Savor The Summit 2014: More Than Meets The Eye

There is more than meets the eye at Savor the Summit in Park City. That is saying a lot because the event is pretty amazing. Imagine one long table stretching the length of historic Main Street, with each restaurant putting on their special decorative touches you can enjoy fine dining in the outdoors with 1,500 of your closest friends.

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The event is unique and the food is amazing but there is more!  Even if you don’t participate in the elegant meal, you can still enjoy great music and special libations at Savor the Summit.

That’s what we did this year. We made sure to go to the Spirit Garden Main Stage at the Kimball Arts Center to taste Constellation wines, Wasatch and Squatters brews and sip the signature cocktails.

Mountain Town Music did not let us down with their choice of bands for the event. Guests got their party started dancing to the funky Changing Lanes Experience.

Picture 3 Picture 4 PATWA Reggae Band closed the party with their classic and authentic sounds.

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Old friends, new friends and even a few four-legged friends (at the Spirit Garden) enjoyed a celebration of summer nights in the mountains at Savor the Summit. If you were at this year’s Savor the Summit, let me know what you thought of the experience in the comments below or on Twitter at @Nancy_MoneyDiva. Here are a few more of my favorite pictures from the event. Until next time, enjoy your #DeerValleySummer.

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Three Unique Adventures Near Park City – Racing Mustangs, Watching Bison and the Wild West

Race a high performance Ford Mustang GT, spot a bison herd and go back 200 years in history, all within about an hour’s drive of Park City. Who knew there were so many adventures so close by?

There is so much to do in Park City that until we moved here full time, we never even considered getting in the car and exploring.

Now that we have been here a few seasons, we have ventured out exploring in different directions. Here are some unique adventures we came across that are close enough for a day trip.

Due west -

Racing Ford Mustang GTs at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah

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Is driving upwards of 100 mph in a Ford Mustang on your bucket list?  If so, head west on Interstate 80 to Miller Motorsports Park.  My husband Jay and his “motorhead” friend Tom enjoyed the experience immensely.

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After 30 minutes of classroom instruction, the guys headed to race at high speeds on the 4.5-mile circuit track – the longest track in North America.  After following the pace car for a few laps to learn the ropes, each guy got a chance to be the lead and “let her rip” at close to 100 mph.

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Not a Ford fan?  Drive your own car on Wide Open Wednesdays – WOW.

Resource: http://www.utah.com/saltlake/miller_park.htm

Wide Open Wednesdays – http://www.millermotorsportspark.com/get-on-track/wide-open-wednesday.html

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Heading north –

Day trip to Antelope Island

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Did you know there is an island in the Great Salt Lake connected by a land bridge?  Did you know the island has fresh water springs and is home to a herd of about 600 bison?  It’s a little over an hour and a half drive from Park City (because you have to travel north of Salt Lake City to access it).

Bison

Get out your hiking boots or bring your bike to visit Antelope Island State Park for the day (or you can even camp overnight if you are so inclined).  In addition to the bison, Antelope Island is home to large herds of mule deer, pronghorn antelope and big horn sheep. Also, take in the working farm– the Fielding Garr Ranch museum.

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Resource:  http://stateparks.utah.gov/park/antelope-island-state-park

Heading east –

Rendezvous at Fort Bridger, Wyoming

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Ever dreamed of being a frontiersman or woman during the fur trade when the west was really wild? You are almost 200 years tardy … but not too late.  You can still celebrate an old west rendezvous that occurred from 1825 to 1840 at Fort Bridger, Wyoming (a short distance east of Evanston.)

Drive east on Interstate 80 for about an hour and a half to the annual Rendezvous at Fort Bridger – a reenactment of the events when fur traders would bring their wares for trade. These gatherings were attended by hundreds of fur trappers and traders, mountain men, thousands of Native Americans and the occasional missionary or two.

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The event happens over Labor Day weekend and over 40,000 visitors and participants attend.  Many dress in period costumes to take part in festivities such as black powder musket shooting, archery and a frying pan toss competition. Hmmm… sounds interesting.

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Come in costume to participate or street cloths to watch. You can also shop at any of the 120 trading booths set up during the event.

Walking through the teepees and camps, you are transported in time and have the chance to experience a little slice of what life was like back then.

