There’s Always Something New at the Sundance Film Festival

Sundance Film Festival 2014 was my third in a row so I knew there to expect surprises. Obviously the films are the draw, but the experience at Sundance is always different, too. Three new and/or innovative things in particular caught my attention. In technology, the new E-Wait List was the buzz on the street. People were jumping all over themselves to show me how it worked when I asked.  The Air BNB Haus was another place everyone said I “had to go” and the round pavilion that seemed to pop up out of nowhere showing “The Source” by David Aiken was a “don’t miss.”

Technology – the E-Wait List

You certainly can’t completely avoid waiting in line to see a movie. Besides it’s part of the experience to chat it up with people in line but the E-Wait List site cut down on unnecessary wasted time.  Basically, all you had to do was sign up and then sign in to the Sundance E-Wait List. Then you simply checked the website – which looked and felt like an app – as to the upcoming movies to grab your numbered spot on the list – two hours before the movie.

The downside I heard was that people signed up for movies capturing coveted wait list spots but didn’t cancel when they ended up not attending. But if you did make it in, you showed up to the venue a half hour before and cued up in line based on your number – very civilized!  You didn’t have to leave your friends behind either. Because you linked up with them, you were “in-line” together. To top it off, the real question you wanted to know was answered for you right there on the screen, “What’s the likelihood of me getting in?”  Pretty good? or not!

Capture

Connections:

After getting my cup of coffee and hanging out at the Air BNB Haus for a while, I tweeted “very chill.”  This little spot, well I guess not so little since they took over an entire building, felt like you were visiting your best friend’s place. It was a nice respite from hustle and bustle of Main Street during Sundance – a great spot to relax between movies. You could connect with other people there or find a spot to relax with friends.

There were comfy chairs for reading:

Book

Complimentary tea and coffee for everyone:

Tea

Free Wifi:

Long Table

And a creativity corner where children and adults created some artwork:

Art

 

Innovation – The Source at New Frontier

I was thinking, “Was that building there before?”  A 2,000 sq.ft. round pavilion seemed to appear out of nowhere by the Gateway Center and housed the New Frontier Exhibit, “The Source.”  Filmmaker Doug Aiken interviewed “groundbreaking pioneers in various disciplines who are shaping modern culture” about the source of their inspiration as well as the journey to the finished creation.  These interviews were shown in this round pavilion with six viewing rooms.

The StructureFilms

Watching interviews with architects, musicians, photographers and other disciplines, was inspiring!  I walked away with a greater appreciation for artists who are ahead of their time. Enjoying Sundance experience #3 only made me want to come back for more next year.

My Favorite Things: Yama Sushi at Montage Deer Valley

Julie Andrews and Carrie Underwood may have enjoyed raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, and brown paper packages tied up with string when they reflected on their favorite things. For me, though these don’t rhyme, I love the mountains, I am addicted to skiing, and am crazy about sushi. Since the combination can be found at Yama Sushi at Montage Deer Valley, this restaurant is officially one of my favorite things.

My husband Jay and I pulled up to the resort to the complimentary valet parking, walked through the lobby and we made our way to Yama Sushi. The restaurant is nestled along the windows over looking ski runs and the expansive deck with a roaring outdoor fire pit.

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I have to admit we started with a sesame wings appetizer with chili and peanuts because we just couldn’t resist them – we decided it isn’t a “first date” item to order.  Since we’ve been married for 19 years, we were safe!  We weren’t worried about getting any sauce on our chins.  Besides, we were kindly provided with a warm towel for quick clean up, so we started our sushi night in wing heaven.

Our server Brittany was full of good advice and since we love trying new things, we decided to try the local favorite “Wasatch Roll” with Montage Mountain Ale battered shrimp, spicy tuna, salmon, cucumber, avocado, chipotle aioli, and tobiko.  After trying, the lemony Yama Roll with spicy tuna, cucumber, avocado, yuzu-shisito pepper “pesto” suzuki, lemon and micro shiso, my husband now has a new favorite roll!

