Day 21: Four Seasons and a Little Vail

Today we woke up and for the first time on this trip had absolutely nowhere to be.  What a novel feeling!  Not only that, but we woke up at the Four Seasons and within 5 minutes of waking up I was back into the robe and slippers.  Since we had an espresso machine in the room (I mentioned that already, didn’t I?), we just hung around and relaxed for a couple hours, not even leaving until around 11:30 AM and that was only because housekeeping was coming around and I didn’t want to miss out on an opportunity for them to replenish the L’Occitane that seemed to have disappeared into my suitcase.  How’d that get in there?  By the way, after the shower this morning I’m pretty sure I heard my hair whisper, “thank you.”

Jim and the Four Seasons bears

It had snowed overnight and there was accumulation of a couple of inches, making for idyllic surroundings.  We wandered around Vail and Lionshead Villages for a while before stopping into Les Delices de France for a quick bite.  After eating, we ambled about some more, watching a ski team shush down the mountain (it still wasn’t open yet to the public) and taking in the “Tyrolean feel,” according to the Vail Chamber of Commerce.

Vail is an interesting place, sitting at an altitude of about 8,200 feet, with a mix of mostly high-end boutique stores, plenty of high-end lodging choices, a range of restaurants, and a transient, seasonal work force who seem to be avid snow sportspeople, like to talk like surfers, and dress a bit like hippies.  It’s quite a mix, to be sure, and we’re not sure we exactly fit in, not being skiers or private plane owners.  I was here about 8 years ago and it seems as though it’s tried to become a bit more, um, cosmopolitan and sophisticated like Aspen.  It’s a shame, as the laid-back vibe worked well back then.

“Tyrolean” Vail Village with ski runs behind

It’s not a big place and the entire thing can be covered on foot in an hour or so, so we had inspected every corner (twice) by the time our stroll was complete.  Because we’ve been so used to being on the go this trip we were feeling a little antsy and decided to hop in the car and drive to Leadville, which is The Highest City in America at 10,200 feet.  You know how we adore the ultimate in anything, whether it’s the Largest, Tallest, Smallest, Roundest, Flattest, Oblongest, Greenest, Hottest, Windiest, or, yes, Highest.

We got into the car and headed east on I-70, approaching the Vail Pass at 10,662 feet.  The problem was that the snow was coming down pretty good in Vail at 8,200 feet, and, as you can well imagine, it only got worse at 10,662 feet.  Chains were being required of commercial trucks, it was slow going for everyone, and here we were, a couple of tourists out for a joyride.  We were a bit pot-committed, however, because there were no exits to get off the interstate until after the pass and after the pass the weather (and road) greatly improved so we tried to press on.  We got as far as our exit at Copper Mountain before we made the decision to turn around and head back, as the road we needed to take for several miles into Leadville looked problematic and sketchy.  So up and back over the pass we went again, with Jimmy expertly navigating the snowy roads.

Snow bunnies

Back in Vail, we took this as a sign and beat feet back to our lap of luxury, where I immediately returned myself to where I should have been all day, and that was in the robe and slippers.  We watched a movie and relaxed for a few hours (even managing to snack on cheddar Chex Mix and not turn the bedspread orange), using the room to its fullest.  The fireplace was roaring, the humidifier was set, and it was snowing outside.  Would it be too much to ask for us to get snowed in for a week?

Dinnertime came and we peeled ourselves away long enough to eat at The Red Lion, one of Vail’s finest-looking dive bars.  After dinner Jim suggested we stop at the Four Seasons bar for a nightcap but I thought they might frown upon me sitting there in my robe and slippers so we nixed that idea.  Instead, we found a liquor store and purchased 2 airplane bottles of Baileys to have with an in-room espresso.  Yes, it was consumed while wearing a robe and slippers and sitting in the sweat lodge of a room with the fireplace (and humidifier) on full blast.  Because we hadn’t really been hiking today this was our new exercise regimen.

Even Reno loved the robe and slippers

Going to bed this night was bittersweet, as we would be carrying on with the trip tomorrow in a new location but that location would not be the womb of the Four Seasons.  Major bummer.  But life must go on, and that life just won’t include turn-down service.

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