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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How big are your wheels?

If you are a mountain biker or know someone who is, you may have heard the debate raging on about mountain bike wheel diameters. From 26 to 27.5 and all the way to 29-inch, there seems to be little consensus. To attempt to sort out what the ideal wheel dimension is, I recently sat down with Chris Erkkila, assistant mountain biking manager and Doug Gormley, lead bike instructor at Deer Valley Resort.

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JF: Sometimes I wonder if I have the right size wheels on my mountain bike and if I am not giving away performance by staying on traditional 26-inch tires?

Chris Erkkila: It’s been a steady progression. In the old days, I’ve saw downhill bikes with a 24-inch wheel in the back and a 26-inch wheel in the front. And then, a few years ago, the 29-inch craze hit so big that the bulk of our rental bikes were all 29-inch wheels! Now, with the 27.5-inch design gaining acceptance, the pendulum has swung back to a position that manufacturers are finding to be a right size that covers everything.

Doug Gormley: Just like Chris, I’ve experienced all wheel sizes, from 26, to 27.5 and 29-inch. There’s no “holy grail” though. All these sizes have strengths and weaknesses. A very simplified argument for the 27.5 is that it “splits the difference.” It falls somewhere in the middle, albeit not quite exactly…

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JF: What’s the most obvious benefit of a large, 29-inch wheel?

Chris Erkkila: The theory is that the larger the diameter, the more efficiently it rolls; that’s right, rolling gets easier with bigger wheels. This is the reason why the settlers in the west put large wheels on their wagons; it was much easier for them to go over ruts, wood stumps and rocks.

JF: What was your experience with last year’s rental fleet and its 29-inch wheels?

Doug Gormley: Overall, it worked out really well. There were some issues with some of our smaller riders feeling a bit awkward on the bike. One of the positives was that a 29er rolls over rough terrain very well. For somebody who is struggling to maintain momentum, these wheels can roll over features that would normally hang them up. Another advantage is that this larger wheel provides more traction and also brakes more effectively.

JF: Any downside to a 29-inch wheel?

Chris Erkkila: Well, going downhill gets you more centrifugal force with 29-inch tires, which causes the larger wheel to resist turning. Another possible drawback is that larger wheels create a longer wheelbase that makes turning in tight corners a little bit more challenging.

Doug Gormley: I agree; they are not as maneuverable. I do think there are some people who thought the bike felt a bit cumbersome and awkward at times. This is why our rental fleet will mostly be 27.5 this summer.

JF: But, I’ve also heard that larger wheels make it less likely that the rider will fly over the handlebar; is this true?

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Chris Erkkila: Ha, ha! I think the chances are really still there. Maybe just because they can roll over stuff more smoothly, you might be less prone to do it, but if you aren’t very gentle with the new, powerful, hydraulic disk brakes in front, you might still go over the handlebars!

JF: I still don’t understand which wheel performs better for downhill versus cross-country use?

Doug Gormley: Downhill riders need smaller size wheels for nimbleness and maneuverability. Today, in World Cup competition, most riders are still on 26-inch wheels, but more and more are moving to the new 27.5.

Chris Erkkila: You won’t see downhill racers riding a 29-inch, because, as Doug said, it’s less maneuverable; but he’s right, they are leaving their 26-inch for these new 27.5-inch wheels.

JF: So, are you suggesting that 27.5-inch might be a happy medium?

Chris Erkkila: From what I understand, the trend began in Europe with the “650B,” as they call the 27.5-inch over there. It was actually borrowed from road bikes, then adapted to mountain bikes and from that point forward, it was enthusiastically adopted and caught on rather quickly.

JF: Is there a reason for a holy war to settle the perfect wheel size?

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Doug Gormley: No, there are so many factors to consider that each size can be fully justified. If you’re into cross-country, 29 might be the obvious choice, but if downhill is your thing, a smaller wheel will work better. I still feel very strongly that there is no panacea, though.

JF: Have the junior riders been spared that tug of war?

Doug Gormley: If anything, there are many junior bikes that benefit from a 24-inch wheel. There are lots of factors like clearance over the top tube, rider’s weight and height that come into play in that category. There are still lots of benefits to 20, 24 an even 26-inch wheels for youngsters.

JF: Are these new 27.5-inch wheels adapted to women’s bike frames?

Chris Erkkila: When the first 29er came out, companies scrambled to place these larger wheels on existing frames, with obviously less success on women’s frames. It wasn’t always a good match. Today, with the growing popularity of 27.5-inch wheels, manufacturers have been adjusting their frame design and construction to work better with that diameter.

JF: As every ounce seems to count enormously, how is wheel design impacted by the quest for weight reduction at all cost?

