After the Storm! Ski Update from 12/30/10

Well another storm has hit us over this Christmas vacation. It was a great day of skiing and very cold, which actually makes for great powder. We received over 30” of snow out of the storm this week. I knew today was going to be the best day of skiing. Yesterday the wind speeds were high some of the mountain was closed. I gave my kids the night before warning “it’s going to be a powder day”. And this is where it went south. My son Lucas started to get sick soon after my powder alert and he woke me up at 4:30 a.m. needing medicine. All I could think was that he must have strep.  I immediately got a doctor’s appointment for 8:30 a.m. knowing if we were in the clear, we were still on for the powder day. The strep test was negative but the doctor asked “it looks like your planning on skiing”? I said “yes is this bad?” To my surprise she answered “No I think the fresh air will do him good.”

We pulled up to the mountain in perfect time for the lifts to open, BUT as we get on our first chair on Carpenter I saw that it is already 10:15 p.m. How the heck can it take us an hour to just get on the chair?! My son reminds me “there are no friends on a powder day” and I reply “maybe there should be no kids.” HA! I had decided to drop off their equipment at the loading zone area to make it easier on us and so far, so good. I then parked the car and Stefan says he forgot his helmet…ugh! Luckily I put it in the front seat. No I wasn’t wearing it! All still good…. Then I give my boys their season passes and much to my organized surprise Stefan points out that I gave him his dad’s pass. Is this my fault or his? Another ugh! Time to get all of us dressed. For some strange reason Lucas can’t get his boots on… another ugh! Time is ticking. The last 10 days he could get these boots on no problem, I don’t understand! I guess this is the get ready hour I just didn’t anticipate.

Finally we met up with our friends, the Davidson’s from Las Vegas.  The boys saw each other from the chair and we waited at the top of Carpenter for them to catch up. At this point I knew we needed more kids to even this equation out. As soon as the children saw each other all was good and the kids were game and eagerly asking me where we were going?

Since I hadn’t skied Mayflower yet this year and knowing that it wasn’t open the day before, we immediately headed east. We entered Mayflower Bowl at the top and shot down. The 4 kids stopped at the top of the rock face and all looked over discussing their lines. I stayed back to be the sweeper, however I was hardly needed as all the kids launched into the bowl and skied the powder effortlessly. I waited a bit so I could also enjoy what they skied after I saw they were all clear and didn’t need to be picked up. I skied down and had fresh face shots until I met up with the boys. My day could have been done right then and I would have been completely satisfied with just those few turns. There is nothing better than those first few turns in fresh powder…it that makes all the hustle of the morning just slip away. Of course, my son interrupts my moment with a “not bad mom.”

Our group then continued with my suggestions to ski Ruins of Pompeii to Triangle Trees. I have to say Triangle Trees are always the best! I wanted to make another run there, but we decided to continue on and keep hitting all the good spots. Sunset Trees were beautiful! Then it was on to Empire, where we skied Lady Morgan Bowl and X-Files too. My kids were getting hungry but the skiing was so good I told them to hang in for one more run OR go in and find us a table because I was taking one more run. They chose to find a table, but somehow I still made it in time to help them after taking my extra run. Hmmmm…looks like they decided to play in the snow instead. After lunch we went into Ontario Bowl, even at 2:30 p.m. the powder was still to be had!

I realize my kids are lucky to ski Deer Valley and after our rough morning the first run always takes away the worries! As you can see from these photos, Lucas was very happy and Stefan was skiing in snow as tall as him and almost as tall as me!!!!

Lucas

Stefen

See you on the slopes

Mariposahhhhhhhhhh

Mariposa, located in Silver Lake Lodge is, hands-down, my favorite fine dining experience in Utah. 

And believe me, I love fine dining, so I’m someone whose opinion you’d be wise to trust. Just ask Ski Uncle, who is one of those guys who likes to try to customize a menu, frequently asking a server to ask the chef to modify a recipe into flavorlessness. And, ultimately finding himself disappointed with the result. I don’t allow this fussiness on my watch. We’re out to dinner, buddy. The guy in the kitchen trained for years just so we can enjoy a great meal. Go with it. 

