Taking a Break in Breckenridge

It’s important that I try new experiences in this life. New locations. New foods. New activities.

It’s also important to recognize my limitations and be comfortable with failure.

Angela, Ben, and I came to Breckenridge, Colorado, to try snowboarding for the first time. We would be staying with our good friends and scuba diving buddies, Steve Thompson and AJ, in their amazing home at the foot of Peak 8. Later in the trip, our other diving friends, Steve and Shane Holonitch, would also be joining us for our first reunion in over six months.

Thompson and AJ are both accomplished snowboarders, and Ben and I were anxious to learn from them. Although I have been skiing on numerous occasions, this would be the first time I would attempt to snowboard, and it would be Ben’s first attempt at any winter sports. He is, however, an experienced skateboarder. And, at least in my mind, my skiing and Ben’s skateboarding would translate well to this new experience on a snowboard.

Full of false confidence, I signed us up for snowboarding lessons with the resort at Peak 8 so we could learn the basics before getting some intermediate instruction from Steve. As it happens, my brother and his wife were in Breckenridge during the same weekend, and three of their kids joined Ben and me on the bunny slopes.

Four young, active, healthy teenagers and my middle-aged self fumbling and falling our way down a tiny, hard-packed ramp.

If I hadn’t been breathing so hard with the effort of staying upright, I probably would have been laughing. While the kids were showing improvement with every trip down the hill, I found myself growing less stable and taking increasingly worse falls.

I persevered through several more attempts until I caught a downhill edge and faceplanted hard, breaking a rib in the process. An old injury I have lovingly named “Barry”, it has never properly healed and periodically resurfaces to remind me of my ever-advancing age.

And that was it for me. I was done. Tried and failed at snowboarding, thank you very much.

I limped and wheezed my way to the conveniently-located resort bar where I found my brother in a similar shape. He had labored all morning, trying to reestablish his own skiing ability and said he had spent more time falling down the slope than skiing on it. We shared a couple of beers and laughed (painfully) at old stories until the kids wrapped up their lessons.

The next day, I nursed my injury and relaxed in our luxury accommodations while Thompson took Ben back to the slopes for his intermediate lesson. As it turns out, skateboarding does translate to snowboarding somewhat, and Ben had a mostly successful day, skipping the green trails and boarding down some of the easier blue routes.


Ben boarding down the “Claimjumper” trail


Ben and Steve Thompson on the lift

The following day, still gimpy from my snowboarding attempt, I opted for a winter adventure that would be unlikely to precipitate another fall, venturing out on a snowshoeing trek that took Steve and me on a loop just below the base of the major ski resorts. Equally sore from his own education on the snowboard, Ben joined us, and we had our first real hike of the year in the thin Colorado air.


Accepting the fact that snowshoes are more my speed


Ben on his first snowshoe adventure


Ben cresting the ridge in Breckenridge

We spotted a moose on the trail and, giving the alpha critter a wide berth, cut our own route uphill through deep powder. With my ribs aching and my breath short, we enjoyed the waning sunlight and made our way back home to cold beers and homemade fajitas.

Angela had taken a similar trek the day before, exploring a trail originating at the Nordic Center with AJ and Shane on a route that provided both exercise and incredible vistas.


AJ and Shane during their snowshoe trek with Angela


A respite cabin along the hiking route at the Breckenridge Nordic Center


Fences, fields, and mountains

On our last full day of winter activity in Colorado, we opted for a sport that required zero experience and minimal effort, venturing to the nearby Keystone Resort and their multiple snow tubing lanes.

Yes, I know that snow tubing is the least respected of all winter activities. It’s basically a kiddie ride in an amusement park full of roller coasters. But I was injured, dammit! And we needed something we could all do as a family that didn’t involve skill or care.


The gondola ride to the top of Keystone


Angela laughing her way down the slope


Ben and I enjoying the tubing experience

It was less than epic, but deliciously, decadently fun. Angela screamed. Ben got a snow-fro. We all laughed. And my ribs thanked me for the day off.

All in all, it was a fantastic long weekend, full of wonderful friends, new experiences, and life-lessons learned.

When I return next year, I’m going to stick to the rib-friendly sports.