#SkiTheDifference with Doug Gromley, Deer Valley Resort’s Ski School Adventure Club Lead Supervisor. Watch the video here http://bit.ly/12mwWbW
Nearly every day, I find some reason to appreciate the moments and experiences that make life in Park City, Utah unique. Believe it or not, these moments don’t revolve entirely around sports experiences—though I engage in as many seasonally-relevant sports as possible every week. But sometimes, seemingly out of the blue, you get those, “Only in Park City” moments that fill you with wonder at the dumb luck of living in such a terrific place. Here are some of my favorites:
1. Everyone gives back
The ways in which we give back are so numerous, I can’t even begin to list them all here. Schools get kids involved early with opportunities to give—often having classrooms compete with pennies to raise funds for a charity, and once the students enter middle school, their curriculum includes community service hours. Deer Valley connects hundreds of students each year with our state’s heritage at the annual Navajo Rug Show. Parents and non-parents volunteer time in the classrooms of our schools. Also, I have been asked annually to be a guest speaker on the topic of professional writing and blogging for the ninth graders in Honors English, as they embark on writing their own blogs. I’m very proud to be able to give back to my community in this way. And I’m hardly alone: When Lance attended a summer camp called Innovation in Action Institute (which focused on entrepreneurial skills), one local entrepreneur-parent gave a video-conference presentation to the students, while he was on a business trip. Countless friends of mine contribute their time to the Center for Advanced Professional Studies, run by the school district.
And on November 7, the annual Live PC, Give PC Day of Giving will overtake the town, with volunteers wearing T-shirts, holding signs, calling in to KPCW and generally getting the word out that people can donate to one or more non-profits to help support the programming that keeps the town running (with ED, or otherwise.) It’s a great way for locals and guests to show their support for all the work our town’s non-profits do to benefit the entire community. It’s this kind of collaborative approach that makes our town unique—because we all feel that we’re contributing to the success of the town, beyond just spending money on ski passes and shopping in the stores.
Parkites love nothing more than sharing an experience—witness the countless outdoor concerts, where there’s a “huge crowd, whether it’s free or paid. But we seem to excel at the experience of giving.
2. We WIN Lost and Found
Our local radio station, KPCW does an excellent job sharing Lost and Found announcements. Dogs, wallets and cell phones figure heavily in these announcements. But once in a while, I’ll have an experience that wouldn’t happen in most of the cities I’ve lived in previously. To wit: One week, I enjoyed Standup Paddleboarding outings with friends, not once, not twice, but three times. My son, Lance, left a tote bag with dry clothes somewhere on the grass beach near the pond.
We discovered this after we arrived home, so we schlepped back to the Deer Valley Grocery~Café to look for it. Oddly, we couldn’t find it—but we did spot a towel and wet suit belonging to his friend Ben, who’d been with us that day. So the trip wasn’t for naught and I began to wonder if we’d actually brought the bag with us in the first place. Imagine my delight when, the following Wednesday after we’d finished paddling with our friends Tracy, Michael and their kids, I spotted the bag sitting between the building’s AC units.
When I showed it to Michael, he was astounded—“That’s been here since Saturday?” he asked with the disbelief of a longtime city-dweller. So stunning was this discovery, that Michael took a photo of the bag in its waiting spot.
3. We Chase Balloons
No matter how frequently it happens, my family and I never tire of noticing hot-air balloons dancing over the early-morning horizon. On a recent morning, there were three coming up over the ridge that we could see from our breakfast table. It looked improbably pretty, like a painting. One morning, when Seth and I had some time between dropping off his brother at camp and the beginning of his own camp, we saw a balloon that was about to land near a parking lot off of US 40. We drove over to watch the landing, so he could see how graceful it looks.
4. We get customer service
Deer Valley Resort is only one example of the way Park City does its best to be hospitable to locals and visitors alike, and to make sure the experience is stellar. Park City MARC runs terrific programming all year for our town’s youth, exposing them to skateboarding, soccer, fencing and basketball, to name just a few. One standout? The excellent tennis programs, including their camps, which my kids attended this summer.
