2013 Year in Review

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year! 2014 has finally arrived and we're excited to see where this year will take us. This past year was definitely a roller coaster of extreme highs and lows. Here are some of our incredible high points from the past year.

We got married! We finally tied the knot on our 4 year anniversary, March 21st, in a small ceremony with friends and family in Mexico. It was an amazing week and the day itself could not have been more perfect.

 I started my own company! With a little pushing from Dave, I finally worked up the courage to quit my office job and start my own marketing consultancy. Zephyr Cove Consulting was born and has been an amazing adventure! I'm lucky to have found fantastic clients that have stood by and supported me during our lows this summer.

We had our wedding reception! Since we had such a small ceremony in Mexico, we decided to have a big beach BBQ reception a few months later here in Lake Tahoe. It was a great excuse to get all of our friends and family together for a great weekend, and to continue the wedding celebration!

I surprised Dave with a fun birthday weekend including a Moroccan cooking class and an intro flight lesson over Lake Tahoe!

We completed 4 remodel projects! We managed to complete and survive quite a few remodel projects on the house! It started with changing our 3 bedroom into a 4 bedroom with a remodel of our 2nd floor. We also did a complete makeover on our guest bath with dramatic changes! We expanded our deck and built a small patio for a new hot tub -- excellent investment. Finally, we wrapped up the year with a complete fireplace overhaul in our living room! Stay tuned for posts detailing our projects soon!

We competed in Vail Resorts' #EpicRace and skied 26 resorts across the US and Europe in 29 days! When we first heard about the race, we knew we had found the perfect honeymoon! The race took us not only from Tahoe to Utah and Colorado, but also to Minnesota, Michigan, Austria, Switzerland, and France! We skied some of the most diverse terrain around the world, made some incredible friends, and truly had a once in a lifetime experience! This trip definitely helped us end our crazy year on a high note.  To read more about out our trip, click the Epic Race tab on the right hand side of the page.

After such a crazy year, we are definitely excited to see what 2014 has in store for us!

Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year!

#EpicRace Final Day Recap (Part 1)

Friday, December 27, 2013

We've been waiting to post about the final day of the EpicRace until the official results came out, which were released earlier today. First of all, a big congrats to those Top 10 winners, especially our friends Joe, Steve, and John!
Congrats Joe, Steve, and John on your Epic Win!
I also want to emphasize what an amazing experience this entire trip was for us. It was the perfect honeymoon after a very crazy year. So even though we're not in that Top 10, we still had a blast. Vail just posted Episode #5 which is a great recap on the final day, and features us again!.  Now on to how we lost...

After much discussion and time spent analyzing the map looking at lift times, runs, etc. Dave and I decided that we were going to go with a strategy that would either completely pay off or would definitely make us lose. Figured it was time to really go all out. So bright and early Friday morning, we set off for a quick walk up the mountain to our hotel's closest gondola's mid-station. There were a few new runs opening that were easily accessible from that lift and we figured if we started at the mid-station, we could be a few cars ahead of the group starting at the base. However, if one of the checkpoints wasn't on this lift, we'd be behind as we'd have to race to the bottom and jump on the correct lift.

We stood at the lift and anxiously awaited the email at 9am that detailed the scavenger hunt. When it finally hit our inbox, we realized that the clues were actual puzzles! There were several locations for the 3 towns of Merible, Les Allures, and Brides-Les-Bains, and you only had to check off one location per town. At the checkpoint there would be an EpicRace sticker and that sticker must be visible in your photos/video submitted for it to count. Here's an example of one of the puzzles. Um yeah, try solving this without a pencil and paper - it's tough!

Meribel Location A
Discover the next location by solving the clues below and using the keypad on your phone (diagram below) for clues 2, 4, 5, 7, and 8 to reveal the letter.  For example, the second letter for the number 4 on the keypad corresponds to the letter H.

“He’s got the best view in the house from this high up perch”

1)      _____  The year Vail was founded (no need for keypad)
2)      _____  Subtract the last number from the second number.  Use the last letter from the keypad number.
3)      _____  The first letter of a ski resort in Lake Tahoe on the Epic Pass (no need for keypad).
4)      _____  A letter represented by the third number of the answer to #1.  Use the last letter from the keypad number.
5)      _____  Subtract 3 from the number of ski resorts in North America on the Epic Pass.  Use the first letter from the keypad number.
6)      _____  The first letter in the name of this street in Breckenridge where all the action can be found (no need for keypad).
7)      _____  A letter represented by the number of ski resorts “where Epic begins.”  Use the first letter from the keypad number.
8)      _____  A letter represented the number of this chairlift at Beaver Creek where you can take in a view of the Gore Range.  Use the second letter from the keypad number.

