This Moment::Whistler Blackcomb with Kids

When we moved to an island, we picked a hard habit to keep. Skiing is the best, the closest we get to awesome, but it’s also a total hassle.

It takes days to pack, and with Canada on our horizons for the best of the snowy beasts of North America, there’s passports to find and provisions illegal for a border’s crossing to maneuver (like fruit).  Traveling with three families: six adults and seven children, there’s meals to plan and when the destination’s a one family condo, there’s sleeping bags to gather and nap rotations to figure out.

We pack until midnight, sleep through the red-eye alarm and make the 8:00 ferry.  Somewhere around dairy farms on the mainland, a check engine light alights in the truck. We pull into a dealership, meet someone who knows a lineman from our island and after a handshake and a nod, we’re on the highway without warning.  We never underestimate the power of connected friendships.

Crossing into Vancouver always feels like a road detour nightmare, where the roadsigns are just different enough to get us lost, where the sights are just different enough to leave us speechless.

It’s a journey we took some time ago [HERE] and [HERE] and last year [HERE].

The Sea to Sky Highway is the closest to the British Virgin Islands as I’ve gotten in a while.  With a change of climate and a blink, it’d be easy to fool anyone.  I dream of traveling by diesel-reeking fishing boat as Luke did years earlier.  Well, at least by motor with it’s sudden rumored lack on waterway wind.

Nothing compares to the journey from a tiny island to the massive peaks of Whistler Blackcomb.  With three children at our side, our love of sport is tested with impatience and an inordimant amount of gear.  It’s for scenes like these someone first wrote the now overused like, Getting there is half the battle:

We wait in the falling snow for lift tickets, a trail map and the day’s plan.

Funny how the allure of falling snowflakes can cure even the most ready-to-go-now attitude.

I remember my Massachusetts driveway forts and all the snow angles I made from New Hampshire to Montana.  I can hear the sound inside my head at a moment’s memory, and I want the same sound within our girls’ minds.

I love to watch our girls play in the snow.  It takes me back, and moves me into a forward place where I know all is good in their hearts.

Nothing compares to watching our daughters climb the peak of a snowy pile when they’re so often digging trenches on beaches.

Betty wondered what books were in the library of another country.  She’s full-force reading, head-over-heels for characters she follows in chapters, in series.  To her surprise, so many of the same favorites crowded shelves.  We spent a while in the familarity of the stories.

I like the rings, in day and night.  I like the bustle of the plaza, the stories it could tell.

Sometimes days don’t go like we picture.  Hours of readying float by in peanut butter sandwich making, ski sock matching and helmet buckling.  As if the altitude sickness in the middle girl the day earlier wasn’t enough, we spend the not-so-great day with the youngest of the three crying for nearly two hours before boot bindings are even buckled.

Blue skies, babes properly bundled and pockets packed with snacks but, even so, the youngest doesn’t want to go.

And the determination of a three year old is, in fact, unstoppable once it starts.

Lucy’s face in this picture, really, says it all.  Yea, Lucy, I said, I wish Olive was different today too.

I ended up skiing with the bigger girls, while Luke and Olive headed into the lodge.  Many peanut butter sandwiches and a tall glass of milk later, it was pretty darn clear baby girl was tired.  We’d left without a nap, expected her to skip one (in fact) and learned the hard way flexibility doesn’t exist with the determination of a three year old.

But new days are new days.  Gondola soars through a thick, grey and snow-y sky and Olive can’t wait.

Mama, I love it here, she says.

Luke and I have a moment eight years in the making:  all of us, family of five, riding the chair lift and skiing down all on our own accord.

It happened.  The afternoon before, Olive skied between my knees, giggled and squeezed with a tight, mittened grip.  Mama, I  good but I  not awesome.  Awesome is on the chairlift.

She said, I be brave, I want to be just like my sisters.

And the determination of a three year old is, in fact, unstoppable once it starts.

Watching all our girls ski on their own that day, loving every moment of it, was just super awesome.

Weird, to be within a moment so tangible that I knew we’d remember it for ever.

The few hours we ski with just one another are both fantastic and far between.  Our children are handed of, their little minds tucked into books and nap time.

Windy peaks, lifts shut down, late afternoon: so many possibilities.

Cold.  Reeeeeeal cold.

Anyone could learn a lot from skiing with Luke.  He went to bank a little jump and ended up mouse-trapping over tree tops sticking through.  Goggles smashed into telemark ski’s tips, snow down his back and he emerges laughing hysterically all the while along singing to his punk playlist.

I’d follow him on any trail.  Yes, it’s true.

