Holiday road trip

By Jordan Flower

Staff Photographer

Every year the BG Outdoor Program led by Director Bryan Cavins heads west of the Mississippi River, west of the central plains and into the mountains for a one week ski and snowboard excursion.

Students may have seen the large posters hanging around campus about the trip. Now $540 to a college student will almost pay for books for one semester. But 68 students blew their book budget and went to Steamboat Springs, Colo. the week after finals.

“It was a deal,” said Cat Stetz, freshman. “I’ve been out west before and it cost well over a thousand bucks a person.”

The trip out

We left on a new coach bus, that had only 11,000 miles as our first driver stated. We had just started on a 25 hour road trip to Colorado which means we wouldn’t arrive until Saturday.

“It was really long, but it was worth it,” said Bridget Haley, freshman.

We passed through Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska before we got to Colorado. But we only took four different interstate highways to get to Steamboat Springs; I-75 north to I-80/90 all the way across to Denver where we picked up I-76 through the Rabbit Ears Mountain Pass. The pass this time of year is a treacherous series of tunnels and winding highways, but we had no problem traversing them on the way there.

According to the Federal Department of Transportation, a bus driver can drive for 10 hours before having to stop. However, before they can drive another 10 hours they must rest for eight hours. Therefore, we actually had three drivers to get us to Steamboat Springs. The first driver drove us all the way to Peru, Ill., where we picked up our second driver who drove us to Kearney, Neb. In Kearney, Jurgen Moose boarded the bus and drove us all the way to Steamboat Springs.


Our first day we were on the 10,568 foot Mt. Werner to ride some of the 2,939 acres of slopes. There was a 3,668 foot vertical drop from the top of the mountain to the ski base.

“I’ve skied before, but it’s completely different out here,” said Bridget Haley, freshman.

In comparison, Mad River Mountain in Ohio is only 144 acres according to its Web site. With all that space on the mountain it’s hard to say if the mountain is ever full. And no one in our group ever waited more than five minutes for a lift.


Another upside to the trip were the living conditions – we didn’t stay in the local resort hotel, we stayed in condos. Each condo had a full kitchen, and one or two bedrooms, with normally four people to a condo.

Another great gathering point was the outdoor hot tub. Every night it was packed with people, designed to sit 10 people there were more like 15 to 20 on some nights. Most students were up late hanging out, gaming or out on the town. But everyone was up early, around 6:30 a.m., the next day to hit the freshly groomed slopes.


“Flippin awesome,” Stetz said about the trip so far.

No one had yet to complain about anything on the trip. One of the routes I rode was called “Why Not” and is the longest run on the mountain at three miles. It runs around the east side of the mountain giving riders a full view of the Yampa River Valley.

Other runs like “Vagabond,” “Heavenly Daze” and “Vogue” offer gorgeous views of the resorts and surrounding mountains. Runs like “Christmas Tree Bowl” or the entire “Morning Side Park” offer runs that give a rider more of a back country feel while still being covered by the ski patrol. And for the first time since we had been there, it started snowing.


Both snowboarders and skiers want fresh powder in the morning. It started snowing heavily last night. We woke up to it still snowing on top of around one foot of accumulation. At this point, Cavins began worrying about the trip home, but frustration was quickly lost in champagne powder bliss.

It snowed all day long at a constant heavy speed and by 5 p.m. there was another foot of snow on the ground. Highways in the area were shut down, and the Rabbit Ears Pass that we came through to arrive was closed. The other pass through the mountains was two hours north at Fort Collins. The morning would further tell us how we should go.


The snow continued to fall all night and into early morning. We had to be out of the Condos by 9 a.m. which wasn’t going to be a problem until the storm hit. We went downtown to kill time and allow road crews to do their job, clearing the snow. We left downtown at noon and started our soon to be 36 hour trip back. What is normally a two hour drive into Denver took us five hours to make it to Golden, where we stopped for the night.

Making it to Golden was an ordeal all in itself. About an hour into the trip one of the chains that our driver attached before we left broke and started banging against the side of the bus. As we made it to the inter change to get on I-76 we stopped once more for food.

Once we were on I-76 the roads weren’t that bad in most areas but some were icy, snow inundated roads threatened to stop us from making it to our destination within our time constraints. Four hours into our trip we had reached Golden, Colo., home of the first ever Coors brewery.

We were checked into a Holiday Inn and were told that because of the storm all the restaurants in the area were closed, the hotel was going to provide us with dinner that night and we were to be on the bus by 5 a.m. the next morning.


Friday morning we all loaded back on the bus with a very tired silence. Most people went back to sleep, some stayed up and read or watched movies on their laptops. Once we made it past Denver the roads seemed to clear up but the remains of the storm were very present. Tracks were still in the snow of where cars had passed by and some trucks were still flipped by the side of the roads.

We drove until around 9 a.m. and stopped for food. The rest of the trip went without a hitch, we pulled into Bowling Green at 6 a.m. the Saturday before Christmas. We all parted with happy memories of a great trip.