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Advice Needed for US Roadtrip

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
In December 07/January 08 Helen and I are making a road trip through five states and about 20 odd resorts. The itinerary in outline is as follows:
21- 28 Dec Heavenly Ski Heavenly, Squaw, Alpine Meadows, Kirkwood?
29 Dec-10 Jan 08 SLC Ski Alta/Bird,Solitude,Snowbasin,Canyons,
PCMR
11-24 Jan JHMR Ski JH, Grand Targhee
26 Jan-4 Feb Copper Ski Copper, Vail, Breck, Aspen & Aspen
Highlands, Keystone, A-Basin?
4-8 Feb Steamboat Ski Steamboat

After extensive research we booked resorts through our travel agent as prices were roughly comparable and include lift passes for that resort. That means that we will probably spend a reasonable percentage of time skiing at our “home” mountain because of the tickets but we don’t intend to limit ourselves and want to cover as many of the surrounding resorts as appropriate.

We are both level 8-9 and enjoy steeps, bumps, trees and powder and regard our trips to the US as a chance to catch up on the goodies we are sometimes deprived of during the Australian winter. We have been to Colorado,Utah and Wyoming before, so a number of the resorts listed are favorites from previous visits.

We are renting a car (Subaru Outback-Hertz) in Reno for the duration. Hertz don’t have snow tire equipped cars available ex Reno. I am planning to try to switch to another vehicle with snow tires in SLC. Is this necessary or am I being overcautious? Also I have a rough idea of routes and driving times but any suggestions of alternative routes and any “don’t miss“ tourist spots enroute would be welcome.

We are bringing a laptop and need to organize suitable and reasonably priced internet connections. Anyone had experience with a short term contract and with suggestions for ISPs? We also plan to purchase a disposable mobile phone or purchase US compatible handsets and SIM cards before we leave. Any suggestions re better carriers, and or phone suppliers?

We are going to ski Heavenly on Christmas Day and want to dine at a decent restaurant that night. Any recommendations?

Last but not least are there any resorts currently not on the list which we should add and/or runs or areas we simply must try? Should we avoid any on our list and if so why?

All comments and suggestions gratefully accepted and if any Bears are around at the time let us know and we will be happy to try to meet up.
post #2 of 30
Wow, can I come?....

Just kidding.

Well first of all when you get off the plane in Reno, my ski shop is just 1/2 mile away in the Grand Sierra Resort Hotel if you happened to have forgot anything or need boot work, demo skis, tunes! Shameless plug.

In regards to snow tires on your rental subaru..... don't worry about it. They come with mud/snow rated tires stock and you will get through anything with that set up. I lived in Mammoth driving a front wheel drive only Subaru wagon and never got stuck, and it snows alot there.

You may want to consider driving down to Mammoth. It is 3 hours south on 395 from the airport. A beautiful drive once you get past Carson City and you can not get lost getting there. The mountain rocks and has some of the best early season conditions.

Depending on when you get in and what the conditions are like there is a small resort you can see from the airport (1/2 hour drive) called Mt. Rose. Now if the Avalanche chutes are open, it may be worth a 1/2 or day to ski them. Especially if your flight gets in before noon, you would have time to get your luggage and car and be there for the PM 1/2 ticket.
post #3 of 30
Thread Starter 

That was quick!

Quote:
Originally Posted by bud heishman View Post
Wow, can I come?....

Just kidding.

Well first of all when you get off the plane in Reno, my ski shop is just 1/2 mile away in the Grand Sierra Resort Hotel if you happened to have forgot anything or need boot work, demo skis, tunes! Shameless plug.

In regards to snow tires on your rental subaru..... don't worry about it. They come with mud/snow rated tires stock and you will get through anything with that set up. I lived in Mammoth driving a front wheel drive only Subaru wagon and never got stuck, and it snows alot there.

You may want to consider driving down to Mammoth. It is 3 hours south on 395 from the airport. A beautiful drive once you get past Carson City and you can not get lost getting there. The mountain rocks and has some of the best early season conditions.

Depending on when you get in and what the conditions are like there is a small resort you can see from the airport (1/2 hour drive) called Mt. Rose. Now if the Avalanche chutes are open, it may be worth a 1/2 or day to ski them. Especially if your flight gets in before noon, you would have time to get your luggage and car and be there for the PM 1/2 ticket.
Hi Bud!
Your'e welcome to join us if you can get away from the shop! Helen is still enjoying the alignment and canting you did for her at ESA in Snowbird last year.

