Late season TR - Cranmore and Sugarloaf
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pagamony - DCSki Supporter
April 16, 2008
Member since 02/23/2005 🔗
838 posts
I just cannot let Denis have all the glory with his Stowe report. Of course, I am not a rad cliff hucking extreme stylist like said competitor, but I will do what I can.

Summary:
Skybus: good and bad
Cranmore: good
Maine: rural
Sugarloaf: great

pictures and steezy details: My report on skinc...

skier219
April 16, 2008
Member since 01/8/2005 🔗
1,318 posts
Awesome ski adventure Dave -- thanks for the report! Too bad you guys put SkyBus out of business ;\) , that looks like a great way to do a New England ski trip from our part of the country. I wish I thought about that option earlier in the season.
bousquet19 - DCSki Supporter
April 16, 2008
Member since 02/23/2006 🔗
701 posts
 Originally Posted By: skier219
Awesome ski adventure Dave -- thanks for the report! Too bad you guys put SkyBus out of business ;\) , that looks like a great way to do a New England ski trip from our part of the country. I wish I thought about that option earlier in the season.


Wish I'd thought of it, too.

Dave, you may have earned the 07-08 award for the shortest ski report. But what photos! Inspiring...really enjoyed seeing the April conditions. One of these years, instead of taking in Winchester VA's Apple Blossom Festival, I'd like to zip up to NH and Maine for some runs at Wildcat, Sugarloaf or Saddleback.

Too bad about Skybus. With fuel prices being what they are, I wonder whether cheap airline flights will continue to be available. I guess there's always a niche; it's just that "cheap" is a relative term, so cheap in 2009 may exceed the cost of 2007's business class.
pagamony - DCSki Supporter
April 17, 2008
Member since 02/23/2005 🔗
838 posts

yeah, skybus to NH was a great route. I would have done that three times a year, easy.

In Europe, ultra low cost carriers are more common and I hope that works out here eventually.

And I would really like to get back to Sugarloaf next spring. Anyone up for a road trip ?
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skier219
April 17, 2008
Member since 01/8/2005 🔗
1,318 posts
I am always up for a trip! Skybus would have made that a lot more reasonable, compared to a 12-15 hour drive and the gas cost nowadays. But if it works out, that would be a fun trip. I really want to get up to New England to ski one of these days; haven't been there in a long time. I would be excited to guide folks around Sugarbush VT sometime (and the salad bar at "The Den" restaurant in Waitsfield has to be on the list too).

When I was debating about an April trip this year, the gas cost and 12 hour drive to Sugarbush was a hard pill to swallow by myself. For about $100 more, flying to/from SLC in 6-7 hours suddenly looked like a better idea for a solo skier. That's not a bad option either -- with some "optimization" of costs (= being cheap), a small group can stay/ski in SLC for about $80-100 per person per day (lodging/meals/lifts). Getting a deal on airfare is the biggest factor there.
jimmy
April 17, 2008
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
2,650 posts
so wut r u doing for the next five or six days?
skier219
April 17, 2008
Member since 01/8/2005 🔗
1,318 posts
I think I am done skiing for this season, except for maybe a late spring Tuckerman trip if it works out. I seriously spent the remainder of my mojo, money, use-or-lose leave, and um, "marital budget" skiing last week. I'd need to buy a supply of milk bones if I planned any more ski trips this year!
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
April 17, 2008
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,527 posts
I did Stowe via Amtrak. Actually, as we've been talking about it on this site, I did some calculations - using gas at 3.50 a gallon, which by next season should be over 4 dollars:

Car DC to Waterbury VT:
Time: 12 hours
Miles: 560 miles
Trip cost: 560/15 GPM (average) = 37 gals X 3.50 per gallos = 130 x 2 = 260 plus tolls 30 = 290

Plane DCA to BTV (Burlington) (I used Travelocity)
Time: 6 hours, 24 minutes including stop and waiting time in Neward (EWR). Add 1.5 hour before and 1 hour post-flight, for a total of 8.5 hours.
Trip cost: $366 round trip on Delta or Continental
Additional: Weekly car rental for the 34-mile, 44 minute trip: $351