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Since I am normally more of a wine lover than a sake aficionado, I decided to venture out of my comfort zone and try the sake flight.  As a sake novice, in the past I had only tried warm sake. To keep up with my quest to try something new every single week of my life, I decided to try three different cold sakes.   I won’t tell you which was my favorite. You’ll just have to check them out for yourself and maybe you’ll find that Yama Sushi becomes one of your favorite things, too.

A0002494with vignette

For a sample menu, click here.

More information on Yama Sushi, click here.

 

 

 

Ski Season Number Three

I measure time differently since moving to Park City and skiing at Deer Valley.  Like many parents, I used to measure time in terms of the ages of my children and events in their lives.  Reflecting back, my frame of reference usually went something like this,  “when Brian was eight” or “when we drove Saxon to college.”  Since moving to Park City and my children – now referred to as “adult children” – having graduated from college, established their careers and family lives, I have adopted a new way to measure time. I measure it by ski seasons.

Ski Area

When people ask me how long I’ve lived in Park City, I answer simply, “This is my third season.” Everyone knows what I am talking about – the beautiful winters here.  In my case, I also think about my progress in learning to ski.  Season #1 – the Hockey Stop was a big turning point for me.  Learning to stop on a dime gave me more confidence and allowed me to go on stepper runs.  Season #2 – the high point for me was the Women’s Weekend.  Three days in a row with the same instructor and group of women was a great way to improve my skiing. That weekend of fun and instruction landed me solidly as an intermediate skier – blue runs, baby!

Starting season #3 at Deer Valley, I noted that I am already skiing runs that I struggled with in the middle of last season.  On the mental game of skiing, I caught myself thinking, “You are doing pretty good, Nancy” and immediately gave myself a gut check.  I have found the moment I think I am doing well, something happens.  Maybe it’s because I stop paying attention and suddenly falter.  I was reminded over and over again that pride cometh before the fall during Season #2.

Snow on Tree by G~C

Fortunately, as a blogger, I can read about past seasons allowing me to savor my experiences and re-live the events right here.  But not everyone is a writer or keeps a journal.  It’s not hard to mark your seasons here in Park City or experiences on vacation at Deer Valley.

Here are four easy ways:

1.  Pinterest Boards.  You can make a Pinterest Board and name it based on your current season. I’ll call mine Season #3 Park City, Utah.  Use your own photos or search Deer Valley Resort, Ski Utah and Park City, Utah for lots of material. Pinterest2

2.  Facebook Albums and Timelines.  On Facebook, you can make a special photo album or simply post on your timeline and then come back and review.  My photo album on my personal Facebook Page, just says “Park City” so I need to split it up into seasons.

Facebook

3. Scrapbook or Photo Album.  Scrapbookers can make an album of their winter season and keep it on the coffee table to enjoy. Or make an electronic version for your family to enjoy wherever they live!

4. Instagram. Creating an Instagram is fast and easy. Create a profile for yourself and use hashtags to categorize your pictures. You can see in the picture below that Deer Valley Resort uses #SkiTheDifference. This is a great way to connect with other ski enthusiasts and see pictures from around the world.

InstaSS

Now with a plethora of social media, journaling, and photo sites, reflecting on your past seasons shouldn’t be challenging.  You just need to do it!

What was your favorite ski season and how are you going to remember this one?

 

 

Who Has a Gingerbread Doghouse?

What makes the holidays special to young and old alike?  Well, I have a theory – it’s the delight of the surprise.  When you open up an unexpected gift, your eyes open wide, a quick smile comes to your face and you lose your breath for a second.  The really cool thing about it is the gift giver experiences the same physical reaction as the gift receiver!

One winter when I was a young girl, my brother and I spoiled our Christmas. You see we searched until we found my parent’s special hiding place and we saw our unwrapped gifts!  At the time, it was a thrill to seek out and find something we weren’t supposed to see.  We kept it our little secret.  Then on Christmas morning when we opened the packages, the whole thing fell flat. Knowing what was inside took away the delight and it just wasn’t the same. My brother and I never spoke about it but we never tried to find presents again.

When I went to see the life sized gingerbread house adorning the lobby of the Montage Resort at Deer Valley, I expected it to be wonderful.  A 12 foot high gingerbread house was sure to be impressive!  I’d heard the resort’s award winning Executive Pastry Chef, Raymond Lammers and his team spent two months building it – so I knew it was going to be really special.