Thanks for the reassurance regarding subarus. We both drive them here and have no trouble with snow and gravel roads, although generally in less snow than we hope to encounter on this trip.:

Your suggestion regarding Mammoth may encourage us to reconsider at least for a day trip. I doubt that we will be trying Mt Rose the day we arrive after about a 22 hour flight from Canberra but will keep it mind for other days.

Please contact us if you can get away for a few turns as we'd love to catch up and learn from someone with so much local knowledge.

Cheers
post #4 of 30
Thread Starter 

Is Northstar worth a visit?

Bud,
I notice that you teach at Northstar. We have a friend and fellow patroller who works at Northstar as a paid patroller in the US winter. Is it worth the drive, as we'd like to see Mike and you if you are free, or are Squaw and Alpine higher priority?
post #5 of 30

Big Road Trip

Gerathalete 1. Heck of a trip! Lots of great skiing. Just some general tips:

Christmas at Tahoe = Crowds. If you want to beat the crowds try Homewood on West side of Lake - North shore. 8 miles down the Lake from tahoe City. Their parking lot isn't big enough to allow large crowds. Good for 1 day of skiing. Northstar is good but will be very crowded.

A couple real can't miss ideas. Have dinner one night at Soule Domain restaurant, northshore a small log cabin building behind the Biltmore Casino, Across st. from Cal Neva Hotel and Casino. Refurbished pony express relay station. Excellent food, fair prices and make reservations or you won't get in. Breakfast, if you like omlettes try the Squeeze In in Truckeee on the main street, very good.

Other possibility to avoid some of Xmas crowding is Sugar Bowl, Get to the jUDAH lODGE at about 8 AM or a little earlier, have breakfst in lodge (great pancakes and breakfst burritos. Have a casual breakfst and be on Judah chair when opens 9am. You will be able to park right in front of lodge and will get several hours of good skiing in before the hordes get there.

Have a great time.
post #6 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by gerathlete 1 View Post
Bud,
I notice that you teach at Northstar. We have a friend and fellow patroller who works at Northstar as a paid patroller in the US winter. Is it worth the drive, as we'd like to see Mike and you if you are free, or are Squaw and Alpine higher priority?
This will be my first season teaching at Northstar. I will be there Sundays and Mondays and maybe some holiday periods. I doubt I will be able to free ski over the Christmas holiday period but check in to see?

I would not drop a day at Alpine or Squaw for Northstar unless 1) it is windy, or 2) it is a day or two after a big dump. Then I would ski Northstar because it is more protected on windy days and for some reason nobody skis in the trees at Northstar so there is epic powder turns to be had even days after a storm. If you like steep, the other two have more hair raising steeps than does Northstar.
post #7 of 30
I can only comment on tahoe;

1. Tahoe during X-mas - really not as bad as someone else's post. I've done it on christmas day, many times, even at heavenly.

2. Someone suggested homewood. Nope. I would not suggest that. The reason being is you are staying in south lake. If it is a good hard snow the road between southlake and northlake is closed, or at best, a mess. Homewood is the place people go to if they are coming from the other side of the lake.

3. Someone suggested sugar bowl on x-mas. I just plain totally disagree. That is a really bad idea on x-mas. Used to do it. Way big crowds on small mountain. Note that the poster suggested you be there at 8 am or you won't get a parking spot. BTW, sugar bowl is like, 2 hours from south lake. I could get there faster from Sacramento, and so will 10,000 other people. If you get sick of crowds at sugar bowl, there ain't no where to hang out; where as you can take a lift down to town at heavenly.

4. timing - 12/21-12/28; uhhh, I hope there's alot of snow between now and then. It's kinda early, it will depend. It could be great; it might not. I kinda doubt driving 4 hours to mammoth will make a difference either.

5. your hill picks (heavenly,squaw, kirk, alpine); I concur - I would do those, I don't think you should mess with any of the others mentioned. All are nice big mountains. Mix of different things at each one. 4 resorts in 7 days is plenty. You'll meet plenty of people no matter where.

6. restaurants - depends what kind of food you like. There are plenty of varied type, quality, and scenery. I don't do casinos or anywhere near them; just my preference. So for me, ski run boulevard, the part that goes towards heavenly's california side (not towards the lake), has some very nice places; check those out. I think someone posted a recommendation; but it sounds like those are not on the south shore.

7. Snow tires - I honestly don't know what is being talked about. Most tires are mud and snow rated. I have no idea what you are switching to in SLC that they wouldn't give you in reno. your subaru is probably AWD or 4WD so it should be fine, but you should check on that rather than the tires.

