Monday, January 26, 2015

Mitt Romney's New Ski House...On the Trail: Success or Last Chance?

Will 2016 be one last chance for Mitt Romney to schuss his way out onto the political campaign trail for one more run?  We'll soon see, because right now Romney seems to be poised to announce his third run for the White House.

Meanwhile, let's take a peek at the ski house where, if you look closely enough, you might see the white smoke of those presidential aspirations wafting out of the massive stone chimney, and those potential donors warming the deep pockets of their parkas by the fireplace.

According to Mitt Romney has a fancy new ski chalet in Deer Valley; so the Ski House of the Day is, one more time, a ski house belonging to Mitt Romney.


Like the Romney's previous ski house, their new ski chalet is an extremely impressive slope-side mansion near Salt lake City, Utah.  It's a gorgeous 6-bedroom, 8-bathroom log home with over 8,700 sq.ft. of ski house luxury.  Absolutely stunning!

(Do you think they actually ski?  In the snow? Alongside regular skiers?  What kind of skis emerge from this house? And does Mitt Romney remain perfectly coiffed under a ski helmet?  These are some of the questions I'll be listening for when he's "on the trail").

Anyway, the house was listed for $8.9 million shortly before the Romney's ("trust") bought it about a year ago.

I think this is one fantastic log "cabin" with gorgeous views plus, of course, a ski-in ski-out location.  And check out this fabulous private hot tub sunken into the perfect Utah powder.  Absolutely spectacular!

But here's the thing I really noticed about Mitt Romney's new ski's situated right on a ski trail named:  "Success."

Huh?  Anybody superstitious?  Could "Success" be the reason they selected this particular ski house?

And, there's more:  Romney's house is situated between two ski trails:  the one called "Success" and the other called ....."Last Chance."  I can't make this stuff up!

So, on the campaign trail, as on the ski trail, Romney could be heading out for a run on Success, or one on Last Chance....which will it be?

As much as I'd love for our next President to be a skier, and have a luxury slope-side ski house (like Gerald Ford), I'm not so sure that this will be the one.  But there's no denying that this ski house sure is on the right "trail" to entice skiing supporters, friends, and that very large family preparing to take a run.

No matter what the 2016 election may bring, as long as they're skiing from this ski house, the Romney's can be sure to experience a "Last Chance" or "Success" as many times as they want.

Update Feb. 9, 2015:  Looks like the Romney's have decided to settle for Success on the ski trail, not the campaign trail.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Inspirational Mountaintop Ski House

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  It's a day to reflect and honor the slain civil rights leader.  It's not only a national holiday, but also a day that has become synonymous with a long ski weekend.  I don't know whether or not Martin Luther King ever skied, set foot in a ski house, or even went out into the snow.  But I do know that he has "been to the mountaintop".  And I also know of another civil rights who, like King, fought for the rights of African Americans with regard to voting, education, and other rights, but who did live in a ski town....even before it was a ski town.

These two civil rights leaders' birthdays are only a week apart, so today seems fitting to honor them both.  And on this day of recognition, I think Dr. King would welcome sharing the spotlight with one who came before him and who fought for the same things:  Barney Ford, of Breckenridge, Colorado in the 1880's.

Barney Ford was born to a white plantation owner and a black slave on January 22, 1822 in Virginia, and grew up on a South Carolina plantation.  Inspired by his mother to become well educated, Ford taught himself to read and write.  As a young man, he escaped slavery, and fled to Chicago, where he became active in the abolition movement.  There, and in various other locales including Denver, Ford eventually became a successful entrepreneur and businessman (establishing restaurants, hotels, barbershops and other businesses) despite a number of them of them having burned down.  By 1854, when he was just 32, and it was still seven years before the start of the Civil War, he was generating the 14th highest income in the state of Colorado!

Although Ford was apparently cheated out of a gold mining claim on a hill in Breckenridge (by discriminatory laws and an unscrupulous lawyer), the entrepreneurial Fords were highly successful in business and went on to become the wealthiest family in Breckenridge.  Ford played a significant role in the admission of Colorado to the Union as a free state;  and he was the first African American nominated to the Territorial Legislature.  His original house in Breckenridge is now the Barney Ford House Museum. In recognition of his civil rights efforts, a beautiful stained glass portrait of him, resides in the Colorado House of Representatives:

So, in honor of both civil rights leaders, Martin Luther King Jr. and Barney L. Ford, the Ski House of the Day is the Barney Ford Lodge, in Breckenridge:


This ski house is a beautiful 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom house on a cul-de-sac called Barney Ford Drive.  According to Zillow, this house was last sold in 2008 for $1.4 million.  

