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On Thanksgiving Day I love to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, make my famous gluten-free stuffing, eat my mom’s famous cranberries and indulge in pumpkin pie. I enjoy and eat all that I want because thanksgiving signals one thing: Taos is open and I can ski.

If you haven’t planned on hitting the slopes this Thanksgiving weekend in New Mexico—YOU SHOULD.

Here’s why:

Taos was dumped on over the weekend and will have the backside open (but Kachina lift will not be operating).

Red River will be open top to bottom.

Sipapu is also open and looks beautiful. Plus they have a mini park for the moment.

Plus you burn off all your calories from turkey day! So enjoy all your turkey, stuffing, pie, etc. and burn it all off the next day!

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We all have our favorite things to carry with us when on the slopes. Aside from the obvious essentials (such as your pass, good gear and waterproof pants), here are my top 5 items to have with me while on the slopes:

1) Sunscreen: At most ski areas, you are generally at or above 10,000 feet. I always apply (and re-apply!) sunscreen throughout the day to avoid a sunburn (and prevent skin cancer). Everyone loves to show off their goggle tan but I would rather save my skin.

2) Hand warmers: Even with today’s technology, forecasters are not 100% when it comes to predicting the weather. So I always keep hand warmers in my pocket just in case the temperature suddenly changes. It also helps when you have little ones nearby because if you are cold, children are probably freezing.

3) Snacks: Skiing takes a lot of energy and sometimes you just need a little pick me up. I like to carry power bars (Luna is my favorite) or those little power gels. These little snacks can help you throughout the day. Children also need snacks so putting a couple options in their jacket will keep them happy (and you too!).  Remember that these snacks are literally on-the-go so don’t pack anything messy.

4) Water: It can be difficult to keep your body hydrated while on the slopes but this is important. I always see people coming down with altitude sickness while on vacation. This can be simply remedied with some water.

5) Insurance card: I don’t want to ever jinx myself…but in case of an accident I always keep my insurance card on my person while on the slopes. You never know what’s going to happen.

So those are my essentials. What are yours?

Wolf Creek opened over the weekend and unfortunately I have had a cold and decided to stay home. If you were able to go, I am officially jealous!

The annual ski swap starts tonight and if you are looking for gear, this event is a must. Here are some tips for those of you who have never attended a swap. You will want this heads up because, unless you are really lucky,  you might not run into a volunteer who knows what it’s going on. Some people just want to sell their gear and will not listen to what you need.

1) Know your boot size. Nothing is worse than spending $200+ on new boots, only to get on the slopes and realize that you are wearing a size that is too large. Trust me. I am NOT talking about a size 8 or 10. You need to measure your feet and learn your mondo size (almost all shoe stores are able to measure your feet). This will save you trouble in the long run.
Also, parents: please restrain from buying your child a larger size because they will grow out of it next year. This will only hurt your child’s performance on the slopes. Think about renting for a season or passing the boots along to the next child. When kids show up in adult boots, they have a a lot of trouble progressing their skill set.

2) Board/Ski size: Generally speaking, your gear should be around your chin when upright. Your needs will change as you progress and you might get larger or smaller gear, but using the chin rule is easiest when starting out.

3) Clothing: Buy clothing that fits! You may want to get a size larger than normal to accommodate the extra layers you will wear on a cold day. If you can’t bend your knees in those pants, get a larger size! If you can’t walk normally, how do you expect to ski/board?

Hopefully these basics will help you on your next swap adventure. If you have any additional suggestions, let me know in the comments below.

Have fun!