8. Drive to northstar as opposed to squaw or alpine? No. it is not worth it.

9. As far as cell phones; my first thought is jeepers, what kind of a whacko question is that? - are you going to be doing work on the ski lift, trading stock or something, who are you calling, why, and where do you think you are going to get good cell phone reception. Inasmuch as anyone cares, there's few things more annoying than someone playing with their cell phone on a ski lift and having to tolerate their blathering mix of yapping away and cursing their reception issues in the middle of the mountains. You don't need a cell phone.

Having said that, I have one of those throw-aways - an AT&T wireless - and I would rate it as fair to nil reception. I have to modify the plan if I want it to work on anything except AT&T towers. Don't quote me on it, but I have heard (via howardforums.com) that the Tracfone, the prepaid throw-aways sold at WalMart, works just about everywhere but I have not verified that. They will run you something like 15-20 bucks here for the phone plus maybe 10 dollars for 30 minutes which will be good for a month. I think you need a local address to make it work but you can probably figure something out.

And then, there's the old fashioned way of communication - talking within earshot; "see you at east peak lodge at 1 pm".

9. Internet - there are places with free wireless internet. Alpen Sierra Coffee shop for one. It's at the corner of Pioneer Trail and South Lake Tahoe Boulevard. It's only open till about 7 pm, however. There are hotels with free internet too. Pretty common, actually. You'll have to check.

10. Runs to try? Yeah, you absolutely must huck a cornice at kirkwood. for an extreme example, do a search of tyrone shoelaces for proper technique.
post #8 of 30
Quote:
We are bringing a laptop and need to organize suitable and reasonably priced internet connections.
Wifi is "often" available in many hotels. If not, look for cafe that has.

Your cell phone from Australia should work here. But the charge can be steep. You may consider buying sim card with n-minutes on it. Or, just use it sparingly.

Mammoth is not a day trip distance from Tahoe. (you're talking about a VERY long day)

It's also a long drive between from Copper to Aspen.

Oh yes, tourist spots. Yellowstone in winter!!!
post #9 of 30
Excuse my geographical skills (or lack thereof), but if you are not far from Monument Valley during your drives, and have not yet seen it, I recommend you do. Amazing.
post #10 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by gerathlete 1 View Post
In December 07/January 08 Helen and I are making a road trip through five states and about 20 odd resorts. The itinerary in outline is as follows:
21- 28 Dec Heavenly Ski Heavenly, Squaw, Alpine Meadows, Kirkwood?
29 Dec-10 Jan 08 SLC Ski Alta/Bird,Solitude,Snowbasin,Canyons,
PCMR
11-24 Jan JHMR Ski JH, Grand Targhee
26 Jan-4 Feb Copper Ski Copper, Vail, Breck, Aspen & Aspen
Highlands, Keystone, A-Basin?
4-8 Feb Steamboat Ski Steamboat
Geographically speaking, Jackson to Steamboat is a more logical progression/shorter drive. Then onto Vail/Summit Country.

Mammoth is a good suggestion, but it is quite a detour especially if you will traveling on I-80 from Tahoe/Reno to Salt Lake City. Tahoe itself is quite spread out and travel times on the 2 lane roads are slow -- commuting between north and south tahoe is not that fun.

Colorado resorts: I am not a fan of places like Keystone or Steamboat. To me, they are a little highly developed with mostly cut trails/average terrain/few steeps. At least places like Winter Park, Vail, Copper have a mix of alpine terrain/trails/bumps. The southwest Colorado resorts like Crested Butte and Telluride are quite attractive, but similar to Aspen and a few hours off the beaten path.
post #11 of 30
Just a couple additions:

1. Think about taking a bus; places like Alpine and Kirkwood especially have limited parking. While this is great for limiting the extent of crowding relative to something like squaw valley or vail; they do reach a point where they don't let you in (except for dropoff) - and that can be 8:30 am on a powder day - no lie. They won't let you park on the road; they will tow your car away in no time flat and you will be SOL. And then there's places like vail that charge an arm and leg to park. I think some of the buses allow seat reservations, like Kirkwood; Vail does not.

2. Its pretty stormy today in california. keep your fingers crossed.

3. the restaurants on ski run blvd. - I can think of the italian place, Scusa, which is nice and very good food, and then there's some across the street and related side streets, that are all good.

4. remember, this is all wintertime, and the weather could be nice but will have its times of absolute murder; stuck in traffic for hours, closed roads, 100 mph winds, closed lifts, landslides, avalanches, accidents, etc. etc.; so keep your options open, bring food/drink,warm clothes, and be prepared to be patient.
post #12 of 30
Thread Starter 
[quote=stevescho;776689]
9. As far as cell phones; my first thought is jeepers, what kind of a whacko question is that? - are you going to be doing work on the ski lift, trading stock or something, who are you calling, why, and where do you think you are going to get good cell phone reception. Inasmuch as anyone cares, there's few things more annoying than someone playing with their cell phone on a ski lift and having to tolerate their blathering mix of yapping away and cursing their reception issues in the middle of the mountains. You don't need a cell phone.

