A March 2002 trip
to Steamboat Springs by Armed With Passport
Quote: Three things blend together nicely to make Steamboat Springs a one of a kind place: it has a friendly "ski-cowboy" demeanor about it; it has truly extreme sporting possibilities; and it is located in a beautiful setting in the Yampa Valley.
The name of the town is Steamboat Springs; the name of the ski resort is Steamboat.
The Yampa Valley Regional Airport at Hayden is located twenty-two miles from Steamboat Springs, making for a long and expensive "alpine taxi" ride to your hotel. The round trip price is ; just call them to have them get you at your hotel on the day you leave. There is no way to get around this expense unless you rent a car or know somebody who can pick you up.
Hotel | "Fairfield Inn - Steamboat Springs"
There is a relatively unsecure place behind the breakfast bar area where you can leave your skis, poles, boats, or snowboards when you're not using them. The room wasn't locked, but we felt comfortable leaving our stuff there (it was rented anyway).
The location of the hotel isn't great; it is about three miles from the downtown part of Lincoln Avenue, where the shops and restaurants are. It is also a mile to get to the base of the ski village. This was a great disappointment for us at first, but we soon realized that location didn't matter because there was a shuttle relatively close (you had to walk about 100 yards to it). The shuttle is free and runs on time. It also goes to the ski village and downtown.
The staff was very friendly and especially helpful. They did have a lot of trouble accepting our Marriott hotel voucher, but they eventually sorted it out.
There is no website for this Fairfield Inn, but some information and reservations can be made for this 65 room hotel at Creative Hotel Associates - Colorado.
I recommend this hotel to people who want a clean and convenient room at a budget price.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on April 24, 2002
Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott Steamboat Springs
3200 South Lincoln St
Steamboat Springs, Colorado 80477
I met my exasperated wife and an unhappy waitress at the table. As I recovered from my journey to the restaurant, I realized that the decor of the place was quite nice and that the place was packed. (Note: We reserved a lunch table the night before). The windows in the back of the restaurant face down the mountain and show off the sweeping Yampa Valley below.
We ordered "Oysters Selena", which are oysters wrapped in bacon cooked in an artichoke casserole topped with Jarlsberg cheese. (For some reason this dish is very popular in Steamboat). Delicious! We also got French onion soup in a huge crock also topped with Jarlsberg. (We had more Jarlsberg at this meal than we usually consume in a year). I ordered a veal scallopine baguette with mozzarella (change of pace, cheese-wise), onions and peppers. We washed all this down with lots of water, since beers are verboten at a ski area that has pine trees right smack in the middle of some of its runs.
The food was good, if not great (except for the oysters; they were great), but I think this is a very good dining experience to have in the middle of a mountain. For dinner and Sunday brunch, they ship non-skiers up the gondola from a special line apart from the skiers and snowboarders.
Steamboat Ski Area
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
The restaurant is located in downtown Steamboat Springs on the main drag, Lincoln Street. Although there are accommodations for skiers downtown, most people stay up on the mountain and, therefore, may miss out on this place. It is worth it to take the free downtown shuttle in the morning and maybe start the ski day a little later just to get a taste of Winona's.
All the food that I had was great, but the real draw here are the homemade cinnamon buns. They were actually written about in Gourmet magazine and Bon Appetit, as Winona's sees fit to mention whenever they can. They are length-wise the size of a frisbee, but very thick and covered with tons of gooey white frosting. These were given a hard to earn A-plus rating by both my wife and me.
Hungry from hard skiing the day before, we didn't hold back on ordering lots of other cheap comfort food. We ordered a western omelette, a sugar-coated Monte Cristo (ham and cheese dipped in batter and fried), homefried potatoes, and, my favorite, green chili cheese grits (mildly spicy and tangy). Everything hit the spot.
No reservations are taken at Winona's, so I advise getting up early to get a table, especially when its too cold to wait outside. We were there before 8:30 a.m. and still had to wait about twenty minutes. It is hard to stand there in the crowded restaurant and smell the cinnamon buns and know that you have to wait to get one, so be prepared for this torture if you come late.
Winona's has a take-out window for everything (you can most likely call in an order) and a bakery counter filled with lots of goodies (we were too stuffed to think of more food).
Apologies for the lack of a picture; it was too cold outside to take one!
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 24, 2002
617 Lincoln Ave
Steamboat Springs, Colorado 80487
Restaurant | "Steamboat Brewery and Tavern"
The Steamboat Brewery and Tavern brews its own beers. It has quite a good selection ranging in texture from pale ales to hearty stouts. We sampled the Stout, the Alpenglow Strong Ale, and a brown ale, which were all good, especially the Alpenglow Strong Ale. They even brew their own root beer for those patrons who want something without alcohol.
We didn't have a chance to eat as it was to early in the afternoon for us, but other people that we had spoken to recommended the food. The menu includes starters, such as "Tex-Mex green chile pork stew", sandwiches like "Italian muffaletta" and "1/2 pound burgers". Entrees consisted of "Kodiak fresh grilled salmon" and "pan fried veal liver and onions with crisp bacon."
This place makes a great apres-ski place as you can drink the pain in your legs away while still having a good menu to nosh on if you get hungry. The wait staff is like all the people in Steamboat Springs, friendly and nice to talk to.
It is also located near the downtown free shuttle stop.
