Tag Archives: powder day

Merry Christmas!

It’s our first Christmas at home. Ever. Just the two of us. And we are so enjoying each other’s company, the beautiful fire in our fireplace and simply being home together.

{Earlier in the week we prepped a bunch of cinnamon and orange rolls to enjoy throughout the holidays.}

{Earlier in the week we prepped a bunch of cinnamon and orange rolls to enjoy throughout the holidays.}

{Alex was in charge of the cinnamon rolls and I was in charge of the orange ones.}

{Alex was in charge of the cinnamon rolls and I was in charge of the orange ones.}

{Mmmmm!}

{Mmmmm!}

I’m fairly certain we’ve seen our extended family more this year than any other year since moving to Seattle, which we are both very thankful for. That made it easier for us to stay here this holiday season. We’ve also got a big year ahead of us and we are so grateful to have had the time together at home.

{This was our first Christmas with Henry cat! I think the best gift for him was getting to go outside today.}

{This was our first Christmas with Henry cat! I think the best gift for him was getting to go outside today. We’ve been spoiling him with treats, cuddles and catnip toys all day 🙂 }

{Jackson got a new toy and a special treat today, but his best gift was a very solid ball playing session at the park and getting to help us unwrap our Christmas gifts.}

{Jackson got a new toy and a special treat today, but his best gift was a very solid ball playing session at the park and getting to help us unwrap our Christmas gifts.}

We have both taken some time off work for the holidays and are enjoying the best Christmas present ever… seemingly bottomless snow in the mountains!

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{I couldn’t get over the view of the snowy trees under the unexpected sunny sky. Yesterday at Crystal Mountain was by far the most beautiful ski day of the season.}

{Powder day at Stevens Pass! 12.21.15}

{Powder day at Stevens Pass! 12.21.15}

Merry Christmas. Love, the Allens 🙂

Fred & John’s Trip to Washington

My brother and father were out visiting for a long weekend to hang out in the mountains and to spend some time with us in Seattle. They sure picked a great weekend to come skiing! In the four days they were here, Crystal Mountain received over 5.5 feet of snow!! Needless to say, we had an unlimited supply of powder waiting for us on Saturday.

View from the top of Crystal Mountain

View from the top of Crystal Mountain

The gang arrived on Friday night, which was Valentine’s Day. Knowing that we had to get up early the next morning we decided not to brave the crowds and go out for dinner. Instead, we all made a big Asian feast together. I made a stir fry while John took charge of fried rice and Alex and Fred conquered the wontons. After dinner we hit the hay to rest up for our big ski day.

Valentine cupcakes!

Valentine cupcakes!

For me, the highlight of the trip was Saturday, our only ski day, which my cousin Chris joined us for. We knew the forecast was predicting snow, snow and more snow, so we decided to do the First Tracks breakfast that Crystal Mountain offers. This is a little early morning event that allows you to take the gondola up to the top of the mountain at 7:30 a.m., eat a nice breakfast and hang out at the summit, then ski for an hour before the rest of the mountain opens. Certainly this isn’t something we’d need to do every weekend, but it was such a nice, relaxing way to start our epic ski day.

Fred, Chris and Alex ready for the powder day

Fred, Chris and Alex ready for the powder day

Once we were unleashed and allowed to go skiing, I bet we got a good 6 runs in before the crowds came in and the lines started to build. On a normal day, I don’t even think Alex and I get 6 runs in before lunch.

Fred & John

Fred & John

To say that the snow was amazing would be the understatement of the year. Alex and I both agreed that it was quite possibly our best ski day ever. The snow was light, soft, perfect powder. The best part was that it snowed all day long, providing “free refills” each run.

Ohhhh yeah!

Ohhhh yeah!

Once our legs were shot we rounded out the day with a drink {or a few} at the world-famous Snorting Elk Cellar before heading back to Seattle for a relaxing night at home. I made a quick batch of macaroni and cheese and we spent the rest of the evening watching the Olympics.

Riding the gondola

Riding the gondola

Everyone was too sore and tired to ski on Sunday so we decided to grab brunch at the Hi Spot Cafe in our neighborhood and head to Woodinville to do a beer tour at Redhook and taste wine at Mark Ryan Winery. John spent the time while we were at the winery in the car, and unfortunately for him, he missed an incredible wine tasting. We drove around Woodinville a bit to check out some different parts of the town before heading back to the Bottlehouse for an evening of wine drinking.

Drinking wine at Mark Ryan

Drinking wine at Mark Ryan

While Alex had to work on Monday, it was our plan to go to Snoqualmie Pass to ski for half a day. Unfortunately the pass was closed all morning so we couldn’t get up there. It snowed over 20 inches overnight so the DOT was having trouble dealing with the avalanche control work and clearing the roads. We had planned on meeting my aunt and uncle up at the pass, but since our plans changed, I ended up dropping my dad and John off at their house for a few hours instead. John and my uncle Michael went canoeing near their house while my dad and aunt Cathy took a walk together to catch up on family business.