Ski Uncle and Aunt, plus another favorite couple, were our companions at Mariposa this weekend. Ski Uncle started to order his Seared Bison with the sauce on the side—but not without glancing my way to see if I was paying attention. I was. I gave him the look. I took over his order, noting to our fantastic server, “He’ll enjoy it as the chef prepares it, regardless of what he’s telling you.” Ski Uncle smiled in surrender. Wine was poured, toasts were made. Food was served.

I can’t possibly single out the best items on the menu—as Ski Uncle noted during the evening, “everything is a ten, right?” Right. 

Not the least of these “10” items is the atmosphere—which offers a relaxed elegance that suits a chatty group of friends as easily as a family or a couple with a nervous groom-hopeful (yes, more than once, we’ve dined at Mariposa only to see a proposal offered and accepted, a sparkly bauble admired in the perfectly dimmed light). In fact, when Big Guy was about 18 months old, we went to Mariposa for my birthday. And ordered—wait for it—the tasting menu. With the wine flight. While Big Guy, already in possession of a sophisticated palate, enjoyed a lovely fish entrée, and—when the novelty of dinner wore off—a giant ice cream sundae. My stroke of genius that evening? Asking for a demitasse spoon with that sundae, so my child would be well-occupied for the duration of the evening. The staff was smart enough to seat us in a quieter corner upstairs, but every person who was seated near us greeted us with a wan smile—as if to say, Geez, we want to be sporting, but we got a sitter, and everything—but in the course of the evening made a point to approach us with admiration and wonder: “Our kids would never sit for such a meal. What have you done to achieve this?” Rookie parents that we were, we decided to take credit, bask in the compliments and accept them as though we had actually earned them. Ha. Sure, we took him out to restaurants regularly, so he knew the drill. But he’s also one of those firstborn kids. The kind who make you falsely confident in your parenting, so that the joke’s entirely on you when your second kid is, um, spirited.

As you may have gathered, the spirits of our kids these last few days left us eager to go to Mariposa among grownups. And it was like a mini vacation, each course offering flavors that had everyone at the table insisting the other try a bite of whatever they’d ordered. The menu at Mariposa makes you feel like a genius, because you can’t order wrong.  Actually, you can—if you skip dessert, you’ll miss the point. And if you don’t order Letty Flatt’s very famous Chocolate Snowball, well, people, I have no further use for you.

 The service is, of course, exemplary. The hostess greeted me by complimenting my demeanor. “Wow, you are so cheerful.” One would think that cheer is a given, but it’s nice to be recognized for it. The table was set to perfection, the plates cleared, bread refreshed and silverware replaced with a graciousness that isn’t present at every establishment. You are made to feel like a guest, not a “diner.” It makes all the difference, and allowed some of us to feel so comfortable that “we” (read: Ski Uncle) were ordering extra servings of whipped cream by meal’s end.

I’ll let Ski Dad’s photography tell the rest of the story. I’m too tired to say another word.

Black Belt in Buffet

You know a dining experience has been a decadent success when your seven-year old is ranking his top SEVEN desserts from the evening on the drive home from the meal. 

Yup, we conquered the Seafood Buffet. We came, we saw, we ate. Everything.

Big Guy made a point of thanking me for suggesting he try the Maple Glazed Sablefish. For those of you who have not yet gotten the memo, Sablefish is the actual name of the mysteriously chic Black Cod. And NOBODY does it like Deer Valley. 

We were fortunate to have an evening with some dear friends who are part-time Park City residents. This is a family with whom we bonded four years ago in Snow Park Lodge—we were experiencing the same level of kid-mayhem, which, upon reflection, seems a little strange. At that time, they had our kid-count bested by two, and yet…

 Anyway, it was one of those instant bonds that had us inviting them for dinner at our house that same week, and we (and all the kids) have been inseparable ever since. Little Guy was born later that spring, and as soon as the other family arrived for the summer, their daughter had him in her arms—and that, as they say, was that.