Having said that, I have one of those throw-aways - an AT&T wireless - and I would rate it as fair to nil reception. I have to modify the plan if I want it to work on anything except AT&T towers. Don't quote me on it, but I have heard (via howardforums.com) that the Tracfone, the prepaid throw-aways sold at WalMart, works just about everywhere but I have not verified that. They will run you something like 15-20 bucks here for the phone plus maybe 10 dollars for 30 minutes which will be good for a month. I think you need a local address to make it work but you can probably figure something out.

And then, there's the old fashioned way of communication - talking within earshot; "see you at east peak lodge at 1 pm".

I don't know what you do with your cell phone but we use ours a lot but not on snow. When you are travelling for seven weeks and clocking up thousands of miles a phone seems handy to me. Thanks for the headsup about the Tracfone, I will check it out. Thanks also for your restaurant recoomendation in your later post.
post #13 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by at_nyc View Post
Wifi is "often" available in many hotels. If not, look for cafe that has.

Your cell phone from Australia should work here. But the charge can be steep. You may consider buying sim card with n-minutes on it. Or, just use it sparingly.

Mammoth is not a day trip distance from Tahoe. (you're talking about a VERY long day)

It's also a long drive between from Copper to Aspen.

Oh yes, tourist spots. Yellowstone in winter!!!
Australian cell phones will work with an international roaming sim card but charges are horrendous as you say, hence the need to use a combination of phone cards and throwaway cell phones when fixed line facilities are not available.

I agree about the length of the drive from Copper to Aspen. We did Vail to Aspen return last year and it was right at the maximum time to be comfortable. in the end it will pribably come down to snow conditions and the availablity of people we would like to see.

Yellowstone is on the list too! Thanks for the suggestions.
post #14 of 30
Grab a cheap tri-band. Those tiny little nokias without cameras are cheap (some of us can't have cameras!) and mine worked fine in utah. I went with T-mobile as their coverage in my area was quite good (not what we're used to though). T-mobile also supply the wireless net access in Starbucks, but you have to buy that access separately, and it's not cheap.
If you're keen, wardriving in the US finds many hotspots and unsecured connections. Many of the hotels seem to have sockets in the rooms for laptops too. those longstay places with kitchens in SLC had them. Others just go to wireless.

I was thinking of popping over in January when it's quiet, but the airfares don't go down until late January. Who are all these people flying to the US in early/mid January?!

I drove around canada with heaps of snow on squishy road Firestones. Was surprised how easy it was. Once you've done guthega road in good seasons, most US conditions are quite doable.
post #15 of 30
I don't know if your dates are firm, but you should consider ESA.

http://esa.epicski.com/esa2008/snowmass/


It looks like a pretty good deal and it's a real good time to be in Aspen. The
X Games start on the 24th. It's quite the spectacle and town will be off the hook.
post #16 of 30
Quote:
Who are all these people flying to the US in early/mid January?!
Lots of Aussies returning to work after X'mas/NY holiday at home!
post #17 of 30
[quote=gerathlete 1;779241]
Quote:
Originally Posted by stevescho View Post

I don't know what you do with your cell phone but we use ours a lot but not on snow. When you are travelling for seven weeks and clocking up thousands of miles a phone seems handy to me...
My cellphone stays off when I am driving a car; I think its too dangerous of a distraction. In fact, California has passed a law against (handheld) cellphone use in cars (joining Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Washington DC); the effective date is July 1, 2008, but IMO not great idea for the driver even if you can do it this trip, especially on snow.

Just a suggestion, for safety's sake.
post #18 of 30
Wow, what a trip!
1. If it wasn't for cell phones, I'd be chained to my desk instead of skiing. All it takes is some manners.

2. So, Ant, we'll be seeing you this year, like when? Better hurry over, we're all expecting a good one...

3. Free wireless/hardwire internet is becoming almost universal in U.S. lodging.

4. The Subaru will work great with the tires provided/ as stated. It will get you past the Sheriff in Little Cottonwood Canyon on a powder day.

drop a PM when you get to Utah. we're away from Dec 26-Jan 3rd however. Did a house swap with some friends in wildest Brooklyn...
post #19 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post
I don't know if your dates are firm, but you should consider ESA.
Had considered it, as we have done it twice before, and thoroughly enjoyed it, but it just doesn't fit with our schedule.
post #20 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ant View Post
Grab a cheap tri-band. Those tiny little nokias without cameras are cheap (some of us can't have cameras!) and mine worked fine in utah. I went with T-mobile as their coverage in my area was quite good (not what we're used to though). T-mobile also supply the wireless net access in Starbucks, but you have to buy that access separately, and it's not cheap.

