I was hoping to review a new bus line over the holidays, but a Nor’Easter put an end to that scheme. Megabus, a European outfit, has recently started service from New York City and Boston to Vermont. They’ve got cheaper tickets than Greyhound, Wi-Fi on board, and nicer buses overall. It could be a nice alternative than driving yourself. I pictured myself falling asleep in a comfy seat while watching a movie on a laptop instead of white knuckling through the nightmare that is Boston area driving.
The problems started when an after-Christmas storm dropped a foot and half of snow across the region. Megabus cancelled my ticket to Boston over twenty-four hours before the scheduled departure using the weather as an excuse. Greyhound cancelled their routes as well. When I called across to the border to locally owned Dartmouth Coach, the customer service rep sounded almost irritated that I though a Nor’Easter would shut down travel.
So no review on Megabus, other than I will most likely never book a ticket during the winter on them. It’s New England and if you can’t figure out how to get a bus through in a moderate storm, then you really don’t belong there. On Friday, the day of my canceled ticket and the day after the big storm, the roads were completely clear and free of ice.
On the other hand, props to Dartmouth Coach. If you need a ride from Boston to the Upper Valley of New Hampshire, this is the way to go. Huge seats, movies, and free snacks. I slept like a baby.]]>
Here’s the lowdown:
via Wachusett Mountain]]>
The Overview: Valley View Hot Springs located in central Colorado has a bit of everything for everyone. From heated pools and hot tubs to more remote locations with no man-made features, this rustic spot is especially quiet during the winter. There’s overnight camping either in your car or in a variety of cabins.
Where: Valley View HS is not on the beaten track to anywhere. The closest town is Salida/Monarch Mountain (about 45 minutes away). Head south on 285 to County Road GG and follow the signs to the Orient Land Trust. The road is fairly flat and very easy to get to the springs — no serious mountain driving.
Who Owns It: The springs are managed by the Orient Land Trust, an interesting non-profit land trust that’s dedicated to the preservation of natural and biological resources, agricultural lands, wildlife habitat, open space, and historic and geologic features of the northern San Luis Valle.
The Pools: Right at the parking lot is an 80 foot swimming pool and a hot tub. There’s also a sauna, showers, water fountains, and bathrooms located nearby. The “Soaking Pool” is a short walk up the from the swimming pool and one of the warmest at Valley Views. There are three more pools located on the grounds that require some hiking.
Hours: It’s open year round. Day visitors can access the pools from 9AM to 10PM. Overnight folks can go anytime.
The Rate: At $12 per person, it’s not exactly a budget soak. Go early in the day as the daily pass lasts from 9AM to 10PM. We had planned on staying overnight in our RV, but the price for two people ($53!) was just too steep.
Our Take: We headed straight for the “Top Pond”, the most remote of the pools. It was a fairly slippery hike during a cool February evening. Wear sturdy boots, bring a headlamp, and watch your step on the icy lower part of the trail. The people at the check-in desk can provide info on the trail conditions.
We’re partial to the pools that have the least amount of man-made features and the Top Pond didn’t disappoint. It was a quiet, enjoyable place to throw back a couple of beers under the gorgeous Colorado night sky. Then we soaked for a bit in the much warmer Waterfall Pool. A trip to the hot tub and the extremely comfortable sauna rounded out our three hour trip.
Go midweek and during the winter to avoid the crowds. We saw four people total in our evening adventure.
Oh yeah, the entire grounds are clothing optional.
More Info: Orient Land Trust]]>
Some things to pay attention in the fine print:
1. You have to also buy five nights lodging and lift tickets
2. Book before January 31st
3. Maximum travel credit is $500.
4. I have no idea what “cowboy powder” is.
From the web site:
It’s the deal that has become as legendary as Jackson Hole’s famous terrain and epic “cowboy” powder. For the 2010/2011 ski and snowboard season, Jackson Hole Central Reservations is bringing back the 4th Flies Free ski deal! You and three friends or family members can make a trip to Jackson a reality by taking advantage of this incredible offer. All you have to do is call and book your trip to the most renowned skiing in North America before January 31st and your group will enjoy a free plane ticket when you purchase three others.