John in the gondola

John in the gondola

That evening we met up as a family at Cactus, a Southwestern restaurant in the South Lake Union neighborhood, for happy hour. It was nice to have everyone together and have the chance to catch up!

I was able to get some work out of my brother! That doesn't happen too often...

I was able to get some work out of my brother! That doesn’t happen too often…

We ended the evening back at home by watching some more of the Olympics and having a light dinner. As always, it’s nice to get a chance to spend some extra time with family when they visit Seattle.

Powder, Wine and New Slippers

It’s been a slightly quieter week here in the Allen household. We have been busy planning and preparing for my dad and brother to come visit us this weekend and somehow it is Wednesday evening now. The snow forecast is shaping up quite nicely for their ski trip so we’re really looking forward to their arrival on Friday.

We're hoping for a snowy week at Crystal

We’re hoping for a snowy week at Crystal

Friday night we had our Valentine’s Day celebration a week early. We had a lovely evening out at Harvest Vine near our house.

We loved this wine from the Priorat region in Spain

We loved this wine from the Priorat region in Spain

Because of the forecast and our plans on Friday and Saturday nights we opted to stay home on Saturday and go skiing on Sunday instead. We carried our Valentine’s Day celebration into Saturday morning by starting the day with coffee and watching the opening ceremony of the Olympics. We had memosas and a wonderful breakfast, then took Jackson out for a long walk.

Saturday Brunch!

Saturday Brunch!

We had a pretty relaxing remainder of the day at home on Saturday and then hosted Italian Wine Club at our house that night. We were pleasantly surprised when it started to snow on Saturday evening! It rarely snows in Seattle but it seems like everyone in the city turns into a kid again when the ground turns white.

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We expected that Sunday would bring us some fresh snow to ski so we got up earlier than we had ever gotten up for a ski day and headed to Crystal. The reason we got up so early was so that we could get to Crystal and walk Jackson and be at he lift line when the chair lift opens. Lately we have been arriving around 30 minutes prior to the lifts opening, so we have been having more leisurely days.

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Our expectations were fulfilled and we were greeted with about 8-10 inches of light and fluffy powder! A normal “powder day” for us is a day with a lot of fresh, heavy, wet snow. We in Washington call it Cascade Concrete because it’s like skiing concrete instead of nice fluffy powder.

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While we had a great day with Jackson on Sunday, his behavior for the rest of the weekend wasn’t necessarily pleasant the whole time. He decided that my slippers would become his newest chew toy. Unfortunately for me he finally destroyed them to the point of being unwearable. We have been working on new strategies for keeping him off the couch and our bed and while we were using Alex’s strategy of ignoring him he destroyed one of the pillows on our sofa. We are taking applications for puppy trainers and looking for jobs for Jackson so he can earn his keep and buy me new slippers.

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Our week has been pretty low-key, yet busy during the day for me. We have been enjoying watching the Olympics, which has been great, but I am really excited to not be sitting on the sofa all evening when they’re over. It has been fun and life is good 🙂

Back Country Adventures

For a few years now Alex has wanted to explore a part of Crystal Mountain called “Southback” that we had never ventured out to. Southback {aka “South Back Country”} is an out of bounds, but avalanche controlled, part of the ski resort we call our home mountain. The area is massive, large enough to be its own small ski resort. There isn’t a chair lift to get you to the top, so you have to hike! That right there is why we’ve never been there before.

This is a photo of "The King" that I took while we were traversing towards it.

This is a photo of “The King” that I took while we were traversing towards it.

I am a lover of skiing and a lover of chair lifts. I don’t want to work that hard for my turns. From time to time I can be a bit whiny and demanding, so I had previously put the kibosh on hiking to go check out Southback. I’m not sure why, but this past weekend I became more open minded and decided to go for it with Alex.

It's not often that I strap my skis to my back and hike up a mountain.

It’s not often that I strap my skis to my back and hike up a mountain.

Even though the sun was out, the ski day started off a little rocky for me. It just wasn’t my day. I got caught on a tree root, made some terrible turns, the lift lines were endless and I just was not feeling like I was very well put together. I needed to re-set so we decided to go in early for lunch before heading out on our adventure. I had packed some chili in our awesome Thermos, so we had a hot, “free” lunch to enjoy! After our bellies were full we set out to explore new territory.

A beautiful day to be on the mountain!

A beautiful day to be on the mountain!

Our excursion took us about an hour and a half from the time we left the lodge to the time we got down to the main lodge again. We rode up a chair lift then traversed across to the ski area boundary where we had to take off our skis and begin hiking. We probably only hiked for 10-15 minutes before we were able to put our skis back on and do some more extreme traversing. Once we finished our traverse we came out from the woods into an expansive wide open powder field. It was amazing!