I drove around canada with heaps of snow on squishy road Firestones. Was surprised how easy it was. Once you've done guthega road in good seasons, most US conditions are quite doable.
Thanks for the information about the tri-bands Ant, will check them out. I like your comment about the Guthega road. As you know I do it twice a day during the season, when I'm patrolling and have certainly seen some character buiding occasions! As a passenger I've only once seen anything like the Guthega road and that was the I-70 up to the Eisenhower Tunnel on a Friday night in late January. Quite an experience and I was thankful I wasn't driving. The CME shuttle driver was very relaxed though and was doing 70 mph between the 18 wheelers!
post #21 of 30
Kerry - I am pleased to see that you are in good enough health to tackle a road trip of this magnitude, you will have a great time. I remember you quizzing me at Vail about how we found it renting a vehicle and getting ourselves around, so you've decided to give it a go - excellent. Once you have the freedom of getting yourself around, you won't go back.

Initially I had wanted to rent a Subaru because I was more familiar with them, but could never find a good enough deal, they were always dearer than the american vehicles. I don't think either of the rental vehicles I got on both of my trips had winter tyres. I think because they are soft, they wear out faster so the rental car companies don't use them. I never had any problems so I think you will b fine. We don't use winter tyres in NZ, and I doubt if you do in Oz either, so I was used to driving on snow in an AWD without them.

Some travel tips:
How to stay on the right side of the road? The steering wheel must be next to the white line. Simple but it worked for me!

Get an auto, when in unfamiliar territory it is one less thing to worry about.

Consider your passenger your co-driver, they should keep their eyes open and help make sure you stay on the right side of the road, mainly at intersections. Two sets of eyes are better than one - this is one situation when you want advice from your front seat passenger. Also helps to have someone else looking out for road signs. The passenger should be responsible for navigating and the driver driving.

It is easy to stay on the right side when the roads are busy, when there are other cars about. I made the odd mistake when I was on the road by myself. As Kierstin will remember when I pulled out of her driveway on her quiet street - woops! But it does not matter if there wis no-one else about as long as you get it right before any corners.

Make sure both you and Helen are listed as drivers so you can share the driving.

You will turn the wipers on when you want blinkers, and vice versa. Don't worry it, that is all part of the fun. It is surprising how quickly you adapt.

Then when you get home you have to also concentrate cause you will find yourself turning on the wipers when you want blinkers, and looking up to your right for your rear vision mirror and it is not there.

Your ski rack won't be lockable. If you don't want to put your skis in the car, buy yourself one of the locks with the retractable wire and lock your skis to the rack. There will be just the two of you, so just as easy to put them in the car.

Buy a good set of road maps. Even though you have never driven there you have probably been there enough to know how to read their road signs. Know the highway you want, and wether or not you want to go North, south East or West.

If you driving long distances at night, stick to the major roads, especially if it is snowing. Adrian and I were trying to get back to the highway after visiting Zion national park and the map showed 2 roads cutting back to the motorway - both were the same colour/grade on the map. We took the first and it had a sign that snow ploughs did not clear it after 9pm, and it went to 10,500ft - and it was 8pm and started snowing. So we turned back and took the next one which was a major road with lots of traffic, and did not go over a mountain pass.

If the rental car company does not give you a brush/ice scraper for the windows, go and buy one, they are cheap. Last time the rental car did not give us one, usually they do. Friends were kind enough to give us a spare.

You will have a great time. When you pick up your rental you will be in the city, so the first hour can be a bit nerve wracking - just relax, there will be lots of other cars to follow. The Americans are a lot more polite drivers than we are, I don't think I got abused once when I did something silly :-)

Having a car means you have a few more choices for accomodation, you can save yourself a bit by staying further away from the lifts, but at some places you have to pay for parking. At Vail, the car park right in the village cost $16 a day.

I'm envious ..............
post #22 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by julie from nz View Post
Kerry - I am pleased to see that you are in good enough health to tackle a road trip of this magnitude, you will have a great time. I remember you quizzing me at Vail about how we found it renting a vehicle and getting ourselves around, so you've decided to give it a go - excellent. Once you have the freedom of getting yourself around, you won't go back.