Amtrak:
Union Station to Waterbury
Time: 13 hours
Trip Cost: $146 round trip coach, 230 on business class (meals included)
Taxi to Stowe: $25

I don't think we're about to see rock-bottom prices on airfare anytime soon...
scootertig
April 17, 2008
Member since 02/19/2006 🔗
365 posts
 Originally Posted By: lbotta
I did Stowe via Amtrak. Actually, as we've been talking about it on this site, I did some calculations - using gas at 3.50 a gallon, which by next season should be over 4 dollars:

Car DC to Waterbury VT:
Trip cost = 290

Plane DCA to BTV (Burlington) (I used Travelocity)
Trip cost: $366 round trip on Delta or Continental
Additional: Weekly car rental for the 34-mile, 44 minute trip: $351

Amtrak:
Union Station to Waterbury
Trip Cost: $146 round trip coach, 230 on business class (meals included)
Taxi to Stowe: $25


This is a perfect example of why driving is going to be so difficult to get away from...

Using Google Maps, I see that from my door to Stowe, VT (I presume it's the town, not the resort), it's 589 miles (slightly longer if I go up 95 instead of taking 81). By taking 81 (as I generally do when I travel into New England), I avoid almost all of the tolls, or at least the ones in Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey. That saves me at around $20, if I remember correctly.

My car (a 2000 VW Jetta) averages around 28 MPG, so that trip would only take 21 gallons of gas, or just about 1.5 tanks. We can figure (using your number of $3.50) around $75 for gas each way, or about $150 all told. At that point, it's just about break even with the coach seat on the train, and less when I figure that I don't need a taxi either direction ($25 each way, I save $50).

Of course, that's me being selfish. I'd probably want to invite a friend to share the Stowe-y goodness, right? Even with just one friend, I can cut my cost in half. If I have another friend who packs light, and doesn't get carsick from sitting in the back seat, I can I reduce my cost to a third of the train, and plus we get all the joy of a road trip...

So, for $50 bucks in gas (each), two friends and I can make it to New England for a weekend of skiing.

That's definitely better than $150 each, or $230 for business class seating.

But, you've said before that you're looking forward to having the high price of gas force people into changing their mindset. If you're dropping $230 on business class seats instead of $150 coach seats, then you probably wouldn't feel the pinch of $4 gas too much, either. And if you're driving something that gets 15 MPG (average), then something tells me you're not bopping around town in a Mini Cooper... With a hybrid or even a conventional car with good gas mileage, it will take a LONG time before driving with more than one person costs more per person than flying/train/etc. If the cost is the motivating factor we're looking for, then we're probably better off trying something else, like dramatically dropping the cost of train or bus travel.

I think a lot of the people that I think you're suggesting should change their mindset about driving everywhere (and turning to alternative forms of transportation), may not be able to. They're probably more likely to give up on traveling (and the activities that they'd do while they traveled), which is NOT good for tourist-based industries.

If cost were my only concern, theoretically, it would have to be more than twice as expensive to drive as to fly or take the train somewhere (presuming I've got one passenger) for it to be worth my while to not drive on a trip.

In other words, for me to choose to take Amtrak over driving to Stowe (for cost considerations only), it would take gas prices of nearly $15/gallon to make it worth it for my friend and I.

Figure in a second passenger in my car, and we're looking at $23/gallon for the break-even.

$4 gas is scary, but it's a loooong way from $23 gas!


aaron

PS - Just for grins, I checked Greyhound prices. A round-trip ticket to Burlington (from DC, the closest station I could find to Leesburg), 7-day advance purchase, is $130. To get a refundable ticket, it's $204. At that price, it's nearly the same as the train, which doesn't make any sense (from a marketing standpoint) at all... Who'd take a bus over a train, if they had the choice?