A terrible photo, but here is a picture of Silver Basin, which is where we skied.

A terrible photo, but here is a picture of Silver Basin, which is where we skied.

At the same time as we arrived, the fog rolled in. We didn’t get the full extent of what we skied because the fog limited our visibility, but as far as we could tell, it was amazing! Both of us had a great run and made some awesome powder turns before we met up at the bottom of Silver Basin. All in all it was a fun change of pace, but I’m not expecting to do that every weekend!

We did it!

We did it!

Fred’s Trip to Seattle

For several years now, Alex and I have been trying to convince my dad to come out and ski with us. We really wanted to show him around Crystal Mountain, where we do most of our skiing, and prove that it stacks up quite well against his favorite place, Jackson Hole. So finally my dad found a killer deal on airfare and came out for a weekend of powder, feasting, spring sunshine and family time.

I picked my dad up from the airport on Thursday morning, skis in tow, and we headed down to ski some powder! The conditions were great and we managed to get quite a few powder runs in.

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Thursday evening we treated ourselves to dinner at Restaurant Bea, one of Alex’s and my absolute favorite Seattle restaurants, conveniently located in our neighborhood. We celebrated my birthday a week early and realized that the owner of Bea’s birthday is the same day as mine! I think we’ll go back and have a glass of champagne with her on Sunday.

Friday started off surprisingly sunny, so we got some great views on the drive and the gondola ride up the mountain. Just before lunchtime, another small storm came in and brought us a bit more snow.

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We introduced my dad to the world-famous Snorting Elk, voted one of the best apres ski bars in the country! It was so busy inside from all the powder fiends that we sat outside beneath the falling snow.

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The evening was spent at our neighborhood haunt, Bottlehouse, where we enjoyed a bottle of Lemburger, a wine we had never tried before. The wine was paired with a divine charcuterie plate. Everything was wonderful, as always.

After our trip to BH, we headed home to make homemade mac & cheese and watch one of our favorite ski movies, The Game of Gnar. Safe to say my father thoroughly enjoyed it!

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After two full days of skiing we decided we could use a day off, so Saturday was spent in Seattle. We grabbed breakfast at another neighborhood favorite, the Hi Spot, before Fred set off for an afternoon adventure with my aunt Cathy and cousin Chris and his wife Heidi. They enjoyed spending some time together in the sun while Alex and I got a few things done around the house. Saturday night we gave my dad a taste of Capitol Hill and had a drink at Poquitos, followed by dinner at Quinn’s. Alex had a wild boar sloppy joe, I had a Scotch egg and pretzel with rarebit sauce, and Fred had a Painted Hills burger. Quinn’s is a favorite of ours and is a good introduction to Seattle fare.

By Sunday our legs were feeling rested, so we got in the car and headed straight east to Alpental. We got several runs in on the groomers, in addition to a very icy run in Eidelweiss Bowl and a bumped out run in International. I called it quits a little early because my knee was bothering me {three days of skiing + starting to run again = an angry, overused knee} and got in some good people watching while sitting in front of the fire at the base.

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The Summit at Snoqualmie was celebrating its 75th anniversary the day we were out there and in order to commemorate the occasion, they hosted a pond skimming event. It was an absolute hoot to watch! There were about 50 competitors, ages 5-old, and most of them actually made it across the make-shift pond that was created for the competition. The best skimmers were in full-costume and did some type of trick once they made it across. We are hoping this will become an annual event because Alex wants to enter next year!

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Once we got cleaned up from our ski day, we grabbed a quick drink at Bottlehouse before meeting Cathy, Chris and Heidi for a family dinner at Naam Thai, our neighborhood Thai restaurant. We enjoyed our meal and had enjoyed sharing some memories of my late grandmother – we hadn’t all been together since her funeral service in January.

Monday was my dad’s last day in Seattle, and true to form, he spent it working on our house.

As a recap, I’ve put together a list of things Fred learned skiing the Cascades:

  • A “Death Cookie” looks like it will just be a soft poof of snow, when in reality it is a hard chunk of ice. Death Cookies the size of boulders should be avoided!
  • “Thin Cover” means there’s rocks under there.
  • “Cascade Concrete” is the snow we get here in the Cascades. It’s warm and there’s a lot of moisture, so our snow is heavy. Basically the opposite of Utah. BUT it means that it sticks to steeper surfaces, so our terrain is much gnarlier.

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March {Powder} Madness

March is notorious for being the month with the highest chances of skiing powder. At least that’s the case here in the Cascade Mountains. We were starting to think that it wouldn’t happen, but March 2013 sure has lived up to our expectations.

St. Patrick's Powder!