Of course everyone has an “off”day, and happened one day when my younger son was attending the tennis camp. I couldn’t get a straight answer on something that was happening at camp—the details of the situation are unimportant here, but the fact is when I expressed my concern, the front-desk staffers, Sadie and Marianne, heard it. Sadie escorted me to the operations office where I met Recreation Supervisor Tate Shaw. “I get that mistakes and oversights happen,” I told him. “But the mark of a good organization is how well the situation gets handled after the mistake.” Tate took my concerns seriously, addressed them with the staff and called the following day to let me know that it had indeed been resolved to my satisfaction. I know this seems like a small thing to some people—but if you’ve ever been stuck in an endless ladder of customer service auto-prompts with a big company, the fact of having an actual human being listen to you is not to be undervalued. The other thing that this experience reinforced is Park City’s small town charm and the “it takes a village” mentality, that comes to bear almost every day in little ways. When I expressed a concern about an issue in a program my child was in, it was taken as seriously as though it were a staff members child.
5. We Dress for Success
On most of the days that I took Lance to Standup Paddleboarding camp at the Deer Valley Grocery~Cafè Pond, I arrived ready to paddle.
Except one day, I arrived dressed for the meeting I’d left briefly, to run Lance up to camp. As Trent came paddling ashore to greet Lance, he said with some surprise, “Oh, it’s YOU! I thought you sent someone else to drop off Lance!” The fact is most days I put on exercise clothes first—and may not find myself in street clothes until the following day. After all, when you’re fitting in exercise and sports around the other necessary activities of daily life and you have the kind of job that only occasionally requires a professional wardrobe, dressing for work has a different meaning. For someone who worked in fashion magazines for a very long time and once received a “once-over” from the editor of Vogue, it’s frankly a relief. There’s a definite vibe of “come as you are,” in Park City. Biking to a meeting is a good thing, riding a chairlift to one is even better. So if you see me looking like I’ve been loafing around in yoga pants or ski clothes all day, chances are you’re half-right—but in this town, that’s dressing for success.
I owe you an apology. I was too busy living the Park City lifestyle to write about it this summer. I didn’t have the heart to part with my kids for many full-day camps. As I write, the boys are in their first full week of school after a two-day opening “week,” and I am missing all the adventures we shared over the summer. I jokingly referred to the school-free months as “Our Summer of Academic Rigor,” because I was convinced that if I didn’t stimulate their minds in nearly equal measure to their bodies, all the things they’d learned in school would, quite simply, fall out of their heads. So, there were academic camps, sports camps, even a sleep-away camp for Lance one week. But I wanted to squeeze in as much time with these dudes as possible, so after every morning camp, we’d hit the pool together, or a trail, or, yes, the movie theater.
We enjoyed lazy mornings too and we thrilled at the fact that when the day ended, there was no homework. We took our RV on a few trips and got rained out of a few others. Yes, the RV means rain isn’t a tragedy, but being cooped up in the RV because of the weather isn’t exactly anyone’s idea of fun. One of our trips took us to Bear Lake. It’s close enough for a day trip, so if you’re visiting Park City in autumn, a drive north to this turquoise-blue lake on the Utah/Idaho border is something to consider.
Bear Lake is known for its raspberries and its raspberry shakes. Garden City, Utah features a seemingly endless strip of “shake shacks,” whose shakes my family is more than happy to sample. There are ATV trails and tons of rentals available, a marina, beaches suitable for sunbathing or launching kayaks and paddleboards, yet you’re surround by lush trees and rugged mountains. Garden City boasts a multi-use path for biking and walking, that makes it a very biker/pedestrian-friendly location. Oh, yes, and there are also go-karts. My family loved racing around the track and then getting a shake to celebrate our “victory.”