Chris Erkkila: It was pretty rare to see “everything carbon fiber” 10 to 15 years ago. This has changed and today you’ll see frames and rims made of that material. A larger wheel is heavier and light weight materials become more attractive. Carbon fiber is one of these materials, extremely light and strong but less sturdy than aluminum. If you crash and your bike goes flying off the trail and you damage the carbon fiber, it’s pretty catastrophic. You can put a dent in an aluminum frame and still ride it to a certain extent and be okay. Today, it’s quite common to see carbon wheel sets matched with carbon bike frames. Because of the rocky nature of some mountain trails, there’s obviously a risk that a close encounter with rocks and other obstacles could severely damage these pricey rims.

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JF: Do you feature carbon rims in your rental fleet?

Doug Gormley: No, and it’s essentially a matter of cost. These rims are still very expensive! Sure, they’re very lightweight, strong and super stiff. Sometimes even too stiff!

JF: All these considerations about sizes and materials shouldn’t make us forget the critical element that is the tire. What’s new in this area?

Chris Erkkila: We are seeing more tubeless tires these days, just like the ones you have on your car. Tubeless tires allow you to ride on less pressure and they’re also lighter. To a certain extent they also reduce the chance of getting a flat tire.

JF: Why?

Chris Erkkila: Because you can hit certain obstacles on the trail without getting a pinch-flat or “snake-bite” as some folks call it. This happens when the inner tube gets pinched against the rim and you get two holes in the tube. In theory, running without a tube eliminates this, but you should still pack an extra tube, just in case.

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Doug Gormley: Our rental fleet is still running with tubes and tires. On a personal level, I’ve been slow embracing the tubeless trend, because it had not prevented me from getting flats. Even with my best tubeless set up, I still carry a tube as a backup.

JF: Are bikes delivered with tubeless set up?

Chris Erkkila: Not usually, it’s more an after-market option.

JF: Let’s talk about inflation. What tire pressure do you recommend?

Chris Erkkila: Several factors should be considered. One is downhill versus cross country. Others are how much a rider weighs, what type of terrain is involved as well as particular trail conditions. I’m 6 feet tall, I weigh 200 pounds, so I inflate my cross-country bike in the high 30s psi (pounds per square inch). On the other hand, my downhill bike is only inflated at 20 to 25 psi. Typically, the lighter you are, the less air you put in; but when you do that, you might increase traction too much. Conversely, the more air you put in, the less rolling resistance exists.

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Doug Gormley: In our rental operation, we’re about at 35 psi with the bikes. In some instances, we go as high as 38. This is the best balance we find between good traction and pinch flat avoidance. Of course, if we see a rash of pinch flats, we can always raise that threshold.

JF: I’ve always been told that, prior to going downhill, it make sense to let some air out; is that right?

Chris Erkkila: Oh, yes. It’s hard though; the biggest mistake people make is to just do it “by feel”; unless you do this very often, you’ll mess up. The only way you’ll know for sure is by using a pressure gauge.

JF: On these big, fat tires, what kind of tire tread works best for Deer Valley’s trails?

Doug Gormley: The manufacturers are all doing a good job at matching tire tread with bike suspensions, dimensions and performance. We’ve selected a trail bike that is the equivalent of an all-mountain ski; it is very versatile and the tread selected for these bikes strikes a nice balance between cross-country and downhill.

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Chris Erkkila: Tires are like shoes; you might prefer Nike over Adidas, so it comes down to personal preferences. Of course, here we have dry, dusty soil and our tires are suited for these conditions. When we get a rain day at Deer Valley Resort, we call it a “powder day” because if you get just a little bit of moisture on the trail, it gets “tacky” and you can go a bit faster and carry more speed into the turns; it’s fun!

JF: What an enlightening conversation about wheels! As many riders are headed for Deer Valley Resort and get ready to hit your trails this summer, what last piece of advice do you have for them?

Chris Erkkila: There’s no one right wheel size for any certain type of rider. It’s up to each person to go out and try what seems to work best. The 26-inch size probably isn’t going to be around for much longer. It’s going to be 27.5 and 29-inch for the foreseeable future, with the latter wheel size likely to be preferred by many cross-country riders.

Doug Gormley: Beyond this discussion about wheels, we see a large variety of bikes on the mountain. Ultimately though, a good all-mountain trail bike works best, whether you ride the lifts or just pedal. Having a very versatile bike with a suspension offering four to five inches of travel works very well and allows you to accomplish everything you want in a day while truly enjoying it!