House

It is spectacular!  The house is tiled with over 11,000 gingerbread cookies (2,000 roof tiles, 8,000 small tiles and 1,000 white gingerbread tiles) and completed with:

1 ½ pounds of nutmeg

135 pounds of butter

165 pounds of sugar

170 pounds of molasses

85 pounds of corn syrup

540 eggs AND 110 pounds of special sugar were used for the 26 sugar candies and the 6 window panes.

But there is more!  The delight came when while I was looking up at the gingerbread house, a furry friend nudged me.  Jonas, the Bernese Mountain Dog Ambassador at the Montage was visiting his very own gingerbread doghouse.  Let me ask you this.  Who has a gingerbread doghouse?  Well, Jonas and his fellow ambassador, Monty both do. These 3 ft. wide and 4 ft. deep gingerbread doghouses sit on either side of the life sized gingerbread house.

House 2

When I saw them, I had the same physical reaction as if I was opening that unexpected gift. Everyone around me had it too. I watched teenagers elbowing each other and saying, “Look at the doghouses!”  Jonas lapped it all up oblivious to the doghouse as he focused on making sure each one of the guests had a chance to pet him and give him a nice big hug.

Don’t spoil the surprise when you bring your family to visit the gingerbread house at Montage Resort – keep the gingerbread doghouses under wraps!  That way you can watch their reactions as their eyes go from the tall roof line of the gingerbread house, to the six foot tall candy canes on either side of the front door, and finally to the doghouses with the names “Jonas” and “Monty” written in icing on the top.

House 3

 

Ski All Day with New Technology in Women’s Skis

I want to ski the entire day.  I’d love to be the girl who is racing to get on that last chair before the lift closes.  I haven’t been able to do it yet, though.  The excuse I give myself for coming in early is I live here now and have a season pass so I can always come back tomorrow.  I simply tell myself, “Oh it’s nice to just ski for a few hours and then relax in the lodge.”

But the cold hard truth of it is, I get tired. My legs start burning, and I can’t ignore them.  I get worried that they won’t respond when I need them to. I might take a break but I end up going in instead of staying out as long as I’d like.

My girlfriends who visit find themselves in the same boat.  They don’t have the luxury of skiing next weekend though because they have to fly back to California.  This is their vacation – they want more skiing and less sitting. There is plenty of time for relaxing after 4 o’clock when the lifts close.

I recently found out that it might not just be me.  I don’t have iron legs by any means but I am in pretty good shape. I should be able to ski longer (with breaks of course.)  The answer could lie in my equipment. New ski technology is helping skiers gain more control, reduce fatigue and frankly have more fun. In the past, I’ve been confused and overwhelmed by ski technology, but this year I am bound and determined to learn.  My plan is to “geek out” because I have a goal – ski longer and get better.  Last year was the quest to become an intermediate skier. I did it!  Blue runs for me, my friends.  This year, we are going for the double blues, baby!

My friends at Rossignol helped me out and gave me a primer on the latest ski technology for intermediate women skiers this year.

Here are some things I learned:

photo 2Rocker.   As a classic rock fan, the first thing that comes to mind when I hear “rocker” is AC/DC’s “Back in Black” but that’s not exactly what we are talking about here.  Rocker refers to the tips of the skis, like a rocking chair.  In powder, a rocker tip helps you to stay on top of the snow – floating on top of the powder like a water skier on water, not with skis planted in it.  On the back of the ski, the rocker helps you lean back to maintain control and slow your speed as you need to.  A tip and tail rocker helps you pivot without getting hung up.  Sounds good to me!

