the hyphens that define my life

Mountain Sherpa December 30, 2013

Filed under: Family — multihyphenatedme @ 10:13 pm
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The family suited up before dawn to head out to Silver Mountain today for our first Inland Northwest ski experience. My gear was packed, I was ready, yet I was still on the fence whether to ski or not, unsure of my abilities and lack of desire to roll end over end down the mountain.

Silver Mountain is an hour away, straight east on the freeway.  No mountain roads other than 4th of July Pass on the freeway.  Once you arrive in Kellogg Idaho, a 25 minute gondola ride takes you to the lodge and lifts.

We were cruising along, everything going according to plan, until our middle son got car sick.  Thankfully he gave enough notice so we could pull over and he could barf in the snow on the side of the road.  He has never gotten car sick until we moved here.  Now he has developed the habit of looking out the side window the entire length of the drive and gets sick every time. Every. single. time.

When we arrived, it was decided I would sit with our carsick kid until he recovered and felt well enough to ski.  He had no issues in the gondola ride, though I thought our oldest son was going to join the barf brigade with the rocking motion of the gondola.  When the guys were suiting up, our youngest decided his brand new crash helmet didn’t fit him, even though it totally fit him perfect two days prior when we mounted his GoPro cam to the top of his helmet.  He was in a rage today over not having a helmet.  I thought I’d solve this issue quick by renting a helmet and sending him on his way.  No such luck.  He had himself worked into a tizzy and spent an hour in the lodge with me staring outside (because he didn’t know I had the ipad hidden in my bag) burning his brain with boredom.

Watching his younger brother melt down was motivation for our middle son to have a miraculous recovery and hit the slopes without any rest.  My husband and the two older boys went out with words of caution (but have fun) from me, the Mountain Sherpa, as I patiently waited out our youngest son’s dilemma.  After an hour, he ended up wearing the rental helmet and headed out with his dad and brothers.

My Mountain Sherpa duties included going back and forth to the locker, managing gear, buying hot chocolates, managing kids, ordering food, drinking a Bloody Mary, taking photographs, losing my wallet, finding my wallet (it was in my bag the entire time, silly me [insert husband exasperation and wife triumph here]), writing three blog posts (though I’m too tired to post them all now), getting rentals (the helmet and our oldest son forgot his poles – duh!), returning rentals, paying for tubing time, hiking up and down the bunny hill to videotape our youngest snowboard shredder, and climbing 3 levels of stairs more times than I could count to make this all happen and conversing with anyone wanting to talk.  It’s not easy being a Mountain Sherpa.  The good news is that I didn’t fall down once.

My intuition was correct, the mountain was WAY beyond my skill level. The ski areas are really narrow, I need room for big, wide turns, and really steep.  Yikes! I don’t handle steep well.  The boys totally had fun and had no issues, but prefer wider space.  I think more time spent on this mountain would build a comfort level, but not for me.

Once we conquered car sickness and obnoxious melt down, we put in a full day on the mountain.  We were on the slopes by 9 AM and back on the freeway by 4:30 PM.  We had fun and we are exhausted.  Photos will have to post later.


Ski Production December 29, 2013

Filed under: Family — multihyphenatedme @ 10:09 pm
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Getting a family of five and sometimes six ready for ski season is no easy endeavor.  Growing kids only add to the chaos.

We moved to Spokane for many reasons, one definite reason was the winter activities, namely skiing, that Spokane and surrounding areas offer.

In years past, we made an annual trek to Tahoe-Donner near Lake Tahoe for a week-long family ski adventure.  We opted not to ski at local mountains due to crowds and crappy conditions.  A few hours away, Mammoth Mountain was too expensive and out of our skill level.  Correction, out of my skill level and I’ll include the kids to make me feel better.  We chose to drive 9 hours to Tahoe Donner to ski for its family friendly approach, no crowds, great deals and easy terrain, perfect for us beginners.  Though it was perfect in so many ways, we still had a sizeable cash outlay for a one week “ski season.”

Spokane offers five ski resorts within two hours of our front door, Mt. Spokane; 49 degrees north; Schweitzer, Silver Mountain and Lookout Pass.  Our ski season has instantly expanded from one week to the entire winter season.

We intentionally have not hit the slopes yet, due to school and work schedules, holiday demands and low snowfall.  It has been reported that Spokane is fifteen inches below normal snowfall.  For our first winter, we are thrilled.  There is plenty of snow and ice on the ground and cold temperatures for our first Spokane winter.

With the kids on Winter Break and my husband and I taking vacation days this week, the time to start skiing is now.

Because our ski season has only been one week long in years past and the kids are growing, we have always rented gear for the kids, my husband and I have had skis and boots for years.  This year, with guaranteed use, everyone gets gear.  My husband is DONE renting gear and dealing with that hassle.  He has been on a Craigslist used gear buying mission over the past couple of weeks and scored some incredible deals.  With every purchase, the kids are psyched and ready.  Thankfully, parkas and snow pants still fit from last year.  Everyone received new crash helmets for Christmas as well, so now we’re set.

The kids are going to be in shock when we get to Silver Mountain.

This is Tahoe Donner:

tahoe donner

Easy.  You know this mountain and all of the runs quickly.

Here’s Silver Mountain:

silver mtn

Huge difference.  You have to take a 25 minute gondola ride from the parking lot to the lifts.  Silver Mountain is going to take some getting used too.

Here’s the thing.  There always has to be a thing.  The thing is that I’m scared. Me.  I didn’t learn to ski until I was in my 30’s and speed has never been something I’ve desired.  I liked our old slow and easy mountain. Really, it was a bunny hill, not a mountain.   I have huge ski anxiety right now.  Without saying anything, my husband and boys know I’m afraid.  They’ve seen me ski.  They lap me down the mountain and are back on the lift before I make it down the hill.  I ski s.l.o.w. My kids ask why I even bother to ski.  I can’t answer this question.  I do love being outside, I do love seeing my family having a blast and ripping it up.  I just don’t share their love for speed and lack their athleticism and agility.  Plus, I have further to fall and I don’t like falling.

I mentioned I might take a lesson to get my bearings.  My husband told me (after having paid for years of lessons), “you don’t need a lesson, you know how to ski, you just have to do it.”  Eek.  I want someone to hold my hand and make sure I do what I’m supposed to do.  My husband has two boys skiing and one snow boarding to contend with, he has no time to coddle me.  Plus, my husband has skied for 40 years, skis forward, backward, does tricks and loves bombing the hill.  So I’m skiing solo.  Wah!  I understand the real issue, I’m a control freak.  I like controlling my environment.  Putting me on a sharp edged, waxed slick pair of skis on a down hill slope is not a controlled environment.   I mentioned to my husband that I think cross-country skiing would be better suited for me, and he agreed.  No cross country skiing at Silver.  Sigh.

So far I’ve only committed to skiing in the afternoon, taking the morning to act as the Sherpa at Base Camp to make sure everyone is lined out, having fun and uninjured after their morning ski.  After lunch, maybe I’ll join them.  Maybe I’ll take a lesson.  Maybe I’ll just maintain base camp and bring a book.  Sitting outside in the sun all day with a book has always been my speed. Then again, maybe I’ll ski…wish me luck.