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A Week’s Worth of Hiking Trails at Deer Valley Resort

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If you love to hike, would like to explore the mountains around Deer Valley Resort and are staying in town for more than just a couple of days, there are a multitude of ways to get fully acquainted with the area and get you so excited that you’ll want to come back for more. To help sort out some of the best Deer Valley hikes, I spent time with Steve Graff, Deer Valley’s Mountain Bike Manager, brain storming about what kind of graduated mountain hikes could fill an active vacation week. This is an overview of the options we picked for you.

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A wonderful way to begin is to spend the first day getting acquainted with the weather, the elevation and the terrain. Using the chairlifts on that first day is ideal for minimizing the impact of the altitude. For instance, start at Silver Lake Lodge and begin by riding up Sterling Express and then hike down the Silver Lake Trail. It is a hiking-only trail, so you’ll find only hikers on it. A little over two miles long and dropping 1,300 vertical feet, the trail begins at the top of Bald Mountain at 9,400 feet and meanders all the way down to Silver Lake Village. “Of course, if you are in excellent shape and neither the jet lag nor the altitude seem to bother you, you can do this in reverse by hiking up the Silver Lake Trail,” says Steve Graff. Most people can do it in about an hour depending on their condition. Morning is a great time for this hike. The views are incredible around the east side of Bald Mountain as one sees the Jordanelle Reservoir and, in the distance, the Uinta Mountains… In this high desert climate, mornings are generally very cool. In summer, Deer Valley’s morning temperatures range from the upper 40s to the lower 50s at sunrise, before reaching a daytime high somewhere between 70 and 80 degrees. Crisp, mountain air and beautiful, clear views reward the early morning hiker. So, if you choose to hike early to the top of Bald Mountain and get there any time after 10 a.m., you can ride the chairlift down at no charge. Just make sure to wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, a light jacket in the event of a sudden storm and always carry more water than you think you’ll need.

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For the next day, a great hike is to follow the Ontario Trail from Silver Lake Village. This trail wraps around the west side of Bald Mountain and offers totally different views. It passes some old silver mine remnants including historical, weathered equipment and winds its way to the top of the mountain at 9,400 feet. Once more, there’s always the option of riding Sterling Express down, or if your legs are still strong and willing, hike down the Silver Lake Trail and make a loop out of it. Just like Silver Lake, Ontario trail is a hiking-only trail. On average, it takes one to one-and-a-half hours to get to the top. When hiking, remember that shoes often cause problems and while you should always wear sturdy hiking shoes on your hikes, make sure they are well broken-in before you start hitting the tails. Always take the time to lace them up properly and make sure to wear good socks. If blisters appear on the first days, the best approach is often to take a day off and have a break. If this is not possible, purchase some moleskin at the local drugstore. Steve suggests “Another option would be to combine a hike up Silver Lake Trail with a descent down Ontario Trail and make it a five-mile round trip with a return by noon at Silver Lake, just in time for lunch at Royal Street Café.” 

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The third day could be a perfect opportunity to begin hiking from a lower elevation, starting at Snow Park Lodge, and hike up the Deer Crest Trail. This hike is a little over three-miles long, all the way to Silver Lake Village. It is also a multi-use trail, where both hikers and bikers are allowed. The rules of the trails are that bikers yield to hikers. This said, if you notice bikers coming your way and can afford to step off the trail, let them pass; this is a gesture that is always appreciated. A smile and a greeting also go a long way; in short, by just being respectful of each other, all trail users can co-exist very well. The Deer Crest Trail offers yet another set of great views all the way up. Instead of just stopping when reaching Silver Lake Village, continue on to the Mid Mountain Trail and catch Red Cloud Trail up to the top of Flagstaff Mountain at 9,100 feet. From there, ride the Ruby Express Chairlift down to the Empire Lodge. Once there, hike back to Silver Lake via the same Mid Mountain Trail. Upon reaching Silver Lake Village, give your legs another break and download the Silver Lake Express chairlift. Both chairlift rides are free, as there’s no charge for the downhill rides, only the uphill part. This hike is a half-day hike. Including the two chairlift rides, it takes an average person between three-and-a-half to four hours to complete the whole loop. This too can be a perfect morning hike but can also be done at any time during the day. “One of the advantages of hiking at Deer Valley Resort is that the lifts are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, and that there’s always a staff of professional patrollers available to help for any reason,” remarks Steve Graff.

