Drunk of the Week

Although every person from sun-intensive states like Texas or Florida thinks he not only knows how to drive in the snow, but knows how to ski without putting the rest of the people on the mountain at risk of life and limb, we all can use an occasional winter-survival refresher. Beyond the obvious items like gas, warm clothes, candles, sunscreen and a large-caliber handgun, drivers should remember to bring at least a case of beer, in the eventuality that their cars are buried in the snow for a week.

Those of you who headed to Summit County over President's Day weekend could have used those beer cans as projectiles to hurl at the Suburbans and SUVs filled with sun-belters who left behind their jobs, their worries and their manners in order to slap on blue jeans and huge, comical cowboy hats and then snowplow through every mogul they could find at Breckenridge. Not that hitting their heavily armored vehicles would have done much damage -- the best you could hope for was to get them to stop looking at the bighorns, the sky, the snow, the other cars, the rocks, the air and their GPS machines and drive just a bit over the speed limit.

By Evergreen, we were beginning to hope that our journey would end quickly -- even if it meant being buried alive like Richard Kral, a Slovak man whose Audi was caught in an avalanche in the Tatra mountains earlier this winter. The authorities found Kral four days after he was reported missing, "drunk and staggering" along the road. But Kral did not disappear from home in order to enjoy a four-day bender populated with women wearing only lederhosen, as some cynics might believe. No, he was busy surviving. With his car buried, the only way he could see his way clear was to drink the sixty half-liter bottles of beer in his back seat and then pee his way out, as urine melted the snow around the car.

Unfortunately, our trip was not interrupted by an avalanche, and we got all the way to Breckenridge before we cracked open the cooler and forgot our road rage. But road was only the beginning of my rages: The buffoonery I saw on the mountain the next day made me want to attack myself with one of my ski poles. (There were too many offenders for me to attempt attacking them.) Instead, I got the hell off the slopes and hit Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Restaurant and Market (231 South Main Street, Breckenridge), where a reliable source had promised a good happy hour.

I was not disappointed. You do have to show some perseverance to get to a table, though, since a staffer, decked out in a headset, runs you through a tunnel, down and then up the stairs to a corner of the bar, and if you lose sight of your overly enthusiastic helper, you lose your table. But once you're seated, you can do some serious damage. The atmosphere is meant to evoke Gulf Coast Alabama, but I was transported to the upper Midwest once I caught a glimpse of the cheap pitchers of beer being offered -- I haven't seen a pitcher of beer for less than nine bucks since I moved to Colorado. And Bubba's also has cheap margaritas. While I wouldn't expect killer margs at a place or price like this, you have to give the official stamp of approval to such a giant deal.

As is often the case, my stomach was my undoing. I ordered from the two-for-one appetizer menu that features several deep-fried delicacies, and even as a native of a region where fried cheese curds are considered a treat, I was in no way prepared for the gastrointestinal onslaught inspired by Bubba Gump's cooks. Just when I'd been lulled into a false sense of security by the good, inexpensive drinks, a guerilla attack was launched against my gut. Even now, thinking about it reminds me of that famous line in Forrest Gump -- "Run, Forrest, run!" -- as I sprint for a certain destination in my home.

I like Bubba Gump's, but you need to prepare for it appropriately. And if you're driving back down the mountain after a night here, be sure to add Pepto and Rolaids to your survival kit.

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Patrick Osborn

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