ROCKER EXPLAINED with titleCamber.  Not being a motor head, I had no idea what this term meant.  Camber refers to the spring on the ski – how it pops up or down. When you lay the ski on a flat surface, you’ll see it’s actually not flat. It has an arch in the middle.  As a result, only two points on the ski touch the flat surface and the middle of the ski has a spring to it. On a groomed run or hard packed snow, this helps with stability, turning, and gripping edges especially when it’s icy.

photo 1Combination.  Which is better for you?  Well, both actually! I found the combination of how the ski designer puts together the rocker and the camber is the key to control.  Rockers for powder skis means you don’t have to lean back to keep your tips up, reducing fatigue and that could mean one or two more runs at the end of the day. Camber on groomer skis means more stability, automatic turning, with edge grip and power which means more control, easier turns and more confidence.  This translates into less “having to pick yourself up” after a spill and possibly being able to tackle more challenging runs.

We’ll see if powder is in my future this year. If it is, I am going to try the Rossignal S7 with the Powder Turn Rocker.  Maybe an “all mountain” ski is better for me so I follow my girlfriends through a few trees and venture onto some intermediate mogul runs (no blacks for me yet, thank you!)  I’ll try the Women’s Rossignol Temptation 88 and the other in the Temptation Series.

We can all try them out at the Rossignol Test Center Yurt at Empire Lodge at no cost for two hours.  I haven’t taken advantage of this service yet but this year, I will.

Be sure to leave a comment for me about your experience with your demos.  Double blues girls, here we come!!

photo 5

 

Howl-a-ween on Main Street: Costumes, Kids, Candy and Canines

Park City is filled with dog lovers so its no surprise there is a Howl-a-Ween parade on Main Street for canines and their pint size (as well as full size) companions.  Since I love new experiences, dogs, kids, candy, costumes and Main St., I decided to attend.

Here are a few images of the event:

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“Wonder Pug”

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“Chia Dog”

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“Shark Dog”

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“Cowdog”

 photo1 photo3 photo4 photo6 photo8 photo9 photo10 photo11 photo12

 

With all these costumed canines coming out of the woodwork, it’s no wonder Park City is affectionately known as “Bark City.”

 

Unexpected Surprises: Fall Colors Montage Deer Valley – Mercedes Tour

Aspen and Snow pinesDo you love aspens the way I do?  Maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up with them, but I simply adore aspen trees.  I love them! Its not just “love”; it feels more like “being in love.” You know that feeling? Your heart is just taken over and there is nothing you can do about it.  I love how their leaves rustle in the wind. I love the stillness and beauty of their white bark. I can’t get enough of them.

I was excited to experience the aspens as they changed their leaves from green to a blanket of yellow and the reds and pinks of the shrubs that share the mountain with them. Snow was the first unexpected surprise. Since we planned our Montage Deer Valley– Mercedes Fall Colors Tour for the last week in September, snow on the ground was the last thing I counted on. I understand the first snowfall on record in Park City was as early as September 17 so we weren’t far off when it snowed on September 25 this year.

Guardsman PassWhen we arrived at the Montage, our driver, Nick decided to take a Mercedes 350L with all wheel drive. Then he could take us wherever we wanted to go – back roads, tight turnouts on winding roads, and enjoying comfort on the open road. Nick started us off at Guardsman’s Pass just above the Montage Deer Valley. It seemed like we were on top of the world!  Seeing a few inches of snow on the ground with the groves of aspens starting to turn yellow was delightful.

We’d never been to Big Cottonwood Canyon so Nick made a detour so we could see all sides of the Wasatch Mountains.  On our way, we saw hillsides full of evergreens covered in snow with pockets of bright yellow and orange foliage – so unusual and beautiful.  Here is a “locals tip” Nick shared – take a drive from the top of Guardsman’s Pass through Big Cottonwood Canyon and stop for lunch at the Silver Fork Lodge and Restaurant near Solitude Resort.  We’ll remember that one.

Big Cottonwood2Another unexpected surprise was just how nice it was to have a driver. Whenever we go for a drive, my husband is always at the wheel. That’s great for me, of course, but the driver needs to pay attention to the road and navigate as well!  Jay really enjoyed being a passenger for this trip, taking in the full experience of the beauty of fall. We noticed whenever the words, “beautiful” or “amazing” came out of our mouths, Nick had already stopped and got out of the car while saying, “Do you want to stop and take a photo?”  “Of course we do!” I answered as he opened my door.

Guardsman Pass2Guardsman’s Pass Road to Midway was our next route.  It seemed like the whole stretch is one huge aspen grove and my head was spinning.

