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travelbetterpodcasts.com Sugarbush 2015 - 01

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How I Did Sugarbush This Year: Staying Local vs. Staying in Barre VT

Posted on 26 May 2015 by Leslie Lello

travelbetterpodcasts.com Sugarbush 2015 - 01For the last couple years, I have made sure to get up to Sugarbush, which I feel has some of the best snow and varied terrain in Vermont.

My first time at the mountain was 2014 and it was great… 8 inches of fluffy snow every morning in March! It was awesome!

But there a few things that surprised me at this new-t0-me mountain.

First, leaving in the afternoon from New York after finishing work left me on the dark and windy back roads of Vermont at night, which I do not care for.

Second, I could not find reasonably priced lodging. My choice was to spend over $100 (pricy as a solo traveler) or stay at a hostel.

I chose the hostel, which was fine, but I didn’t get very good sleep any of the nights because of the noise in the shared room and my hostel mates who stumbled in drunk every night from the loud bar downstairs.

The hostel is only 5 minutes from Sugarbush, but I decided this year that I would have to come up with a different plan.

And that’s exactly what I did!

I decided to look for lodging in cities that are on the (few) major highways in Vermont.

This lead me to Barre, Vermont, which is about an hour from Sugarbush.

OMG! AN HOUR?

I can already hear you groan…

“AN HOUR?! THAT SUCKS? WHO WANTS TO GET UP EARLY TO DRIVE AN HOUR TO THE MOUNTAIN?”

Well, let’s break it down and you’ll understand what I think the advantages are:

1. Drive Time to Lodging in Vermont: Sugarbush vs. Barre

Google Maps says it is a 5.5 hour drive from New York City to Sugarbush Resort. Leaving late in the afternoon leaves you at Sugarbush at 9pm, the earliest. But the 5.5 hour drive time estimate is based on daytime hours. Even if there is no traffic, you will be driving slower (hopefully because safety matters to you) at night on the winding, unlit roads of Vermont at night.  For me, driving cautiously added another hour to the trip. It was March and the potholes were cavernous on Rt. 100 and other minor VT roads that year, so I drove slow to protect my car.

At the same, Google says the drive time to Barre, Vermont from New York City is only 5 hours. Again, this is daytime driving, so you have to add a bit of time on to that if you slow down at night, but you will be on well-lit superhighways most of the way, so there is much better visibility.

The first year, I made it to Sugarbush around 11pm. The second year I made it to Barre by 10pm. I left at approximately the same time.

2. Generic Quality Inn in Barre VT offers a Better Choice than the Hotels Near Sugarbush

I arrived at the Quality Inn in Barre around 10pm (getting a little bit of a late start), but my room was right next to my car, which was greatly appreciated on the frigid Vermont night. I brought my gear into the room, washed my face, and was in bed by 11pm.

Oh, and I got a full buffet breakfast in the morning which means I got on the road faster (which means I got on the mountain faster). I can just grab some coffee and a couple of hard boiled eggs and go.

Or I can just bring breakfast from home and leave it in the refrigerator in the room until I am ready to eat it.

When I get back to Barre from the mountain, I can swim in the pool or the hot tub.

This level of accommodations would have cost a bundle (probably at least 2-3 times the price I paid) in the Sugarbush Resort area.

Or you can go the budget route and skip the comfort.

Juxtapose my Quality Inn experience to the year before when stayed at the hostel near Sugarbush. After taking two trips to lug my bags to my dorm room (up a flight of stairs) and making sure I took off my shoes each time (no shoes upstairs in the dorms) and making sure there was not food in my bags (no food in the dorms), and then sorting out my belongings so that I could jump into my ski gear as easy as possible so as to not disturb the other hostelers (who did not have the same courtesy), I was finally able to carry all of my toiletries to the bathroom so that I may wash my face and go to bed around 1am (because I also arrived around 11pm and took 20 minutes to check in to the hostel).

I went to bed at 1am but didn’t fall asleep until 3am, if you can call being drowsy with my eyes closed sleeping. 3am is when all the snoring drunks in my room stumbled up from the bar downstairs after the loud band stopped playing and last call.

Of course I had to wake up early to go for breakfast at a cafe 8 miles down the road, because there was no kitchen in this hostel and the only offering the hostel had was an outrageously expensive full service meal (which takes too long, anyway).

One morning I just ate the frozen trail mix I left in my car in order to get on the mountain at a respectable time.

No hot tub or pool to relax in after a long ski day. A line for the co-ed shower. Bleh.

(Editing Note: Haha, but you don’t have to, ya know, shower with the other gender. You just share the facilities with the other gender.)

3. The Drive from Barre to Sugarbush is Usually Not That Bad

50 minutes from Barre to Sugarbush may seem like a lot, but it is daytime driving with minimal traffic. A super-fast ride on 89A to the well maintained Rt. 100.

I know what you are thinking.

“What if there is a storm?”

I can see that would make the drive much less pleasant and in some cases impossible. It is certainly something to consider.

