One of our family traditions, begun when our two daughters were in their early teens, is an annual one-week ski vacation in Winter Park, CO.
The first year we flew out to Denver, rented a car, drove up to the resort and stayed in a condo. It was a hoot! Carol and the girls took beginner ski lessons and soon the girls were zipping down the slopes trying to “catch some air” (get off the surface, briefly).
Carol (and we still laugh about this) spent the entire week trying to get OFF of a ski lift... ANY ski lift... without losing her balance and falling. This usually required the lift operators to stop the lift while Carol was helped back upright. Then, red-faced from embarrassment, she would ski away.
She is very coordinated and a fine athlete in most sports (she kicks my butt in golf every weekend!), but getting off that lift just took her longer than most physical challenges do.
We had so much fun we decided on the seconf day that we would return the next year.
As the years passed, we became smarter about the trip. We learned that we could drive all the way in about 20-22 hours, and we now routinely make the trip in one long day of about 15-16 hours (taking us to Trinidad, CO) followed by a very short 5-6 hour trip the second day. That allows us the rest of the second day to get unpacked and established in our quarters, rent our ski equipment, buy groceries and supplies as needed, and be totally ready to rock and roll on the mountain the next day.
We learned that discounted lift tickets were available if purchased either in quantity or in advance. We learned of a place called Beaver Village Lodge and Condos that has a central dining room serving buffet style breakfast and supper every day for their residents who pay for the “meal plan.”
At that point the trip became a REAL vacation for Carol, who no longer had to buy groceries, plan and prepare meals after an exhausting day of skiing, clean up afterwards, and so on. We’ve stayed there for the past 10 years in a row! The food quality is so-so, but the fact that it is all prepared FOR you and there’s no clean-up afterward makes it taste like a gourmet feast!
The ski area at Winter Park is huge, with lots of terrain for every level of skiing skill. It is the closest ski area to Denver, so on weekends it is crowded with long lift lines. No so during the week, so we always schedule our actual skiing Monday through Friday to avoid the crowds.
The resort runs free shuttle busses back and forth from all over the town and local area to the mountain base, so there’s no need to drive in the snow (a challenge to us flat-land, warm climate folks) and pay for parking.
For years we went as a family of four. But for a number of years we have included our sons-in-law as the girls grew up and married, so now we are three couples. This year we will be four couples (plus my new grandson!) because we’ve invited a young woman (and her husband) who was my daughters’ best friend when they were girls, and who for years we treated as our own daughter. We tease that she is our adopted daughter, but not really. This will be their first time snow skiing, so we ought to have a LOT of fun with them.
Part of the tradition is the matching ski sweaters, but you already know about those from earlier posts. Another part is game playing. Each evening we will sit around the fire and play party-style games, like Pictionary. Last year we all learned and spent an evening playing Texas Hold-’Em poker. If teams are appropriate, we usually play the men against the ladies. Yes, as you might suspect, the ladies usually kick our butts.
If a quieter evening is decided upon, we’ll rent a movie.
There are other traditions, and I may go into those later. But as you can already see, the annual Earle Family ski trip is something that will probably continue for at least another generation or two. Great times!