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If the weather stays nice, as it does most of the time in the Wasatch Mountains, and no rain is on the forecast, a change of pace is always a wise idea around mid-week. Day four could be used for a guided hike. Deer Valley’s guided hikes are an excellent opportunity to learn what makes the area so unique, see more of nature and hike a little bit less. The resort has a number of guided hiking tours that can be customized to the needs and wants of all guests. They can be focused on local mining history, flora or wildlife. Some of the Deer Valley Guides have a vast knowledge of the local mountains and their surrounding areas. These tours should be booked in advance and can either accommodate small parties (up to five hikers) or larger groups (six to ten hikers), and are all reasonably priced. If you are looking for an even slower day, keep in mind that there is plenty of easy hiking waiting for you around Deer Valley and Park City without climbing a mountain. You can wander on the many trails that criss cross the valley floor, like the Poison Creek Trail, the Rail Trail, the Farm Trail or the more rugged Round Valley trail network, you can use the city-wide free bus system to combine them or when it’s time to return from your adventure.

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To crown a typical five-days hiking week, a special trip could take you from Silver Lake to Shadow Lake, a truly picturesque destination, right below Jupiter Peak in Park City Mountain Resort. Another adventurous option is a long-distance hike on the Mid Mountain Trail, another multi-use trail, from Silver Lake Villate to Park City. This hike is a 7 to 8-mile trek, with little change in elevation but it will cover the whole distance that spans the two resorts. If you intend to embark on these longer hikes on your own, make sure you take along copies of the Deer Valley Resort summer trail map and the Mountain Trails Map, should you decide to push all the way to Park City Mountain Resort or even Canyons Resort. Steve stresses “In case of an accident, make sure to have the mountain patrol number on your cell phone (435-615-6208) and remember that you can call between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. After these hours, dial 911 for any emergency.” With very few exceptions, cellular phone coverage is pretty good and is available from almost everywhere on the trails. You could either turn around on the Mid Mountain Trail, working it as an up and back, forge ahead to Canyons Resort if you feel unstoppable, or choose to go down the Spiro Trail to Park City. When you reach your destination, either take advantage of the Park City free bus system to get you back to your accommodations or have lunch or dinner in Park City. This option, that takes about two-and-a-half hours to complete and can be a great afternoon trek since most of the itinerary is well shaded.

This is it; we have just summarized a week’s worth of hikes packed with adventure, gorgeous views and discovery at every corner. You might wonder if there are dangers lurking at the edge of some of the trails. I asked Steve Graff about that and he said “The number one danger in hiking is the weather; always check the forecast before you go and watch for events like thunderstorms or a sudden cold snap.”I also asked him about wildlife and he assured me that most animals will move on and get out of the way, except for moose. Steve added “If you run into a moose, give it plenty of space, make sure you don’t get in between a cow and calf, be patient, try not to startle them, this is their home; remember, you’re just a visitor.”

Now, it’s time to enjoy a week of happy trails in and around Deer Valley Resort.

Summer Fun, Family Style

It has taken me a little while to get into the swing of summer apparently, it’s taken Mother Nature a bit of time, too. We had a spring snowstorm on Tuesday June 17 but with the Community Concert series set to kick off the following night (yep, it had to be postponed) and lift-served hiking and mountain biking already in full swing, the storm felt like a summertime sucker punch. In our family, we’d already spent a day exploring the activities at YMCA Camp Roger, where Lance will spend a week this summer—his first sleep-away camp experience. I’m happy to report there were cute, cozy cabins each with its own fire pit, plus archery, basketball, mountain biking and horseback riding. What’s not to love? (If it were acceptable, I’d sign up!)

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In my house, summer means a new routine nearly every week—and sometimes every day. It makes me marvel when I get to the end of the day and haven’t messed up, taken people to the wrong locations or missed a start time. Yeah, it happens.

Certainly, we’ve already crammed a ton of summer fun into the two quick weeks since school let out. My boys have enjoyed several days of tennis camp at the Park City MARC. You know it’s a good camp when you sign them up for two days and they come out at the end of the second day and ask, politely, for a third. You can bet that they’ll be doing more of that camp. I’m guessing, too, that part of their love of tennis camp is that it takes place at the MARC, where there’s free access to a rock climbing wall—perfect for killing time before camp starts.

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Some weeks, their camp pursuits are more academic. Seth went back to school for a French Immersion Camp. He’s in a dual language immersion program at school and his teacher runs week-long camps so that the language doesn’t fall out of the kids’ heads over the summer. Of course, it culminated in a hike—this is Park City, after all. Lance, on the other hand, headed to Zaniac, an awesome learning center in Redstone, where he’s been taking math classes (which thankfully, he loves, and which seemed to boost his math grades at school…win, win!). The camp he chose was “Intro to Computer Programming,”and he couldn’t get enough of the half-day program, learning to write code in lots of fun ways. He even created a music video for “Radioactive,” by Imagine Dragons.