The house has an amazing panoramic view of the ski trails of Breckenridge Ski Resort, as well as the entire Ten Mile Range.  Absolutely inspirational!

"I've been to the mountaintop..."
                                                                                       Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Memorable View...Camelback

Since January is Learn-to-Ski Month, I decided to find out where the best places to learn are. I was thinking it would probably be an expansive ski resort like Deer Valley, or maybe family-friendly Smuggler's Notch, or Okemo in Vermont.  

So, imagine my surprise when,  Liftopia named Camelback (Pennsylvania) on its short list of top places to learn.  Camelback is a family-friendly ski area in the eastern Pennsylvania Pocono Mountains.  It's got an just an 800 ft vertical, with 16 lifts serving 34 trails that are evenly divided between beginner, intermediate and expert.  It's advertising claims an award-winning ski-school, and yes, they do have some perks for beginners.

I have moved on with regard to skiing, so I haven't been there in years.   Camelback wasn't the first place I ever skied.  But, I did do my own share of learning there, and I have skied Camelback many times in the past.  More importantly, it's the place where my own kids (now grown-up, expert skiers) did some of their own learning to ski...particularly night skiing in after-school ski clubs during high school.

So today, in honor of Learn-to-Ski Month, and with fond memories of skiing there, the Ski House of the Day is this townhome at Camelback.  It's an attractive, new, easy-access, 4-bedroom (rental) vacation home:

There's a soaring stone fireplace in the living room, and (one of my favorite ski house design items) a pair of vintage wooden skis on the wall:

But to me, the most captivating feature and my reason for selecting this particular home as Ski House of the Day is that amazing view of the ski slopes of Camelback out the that seems to light up the night, and put on a spectacular twilight show:

This kitchen has beautiful upscale finishes...and a view of the slopes from the kitchen sink:

Even from the bedroom, the view of the illuminated ski trails seems to light up the room at night:

night run at Camelback under the lights...ahhh, twilight in the Poconos!

The brightly lit trails are familiar sight for anyone who has skied Camelback (or who has driven by on Route 80) on a winter's night.  Whether with a school ski club, or after work with good friends, or on the weekend with family/friends learning to ski, this is the view for many NJ/NY/PA ski novices...and a memorable view it is:

To me, this view is pretty special...and today's Ski House of the Day has this view all over it.

So good luck to all who will learn to ski this month at Camelback. (And cheers to all who will teach someone to ski this winter!). Whether at Camelback or somewhere else, remember the view from the place you learned to's pretty memorable, no matter where it is.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Ski House Charlie

Today the Ski House of the Day is something very different, and is one that I, as a writer in a free country and a citizen of the world, noticed anew this week.  It exists only as long as people will allow it to.  It has a strong foundation after having been built over centuries;  yet it is uniquely fragile, and requires constant care. It is a thing of beauty, but a small few may be offended by its style, color, or occupants.  This is a place that is dynamically defined by any and all who embrace it - and that could include those who are offended by it.  It is an object of threat and envy for some, but even they would be welcome in it, if they chose to join those who appreciate its value.  Most importantly, however, it is fiercely protected by brave, enlightened, civilized people all over the world, so its future is rock solid and very secure.

This powerful ski house is made using only a pencil, and a voice.  Although some may try to destroy it, it stands strong.  How can it be found?  It is recognizable because it is the one whose bright lights cannot be turned off.  It's a beacon on top of a world-wide mountain.

Its name?  Let's just call it...Ski House Charlie.

Where is it?  Look around, maybe it's so close you don't even notice it.  Or maybe it's in the fleeting powder snow just beneath your skis...

Hopefully, everyone will eventually see its light, and embrace it.  Meanwhile, it's a cherished place that continues to stand as strong as ever.

Je suis Charlie

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Adirondack Contemporary Great Camp

Among the crown jewels of the Adirondacks are Lake Placid, Whiteface, and the Great Camps of the Guilded Age.  In upstate New York, Lake Placid is the beautiful, quaint mountain village which is home to skiing at Whiteface (one of the mountains that comprise the High Peaks area of the Adirondacks).  It's also home to one of my Ski House of the Day favorites - the Contemporary Great Camp.