 

So we decided to hit the buffet together—but not without some strategic planning (après ski naps and snacks to compensate for a seating at the risky-with-kids hour of 7pm ) and warning: “Kids, this is a special restaurant and we expect best behavior.” Which is one of those lies parents tell. We expected poor behavior (the naps didn’t happen) but hoped for better. Sometimes those hopes get answered. This was one of those times. The kids reveled in the relative freedom to  visit the buffet stations with minimal adult involvement. Bigger ones offering to help smaller, and buddies pairing off. Little Guy’s Guardian Girl saw to it that he had an ample selection of berries, and the adults took turns competing to see who could make the most trips down the stairs. 

I just loved watching my kids explore, and consider their next moves. Little Guy started the evening expecting his usual Snow Park Penne, then insisting on a plate of rice from the carving station plus some sushi rolls to start his meal. His brother offered him some sablefish, and he was game to wait in line for his own portion. A dad in front of me was a bit wide-eyed noting the three year-old’s seemingly adventurous palate. Then the fish was plated, and a mini-tantrum ensued. I just did what any reasonable person would do: I offered dessert. It worked.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t discuss the brilliance of the chocolate bread pudding. Unanimously adored by all in attendance at our table. I know this because we discussed it as a group for about 15 minutes.

I can’t say enough about the cheerful and impeccable service—or the fabulous table we had in the balcony on the second floor. The kids, as a group, are pretty well-behaved. But it’s still a table with five kids under 10. So having a little remove from the main dining room was a plus. And, as I joked with Bonnie at the bar, a person could burn off calories by stair-climbing between courses. (Reality check: after a bit of skiing on Wide West—a workout when you count all the lifting of a thirty-pound three year-old with a predeliction for falling, and the perma-wedge required for skiing with a tot—I logged an hour of cardio and strength workouts at home in preparation for the feast.)

The true test of a successful restaurant visit? The kids managed to forget about their electronics until after the fifth trip to the dessert station, and only then clustering around iPod Touch games as the adults lingered over conversation and coffee.

Wide West

When it comes to skiing as a family, managing expectations is key. We don’t, for instance, expect to ski first-to-last chairs. Big Guy can handle it, but little guy is good for about three runs, max. 

We also don’t expect to do what most people would consider skiing. Family ski days cater to the little one. Big Guy offers tips, a pole-tow, or just encouraging words. Dad and Mom offer pointers, encouragement, lifts up from falls, and also try to keep the little guy safe from other beginners.

 A note to other families: It’s great that you want to videotape your kids. We do it, too. But it’s a good idea to either recruit someone to man the camera while you manage the skiing kid, or enlist another adult from your party to do so. 

Little Guy got knocked down by a child, perhaps 5 years old, who was skiing down the “Candyland” section of Wide West, completely focused on his ski tips, and rather out-of-control, so he did not see that there was another child on the course.

Even that is a teaching moment, showing both kids that skiing is as much about coping with the unexpected as it is about sport performance. More on that in another post.

But I definitely encourage families with young beginners to do some laps on Candyland—the course is set up to coax beginners into making turns, and it’s on a mellow-enough grade that they have to work hard to go super-fast. Most importantly, it gives the kids (and their parents) a taste of success, so they have something to build on with each additional run.

Pulling the Plug.

Generally speaking, skiing gets the grumpies out of this family.

The kids get along better on the slopes than they do in just about any other setting. They are four years apart, and most of the time play beautifully together…until they don’t. And I have had entire mornings of bickering fall away as the ski boots get buckled.

 I was counting on this as my non-observant Christmas present. Except that I completely misinterpreted the source of the grumpies. Little Guy was in a thrilled mood…every turn on Candy Land brought bigger grins, worshipful ones aimed mostly at his brother. Little Guy can get pretty frustrated when he can’t make a turn or when he falls, but the minute the turns fall into place and he can show his big brother that he, too, is a skier, they bask in the glow of brotherly love.

