Mike Marshall's Cyber Scrapbook 2000

presents

Mike's 40th Birthday

or

The old man on the mountain

or

Mike & Rick's Excellent Rocky Mountain Adventure Part II

 

The Morning of my 40th Birthday.  In a last ditch attempt to cling to my waning youth I decided to spend my 4th decade on the planet learning to snowboard.  (Note the 1970s era snow pants)

 

In what may very well be the greatest act of friendship or the height of stupidity, Rick Lippert decided to join me on this downhill quest to rekindle my youth.

 

With no lessons and the creaking of knees we quickly mastered the fine art of Snowboard Butt Plowing.  (Note the two rescue patrol skiers in the background.)

 

After a successful snow enema Mike is both joyful and triumphant.

 

Rick, no longer satisfied with scooting down the mountain on his backside performs an incredible 53 cartwheels in a row.  A feat never before seen in a Mt. Dew commercial or the X-Games.

 

Mike grins with glee having successfully conquered the mountain.  Note the complete lack of bandages, casts and/or stitches.

 

That evening we left the scenic Vail Marriott and walked over to Lionshead to have a delicious birthday dinner.

 

Returning to the hotel I suddenly remembered that I had left the iron on in my room.

 

Bev and Tim, now homeless reminisce about the good old days when they had a room that did not look like a scene from the movie Back Draft.

 

Marty Howerton, C.P.A. (center) suddenly remembers that he left his favorite #2 pencil in his hotel room.  Firefighters are unable to rescue it.

 

NFIB Staffers lament the loss of their hair care products.

 

The Vail Marriott needs a new coat of paint.

 

Check out time.  Sidestepping security we retrieve our luggage and bid Vail a fond farewell.  This is definitely a birthday I will always remember.

 

Photos taken on Vail Mountain and at the recently rebuilt Vail Marriott.

Read the Denver Post's article about the fire.

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Hotel water problems slowed Vail fire crews

By Brady McCombs
Special to The Denver Post

Nov. 20, 2000 - A frozen water pipe hampered efforts to fight Saturday night's fire at the Vail Marriott Mountain Resort, which caused up to $20 million in damage.

The blaze in the 22-year-old section of the hotel raged for six hours before it was brought under control at 2:45 a.m. Sunday.

"For the most part, all sprinklers were active," said Vail Fire Chief John Gulick, though "some sprinklers in rooms were overwhelmed by the fire." But, he said, when firefighters tried to hook up to a pipe on the east side of the building, they found it frozen in the 12 degree temperatures.

"Had the east stairwell fire standpipe not been frozen, we could have handled the fire quicker and reduced the amount of damage," he said. "We were overwhelmed by the fire."

The Vail department could not have handled the fire on its own, he said.

Along with searching for a cause of the fire, investigators - including those from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms - will be looking at why the one water supply was frozen. Gulick speculated that an outside door may have been left open.

Vail officials said federal investigators were called in because local teams have limited resources and have "a personal relationship" with the ATF. No cause has been ruled out, officials said.

"It was an inferno, that's for sure," said Keith Odza, operations manager of the nearby Lion Square Lodge. "Flames were coming out everywhere." It took 78 firefighters from nine agencies to put out the fire. Two Vail firefighters suffered minor injuries. No hotel guests were hurt.

On Sunday, officials were making sure the hotel's heavily damaged fifth and sixth floors were structurally safe for investigators to begin their work.

At the same time, many Marriott guests who had planned to spend the day on the ski slopes instead spent it getting medical attention, replacing clothes and other belongings and trying to find out when they would be able to retrieve items they left behind in the scorched and water-damaged hotel.

Members of the Smicker family of Fort Worth, Texas, had their vacation abruptly interrupted Saturday night when their room begin filling with smoke. "It's the most scared I've been," said Mike Smicker.

"I opened the door and there was total smoke everywhere, and I said, "We've gotta get out of here right now.'- " They spent Sunday refilling Mike's asthma prescription at a medical center; getting new contacts for daughter Tiffany, 13, at a vision center; and at Wal-Mart, buying new clothes for the entire family.

Newlyweds Larry and Gina Long of Orange County, Calif., will have honeymoon stories to tell for a long time. The couple - married just two weeks ago - lost $12,000 worth of clothing, jewelry, shoes and ski gear, much of it with sentimental value.

"We're just mad that everything is gone," said Gina Long. "Stuff we wore in the wedding is gone." Still, the two were in good spirits Sunday, wearing newly purchased Vail-logo clothing.

However, not all of the Marriott guests who were forced out of their rooms were pleased with the evacuation procedure.

Firefighters and hotel staff went from room to room to alert guests after alarms started about 8:45 p.m. A fire department medical crew was already at the hotel on another call when the first report of the fire came in.

"I was a firefighter for years, and this was an absolute farce," said James Gaddis of Atlanta. "They had no idea what was going on. Not a single employee knew what they were doing."

Sara Beth Hill of Kingsport, Tenn., and Ashlee Mayne of Denver said they were shuffled from place to place, eventually ending up in the smoke-filled restaurant.

"They told us we couldn't leave," Hill said. "The hotel manager said, "nobody's going outside. It's too cold.'- "

The 350-room, three-building hotel was about 50 percent full, with the ski slopes just opened for the season on Wednesday. General manager David Shahriari said 116 rooms were lost.

On Sunday, the fire was still hot and giving off dangerous gases, officials said. The south side of the hotel, which backs up against Vail's ski slopes, was charred, with blackened wood, pipes, lights and pieces of fallen balconies lying on the ground below.

Siding was burned away from the fifth and sixth floors, and pieces of the roof were gone. The smell of smoke lingered throughout the hotel.

On Oct. 19, 1998, a series of arson fires caused $12 million in damage on Vail Mountain, damaging chairlifts and destroying a restaurant and ski patrol building. A group called the Earth Liberation Front claimed responsibility for those fires, saying it was protesting Vail's expansion into habitat of the lynx. There have been no arrests.

The Associated Press and correspondent Peter Fredin contributed to this report.

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