This offer must be booked in conjunction with a minimum five nights lodging and lift tickets. But not to worry, the local travel experts at Jackson Hole can plan your vacation with one simple phone call. We’re here to book your airfare, lift tickets and help you find the perfect lodging option with over 30 hotels, motels, condominiums and vacation homes to choose from. Call today to learn more, 888-838-6661.
Availability is limited and restrictions apply. New reservations only. Buy three plane tickets to Jackson Hole, WY and get the fourth ticket free. Maximum travel credit of $500. Minimum five-night stay and purchase of lift tickets required. Limited to eight people per party. Must be booked by January 31, 2011. Valid dates of travel: November 27 – December 22, 2010 and January 4 – April 3, 2011.
This Crested Butte deal has been around for a few seasons now. Buy two plane tickets, get a free third one. The main thing to focus on in the fine print is that you also have to purchase four days of lodging from Crested Butte and the ticket can’t be more than $400.
Inspire your passion for adventure in Colorado’s last great ski town, Crested Butte. Known for its historic and colorful small town spirit, welcoming nature and diverse mountain terrain, Crested Butte provides the backdrop for your dream mountain getaway. Book your Crested Butte vacation for three or more people today and every third airline ticket is free*. Fly nonstop to Gunnison/Crested Butte Airport (GUC) on American Airlines, United Airlines and Continental Airlines from Denver, Dallas, or Houston. No matter where you are, getting to Crested Butte is now easier than ever.
Subject to availability. Four night minimum night stay at a CBMR managed property required. Only valid on flights arriving and departing from Gunnison County Airport (GUC). Valid for travel between December 16, 2010 and April 3, 2011. Maximum travel credit of $400 per free airline ticket. Limited to 3 free airline tickets per reservation. Valid only on new reservations. Can not be combined with any other offers.
via Crested Butte]]>
A free airline ticket that doesn’t involve a credit card offer? Unbelievable, you say?
It’s true. But only if you live in Oregon. Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air have launched a program for travelers in Oregon and five southwest Washington counties. Travelers who enroll in Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan will receive 5,000 miles when they sign up and another 20,000 miles after they fly one qualifying roundtrip to, from or connecting in Portland, Oregon.
Here’s a quote from some executive:
“If you’re an Oregon or southwest Washington resident and not already an Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan member, we invite you to join, fly to any of our 95 destinations and begin planning your free award travel,” said Steve Jarvis, Alaska’s vice president of marketing, sales and customer experience. “This offer represents the most generous Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan offer since the program’s inception in 1983.”
Needless to say, this is a killer deal for Beaver State residents. To qualify for the “Join. Fly. Fly Free.” offer, travelers must live in Oregon or Wahkiakum, Cowlitz, Clark, Skamania or Klickitat counties in southwest Washington, join the Mileage Plan and travel by April 1, 2010.
[via Alaska Airlines]]]>
Some folk like to spend their whole ski vacation in one place. Not us. We like roadtrips. We hit the road in mid-December. Seven ski areas in seven days. We started in Colorado and chased a big storm down to New Mexico.
Our first stop was Angel Fire. We didn’t know what to expect, but what we found was an upper mountain with the best early season conditions in our week long trip. The patrollers had dropped ropes all over the mountain including a “best-case-scenario”, where they opened three hiking trails, but someone forgot to take down the CLOSED sign. What followed was an uninterrupted afternoon of thigh high powder runs.
The next day we went to Red River to cash on their half price weekend. This means 50% off lift tickets, rentals, lessons — and even lodging. We found a $50 one bedroom apartment within walking distance of the lifts. You won’t ever find that in Colorado. Red River had been open since Thanksgiving, so most of the good stuff was tracked out. We still found some nice hits on the ridge line under the Red Chair.
