Ski la Vie 

Or are you having fun yet?

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Dec. 31, 2007

The explosion was perfectly timed to coincide with my first attempt to ignite the confounding gas wall heater in my brother’s condo at the base of Angel Fire ski resort. Celebratory fireworks — as it turned out — freaked out Zippy the Dog. Zippy went nuts, running around, barking, making his unique contribution to the overall sense of chaos. I levitated, imagining the entire complex about to go up in a natural gas fireball. Somebody dropped something heavy on the landing behind me. Armageddon seemed just around the corner.

Happy New Year.

An inauspicious start to the Ski la Vie tour? Perhaps. Are we having fun yet?

Of course we are. Or, at least, we will be. Skiing’s all about fun. Unless you make part of your living writing about skiing. If you do, skiing’s also about celebrity, fashion, newest and biggest, lifestyles of the rich and fatuous, resort experience, overpriced restaurants and overamped clubs, seeing and being seen, PR and BS. BS and noise and all the distractions that blur the essence of the addiction: sliding down snowy mountains for the sheer pleasure of sliding down snowy mountains.

Skiing’s about freedom. Skiing’s about that ironic interplay of gravity and weightlessness that lets us slip effortlessly downhill. Skiing’s about friends and family having a wonderful time despite the nattering a ski day entails. Skiing’s about the warm glow of tired muscles at après. Skiing’s about pushing your personal envelope whether that envelope consists of green runs or double black diamonds. Skiing’s about plumbers and CEOs melting into the same hot tub, swapping stories about the fantastic runs they skied earlier in the day.

The plan was simple. Spend the month of January skiing at some of the best places in the U.S. from New Mexico to Washington state. Write about the skiing. Write only about the skiing. Forget the dining, the nightlife, the politics, the Adventure Zones, the distractions. Distill the experience to its essence: skiing.

Ski to live. Live to ski. Ski la Vie.

Jan. 1, 2008

With 550 in-bounds acres and 2,000 vertical feet, Angel Fire isn’t what you generally think of as a destination ski resort. Don’t tell that to the people who drove from Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, South Carolina and Illinois to ski here.

Texas I can understand. Angel Fire is the closest resort to the Lone Star state that has that most coveted of amenities — base-area lodging in the form of family-friendly condos. Judging from the sacks of groceries, numerous coolers, full-size gas barbecues and, if I’m not mistaken, sides of beef the Texans seem to be unpacking from their enormous SUVs, quite a few pulling trailers, many are here for the season… or at least a long weekend.

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