I have never been interested in skiing. I can’t say why exactly. The only time I can ever recall being on skis is as a young child, in my backyard in New Jersey. They may have been toy skis, and I was probably four years old at the time. Between the intervening decades I have not set foot on skis. But we have friends that love skiing, and their kids ski, and we thought it would be a good idea to go on a ski trip to see if our kids would enjoy the sport.
Kelly made the arrangements and on a recent weekend, we made the 3-hour drive to the Wisp Ski Resort in McHenry, Maryland. Actually, in order to avoid crowds, were there on a Thursday evening and Friday, and returned home on a Saturday morning. Kelly strategically picked the dates because the kids got out of school early on the Thursday in question, and had no school on Friday. I had some afternoon appointments, after which we hit the road.
We arrived at the Wisp resort and checked into the lodge, and then headed over to the snow tubing slopes. All five of us participated in this particular event. We were told that the hills were particularly fast. I’d never been tubing before. They had something called a “magic carpet” which was like an escalator that took passengers and tubes to the top of the hill, very, very slowly. At the top were a series of lanes where people lined up with their tubes, waiting to be given the okay to head down the hill.
Our youngest was a little too nervous to head down the hill herself, so she and I lashed our tubes together and raced down the hill. It was far faster than I imagined. Along the way are two drops that sent us briefly airborn. As we approached the end of the run, I used my snow boots to slow us down a bit. There were these large garbage bags filled with I don’t know what that helped to slow people down. We stopped before those bags on the first run. I was more focused on the Littlest Miss’s reactions to really take in the ride down the hill.
We decided on another run, and so back up the hill we went. Once again, the Littlest Miss and I went together. This time, we were in the very first lane. That was a particularly fast one. On our next run, I tried to enjoy the ride down, but we picked up quite a bit of speed. The Littlest Miss grew increasingly nervous, and I was focused on her rather than slowing us down. We blew through the garbage bags, which didn’t do much to slow us down, and continued to a fence that ran across the end of course (and which prevented us from going off a cliff). I had turned so that I was backwards and hit the fence back first. The fence itself was springy, but there was a metal pole running across the bottom that caught me in the back. After that, I decided I’d had enough of for one day.
Kelly and the older kids rode the tubes a few more times, while the Littlest Miss and I people-watched. She also made quite collection of snow angels in the artificial snow. It was amusing to watch people come down the hill. On almost every run, someone lost something on the way down: hats, gloves, sunglasses. Afterward, we headed back to the lodge and got pizza.
The next day, the older kids were scheduled for lessons in the morning. Kelly had prescheduled all of this which made things easy. It helped that the place was not very crowded. We headed to the training center next to the lodge at 9:30am, filled out some forms, and then checked in. The kids got their rental equipment. Zach was snowboarding and Grace was skiing. They split into their various lesson groups, and then, for the next 90 minutes, learned their various crafts. Kelly took the Littlest Miss to find a place to go sledding, but I stuck around, watching Grace learn to ski. She seemed to take to it quickly, and by the end of 90 minutes, she was ready to hit the bunny slopes.
It was cold out–24 degrees when their lessons started–but the sun felt good. With the lessons over, Zach and Grace headed for the bunny slopes to practice. They made a few runs, and then we decided to have lunch. There wasn’t a great selection of food, but the chili was warm and tasted pretty good. After lunch, Grace headed back to the bunny slopes. Zach wanted to try a real slope. I wasn’t sure he was ready yet, and he agreed to make one more run down the bunny slope. Then he headed off to the lifts to make a run down a regular slope.
Meanwhile, I watched Grace complete run after run down the bunny slopes. There was a “magic carpet” like at the snow-tubing hill, so that she didn’t have to walk up the hill each run. Each time she came down the hill, I could tell she was getting better and better, building her confidence. The first few times, she was nervous about stopping and tended to “land long.” But eventually, she found her balance and was able to stop sooner, and even curve around as she came to a stop.
I watched skiers come down the black diamond slope, and couldn’t quite understand the nerve it must take to do that. Then again, I used to fly airplanes and it never bothered me, so I guess everything is relative. After more than an hour had passed, I realized that Zach hadn’t returned yet. I wondered what was keeping him. At one point, I saw a snowboard come down the mountain, sans rider. I began to worry. I tend to worry about these things and Kelly is far more calm about them than I am. In these cases, therefore, I outsource my anxiety to her. Still, I couldn’t help but wonder what was keeping him.
Not long after, Kelly came out to find me. Apparantly, Zach had made it partway down the slope, fell, got nervous, and and tried to make it back up to the top. He didn’t have his phone with him, and so asked several skiers if he could use their phone to make a call. Surprisingly, most refused. He made his way back to the top of the mountain and found an employee, who allowed him to use the phone. He called Kelly who then drove up to the top of the mountain to pick him up. He was fine, but wanted to rest for a while.
Meanwhile, Grace was relentless, practicing her runs down the bunny slope again, and again. I’d have to guess that she went down the slope thirty times that day. Later, after resting, Zach returned to the bunny slopes.
That evening, faces sunburned, we headed to a nearby restauarant, The Greene Turtle, for dinner. I think we all slept well that night. The next morning we headed home.
Overall, I’d say the trip was a success. The kids had fun, and would definitely want to do it again. The Littlest Miss, who was half a year too young for lesson, also wanted to do it again. Next year, she’ll be old enough for lessons herself.
Written on March 6, 2022.
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