Answer: find ridiculous deals online on a cabin 5 minutes from the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. Since we were going to Denver, CO for Christmas this year, we decided to fly out right after school let out, and go on a 2-day getaway to Estes Park, CO in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. In Denver, it was 50 degrees every day the week of Christmas! Up in the mountains, it was a little colder, but when we arrived, there was no snow. Our cabin was off of a highway leading into the Park, and we could look out our window and the Big Thompson River, complete with ice chunks, was RIGHT there. The wonderful woman who made our wedding cake offered to make a cake to eat for our first anniversary. She reproduced our wedding cake in miniature, and it was just as delicious as it was last year. If you ever need to order a cake for anything, ask for buttercream frosting with coarse sugar crystals pressed into it. It makes it look like snow and makes the frosting crunch in your mouth. See:
Unfortunately, the cake slid around a bit so the bottom garnish frosting got scraped off, but you get the picture.If you ever need a really fancy cake and live in Denver area, call Nancy Best. She is the best cake baker ever.
Day 2 at the cabin, we rented cross country skis. This was my first attempt at cross-country skiing, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Cross country is so much better than downhill because the workout is more aerobic, and I feel more in control. Typically while downhill skiing, I feel that I am going to die. So cross country was definitely a step up for me. First off, we went to Sprague Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. It was touted as the place to learn because the paths are wide and flat, and I found that to be true. Unfortunately, the snow was not very thick here, so we had to hike through water/mud in a couple places. Also, Austin decided to explore a different path, so I did get to try out some different, more difficult trails. It was the perfect warm-up for Bear Lake and Nymph lake further into the park.
Next, we went to Bear Lake. We were so grateful to have Austin’s mom’s car, which has fancy-schmancy traction control for snow. It was snowing fairly hard and the roads in the park were not plowed very well. We drove to Bear Lake, skied around the lake, and then decided to ski/hike up to some upper lakes. The picture above is of Nymph Lake from above. When we started climbing a steep hill with a large drop-off, I started getting scared about going too fast and losing control going down this mountain. So, we stopped here to take pictures and started back down. However, Austin was the one who had problems with going downhill. During our first go of it, Austin crashed into a snowbank and his ski was buried in about 4 feet of powder. After that, his ski kept coming off randomly and he would crash. I am grateful that with all of his falls (to my 2-3 falls), he did not re-injure his back. It was hilarious to watch, but he remarked that it was because his skis were much faster than mine.
By that point, we had been skiing for several hours, and we decided to go to one last spot that was recommended to us to check it out. Unfortunately, the road was closed. We were both exhausted from being out in the cold and working so hard going up the mountains that we just decided to come back to the cabin and relax in our hot tub for 2 overlooking the river.
Our last event of note was going to the Dunraven Inn for dinner. This was an Italian/American restaurant, and I was nervous that Austin would not like it because he is relatively picky about Italian restaurants. We were pleasantly surprised. I ordered baked ziti and Austin ordered steak cacciatore. The food and service were absolutely amazing. When they found out it was our anniversary, they gave us a complimentary dessert: homemade ice cream! What an amazing end to a great day.