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Resource: http://www.wyomingtourism.org/articles/detail/Mountain-Man-Rendezvous/30972

Whichever direction you decide to go (even if it’s just staying right where you are), you’ll never be lacking for something to do in Park City and the surrounding area.

National Ability Center Barn Party Fundraiser- Just Plain Fun

NAC Barn Party

The National Ability Center’s Barn Party Fundraiser will be held on Saturday, June 7, 2014, from 5:30 to 9 p.m. More information can be found at www.discvoernac.org/annual-barn-party. Read Deer Valley Blogger Nancy Anderson’s experience at last year’s Barn Party Fundraiser below.

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We came for the event but stayed for the party. The cause is a good one. The staff and volunteers at the National Ability Center do amazing things for the participants. I have seen members of the Ability Ski Team on the runs at Deer Valley and heard the experiences of a volunteer first hand. My husband helps with the equestrian center, handling the horses on a lead, so participants can enjoy a trail ride.

When I saw the promotion for the National Ability Center’s Barn Party Fundraiser event, I said, “Lets go!”  A few of our friends said, “We’re in!” So we put on our western gear and headed to the barn.  I know this sounds silly but the barn party was actually in the barn: it was held in the middle of the indoor horse arena. Think dirt. It was very rustic and super cool AND I am so glad I wore my cowboy boots instead of sandals.

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After watching a beautiful equestrian demonstration from several of the young riders in the program and petting a couple of little donkeys at the petting zoo, we got a tour of the barn.  Some brave people, young and old, took a ride on the mechanical bull. I chickened out and didn’t try it but did my part by enthusiastically cheering the folks that did.

My girlfriends and I also avoided the saloon, not because we don’t drink whiskey. We do; but we figured whiskey would interfere with our next activity – line dancing. Line dancing takes a great deal of concentration to avoid injury to myself and the poor unsuspecting people dancing next to me.

As usual, Anderson and Company were the last to leave the party but not until we learned the Boot Scoot’n Boogie, Allan Jackson’s Good Times Line Dance and Cotton Eye Joe (thrown in for good measure).   The DJ/dance instructor kept asking us if we wanted to learn another dance. We kept saying yes until we couldn’t think straight and finally had to sit down.

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The auction – both silent and live – raised a lot of money for a great cause to help our wounded warriors and people who otherwise may never have a chance to ski, snow shoe, shoot an arrow or ride a horse.  The party – well – it was just plain fun.  Next year I think I will try the mechanical bull riding!

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Do You Set Challenges to Push Yourself?

Do you ever set random challenges for yourself? For example, when you are running, do you set a target to run to “the flagpole” or “to the end of the street?”  I do. It’s a simple way to push yourself to do a little more than you ordinarily would. Bring on the challenge!

Today I challenged myself to be “last tracks.” I made that up. I don’t know if that’s actually a skiing term like “first tracks.”  I wouldn’t actually know since rarely, if ever, am I out late in the day. I am in the lodge by the fire with a warm cup of cocoa in my hand by the time 4:00 p.m. comes along. I never paid attention to when the lifts close.

Today was different. I decided not to be an early bird and challenged myself to take the last chairlift (or close to it) of the day.

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It was a beautiful warm spring day with blue skies. I had a chance to come out and ski for a few hours on the first day of April so I wanted to make the most of it. I decided to stick around Carpenter chairlift and see how many runs I could do (and snap a few photos.) I bounced between Last Chance and Solid Muldoon ski runs.

The clock said 3:45 p.m. as I hopped on the lift so I figured, no problem, I can ski another half hour and take the last lift up before Carpenter closes. As I took a run on Last Chance ski run, the weather changed as it often does in the mountains and it started to snow.  Snow is always a good thing for skiers so I had a big smile on my face.

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At the end of the run as I headed toward the lift, my smile disappeared. It was snowing harder now and the wind was whipping up a bit so everything was white. Skiers were ignoring the snowfall and lining up for the lift but I hesitated.

Here was my deciding moment. Meet the challenge or fall short? What would you do?

I asked myself, “Are you going to cowgirl up and take another run? Are you going to stay out to the last possible moment and push yourself or are you going to go in?

I stared at the lift and looked at the snow whipping past and let several people pass me saying, “Go ahead, No problem.  I am taking pictures.”

