Talk about your epic fail today. I decided several days ago that I wanted to ski Christmas day. I got close, but never made a single turn. Let's look at what turned out to be a waste of a day:
I was up before 7, checking the weather and road reports, and it's not exactly great. Chain restrictions at the tunnel and Vail Pass make me think twice about going. All I have is my car, as I don't trust my truck with its bad clutch and oil leak. At about 8:45 I get a positive road report from Lubin, who is headed to Vail from the west. I check some more reports and leave about 9:15. Way too late, but I've left late before and had great afternoons.
The roads are certainly passable, but I take it slow and arrive at Vail just after noon. I've heard from some that free parking is hard to find in Vail, but others have assured me that it exists and a bus will take you to the lifts. I explored all of Vail's three exits, and none have signs that clearly point to free parking. My GPS is no help. I check out a few of the pay areas, and each would cost me $25 just for the afternoon.
I stop in a 15-minute parking area and try to search for parking information on my phone. Vail's website clearly has parking information, but they've formatted their site in a way where it's not readable on my mobile browser. Phone crashes and reboots. I go to another site and it says parking is free at the golf course, if spots are available.
I get to the golf course lot about 1:00 and put on my boots, grab my skis, and walk to the bus stop. Ugh. The bus schedule is posted at the stop, and during midday the buses only run once an hour. The last one was leaving as I arrived. I seriously don't want to wait another hour for the next bus, the bus ride, the walk to the lifts, and the ride on the chair before I can actually ski. It would probably be 2:30 by then. There's gotta be something else.
I explore other parking lots along the bus route and all are either pass-only or pay-to-park. With snow (and travel back to Boulder) getting worse, I decided that it's not worth using one of my 10 precious Vail/Beaver Creek days to ski less than two hours. Upset at myself that I didn't do proper parking research beforehand and left so late, I turn the car east and go home.
In hindsight, pancakes at my sister's house probably would have been a better plan. I'll just have to make up for today with some really good days at Vail later in the season, assuming I get parking figured out by then.