Like any vacation house, our RV is stocked with games. Our favorite, and one which I recommend to all travelers, is Story Cubes. Because it’s pocket-sized, you can take it with you on the plane, in a car or wherever. You simply roll the dice, which bear symbols instead of numbers, and players have to tell stories using the symbols they have rolled. This was the winner of the picnic table game night.
That’s just one highlight. I’ll be reminiscing about many more as the gorgeous fall descends into mud season and we have nothing but the memories of a sweet summer and the anticipation of a snowy winter (please!!) to get us through.
I asked my friend if she wanted to be my date for the Dierks Bentley concert at the Deer Valley Resort Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater. She immediately text me back, “Would love to! I’m getting drunk on a plane…it’s Mardi Gras up in the clouds. Buying drinks for everybody but the pilot, it’s a party.”
I thought, wow, she’s having a fun summer! I told her to have fun on her trip, but to save some fun for our night out. Funny right? She wasn’t actually on a plane getting drunk (I am sure you knew that), she was quoting one of Dierks Bentley’s new songs. I obviously had a lot to learn. And I did, fast.
I walked into a sea of Dierks Bentley fans, “The Congress,” and it was awesome! The venue itself is one of a kind. The Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater at Deer Valley Resort is absolutely majestic. Every concert I have ever been to at this venue has resulted in the entertainer commenting about the fact that they have the perfect seat to take in the amazing view, which is a rare gift from the stage.
We had general admission seating tickets, which means you can bring blankets and/or small lawn chairs with you. We pre-ordered a Deer Valley Resort Gourmet Picnic Basket for the full experience. It didn’t take long and we all became one big Dierks Bentley family. The night was gorgeous. The crowd was perfectly clad in cowboy hats and boots. It seemed like everyone knew every word and if they were like me and didn’t, they were still on their feet because Dierks Bentley was THAT GOOD!
Here is our night in pictures.
The awesome volunteers were ready for a little country! Good vibes from the very beginning.
My friend Julie and I heading up to find a spot in “The Congress!” And also, a glimpse of the amazing view from the stage.
Thinking ahead, we ordered a Deer Valley Resort Gourmet Picnic Basket. Order them 24 hours before your concert. They have a few options; vegetarian, beef and salmon. We went with salmon and steak with baguettes, wine, brownies on a stick and more!! Pure awesomeness. It was beyond yummy. You can bring your own food into the venue but it probably won’t be this good. I highly recommend enjoying your concert with a Gourmet Picnic Basket.
(Brownie on a stick) YES PLEASE! My favorite part of the Gourmet Picnic Basket had to be the salted caramel chocolate brownie pop.
A little boy let me borrow his cowboy hat. Next time, I’m dressing the part.
It was such a big event with a HUGE star but it is always local when you are in Park City. I ran into many friends in the crowd.
I really enjoyed the views of the crowd with a beautiful setting sun. Honestly, it couldn’t have been a more perfect night with regards to weather. I think everyone fed off of that and knew it was going to be special.
Here is our view before the concert started and everyone got on their feet.
Fans of every age rocked out all night. Everyone was standing up dancing after the first couple of songs. There was no need for sitting and no reason to! The crowd was rocking the entire time.
It didn’t take long before the front was filled with a bunch of beautiful women! And Dierks loved every second of it! It was awesome.
These girls on the side of the stage knew every word to every one of his songs. I watched the crowd almost as much as I watched the stage!
He told stories about his guitar and even commented that Park City brought something special out in his comedy…”I’m killing it tonight” he said to his band and he was. He said, “We are Southwest fliers. We like to think we are all preferred!” And then he went straight into “Drunk On A Plane”. The crowd went wild!
It was such a fun concert that we didn’t want it to end. However, walking to the car we got to see this amazing sunset. This capped the night off perfectly. Have you been to a concert at the Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater? Share your experience with me in the comments below or on Twitter @SummerSanders_ and @Deer_Valley.
