Tweedle Dum in Winter Park, CO

The Heart of Winter in Winter Park, Colorado

Gratitude.  It leads my daily decisions. As I stare down at my ace wrapped ankle drinking my coffee while my family gets ready to ski, I feel a little sorry for myself.  I only let the feeling linger for a second because, hell, I could have torn a calf muscle, ruptured my ACL or, worse, my achilles, all injuries common among my middle aged tennis community.  I simply sprained an ankle.  Down, but not out.

Sprained Ankle at Winter Park, CO

Tennis will be waiting for me in a few weeks when a lateral step no longer scares me. So quickly back to grateful I go. After all, I get a couple of hours to myself in our quiet little rental condo at the Zepher Mountain Lodge to write this blog, process photos and do things that normally feel decadent amidst work and family (and my tennis obsession). It is a small injury telling me to slow down, take a breath and think about how to move forward.  

Devils Thumb Ranch Heck's

Normally, we ski all day so there is not a lot of time for much else, but yesterday since I could not squeeze my swollen ankle into a ski boot, I got a chance to meet my sisters for a champagne lunch at Devil’s Thumb Ranch.  It has to be in the top 5 of places that I love in Colorado.  Darren and I went for a date weekend last winter.  Aside from Nordic skiing on their pristine property, we sat in Heck’s Tavern at a table for two right next to the giant fireplace and played chess and read books for hours. Yesterday, I was grateful for the opportunity to return with no agenda other than “a good view and a decent glass of wine”  to accurately describe my sister’s criteria for a perfect Saturday lunch in Grand County.  It completely met our expectations especially the Kale and Quinoa Salad with Salmon and, of course, the view.

Ella Skiing Winter ParkTweedleDum Winter Park, CO

Skiing Hughes at Winter Park, Colorado

Zepher Mountain Lodge Hot Tub

Darren took some photos of the kids so I would get to see them in action and I got to hear the “fishing” stories in the hot tub about how much air each of them caught off the jumps in the terrain park.  

The Lodge at SunSpot

Last night we caught a little gondola to the The Lodge at Sunspot and had a Fondue Dinner.  Cheese and Chocolate, Pinot Noir and fun with friends.

And today is Super Bowl Sunday.  Go Broncos!!! 

Plan. Pack. Go.
Where to stay
We usually stay at the Zepher Mountain Lodge.  I find the Slopeside building more convenient than the Riverside building. When you think of the Zepher think location. location. location.  It’s all about the location here.  The condo’s are small, usually clean and adequate, but not much beyond that.  You are paying for the ability to take the kids who have hit their limit back to the condo with ease.  You will also save tons of money on lunch by eating in your own condo.  

Food
Winter Park is a local mountain for us.  We started off our trip stopping in Empire, Colorado at Jenny’s Restaurant.  The draw here is great friendly service and an atmosphere which time forgot.  I guess the place has been there serving food since 1861.  The chili is not bad either. Dairy King is another favorite in Empire.  Milkshakes and french fries are the goto here.

The second night we ate at Lime right at the base next to the Zepher.  The coin Margarita is very good and the Mexican is decent.  Service is no frills, but quick.  The atmosphere is dark and kind of loud.  Avoid getting a table near the door.  It is a small place and at peak times the wait can be epic.

One of our favorite places to bring the kids in town is Hernando’s.  It is great pizza and a fun, loud atmosphere.  Service can be slow and also the wait can be epic even with a reservation.  There is a free shuttle into town at the Zepher.  

The Lodge at Sunspot is at the top of the Zepher lift.  Though there is normally no gondola, they replace about 10 chairs with little 4 person gondolas at night to take guests up to the Sunspot for dinner.  The options are a five course fine dining or a smaller scale more casual fondue.  We went with the fondue.  It is cheese followed by chocolate with a chicken or beef add on option.  We ordered both the beef and the chicken.  It was decent but not amazing.  I think my opinion has to do with having cheese followed by chocolate for dinner.  It is not the best choice for feeling good after your meal, but a fun experience nonetheless.  

Heck’s Tavern at Devil’s Thumb Ranch is a great option for an adult only lunch or dinner.  You have to see my separate post on a Devil’s Thumb date weekend.  If you have never been there, go during the day so you can take in the amazing setting. It is about 8 miles away in Tabernash. Heck’s Tavern is in the center of the main lodge.  It has floor to ceiling windows and a giant 4 -sided fireplace.  I am always a sucker for a fireplace.  The Kale and Quinoa salad was perfect for lunch.  I also tried the Deviled Eggs and some garlic fries both of which I would place in the category of “worth the calories.” 

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