St. Patrick’s Powder and frosty hair!

St. Patrick’s day brought us an unexpected powder day – the best of the season, in fact. We skied deep, light powder all day long. Since we weren’t expecting powder, neither Alex or I brought our powder skis out for the occasion. For the last several winters I watched Alex continuously having so much fun on his S7 powder skis, so I couldn’t resist and got some for myself. St. Patty’s Day would have been the perfect opportunity to try them out for the first time, but my everyday skis {Line Celebrity 90s} rocked the conditions just as well.

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…And I got another opportunity to bring out the big girls!

 

Rocking the Rossi's

Rocking the Rossi’s

Thursday morning I swung through SeaTac Airport to get my dad, then we headed out to Crystal for Powder Day Numero Dos… complete with my S7s.

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Thursday and Friday were both great days on the mountain, delivering soft, fresh turns and free refills wherever we skied. Everything got tracked out really quickly, but we found some deep, un-touched snow hiding out in Northway.

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Sunday was not a powder or a bluebird day – just typical conditions for the Cascades. We got up to Alpental expecting the sun to be shining in full force and were disappointed that it came out only as we left. It was a great day on the groomers and we even had some soft snow {and a whole lot of bumps} on International.

IMG_5251I ended up having to call it quits earlier than I had hoped, due to a sore knee, but I was just as happy to sit by the fire and watch all of the gapers {people who don’t know what they’re doing but try to pretend they do} and little rippers come down the mountain. Afterwards, we drove over to Summit West to watch their first-ever pond skimming event. We are hoping that they’ll bring this event back next year so Alex can participate.

Pond Skimming @ Summit West

Pond Skimming @ Summit West

 

Party Weekend in Whistler

Whistler is one of Alex and my favorite places to vacation, so we were more than happy to attend our good friends’ Carrie and Patrick’s combined bachelor/bachelorette party in Whistler this past weekend. Their wedding isn’t until September but they share a love of skiing and actually got engaged just over a year ago at Whistler, so a bachelor/ette party up there was a perfect idea for them. The weekend was mostly spent as one big group of around 25 people, but Saturday night after dinner the girls split off and did their own thing while the guys gave Patrick a bachelor night on the town. Patrick had strict instructions that all of the guys should arrive with a mustache and that the game of gnar would be played on the mountain. We all knew it would be a fun weekend with those prerequisites!

The boys sporting their 'staches

The boys sporting their ‘staches

We made awesome time on our drive up to Whistler (4 hours!!), checked into our hotel and somehow managed to score a free upgrade to a one bedroom suite. Alex credits “the power of the ‘stache” for our win. There were five couples that were able to arrive on Thursday and make it a long weekend, so we met up with the other four couples in Carrie and Patrick’s hotel room for some drinks before going out to Black’s Pub for dinner.

Friday morning we woke up to a beautiful blanket of fresh snow. We knew that the Cascade mountains were expecting a massive snowstorm, but Whistler was only expecting a couple inches. We were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves with around 8 inches of light and fresh powder when we got off the gondola.

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The upper mountain never opened on Friday, due to high winds, so Saturday was epic. Our first run of the day was off of Spanky’s Ladder on Blackcomb Mountain and it was one of the best lines I have ever skied. It was worth the gnarly hike up the ladder to get there! We continued to lap the Glacier Chair all morning before taking the Peak 2 Peak gondola from Blackcomb to Whistler Mountain to join the rest of the group for lunch. After lunch, the fog rolled in and my legs called it quits pretty quickly so Alex and I headed down to our hotel room for a quick dip in the hot tub and a power nap before the bachelor/ette festivities began.

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Saturday was the big party night. We started our evening as a co-ed group at 21 Steps, a restaurant that Alex and I enjoyed with his parents during our Christmas trip to Whistler. I think everyone agreed it was as awesome as we had originally thought. From there, the boys split off and went to smoke some cigars and drink whiskey, or whatever it is boys do at a bachelor party. The girls went back to Carrie’s room and had junk food, Skittles shots and played some girlie bachelorette games together. It wouldn’t have been a bachelorette party without going dancing, though, so we hit up some live music at Dubh Linn Gate before meeting up with the boys around midnight.

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The bachelorette!

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Before heading back to reality, the group got together for one final event on Sunday morning. We met at the Fairmont for their world-class brunch. We were seated in their private dining room and feasted on an incredible assortment of everything you could imagine. The prime rib and Yorkshire pudding were my favorite “lunch” items and surprisingly, the pork sausage was my favorite “breakfast” item, along with roasted tomatoes and sauteed mushrooms. Who knew.

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Alex and I are always sad to leave Whistler. It is truly one of our favorite places we have ever been. It feels like home to us. We hope to someday be able to live somewhere comparable, but for now, Whistler is only a 4-5 hour drive away….

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