 Still, Big Guy, saddled with the responsibility of skiing lesser terrain for his little bro’s sake, couldn’t hack it for a second day in a row. And he grumped and grumbled his way through lunch. While praising Little Guy for his Mad Skillz (something he boasts of to all who will listen, in exactly those terms) and his stellar behavior (stark contrast to the previous day’s shin-kicks!) we couldn’t cajole the big brother into a better mood.

So, we pulled the plug, explaining calmly that bad ‘tude ruins it for everyone.

I handed out consolation prizes of Swedish Fish (I now always have a stash in the cargo pocket of those ADORABLE ski pants of mine, so hit me up when you see me), and we headed for the plaza to check our skis and await pickup by Ski Dad who had gone to collect the car.

Meanwhile, the kids did what I love—bonded a little to comfort each other over leaving the hill early.

A Week in Review

Now that last week’s major storm is over and another one has just begun, I thought I would catch you up on my last week with all the powder skiing since there wasn’t much time to blog during the 70” of new snow!! It all began on Wednesday while skiing with my brother. He doesn’t get to ski much so when he is here it’s all nothing until he tells me he is done!

The weather was a bit intense as the snow continued and the visibility wasn’t great. But there were no worries because if you fell it was into A LOT of soft powder. We started in Lady Morgan bowl and did about four laps. I had my nieces and my sons who picked up powder skiing quite fast for their first time. I was most worried about my son Stefan considering the snow depth was taller than him but his determination to keep up certainly got him through. We made sure to check out the Daly Chutes. My nieces who don’t ski much both rallied and jumped in. I was so impressed with their determination to enjoy the conditions. Of course, I didn’t put them down Challenger so we skied Chute 10. After Stefan started running out of gas we made our way to Ontario Bowl before breaking for lunch at Silver Lake Restaurant. We lapped Ontario Bowl some more and it was so good everybody agreed to keep going. This was about noon time and the powder was still deep and barely tracked out.  I think Ontario Bowl is some of the best powder skiing you can get.

My brother was still ready for more after lunch so we went into Sunset Trees. When I ski with groups (even if they are my family) I stay in the back to make sure everyone makes it out or I’m there to help (in case of snow snake). Being the youngest, my brother will never tell me if he is getting tired. This is his time to eat up the skiing. But, I did finally get him to say he had enough once he double ejected and we looked for his skis for a good 15 minutes (lucky by standards).

The next day I had some clients so I decided to spread the love and sent my family to Park City Mountain Resort. Where my children did their job and toured the family around. It is a rough life for 9 and 6 year old boys to know the mountain so well and so soon.  Then the 24th I skied in the morning with a new client on Bald Mountain. This part of the mountain lived up to its usual skiing. It was a beautiful morning and it felt like we were on top of the world or in heaven (as you can see in the photo below).

We skied above the clouds most of the morning. We ripped up Stein’s Way, Nabob and Tycoon. In the afternoon I skied with my family again and we decided to have the family race at the NASTAR course which included my 2 brothers, my 2 sons and myself . The outcome can usually be guessed, but this year my brothers won. Yes, Craig won fair and square because Eric and I missed some gates and got disqualified! I haven’t lived this down and I don’t think I will until I can redeem myself when he returns late January. However, I can’t forget to mention that Craig did get in trouble for hitting the gates. We left the mountain after a great day of skiing to go home and wait for Santa and so Craig could clout.

I’m amazed at how great the skiing remains days after the storm. Our grooming is impeccable and the bowls and trees are still soft and not bumped out. Yesterday and today I had clients and I brought them into places they wanted to go and new places that hadn’t been to.  There are still some good lines in Centennial Trees and X-Files! Rumor has it, that storm hitting today and tomorrow will be bigger than the last. Stay tuned, because if so I will be in Mayflower Bowl. I haven’t skied Mayflower all year because there’s just too many other areas to get to!

The Santa Stalker

For weeks, Little Guy, age 3, has been greeting us each morning with a query: “Is it Christmas?” then bursting into a medley of seasonally appropriate tunes. Which is adorable, and also hilarious. He hasn’t quite grasped the concept that we don’t celebrate the holiday, per se. Chinese food? A movie? Skiing and gathering with friends? Sure. But we’re Jewish, so Santa’s not coming down our (admittedly too-narrow) chimney.

Still, Little Guy’s been persistent in his desire to meet the Bearded Wonder. So, imagine his delight when he learned that Santa himself would make an appearance at Deer Valley Resort on the 24th. We planned the entire ski day around the intel that St. Nick would turn up at Snow Park Lodge about 1:30. And, yes, that was my crabby voice you heard resonating across the dining room at Snow Park restaurant at 1:00, after Little Guy acted the part of petulant, exhausted three-year-old and kicked a friendly member of the Deer Valley marketing department. Sigh. 

And those were his shrieks you heard ringing through the plaza after we traded his skis for a claim tag at ski check. Still, we hung around, hoping to boost his spirits with a Santa sighting. Better yet: we ran into friends (the aforementioned Lisa and Dave; other pals in from Palm Beach, etc) and chatted for a bit before Ski Dad determined we’d missed our moment and headed for the parking lot. 

Suddenly, Big Guy shouted: “Look! Santa’s on Success” and I speed dialed Ski Dad to return with his camera. Big Guy accepted Santa’s handshake (and a candy cane) with a grin. Little Guy did as Little Guy does and played shy.

Santa, for his part, lived up to the hype. I’m telling you: the man knows things. For as we lined up for a photo op, Santa offered a robust “Shabbat Shalom!” After all, this year the 24th fell on a Friday.

Ski Like a Local

On my first (and only) ski vacation to Utah, we came with a large group of friends. It was pre-kids, and definitely a Go-Big-or-Go-Home kind of week. If the slopes were lacking the fresh stuff that March week, we barely noticed. So dazzled were we by the terrain, the fluffy nature of Utah snow, and the delights of Deer Valley in particular that we skied our hearts out.

Prior to arriving, we debated what type of multi-day ticket to purchase. We worried the 5 days of skiing would not be enough. Upon arrival, we commenced skiing from first chair to last chair for four days in a row.

My husband and I took breaks only to find a custom-boot-fitter who saved our aching feet and allowed us to ski longer.

On the evening of day four, our large crew of eleven adults traipsed back into the condo from a yummy dinner on Main Street, and made noises about what time we’d leave for the mountain the following morning.  We conceded that an hour or so of delay in our routine might not be too bad. Not one of us admitted to the total-body-exhaustion we felt. Instead, we hoped to sleep it off.

As we stumbled into the kitchen the following morning, the mood was a little subdued. Eggs fried. Bread toasted. And people tried to rally. Someone floated a test balloon. “Hey, did you guys know there’s an outlet mall?” This query came from one of the women, but the entire room erupted in a chorus of “We should go!”

The room breathed a collective sigh of relief, and our energy returned.

I’ll say this: Retail therapy goes a long way toward prepping tired muscles to rally for the last day on the slopes.

Now, as a local, a first-to-last-chair day seems like an exotic thing. One of my friends, determined to ski 100 days in a row this season, says all he needs is that first run. If he’s not feeling it after that, he checks off the day and heads home. Others swear by Crack-of-Noon syndrome. I’m a fan of a day on the mountain—punctuated by leisurely meals. Once or twice a season, I grab a full day on the slopes. But more often than not, I enjoy a half day of runs, some lunch, and head home. Peppering one or more of these more mellow ski days into your family’s vacation is a great idea. It allows your kids to “miss” skiing (see my previous posts about leaving them wanting more), and allows your family to discover your favorite other pastimes in town.