The clock said 4:00 and the sign said, “Last lift at 4:15.”

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With snow blowing in my face, I turned on my heels while saying under my breath, “Close enough! This girl is headed in.”

So maybe my little challenge wasn’t met but the ski day was fantastic anyways! Check out more photos from my spring ski day at Deer Valley Resort below. Do you think I should have made one more run? Tell me in the comments or on Twitter @nancy_moneydiva.


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The Little Things Make the Difference

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Deer Valley Resort is where I learned to ski, so I don’t know anything other than being spoiled. Until my friends came up for a girl’s ski weekend, I didn’t fully appreciate all the special things that make Deer Valley so wonderful.  Sometimes when you don’t know anything else, you don’t realize how good you have it.

Here are a few things that delighted my friends about skiing at Deer Valley:

Drop off is easy. The ski concierge helps you unload your skis and poles and hold them for you while you park.  It’s so nice to not have to lug your equipment up from the parking lot.

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Toasty warm boots and gloves. There are boot warmers in the locker room at Snow Park  (and at Silver Lake Lodge and even at Cushing’s Cabin) so you can slip your feet into toasty warm boots for the start of your day (or after a break.) Having warm boots makes them easier to slip on, too. Sometimes, I’ll pop my gloves on the warmers, too if it a little chilly outside.

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Fresh flowers. How nice is it to have fresh flower arrangements in the ladies room?  Also with our high desert climate in Utah, it sure is helpful to have hand lotion to keep hands soft after washing up.  Ladies, do you agree?

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Mountain Hosts. The informative Mountain Hosts are perched at strategic locations to help you figure out your next move.  Since my girlfriends hadn’t skied in a few years, we tapped the Mountain Hosts to help us decide which runs to take and in what order.

Choices for great eats. You can find just about anything you’d like to eat one of the Deer Valley Resort restaurants.  Do you want pizza or sushi? World famous turkey chili or a salad bar? Would you like to sit down for fine dining? You got it. Not only are there the lodges at Snow Park, Silver Lake and Empire, but you can also experience dining at the Royal St Café, Montage, Stein Eriksen Lodge and St. Regis.

Ski storage for lunch. When you take a lunch break, you can store your skis for no charge so you never have to worry that you forgot where you left them or that you’ll mistakenly pick up someone’s that look just like yours. You can also leave your ski’s overnight at no charge and even have them waxed and ready for you the next day for a small charge.

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Boot baskets. The daily basket rental allows in-and-out privileges from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day.  This makes it easy to drop a layer when you start to warm up and store your car keys for the day. (Yeah, I don’t bring my keys with me on the chairlift or down any ski runs for obvious reasons.)

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If you are coming back the next day, you can also store your boots overnight for no charge. This way in the morning, all you need is you and your helmet! Your skis, poles and boots all can be stored overnight waiting for you the next day — gratis from Deer Valley.

A ride to your car. The Deer Valley tram comes by every few minutes and drops you right by your car. All you have to do is remember which lot you parked in. You can be like me and forget where you left your car since you are so excited to ski in the morning. I am often seen walking through the parking lot at the end of the day, clicking my door opener and listening for a sound.  Works like a charm.

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When I was a kid, my father worked in Washington D.C., so my family went to the Smithsonian all the time. Seeing the Star Spangled Banner, the Hope Diamond, and the Bill of Rights was a regular occurrence for me – I thought all kids were “Smithsonian museum rats.”  I really didn’t know how good I had it back then.

Now as an adult, having the opportunity to ski at Deer Valley, I am spoiled once again and so are you. Isn’t it wonderful?

Take Home Deer Valley Turkey Chili

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“Can I have the recipe?”

That’s what my friend said when I dropped off a container of my “take home and make at home” Deer Valley Turkey Chili for her.  The package was enough for 10 people so I wrapped up some for my friend and left it on her doorstep for her family to enjoy.

“We can go one step further than that!  The mix is available at Deer Valley Grocery~Café,” I responded.

Many visitors to Deer Valley Resort look forward to the turkey chili just as much as they enjoy the skiing!  Being new to skiing, I didn’t really know about this tradition until I overheard several different groups of people on the chairlifts talking about how much they were looking forward to it!  Once I tried the turkey chili at Silver Lake Lodge, I knew why.

