Engineering with a purpose

It was a crazy idea at the least when fellow co-op, Manish Pati suggested a trip to Colorado for the 3 day weekend.  We had been going to a local ski resort about 2 hours away for the past few weeks and now he wanted a taste of the real thing; Colorado.  Although he later told me that he was half kidding when he suggested the idea, I bought in.  So we hurdled together a possible 5 or 6 co-op / full time employees who were interested and talked through the plan which we decided to head out around 1pm on Friday and have two full days of pure rocky mountain snowboarding.  The group consisted of two full-timers, Kevin (Wisconsin) and Doug (Ohio) who had been co-ops in the past and four co-ops, Manish (Connecticut), Tom (Minnesota), Gustavo (Puerto Rico), and I (Indiana).  Kevin obtained his parents Tahoe which seated seven and after stuffing 3 snowboards, 6 personal bags, 6 bags of snow gear, and 6 adult males into the car, we realized we may be in for an interesting ride.

(Back Row): Gustavo, Tom, Doug (Front Row): Kevin, Eric, Katy, Pau

The drive started out normal enough with the exception of cramping legs due to very little leg room.  The road trip started getting good when we started making the best of our situation by shifting our attention from our unsettled legs to humor.  Gustavo pulled out a gallon of water which he started drinking like it was completed normal which brought on the question from Tom asking if there was a water shortage in Puerto Rico.  Soon we had to start a quote book in order to remember the trip by and of course the only paper we could find was Doug’s ski rental receipt which was unfortunately lost when Doug turned it into the rental office.  The trip started getting monotonous and people started dozing off as it got dark.  Every three hours or so, we’d stop at a gas station; fill up on gas while the next driver in line would fill up on energy drinks.  At one point in the middle of Nebraska, the car was pulled over by a Nebraska state police officer, after speaking to the driver for a good 10 minutes inside her car, we were allowed to go; however, when we tried to leave, the car battery was dead.  So we waved the police officer down before she left so that she could jumpstart the car.  We passed into the state of Colorado around 2:30 in the morning and made it up the mountain by 5:45.  Too bad the slopes didn’t open until 8:30.  Since we were all still tired, we found a deserted parking lot to park in and sleep for an hour.  We then met up with my sister and brother in law, Katy and Eric, who live in Denver and were going to be staying with us for the weekend.  By 8:30, everyone was ready to head up the lifts.

First goal was to let everyone go down some of the blue hills to get a feel for the vastness of Breckenridge.  After awhile of getting used to the thinner air and the steeper slopes we headed up to the more advanced slopes.  Eventually we made it to the top of the mountain and a few of us actually made the trek up to peak 8 which could not be accessed by a chair lift.  At the peak, 12,998 ft above sea level, it felt like -20 degrees with 60 mph or greater wind so we decided it would be best to go back down.  Unfortunately it was so windy at the top, that it had blown all the powder out of the imperial bowl which we were about to go down which was undetectable to us.  Tom and I jumped off the ridge at the same time and immediately fell and started sliding beyond our control.  We could not stop ourselves and the bowl was steep.  After sliding about 30 yards; only about 10 yards from a big pile of rocks, we finally were able to stop and I nearly ran into him.  Although it was quite scary, it was a great story to tell the others.  As the day progressed, and awesomeness happened slope after slope, our masks created by 5 hour energy and red bull were quickly fading and the true exhausted version of us was being unveiled.  Finally at 4 o’clock, we got on the 4 O’clock Run slope which led straight to the condo we were staying which was very convenient.

Most of the group spent a few hours in the outdoor hot tub to relax their muscles, but eventually everyone had a hot shower and cleaned up.  I, however, was not feeling well due to altitude sickness so while I spent the rest of the evening sleeping off a fever, nausea, and a headache not to mention the muscle soreness, everyone else headed out to see the town of Breckenridge including the famous Breckenridge Brewery.

The next morning, it was tough to get everyone up.  I was feeling better, so I was excited enough to wake up early so we could get a good start to the day.  We made some breakfast, packed up our stuff, cleaned up the condo and went back to the ski resort.  Although everyone besides Tom was slow to get up, we soon found renewed energy as we went up the mountain.  We took a stab at Peak 9 and 10 for most of the morning.  Later in the afternoon, Tom, Katy, Eric, and I decided to go back up to the top of Peak 8 (12,998 ft) so that we could board down Whale’s Tail, a massive bowl full of fresh and deep powder.  We were able to get to the top just as they closed the lift so we were the last ones to come down.  Having the entire bowl to ourselves was a surreal experience.  From there, we travelled all the way to the bottom of the mountain to the car.  After regrouping with everyone we left for Denver.

We decided to stop at a place that had been recommended to us called Beaujo’s Pizza in Idaho Springs, CO.  This place served “Mountian Pies” which were literally 2 inch thick pizza designed for hungry skiers and snowboarders on their way down the mountain.  We ordered a 3 lb and a 5 lb Mountain Pie which turned out to be just the right amount.  They served their salad bar in two old bathtubs and served drinks in Ball canning jars.  Beaujo’s was a great way to end our weekend of snowboarding.

We ended up staying the night at Katy and Eric’s home in Denver.  Being engineers, the night before we all went out to the car with giant trash bags, took everything out and completely reorganized the car in about 15 minutes.  This saved us a lot of space, hassle, and time.  We were able to leave by 6am on Monday morning.  Along the way, we stopped at a McDonald’s restaurant to get some breakfast.  In the drive through, Doug was ordering for whoever wanted food and I noticed on the screen that the small coffee was set at $0.00 so Doug asks if the small coffee is free and when this is confirmed, he orders 6 of them.  So we all received free coffee for the morning which of course had the effect of not being able to sleep anymore.

Around Rockford, we hit some bad weather but we were still able to make it back in about 16 hours total.  I think that we all agreed how weird it was that we had just been across the country just earlier that day.  I can guarantee that no one on the trip regretted their decision to go.  We ended up spending 35 hours driving for 18 hours of skiing/snowboarding in a 79 hour span of time.  Tuesday we are all back to work at HS and although here we all are focused on our tasks at hand, we won’t forget the weekend we set out to drive across the country for the chance to ski /board the slopes in Colorado.

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