There were a few storms last year in Vermont when not even the locals were skiing because even they could not make it to the mountain (In one case, I was staying on the mountain, so I basically had the whole mountain to myself because I didn’t have to drive.)

So, if there is a storm the Barre option might not work. Or might be rather treacherous and time consuming.

Most likely, though, you might just have to wait for them to clear the roads, which Vermont will likely do very quickly and early because these are major roads you would be taking.

In my comparison, I left Barre at 8am and arrived at Sugarbush at 9am, stopping for a coffee along the way.

The year before I left from the hostel at 8:30am (reasons: wait for the bathroom and I was tired from lack of sleep and no coffee yet so moving a bit slower and, again, had to reorganize my dorm stuff to make sure I wasn’t leaving valuables), but had to go for breakfast down the road, so by the time I got to the mountain it was 9:30am.

So Barre Vermont wins again!

Here’s some bonus awesomeness about the drive from Sugarbush to Barre. You will go past Montpelier and stop for groceries at Hunger Mountain Co-Op, if you’re into healthy food and clean eating.

Conclusion

Milage-wise, it might seem like staying in Barre when planning to ski or ride at Sugarbush is like crossing the Canadian boarder in Alberta when you need to get to Toronto, but I strongly advise you to consider this not-so-obvious option as a value-added choice.

If your intention is to have a great day skiing and be well rested, well fed and comfortable, Barre Vermont is a good choice, especially if you are a solo traveler.

PS: I stayed at the Quality Inn in Barre, but there are a number of similar chain motels where the quality is moderate and predictable and will support you and your needs during your ski/ride vacation at Sugarbush.

 

 

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TPB 0019 California and the Sierras - Ski and Snowboard

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TPB 0019 California and the Sierras – Ski and Snowboard

Posted on 05 October 2013 by Leslie Lello

TPB 0019 California and the Sierras - Ski and Snowboard

 

Today I discuss three separate areas of California where you can enjoy the slopes.

The three ski/snowboard areas I will be covering today are:

  • Big Bear/Snow Summit area near Los Angeles (also a nod to a few tinier snow hills)
  • Mammoth Mountain / June Mountain
  • Lake Tahoe – which includes 7 separate ski resorts

I’ve heard people that typically ski the Rockies refer to the snow on the California mountains as “Sierra Sludge” because it tends to get very heavy by the end of the day and there is a TON of it (usually in big piles) by the time the sun starts going down.

Coming from the East Coast, the “sludge” they are referring to is AWESOME. It took a bit of adjusting in my skiing style, but it’s wonderful compared to the East Coast hard pack.

So I hope you enjoy today’s podcast. I had audio issues on this podcast. I was so enthusiastic to start recording that I forgot to clip my mic to my shirt, so it sounds like the mic is constantly bumping into things (which is it). I apologize for this, but I liked the content and if I re-recorded it I feel like I would have just breezed over the content rather than get into the details, so I chose to post this show with the icky audio.

If you don’t want to listen because if the audio pops, you can glean what you need from the podcast notes.

Thanks!

Leslie

 

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TBP 0018 Ski Utah Powder

Posted on 28 September 2013 by Leslie Lello

Winter is on it’s way! Time to talk skiing!

SKI UTAH!

Inspired by a mega Ski Group Meet-up in New York, I decided to create a show about Utah, one of my favorite places to ski.

I got really jazzed when one of the groups was telling me about their upcoming trip to Brighton, which is one of many ski resorts located around Salt Lake City.

I have skied Utah many times. Most experiences were great but the last time resulted in an injury for the person I was with so I also became very familiar with Salt Lake City, which I also talk about on the podcast.

But most of the focus of today’s podcast is on Park City and the ski resorts that are located around Park City.

  1. Dear Valley (skiers)
  2. Park City
  3. Canyons

I talk about packing strategy, too. When you fly to Utah for the skiing, it’s good to know what NOT to bring because between equipment and bulky clothes, there’s already a ton of stuff to drag from the baggage carousel.

Finally, I also talk about some lodging strategies if you are planning to be in Park City during Sundance Film Festival, which is not only a great time to see some great flicks, but the slopes are great at that time, too.

DEALS RIGHT NOW: https://www.skiutah.com/winter/deals/showme/member/550579887.html

The ski resorts around Salt Lake City: http://www.onthesnow.com/utah/ski-resorts.html

I mentioned on the podcast a lift ticket /ski ticket deal with The Canyons. I have information on last year’s deal, and actually, several ski resorts participated. I have not seen any information on whether this deal is happening this year (2013-2014). Here is some information on last year’s deal (Look at listing number 4 on this webpage): http://www.saltlakecityonthecheap.com/free-or-cheap-ski-lift-tickets-in-utah/

Winter Activities in Park City besides skiing and snowboarding: http://www.visitparkcity.com/things-to-do/winter-activities/

 

*** Sorry no pix this week… photos are trapped on a grumpy computer other than the one I am typing on right now.  Will revise later when I have access. ***

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Welcome and thanks for visiting!

My name is Leslie and I am the owner, publisher and media creator of Travel Better Podcasts.

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