Guardsman Pass at HeberNext stop, the view of Heber Valley from the top of the Wasatch.  Another “locals tip” Nick shared was going to Cascade Springs near Soldier Hollow Cross Country Ski Resort then stop in Midway for pizza at the Café Galleria.  We’ll remember that one, too.

Nick's towards GuardsmanThe next unexpected surprise was a special road to a secret spot Nick had scoped out a week earlier. I have no idea how to get there so you’ll have to ask Nick. He showed us an amazing scenic overlook and I can imagine this is what Switzerland might look like.

Next we were off to Sundance resort, Nick took us on the 20 mile Alpine Loop above the resort and maneuvered the Mercedes onto every turnout he could find.  The end of a winding road or a narrow turnout was no match for Nick if we wanted to stop and get our fill of the beauty and snap photos.  The glacier carved peaks of Mt. Timpanogos that rise above the Sundance Resort made for an amazing view.

Jay at Alpine Loop at SundanceAnother delightful surprise, Nick found a wonderful picnic spot nestled in the forest with a sunny table and pulled out two wine glasses and a bottle of Pinot Gris from the picnic basket filled to the brim with chicken pesto sandwiches, red quinoa salad, Caesar salad, berries galore and a huge brownie to share. The wine tasted crisp and fruity to me but even sweeter for my husband who could simply relax and enjoy the day since Nick was doing the driving.Nancy and JayOn the trip back, Jay and I were a little quieter as we made fewer stops and simply took in the beauty on our comfortable drive.  I got to gaze at my beloved aspens, while holding my sweetheart’s hand.  I had to pinch myself a couple of times to make sure this wasn’t just a dream.

 

 

Dog-Day Afternoon at the Soldier Hollow Classic Sheepdog Trials

sheepAre you having a tough day? Long hours, changing expectations and no support?  If you want to feel better about how tough your job is, go watch the Soldier Hollow Classic Sheepdog Championship in early September.  What these sheepdogs (and their handlers) do makes your tough day look like a walk in the park.

Here’s what you have to do:

the gateRun up the hill in the hot sun and approach a group of eight sheep who think you are a wolf.  Do this in an easy smooth way (called “the lift”), so they don’t bolt.  Then when they want nothing to do with you and are scared you will do them bodily harm, take control of the group and herd them down the hill through a pair of gates.  Leave the group at the bottom of the hill … and…

Go back up and do it again!  Get another group of eight sheep and herd them through the same gates even though as soon as they see the other group, they want to make a beeline straight towards them.

Join the two groups and herd all 16 sheep around a pole in front of a stadium full of people. Then send them back up the hill through yet another set of gates, with no stragglers veering off course.  Since that was so much fun, you get to do it again!  Cross the hill and herd your 16 sheep so every single one does your bidding.  Bring them back to the stadium and into a ring.

the chaseYou aren’t done yet.  That was the easy part.  Now you want to shed off all but five sheep.  Not just any five, you have to keep the ones with red collars. The problem is they really, really, really want to stay together.  They will bolt the minute they can.  Picking out five and keeping them separated from the others is like picking a needle out of a haystack on a moving truck.

IF, AND ONLY IF, you are able to accomplish this, you have one more step – get them in a 12 x 12 pen so your handler can close the gate.  By the way, these sheep are now very irritated and tired of you pushing them around.  They will challenge you, stamp their feet, refuse to budge, or try to run off.  You have to get up close and personal (remember they think you are a predator) and herd them gently into this pen which is just about the last place in the world they want to go.  You have to be extremely patient and slowly urge them in. No problem, right?

the penSome of the dogs lost their cool and either rushed the sheep too quickly or nipped at their feet. That’s a no-no. They just couldn’t take it anymore!  Who could blame them? But the best dogs were able to do it!  At the sight of the gates shutting and the handler raising his hands, the dog jumped for joy and then jumped directly into a big horse trough full of water to cool off after a job well done.

Whether the dog gets the trophy or the doghouse, it’s been an extraordinarily difficult feat that very few dogs and handlers achieve!  Whatever my day has in store for me, I know it’s much easier than a dog-day afternoon at the Sheepdog Trials, but certainly not as entertaining.