Most of the camps we’re enrolling in this summer are partial-day camps, in part because I figured out that while there are many awesome full-day options (including Deer Valley Summer Adventure Camp and options through Park City Recreation and Basin Recreation), I’ve realized that sending my kids to full-day camps often means someone else gets to hang with them while they are having fun and I get the cranky-exhausted kids afterwards. So, we compromise. There will be some full-day camps (they may yet decide to go to the UOP’s awesome FUNdamentals Sports Camp or Deer Valley’s Summer Adventure Camp, because, heck, it’s summer, and who wouldn’t want a full day of fun?) But mostly, we’ll do partial-day camps and then head to the pool.

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Cf course, we’re planning a bunch of RV trips too—Bear Lake in July, so we can get our fill of that area’s crystal-blue waters and famous raspberry milkshakes. I would love to hear what camps you’re sending your kids to in the comments below or Tweet me @BariNanCohen.

OCEARCH at Deer Valley Resort’s Summer Adventure Camp

For the second year in a row, Chris Fischer from OCEARCH enlightened Deer Valley’s Summer Adventure Campers on the importance of preserving our oceans.

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Mr. Fischer and his team allow scientists to study sharks in an environment safe for both the researchers and the sharks. They do this by catching and tagging sharks so scientists all around the world can study them. While most people would say they’re afraid of sharks, Mr. Fischer explained that sharks should actually be scared of humans; nearly 200,000 sharks are killed each day and if this continues, future generations will not be able to enjoy these awesome creatures.

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“I’m thrilled to be part of Deer Valley’s Summer Camp. Park City is home for my family and I, and I’m excited to be able to connect these kids to the OCEARCH mission and bring the ocean into their summer camp. Thanks to Deer Valley for inviting me!” - Chris Fischer, OCEARCH Founder and Expedition Leader

OCEARCH is a non-profit organization with a global reach for unprecedented research on great white sharks and other large apex predators. After having Mr. Fischer speak with the campers last year, the kids decided to donate the proceeds from the annual end-of-season Art Show to OCEARCH; nearly $800! They were also able to SKYPE with Mr. Fischer while he was on an expedition in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

This year Mr. Fischer returned with Dr. Alex Hearn, a world-class scientist who specializes in the study of fish movements with a strong focus on conservation. Mr. Fischer and Dr. Hearn not only spoke about the importance of preserving our oceans but also gave some great life advice to the young campers.

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“An inch is a cinch and a yard is hard.”

Mr. Fischer explained when his team first started out, no one had ever done what they were attempting to do. By working together and taking little steps, they have been able to accomplish a lot, but there is still room for improvement. Mr Fischer shared his message that we have a lot of things we can improve on when it comes to ocean conservation and it starts with an inch.

One way OCEARCH is bringing attention to ocean conservation is with the OCEARCH Global Shark Tracker app, available to download for free. The app allows you to see the shark migration patterns, just like the scientists who are studying them; you can even track individual sharks by name and see where they were tagged and where they have been since. I downloaded the app and follow OCEARCH on Facebook. I think it’s so cool to be able to see where the sharks have traveled.

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After OCEARCH was done with their presentation, I spoke with Kurt Hammel, Deer Valley Resort’s Children’s Programs Assistant Manager.

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Ryan: How did Deer Valley Resort get involved with OCEARCH?

Kurt:  We learned of OCEARCH from one of our staff members. We are always looking for people who have ties to the Park City community to get involved with our Summer Adventure Camp.

Ryan:  What is the biggest thing the kids take away from these presentations?

Kurt:  I think the oldest kids realize the impact that killing sharks has and that they need to be the next generation to help. The younger kids seem to be really fascinated with sharks.

Ryan: Do the kids ask you a lot of shark questions in the days after the presentation?

Kurt: Some of the kids could talk about sharks all day, every day! The boys love to make shark pictures. A lot of these pictures will end up in our Art Show at the end of the season.

Ryan: Can you tell me more about the Art Show?

Kurt: The annual Art Show is held the first week of August. It allows the campers to proudly display the many and varied art projects they worked on so diligently all summer. The pieces are available to purchase for a donation to that year’s S.A.V.E. project.

Ryan: What does S.A.V.E stand for?

Kurt: Summer Adventure Volunteer Effort. This effort raises money through an art show for a selected organization. Some of our past recipients have been the Carmen B. Pingree School for Children with Autism, Recycle Utah, Wrightsville Beach Sea Turtle Project and the Blind Children’s Learning Center.  In 2013, the kids raised $800 for The OCEARCH organization.

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Ryan: What other speakers do you have lined up for the Summer Adventure Camp?

Kurt: This summer we have some great speakers lined up, including former Olympians, the “Hired Guns” cowboy entertainers, Hawkwatch and an Origami demonstration during the week of our Art Show.

Ryan: Origami; see if they can make hawks and sharks.

Kurt: I’m sure the kids will ask for those first.