The answer is SNOWMAN, although at the time, I was pretty sure it spelled SAULIRE after solving the first letter, the name of a lift at the base and we had started in the wrong spot. So we raced to the bottom, skiing as fast as we could and ran on to the Gondola.  Rather than double checking, we moved on to the next puzzle for the town of Les Allures.  Once we got to the top of the gondola, we started scanning everywhere for the sticker.  Had we actually solved the puzzle, we would of known to look for a snowman. We found it after a few valuable minutes of searching, and quickly recorded our video.

Next it was time for probably one of the fastest runs of my entire life down 4,000 vertical feet from the summit to the base. It was absolutely amazing and probably my best skiing ever! Once we were back at the bottom, it was time to hike/run over to a different gondola that would take us down to Les Allures and then to Brides-Les-Bains. We dropped our skis off at the top since we wouldn't need them for the rest of the race. As soon as we hopped into the gondola, our ski boots and jackets came off and our snow boots went on. We also uploaded our video to YouTube while we had a few minutes of down time so that it would be ready once the final picture was taken for upload. 
We had solved the following puzzle for Les Allures:
Les Allues Location B
Complete the clues below to find this location.  Using the answers, place the letter of the corresponding number in the black (ie. Farmer, letter 2 = A)


1.       Trail named after a girl at Afton Alps
2.       Unbuckle with the Angel’s at this resort
3.       Sit here in an Adirondack Chair at Heavenly
4.       Catch the gondola here at Keystone
5.       3pm ever day at Beaver Creek
6.       A "spooky looking dude" from Kirkwood

The answer to this one, is CHURH! From our previous recon earlier in the week, we knew exactly where it was. Once the gondola arrived at the station, we dumped our backpack and ski boots and sprinted towards the church. Oh, I forgot to mention that the entire valley was completely socked in fog, so dense you could barely see 15 feet in front of you! Although it added a fun element to the race that morning, it also made it a bit tougher to find the church or see any of the other racers for that matter! We made it though, took our picture, and started the run back to the Gondola.  

At the Church in Les Allures!
Back in the gondola, it was time to solve the puzzle for the final town. We had a bit more difficulty with this one. We tried one puzzle first but couldn't figure out where it was sending us, so we moved on to this one:

Brides-les-Bains Location B
Answer the clues below to reveal the location where you do the activity found within the boxed area.

Clues -  Name each of the following Resort’s terrain parks:
1)      Northstar
2)      Vail
3)      Keystone
4)      Canyons
5)      Breckenridge

The answer to this one, is SKATE. Although skate park came to mind, we focused instead on ice skate, and began looking for an ice skating rink in town on Google Maps. We couldn't find anything definitive so we decided to just look for it as we ran.  When we arrived at the station, we once again dumped our gear and began running as fast as we could into the town looking for an ice rink. We finally found a tiny one outside of the tourist office, but there wasn't an EpicRace sticker! There were quite a few other racers at this point around the tourist office, and we heard them talking about gondola checkpoints at either end of the town. We decided to scrap the clue, and just follow some other people to the last checkpoint since we knew we'd lost at this point.  We finally found it at the VERY end of town, easily half a mile away. We snapped our photo, and uploaded as fast as we could.

At the red Gondola in Brides-Les-Bains!
By the time we uploaded, we came in around 70th place, however, this number dropped significantly as people realized they hadn't completed the race correctly and were having to re-do their submissions. The most common mistake people made was not having the EpicRace sticker in the photo. So we ended up sitting closer to 50th. Not bad out of 131 people!

Although we were bummed that we hadn't done as well as we wanted, we were still stoked and excited about how much fun that final morning was and we were happy that it was actually challenging.  We also knew we took a risk by choosing our starting location, and that's okay.  After talking to other racers, and taking some time to breathe, we realized that the fastest way to win the race that morning was to never actually put on your skis! Starting in Brides and working your way up to the final checkpoint was the fastest way since you wouldn't lose time skiing down and could upload from the summit. We were definitely banking on more skiing being involved which is why we chose the strategy we did, but looking back, we should of known that to make it fair to all ski levels and abilities, it wouldn't really play a factor. We also found out that there was a closer checkpoint at the library in Les Allures that was literally right outside of the gondola, which would have been much faster than running all the way to the church and back. And in Brides, the checkpoint was a skate park which we ran right by looking for the ice rink.

Now that the official results have been published, Dave and I finished at #41 & 42. So although we didn't win the pass for life, we still each get a free Epic Pass for the 2014/2015 season. Plus, it was an amazing trip where we met lots of great new friends and skied some incredible places.  Now the debate begins... do we try our luck again next year? :)

Stay tuned for Part 2 as I recap the Après Ski party and final few days in Europe...

