With the official start of springtime today, I can officially say I’ve made the most of winter. After several snowy stateside trips and a last-minute ski-day, I’m done and ready for spring to begin. It’s been a good one though winter 2017—not too cold and not an overwhelming amount of snow. Just enough, with a few times to go sledding and get caught in some snowy mud. Plus, in a way, I feel like I’ve gotten the best parts of winter, without the awful parts, like trekking through NYC wind tunnels or around another slippery, icy city. Instead, I spent this one warm and welcome in my family home and with my car to get from place to place. Sometimes suburbia has its perks 🙂
With winter just passing along, I’ve now transported to another continent to spend the spring and summer months: Europe! I’ll be based in the Czech Republic for the next two seasons and then will be once again moving, this time to begin some studies in lovely Oxford, England. Yet before moving turning my attention to the adventures ahead, here were some of my wintertime travels across both the USA and eventually even in Austria.
For Christmas, we headed to North Dakota where it definitely proved to be colder than the previous year’s Thanksgiving. While we hadn’t had much snow yet in the NYC area, North Dakota was already a winter prairieland with a full coat of white over the summer’s green fields. The first day we spent outside doing some winter North Dakota activities including building an igloo in a mound of snow and snowmobiling. I also experienced my first-ever flat land sledding—pulled by a snowmobile, as there are very few hills. The following few days though we were mostly snowed inside by a huge blizzard that hit and closed off several roads. As we celebrated Christmas, opened gifts, played cards, and cooked and cleaned, staying inside was quite cozy in the best of winter ways.
Christmas in North Dakota also brought about a few new traditions compared to our typical ones on the East Coast. For starters, we celebrated most of the holiday on the 24th, rather than the 25th, including going to church, eating the main Christmas meal for lunch, and having waffles with deviled eggs and bacon for dinner. Not quite a Christmas surprise, but another big one was getting to see a live pheasant up close and personal when some of my cousins brought it in from their hunting outing, hidden under their jacket. It remained pretty calm, even as we examined its beautiful colors and feathers.
Luckily, the snow cleared in time for our flight and a last Dakota meal in Bismarck before heading home to celebrate Christmas again, Chanukah, and a festive start of the 2017 year.
One month later it was back out west for the snow again to go skiing in Colorado. When I was younger, we used to ski in Steamboat Springs every year, so after 7 years, it was nice to be back on the mountain again. Not too much had changed it felt good to ski again since our last trip to Kitzbühel, already 3 years ago! We were extremely lucky with fresh powder and sunny skies every day to greet us for our leisurely skiing. Some highlights were going back to Slopeside Bar & Grill, where I was originally introduced to the amazing concept of cheese fries, and trying out new restaurants, like the small plates-style Laundry downtown. Most of all, skiing the mountain brought back so many memories of so many years of my teenage years spent skiing around. Certain trails brought flashbacks of rituals we had or songs that would pop into my head or things I had been thinking about. Everything felt wonderfully familiar, but yet ready to discover all over again.
Although I had never really left the Rockies of Colorado before, I decided to take a mini-road trip to visit my colleagues at GoAbroad.com who I had only ever talked with via video chat and email. After debating a few different routes, I decided to drive through Rocky Mountain National Park, which was beyond beautiful, until I drove into an icy rain situation. The first half of the drive was gorgeous, with blue skies and rundown vacation spots, which I can only imagine are hoppin’ in the summer months. Yet, as I was driving and loving NPR, I literally saw a cloud descend in front of me, just as the radioman warned of slippery roads in my destination, Fort Collins. I exited the park to stop at a gas station and almost slip and fall right on my first step out of the car on the ice rink that was the pavement. I literally rolled into Ft. Collins to the lovely greetings of my GoAbroad friends and we then braved the roads to get some delicious Thai food and go to the cool craft beer bar, Pour Brothers Community Tavern, located downtown.
The roads were much better the next day and I headed down to Boulder to see the famously cool college town. On the short drive South, I was transfixed by an amazing program on James Baldwin preceding the release of the documentary I Am Not Your Negro. Completely amazed by everything the panel said, I arrived in Boulder and immediately went to a bookstore to buy one of his books. For a short aside, EVERYONE should go get their mind-blown by seeing this documentary and I’m currently more than half way through his first novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain, if anyone wants to discuss! Although pretty empty after the snow, Boulder was super charming, and from my short session of people-watching at Boxcar Coffee Roasters, it seems like a really cool community.
Driving back seemed like it would be an easier time after grabbing lunch with my study abroad friend who works outside of Denver. As I was coasting along the highway, bobbing in and out of NPR frequencies all seemed clear. Then a massive snowstorm hit and for the last hour, I was inching along with minimal visibility behind a huge Walmart truck, which finally veered off to leave me leading a small caravan along a single lane road where the yellow line was fully covered. Spoiler alert, I survived, but I’ll say I’ve had my fill of winter driving for quite some time and feel I definitely learned a lot more about what real Colorado living is like.
Just when I thought I was officially in springtime mode in Europe, I had the lucky chance to go skiing one last time in Austria. Stuhleck is a small ski mountain at the start of the Alps, just a bit Southwest of Vienna. Even though all around us were warm temperatures and emerging green springtime plants, we started to see hints of snow when approaching the mountain and then all of a sudden it stood right before us. Just a two-hour drive from Znojmo, it made for a perfect day trip. We arrived, I rented skis, we bought lift tickets, and were on the mountain right away. Then, with a super reasonable 3-hour lift ticket, it was easy to make the most of our quick runs up and down the mountain and even stop for a nice Austrian herbal soda on the way down.One of the coolest views was coming up the ski lift and seeing all the wind turbines on the horizon. After a quick lunch, we were on the road again in time for dinner after a fulfilling day of exercise and sunny skies on the slopes.
Thank you winter for being tons of fun! Now, bring on the warmth with springtime and a Happy Norooz, Persian New Year, to all!