Since my husband had shoulder surgery, he wasn’t able to get up to the resort so I decided to surprise him with a special treat. I brought the chili to him. Though I am not a very good cook, (I readily admit defeat in this area), even I was able to make the world famous turkey chili with the help of the special take home spice pack kit!

Here’s how it went:

Beans were soaked overnight and rinsed.

A few ingredients were purchased at the store and chopped up in (relatively) even pieces.

Browned the turkey, boiled some chicken broth on the stove, added the spices and the ingredients, simmered for a half hour or so and served.  Even Nancy Anderson was able to do it!

You can pick up your Take Home Turkey Chili packages at  Deer Valley Grocery~Café.

After you try it, let us know if yours was as tasty as ours!


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Girl’s Weekend – Ski Rental Makes Life Easy and, in Our Case, Memorable.

What do you pack for your girl’s ski weekend? Well, everything of course! You need bibs and ski jacket or two, under layers for warmth, choices of outfits for dinners out and your après ski boots. My girlfriends from California were so sweet to pack hostess gifts (yeah!), a bottle of my favorite Old Vine Zinfandel and a Barbera from the California wine country.

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Let’s see what else? Girls have to have their hair care products, make up, and skin care goodies. Plenty of fashion accessories are necessary so we can all share when we are getting ready to go out for dinner. Do you think there was much room in their suitcases for ski boots? Not really. As I suspected, their suitcases were completely packed so they had to sit on them to close the zippers!

Knowing this might happen, ahead of time I set them up with ski rentals from Deer Valley’s Ski Rental shop. Who wants so schlep their stuff on the plane and check an extra bag for skis and poles? Besides, their equipment is quite a few years old, and this gave them a chance to try new technology. Bonuses: less stuff to carry, fewer baggage fees and opportunity to test new equipment.

Here is how it went:

Preparation: I made a call to the Deer Valley Rental shop with my friend’s names, ages, height, weight, and ski ability. Then I reserved rentals for them during their stay. Confirmations were emailed back and we were good to go.

Morning of Day 1: Since they were set up and I knew they’d be well taken care of, I dropped them off at Snow Park to get started. “See those guys dressed in green?” I said. “Have them point you to the rental shop and I’ll meet you down there.” Then I parked the car and grabbed the shuttle.

By the time I met up with them, they were already through registration with boots in hand, and were getting their skis and poles. Deer Valley Rental shop wants to get every customer through their rental experience in 5 – 10 minutes so they can get out and enjoy the snow. My girlfriends were floored it was so quick and easy. We headed to the boot warmers and hit Wide West ski run to warm up!

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End of Day 1: We handed our skis and poles to the valet for free overnight storage at Snow Park Lodge. No schlepping boots either; we loved that we could leave the boots with the basket concierge for free overnight storage, too. Boots were placed in the baskets, and off we went.

Morning of Day 2: These girls were antsy to get back out there. They wanted to get in as many runs as possible so we arrived just after the resort opened. My friends quickly put on their matching rental boots, grabbed a basket to store our shoes and we were off. On the stairs, the girls were walking a little funny but I shrugged it off as being a little sore from the long day skiing the day before.

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At the base of the Carpenter chairlift, my 5’2” friend Lynn was really having trouble getting her skis on. I said to her, “Lynn, set your skis sideways on the hill. They are sliding backwards.” She shot me a look that said, “I am not stupid! I know that.” She seemed a little agitated (which is not like her) so I popped out of my skis and went to investigate.

Her boots weren’t clicking into her bindings. It didn’t make any sense since she’d skied on them yesterday. The bindings looked too small. Then 5’7” Heidi couldn’t get her skis on either. Her bindings looked too big.

Einstein here (yeah, that was me) wasn’t connecting the dots either. I said, “Do you have the right skis?” Yep. Heidi’s skis had her name of them and so did Lynn’s. Ok. It’s not the skis. The three of us (normally fairly intelligent people) all deducted that it must be the bindings!

So we take the equipment back to the rental shop to investigate the bindings. We meet up with Deer Valley ski technician Howard Ritter who helps Lynn. He pulls up her information and grabs a boot the same size (then she won’t have to take off her boot – very thoughtful.) He checks the boot and binding. “This fits. Let’s take a look at your boot.” We both look down at the personalized sticker on her boot. It doesn’t match the ski.