Christmas and Strawberry Snowballs

Thursday, December 26, 2013

It's been a whirlwind couple of days as we squeeze the entire Christmas season into about 48 hours. We finally got home from Europe around 1:30am early Monday morning (I'll post final thoughts and recaps on the last day of the race soon). When we walked in the door, we were greeted with a cute little Christmas tree already decorated with lights! Such a fun surprise after an incredibly long day of traveling. After a few hours of sleep, it was time to get up and get ready the house ready for Christmas!

Even though we had just gotten back, Dave and I were hosting Christmas Eve dinner for his mom, sister, and grandma Lolly - the Christmas Tree culprits. I love hosting dinner parties, especially for holidays. Unfortunately with the limited time we had to get ready, I had to simplify things a bit, but there was still time for a few fun and easy touches.

I knew I wanted to incorporate some fruit into the meal somehow. We went a full 2 weeks without fruit and hardly any veggies while we were in Europe, so I was really craving some fresh produce. While we were at Costco I stumbled across some gorgeous strawberries and knew immediately what I wanted to make -- Strawberry Snowballs!

With the limited time I had to get everything ready, these were the perfect dessert to satisfy my fruit craving and of course, who doesn't love things dipped in chocolate!

Amazingly fresh and delicious strawberries!
You can pick these up at Michaels Craft Store

The "snow" for the snowballs!

These were a big hit with just the right touch of whimsy, and made me feel like I had at least done something a little festive since I didn't have time for a full on baking marathon.

Strawberry Snowballs

You'll need:
- 1 large box of fresh strawberries (rinsed and patted dry)
- 1 package of White Chocolate Candy Melts
- White sparking sugar sprinkles (sanding sugar also works)
- Double boiler
- Parchment paper

1) Melt the white chocolate candy in a heatproof bowl or pan over a pot of lightly simmering water. Keep an eye on the chocolate and stir occasionally.

2) Once the chocolate is melted, set the pot aside for a min or two to allow the chocolate to cool slightly.

3) Dip one strawberry at a time in to the melted chocolate, leaving the green end out.

4)  Place the chocolate covered strawberry on a sheet of parchment paper. Immediately sprinkle the sparking sugar sprinkles over the chocolate so they'll stick.

5) Allow the strawberries to cool at room temperature before sticking in the fridge to keep fresh until the party.

We hope everyone had a wonderful holiday spent with friends and family! Hard to believe it's time to get ready for New Years!

Happy Holidays!

Mountain #25 of #EpicRace -- Méribel

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Today marked mountain #25, the last mountain before the big finale tomorrow. We saved Méribel for last so that it would be an easy day, since we'd already skied most of the mountain earlier in the week. Want to save our energy for the big day tomorrow!

We met up with Olympian Kaylin Richardson and the video guy Eric from Vail for some more filming this morning as well. They tagged along with us as we went to the very back of the valley to the base of the Mont Vallon lift for our check-in.  The lift takes you to the highest point in Méribel, but unfortunately it doesn't open until Saturday. We may have to ski just one extra day to check it out.

We had fun filming with Kaylin and Eric, and will be excited to see the footage. Of course the light was SUPER flat out today as a storm is rolling in so I skied rather slowly and in a snowplow most of the time haha. Of course the day we ski with an olympian, I ski like I'm 12.  I also found out what vertigo feels like today. The alps hardly have any trees like the ski hills in the states, which can make skiing in flat light very difficult.  It's just a complete sea of white and you have no sense of which way you're going. Unfortunately I ended up feeling quite sick, and was not a huge fan of skiing today.

After we did our check-in video, we headed down to Méribel-Mottaret, the upper village. They have a giant air bag that you can do jumps on to and there was a large group of EpicRacers meeting at noon to watch/jump. We were there for probably a good hour watching different racers, Kaylin, and Eric all attempt different jumps and to cheer them on. Afterwards, we grabbed some lunch with Joe, Steve, and John again before taking one last lift up and skiing back home. We're expecting more snow overnight, although we're not quite sure how much yet.

Tomorrow morning will be an interesting day and we've been pouring over the map trying to figure out our strategy for tomorrow.  At this point it's kind of a crap shoot on where to start. Vail hasn't really given out too many clues for what the race will entail in the morning. I think we'll just have to pick our starting point and go with it, and hopefully it works out in our favor.  We'll try to update everyone on how it turns out tomorrow, but Vail is throwing a big après-ski party after the race ends tomorrow so we can all celebrate completing the 26 mountains. Should be a really fun time!

For our photo/video requirements, we completed the following check-points.

