Monday, March 09, 2015

Chasing angels or fleeing demons, go to the mountains

If you're a skier and you have kids, the early years are rough.*  Hitting the slopes either means trading days on the mountain with your spouse so that one can ski while the other watches the kids, or paying exorbitant amounts of money for on-mountain daycare or ski school.  Seriously, a day of ski school can cost about half the amount of an annual season pass, so unless you're rolling in cash (which I am decidedly not), it can be prohibitively expensive to do it more than a few times a season.  You dream of the day when both kids can ski and you can all head out together.

When that day comes, it is glorious.

Zeke has been able to ski with me since last season.  He's can't go on some of the super-steep runs that I like, and he's not as fast as I am, but we can go out together and have a great time.  He's hilarious - he skis down the hill singing to himself and shaking his butt in a little ski dance, or hooting and hollering with glee because he's having so much fun.

Zeke sings to himself as he skis down a run at Keystone.
This is Josie's first season skiing.  We put her in ski school for 3 days in December, and then took her out on green runs with us.  Her very first non-ski-school day she was plowed over by a snowboarder who was going way too fast in a slow, crowded area, and we had to go home after one run because she was totally freaked out.

This was heart-breaking for a number of reasons.  Of course we were bummed for her, because she was so scared and unhappy.  But getting to that first run is the product of about four hours worth of preparation, including getting up at 5 to pack the car, then getting the kids up and dressed and into the car, then driving up through mountain passes and ski traffic, then parking and unloading the car and lugging all of the gear from the car to the lodge and getting everyone into their boots and making sure jackets are zipped and thumbs are properly situated in mittens and does everyone have their pass? and then shuffling over to the lift.  So when you got through all of that and you only get one run in, a little part of you dies.

Since then, she has had a few more days on the mountain, but the kids basically missed the entire month of January because of their trip to Australia, plus in January and February we got a bunch of big winter storms that all seemed to fall on the weekends, and doing the drive when the weather is like that is not something I'm crazy about.  So she hasn't had many days to work on her skills and get more comfortable.

Until the stars aligned this past weekend.

I had the kids for the weekend, and the weather report said that it was going to be sunny and in the high-30s/low 40s.  Perfect spring skiing conditions.  I decided to get a hotel room up in the mountains so that we could do two days without having to drive home at night.  We decided to go to Breckenridge because it's got a great section that's perfect for beginners, which is what we needed for Josie.

And man, she killed it.  On Saturday, she was a little bit tentative because it had been awhile, but we stayed on the easy stuff and on every run, I had her follow me down and ski in my tracks so that she would make big wide turns and control her speed.  On Sunday, she was feeling like a pro, venturing down steeper runs, following Zeke as he skied through the trees, and figuring out how to get on and off the chair lift by herself.  She even did some ski dancing, just like her brother.

What topped it all off was the extraordinary weather.  Brilliant blue skies, comfortable temperatures - Josie and I both skied without gloves on Sunday, and if I had had a convenient place to stash my jacket, I would have taken it off - perfect conditions.  Days like that make it hard to imagine living anywhere else.  Colorado is so beautiful.
Even the drive up is gorgeous.
View from the chairlift.  The sky is so intensely blue it almost doesn't look real.
The hotel was extremely basic, but it did have a pool for the kids to splash around in.
The obligatory selfie on the chairlift.
We skied with our arms out and pretended to be airplanes.  We went through a "haunted forest," an area through the trees that had spooky sounds and giant spiders and snakes to ski through - it helps kids learn how to make solid turns and control their speed, plus it's silly and fun.  I would turn on the music on my phone while we rode the lifts, and we would chair-dance to Katy Perry and Bruno Mars's Uptown Funk.

When we got home last night, we were talking about how much fun we had skiing together.  It really was amazing to be able to enjoy a day like that with the kids, knowing that they were having a great time.

"Mama, that was the best. weekend. ever.  BEST. WEEKEND. EVER!"

I don't know if it's the best weekend ever - they're young, so I don't want to sell their future short. But certainly up there in the top 5.

*I fully recognize that this is "rough" only in the "first-world-problems" sense of the word.  

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