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Two stations down, Heidi’s technician is telling her that the boots she has on aren’t hers. Heidi says, “WHAT HAPPENED TO MY BOOTS?” (You might be wondering, “How many skiers does it take to change a light bulb?”)

Gary Wassmer, the rental shop supervisor happens to be standing there. He smiles as he and Howard state the obvious at the exact same time. You and your friend switched boots – you have each other’s boots on.

Lynn and Heidi lock eyes and simultaneously look down at the boots and burst our laughing.

Howard, the voice of reason, says with a huge smile on his face, “How did this girl (pointing to the long skis) fit into this girl’s (pointing to the shorter skis) boots?” Scratching our heads, we wondered how we could have possibly missed this when, (tiny feet) Lynn’s boots went on so easy and (tall) Heidi had a lot of trouble with hers and both could hardly walk up the stairs?

Now all the technicians and other renters are laughing with us. I get this party moving by directing my girlfriends to sit down and switch boots (while snapping photos to embarrass them). They are no longer hobbling and miraculously, their boots lock right into the bindings on their skis. We wave to our new best friends in the rental shop and hit the lift for an amazing day of run after run of Utah powder.

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End of Day 2: I have asked my friends for the tenth time, “now who put their boots on first?” Someone tells me not to bother applying for Mensa anytime soon.

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Despite our “user error,” we have a fantastic experience renting skis and skiing at Deer Valley.

Lessons learned:

Renting equipment is a great hassle-free way to enjoy a ski weekend out of town.

If the shoe fits, wear it. (Check your tag anyways to make sure it’s yours.)

If the shoe doesn’t fit, it’s probably not your shoe. (Check your tag to see whose it is.)

And laugh early and often with your girlfriends. Repeat.

For more information on ski rentals at Deer Valley resort, click here.

Check out more photos from our girls weekend ski trip.

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Granddaughter’s Ski Lesson

The best ski lesson for your child or grandchild is one where you give them a kiss on the cheek and leave them to the instructor. The problem is you are just as excited about the lesson as they are! You want to be up close and personal to observe and take photos to memorialize the event.

That’s how my friends TJ and Lin felt when they set up a ski lessons for their granddaughter (and my little friend) Stella, age 3. The grandparents felt like it was important for the little one to have a positive experience right from the start. They called in Deer Valley ski instructor, Mark Shepard to teach her on her first day. Mark has a keen ability to really hone in on what a skier needs to make marked improvements. He helped TJ (a lifelong skier) make drastic improvements on the bumps and Stella’s Mom and Dad take on the blues. So why not make it three generations.

Mark was open to splitting a private lesson. The first hour, a private lesson just for little Stella and the rest of the morning went to their daughter and son-in-law (both beginner skiers.)  He started little Stella’s lesson in the lodge practicing “pizza and french fry” on aluminum pie pans (no skis yet – just with boots) until she got the concept down cold. The grandparents were quickly forgotten as Mark got right down to Stella’s eye level. Though TJ and Lin wanted to stick around, they knew better.

Photo Credit: TJ Lenahan

Photo Credit: TJ Lenahan

They also had a secret weapon – a serious telephoto lens! TJ is a wildlife photographer — an expert at quietly watching from a long distance and snapping amazing photos. He put those skills to the test for Stella’s lesson.

Here is what he observed (while in stealth mode) from way over on the other side of the run:

Mark carrying little Stella to the hill.

Photo Credit: TJ Lenahan

Photo Credit: TJ Lenahan

Practicing now with skis on.

Photo Credit: TJ Lenahan

Photo Credit: TJ Lenahan

A typical three-year-old, Stella points out an airplane in the sky during the lesson. Mark simply lies on his back to enjoy the delight of the plane with her.

In about an hour, Stella is skiing!