The original Great Camps of the Adirondacks were grandiose, elaborate, rustic summer homes built a century ago by wealthy urban businessmen to escape the city and to enjoy the great outdoors and nature at its finest. Constructed during the late 1800's, they were characterized by being rustic, yet elegant structures built from native materials (logs, stone, artistically designed twigs used as architectural features, etc) by local labor, and being situated in natural, scenic, wooded landscapes, usually on lakefront property.  It was common for the camps to have separate structures for different functions thereby forcing people to interact with the outdoors as a part of daily life. The great camps were exclusive, yet naturally organic,  elegant yet rustic.  They were an interesting contradiction in design, and an irresistible combination of function.  Among the owners of the original Adirondack great camps were JP Morgan, the Rockefellers, and the Vanderbilts.  In Great Camps of the Adirondacks, Harvey H. Kaiser said that "comfort and luxury coexisted with a vague concept of roughing it." They were fabulous, impressive structures, and yet only a limited number of the original Adirondack Great Camps have survived. The demise of many of the great camps was the ironic result of the "forever wild" protections of the Adirondack Forest Preserve legislation of the late 1800's which later restricted the repair and even existence of the camps that eventually fell into the hands of the state and disappeared.

To me it seems that the style of the great camps defines the Adirondacks and its lifestyle;  and it seems that this style retains a certain mystique to this day. Elegance, rustic luxury and that vague concept of roughing it combine to create a uniquely Adirondack charm.

This brings us to what I'd call one of Lake Placid's own crown jewels:  an absolutely fabulous log home, reminiscent of the best of the Adirondack great camps of the Gilded Age, but new and spectacular.  My pick for Ski House of the Day is the Lake Placid Contemporary Great Camp, a wonderful, modern combination of elegance and nature.  (This house is currently on the market for $2.35 million).

Just like the original great camps, this large log home is beautifully situated among the trees, and in the snow:

Reminiscent of the great camps of the nineteenth century, the living room is a stunningly gorgeous combination of wood, stone, soaring spaces and views of nature:
The living room fireplace (one of four native stone fireplaces in the house) is magnificent!  What a wonderful place to enjoy the fire and the views after a cold day on Whiteface.

"Comfort and luxury...with a vague concept of roughing it" sums up the style of this house.  Every piece of furniture and decor in this house just seems to ooze with comfortable, luxurious Adirondack charm.

The use of large logs and small twigs along the stairs is artful as well as functional, and so perfectly Adirondack! But, wait a that a beaver gnawing on a ... log?  (Now that's a great sense of humor!).

Another cozy feature of this house (unlike the great camps), is the radiant heating - cozy on skiers' frozen toes.

This kitchen looks beautiful, functional and elegant.  I love the extra large gas stove, multi-level granite island, and of course that gleaming, detailed tin ceiling (a feature that was, in fact, popular during the era of the original great camps' construction):

The birch-bark ceiling in the dining room makes it unmistakably Adirondack, and blends with the white snow-capped trees outside:

This outdoor living room is one of my favorite areas of this house...and is so in keeping with the great camps in that it's designed to provide comfortable yet rustic enjoyment of the great outdoors:
Simply fabulous!

The Adirondack Museum says that one of the things that defined the Great Camps located in the forest was that they were closely linked to the land and to the American vernacular traditions of log and bark construction...with prevailing romantic notions of the wilderness.  And the entry foyer of the Contemporary Great Camp is spot on with that definition;  linked with the land via the wood/log and birch bark construction and the romance of the snow-covered wilderness just outside the windows:

As in the great camps...there are massive logs gracefully supporting this house:

Although this contemporary home is just five years old, it has a cozy, warm and inviting feeling that hints at days gone by in the Adirondacks.

The bedroom has a wall of windows for a special view of that Adirondack "prevailing romantic notions of the wilderness:"

Here's one of the 4.5 bathrooms in this beautiful's elegant, but with rustic touches like the birch bark mirror frame, and stone finishes.  Gorgeous!

The log furniture is perfect:

The snow that is visible outside of every window in this house is not lost on me...I love it!

How I wish I were writing Ski House of the Day right now from the birch-bark clad desk in this elegantly rustic home office:

Okay, they may not have had a coffee table like this in the original great camps, but how can you resist this toboggan-turned-coffee-table in a house that has all that snow just outside the door?

The family room/game room area is home to yet another fireplace, plus a bar, game tables, and more.  How great is this room for some apres-ski fun?

I love the wooden "ski" pub-chairs, and the vintage skis on the is in Lake Placid, after all.

There's a spacious built-in bar in the family room/game room...nice for apres-ski, for sure!  And check out the antique brass cash register on the is an item whose lifespan roughly coincided with the great camps of the Adirondacks.  In addition to being a beautiful conversation piece, I think it could be a subtle nod to the wealth of those who created the Adirondack great camps in the first place.  

The impressive Contemporary Great Camp just seems to go on and on.  

I am simply awestruck by this ski house!

Like the great camps of the past, I think the Contemporary Great Camp is an absolute masterpiece of rustic elegance in the Adirondacks.