Our final stop was Sipapu, about twenty miles from Taos. And for the first time in a week, the sun finally made an appearance. This family friendly resort has a whole mess of discounted tickets — more than we’ve seen for just about any ski area. They’ve got a cozy old school lodge and less crowds than we’re used to seeing. The upper mountain hadn’t been opened yet on our trip. Too bad for us we had to leave. There looked like some sweet glade skiing tucked up there.
Some of our favorites from New Mexico:
Favorite Ski Trail Name: Glory Hole at Angel Fire.
Best Bar to Throw Back a Beer: Bull O’ The Woods Saloon in Red River. And if you’re there on Sunday, they’ve got a $10 buffet during football season. Score!
Best Powder Stashes: Angel Fire by about sixteen inches of powder. The upper mountain got socked by early season storms and if you don’t mind hiking, there’s even more to explore.
Best Place to Crash for the Night: Most resorts give you free lift tickets when you purchase lodging. Sipapu gives you a free place to stay when you buy a ticket. There’s deals for free overnight stays in Taos and Las Vegas, but we recommend staying right at the slopeside lodge.
Runner Up Place to Crash: 1/2 price weekend in Red River means 1/2 price lodging around town. We stayed at the Ponderosa, a quirky seventies style pad that boasted a one room apartment with fireplace and kitchen for an amazing $50 bucks a night.
Someday…But getting back to business, the Utah Quickstart program is one of the few deals for Park City, Deer Park, and The Canyons. Flying into Salt Lake City gets you a free lift ticket voucher for the rest of the day at one of those resorts. Here’s how it works:
You will need to bring the completed, required redemption voucher, along with your same-day boarding pass and out of state photo I.D., to the resort ticket window, to receive your same-day lift ticket. Park City is located just 35 short minutes from Salt Lake City International Airport.
Quick START offer valid starting on the respective resort opening day to 12/24/09, 1/3/10 Ð 2/12/10, and 3/28/10 to the respective resort closing day 2010.
OFFER NOT VALID – 12/25/09-1/2/10, 2/13/10 – 3/27/10
Buy three plane tickets and get the fourth ticket free to Jackson Hole. Maximum travel credit of $500 per airline ticket. Minimum five-night stay and purchase of lift tickets. Availability is limited and restrictions apply. New reservations only. Must be booked by January 31, 2010. Valid dates of travel: November 28 – December 18, 2009 and January 3 – April 4
[via Jackson Hole Central Reservations]]]>
Friends fly FREE, plus everyone receives one night FREE and one ski day FREE in the following destinations when booking between 10/30/09 and 11/26/09 before 6:00 p.m
Southwest is focusing on three major ski hubs. Denver, Lake Tahoe/Reno, and Salt Lake City. Here’s some more details.
Colorado via Denver • Every second person flies FREE when you book a flight + hotel package. • Stay 4 nights and get 1 of those nights FREE. • Buy a 3-day lift ticket and receive 1 of those days FREE.
Nevada via Reno/Lake Tahoe • Every second person flies FREE when you book a flight + hotel package. • Receive every 3rd night FREE. • Buy a 3-day lift ticket and receive 1 of those days FREE.
Utah via Salt Lake City • Every second person flies FREE when you book a flight + hotel package. • Stay 4 nights and get 1 of those nights FREE. • Buy a 3-day lift ticket and receive 1 of those days FREE.
We priced out a January weekend trip to Park City from Phoenix which included airfare, free checked bags, 3 nights at a lower end resort, and 3 days of skiing/riding for 2 at either Alta, Snowbird, Solitude or Brighton. The total cost was $957 total ($478 per person).
We’re usually wary about all inclusive packages like this, but this appears to be one of the better deals for the early season. Keep in mind that there are some restrictions and blackout dates so you’ll want to do some digging.]]>