I was raised for a bit on a wooden sloop in The Bahamas and, afraid to stick my head into the salty sea, my Dad built me a glass bottom bucket to look at coral reefs through.  Maybe it was in those early rowing moments over conch shells, but somehow the salt water seeped into my veins.  It’s there.  Today, still.  But on a peak, a fluffy, off-trail run I’d swear I was born to skin in the mountains.

Meadow Park Sports Centre in British Columbia is insanely awesome.  We readied in a sweet family change room, swam in a gradual pool, floated a rapid river, swirled in an eddy bowl, swam laps in lanes, laughed and giggled in teddy bear water spouts.  Then, dry and bundled, we ice skated.

I slipped the skates onto Olive’s feet.  I’ve waited by whole life for this, she said.  Love her and the depths she feels at three.

I am not an ice skater.  Thankfully, it was Olive’s first time so I didn’t look too goofy sharing and fully supporting myself on the plastic kiddie-walker that stabilized us.

A few trips around was enough for us.  For some reason, Led Zeppelin was cranked, there was an old guy in black spandex doing the best routine I’ve ever seen and only Luke and the other two ladies shared the ice with him, swirled about.  Luke tried to copy the guy’s routine and it was the most hilarious thing I’d witnessed in a while.  And as if it couldn’t get better, a Zamboni cleared the ice and a high school hockey game began.

So yea, good times in a spontaneous night.

British Colombia was so good to us.

Happy Travels, especially if you head up that way…

Happy Winter, especially if you’re playing in the snow.

These moments.

A Friday ritual.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember because it’s what life is all about.

18 Comments

  • Cory says:

    First off…that fantastic room with books and the trees outside? Wanting.
    My kids have never been in snow. It’s a little sad, let’s be honest.
    Loving all those beautiful pics today! Those sweet rosy apple cheeks!
    XP

  • ivey says:

    somehow i lost you for a while, and now you are found! love the new look!!! have fun on your ski trip. as a ski instructor, we are reminded ALL THE TIME, by the resort we work for, of the herculean efforts it takes for a family to come to us and ski…and it’s so true! expensive, awkward, tiring, and physically demanding once you’ve arrived! BUT WORTH IT?!!!!!

    have so much fun, my dear!

  • Chrissy says:

    How wonderful! I have a love-hate relationship with skiing. I LOVE the nature and mountains and view and HATE that my feet feel like the hair inside a braid every time I latch my boots. You made it look easy! Have a wondrous time and take in some of that deep mountain air for me:) XO

  • Summer says:

    What a truly lovely story of a wonderful, memorable trip! I’ve never been skiing but it looks like one heckuva place to ski! Beautiful! I love that library. Wow! A girl could read a few books there!

  • MJ says:

    Yay for skiing!!!!!! Though I admit the hassle is tough, but oh so worth it when you get there!! I love that you are a badass on the mountain, I kind of suspected that ;). I learned to snowboard a few years ago while still living in FL, and am thrilled to be able to improve now that we are in CO. I did try skiing, but cried the last 3 times I was in skis lol….
    And what a wonderful experience for the kids, it’s so true!!! So glad you had such a great time ;). Happy weekend!!!!
    xoxo

  • Ko S. says:

    Gorgeous pictures! It looks like a full but wonderful time! I so need to get my littles to the snow! You’ve lit a fire under me!

  • Jaim says:

    Holy cow,
    Skiing with young children is by far the most physically demanding sport, or at least it is for me…but it it So fun! We live on the east side of the Rocky Maountains and only 25 minutes from our little local hill which reopened for the first time in many years 2 years ago and was, sadly, closed last year. It reopened, unexpectedly, this season and we have been so often. We’ve got our bags together and can get out of the house in a swift and orderly manner, just so long as the 6 year old and 4 year old have the right animals for the trip up and that their coats are zipped on the walk to the car…AND THEN they’ll take them off and only then will they unzip, just so far, their bibs. Of course that’s only on Saturdays and on Sundays it’s just the opposite. No matter how long it takes us to get everyone and everything in that car it is ALWAYS worth it…even if one of us spends the first 45 minutes in the lodge with the 4year old drinking hot chocolate until she’s ready to rip it up. And finally getting to ski on the big hill together as a group is worth all that work!

    That library, dreamy and those smiles priceless. Thanks for sharing your grand time in a beautiful place.

    Jaim

  • Nice Jenn! Congrats on your writers’ workshop on Orcas. Went skating with the kids at Frog Pond on the Commons yesterday. The kids loved it, but my feet need to be retired. Keep on truckin’ and educatin’!!

  • Meryl says:

    Love this! And I’m proud of you for packing up and going! Sometime just getting out the door with a hat on is a stretch–I can’t imagine ski gear and border crossings!

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