It was the best of the day, it was the worst of the day. We'd been hitting the snow at Bogus hard all morning, working our legs hard and working up a fierce beer thirst. To stop for a beverage was imperative, but the idea of sittingand the stiffness and soreness that would resultmight be enough to keep us bar bound the remainder of the afternoon. Would we brave the snarl of people to get around the cafeteria line and through the coffee bar crowd to stand in a behemoth line for a PBR and some free popcorn? Or would we seek out a few stools in the proper bar up the hill? Slackers we are not, so we did both.
The "bar" in the J.R. Simplot Lodge is a wee bit of counter with a lone tender methodically satisfying the never-ending line. It's cafeteria style in the seating area, and without bar stools (though there are a few stools at the neighboring coffee counter), it's like standing in line at any old fast food joint: order, pay, briefly settle in to seating area where you suck down your purchase hoping not to get caught in fry crossfire being exchanged by the unruly siblings two tables over. If you're lucky enough to get a seat near the front windows, there's endless entertainment to be had watching people fall down the front side, but with the parents of ski schoolers making a day of hanging out in the lower lodge, it gets loud and crowded, family-style.
Catch the lift or conquer the steep icy road up to the Pioneer Lodge, and the Firewater Saloon is an oasis amidst windblown peaks and lower lodge chaos. A bar's bar where one can find a table free of fry crossfire or bend an elbow and bullshit with the sharp-as-a-whip, nice-as-pie, never-forget-a-face bartenders, Firewater's selection is bigger and its atmosphere downright better than what you'll find down the hill.
Ski not, board not? Make a trip up the mountain just to venture in for a libation and hang out beyond city limits for a few hours, but rochambeau for a driver as a taxi ride down the hill costs a few thousand pretty pennies.