Ryan: What is your favorite part of the Summer Adventure Camp?

Kurt: The great thing about Deer Valley’s Summer Adventure Camp is that we are involved in a broad variety of activities with the goal to be active in our community and at the resort as well. We are not sport/activity specific and kids get to experience a lot of different things in just one week here.

Ryan: Can guests still sign up their little ones for Summer Adventure Camp?

Kurt: Absolutely, Summer Adventure Camp is open until August 20. Parents can sign their children up weekly or even for just a day or two. For more information on the Deer Valley Summer Adventure Camp, please visit the website here.

Have you downloaded the OCEARCH Global Shark Tracker app? Tell me what you think in the comments below or on Twitter @RyanMayfield or @Deer_Valley.

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.

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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).

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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.

Deer Valley Resort Heats Up Its Summer Offerings

211 Family Hiking_Deer Valley Resort
When the snow melts, Deer Valley Resort reopens its chairlifts for guests looking to experience the exciting pulse of summer activities available day and night on its mountains. From the rush of a mountain bike descent through the aspens to an exhilarating hike along a ridge top to lunch served al fresco to evening concerts in the Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater, Deer Valley® offers an unparalleled alpine escape.

Summer operations at the resort run seven days a week from June 13 through Labor Day, September 1, 2014, weather and conditions permitting. Lift-served mountain biking/hiking and scenic rides are offered from the Silver Lake Express chairlift at Snow Park, the mid-mountain Sterling Express chairlift and the Ruby Express chairlift in Empire Canyon. Summer chairlifts operate from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (weather permitting) and ample parking is available at Snow Park Lodge. The resort’s website provides detailed information on mountain biking and scenic ride lift ticket rates, as well as information on bike rentals, clinics and tours.

Riders at Deer Valley will find over 60 miles of twisty, fun mountain bike trails, which will challenge beginners and experts alike. Many Deer Valley trails connect with Park City’s network of singletrack, providing access to 400 miles of trails. This year, Deer Valley Resort was honored to be named the #2 Best Bike Park in the Rocky Mountains by MTBparks.com‘s Rider Choice Awards and voted Best Biking by City Weekly’s Best of Utah. This summer, the resort is moving forward with a master plan and trail design that will focus on connectivity between its three lodges and lift areas. The focus will be on upgrading trail systems to include more modern trail design.

For evening play, Deer Valley Resort brings in celebrated singers, songwriters and musicians to entertain guests at outdoor, mountainside concerts. To complement any evening concert, Deer Valley features Gourmet Picnic Baskets or Bags filled with delicious epicurean items from Deer Valley’s kitchens, with options for gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian and children’s single bag meals. The summer calendar of events features the complete lineup of outdoor concerts at the Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater as well as mountain bike races. Beyond the resort, the surrounding Park City area provides a wide variety of activities such as golf, river tubing and rafting, boating, horseback riding, ATV adventures, shopping, dining, theaters and historical museums and tours.

With Deer Valley Resort Lodging and Reservations serving as both property manager and booking agency, guests have access to the largest selection of accommodations with the best service and availability in the Deer Valley area. Deer Valley’s expert Vacation Planners are available to help guests book one of the many summer lodging packages and plan outings and adventures tailored to their individual needs.

When the fun and excitement of summer play leaves the body famished, Deer Valley currently offers two delicious options for refueling, with a third opening in July. Royal Street Café, offering scenic deck dining, is open daily for lunch June 13 through Labor Day, September 1, 2014, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Royal Street features gourmet salads, burgers, panini sandwiches, signature cocktails, beer and wine and is located mid-mountain at Silver Lake Lodge adjacent to Deer Valley’s Silver Lake Express chairlift. Deer Valley Grocery~Café serves fresh roasted coffee and espresso drinks, soups, chili, salads made with local seasonal ingredients, panini sandwiches, creative appetizer and entrée specials, freshly baked breads, desserts, cakes and other items. A selection of gourmet grocery items, house prepared take-away entrées and pizzas as well as wine, beer and liquor are available for purchase. Guests can enjoy the view and mountain air while dining lakeside on the outdoor deck, complete with comfortable deck seating, bag toss games and fishing rods. Deer Valley Grocery~Café is open year-round from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and until 8:30 p.m., June 13 through Labor Day, September 1, 2014, and is located in the Deer Valley Plaza building in the Snow Park area at 1375 Deer Valley Drive.

Deer Valley Resort is pleased to announce the opening of a new restaurant and bar at the Lodges at Deer Valley. Located less than half a mile from the base of Deer Valley Resort, Lodge’s new restaurant, called The Brass Tag, will feature Deer Valley-inspired comfort food, specializing in brick oven cuisine. The Brass Tag opens mid-July 2014.