Don’t Try This at Home: Champagne Sabering Ceremony at the St. Regis

nancy and jayChampagne is something we don’t drink often enough.  Traditionally Champagne is the beverage of choice for celebrations, and I don’t know about you but I tend to only pull out a bottle for the big things. When there is a new job or promotion, a wedding, a new baby or a new home, out comes the bubbly.  My European friends on the other hand, will pop open the cork simply for a beautiful afternoon to enjoy together. They know how to celebrate life every day.

My husband Jay and I, along with some good friends, decided to follow the European tradition and celebrate a beautiful evening in Park City.  We headed to Deer Valley and took the Funicular up the mountain to the St. Regis to enjoy the nightly Champagne Sabering Ceremony.  I figure, if you are going to enjoy champagne, why not enjoy the pageantry of the sabering ceremony while taking in the view of my favorite ski runs from deck of the St. Regis?

pre saberAs often happens in the mountains on a beautiful clear evening, a cloud appeared and sent droplets of rain on all of us.  Though we easily could have gone inside, we stayed out on the deck with a few other adventuresome patrons and ducked under the substantial umbrellas until it passed over.  It was worth the wait as the sky cleared up and the St. Regis Butler jumped onto a large boulder with a champagne bottle in one hand and a saber in the other.

post saberIn the blink of an eye, he sheared the top of the champagne bottle clean off.  At first, I thought he had sliced the cork and it popped off because I’d never seen this before.  Under closer inspection, the sword indeed had sliced cleanly through the neck of the bottle.  After holding the heavy and very sharp saber myself, I could see how it could be done.

nancy with saberThough I wouldn’t recommend trying this at home but watching at the St. Regis mountainside deck with good friends, definitely!

Cheers!

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The St. Regis Champagne Sabering Ceremony is held every evening on the deck. Contact the hotel for more information. The gorgeous views and the champagne are complimentary.

 

Tour of Utah Final Stage on Main Street in Park City

race startMain Street is the place to be when the cyclists take off and return for the final stage of the Tour of Utah. Even though many of us have never cycled in a race, we all can relate to the difficult sport.  I can’t even imagine five days of leg burning capped off with a sprint up Guardsman’s Pass in the last 5 kilometers of the race then racing at 50 miles an hour down the steep Empire Pass.  That’s brutal!

cyclistsI love the buzz on Main Street in Park City on race day. I attended last year and was shocked at how we were able to get such a great view of the finish line at this world-class race.  This year my focus was on the start.  My husband and I came early and set up on lower Park Ave so we could watch the riders from the beginning before all the breakaways.

support carsI found myself cheering for the support car from my favorite sponsors as they followed the riders on the course ready with a spare bike and tire.  It seemed a little odd to be cheering for a car in a bike race.  Then again, NASCAR fans across the nation cheer for their favorite cars (sans the drivers) as the support team drives across the country to the next race.  So I figure I am in good company.

subaru boothMain Street was packed with bike enthusiasts discussing the latest equipment and technology with vendors.  The BackCountry and Subaru booths were jammed with fans watching the race on the big screen TVs inside.

We picked up our swag from the vendors including our cowbell that we plan to send to our 3-year-old granddaughter (which she’ll love but just might drive her parents a bit crazy.)  We stocked up on Chapstick, hats, and sunscreen offered by the vendors.  We put our names in to win multiple bike jerseys – we’ll let you know if our names are drawn!  You never know.

backcountry stickMostly we walked away with an appreciation of the teamwork involved in cycling. At first glance it appears cycling is an individual sport. It’s not.  I really had no idea how the Lead-out man, the Peloton, and Domestiques on the team work together to produce a win.  Living in Park City, we have so many opportunities to learn about world-class sports up close and personal that we might not have the chance to see elsewhere.

backcountry tvThis may sound silly but I am looking forward to riding my bike on the trails in Park City using my “Competitive Cyclist” water bottle.  It will be a reminder for me to push myself, take one more hill and pick up my speed due to some inspiration I got on Main Street at the final stage of the Tour of Utah in 2013.