Last weekend our family went to Ski Beech Mountain for a bit of a get-a-way. I traveled the highways and byways as quickly as I could without drawing much attention to my vehicle and remaining safe as I had my family in tow and concern for my fellow drivers. I was excited! It has been many years since I last skied. Last time I skied was over a decade ago in the Alps. What an amazing time that was. I wanted my family to learn and enjoy skiing just the same.
We arrived at Ski Beech Mountain in western North Carolina. We checked in at the Pinnacle Inn where we rented a condo for the weekend. The temperature was rapidly dropping as the blizzard that hit the northeast United States worked its way inland. Winds were approaching 60 miles per hour and the temp was 20 degrees F. In the eastern half of the US, we were at the highest incorporated township. My kids wanted to play in the snow however when they stepped out in the wind, they quickly changed their minds. I discussed with them that there are some in our world who live outside in all conditions of weather and to be thankful for all God has given us. I drew two chords of wood from the front desk, some matches and a fire starter for the fire place. Now the family was really excited.
We dropped off our luggage and drove back down to a great pizzeria and coffee/pastry store called The Famous Brick Oven. The place was packed. We looked out the front windows while waiting for a seat, heating our backs to the fireplace. I watched the weather channel discuss the ensuing onslaught of snow in various parts of the US. It was great. I really enjoy snow. We snagged a table and were immediately enjoying the atmosphere. Folks who had been on the slopes all day were making their way in to warm up, some to tie one on, and others to enjoy the great food. There was excitement in the air and it was contagious. Smiles abound. We ate some of the best pizza ever!
Later, we settled into our lodging, I attempted to start the fire as the family all curled up in the living room, listening to readings of Harry Potter. Directly in view from the dining and living rooms was the mountain and skiers. The lifts were in effect as the sky settled and the wind brought much snow with it. Little “ants” were zipping down the mountain side and I could see the look of awe and wonder on the faces of my kids. I struggled to start the fire, nearly questioning my own manhood and thinking someone would revoke my Man Card. It took nearly the entire book of matches from the 60 mph winds. Never-the-less. I managed to have a small flame catch for about thirty minutes and just as quick as the kids were asleep, so was my fire.
Saturday, we awoke, had breakfast and set off to the slopes. Mind you, it’s been over a decade since I last skied. My family had never. I figured I could teach them just the same. There was much jumping for excitement and wanting to hurry to start skiing. We got everyone fitted. The staff at Ski Beech were amazingly patient, explained things really well, and appeared to love their jobs! We headed out to the snow, put each person in their bindings and felt the full effect of gravity. I gently warned each family member that, yes, they would fall down. There were many tears of frustration until I spent time with each one, letting them learn in their own way, explaining things so each one could understand and put into practice. Sure, I wanted to get to the top of the mountain and blast down the black diamonds with my wife and children all zipping along with me. However, as with all things in life, we learn at different rates and with different methods. Besides, this weekend was not about me. I was building memories and trying to expose each member to a new sport. If they never did it again, so be it. I just wanted them to try skiing and make up their own minds.
As I coached one at a time while the others warmed up inside and ate lunch, smiles developed. Confidence built. And frustration turned into bravery. By the end of the afternoon, we had progressed from the bunny slopes and J-bars to the blue slopes. We spent more time on our backsides and helping each other up than actual skiing, but I could see the look of happiness on the faces of my family.
When we ran out of dry gloves and clothing, we caught the shuttle back to the inn. Headed back to the Famous Brick Oven again for dinner then to the room to reaffirm my manhood. I used far fewer matches Saturday night, and the fire burned larger and longer. Hot chocolate was sipped from mugs and tired eyes watched the slopes peering at the multicolored ants working their way down the slope under lamps on the the mountain. We camped out on the floor, couch and chairs in the living room. The weight of being out in the cold and then in the warmth inside, brought a heavy feeling upon all of us. Our eyes closed and rest ensued.
I again woke before the sun and watched the splendor of the sun slowly embracing the mountains. The sky broke into a pink, an orange, then later a blue. Big puffy white clouds clung to the blue. I borrowed some sleds from the front desk and took the kids sledding. They continued laughing, smiling and playing.
We headed home. I had a tremendous weekend. I knew that shortly, we would be back to our routines of school, work, chores and so forth. But for a weekend, we had a great time, full of ebullience. I am grateful for this opportunity, for the memories, and the time spent with my family. I am grateful for the gifts given to us and blessings bestowed upon us.
Make it fun!