Monday, February 20, 2012

Mountain Family Ski Trip

           Leadville, Colorado ~ Elevation 10,400 feet

My family moved to Colorado from Missouri almost three years ago.  This was more out of necessity than choice, as my husband and two oldest sons had found work here in our depressed national economy.  To say the least it was very difficult to move away from home, church, family & loved ones, but in His mercy the Lord placed us in the beautiful Rocky Mountains.  

Against my natural inclinations, I decided to do my best to embrace the move, hence my blog title, Mountain Mama.  And, when Mountain Man asked the family if we wanted to go skiing, all responded with joyful enthusiasm, except for myself.  

I needed a little coaxing, mostly because I had tried skiing twice as a young adult and failed miserably both times.  I was also concerned about the dare-devil tendencies of some in the clan.  However, not wanting to be a stick-in-the-mud, I was easily persuaded by the children, insisting that I just had to come and ski, no sitting in the lodge all day for me either.  (It's so nice to be loved and wanted.)  

To my utmost surprise and delight I, somewhat uncoordinated and prone to fall on solid ground, was able to ski!  This was a special triumph for me, that I could achieve something in my 40s that was unattainable in my 20s, and unquestionable proof that life is still exciting after four decades.  

The joy of the entire family outing, along with the thrill of the controlled speed down the powdered slopes, and the majesty of the snow covered mountains was exhilarating.  I was hooked!  This year marks our third trip to Ski Cooper in Leadville, Colorado. 

Once we settled into our hotel, a couple of the girls and I took a walk across the street to get some photographs.

          We followed this creek for about 1/4 mile.

          A dedicated photographer is not afraid to get her shot.

          Look this way, Anna.

           We found some rustic buildings.

          Even though Abigail is not in focus,
          I thought this was an interesting shot.

          Even the dry grass looks pretty in the snow.

How on earth does a family of nine and very modest means afford a ski trip?  First of all we only ski for one day, but we do stay two nights in a hotel, and it pays to ask for a discount, even if it's my last resort plea, "Do you offer a large family discount?"  Because Jeff is ex-Army we were able to get the military discount, and of course it helps to live just two hours from the resort.  We bought a few things, but mostly we used what we had. Searching the re-sale shops is a big help too.  And, it's a group effort.  Mountain Man looked on-line and found lift tickets for $10 a piece.  I packed us a tasty dinner of salmon salad sandwiches (just like tuna salad, only I use canned salmon) on soft, wheat, hamburger buns, and whole grain chips along with fruit and some bar cookies.  Jason donated the gas for his snow mobiles.  Zach provided his truck and gas.  Wait a minute, it's diesel, not gas!  (The guys have corrected me enough that I should know that by now.)  Rachel bought us lunch at the ski lodge.  The rest we paid for using our reward points on our credit card, and for a bonus surprise, Grandma sent $100 to help with our trip.  Gotta love Grandma!

          Jason is NOT camera shy!
        Notice the hunting gear turned ski wear.

           He really is a fine, handsome, young man.

             Zach,   Rachel,   Nathan,
          Anna,   Nicole (Jason's wife)  &   Abigail,
          Hangin' in the lodge.

        Zach & Rachel.   Rachel is now also known as "Damsel in
        Distress" and "Hot Rod," but I'll save those stories for her
        blog.  You're welcome, Rachel.  :)

Me, in the height of high fashion, with my free library tote book-bag turned ski bag and my matching $2 Goodwill nylon pants.  One really nice thing about wearing neon green ski pants:  I'm easy to find on the slopes!  

It was snowing like crazy for most of the day that we skied.  So, I didn't dare venture outdoors with my expensive camera, but I would like to share one story.

Sometime in the afternoon, Jeff had graciously agreed to ski with me down one of the less advanced slopes, and we were enjoying the ski lift to the top.  With it snowing so hard there was a hushed quietness across the white slopes.  That combined with the beauty of the mountains was almost indescribable.  It was a very tender moment for us.  We were relaxing in each others' company, shoulder to shoulder on the ski lift, rejoicing in God's beautiful creation, and thinking out loud how grateful we were to Him that we could take this mini vacation with the whole family, that all the children could ski together with us, and enjoy it so much.

A comfortable lull in the conversation ensued, and I think we both almost fell asleep.  Suddenly, something jolted me, and I realized we were close to our exit point.  Jeff said something to the effect of, "Oh wow!  I'm glad you noticed!"  