Just as we proposed a selection of hiking trails to fill a week’s vacation at Deer Valley Resort, Ski Patrol/Mountain Bike Manager Steve Graff suggested we do the same for mountain biking. Steve wanted to contribute his intimate knowledge of and experience with the local terrain, in an effort to build a fun-filled, week-long, mountain biking itinerary. If you’re looking for some great rides next time you visit Deer Valley Resort, read on.Whatever the vacation, the first day is often best spent getting acquainted with the destination, its environment and everything it has to offer. If your mountain bike skills aren’t that great or if you never had any opportunities to ride single track on a mountain bike before, a wonderful idea is to come up to Deer Valley Resort and let one of the mountain bike guides familiarize you with the equipment and give you some useful pointers on how to make your whole week a fun and life-changing experience. If you are already very fit or have some serious riding skills and are comfortable negotiating single track trails, a good introductory ride might be “Lost Prospector” in Park City, one of Steve Graff’s little secrets:
“A great entry-level trail, with nice views, shaded tree sections and some exciting switch backs. The trail is moderate in terms of difficulty level and a wonderful way to refresh your riding skills. “
If you are renting a bike, make certain it fits you properly and will work with the kind of riding you plan to do; either cross-country, downhill or something in between. If you own your bike, make sure it has recently been serviced, is well adjusted, the gears and brakes are functioning perfectly and tires are in good condition and adequately inflated. Be sure to wear a good pair of gloves so you can get a good grip on your handlebars. Of course, you must wear a helmet and bring sunscreen, wrap-around sunglasses, food and water. If you forget any of these items, you can find them at the shops around Deer Valley Resort. Having some tools or replacement parts, like an extra inner tube and some basic bike tools is also a good idea, especially if you ride alone. Even if you are not a seasoned bike mechanic, make a point to pack some tools and some essential replacement parts as you may find a good samaritan on the trail who may stop to help you out. When riding Deer Valley’s lift-served trails, you can call Bike Patrol for assistance at 435-615-6208. After reacquainting or familiarizing yourself with basic riding skills, your second day should be filled with lift-served mountain biking. Using chairlifts will provide you with a full day experience that would be near impossible to accomplish if you were to climb on your own, unless you are a fitness machine or an endurance athlete. Using the chairlifts enables you to fill your day with mountain biking activities and practice all the skills that have either been dormant or that you’ve learned the day before. A lift-served day should be on any weekly mountain biking itinerary. It’s best to stay on the Sterling Express chairlift and find a trail you like, such as Naildriver, the least difficult route down Bald Mountain, or Sunset, another easy trail, and ride those down as many times as you possibly can. Familiarity with a trail breeds confidence, develops quick responses and yields much more enjoyment since you’re not worried by what’s coming up next. Steve Graff is partial to Deer Camp Trail:
“This is another fun trail I like to recommend for its variety of terrain, its scenic views, its aspen groves and its frequent wildlife sightings.”