PPS - Lou, I reread this, and it started to feel like it might like I was attacking your statements on this... I'm not... I just wanted to follow the line of reasoning that higher gas prices will make people approach things differently... Some people, who can afford to, will do so (but might be compelled to do so anyway, if they have the means). For those who cannot afford to do so, it may mean making bigger decisions (not travelling at all). More unfortunately, there's a long way to go before we hit the break-even point, and who knows how many people will bail before we get there?
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter
April 17, 2008
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
3,107 posts
For those of us that remember the gas crunch of the seventies, you might remember that some of the resorts built small gas stations (1 o 2 pumps) at the resort so that the customers could get gas for the trip home. In those days many areas had an odd-even license number rule for filling up your tank.
Supposedly there is not a lot of profit per gallon selling gas, but it might be a good idea for the resorts to reopen these pumps and sell the gas at a loss (much lower price than available in neighboring towns) in order to offset the cost of the trip. The resort would get the customers back, and could insist that a lift ticket (or some sort of ID or receipt) be necessry to purchase the "cheap" gas.
The Colonel \:\)
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
April 17, 2008
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,527 posts
Oh no Aaron, I don't feel attacked. If you'd seen some of the discussions folks here had on GW and some of the other topics, this is very very different. We can discuss and be very vehement, but it's not personal.

I offer these additionals: Your DC to Stowe trip takes a 12-hour drive, and although I recognize many people actually like the act of driving, I look forward to getting behind a wheel like I look forward to being on the dentist's chair.

In the time you're doing the Beltway traffic jams, Baltimore tunnels, and construction zones, I'm sitting on a seat that's twice the size of an airliner's. I'm walking around talking to people, going to the bar car, having a couple of beers, talking to more people, and then napping for about five hours. When I get to Stowe, I'm not suffering from the after-driving PTSD that often accompanies a long trip. I can get to my hotel and head off to the bar, mind clear and body refreshed. That to me is worth the business fare...

skier219
April 17, 2008
Member since 01/8/2005 🔗
1,318 posts
I used to not mind long drives, but the thought of a 12-hour drive to VT is not appealing to me. If I can share the driving with someone else, that helps. Still, that's a lot of time cooped up in a car. I must be getting old...
pagamony - DCSki Supporter
April 17, 2008
Member since 02/23/2005 🔗
838 posts
Actually, the drive back from SL was really no problem - but it does all depend on the company and we did spend 8 hours in an Econolodge south of Scranton due to our late start. I'll drive and Craig can buy the gas!

Aaron's analysis is spot-on and especially for families - if all 5 of us are in the minivan (yes, a minivan!) getting 20mpg loaded with gear, that is an amazing efficiency worth a little short term discomfort. Otherwise, why would anyone ever go to Snowshoe if they could go West or North for nearly equivalent money ? Think about it - Skybus could have been the death of Snowshoe! ahh, if only \:\)

so hey, doesn't anyone have any good Sugarloaf stories to tell?

There is a now a nice big SL sticker on the back of our minivan, one of very few in NC I suspect.
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
April 17, 2008
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,527 posts
 Originally Posted By: pagamony
Think about it - Skybus could have been the death of Snowshoe! ahh, if only \:\)


I don't think you'll see budget air fares anytime soon. The airlines are in the process of consolidating and thereby eliminating competition which will result in "the sky is the limit" air fares, their former and to-be executives are running the FAA, and they are even starting to charge you extra for window and aisle seats, not to say anything about ski gear...

I'm still hopeful on the rails... as well, I think Snowshoe has a bright future
JohnL
April 17, 2008
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,518 posts
First of all, I encourage everyone to consider Amtrak if they're taking a trip to Vermont. As Lou said, there are some nice aspects to train travel.

But, Lou, Lou, Lou, you are cooking the books. GAO would not approve.

12 hours driving to Stowe? If you drive like my grandmother. Set your DIN to 4 and slink home with your lab's tail between your legs if that is your typical drive time. More like 10, even with some weather on the route. Still a long time I grant you. But what is the total trip time via Amtrack, door to door? Include time to Union Station, time waiting for the train, train time, transportation from Waterbury to Stowe, time waiting for the local transportation... Trains always run on time?

15 mph on your car? Highway? Are you related to one of the Saudi princes? Camels get better miles per gallon.

How come the Amtrak option does not include a rental car but the plane option does? Can't you take ground transportation from Burlington Airport to Stowe?

