Portrait of the Perfect Ski Day

Words like “perfect” always scare me a little. I feel like I’m tempting fate and asking for too much by using it. But there are times when the thesaurus can’t show me a word that describes more perfectly (here I go) a day sent from heaven. I do my share of grousing about the little inconveniences of winter, but the antidote is embracing the white wonderland in all its glory by heading for Ski Santa Fe with a seamless ski day in mind.

Start the Day by Eating the Santa Fe Way

We ski fans are ready to go early, but we need to fuel up first. There’s no point in getting so close to the sky if you don’t stay all day, so acknowledge that old adage that begins, “Breakfast like a king … ”

To me, the best bite of the day isn’t a bite; it’s the first sip of coffee from Ohori’s, setting a Santa Fe standard for independent coffee shops since 1984. After all, a locally roasted cup supports local talent! Santa Fe boasts an impressive crew of coffee brewers, and a coffee tour is part of the adventure for my caffeine-loving visitors. The scintillating downtown aroma of Ohori’s roasting makes everyone a loyal sipper.

There’s a brew just right for you at Ohori’s.
There’s a brew just right for you at Ohori’s.

Once the caffeine kicks in, food follows. If there’s fresh powder, grab a Santa Fe classic:  the breakfast burrito to go. Finding the perfect (!) iteration of this tasty item is a hotly debated topic. Everyone has their favorite, hand-held or smothered, with meat or veg, big enough to share or hands-off. Me, I head for the Santa Fe Baking Company, with burritos and baked goods to suit every taste.

The reason why it’s called Santa Fe Baking Company is simple to see!
The reason why it’s called Santa Fe Baking Company is simple to see!

When there’s no new snow, we may opt for a sit-down breakfast. In that case I’m digging into the Paranormal Pancakes (they’re that good), while I peek over my plate to identify the day’s guest on the KSFR Radio Café. This weekday talkfest is broadcast right from the Baking Co., and later I can catch the podcast of a potent conversation with a Santa Fe thinker.

Scout’s Motto: Be Prepared

With the good fortune to live here, I’m already outfitted, but when ski pals visit, make it easy and rent gear, either in town or up on the hill at Cottam’s Ski Shop. Known since 1976 for great customer service — and for storing visitors’ skis overnight — Cottam’s makes a trip to Ski Santa Fe a one-stop deal. Rental packages cover everything for spending a day up top without the hassle of hauling it from home. But I do recommend reserving in advance — super-simple, no deposit — to be sure you have all you need.

You may very well want a little of everything at Alpine Sports
You may very well want a little of everything at Alpine Sports

If you love being tempted by a gorgeous spread of every outdoor gear item you could possibly desire, renting (or buying) at Alpine Sports is an ideal (that’s another way of saying perfect) option. With 50 years of service to Santa Fe skiers, this family-owned downtown business is one I gladly patronize. The socks alone are a foot fantasy, and a real ski sweater ranks as stylish winter-wear on or off the hill. Rentals are easy online, and the staff is knowledgeable, helpful and most of all, passionate about capturing a perfect (can I use the “p” word again?) Santa Fe ski experience.

The Hills are Alive … With Snow Sports!

Enough talk, time for action! A 16-mile drive leads from the Santa Fe Plaza into the beauty of the Sangre de Cristo range, tail end of the Rocky Mountains, drifting down from Canada to their stony end in New Mexico. While I endeavor to heed the stay-fit advice of the Snow Sports School, there’s usually a year between my ski experiences, so I want a reminder — okay, a lesson. With the variety of skill levels in our crew, lessons thankfully accommodate all.

It’s hard to believe breakfast gets used up so quickly, but brisk winter weather combined with full-body activity has a high calorie-burning quotient, so after lessons, sustenance is required before hitting the mountain. It’s gotta be lunch at Totemoff’s! Fantastic views, skiers zipping by on the Thunderbird run, what’s not to love? Hot drink specials are available all week long, but waiting to mix alcohol until day is done is my motto.

Skiing in a winter wonderland means doing it in Santa Fe! (Photo credit: Ski Santa Fe)
Skiing in a winter wonderland means doing it in Santa Fe! (Photo credit: Ski Santa Fe)

I start with a few easy runs; an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Once I’m sure I have my sea legs — oops, ski-legs — I’ll move on to a few trips down Lobo to prime myself for Burro Alley. I only dream of tackling Desperado; I admit that’s a Western adventure for a gal whose quick-draw skills are faster than mine. Although my snow-abilities will never merit showing off on a board at the Freestyle Terrain Park, you can bet I’ll make a stop to admire those who can ace it.

Day Is Done, Gone Is the Sun, Time to Gather for More Fun

When the sun starts to sink into the horizon, it’s time to round up the troops because I have my mind set on happy hour at Agave Lounge, one of my favorite Santa Fe go-to’s. I love sinking into a leather banquette near the fireplace when I have totally earned the right to relax. The Pomapolitan is my premium pick in a martini, perfect (sorry, I had to say it) for perusing plates to share. I adore snacking on the green chile sliders, but after a full day outside, the quesadilla is coming along on this refueling ride. Yes, you figured that out, this is not the last stop — we’re going to soak these tired limbs!

Day is done, relaxation won … at the Agave Lounge.
Day is done, relaxation won … at the Agave Lounge.

Indulgence Earned, Indulgence Found

Mighty achy muscles mean a bit of pampering is in order. I’ve always felt that if health plans included regular alternative therapy, we’d all be healthy centenarians. Given the plethora of Santa Fe massage schools, whose graduates often stay on in our healthy city, it’s no wonder there are healing hands at many hotels and spa facilities. But I’m not just talking massage, I’m thinking of pairing therapy with a soothing soak.

Mountains, wood and water mean relaxation at 10K Waves (Photo credit: Ten Thousand Waves Japanese Spa & Resort)
Mountains, wood and water mean relaxation at 10K Waves (Photo credit: Ten Thousand Waves Japanese Spa & Resort)

To mix massage with hot tub heaven, it’s back up the hill to Ten Thousand Waves Japanese Bath House. A sense of total escape ensues when a hot stone massage is followed by an hour in a private outdoor hot tub under a peaceful moon. And now that 10K has added their new restaurant, Izanami, (Sunset Magazine named it #3 on their list of great things in 2014), if we’re still hungry there’s an answer close at hand. We can simply stay for the 9 pm happy hour to cap an active day in the City Different, an especially good notion right now, since Happy Hour is 33% off through February to celebrate Ten Thousand Waves’ 33 years of making people feel terrific!

Get Into Gear and Get Out for a Great Day in Santa Fe

Didn’t realize that Santa Fe had such a super snow scene? Now you’re the one in the know, so go ahead and share the good news! With an early Thanksgiving Day opening and recent snows continuing to plump up the powder at the Ski Basin, Santa Fe skiers are having a fantastic season of sunny fun under a bright blue sky. You simply can’t ask for a better — dare I say it, more perfect — combination of snow and sun (and great deals) than the blessings we’ve received from Old Man Winter. So don’t hold back, come enjoy a Santa Fe snow day yourself!

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