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Keystone, Colorado: a Photojournal

Keystone, Colorado

“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.”
― Ansel Adams

I love the mountains. I grew up traveling to see my grandmother who lived in Durango, Colorado. Not only did she have horses and live on a ranch, but we skied when we visited. I learned to ski as one of the kids on little skis, no poles, following her dad’s ski tracks down the mountain. The nearby ski resort to my grandmother’s house? Purgatory. I learned to love to ski.

In November, I traveled to Colorado for a work conference. It had been twenty years since I’d skied Colorado. My most recent skis had been in Austria, when we lived in Prague. But Colorado — I couldn’t resist. Usually, November is not the time to ski Colorado, but I decided to give it a whirl.

It was at the beginning of the season and the Rockies had had very little snow. I met the shuttle at the airport and rode up into the mountains marveling at the lack of snow. Keystone, where I’d planned to ski, was bare. But Arapahoe Basin? Perfect.

Happy, getting to ski Arapahoe Basin, CO
Happy, getting to ski Arapahoe Basin, CO
Skiing on the first open weekend of the season, happy!
Skiing on the first open weekend of the season before a work conference, happy!

 

I skied for a whole day and bought a shirt at the end that says, “If it’s too steep, you’re too old.” 🙂

The next day, I wandered through Keystone with my camera. The silence — no snow, no skiers, no tourists — was pristine. The terrain is so beautiful, the photographs don’t do it justice. But I will try to share …

Keystone, Colorado: a Photojournal

Keystone, Colorado

Keystone, Colorado

Keystone, Colorado

Keystone, Colorado

Keystone, Colorado

Keystone, Colorado

Keystone, Colorado

Keystone, Colorado

Have you gotten to ski this year? If so, where, and how was it? Lots of snow? Or barely a dusting?

On another note, I am really happy it is almost spring!

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St Moritz and Engadin, Switzerland: Stunning Beauty, Incredible Skiing

St. Moritz, Switzerland

Skiing is a dance, and the mountain always leads.  -Author Unknown

In Winter, there is no better way to spend the dark, bleak, cold days than to hop on a pair of skis and enjoy the snow. Growing up, I skied often at the Purgatory Mountain resort in Durango, Colorado, where my grandmother lived. It was fun, exhilarating, and delightful, but also dangerous beyond belief. I love to ski.

Engadin, Switzerland
Engadin, Switzerland

When my family moved to Czech Republic, we skied downhill in the Austrian Alps–great experiences filled with deep snow, steep slopes, and frequent stops at the traditional Austrian huttes. But back at our home in Prague, we had snow, and snow, and more snow. The community farms and public parks in and around Prague were covered in deep snow for months, and cross-country skiers were everywhere. It was after the first winter in Czech Republic that I realized I was embracing the wrong kind of skiing.

St. Moritz and Engadin, Switzerland
St. Moritz and Engadin, Switzerland

I asked for a pair of used cross-country skis for my birthday our second year in Prague, and the day after my guys gave them to me, it snowed. Since roads aren’t plowed where we live, I could ski right out my front door (no more lugging heavy boots and skis), and after the first time out on the new (used) skis, I was hooked. So was the rest of my family, who also tried out my skis. We bought 4 more pairs of cross-country skis the next week.

With my husband, Brian, our first cross country ski outing in Czech Rep
With my husband, Brian, our first cross country ski outing in Czech Rep

Since then, we’ve skied every time it snows enough to cover the ground. We’ve traveled and skied in the Italian Dolomites, and last month, we brought our skis to Switzerland, to the Engadin lake region of the world-renowned St. Moritz.

St. Moritz, Switzerland
St. Moritz, Switzerland

Without a doubt, St. Moritz and Engadin have the most beautiful, pristine, well-kept, well-groomed, first-class ski conditions I’ve ever seen in my life. The trails go for 125 miles around lakes, up and down hills, and are used by novice and professional skiers alike. My husband and I and our kids (ages 14, 11, 10) skied only 15 or so miles, and it was the most beautiful trail I’ve ever imagined.

Cross-country Skiing, the views, at St. Moritz / Engadin, Switzerland
Cross-country Skiing, the views (from my iphone), at St. Moritz / Engadin, Switzerland
Cross-country Skiing, the views, at St. Moritz / Engadin, Switzerland
Cross-country Skiing, the views, at St. Moritz / Engadin, Switzerland
Cross-country Skiing, the views, at St. Moritz / Engadin, Switzerland
Cross-country Skiing, the views, at St. Moritz / Engadin, Switzerland
St. Moritz and Engadin, Switzerland
St. Moritz and Engadin, Switzerland

 

If you enjoy being outdoors in the winter, I highly recommend trying cross-country skiing. And if you enjoy cross-country skiing, there is no place in the world like skiing the Engadin lake valley of St. Moritz.

