Monday, March 24, 2014

So Now We Ski

About a month ago, 3M offered a family deal for a day of skiing at Seven Oaks in Boone. Except for Audrey, who had a band contest, our schedule was clear for us to go. We invited a friend of Ben's to come along. Ben and Luke had never been skiing before so we figured this was a great time and place to introduce them to it. I had been skiing once, but that was back in high school and honestly I couldn't remember the actual skiing part either so it was a good introduction for me as well.

Ben's friend has skied quite a bit and had his own gear which was quite nice since getting the four of us fitted with boots and skis is an ordeal the first time around! 
We let the boys go on their own. Gage taught Ben and was patient while Ben got the hang of it. 

I caught Ben once at the top of the practice hill and that was probably the last time I saw him until the end of the day.

Bill stuck with Luke and taught him. Bill had gone skiing during college with The Salt Co, in Colorado so he was a good to go. I should have stuck with him, but decided to try my luck with the instructors. Here's what I learned: three different ways to get up if you fall down. Awesome. So I got myself to the top of the practice hill, decided it was trial by fire and went for it. I didn't need my "how to get up lessons" until later that day when I attempted a regular hill.

Anyway, back to Luke. The beginner way of learning to control your speed and stopping is directing your skis in a pizza wedge. You can see Luke demonstrate this very well. In fact, we now call this Luke's signature move. You can spot him coming down by the toes in, elbows up, hands down. It's automatic- like airplane landing gear (sort of).

 Seven Oaks also has a hill for tubing and I took Luke down a few times before the day was over. For him, this was the best part of the day. The whole process- how they hook the tube up the tow rope and you ride your tube to the top, the "half pipe" you slide down to release the tube from the tow rope and the "G's" you must be pulling as you fly down the hill. Luke said he thought he was going about 12 G's! 

We definitely had a good first experience and it snowballed from there. 

When we got home, we discussed more skiing options and suggested going somewhere for Spring Break which was in two weeks or so.

We are all in love with the North Shore of Minnesota. Even though there are other beautiful places in the U.S. to visit, we can't get away from the North Shore. We've now visited three years in a row but it no one ever complains about going there. This time we were going to try it in a different season. Lutsen Mountains and the rental companies were offering some good deals on multiple day stays and lift tickets. Bill ended up finding us a gigantic house for a great price. We don't really need a space this big but there was no other reasonable option, so okay, it'll do. 

The interior of this house was all pine with a smidge of stone. Pine flooring. Pine paneling. Pine furniture. It was adorable in a large pine tree sense. I felt a little like Goldilocks in the three bears house.

We spent our first night hanging out and relaxing. I wrote the blog post about the Leprechaun 10k before diving into Sophie Hudson's A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet. Book review: If you want good story telling with a Southern twang that all have a huge dose of humor (laughing myself into tears in one chapter), a huge amount of tenderness and love for dear people in your life (crying and deeply reflecting in many, many parts) and a realness that is so tangible this could very well be snippets of your own life, then you would enjoy this delightful book.

Audrey cuddled up with her own book. Notice the giant pine everything?

And Bill taught the boys to play poker. It didn't take on them as they didn't ask to play it any other time. Probably because Ben won. 

 The next day, after we rented all the appropriate gear, then purchased some more gear, bought and secured all the lift tickets, we took a nap. Because that was again, an ordeal. It wasn't hard- but we are still novices. Only Bill knew a thing or two and the rest of us had to learn all of the lingo and so forth.
Alright- we didn't nap. Ben would have none of the napping. We were here to ski so let's get to skiing. We practiced a bit more on their practice slope before heading up Ullr Mountain where we stayed the rest of the day trying different slopes. Audrey had a pretty good wipeout and we were thankful she had a helmet. She skied a bit more then called it a day. We were worn out but not any less enthusiastic about our new adventure.

This was the gearing up scene for the next two days. 

We didn't all ski together all the time. Bill spent time with each of the kids, helping them gain confidence and skill. I stayed with whoever was leftover. We all took one run down Moose Mountain but only Ben found it thrilling. The rest of us decided it was a little too much for us even though we all did it and we headed back on the gondola while Bill and Ben stayed to ski more runs. 
The way my children learn and respond to things is so amazing to see and at the same time so typical of them (in good ways). Ben: must learn, must master, must go up and down as many times as possible. We are here to ski, so ski we will. Luke: timid at first. Has to be patiently coaxed. His "sensations" first start out with scared and eventually he loves it (or he doesn't). One time, during the third day, after he had fully fallen in love with skiing, we were at the top of Eagle Mountain, just having gotten off the ski lift and were skating our way to one of the runs when Luke yells out "I can't believe this is real life!!" and then he takes off- swish, swish, swish- with all his little might.

 Audrey loves new things and she's so good at adapting to new situations without hyper-ventilating or freaking out (unlike her mom). But she does have at least one thing that causes panic in her and this trip forced her to deal with it over and over- heights. 
 Some of the chair lift rides to the top weren't so bad and then some were. The wind at the top of the mountains was bothersome to her also. She's my sweet girl who can throw out a casual "Not a fan." about certain things but then try it anyway. We only had one time where she was beside herself but then she did it. 
I'll confess- I'm a lot like her. When I was on my first chair lift ride in Boone, I was so nervous. I would seriously rather run up those hills than try something new and ski down them. It was a tremendous learning moment for me. To be brave and to try something new. When we discussed skiing as a family, I wanted to go to Lutsen because I was hoping to get a run on the Superior Hiking Trail before the race in May. They were snow-covered and I couldn't. I'm comfortable running. After a full day of skiing, I would go out for a run on a gravel road instead and it was like my body was saying to me "Now this is what I know." That's a good feeling. But I never would have discovered that had I not tried something new. Had I not decided to be an adventurer. To be brave. 

I heard this from Jon Acuff in a podcast and it has stuck with me.
"Bravery involves a lot more crying and wanting to throw up than people want to admit."

It might seem I'm making this a bit more dramatic than what it is- a black diamond out of a bunny hill- so to speak. After all, this is just skiing and people do it all the time. It's just that it fits. Can you relate at all?

So here we are all sunshine and smiles and ski gear and to quote Luke "I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS IS REAL LIFE!!" 

Where would you suggest we ski next?


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