While Deer Valley’s weather is great most of the time, what should you do if the weather suddenly turns on you? “If you are on the trails and a thunderstorm happens and if you’re in the middle of a meadow, you don’t want to be the largest object around,” said Steve. “Likewise, in the trees you don’t want to be under the largest pine tree; seek shelter in places that aren’t too exposed.” To preserve the trail, do not ride when conditions are rainy or muddy. Rain storms are generally short-lived, so be patient. Any trail on the valley floor that is either asphalt or gravel is where you should be. If rain persists, take the rest of the day off, visit Park City’s historic Main Street, or do some shopping until everything dries up and the sun returns! Now that you’ve spent time on these trails and practiced your skills, taken advantage of the energy-saving chairlifts and become comfortable riding single track on easy trails, you might want to increase the technical difficulty. On the third day, if “downhill” appeals to you, you can seek out more challenging trails. The Aspen Slalom trail which follows the Sterling Express chairlift down, is a good candidate to begin that process. Another one that Steve recommends is Twist and Shout, a steep, single track with tight curves and lots of trees. He also suggests that you hit Payroll trail in the Empire Canyon area, “This is a wonderful course that really flows well, with a number of rollers, drops and bermed-out turns.” On the lower mountain, there’s Devo, another trail with steep sections and numerous turns that will test your technical abilities. Keep in mind that lift-served mountain biking runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week at Deer Valley Resort through Labor day. Also, know that the trails aren’t patrolled or swept at the end of the day like ski runs are in winter; there are 60 miles of trails on the resort, with multiple entry and exit points along a given trail, making any attempt to sweep them totally unpractical. This said, if you need any assistance during the hours the chairlifts are open, Deer Valley Patrol Staff are available to help patch an injury or solve mechanical problems. Just call 435-615-6208 or speak to a lift operator for assistance.To ramp our itinerary up, the fourth day is a great time to venture out to the Mid Mountain Trail. This stunning, single track trail traverses Deer Valley Resort, Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons Resort at elevation of 8,000 feet, offering scenic vistas and lush pine forests interspersed with aspen groves. Before leaving, make sure to obtain Mountain Trails Foundation’s map at any Deer Valley Mountain Bike Office for the sections of the trails that are beyond Deer Valley Resort’s boundaries. The best plan is to leave from Silver Lake Village in the morning and head towards Park City Mountain and Canyons resorts. This itinerary can take two forms; either you ride between Deer Valley Resort and Park City Mountain Resort or you continue on all the way to Canyons Resort. The decision time occurs 15 miles along the way, when you are in sight of the Spiro Trail sign; either you choose to descend via Spiro Trail into Park City and cover the remaining three and a half miles to the base of Park City Mountain Resort, or you carry on for another nine miles, all the way to Red Pine Lodge at Canyons Resort, where you can either download the gondola at no charge or drop down to the base of the resort via Holly’s Trail (expert) or Ambush Trail (Intermediate). In terms of time, count on two hours to ride Silver Lake to Park City and three to four hours to ride to Canyons Resort. From either base areas, there is always the possibility to catch the free city bus back to your place. Having proven your mettle on the fourth day, the end of the week deserves another great ride with one of two adventure-filled options. The first choice is mostly uphill and begins in Park City at the Spiro Trail. To access the trailhead, park in the Silver Star lot or use the nearby bus stop. From the trailhead, keep to the right and merge onto Armstrong Trail. Climb four miles to Mid Mountain Trail, turn left and continue until you see the new Pinecone Trail. This combination is not for the faint of heart as it grinds its way from Park City, at 6,900 feet all the way to the top of the Wasatch Ridge at 9,500 feet! An alternative is to begin at Silver Lake Village and ride the Mid Mountain Trail to the Pinecone Trail. Another option is to ride the Wasatch Crest Trail that straddles the Park City valley and Big Cottonwood and Millcreek Canyons. The Wasatch Crest Trail can be taken from Guardsman Pass, using the Scott Bypass Trail or the Wasatch Connect trailhead, located just down the road on the Big Cottonwood side of the valley. It can also be accessed from the top of Pinecone trail. This trail eventually continues towards Millcreek Canyon which comes out in the Salt Lake Valley. This route is smooth and fast with awesome views of the Wasatch Back and Big Cottonwood Canyon, fields of wildflowers, meadows and trees. Upper Millcreek Trail opens July 1. Bikes are only allowed on this trail on even-numbered days and this classic ride leads you all the way down to the mouth of Millcreek Canyon. Of course, you will need to organize a shuttle to pick you up at the bottom, upon completing your ride for your return back to Deer Valley Resort. Pack your lunch, for those both make for big, long days filled with lots of adventure!
Once more, we have suggested a week’s worth of mountain biking filled with miles of excitement, memorable views, athletic ascents and thrilling downhills. I asked Steve Graff if he had anything to add to this impressive Itinerary. He just said; “Make sure to have fun every mile of the way. If you find some trails too hard, simply return to some easier ones. Again, the name of the game is to recreate and have fun!”
