Last week, I wrote about the best deals on ski passes around Boulder.
I know that to non-skiers/boarders, ski talk is nothing but vapid and vacuous, but the passing of the days has got me salivating for snow — so here are some slightly sketchy but still serviceable ski-town-on-sale savings suggestions.
First and foremost, figure out a way to stay overnight cheaply. Gas is incredibly expensive, and everyone hates ski traffic anyway — so get twice as much skiing for the same amount of gas.
Tell your friends you’re doing them a favor by reducing congestion, and get them to sponsor you. Then all you have to worry about is where to sleep the night — considerably more difficult in the winter mountains, since there are the slight inconveniences of hypothermia and frostbite to worry about.
Unless you’ve insulated and winterized your car, you’ll need a little more shelter.
There’s always the possibility of making friends with slightly wealthier folk on the slopes or that evening — but how often does that really work? Besides, chances are the really friendly people are also looking for a couch to surf.
A more fun — although definitely more taxing — alternative is to build a snow cave, and sleep in that. Snow is remarkably insulating, since it doesn’t ever drop below 32 degrees — a perfectly acceptable temperature as long as you also bring along a decent sleeping bag.
Last winter, though, my hot water bottle leaked in my bag, and by the morning my bag was frozen to the pad which was frozen to the ice below me.
Barring any other unforeseen incidents, a good cave can take only an hour or two to build, if you find the right snowbank — but if you find yourself wandering through flat, shallow snow as the sun starts to set, this may not be the best choice.
The best fall-back plan is probably the parking garage. Look for an underground one, which keeps temperatures relatively constant, and do some late-afternoon reconnaissance.
Then stay away — to keep your profile low, don’t enter earlier than 10 or 11 p.m., and the later the better; stay out instead, and try your hand at option No. 1: making rich (and already-housed) friends.
If your mojo wasn’t on that evening, pull into the darkest corner and be surreptitious about crawling into your bag. Just make sure you leave early as well, and if you do wake up with a flashlight in your face, a simple excuse like “I couldn’t get my car to start” or “I have narcolepsy” tends to work pretty well.
My favorite cheap skiing food is the classic PB and J sandwich; it’s mostly sugar, to give you energy right now, but still has a little fat from the peanuts to keep you warm. Maybe the best part is that I have yet to see peanut butter freeze; unlike chocolate or energy bars, PB and J won’t chip your teeth on the coldest days.
As for the other meals, bring a thermos and oatmeal, hot chocolate and ramen noodles. Most gas stations will let you take hot water for free, and if the water is close to boiling, oatmeal and ramen can passively cook in a couple minutes. Pasta occasionally does too, if you’re lucky, but by that point it’s tough to see where the watery pasta starts and the pasta-y water ends.
At the end of the weekend, you very well may have lost a few pounds, and Tra-Ling’s will seem like gourmet cuisine.
But because of the hardships you’ve been through, your stories will be more intense, your goggle tan darker and your wallet thicker than those of your friends.
Vivian Underhill’s Boulder Frugalista column runs every Tuesday in the Colorado Daily.