I’ve come to think of myself as someone who doesn’t work “off the grid,” “unplugged:” without my computer, cell phone, Facebook… but ah, I was wrong, for the most part. Headed out of town four days ago and have not thought about any of that since. I brought my lap top, thinking that I’d post my blog, keep up with happenings on FB and with friends, via email and on line, and instead, I’ve been lost in a white haze of snowy fun. We headed up to Sun Peaks, BC with another family and a few extra kids and have found ourselves skiing our legs off (some more than me, the obvious weak link in this chain), coming back for food and beverage, heading back out for a while and then hunkering down for a night of games, movies, drinking, eating, and laughs. It really doesn’t get better than this.
China and Denmark (for newbies: our foreign exchange students, with us for a full school year) were over the moon to finally cross over into Canada. It had become a magical, mysterious place to them, as we were all hesitant to risk testing the stamp on China’s special Visa, that reads “Single Entry,” despite the reassurances that we could in fact come as often as we’d like, until June. This ski trip was planned months ago and no one wanted to drive up to Vancouver for a day (a quick 1 hr drive from us) and then not be allowed back in for our ski vacation. At the border, we were reassured by a very confident Canadian border Patrol agent that we were welcome back any time, as long as China does not leave North America, between visits. Ahhh, such elation as we zipped up the Coquihalla Highway. As we crossed the lower areas before the pass, Bald Eagles were everywhere. We saw six in one tree, against the ethereal hills, shrouded in low clouds. Despite my previous comments about Canadians (read Oh Canada), make no mistake: I love Canada! Smart Guy and I brought our kids to Sun Peaks every year for about five years,when we first moved to Washington state, but have not been back since they got bored and we moved on to Whistler, our favorite family ski destination. If you watched the spectacular images of last year’s winter Olympics, you know why we love it, why we live where we live. We agreed to return to Sun Peaks to join friends, who still come every year, but it’s been a delight in every way.
(<— View from the entrance, snowy day, perfect skiing) The mountains (Mt. Tod and Mt. Morrisey) are much smaller, the runs a bit easier than Whistler. The village is a blip on the screen compared to Whistler’s amazing scene, but… with friends and masses of kids, it has been nothing but fun and more fun. I’m a solid blue run gal. Having spent the past couple of months sitting with my mother, I arrived pretty out of shape and the weak skier in the group, but this mountain is benevolent and I managed my first black diamond (Broadway, for local readers), with no falls and not too much lagging behind my speedy friends. China has been in heaven as he improves his moves on his snow board. Given that he just started this year, he’s remarkably good and has a wonderful attitude about it, 24/7. “Ma, I dream about snow boarding… I love it so much!” He whoops and hollers as he shoots down the slopes. China is happy in the snow… it will be so much harder when he goes home to his hot, humid, mountainous home, where there is no snow. However, he apparently didn’t get the memo that “Ma/Mom/Me” doesn’t really like enthusiastic cheers and encouragement as I fumble my way down the slopes, trying to keep up with my far superior group of ski buddies. I like to listen to my iPod (one ear only, to hear speed monsters approaching) and just get down the hill, in my own private snow space. As I worked my way down my first Black diamond (2nd go at it), he kept stopping to yell: “You look great Ma!… Great job!… You can do it!…” I know, I should celebrate his joie de vivre, his enthusiastic encouragement, but I’m not that mom. This particular run goes directly under the lift. So, while I don’t think people know who I am, I am aware that there are people watching me fumble my way down… as China continuously yells to me. There was no helping it, I finally yelled: “Don’t talk to me when I’m skiing! I’m fine without the cheering squad!” Audible laughter from the lifts made my trip down that much more interesting.
Denmark is graceful and confident on skis, having spent much of her life skiing in Europe. The powder we have here is new for her, but she loves it and zips down the hills with the posse we’re here with. Days are spent keeping track of specific jackets and helmets against white, as we all zip down at our own levels and comfort zones. The boys and Denmark are beautiful to watch. Confident and at ease on their skis and boards, they shoot into the trees, and down anything that’s vertical. I can’t help but pause over and over (not to just rest my burning legs) just to watch them all and smile. China is using Middle Man’s (my 19 yr old son) old snow board jacket and I remember watching that jacket go down so many slopes, in years past. Makes me miss him that much more, though we are enjoying the new boy wearing it. This trip is also a reminder that our family has changed. Middle Man (19) and Principessa (22) no longer are here for “family vacations.” We have Little Man (15) and these two foreign exchange students, and while I miss them and remember the fun times we had up here… we are all moving into new spaces, new runs.
<— (The sink, after it’s been “cleaned.”) So what’s the stink, the stank, the stunk? That comes in the form of a room that contains five teen boys (14-16 yrs old), and their debris. The room has become a man cave of disgusting proportions. The room is a cacophony of toxic levels of testosterone, piles of clothes (clean mixed with dirty), smelly socks, more nachos than seems conceivable, dirty glasses of Tang and more Tang, wet towels, sweaty ski clothes, boys’ legs and feet sticking out from the piles, empty wrappers, Ramen noodles devoured but still perfuming the room, sarcastic jokes and jabs that only boys can launch and survive, rap music that should probably be illegal, and the sound of laughter and more laughter. They have owned this room, and we are not really welcome, though the adults feel compelled to check in from time to time. I walk in and feel an immediate urge to ground someone, or fall on the ground laughing… if there was a clear spot to fall. There isn’t. No doubt the hotel will send in a hazmat crew when we check out. They warn against smoking in a room, but say nothing about mixing that many smells in one small place. In a room with one king bed, one pull out, they sprawl about on any and every available surface… and then get up to eat some more. They are the stink, the stank and the stunk of our vacation. It’s a deliriously splendid boy thing. These boys are the same boys that take on the mountain as if it’s an extension of their personal cave. More places to explore and play, the room just where they rest and revive … for more fun. (Faces are blurred, to protect the guilty. Yes, those are human legs, and rumor has it there’s a floor in there.)
I’m not the passionate skier that the rest of them are, but I love the fun and camaraderie that we all enjoy on the hill, and then back in the rooms. Our two families are a perfect fit: respecting the differences, needs and levels of the various individuals. I’m always at the back of the pack, but I know that patience and a smile waits at the base of each run. No one pushes anyone else beyond their comfort levels, and we all laugh a lot. This is what a great vacation is all about, and here in this white wonder land it is bliss. Even in the stinky, dark, cluttered space that the boys have owned and marked as theirs, there is humor and smiles. Boy’s and their mess, empty glasses and piles of dirty plates sit on any empty surface, as they make the space their own, the adults not part of their personal terrain park. We wander in, bringing more food or instructions for the day, meals, but we stay for a minute and wander back to our orderly rooms, our glasses of wine or the grapefruit cocktails that I brought along (upon request, out of necessity)… We compare weary legs, stories of the good runs and the ones that were harder, and we all laugh some more. It’s all good, in heavenly white. (No surface was left clear.^^)
Note: Pictures will follow, so check back. Lack of wifi, access to my camera and time to do it… I’ll add them in 24 hrs.
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