off on RV adventures, and Liz moved to Park City, Utah. *SIGH* There was no chance we’d miss Liz on our trip through Utah.
Liz was the ultimate host. Since she’s an employee, we got a private tour of the Utah Olympic Center, including the museum and hall of fame. With guidance from Liz, we each took turns on a virtual ski jumping exhibit. Fortunately, Doug has virtually recovered from his virtual injuries (leg fracture and concussion). A tour bus took us to the top of the bobsled/luge/skeleton track, where we watched tourists compete for bragging rights, and the top of the 120-meter ski jump where we could imagine the rush of the jump, though nobody was practicing while we were there. We did get to watch the aerials training where the athletes practiced their complex jumps off a summer ramp, landing in a giant pool of very cold water, albeit aerated for a softer landing.
An avid skier, Liz already knows the ins and outs of the 3 major ski areas in the Park City Basin. Timing is everything – we visited The Canyons on Wednesday, which is farmers’ market day, which was a very familiar activity for us MRV’ers, all the more so when we met their maple syrup vendors who were from – of course – Vermont! The cranes and tractors at Park City Resort gave evidence to Vail’s commitment to improvements as the resort’s new owner.
After a delightful lunch at an outdoor cafe at Deer Valley that we never would have found on our own, Liz brought us on a most pleasant hike from Deer Valley’s mid-mountain to overlook the awesome Jordanelle Reservoir.
We lingered over Liz’s home cooked meals, getting caught up, solving world problems and sharing travel tales while expanding each others’ bucket lists. Super visit!
There are a number of other ways to connect the Mad River Valley and Park City, and we found one that is a little less straightforward. Rebecca and Doug grew up in the same town. She dated Doug’s younger brother Roland after Doug had gone on to college, and Rebecca’s sister Meg was in Doug’s class. Rebecca’s family were Mad River skiers, had a farm in Waitsfield, and eventually became full-time valley residents. Rebecca moved away and has been in Utah for about 30 years. Doug hadn’t seen Rebecca for much longer than that, but we’ve been meeting old friends of hers in the Valley ever since we moved there ourselves. Through a circuitous route involving social media and this travel blog, Rebecca heard about our trip and gave us a shout – ‘Hey, if you’ll be in Park City, let’s get together!’
Sure! We met up with Rebecca at her office where she does several types of energy and wellness treatments. After a quick intro to associates and Ziggy the wonder dog and a tour of her fascinating equipment (and Doug’s trial at a low-frequency vibration massage), we wandered to a restaurant with the perfect rooftop lunch. After more than 40 years, conversations just flowed, enabling us to get caught up and share insights into our lives. Lingering seems to be the Park City way. Yet another super visit.
After many warm hugs, we left Park City and aimed for Flaming Gorge. (More in our next post.) In our usual style, we consulted with our trusty GPS which suggested 2 routes: a limited-access highway straight across northern Utah or a mountain road north through the Uinta High Peaks, which might not even be open yet due to snow. Let’s head north!
Ok, we did check with the local ranger station and yes, Mirror Lake Scenic Byway/SR-150 had been open for a few days, although most of the best hiking would be closed due to snow pack on trails. We did miss what looked to be great hiking, however we made up for it with short walks around several waterfalls and a fabulous boondocking spot for the night along the Hayden River with long views along the valley, including snow covered Uintas.
Still following our GPS, the road turned to dirt. Looks like fun! We continued on gorgeous dirt county roads to Piedmont, WY, population zero. The railroad through town was re-routed 8 miles in 1910 leaving it to become a ghost town. The dirt road was easily manageable in our RV. We thoroughly enjoyed the traffic density averaging 1 other vehicle per hour as well as meeting the locals – cattle, sheep and prairie dogs. The big rolling open range covered with sage brush and an occasional pine and divided by a few dirt roads were a gorgeous contrast to the high Unitas always in the background. Totally fun wanderings!