Initially I had wanted to rent a Subaru because I was more familiar with them, but could never find a good enough deal, they were always dearer than the american vehicles. I don't think either of the rental vehicles I got on both of my trips had winter tyres. I think because they are soft, they wear out faster so the rental car companies don't use them. I never had any problems so I think you will b fine. We don't use winter tyres in NZ, and I doubt if you do in Oz either, so I was used to driving on snow in an AWD without them.

Some travel tips:
How to stay on the right side of the road? The steering wheel must be next to the white line. Simple but it worked for me!

Get an auto, when in unfamiliar territory it is one less thing to worry about.

Consider your passenger your co-driver, they should keep their eyes open and help make sure you stay on the right side of the road, mainly at intersections. Two sets of eyes are better than one - this is one situation when you want advice from your front seat passenger. Also helps to have someone else looking out for road signs. The passenger should be responsible for navigating and the driver driving.

It is easy to stay on the right side when the roads are busy, when there are other cars about. I made the odd mistake when I was on the road by myself. As Kierstin will remember when I pulled out of her driveway on her quiet street - woops! But it does not matter if there wis no-one else about as long as you get it right before any corners.

Make sure both you and Helen are listed as drivers so you can share the driving.

You will turn the wipers on when you want blinkers, and vice versa. Don't worry it, that is all part of the fun. It is surprising how quickly you adapt.

Then when you get home you have to also concentrate cause you will find yourself turning on the wipers when you want blinkers, and looking up to your right for your rear vision mirror and it is not there.

Your ski rack won't be lockable. If you don't want to put your skis in the car, buy yourself one of the locks with the retractable wire and lock your skis to the rack. There will be just the two of you, so just as easy to put them in the car.

Buy a good set of road maps. Even though you have never driven there you have probably been there enough to know how to read their road signs. Know the highway you want, and wether or not you want to go North, south East or West.

If you driving long distances at night, stick to the major roads, especially if it is snowing. Adrian and I were trying to get back to the highway after visiting Zion national park and the map showed 2 roads cutting back to the motorway - both were the same colour/grade on the map. We took the first and it had a sign that snow ploughs did not clear it after 9pm, and it went to 10,500ft - and it was 8pm and started snowing. So we turned back and took the next one which was a major road with lots of traffic, and did not go over a mountain pass.

If the rental car company does not give you a brush/ice scraper for the windows, go and buy one, they are cheap. Last time the rental car did not give us one, usually they do. Friends were kind enough to give us a spare.

You will have a great time. When you pick up your rental you will be in the city, so the first hour can be a bit nerve wracking - just relax, there will be lots of other cars to follow. The Americans are a lot more polite drivers than we are, I don't think I got abused once when I did something silly :-)

Having a car means you have a few more choices for accomodation, you can save yourself a bit by staying further away from the lifts, but at some places you have to pay for parking. At Vail, the car park right in the village cost $16 a day.

I'm envious ..............
Hi Julie,
Thanks for the very informative response. Health is great thanks. Have just completed a long season patrolling and am now looking forward to a lot of free skiing for a change!

You are right that having a car provides more freedom and flexibility and this is our main reason for driving this time. We found that although the buses were OK for getting to the slopes, they weren't convenient for trips to supermarket, liquor store and all the other important locations! Also nearly got run down on a pedestrian crosiing in Park City by a driver who was obviously not expecting anyone to actually be walking and got stopped by the police in SLC walking home from the bus stop!

Subarus are more expensive. We would prefer a manual but they are all automatic. I have driven quite a lot in the US and lived in the Phillipines which has the same driving laws so should be OK. Having said that I can recakll going back to NZ from Manila and driving a friend to the shops and it was only after some time that she pointed out to me that I was driving on the wrong side of the road! T intersections are the worst!

I have struck the problem of tiny ice scrapers before. Hertz used to provide credit card size ones which were useless in any decent freeze but a trip to Walmart will fix that. We have a reasonable road atlas ( Michelin North American Road Atlas) which we will supplement with additional maps as I an a bit of a map freak!

Good to hear from you and thanks again for the detailed information.
Regards
post #23 of 30
What a funny window into down under culture, LOL- Someday we hope to come down to NZ for a year in a work transfer thing with the wife- I think it would be great for the kids when they get old enough. In the meantime, by all means, stay on the right side of the road, if at all possible...!