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Photo Credit: TJ Lenahan

The moral of the story is you can have the best of both worlds. Your child or grandchild can enjoy their lesson and you can have photos to remember the event. All you have to do is walk softly and carry a big telephoto lens.
For more information on ski lessons at Deer Valley Ski Resort, click here

Don’t Worry About #FOMOS (Fear of Missing Out on Seafood) at the Deer Valley Seafood Buffet

There are two distinct strategies for having a fantastic evening at the Deer Valley Seafood Buffet. The first is to enjoy your absolute favorite seafood with no restrictions. I overheard another guest planning out his evening with this in mind.

He said, while gazing at the raw oyster and sushi bar, “Wow, I could make a whole night of this!” I observed him filling up two plates of oysters with horseradish and slices of lemons and then coming back for more. With this approach, you can be in seafood bliss enjoying the dishes you love most for an entire evening.

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While I respect this approach, the “fear of missing out on seafood” held me back. I wanted to try everything since it was my first time dining at the Seafood Buffet. I anticipated this reaction so I came prepared. Trying everything took a little planning and a whole lot of self-control at first.

If you want to try the second approach – a little bit of everything – here are a few suggestions:

Empty the tank before you go. Burn some calories earlier in the day. Whether it’s downhill skiing for a few hours, trying out some cross-country skiing at White Pine or snowshoeing, come hungry.

Start with appetizers at the raw oyster bar.

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Then hit the Natural Buffet to fill out your appetizers and add some salads – Pile your plate high with crab, prawns and salmon. Try a few bites of each of the salads. I have to admit I neglected to try the salads because I was so excited about the Dungeness crab. (two helpings plus one of snow crab. I know. Heaven.)

Delicacies are next at the Hot Entrée Station – When our waitress went over all the seafood specials, my thought was simply, “Yes to all.”  I wasn’t worried about which ones.  Try a bite of each!  I sampled the Honey Soy Glazed Scallops with Fresh Ginger Sauce and Pecan Crusted Sailfish among other things.

The seafood buffet is not complete without the Carvery Station.  I had Double R Ranch prime rib and potatoes. OK, mine wasn’t “a little bite,” it was a whole plate with au jus and mushroom sauce on the side.  Remember how I recommended emptying the tank?

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Wait!  We forgot the sushi bar.  This is exactly what happened to me so I went ahead and tasted a few pieces of fresh sushi at this juncture in the evening and it was wonderful.  Sushi doesn’t need to be an appetizer!

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Dessert from the bakery – Everyone will tell you to save room for dessert. No need here. There are plenty of small bites to choose from: Truffles, chocolate, mini cupcakes, and fruit parfaits if you want just a bite of dessert or something light.  If your sweet tooth is calling for something more substantial, there are choices to your heart desires. I am too embarrassed to share with you all the desserts I tried!

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My best tip of all – relax and enjoy! Slow down and take your time, you never have to fear missing out on seafood at Deer Valley Resort.

For more information on the Seafood Buffet or to make reservations, click here.

Deer Valley FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup: “Sick Air Package”

Being an avid reader my entire life, I have a fairly good grasp on commonly used phrases in the English language. Well, I thought I did until I attended the Freestyle Ski World Cup  event at Deer Valley Ski Resort. The event was exciting in-and-of itself but the fact that some of the athletes were qualifying for the Aerials and Moguls Competitions for the Olympics in Sochi added another dimension.

World Cup and Champion

During the competition, I picked up some new vocabulary and idioms to add to my repertoire. Here are some examples:

We are all familiar with a “selfie,” of course, but this is a new one. A “chesty” was described as an ill-fated move an athlete made when she looked down and instead of landing on her skis, she landed on her chest! Ouch! This was not a pleasant experience to say the least. In the future, I will avoid pulling a “chesty” at all costs.

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The announcer mentioned an athlete had done a “double ejecto face plant tumbler” in practice. Fortunately, during the competition, he executed his jump well and we didn’t have to witness a spill. A double ejecto tumbler might be difficult to watch.

A jump I observed in the aerials is called a “Big Daddy.”
This move is made up of:
Double = two flips
Full = full twist on the first flip
Full = full twist on the last flip

One athlete who pulled this off was described as having a “sick air package.” I would have to agree!

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On the moguls competition we observed a speedy athlete who was “bogeying down the hill” and even faster was the competitor who was “smoke show” fast.

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The competition was exciting to watch and cheering on our favorite athletes was exhilarating. Even better that fans were able to walk away with some new words and phrases to add to our vocabulary from the event.