For Deer Valley’s younger guests, ranging in age from 2 months to 12 years, the resort’s Summer Adventure Camp offers creative and challenging activities and interests that ensure campers have fun while learning and connecting with nature. Based out of the Children’s Center at Snow Park Lodge and running weekdays, June 9 through August 20, 2014, (no camp on July 4 or 24), Summer Adventure Camp features hiking, hillside playgrounds, indoor entertainment and performances, a bouldering rock-climbing wall and a full supply of craft projects, games, puzzles and more.

Deer Valley’s convenient location, just 36 miles from Salt Lake City International Airport, affords guests more time to enjoy their alpine retreat. Guests leaving either coast in the morning can be settled at the resort by early afternoon, ready for outdoor play or comfortable relaxation.

For more information on Deer Valley’s summer mountain biking, hiking, scenic chairlift rides, outdoor concerts and dining operations, please visit the resort website.

Paddleboarding Birthday Party

Lance bdayOur first stand up paddleboard experience was such a rousing success, that no sooner were our feet dry, and lunch eaten, than Lance decided he wanted to celebrate his impending 10th birthday by inviting a few pals to try the sport with him and then have lunch at the Deer Valley Grocery~Café.

I, for one, could not think of a more fun way to celebrate my firstborn son’s first decade. Trent Hickman, owner of Park City SUP, was thrilled. “I love when people get excited about the sport after the first try,” he said. “I can’t wait for the party!”

paddlesWe booked one board per child, and one for me, for one hour. I figured that it made sense to have an adult on the water, and since Trent would likely be on and off throughout the hour, tending to other guests—and I’m crazy about SUP—I nominated myself as the adult. Secretly, I was hoping that Seth would get up the nerve to paddle solo, and kick his old mom off the water, but I didn’t tell him that. Fact is, he announced up front that he preferred to “ride with the professional.”

trent bdayIt was, by far, one of the easiest birthday parties I have ever planned. The team at Deer Valley Grocery~Café made it easy—Janine (DVGC Manager) and I sat down with a menu a couple of weeks ahead of time, and scrutinized it for party-friendly options.

Kid-favorite/birthday party staple pizza? Check.
Lemonade? Check.
Unexpected fun nosh in the form of house-made potato chips in multiple colors and flavors? Check.
Menu settled, the countdown began.

About a week before the party, Lance got into the habit of checking the weather forecast. I keep trying to explain to him that “forecasts” in Utah are more like “suggestions of what could happen at any given time on any given day,” because the weather can change three or more times in an hour. (There’s a reason that locals wear out the phrase, “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.”) Still, there were thunderstorms predicted on the day of the party. I reasoned that we needed only one hour of clear weather—the hour we planned to be on the water. Fortunately, the morning of the party dawned just partly-cloudy, with the storm clouds hovering just outside of Deer Valley Resort.

kids bdayAnd so, we paddled. The kids assembled—most had paddled previously—and Trent offered a few words of safety instruction, and we were off. Seth announced to Trent, “I’ll ride with you.” Trent, as I suspected, needed to tend to business on the shore, so he suggested that Seth ride on mine. And, just like that, the kid sold me up the proverbial (and literal) river. “I don’t trust her, she’s not a professional!” Quick-thinking Trent said, “She’s better than a pro—she’s your MOM!” and Seth climbed aboard. I have never had more fun supervising a party—just watching the kids invent games while they paddled, “accidentally” fall into the water, and even take sunbathing breaks (I’m looking at you, Anna!) was a hoot.

Seth bdayThe hour-long rental was perfect—the kids worked so hard on the boards that they were wiped out after about 45 minutes, and then splashed around and goofed off for another 10 or 15 minutes before we dried off for lunch. Trent took me aside and said, “I hope we can get Seth out a couple more times this summer—he’s on the verge of gaining the confidence he needs to paddle solo, and I’d love to see that happen.” I made a mental note to use that little tidbit to entice Seth to keep at it.

candlesAbout five minutes into lunch, those storm clouds moved in, and rained onto the deck awning that covered our tables. The kids told jokes, did magic tricks and generally ignored the weather while the adults shook our heads in amazement at the luck of it all. Pizza and chips were consumed (the grownups enjoyed the DVGC Burger—delish!) and by the time we served cake, the weather had cleared.

Birthday groupAfter lunch, we rounded up the kids for a “hike” along the paths around the ponds, and a couple of photo ops. I had to take a moment to look at my child and his wonderful friends—at least one of whom he’s known since birth. Jeff and I looked at them—and then at each other—in amazement. How lucky we are that our children are growing up in a community where they bond with their friends over interesting outdoor sports, and laugh uproariously while they do it. The fact that we have Deer Valley as our playground all-year is an amazing thing, and one we don’t take for granted.