Quote:
Originally Posted by julie from nz View Post
At Vail, the car park right in the village cost $16 a day.
I see that nothing's changed at Vail- adding $insult to $ingury. And it's still flat...
post #24 of 30
Thread Starter 

Vail Flatulence?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Crab View Post
I see that nothing's changed at Vail- adding $insult to $ingury. And it's still flat...
Although we really loved the 2 weeks we spent in Vail in 06 I know what you mean about it being flat. Day one we were just entering Sun Up (I think!) Bowl and skied past two black diamond signs and an "expert only" sign only to come virtually to a stop because of the lack of slope!
Having said that however we had a great time in the Back Bowls and got our fix of steeps at Snowbird and Alta.
post #25 of 30
Thread Starter 

Snow Tyres in Oz/NZ

Julie,
I forgot to reply to your point about snow tyre. They are not available in Oz as in NZ and we have never felt the need really. Our national parks require all 2WD cars to carry chains and in Victoria 4WD are similarly required. In NSW in a bad storm if the police find a vehicle in trouble and they are without chains they leave them until they have cleared all other accidents, so they can freeze ( although not if they would be in any danger ) as they contemplate the large fine they will receive.

I drive about 80k a day in the mountains from our club lodge to Perisher and return on a mix of gravel and seal and although the plows are very good in clearing overnight falls (even by 7am when I leave) the road can be icy and slippery. I can honestly say I have never felt the need for snow tyres although chains and a shovel plus other emergency gear are always in the back. BTW Helen and I both drive Subarus, hence the desire to rent one in the US.
post #26 of 30

Subaru Tires

Quote:
Originally Posted by julie from nz View Post
Kerry - I am pleased to see that you are in good enough health to tackle a road trip of this magnitude, you will have a great time. I remember you quizzing me at Vail about how we found it renting a vehicle and getting ourselves around, so you've decided to give it a go - excellent. Once you have the freedom of getting yourself around, you won't go back.

Initially I had wanted to rent a Subaru because I was more familiar with them, but could never find a good enough deal, they were always dearer than the american vehicles. I don't think either of the rental vehicles I got on both of my trips had winter tyres. I think because they are soft, they wear out faster so the rental car companies don't use them. I never had any problems so I think you will b fine. We don't use winter tyres in NZ, and I doubt if you do in Oz either, so I was used to driving on snow in an AWD without them.

Some travel tips:
How to stay on the right side of the road? The steering wheel must be next to the white line. Simple but it worked for me!

Get an auto, when in unfamiliar territory it is one less thing to worry about.

Consider your passenger your co-driver, they should keep their eyes open and help make sure you stay on the right side of the road, mainly at intersections. Two sets of eyes are better than one - this is one situation when you want advice from your front seat passenger. Also helps to have someone else looking out for road signs. The passenger should be responsible for navigating and the driver driving.

It is easy to stay on the right side when the roads are busy, when there are other cars about. I made the odd mistake when I was on the road by myself. As Kierstin will remember when I pulled out of her driveway on her quiet street - woops! But it does not matter if there wis no-one else about as long as you get it right before any corners.

Make sure both you and Helen are listed as drivers so you can share the driving.

You will turn the wipers on when you want blinkers, and vice versa. Don't worry it, that is all part of the fun. It is surprising how quickly you adapt.

Then when you get home you have to also concentrate cause you will find yourself turning on the wipers when you want blinkers, and looking up to your right for your rear vision mirror and it is not there.

Your ski rack won't be lockable. If you don't want to put your skis in the car, buy yourself one of the locks with the retractable wire and lock your skis to the rack. There will be just the two of you, so just as easy to put them in the car.

Buy a good set of road maps. Even though you have never driven there you have probably been there enough to know how to read their road signs. Know the highway you want, and wether or not you want to go North, south East or West.

If you driving long distances at night, stick to the major roads, especially if it is snowing. Adrian and I were trying to get back to the highway after visiting Zion national park and the map showed 2 roads cutting back to the motorway - both were the same colour/grade on the map. We took the first and it had a sign that snow ploughs did not clear it after 9pm, and it went to 10,500ft - and it was 8pm and started snowing. So we turned back and took the next one which was a major road with lots of traffic, and did not go over a mountain pass.

If the rental car company does not give you a brush/ice scraper for the windows, go and buy one, they are cheap. Last time the rental car did not give us one, usually they do. Friends were kind enough to give us a spare.

You will have a great time. When you pick up your rental you will be in the city, so the first hour can be a bit nerve wracking - just relax, there will be lots of other cars to follow. The Americans are a lot more polite drivers than we are, I don't think I got abused once when I did something silly :-)

Having a car means you have a few more choices for accomodation, you can save yourself a bit by staying further away from the lifts, but at some places you have to pay for parking. At Vail, the car park right in the village cost $16 a day.