Add a passenger or two, and driving seems even better $$$ wise. It is a long drive, but please give a fair comparison.
scootertig
April 17, 2008
Member since 02/19/2006 🔗
365 posts
In the interest of full disclosure, I went to college at UMaine in Orono, but my parents were living in Sterling. I made the Orono-to-Sterling drive many, many times, and got to the point that 12 hours door to door didn't bother me. Now that I have XM radio, I can stand it even more readily (although my girlfriend's not crazy about riding shotgun for that whole time...).

It's true that traveling by train or plane is more relaxing, but I guess I place a low premium on my personal relaxation. Compared to spending 2-3 times what it would cost to drive, I'm willing to put up with the annoyance of driving.

Like I said before, if I could "not drive" (read: bus, train, plane) for about the same price (including all parties involved) as driving, I'd opt not to drive. But the fact of the matter is, if I have to choose between spending dollars on airfare and spending dollars on a lift ticket, the lift ticket is going to win, even if it means an 8-10 hour drive after work on Friday, and a long drive back on Sunday night.

My general rule of thumb is, I'll pay up to about 125% (maybe 150%) of what it would cost me to drive to avoid driving. If time's a consideration, I'll do what I have to do. If time is less of a constraint, the percentage I'm willing to pay drops...

If ski areas (and other tourist-driven businesses) would offer signficant benefits to people who opted for other-than-driving options, it might prove persuasive enough to get people to not drive, but it would be iffy. For instance, with a bus ticket or train ticket, give discount lift tickets, or a cheaper hotel room, or whatever, then the money that I'd spend "saving the world" would come back to help me by giving me a better shot at a day of skiing.

Just an idea...


aaron
skier219
April 17, 2008
Member since 01/8/2005 🔗
1,318 posts
Some of the Park City resorts offer a free day-of-arrival lift ticket, but the terms are somewhat limited. If they expanded that plan a bit, and more resorts did that sort of thing, I think it would be a plus. Although, not everyone can get a direct flight to make it practical, and not everyone wants to fly and then ski the same day.

I do like it that Snowshoe throws in a free day of arrival lift ticket on bookings of three nights or more. It's a nice bonus, and generally feasible for most folks to take advantage of.

Of course, none of that really encourages more efficient / environmentally-friendly travel, but if it increases the ratio of ski hours to travel hours, that's a start...
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
April 18, 2008
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,527 posts
Now John, if you can make it from DC to Stowe in less than 12, you have either a) a better bladder than mine (and I can boast a 13-hour bladder as the result of my C-130 life), or b) your car has afterburners. Even driving to Snowshoe, 218 miles, and stopping for gas, lunch, and physiological necessities can push the trip to 4:30 or 5 hours.

The waiting at the train station? Not at all. When I travel by train, which is any official trip on the East corridor, I can beat your airplane time by a long shot. Going to the train for me is as easy as a 5-minute 5-stop metro ride that leaves me at the basement of Union Station. Take the escalator to the train waiting line and I'm there. Normally, I allow myself 10 minutes at the train station. More if I have a Starbucks addiction fix... Try that for an airport....

Going to an airport today can be an exercise in humility if not futility. Cancelled flights, departure gate delays, arrivals without gates, sour employees who charge you for breathing and now, window seats, the TSA gauntlet that takes you back to the opening scene of the film Airport II... and you have to be there at least an hour if not two hours prior. Yes, trains may not always run on time but neither do airplanes, and you seldom if ever, have a canceled train.

The Amtrak option doesn't include a rental because when I got to Waterbury, I took a taxi for $15 that got me to the Commodore Inn and once at Stowe, you don't need a car. If you fly to Burlington, the price of the taxi is about half as the car rental - IF... you get a taxi, and if you rent a car, you're suck with it, so that's why I put it there. No cooking the books.

As far as the gas mileage, I was under, but my experience with cars is from 96, which is when I bought my latest Jeep and I intend to drive it until it falls apart, considering that it gets only about 4K miles a year, all to go skiing or visiting family in New England (the REAL reason I keep it is in case of evacuation and that's worth my life). My Jeep gets about 13/17. I checked recent gas miles (http://www.usatoday.com/money/autos/2005-09-16-charts.htm) and there has been a marked improvement and I accept that. Even then, it is quite competitive.