Now, my first time earlier in the day getting off the ski lift had ended in a fall, and if you've ever skied, you know how hard it can be to get up again.  So, my senses immediately went in high alert mode, and I began to concentrate on all the things I needed to do right to make a successful "leap" from the lift.  First thing was for Jeff & I to remove our feet, heavy laden with boots & skis, from the bar they were resting on, so that we could lift the rail in front of us and make the "jump" from the ski chair.  

This should have been the easy part, even if a bit scarey for me.  However, to my shock & dismay, my feet would not budge.  At first I thought they had somehow stuck to the bar, but with some effort I was able to remove my left foot rather quickly.  To my horror my right foot would not budge, it was glued fast.  "I can't move my foot!"  I exclaimed with a hint of panic in my voice.  At first I don't think Jeff understood me, so I repeated myself.  By now he had removed both of his feet from the bar, and said something like, "What do you mean, you can't move your foot?  Just move it."  However, much as I tried, my foot was unresponsive.   As he repeated, "Move your foot!" over and over, I remember thinking, it doesn't matter how many times you say it, I still can't move my foot! (Looking back I think what happened was temporary muscle failure due to over use.)  All this while we were approaching the jump point.  Jeff began to sideways kick my right boot with his left boot in an attempt to remove it from the bar.  The trouble was my foot was on the bar and his was underneath the bar, making this effort fruitless.  

By this point we had the lift operator's attention.  He must have been thinking, What in the world is going on?  Still being a beginner,  I wasn't sure what was going to happen if we couldn't lift the bar in time.  Was this going to end in disaster?  Should I prepare for pain?  What had begun looking like a romantic, get-a-way advertisement, promoting tourism in Colorado was now turning into Capital One credit card commercial with me being the red-neck Viking hanging by his ski from the lift chair!  

All this time we are getting closer and closer to the exit point, and now the lift operator is definitely concerned!  I don't know what happened next.  Maybe I willed my leg to move, or maybe and angel moved it for me.  Anyhow, it was now freely hanging with the other one, and my dear Honey was able to lift the bar just in time.  He, being the more experienced skier, dismounted correctly.  I wasn't as quick to stand up, and caught some air before I touched down, which increased my speed as I rounded the bend from the lift.  To keep from crashing into my boys waiting on the hill for us, I did a professional looking, Susie Chapstick type, sideways stop, complete with a spray of snow.  Jeff was just a split second behind me, and stopped and stared at me with a look of complete wonder on his face.  

I don't know why, maybe it was a release from all the built up tension, but I burst out laughing.  Now, I'm usually more on the reserved side, and I don't often laugh so freely, but the stress and the comedy of the whole situation, combined with the fresh out doors did something to me, and I gave myself over to the hysteria, and laughed very loudly and quite freely!  By now our girls behind us on the lift had joined our party, and everyone was looking at me in amazement.  I think one of the girls said, "What's so funny?"  Jeff must have been thinking, ... Really? ... Seriously? ... What just happened? and his puzzlement only aided my mirth.  

Perhaps he was thinking it was a joke, or payback for the time when I was standing on a chair about to change one of two light bulbs in a ceiling fixture.  Just as I touched the burned out bulb to unscrew it, he flipped the light switch on and off quickly, flashing the good bulb, all the while making a sizzling, electric type sound, leading me to think I was getting electrocuted.  What a fright!  But no, I couldn't have dreamed this up.  

As we all headed down the mountain, I would occasionally burst out laughing again.  Once, one of the children commented, "Are you okay, Mom?"  "Yes, I'm perfectly fine, and utterly enjoying myself."

What is better?  The actual event, or later the fam' hangin' out together telling funny stories from the day?  That's a hard call.

   This is the view from the middle of the road across from our

  Jeff is so handsome when he pays the bill.

   On the way home our vehicle stopped for a little while at
   Twin Lakes.

   Our family has day camped in this area in the fall,
   and enjoyed a campfire / hot dog roast
   along the creek.

   The winter aspens are beautiful.

   ... And quite thick in places.

   ... Gorgeous against the blue sky.

     It was an absolutely beautiful, clear day.

     I took this picture from the back seat of
     Mountain Man's truck.

    The three young men headed to Cottonwood Pass
    for the rest of the day for some awesome

    Click on this link to watch a 2 minute DVD of
    their snowmobile adventure in Cottonwood Pass.

O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good:
for his mercy endureth for ever.    ~Psalm 136:1~

1 comment: