Our Ski Adventure A Go-Go
Tuesday, March 8.
So This Is Snow...
So "Grayrocks" is a ski resort in the Laurentian Mountains somewhere between Ottawa and Montreal. There's this little town called St. Jovite that exists beyond the level of "oh look, Mr. Norbert got a new cow" because people come to the surrounding area for golf or skiing... So it's chock full of expensive little stores and restaurants. From pretty well everywhere in town you can see the peak of Mont Tremblant and the many ski runs cut into it's forests. Mont Blanc (White Mountain) is ... just over there, and Grayrocks Ski Hill is over here. Blanc and 'theRocks are less-than Mont Tremblant in vertical and over all "big ass ski resort'ness" but are great ski hills never the less. Bottom line... if you like to ski... and can't afford to go West... this is nice.
Now... The Grayrocks Resort... is a seven million year old Resort Hotel that is literally at the bottom of the Grayrocks ski hill. Well, ok, it's across the street. The Resort is built beside a lake that sports a summer of sailing, golf and tennis. But this is winter... and there's a quad chair lift across the street. :D There's a chalet halfway up the hill and you can take a shuttle from the door of the resort to that chalet... or you can grab your skis and walk across the street, strap 'em on and go! (goski)
The drive took a little over two hours... The last half of the drive on twisty, turny, slippery roads. They salt these roads so heavily that when the temp is a perfect minus 12... the roads are covered in mucky slush. We were driving along this dorky narrow twisty road and a truck zooms past us, hitting some kind of accumulated road-gew and it instantly, and completely covers our car with two inches of muddy slush... including the windshield. I'm talking total... absolute road blindness. I know, I know... turn on the wipers. Fine... did that... but I'm talking a vast amount of muddy slush here. We were in traffic, on a narrow, mountain road... and blind for several seconds. No accident... no problem... but Suz and I will have to shave a few months off the end of our lives.
The Hotel check in was later in the day than our arrival so they stored our stuff and (as a favour) gave us our lift passes early. So we hit the slopes. Our return to skiing and the children’s only experiences skiing have been at the family fun zone "mount pakenham", near home, which is a great place to ski... but it's little and the snow volume is nothing like it is up here. The hills are covered in swishable snow and powdery trails. It was at once challenging and exhilarating to have to push it around and feel your skis flying through it. After a couple of fun runs which included a spectacular Edward wipe-out (he was laughing as we collected all his parts and put him together again) Geo - of course - wanted to push his fear factor so I took him down a hill called "Niagara Falls". A wicked steep thing... Now note... skiing freak scary hills is easy if a) your center of gravity is a foot and a half off the ground and b) you are mostly unbreakable. So I'm fine with taking him on these steep hills. He was, however, petrified with the frozen terror of "what was I thinking? " He managed to snow plow back and forth across and ended up doing it a second time later. :) I crawled down it with Geo the first time and slammed down the second time... (gahdam!! that is fun stuff).
We finished up skiing by 4:00 and did a trip-to-town to buy Edward better - warmer - mittens (I forgot his good gloves!! d'oh)... and then we went to dinner! Dinner and breakfast are included in our "package" and dinner was the total swank. The restaurant is the eight-piece-cutlery, five course thing and it was fan-fricking-tastic. We chased dinner with a trip to the hot tubs and pool, Amazing Race on our TV and then... well... now actually, it's time for bed. See ya tomorrow.
Wednesday, March 9.
A day spent being SAW.
SAW "Serious about warm!".
You have to cover every tiny bit of exposed skin...
you have to make sure you jacket is cinched at the wrists and that your gloves are tucked in, and your goggles connect with scarf which is tucked into your high jacket collar and your jacket hood is cinched tight over your tooque... because when you get off that chair lift at the top of the mountain with a wind-chill that makes the air feel like it's minus 50 - 60 ... you need to be serious about warm.
We woke up with the wake-up-call at 7:30 after a night of listening to the people above teach their pet elephants to tap dance... and arranged to change rooms. The breakfast buffet was a thing of eat'en glory and it was a nice start to the day... We sorted ourselves out with massive layering and tuck’able accessories and hopped on the shuttle to the lodge. The ski school assembles at the lodge... and they get going at 9:30 sharp. We had Edward and George booked into the morning and afternoon sessions with Suz taking a private lesson in the afternoon. Watching Edward march away with his class... into a blistering wind was almost but not quite, sad. Geo, of course, bolted away with his class and had a fab time. Edward did very well but it was so crazy ass cold today that he was about done by 11:30... like... wanted to go home. :) So we took him out of the afternoon class and let him ski with Suz and I.
Those little "hot pockets"... little fabric packs of an unidentified chemical that heats up when you open the outer plastic wrap... are fricking amazing. They become little bags of what seems like Hot Sand ... and it stays hot all day. When you're kid whines about his high school chemistry class... tell 'em about these little babies and try to imagine how rich the inventor is. Any ways... we gave the kids hot pockets to wear in their ski mitts.
After lunch Edward and I skied some easy hills and one that was a wee bit steep but Edward did his snow plow back and forth across the hill and had a fine time... although he did bawl me out rather fiercely for taking him down that hill. It was a snap decision made when I wanted desperately to get off the top of the mountain (all chair lifts arrive in about the same place... the top. The wind was soooo strong that it literally was blowing Edward backwards on his skis... so I handed him my pole and pulled him to a hill that seemed to be out of the wind. Later, I was able to take off on my own and ski two killer freak attack diamonds... both are basically mogul runs on insanely steep hills. These are un-groomable hills so the snow builds up and with the recent snow fall... well there was a ton of snow on them. I had one really good spill, hitting a deep patch of fluffy snow on "Apollo" and falling over. If you see the "apollo" picture... look for the little sticks down one side of the hill... each of those sticks is about 8 ft tall. I wish I had a picture with a person on it... Now the cool thing about being totally dressed for super cold weather is that you are basically in a space suit like environment... so rolling through snow really makes no difference in your world. I skied down something steep and scary called "bon voyage" in the afternoon and was totally thrilled with the experience.
Edward and Geo spent a lot of time going up and down and up and down this bunny hill that used a "magic carpet" (moving rubber sidewalk) to get kids to the top... Geo was teaching Ed to turn around and ski backwards... sigh... :) There's a picture of Geo pulling Edward across the flat part to get to the magic carpet... :D
The lifts stop at 4:10 and we were at the top of the hill, all four of us, at exactly 4:10... so we were pretty much the last people off the hill. We grabbed our packs from the chalet half way down the run and then skied to the bottom and walked across to the hotel. Within ten minutes we were all marching towards the pool and hot tubs... an hour of pool time for the kids with mom and dad grabbing some pool and (praise the gods of paradise) the whirlpool / hot tubs. This was followed by another amazing dinner and everybody making goofy faces for the camera, and then time spent with the kids doing their kumon. I sewed up a problem with a velcro strap on my jacket and then sewed my ski pole wrist straps shut (they kept coming open today). Then ... it's now. Ed and Geo are in bed... as is Suz and I'm writing this out with squinty eyes and every bone in my body yelling at me to get to bed.... So I'm off. :)
Thursday, March 10
It Doesn't Get Any Better Than This...
It's check-out day but we have no ski school classes to hurry-up for so there's time for a leisurely breakfast and pack-up. We filled our tummies, filled the car, and hopped on the shuttle to load up on a beautiful day. It was cold today but the wind was no where near yesterdays spit-freezer. (top of the mountain, you spit... it's solid before it hit the ground). The sun was out and you could see forever. It was still space-suit time at the top but the day warmed enough to put us in deck chairs outside the lodge.
We split up, taking the boys on a handful of runs and then switching at the lodge with little breaks. This allowed us to indulge Geo's no-fear thing and get Edward out to some hills that let him push his own limits. We'd invariably see each other from the chair-lifts looking down at the skiers on the hills and spend a bunch of time yelling and waving. George, like so many other little skiers before him, loves the little pathways that typically run through the woods between two hills. The real fun starts when the path leads to a double diamond drop off somewhere... We tackled "bon voyage" a couple of times and Geo couldn't possibly have been more excited with the notion that he achieved that... The hill is daunting. On our first run I took a spectacular dive-slash-fall thing over a mogul into a snowdrift, which is especially fun when you consider the context... It's like falling 15 feet down a cliff to a ledge... with a sea of little snowy ledges below you. Geo snow plowed around giant mounds and tumbled a bit, but he was practically vibrating with excitement. It's like one of those master card commercials... Ski Lessons? 60$, Crash Helmet? 100$ One Nine Year Old Warrior Conquering The Deadly Beast? Priceless.
Edward has really developed the concept of control... so he can stop and turn when he wants to... no problem. The issue is, of course, him actually wanting to. His little self zig zagging along then zoooooming down a fairly steep hill at once scares the begeebers out of me and also makes me laugh with his excitement. Going up on the chair lifts with him is an exercise in parental panic management, arranging myself to hold him securely in the chair... yet knowing that nobody was doing this when he was in his ski school class... and god... it's so high and he looks sooo little on the chair lift. sigh.
Suz was doing her bit of indulging Geo when Ed and I watched from a chairlift vantage as she went down "niagara falls" with Geo... it's suuuper steep, icy and groomed. He also had her go with him through a tree trail that lead them both to a deep snow, steep hill... and I know she was loving every minute of it. :D
The experience of finding out whether my body remembers how to ski deep snow, steep hill, moguls... was exhilarating. Sitting back and taking a narrow path with your knees "shock absorbing" the bumps and you're slamming the backs of your skis left and right. Then you stop to pick your next path... maybe pray a little... and go again. Someday I'll be good at it... and in the mean time... I'll have a blast trying. Of course, my knees are extremely pissed off at me. No really. I'm gonna hurt tomorrow.
We had a fabulous day skiing and packed up to hit the road home by 5:00. The drive home was significantly less dramatic and with a pit stop at McDeaths for dinner, we were home by 8:00. I wish I'd taken a million pictures but there's no way I could ever capture how much fun it was to have our little adventure.
Now it's time to start planning next years snow vacations...