I'm envious ..............
A quick hijack about Subaru Tires. We have a '06 Outback XT-the factory tires were Bridgestone Potenza's RE 92. These tires were utter crap and about the lowest rated tires at tirerack.com ( a 5.3 out of 10). Crappy to point of being dangerous in rain (had several unpleasant experiences) and I cannot imagine using them in snow.

This has been well documented in various forum boards dealing w/Subies

Be careful with the tires they give you-I would rather have just about any vehicle (AWD or not) than one that had the Potenza's

Not trying to make you paranoid, just giving info

(ps we ditch the low profile 17" in the winter and run 16" Mich X-ice snows)

have fun-you will have a blast I am sure !
post #27 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cal to colorado View Post
A quick hijack about Subaru Tires. We have a '06 Outback XT-the factory tires were Bridgestone Potenza's RE 92. These tires were utter crap and about the lowest rated tires at tirerack.com ( a 5.3 out of 10). Crappy to point of being dangerous in rain (had several unpleasant experiences) and I cannot imagine using them in snow.

This has been well documented in various forum boards dealing w/Subies

Be careful with the tires they give you-I would rather have just about any vehicle (AWD or not) than one that had the Potenza's

Not trying to make you paranoid, just giving info

(ps we ditch the low profile 17" in the winter and run 16" Mich X-ice snows)

have fun-you will have a blast I am sure !
Subaru Australia have just started using the Potenzas here. My wife's Outback has Bridgestones (not the Potenzas) which seem OK. My 04 Forester had Yokohama Geolandars which had to be replaced after 65,000k for wear. The tyre guy said that was more than most drivers got and replaced them with Goodyear Wranglers which seem good so far.

Will certiianly be taking it easy until I see what the tyre performance is like. Thanks for the information.
post #28 of 30
Thread Starter 

Driving on the other side of the road!

This discussion reminds me of a few years ago when I was cycling in France where of course they drive on the RHS of the road, the opposite to what we are used to. After a few days of staisfactory observance of the road rules I got lost in a small village and rode down a hill and round a blind corner on the wrong side of the road.

Unfortunately there was a car coming the other way and we had a head-on collision. I hit the hood and windscreen and came to rest in the middle of the road. And then the fun started! I was still clipped into my pedals and the (slightly hysterical) two French women from the car were trying to help me up by lifting the bike and in the process nearly tearing my knees apart! In the melee my rudimentary French deserted me and we engaged for a few moments in this ludicrous tug-of-war in the middle of the village square!

What it confirmed to me was that when riding or driving on the other side of the road you have to pay constant attenion particularly when you are tired or distracted.
post #29 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by gerathlete 1 View Post
Julie,
I forgot to reply to your point about snow tyre. They are not available in Oz as in NZ and we have never felt the need really. Our national parks require all 2WD cars to carry chains and in Victoria 4WD are similarly required. In NSW in a bad storm if the police find a vehicle in trouble and they are without chains they leave them until they have cleared all other accidents, so they can freeze ( although not if they would be in any danger ) as they contemplate the large fine they will receive.

I drive about 80k a day in the mountains from our club lodge to Perisher and return on a mix of gravel and seal and although the plows are very good in clearing overnight falls (even by 7am when I leave) the road can be icy and slippery. I can honestly say I have never felt the need for snow tyres although chains and a shovel plus other emergency gear are always in the back. BTW Helen and I both drive Subarus, hence the desire to rent one in the US.
Kerry - sounds like you guys are sorted.

Our rules are that you cannot drive up the mountain ski roads unless you carry chains, regrdless of wether or not you have 4WD. Coming down an icy road that can have have drop offs of over a thousand feet , you need all the traction you can get - and if the road ices up 4WD is not enough. My Dad builds mountain roads, and his theory is that it is not the thousand foot drop that killed you, it was the first hundred feet. If its icy I put chains on my subaru to go downhill, but i never saw the roads ice up in the US like ours do, maybe its cause our snow is wetter.

Forgot to say that Adrian and i took or cell phones with us, but only used it to text home, or text when we lost each other on a run. Otherwise it cost way too much to make a call, but you know that. If you are not pre-booking accommodation before leaving home, I think it would be handy to be able to be able to make reasonably priced calls to book ahead to the next resort.
post #30 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Crab View Post
What a funny window into down under culture, LOL- Someday we hope to come down to NZ for a year in a work transfer thing with the wife- I think it would be great for the kids when they get old enough. In the meantime, by all means, stay on the right side of the road, if at all possible...!
Now that would be a great family experience, coming down under for a year. Drop me a line if you need any advice closer to the time. And I owe you a guided tour .......
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