The idea of snow is an attractive idea for those people who live in places that never actually get snow. Living in Texas (one of those aforementioned places), I have always wanted to spend winter break somewhere where it actually snows on Christmas and I can sit by a fire and watch all of the flurries fall and the neighborhood children build snowmen and sled down the street.
The closest I have ever gotten to this was the icy-slush that arrived in Dallas my sophomore year of high school that got us out of school for a whole week, and resulted in my sisters and I competing in street-sledding that would rival the Sochi Olympics of 2014.
Shortly after this we moved to Austin, where there is even less chance for snow and thus my wintery-wonderland dream died. Until last week. My family went to Colorado for Spring Break, where there was still 2 feet of snow on the ground. In March. This was quite the shock for us, and it was my sisters and my first time seeing *real* snow. Driving into Buena Vista was like a scene only in movies, with snow-capped mountains in view from every angle.
My sisters and I were eager to play in the snow, and were giddily waiting in anticipation while we drove to our cabin. Then we were reminded why we do not live where there is snow.
The owner of our cabin had texted us on the road that because of all of the snow they had gotten in previous weeks, the parts that had melted had resulted in mud so thick it might be impossible for us to get up to the cabin. We’d scoffed then, but the thoughts of sinking into mud stayed in the backs of our minds until we arrived. And proceeded to get stuck in the mud. Just as they said.
We waited in the car as my father attempted to maneuver his way through the muck, until it got too tense in there and we bailed…my sisters running through the knee-deep snow to get to the cabin, me grabbing my camera hastily as my phone died and I was unfortunately unable to record the 30 minutes that followed in which our car rocked back and forth, never really moving, only getting stuck in new places. After what felt like an eternity of brown, my father was finally able to get the car unstuck and up the driveway.
Dad: “I had the Go-Pro recording that whole time…from the time-lapse of our drive into Colorado…”
Mom: “It’s a good thing it doesn’t pick up audio then.”
(Come to find out there was a lot of instances in which my mother would lovingly give suggestions on how to become unstuck and my father would lovingly ask her if she just wanted to drive instead then, then they would sit still and silent for 5 minutes until my dad tried again).
We were able to enjoy the cozy cabin for just enough time to eat dinner and go to sleep. Then we woke up while the sun was still rising, painting the clouds in pink, and headed off to ski school on Monarch Mountain.
My parents had not been skiing since I was a toddler, and my sisters and I had never been; therefore, when my mom suggested ski school we all decided to go. We arrived to the mountain early in the morning only to be late to class due to the experience that is getting all of your ski equipment, then putting all of your ski equipment on, then trudging through the snow in all of your ski equipment.
We took the two hours of ski school with the most condescending instructor on the planet (while Edie was in her own class where they taught “pizza” and “french-fries” and gave high-fives), and we managed to successfully put skis on, take them off, put them back on again, brake, steer, and maneuver ourselves down the “Butterfly.” After we proved to not be incompetent, we were on our own.
We enjoyed the first few hours of freedom by skiing down the Butterfly with the confidence of professional skiers, showing off our talents as we raced past small children, laughing at their inferiority (only to be passed by even smaller children and put in our rightful place).
Eventually we convinced Edie to ride one of the lifts, and we skied down the “Rookie” over and over again until our feet turned numb and it was time to go home. We reluctantly took off our gear, excited about our newfound family activity, and drove back to the cabin.
We managed to make it without getting *too stuck in the mud this time, and we enjoyed hot showers and a hot meal, then we headed to bed ready to ski for real the next day.
Day two on the mountain consisted of us starting on the Rookie again, then moving immediately to the very top of the mountain. Still skiing greens… but ones at really high altitudes.
On one fateful trip up the lift, my mother, bless her, took her phone out to take a picture and accidentally dropped her debit card straight down into the snow. Reflecting the sun in the pure-white flakes, it taunted us as we continued to inch forward up the mountain, unable to rescue it.
We skied down the mountain as a family, and once we arrived at the bottom, my mom got a worker to trudge out under the wires and rescue her card while my dad mocked her for behaving irresponsibly on the lift. Luckily the card was close to an operating station and not halfway up the mountain, so it was able to be retrieved.
Lift Operator: (walking back to us with the card in hand)
“Guess who’s getting a nice dinner.”
We continued to ski together for a while, riding lifts and skiing down every green we could find. Not to brag but we were pretty unstoppable. If there were such a thing as family ski competitions we would most definitely smoke all of the other families…(or ice them I guess…). We all only fell a couple times, trying to be too Ski-vel Knievel (sorry) for our skill level. At one point Dad took a fall that would rival America’s Funniest Home Videos as he was filming while skiing, and once he began to somersault down the mountain, the Go-Pro was launched, filming its own personal adventures until Dad managed to rescue it out of the snow.
Even the lifts up to the slopes were awesome…kinda like the slowest roller coaster ascent ever. One of the rides up the lift I found myself next to my father.
Me: (as dad pulls his phone out to take a photo)
“Be careful, mom just dropped her card off of the lift.”
Me: “Watch your gloves!”
