Thursday, February 13, 2014

Skication Wrapped Up (and Pictured)

So luckily, a long-distance-driving ski vacation with 3 children between the ages 3 months and 6 years turned out to be a fantastic idea! Anything I thought might go wrong (Cora screaming herself unconscious in the car; Cora not sleeping well in Colorado; Claire hating ski school) didn't, and the few things that did go wrong (Blizzard! 2-wheel-drive car!) were ultimately fine and nothing we could have prevented anyway. We had a blast and I really hope we can continue going every other year or so.

Party of Five
(taken right outside Cora's daycare, where she wishes she was already)

My sister drove over from Golden to ski with us on Sunday and my Uncle the pilot and Air Force Academy grad (and amazing skier) was in Colo Springs to attend some Academy sporting events, so he drove over to ski with us too! We gathered all our ski gear and accessories and headed over to Keystone early Sunday morning to drop Cora off at the village daycare (which was fabulous; so nice and professional and friendly- Cora had a nanny all to herself!), drop the kids off at ski school, and hit the slopes!

Can't resist a good danger sign

We had a blast, as we always do, skiing and snowboarding together. The weather was not awesome- very windy and snowy. Giant piles of fresh powder covered the slopes making turning a bit tricky and very tiring. Thank god for all those barre classes- my legs were (mostly) up for the challenge. By day 2 the snow was even deeper and I took a 3-run break in the afternoon in a warming hut with a beer while JP hiked up to the back bowls to board down. Because he's crazy and I'm too old and frail and aware of my own mortality to do stuff like that anymore.

At 3:30 it was time to pick up the kids. I was most anxious to see how Claire had done- it was DUMPING snow all day with fairly high winds, so I was concerned she might take offense to the snow blowing in her face and refuse to go outside, but she did awesome! I happened to be watching the gondola line when her class got out and she marched right off the "magic bubble" with confidence and enthusiasm. God I love that girl.

Her teacher on day 2 told us that Claire was willing to do anything as long as she could hold the teacher's hand, so that's how they went down the bunny hill over and over. That's our bear!

Landon also did great! He remembered many of his skills from the last trip and by day 2 was going down regular green runs with his Level 2 class. His teacher said Claire derived great comfort from seeing Landon on the practice hill and they went down next to each other several times. He was also a leader and helper with his own class and very proud of never falling down. I loved how in only two days together both ski school instructors seemed to completely capture our two kids' personalities.

Our biggest struggle of the trip was an unexpected one- getting home at the end of ski day 1 on Sunday night. As it turns out, all of Denver comes out to the slopes and then leaves at the same time to drive back. Though we would be going in the opposite direction as all the Denverites on the highway, we got stuck alongside them on the road to the highway. Like really stuck. In a blizzard with ice on the road. It took 1 hour and 40 minutes to go three miles, after a long day on the mountains, and when our car lost traction and nearly slid into oncoming traffic, we realized we needed to get the snow cables he and Landon had bought the day before onto our tires. And he needed to put them on, crouched down near the ground, right where we were stuck, halfway into fast-moving oncoming traffic, in the dark, in a snow storm. I couldn't breathe until he secured that front left tire on the fast oncoming traffic side of the car, and then a car slid in the lane next to us and nearly hit him on the "safer" side where everyone was going 2 mph. The whole experience was rather terrifying, but he got the cables on and we were able to safely and securely crawl along the feeder until we finally got to the highway. Thank god the kids are so amazing in the car and Cora was asleep for most of it. We were all very excited to get to the condo (or, as Claire called it, "our new home") and the kids celebrated by "cheering" a lot with their milk.

Coming home on Day 2, a lowly Monday, was no problem, and we got home in time for some afternoon apres ski cookies and milk. On Tuesday we woke up to gorgeous blue skies and clear weather, so of course it was our non-ski day. We still took Cora to daycare, since she really wasn't interested in playing in the snow, and bought passes for the gondola (aka Claire's magic bubble) so we could check out the mountain top snow castle.

Not entirely sure why she's on the ski vacation

When we went to buy the passes we found out that using the tubing hill for an hour only cost $2 than just buying gondola tickets, so we were in!

Delighted by the bubble

A very nice Italian man ended up in the gondola with us and offered to take a picture- it turned out to be my very favorite of the whole trip! Though I wish Cora was there in more than spirit.

Our family with a very short bank robber

Claire was too small for tubing, but was delighted by her bright yellow kid tube and happily lounged in there while the three of us took turns flying down a very steep hill.

Like everyone who seems to work at ski resorts, the tubing hill operators were super fun and outgoing and willing to allow you to risk injury by spinning you as fast as possible before pushing you down.

There was also a giant snow castle at the mountain with tubes and tunnels and slides and a maze you could actually get lost in. Until we traveled with kids, I had no idea how many other fun things you could do at a ski resort besides just ski.

All in all it was a completely amazing vacation and I'm so thankful to Dinei for sharing her condo and JP for driving the whole way there and back because that's what made it all financially possible. JP's schedule is so insane in the summer that winter and fall will always be our windows for family vacations and this was a great one.

Our drive home yesterday went smoothly (no snow!) and we were in our driveway 12.5 hours after leaving Frisco. I started work today- an idea that seemed sound months ago when I planned it, but felt increasingly insane as we drove along the highways towards home last night. Luckily we unpacked quickly, got some sleep, and I'd only committed to a half day. I had enough time for Cora to practice going to daycare and me to put on professional clothes and practice being an attorney, mostly by deleting reading the hundreds of emails I'd missed while I was gone. More on the end of my last maternity leave (sob) and my return to the high-heel wearing professional world later, I just needed to marinate in vacation photos a little longer...

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