Mahogany Ridge Brewery and Grill
435 Lincoln Ave
Steamboat Springs, Colorado 80487
Attraction | "Lincoln Avenue - Downtown Steamboat Springs"
We arrived in the downtown area rather effortlessly by taking the free shuttles that the town of Steamboat Springs provides. It took maybe fifteen to twenty minutes to get downtown from our hotel as the shuttle had to stop in the ski village on the way. The shuttle makes very frequent stops; the stops are sometimes only 200 yards away from the previous one. While this may be annoying once you are in the shuttle, it is nice to know that you usually don't have far to walk when you are out in the cold and are looking to find a shuttle stop.
Lincoln Avenue contains shops, sulfur springs, hotels, and great views of the Yampa River and the Howlesen Hill Ski Jump. I will go over some of the highlights.
Fiddle Fern is an great antique store containing some valuable items, like furniture, and some interesting knick-knacks, like an old Washington DC plate that we bought. The lady who worked there was very nice and helped us out by telling us a lot about the items. Fiddle Fern is located at 1103 Lincoln Avenue.
"Heart Spring" in the Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Center. We only peered in to look, but this facility has spas, lap pools, a huge slide, and therapy rooms for weary skiers and hikers. It is one the seven springs near this area that used to make gushing sounds like a "steamboat"; these odd noises from the springs are what gave the town its nautical name. The spring and recreation center are located on 3rd and Lincoln Avenue.
The Alpine Bistro, Winona's, and The Steamboat Brewery and Tavern. These three places are located downtown and are worth the shuttle bus journey. Please see their respective entries in this journal.
Space Station Gas sign. This sign, which must be a remnant of the early 1960's (when the USSR and USA were putting things into space), is pretty cool looking, in my opinion. Its connected to a Conoco at the corner of 7th and Lincoln Avenue.
FM Light & Sons. This is a huge western gear store that has been around a long time. If you need it, its here. Its located at 830 Lincoln Avenue.
We also went into some art galleries, souvenir shops, clothing boutiques, a used book vendor, a ceramic dealer, and a gourmet kitchen/cooking store. Lincoln Avenue is a great place to explore, just plan on bundling up and wearing boots in the winter.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on April 25, 2002
1255 South Lincoln Avenue
Steamboat Springs, Colorado 80477
Attraction | "Steamboat"
After two runs, I went to some harder trails (blue squares) which were plentiful and then after I felt comfortable (I had never skied on parabolics before), I headed for the black diamonds. These runs were excellent with plenty of good bumps and absolutely no ice (I grew up skiing on the East coast). Those trail intersections that were annoying when I was on the easiest trails were now quite welcome as they give you a chance to recover in a flat and "non-mogully" area before taking on the next stretch of the hard run.
I stayed away from the Christmas tree run, where the skiers not only guide around moguls, but also must avoid pine trees. I did some "double-diamonds" and these were really quite extreme, but very challenging.
The famous "champagne powder" was not available for us to ski in, as the snow had come before we arrived in Steamboat Springs and had been groomed the night before.
The lifts and trails can be a bit confusing as things that look like they should link up on the trail map don't actually connect in reality. The best thing to do is to go down the mountain without a plan.
I recommend making lunch reservations at Hazie's (see journal entry) the day before and if you need rental equipment make a reservation at Steamboat Ski Rentals, (970-871-5346). Arrive early at the rental place (i.e., before the lifts start) to avoid the crowds of people fitting into boots and skis.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 25, 2002
Steamboat Ski and Snowboard School
2305 Mt. Werner Circle
Steamboat Springs, Colorado 80487
I was disrupted by a small ruckus maybe about ten rows in front of me. I hadn't been paying close attention because I was reading, but I could see that all the flight attendants were making a fuss over one of the passengers. They all wore silly smiles on their faces and seemed to all want to talk with the passenger. All I could see of the person in question was a yellow hat, a yellow cowboy hat to be exact.
The flight soon filled up and I forgot about it.
When we landed about forty minutes later (the plane had trouble finding the runway), we quickly exited via a slippery and freezing sidewalk. We entered the ground transportation area, which was all abuzz because of the famous man standing there waiting for his snowboard to come down the baggage shoot.
It wasn't someone that I recognized, but the man in question certainly stood out. Everything that he wore and that he carried with him was yellow. He had on the aforementioned yellow cowboy hat, yellow sunglasses, a yellow winter coat, yellow slacks, and wonderful yellow cowboy boots. To round out the ensemble, the man carried a bright yellow breifcase.
I asked the lady at the Alpine Taxi counter, "Who is that?"
She said, "That's Banana George!"
Banana George was surrounded by adoring fans, mostly young women, who all posed for pictures with him. Banana George's wife stood by and seemed to take in all in stride.
The Alpine Taxi porter told me that Banana George was famous for his barefoot water skiing jumps and tricks and that he comes to Steamboat because he also likes to snowboard.
Toni got some shots of Banana George when the hordes of admirers gave him a little break.
Banana George's full name is George Blair, born in Toledo, Ohio in 1915! 1915! That means he just turned 87! He still snowboards and barefoot skis as well as appears for television and public speaking engagements. He has starred in a movie, Captiva Island (with Arte Johnson and Earnest Borgnine), been on the Today show, Letterman, Regis and Kathy Lee, and Entertainment Tonight. He learned to barefoot waterski at age 46 and is in the Waterski Hall of Fame. He has also broken his back five times during his life. When he is not water-skiing, he is a real estate developer and the holder of three patents.
You can learn more about George Blair (whose favorite food is, not surprisingly, bananas) at bananageorge.com.
May we all live as long and as well as Banana George!
Armed With Passport
Miromar Lakes, Florida