Dad: “I got ’em.”
One minute later dad proceeds to drop his hat. Off of the lift. This time it WAS halfway up the mountain.
Me: “Are you kidding me.”
Dad: “That’s my favorite hat!”
We skied the run as planned, Dad all the while murmuring about his hat, realizing that it was too far up for a worker to just go get it for him. I tried to lend him mine, but he complained (though it was just a black knit hat) that it was too girly.
Since this was our last day to ski, we took advantage and crammed as much as we could in our final hours. I waved to Dad’s hat each time we passed over it on the lift, both mocking my father and being mocked by the hat that I knew would be the subject of all of our conversations in the foreseeable future. Then came the time for our last run. We would only have time for one more before the lifts shut down.
Dad: “I think I am going to try and get my hat.”
Me and Ava: “What?”
Dad: “I am going to ski that run next to where I dropped it, and I will stop and try and find it.”
Me: “It’s in the middle of the forest.”
Dad: “I can do it.”
Me and Ava: (realizing that meant Dad would be going down a blue level slope, then stopping to hike through the woods in the snow, in his ski boots, to search for his hat)
“We are going with you.”
We rode the lift, mentally marking roughly where Dad’s hat was in relation to the woods beside it so we would know when to pull over. We veered left at the top of the mountain, headed for the “Freeway,” and once we reached the steep slope we navigated our way down, making wide turns and keeping our skis in pizza position until we reached the part of the treeline that most closely resembled our mental pictures.
Dad pulled over first, took his skis off, and disappeared into the woods. Me and Ava were unlucky enough to be going so slow that we did not have enough inertia to take us all the way to the trees so we parked it, still on the trail. We took our skis off, following our determined father in search of his only winter hat.
The second we stepped off of the trail and into the trees our legs disappeared in the snow. Deep enough to reach our midsections, the snow enveloped us with each step we took, getting deeper and deeper, and making it harder and harder to walk in our clunky ski boots.
We lost Dad almost immediately, our yelling and calling receiving nothing but concerned looks from those on the lifts above us.
Me: “Ava wait! I am losing my grip on my skis.”
Ava: “I know, there are so many trees!”
Me: “That’s not what I said. Do you see Dad?”
We kept trudging, no hat in sight, for what seemed like 8 years. My calves began burning, the skis in my hand growing heavier, but we kept moving forward until we heard an ecstatic yell.
Ava: “I think he’s got it, lets go back.”
We completed the same journey in reverse, stepping in the 3 foot holes we made the first round (as if that was a better idea than making new holes) until we reached the clearing and saw Dad waving his hat in his hands, his skis already on, ready to go tell our mother about his quest.
Me and Ava made it back into our skis and I took off, wanting to make the last run worth it. I somehow managed not to fall down, though I was probably going like 50 miles and hour (or something like that) and we returned to the rest of our family, exhausted and accomplished.
Dad: (to mom)
“I got my hat back.”
Mom: “I see that.”
Me: “We hiked in the woods…”
Overall, though it was most definitely a terrible idea, it was actually a nice bonding moment and a satisfying completion to our ski adventure. (Dad kept saying: “Now you can tell everyone you finished the week on a blue”).
Though it may surprise you, as I never seem to live a boring life, the rest of the trip was quite tame. We drove though the mountains to walk through the touristy town of Breckenridge, we drank hot chocolate and played family board games. It was nice. We were almost convinced that we would end the trip on a relaxing note…then the last night we got stuck in the mud again… And created holes so big our friends got stuck in the mud after us…And we got sprayed with mud once the car actually caught some traction 40 minutes later…
And of course we found that my anxious piece of dog chewed a hole in the wall of the cabin, so Dad had to repair it.
True to ‘Team Reddoch’ fashion, the ball continued rolling downhill from there…quite literally, as we stopped by the Great Sand Dunes National Park, (which actually happened to be more like the ‘Okay Sand Dunes National Park’ or the “Just a Pile of Sand (Dunes) in the Middle of the Mountains National Park).’ The hike up the dunes was pretty grueling, but we got to sled down them and even though I almost broke my hand it was actually pretty awesome.
Next to the dunes was a 3 mile hill of gravelly rocks that took us 35 minutes to drive up, but at the top we got to hike through the beautiful wintery-wonderland that I had always dreamed about. All the snow made feel like Christmas in March, and at the top of the hike was a frozen waterfall.
Of course to get to the frozen waterfall you had to walk across a frozen creek, which I slid down at one point, soaking the back of my sweatpants through, which resulted in me getting a rash from having to sit in the car for the following 8 hours in wet sweatpants…but totally worth it.
I slept for the rest of the drive home, to mentally recover from the fact that my family does not know how to take a relaxing vacation, and to ignore the fact that my rear was stewing in itchy, wet pants.
I guess in hindsight there was never a chance for my family to take an ordinary trip. We seem to attract adventure, though not necessarily the truly audacious and noteworthy kind…more like the “how does this always seem to happen to you” kind. Not that I dislike this kind of adventure…I am actually quite fond of being a magnet of misfortune. I do run a humor blog after all.