On New Year’s Eve, the year of my 50th birthday, I vowed to try something new each week for the rest of my life.
It could be something as simple as trying a new food, restaurant or museum exhibit to something a bit more daring, like giving stand up paddling a go. The “thing” itself isn’t as important as the meaning behind it — to be open to new experiences, avoid ruts and remain young at heart.
The Park Silly Sunday Market has proven to be a one-stop shop for new experiences. Despite the number of Sundays I’ve spent exploring the market, I’ve always encountered something new and exciting. You could go every week and never do the same thing twice.
Come for the live performances:
You can find live music, yoga acts and other performances throughout the day on the stage at the bottom of Main Street.
Hang out in the Kids’ Zone:
Can you hula hoop? Check out the “Hoops O’Funn.”
I must admit, I haven’t tried it — I’m pretty sure the hoop would spin around me twice and fall right to the ground. But brave hula hoop dancers of all ages get out there and rip it up.
If you’d prefer to keep both feet on the ground and want to embrace the “silly” part of the Silly Market, get a butterfly painted on your cheek.
Shop at the eco-friendly open air market:
My latest purchase from the market is an recycled wallet and cell phone holder made from a black rubber tire tube. It’s functional and unique! (Though I haven’t noticed any black residue on my hands, I plan to keep it out of direct sunlight.)
Additionally, many of the photos in our home of local wildlife and the iconic McPolin Barn were purchased from vendors on historic Main Street at the Park Silly Sunday Market.
Enjoy Park Silly Sunday Market from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Sunday until September 21. Come to try something new or just to enjoy the silliness. For more information, visit www.parksillysundaymarket.com.
It’s not like we plan it in advance but it seems like the Andersons are usually among the first to arrive and the last to leave every party we attend. Fortunately for us, this habit paid off at the St. Regis Big Stars Bright Nights Concert on July 3 featuring Martina McBride at Deer Valley Resort‘s Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater.
Arriving early gave us plenty of time to find our seats, meet all of the folks sitting around us and pick up our picnic basket full of delicacies to enjoy.
Have you ever seen a beautiful blue sky and felt raindrops coming down at the same time? We did. When a few sprinkles landed on us, we noticed the locals were non-plussed. They pulled out their wraps and umbrellas to cover up until it blew over — all while the sky was still a nice, bright blue color.
It was worth the wait when Martina and her band came out and ventured away from their normal country genre to play some songs from their new album, “Everlasting.” She sang some classics including Elvis’ “Suspicious Minds”, Sam Cook’s “Bring it on home to me,” and Etta James’ “I’ve been loving you too long.”
Though she commented on the altitude (at 7,200 feet) and having to catch her breath, we didn’t notice it when she belted out crowd favorites, “In My Daughter’s Eyes,” “Broken Wing” and, of course, “Independence Day.”
When the concert ended, the celebration continued. Now we were fast friends with everyone around us and we all headed to the “after party,” enjoying some treats and libations. Joined by Deer Valley guests, band members and even a few roadies, everyone kept the party going.
After chatting it up with friends, we looked around and noticed as usual, the Andersons were the last ones there. As we hit the parking lot, we noted an added bonus. No traffic! The lot was almost empty!
Unless you have a babysitter to relieve or a lonely pet waiting for you at home, consider adopting our habit of enjoying every possible minute of a wonderful night out with the Big Stars, Bright Nights concerts. Make it a late night too, at Deer Valley Resort. Have you attended a concert at Deer Valley’s Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater? Tell me about it on Twitter @Nancy_MoneyDiva or @Deer_Valley
The restaurant’s name was chosen in keeping with Deer Valley Resort’s rich mining history. Miners used brass tags hung on a board to check in and out of work in the mines. If a brass tag remained on the board at the end of a shift, then everyone knew to launch a search. The brass tag concept has been incorporated into the look and feel of the restaurant’s décor, menus and merchandise.
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.
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.
PATWA Reggae Band closed the party with their classic and authentic sounds.
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.