Riding shotgun in an Uber from Vail Village to the Riverfront Westin in Avon, I turned to our new found friend Eric, who managed to tag along for the night and was sitting in the back with my buddy Steve, and asked, "Hey Eric, how did you end up in Vail Village tonight anyway?"
"Ehhhhhhhhh," was the only sound that came from behind reminding me a lot of a drunk Dan Akroyd in the movie Trading Places.
This really begs the question, how did we even get to a point in the evening where we ultimately acquired another human being that we had not known prior?
Let's just say après-ski has a habit of doing that to you.
Quad Burning Turns Earned us Our Lunch at The 10th
It started snowing right around the time we arrived at our ridiculously amazing accommodations at the Solaris in Vail Village. The snow, was not what you would consider big dumps but it was consistent through the night, delivering about six inches of fresh by Friday morning. So Steve, my partner in crime known for his variety of Tipsy Elves onesies that he often rocks while riding, and I headed out early. Catching one of the first gondolas up we immediately headed for the famous back bowls. My friend Dave Tucker, who you may know as the main après-ski act at Vail's famous Red Lion, eventually joined us an hour or so later. The conditions were good since it snowed about 8 inches earlier in the week as well. This was not one of the epically great powder days that you can get into in the back bowls but definitely mid-boot high and in some cases boot top or higher in the trees. It was glorious and we certainly took advantage of our one day there. From the Shangri La Glade to Lover's Leap to Pete's Stash the morning was fantastic, providing an ample amount of quad burning turns.
Let's just say, I earned my lunch at the 10th where they gave me slippers to replace my ski boots and I devoured about 5000 calories worth of raclette, truffle fries and their signature 10th burger. Of course there were bloodies and beers to wash it all down as well. I needed to fully replenish my stores, right? With our lunch a rather lengthy one and a meeting at 3 pm, we had time for one last run down Riva Ridge and would later catch up with Dave during après-ski at the Red Lion.
The Red Lion and Dave Tucker Take Us from First Après to Second Après
Walking into the Red Lion you know instantly that you are in for a good time. The atmosphere is jovial and the people are looking for fun. "Oh look, tequila!" Dave exclaimed as he downed a shot purchased for him by one of his adoring patrons. To be a musician in a mountain town, especially one of his caliber at such a high profile bar in Vail is truly fascinating. One one shot after another being purchased and placed on a table by the stage and tips being dumped into his bucket, Steve acknowledged on more than one occasion that he was really questioning his life choices up to that point. Ahhhhh, the ski bum life. It certainly has its perks. But enough adulation, let's get back to how we came upon this fellow Eric.
Walking up to the bar, the bar tender instantly recognized Steve and I from the previous night. Knowing our affinity for good craft beer, he immediately began making recommendations for that evening's libations. One beer flowed into the next as Dave rocked the scene with après classics like Zac Brown's Toes which he sang with an emphasis on the line, "pour me some Jaeger," ultimately repeating it until someone did just that. Ah, tequila washed down by Jaeger...yum. The crowd was singing and dancing as first après turned to second après, which Dave declared an actual thing that evening. However, there was one guy there who seemed to know pretty much everyone and despite what looked like being in an intoxicated state needed to know Steve and I. I don't know, maybe we just have that look that welcomes all to come talk to us. Or, maybe it was my over-the-top Tipsy Elves sweater that I was rocking which seemed to be the talk of the bar. Either way, he walked right over and began chatting with us and there we were conversating with our new buddy Eric. As it turned out, he wasn't as much of a stranger as we thought, being a friend and former roommate of Dave's. What a character though. We came to realize that he knew a fair amount of people in Vail Village. More than likely this was a result of his long time ski bum status or possibly the fame that he gained from doing the previous year's pond skim as Jesus walking on water. I am sure that that went over really well with all the Christians in attendance. Either way, we got to know Eric's story as he/we continued to toss back bevvies. Dave, who in the name of capitalism, played a good 45 minutes past his first time slot thanks to a slew of solid tips, finally finished up with an epic mashup of Snoop Dogg's Gin and Juice and Paul Simon's Call me Al. An unprecedented ending to his set but the beginning of the rest of the night.
7 Hermits Delivers a Golden Performance
Steve and I had it on our list that we wanted to try out the new 7 Hermits Brewing that was right across the way from the Red Lion. Turns out, Eric bartended there and that's exactly where he came from prior to meeting up with us. Could this be a possible explanation for his current state? Not sure, but he was hell bent on having us try their beers and showing us this one music video on the big screen that he seemed to be very fond of. I have to say, their beer was quite good, particularly the Fire it Up, an American style lager infused with Hatch Green Chilies. It was crispy, light and had just the right touch of heat and flavor from the pepper. However, what really blew me away was the savory crepe that I had for dinner.
Dubbed the Taos, it was a monster of a crepe loaded with pulled chicken, a couple of different cheeses, avocado, a few other ingredients that are escaping my memory at the moment and my last minute addition of bacon. God damn it was heavenly! As far as that video goes, it was a rather interesting choice for a crowded bar but it ultimately set the stage for Eric taking requests for more videos from people there. We really ran the gamut that evening, hitting everything from White Snake to Phil Collins' Land of Confusion. At one point, the whole place was singing a long only adding to the enjoyment.
An Interesting Send off at Our Final Destination
Eventually Dave had to get back to play his second set but our sojourn with the infamous Eric continued. There was a quick stop at one of my favorite spots in Vail, the Bridge Street Bar, and then we got shanghaied by him into The George merely because when he brought it up we made the mistake of telling him that we'd never been. That was arguably the low point of the night as Steve ordered a Guinness that Eric had the bartender pour a shot of vanilla vodka into, ultimately rendering that beautiful stout undrinkable. Never screw with a Guinness. Looking back on it though, this was probably fine for Steve who was in need of any excuse to get out of the conversation he was having with the three cougars who were clearly on the prowl and managed to corner him. I had conveniently walked away to once again find our missing link, Eric. I did eventually find him, which was good since he was paying for our Uber to Avon where the Riverfront Westin was located and where he apparently lived. Arriving at our destination, he handed Steve a $20 bill and walked off into the distance. Not sure where he went or if he made it home okay. I am sure though, based on the performance that I saw from him that night, that this was not his first escapade like this. I can guarantee that he landed on his feet somewhere and will probably resurface soon in someone else's Uber having a similar drunk conversation culminating in the word, "ehhhhhhhhh."