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.

 

The Park City Food and Wine Classic

bari nan and husbandThis summer, Jeff and I were invited to enjoy “The Best of the Best” event during the Park City Food and Wine Classic, held at the Montage Deer Valley. Lucky for us, we got to spend the night, too.

There is something magical about pulling up to the Montage—for me, it means my blood pressure drops to near-sedated levels. I’m in my favorite corner of Deer Valley Resort, Empire Canyon, and I’m just minutes from home, but a world away. This time, it felt even more “away,” because my kids were not with me. And my husband was. To say we were excited about the prospect of an overnight “away,” is a mild understatement.

hotel roomHere’s where I will include traditional disclaimer about how we LOVE our kids, and can’t IMAGINE life without them—it’s all true. Except for the second part. I remember quite clearly the 30 years of my life before them, and they were good years. The years with the kids? Better than good. But a night off from parenting is a key ingredient in recharging one’s parenting batteries. A night off at the Montage is even better, because I could turn off the whirring in my brain—the schedules and bedtime battles and snack requests that serve as so much white noise (and a trusted friend was in charge of the kids and accompanying “noise” for 24 hours).

See, all the thinking is, well, pre-thought for you at Montage. The details of daily living are sorted out for you by the able staff. Even checking in is a treat, as a staff member greets you, room keys and paperwork in hand, to escort you directly to your room, and handle check in procedures there.  Imagine my delight when I found our room equipped with in-wall USB charging ports for the gizmos we brought with us (iPads, phones, kindles), as well as current issues of our favorite magazines. (By the way, I needed none of these items—the view from our twin terraces was breathtaking and all-consuming).

people archeryThe property is beautiful—wandering the grounds makes a person feel like she’s ensconced in a lovely movie about resort life, since the gardens have hidden speakers that makes it seem like the flowerbeds are singing to you. We took in a view of the archery field (lessons offered multiple times a day), and then went to lounge by the pool. Kermut, a helpful staffer, situated us on lounge chairs that he outfitted with comfy toweling covers, and then proffered cocktail and snack menus. We ordered the Park City Mule and For Jonas cocktails—light, refreshing and fun—, and a charcuterie platter, and while we were waiting, a lovely woman arrived to ask if she could give my sunglasses a complimentary polish. Who was I to refuse?

drinkscheese and meatpoolAnd with the clarity of vision returned to my favorite pair of shades, came a moment of clarity: One of the best things about staying at a property where all the details are managed so that your stay is effortless is that your brain has time to relax and explore some of the terrain that usually goes neglected when you’re fussing and fretting over the actual running of your life.  Which meant that Jeff and I had the chance to let our minds wander, do some brainstorming about various creative endeavors we’ve been pondering, and, yes, notice how much the kids would totally enjoy a stay at the Montage, as well. Tons of kid-friendly activities were available at nearly every turn—from the human-sized chess pieces on a walk-on board adjacent to the pool deck, to the aforementioned archery lessons, Paintbox Kids activities, lawn games, and, of course, Daly’s—the sports pub/grill complete with bowling alley and a gaming arcade. A pact was made: We would satisfy our craving for more top-notch service and relaxed unwinding time by returning with the kids in a few weeks. After all, they deserve to see that their parents are more than just schedule keepers, meal-providers and homework-naggers, too!

Before long, it was time to return to our room and prep for the evening ahead—which promised wine and food paired tasting stations featuring inventive dishes from the Montage (everything from fire-roasted wild boar tostadas to DIY s’mores with homemade flavored marshmallows and locally sourced dark chocolate). I didn’t get to any other events at this year’s Park City Food and Wine Classic, but from everything we sampled and tasted over the course of the evening, I have to agree—the Montage presented The Best of the Best.  I don’t think anyone at the property would take credit, but some much-needed rain sprinkled onto the terrace off the lounge, and then…a rainbow.

hotel room bedAn evening of revelry behind us, we retreated to our room—and to the world’s most comfortable bed. (Yes, I did look up the bedding on the hotel’s website, and I may or may not have ordered a feather bed and some new pillowcases by the time you are reading this post.) By morning, we felt refreshed— and ready for alfresco breakfast at Apex. Now, we were well-entertained, well-rested and well-fed, which may well be the trifecta of the mini-break.

By the time we checked out, I had a to-do list for our next visit: Hang out with the hotel’s resident Bernese Mountain Dogs, take archery lessons, dine at Daly’s and hit the Deer Valley trails for a hike—all of the above, with the kids. Plus, a detour to the spa for Mom. Yes, it does sound like the makings of a great family getaway. Stay tuned!