Last Wednesday night, my oldest daughter started throwing up at 2 AM. I thought our trip to Laconia and Gunstock Mountain was doomed for sure. Even if S. recovered quickly, one or all of us were bound to come down with the stomach bug in the next 24 hours. That’s usually how it works.
As I cleaned up vomit, I waited to see who would get sick next. But S. stopped throwing up by sunrise, and no one else started. I found some uncharacteristic optimism.
Instead of throwing in the towel and cancelling our weekend trip outright on Thursday morning, I proceeded to pack up as though nothing had happened.
All day long I stuffed overnight bags, toted skis to the car, and rounded up diapers, lovies, blankies, snacks, books, games, toys, and…well, you get it. Basically the whole house. That’s sadly what is involved in taking my family of five away for two nights. Actually, even for an overnight trip.
It was touch and go for sure. In between trips to the car I checked on my sleeping S. for signs of fever or stomach pains. I waited for J. or A. to complain of a tummy ache or to suddenly vomit mid-sentence. Glop came home from work and I expected him to say he wasn’t feeling well. But it didn’t happen. I was both grateful and flabbergasted that such luck should befall my family.
We did alter our plans for downhill skiing at Gunstock Mountain on Friday because S. wasn’t really up for it. Instead, we decided to go snow tubing, which was new for all of us and required a lot less effort. We ran into another little snag, because J. was not really old enough to tube. We thought about letting her try, but realized that as capable as she is, the toddler still isn’t ready to jump into a giant tube and get towed up a big hill by herself. Luckily, Gunstock gave us a refund. Glop then discovered that he could take J. on the bunny hill for free, so her grabbed her skis and they had something to do while I went tubing with the girls.
Tubing was so much fun!!! So much fun because the girls and I could ride down together. Also so scary because we could ride down together. At first, I assumed that there was some fancy mechanism by which the attendants would attach our tubes together. Nope. It was all up to me to HOLD all three of our tubes together by the handles. I did not for a second let my mind explore what might happen if I let go of a tube. But it was a battle of wills not to go there, for sure.
We were at Gunstock on what I thought was the most glorious winter afternoon. The temps were in the twenties, there was very little wind, and the sky was a blazing, robin’s egg blue. Not a cloud in site. The view from the top of the tubing hill was amazing. The cold air was invigorating. And I was out there, enjoying it all with my girls.
So what could possibly top such an unexpectedly fun start to a trip I thought would never happen? Another new adventure, of course. One involving all five of us.
On Saturday, downhill skiing was again not an option, this time because we could not use the free passes we had for the girls (of course they were valid every other day), making it it prohibitively expensive. It was another gorgeous sunny day, so we wanted to spend it outside. Yes, I know, we are obsessed with getting outside in the winter. We threw around some ideas and ultimately decided that we’d try taking the girls cross country skiing. On a whim, I’d thrown our (Glop’s and mine) hand-me-down nordic skis in the back of the van with all the downhill gear just in case…I don’t know what. I guess it was a good thing.
Earlier in the winter, we’d made the choice to go all in on alpine skiing because we thought cross country would be too hard for the girls, or they’d find it boring. Certainly toddler was not old enough to enjoy trudging through the woods on skis. That was our view of it, at least, because we’d only ever skied on ungroomed terrain, sometimes breaking our own trails through the woods. We thought of it as great exercise, not really great entertainment.
So our misgivings were understandable as we undertook this “what the hell, why not” cross country skiing experiment. For starters, it was a little expensive, because we needed to rent skis for the kids, a pulk for Juliet, and trail passes for all of us. We weren’t sure what kind of return we’d get on our investment. We were thinking 15 minutes max. The kids seemed more enamored with the warming yurt where we ate lunch than with the skiing we were about to do. J. was a napless little lunatic, running amok in the yurt and wiping her balogna on every table she could find (that was probably all the cleaning the yurt had gotten all weekend). And I thought for sure Glop’s back wouldn’t last very long pulling our pretty substantial toddler on skis.
Around noon we finally extracted the kids from the yurt and, after three trips across the parking lot with all of our stuff, made it to the trail head. Despite the glittering snow all around, a hint of spring was in the air. The sun gave off real warmth, for once. After a few complaints about getting in the pulk, which were assuaged by promises of a pumpkin chocolate chip muffin, J. settled down and we snapped her into the little red sled. The girls clicked into their skis and we were off. Well, they were off. It took me a little longer to click into my skis.
As I struggled with my boot, I watched down the trail for the first signs of disaster. I winced as A. fell, then picked herself up and rallied. S. was further up the trail, chasing Glop. J seemed content to rattle along behind him. I couldn’t believe it. The girls were cross country skiing like pros, no one complaining that it was “too hard” or “too boring.”
I finally started down the trail and instantly realized why the girls were whizzing along so happily. It was my first time skiing on groomed trails, and wow was it a game changer for me. It took almost no effort to catch up with the rest of the family.
I glided up to A. and asked her what she thought about cross country skiing. “Ohh,” she said with a big smile on her face, “I like it.” We skied along together for a little while, talking about the beauty of the day and the scenery, how to use the poles, and how cross country skiing and alpine skiing were different. We reached S., who also seemed to be enjoying her first time nordic skiing.
A. cross country skiing for the first time – a natural!
Glop had a huge smile on his face when I pulled up beside him. “This is awesome,” he said. “I can’t believe they like it.” And that J is sitting there so patiently, I thought to myself. She was happy as long as Glop kept moving.
The girls pull ahead on Gunstock’s Brook Run trail.
It was a magical afternoon. We wound through the woods on the novice track for well over an hour before the girls reached their limit. As we took off our skis and pulled J. out of the pulk, we agreed the experiment was a complete success, and that there will be more cross country skiing in the future.
I could say a lot more about our mini-vacation, and all the fun stuff we crammed into it, but these were two of the highlights. I could finish this post with an avalanche of sappy comments about family time and being in the moment and having all the stars align. But I think I’ll hold back, and just say everything was perfect, and how I wish it could be that way all the time, whether I’m on vacation or at home.