Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New Year's Skiing

We had a great time on our Christmas Vacation. It's good to be home again, but we are all missing the beautiful Colorado snow and visiting with all of our friends and family.

On the Jewett's back deck, with a view of Pike's Peak in the background.

We got a chance to visit friends in Colorado Springs before riding the train to the top of Pike's Peak. It was 55 or 60 degrees in The Garden of the Gods at the base of the mountain and 30 below (including wind chill) at the summit.

Brian and I in front of the Cathedral Spires at Garden of the Gods.

The cog wheel train to the top of Pike's Peak.

The wind was blowing at 50 mph and it was turning pebbles and snowflakes into stinging projectiles, but we still managed to take in some of the magnificent views. Cainan couldn't even walk in the tremendous wind so we had to pull him along. Brian and I took turns roaming around outside and taking pictures while the other one stayed in the Summit House with the frozen children. We sampled some of the world famous high altitude doughnuts and hot chocolate and then headed down again.

All of us at the summit of Pike's Peak.

The next day we arrived at our condo in Winter Park. We rented our skis and equipment and headed out to a local sledding hill. We rode tubes up and down the mountain for an hour. It was a lot of really speedy fun. By the time we got back the rest of the family (Mom and Dad, Jill and the girls, Eric, Kari and Kira) had made it in and we were ready for supper.

On January 1st we all hit the slopes at 9 am. The kids went to ski school while the adults skiied all day. We stopped by around midday to check on the little students. We never got a chance to see Ryker at school (he was already up the mountain by that point), but I have to say that I wasn't too impressed with the 5 year old ski school program.

Cainan and Claire at ski school.

Cainan (and his cousin Claire) were busy preparing for their first venture on to the real lift. Cainan wasn't quite tall enough to jump on and he ended up sliding off and hanging on by his arms to the seat while his feet dangled over nothing. Brian and I were both screaming and the lift operator stopped the lift and ran out and lifted Cainan back on. After that we decided to follow the kids up the lift and see if they could get down the slope safely....all 10 of them with only one teacher....none of which could stay on their feet for more than 5 seconds at a time.

No, it's not an alien. It's Ryker in full ski gear.

We ended up going with the teacher and helping her for 45 minutes or so as she tried to get all of the kids down the mountain....5 of which were crying and rolling around on the ground half the time. Brian actually took over Cainan's instruction himself while Mom helped Claire and I helped whoever needed me. Thankfully some reinforcement teachers arrived and we were able to turn the kids over to them eventually. Cainan ended up getting one-on-one instruction from a really great guy for the last 30 minutes and he really did learn a lot.

Ryker and I under the High Lonesome lift at the summit.

When we met up with Ryker at the end of the day he was doing really well and had apparently had a very productive ski school experience. He was getting the hang of skiing down, he just needed to work on his turning. Brian and I took both boys up the mountain for 2 runs with us before the lifts shut down for the day. Over all it was a good day.

All of us on the "bunny slope" on day two.

The next day we all took all of the kids to another "family ski area" that has a small lift with 3 easy runs off of it. We were able to ski for 3 hours with both boys and really help them develop their skills. Thankfully Cainan wasn't too traumitized by his near fall from the lift the day before...and in fact, Jill and Claire had a similar exprerience and both ended up falling off of the lift and landing in a pile under it. By the end of the morning Ryker was going off on his own down the mountain and riding the lift back up alone too. He was progressing so much that we told him we would take him up on the big mountain and let him ski with us the rest of the day after the little kids went home.

Cainan, our little ski bum, chillin' in the snow bank.

And that's just what we did. Cainan and the little girls went home at noon and Ryker, Brian, Dad and I stayed and skiied the rest of the day. Ryker was unbelievable! He looked like he'd been skiing for years. He went on every run we did and went faster than us most of the time. He went off of the groomed trails and sped over bumps and through trees with my Dad. By the end of the day he was going down blue (intermedieate difficulty) runs with us like a pro. He was traversing through moguls and down steep faces. We were having so much fun that we were the last ones off of the mountain...literally. We made sure we were at the summit at 4 pm when the lifts shut down and there was no one else up there. Only the ski patrol came down behind us. It was a GREAT day!

Video of Ryker skiing in and out of the trees. (I was the skiing videographer that was trying to keep up with him without running into any trees myself.)

In addition to skiing we spent the evenings watching movies, cooking, eating and playing games together in the condo. It was crowded (7 people in one bedroom) and noisy (6 kids in one condo) but it was really fun. We hadn't all been together for that amount of time in a really long time. Everyone (except us) went on a horse drawn sleigh ride and enjoyed some sightseeing around the area too.

A really BAD picture of the whole family with my sunburnt face front and center.

Unfortunately on the 3rd we had to pack up and head for home. Ryker was so disappointed that we couldn't ski "just one more day", but we had to get back so that Brian could get to work on Monday. Our experiences confirmed that we should take skiing vacations more often.

It was definitely one of the best Christmases we have ever had.

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