St. Moritz and Engadin, Switzerland
St. Moritz and Engadin, Switzerland

For You: Have you skied Engadin / St. Moritz? Where is your favorite place to cross-country ski?

 

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An Austrian Alpine Christmas

Austrian Alps at Christmas
Sleigh bells ring, are you listening,
In the lane, snow is glistening
A beautiful sight,
We’re happy tonight.
Walking in a winter wonderland.
-R. Smith, lyrics to Winter Wonderland, 1934

Austrian Alps at Christmas
Austrian Alps at Christmas

This year, I am spending the Christmas week in the Austrian Alps with my family. We are skiing here, which is a perfect way to soak in the Alpine beauty. Heavy snow glistens across jagged peaks and frosted evergreens decorate every slope and valley. In the tiny village where we stay, we walk across a bowed bridge to the ski slopes, and also walk to the little grocery, the family-run huts (traditional restaurants) for food, and the chocolate-box type church in the center of the town–for Christmas Eve service. Horse-drawn sleighs pull people across the village toward their destinations, jingling as they go. It truly is an idyllic scene, especially for Christmas.

the majestic Alps

I’d like to share it with you, here in a short collection of photographs I’ve taken this week, accompanied by the original version of Silent Night, written in Austria in 1818:

DEUTSCH (GERMAN)
composed and lyrics written in Austria, 1818 Music: Franz Xaver Gruber, 1818
Words: Joseph Mohr, 1816/1818


Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,

Alles schläft; einsam wacht
Nur das traute hochheilige Paar.
Holder Knabe im lockigen Haar,
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!

driving into the Alps, near Salzburg, Austria

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Hirten erst kundgemacht
Durch der Engel Halleluja,
Tönt es laut von fern und nah:
Christ, der Retter ist da!
Christ, der Retter ist da!

a village church on the Austria / German / Czech border

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Gottes Sohn, o wie lacht
Lieb’ aus deinem göttlichen Mund,
Da uns schlägt die rettende Stund’.

Christ, in deiner Geburt!
Christ, in deiner Geburt!

an Austrian castle nestled into the Alpine slopes

ENGLISH Literal English prose
translation by Hyde Flippo

Silent night, holy night
All is sleeping, alone watches
Only the close, most holy couple.
Blessed boy in curly hair,
Sleep in heavenly peace!
Sleep in heavenly peace!

Silent night, holy night,
Shepherds just informed
By the angels’ hallelujah,
It rings out far and wide:
Christ the Savior is here!
Christ the Savior is here!

from the peak where we are skiing

Silent night, holy night,
Son of God, oh how laughs
Love out of your divine mouth,
Because now the hour of salvation
strikes for us.
Christ, in Thy birth!
Christ, in Thy birth!

the powerful silence in the Alps

Sending you warm wishes for a wonder-filled Christmas. Merry Christmas!

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An Alpine Storybook Christmas

Austrian Alps

Nature is too thin a screen; the glory of the omnipresent God bursts through everywhere. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Austrian Alps
Austrian Alps

Last week, at Christmastime, we took a roadtrip from Prague to the Austrian Alps, to stay the week in the tiny ski village of Rauris.

For our family, fresh expats living in Prague only six months from Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, this seemed an amazing opportunity. The reality of living in Central Europe makes driving from Prague to the Alps only a five or six hour drive—breathtaking Alps in our backyard (the US equivalent to roadtripping to Chicago, or Cleveland, or Detroit,or the Smoky Mountains from Cincinnati).

Growing up skiing every year near Durango, Colorado, where my grandmother lived, I always dreamed of teaching our boys how to ski. We saved up, and waited. And this year, in the Alps, the dream came true.

 

It was fantastic …

Starting our boys, ages 7, 8, and 11, without poles, proved to be a great experience, even with the cold temps (-20 degrees Celsius). After a couple of days, they skied like old pros.

The village did not disappoint, as it had been described to us as “a chocolate-box town” with a church in the center. The Christmas Eve service at the village church filled our hearts, as it turned out to be so packed that children sat along the banister to the balcony. I had never dreamed of listening to the Christmas story in German, sitting in centuries-old pews alongside Austrians who share the same Faith, and hearing the same carols accompanied by a simple accordion. A memorable experience for all of us …

Driving home, with a fresh layer of snow and a heavy dollop of fog, we experienced the beauty of the mountains in a new way. With tired limbs from a week of skiing, and hearts filled with the majesty of the Alps, we returned home to Prague. A storybook Christmas …

How did you see this Christmastime in a new way?