1)  Base of Pas Du Lac Lift

2) Top of Burgin Peak

3) Base of Mont Vallon Lift

Mountains #23 & #24 -- Orelle & Val Thorens

After taking a much needed day off, which consisted of us sleeping until about 10am, breakfast around noon, lounging about, and cooking dinner for some other EpicRacers, it was time to get back on the hill.  We saved the longest check-in trek for last.

Orelle is a town that is approx. 70km away from Méribel by car. As we found out on Tuesday, it is about 21 miles away on skis, going in a fairly direct route. Up and over the first mountain, and then the 2nd mountain. We met up with some of our racer friends including Joe, Steve, and John so we'd have more company for the long day. We also picked up another racer, Jen, along the way.

Dave & Joe

Jen, John, and Steve

We got an early start right when the lifts opened at 9am. There wasn't a ton of skiing involved as it was mostly traveling from one lift to the next as we made our way over, but that left plenty of time for chatting. It took us over 2 hours to get to Orelle. Due to the lack of snow, we weren't able to ski down to the town, and instead had to download a gondola for a 25min ride into the town.  It was quite a deserted looking town, that doesn't get much (if any) direct sunlight during the winter. Luckily we made it to the tourist office before they closed for their 2 hour lunch at noon. Definitely not a place I'd want to be stuck waiting for 2 hours.

EpicRacer friends on the lift!

Once we had our stamp, it was back up the gondola for another 25min ride up the mountain.  We weren't able to go to the highest peak like our checklist wanted us to since the lifts were closed, but we were able to snap a few quick pics/videos and head towards Val Thorens.

Val Thorens
Over in Val Thorens we were all ready for lunch. We found a great little sandwich shop and some tables outside in the sun and out of the wind that were a perfect spot. They had a great combo with a sandwich, fries, soda and water for a fixed price, and a discount if you ordered 2 of the combos.  Dave and I of course ordered the 2 combos, and asked if they could switch the soda and water for a beer. They said, "no problem" -- by far the greatest lunch deal we have found this entire trip.

We took 1 run that was out of the way to try and check out the Glacier de Péclet. We couldn't really tell the difference though between what was just the mountain and what was considered the glacier once we reached the top. We did have one awesome long run back to the bottom that made the detour worth it. Then it was time to head back to Méribel. A few more lifts and a couple long runs later we had finally made it back to our hotel. A nice 42 mile round trip adventure on skis!

For our photo/video check-ins, we completed the following:


1) Bottom of the Les 3 Vallées Express in Orelle

2) Rosaël Lift

3) Near the sign for the Bouchet Lift (we couldn't do the check-in at the top since the lifts were closed.)

1) Base of the Grand Fond Gondola

2) Top of the Funitel Peclet

3) Riding the Magic Carpet

Mountains #21 & #22 of #EpicRace -- St. Marin & Les Menuires

On our 2nd day in Les 3 Vallées, we decided to ski over to the towns of St. Martin de Belleville and Les Menuires to check those off our list. It was a gorgeous morning with not a cloud in the sky, so we definitely were not complaining about having to go ski again! To get to these towns, we headed up the opposite side of the valley as we did to go to Courchevel and La Tania. 2 lifts later and we were at the top of the mountain separating the two valleys.

It was one long run down into the town of St. Martin, but unfortunately the snow wasn't the greatest. We skied through another tunnel under the road to get down to the village before setting off on foot to look for the tourist office. The town is definitely very quaint and sleepy from one we could tell. The most 'established' looking though compared to other newly built up resort towns.  Once we got our stamp, it was time to head back out of town all the way to the top of the mountain again.

Next, we skied into the town of Les Menuires via a very long catwalk. Surprisingly we were able to ski right through to the other side and right to the lift we needed, without having to take a single chairlift.  One of our checkpoints took us to the top of La Masse, where the Men's Slalom was held in the 1992 Winter Olympics. It had another gorgeous viewpoint from the top, and then probably one of the best runs we've had this entire trip back to the bottom. It's amazing when you can ski almost 3,000 vertical feet in one single run.

On the way back, we stopped in the town to find the tourist office. It is definitely a much more modern city than St. Martin, and has this massive spire structure in the middle that looks almost like it is out of the Jetsons. Definitely an odd futuristic type look. We didn't stay too long as we decided to eat lunch back at our flat in Méribel, so we headed home.

For our photo/video requirements, we completed the following checkpoints:

1) The bottom of the St. Martin 1 Gondola

2) Le Chardon Bleu Restaurant

3) Riding the Palma Lift


1) Top of La Masse 2 Gondola (highest point of Les Menuires)

2) View of Les Menuires in the background

3) Pointe De La Masse

Only 4 more to go!

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