And... yes, if you carpool, you indeed save $$, but on the other hand, I can take the trip and have lots of beers along the way, break the ice with dozens of people, talk to European tourists, take a nap or two, admire the New York skyline, and look out the window at the traffic jams, car accidents, stand-stills at the Havre de Grace bridge, and wonder why these nice folks are not taking the train... That, is priceless...

:-)
SteveC
April 18, 2008
Member since 10/24/2005 🔗
145 posts
When the family and I (wife, two boyz 10 and 12) went to NH skiing this spring break, we took our Rialta RV. It's small - only 21 ft - but gets at least 15 mpg. And, it was our lodging and resturant most nights!!

The trip was 8 days - 6 days of skiing, two for travel - all for about $1750. That includes food, gas, lift tickets, two night hotel (gotta shower at some point!).

Of course, that unfortunately meant sleeping a couple of night in Wal-Mart parking lots - but what an adventure!! I kid you not, the whole family is already pumped to do it again next year.
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
April 18, 2008
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,527 posts
I'm off-the scale on the "E" on the Myers-Brigg. Like my Lab, I love people and will break the ice even in an elevator in NYC. For me, that's part of the vacation.
JohnL
April 18, 2008
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,518 posts
 Quote:
Now John, if you can make it from DC to Stowe in less than 12, you have either a) a better bladder than mine (and I can boast a 13-hour bladder as the result of my C-130 life), or b) your car has afterburners.


Made it from Virginia to Burlington VT this past February in slightly over 9 hours. (Stowe is less than one hour further.) Took at least 3 quick breaks, one for food, one for gas. For most of the trip, averaged 70-80 mph, and I was never the speediest car on the road. Hit some pretty bad snow in Vermont, which slowed me down further.

Sorry mate, I'm not buying your numbers.

Another big advantage of having a car in Vermont once you are there (i.e. driving up), is that you can visit several areas during your vacation. Stowe, Smuggs, Sugarbush, Mad River are very close together; plus Jay, Bolton, K-Mart, Middlebury Snow Bowl are a bit farther away.
JimK - DCSki Columnist
April 18, 2008
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,723 posts
I'm of the scootertig mindset on this topic. Like all of us I look hard at various tradeoffs for ski trip travel, with my priorities based on cost savings and the fact that I almost always have multiple family members along.

My two last spring ski trips are illustrative. Apr 07 went to Keystone/Loveland for four days of skiing. Got a great deal on airfare, brought four people at $140 each, then rented car at $175 and bought local gas for about $800 total transportation costs. We would have had a hard time beating that by driving out there (mucho gas and extra meals&motel nights), and would have suffered severe time penalty of an extra four to six days that driving would have taken (wife loses sanity after about 10-12 hours straight in car).
Apr 08 I drove four of us to Quebec City for four days of skiing, also got a few hours at Stratton on the way home. Over 800 miles each way, equaled about $350 total for gas and tolls. Took two days to get there and two days to return, visited relatives coming and going with free lodging those two nights. The MD-NJ part of trip was drudgery, but I really enjoyed the driving in NH, VT and Canada, part of the adventure for me.

For an exceptional bargain to a very distant destination I will fly the group, but if you're staying within 1000 miles driving is much less expensive then flying or training (I like train travel) if you are paying for multiple trip participants. Although the idea of a ski-train trip to Stowe is very appealing to me, when I'm financing multiple family members I would generally never consider anything but driving for an Eastern ski trip.

Although I'm generally very car reliant, I've kind of done it all in my 40+ years of skiing and there were very different priorities when I ski traveled alone or with "the guys". Greatly enjoyed my 2003 ski trip to Austria without car rental. Me and a buddy used Salzburg city bus service to commute to different ski areas. Wife and I also had a GREAT summer trip to Europe many years ago where our travel mode was trains via a three week Eurail Pass. Also, did a ski trip to UT without car rental once.
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