Our original plan for the trip was to spend the last day either at Black Mountain or at Attitash. Attitash won. It was five minutes down the road from our condo, for one thing, and Bill wasn’t all that happy after the broken lift at Black Mountain, so the decision was made pretty easily.
Oh, and the other part of the original plan was for Bill and the kids to ski the morning, meet me for lunch, then ski maybe another hour or two, and then we’d head back to RI.
The weather changed that part of the plan for us.
Snow. Lots of it. Arriving early Friday morning and, so the reports told us, lasting all day, bringing 6-10 inches of snow (or maybe it was 6-12) to pretty much all of NH, with a mix of snow into sleet into rain in Massachusetts, and then plain ol’ rain in RI.
So the revised plan went like this:
Go to Attitash, ski for the morning, and then head home, with lunch from a drive-thru somewhere along the way.
Still fun, but shorter.
Anyway, that was the newly revised itinerary. So Friday morning we got up early, finished packing, ate a quick breakfast, loaded up the car, returned our pool towels, and headed down the road (or up? I don’t know. We turned left.) to Attitash.
We loved Attitash.
When we arrived, we turned into the main entrance and were directed to pull up along the inner curb and offload all the ski equipment. Bill and the kids got out and took their skiis, boots, helmets, etc. While they were doing that, the (one of many) helpful woman in the yellow and blue vest asked the kids if they were looking forward to skiing, and what kind of skiing they were going to do (green, blue, black, etc) and Bill filled her in on their ability levels. She pointed off to the right and said most of the green and blue trails were that way. Bill told her the kids could ski “easy blacks” and she said “we don’t have easy blacks.” Bill said nothing but pressed his lips together with a little smile and nodded. That was his “we’ll see about that” face. No one wants to say “come ski with us! We have black diamond trails that anyone can ski! We’re the EASY mountain!”
But I digress. And she was very nice and friendly.
Anyway, then I, the chauffeur, was instructed (nicely) to keep driving out of the drop-off area and then zip across the street where the parking lot was.
Did I tell you it was snowing? And cold?
Yes, so I drove across the street and was directed by a few very cold-looking older men in blue and yellow vests to my very own parking spot. Grumbling slightly to myself (why do I have to do all the work? Cook the breakfast, pack the suitcases, park the car across the street, walk through the slush…grumble grumble. I hadn’t had breakfast yet.), I crossed the street and found Bill and the kids inside the base lodge.
“We forgot the poles,” Bill said by way of greeting. In case you didn’t pick up on it, the subtext of that line was “Jayne, you’ll have to trudge back through the slush and get the poles. We can’t, because we have our ski boots on.”
So off I went. But in my travels I discovered that Attitash has a tunnel that runs under the highway! You don’t have to cross the street to get to the parking lot! Cool!
I was in a much better mood after that discovery.
Brought back the poles, set myself up near a window on one of the picnic table arrangements throughout the place, and – at last! – plugged in my laptop and checked email. Woo hoo!
Then I got some coffee and a bagel and settled down to read, watch the people skiing and snowboarding outside, and IM my sister.
There were scads of friendly, helpful people all over the place. One woman in a blue vest and a big smile came over – more than once – to tell me and the other big family assembled nearby that if we needed to leave at any point Attitash offered free bag check right over there (pointing behind her). Someone else mentioned free ski check. And while the free checking of skiis and bags isn’t unique to Attitash, the number of helpful people around to remind you of that service was. At least, in our experience.
The bagel and coffee were good, too.
A little before 10 Bill called to let me know Julia needed a break. She was very cold and wanted to come inside for a while. Moments later, they appeared outside the window.
Julia came inside by herself. Her cheeks and nose were bright red, there was crusty snow stuck in the hair around her face, and melted snow dripped from her helmet.
“Would you like some hot cocoa?”
“Okay, lets get all this stuff off of you first.”
We removed helmet and goggles, balaclava, encrusted snow, mittens, coat, and boots. I told Julia to wait right there while I headed for the nearby cafeteria. I returned with hot cocoa and a coffee cake muffin.
It seemed to help.
Soon after that, Julia was ready to head back outside. I called Bill to let him know, and Julia got all her gear back on.
No, really. Julia couldn’t wait to get back out there.
And then, an hour later, she returned. Bill and Alex wanted to go down one or two more times, so they dropped Julia off again. She and I hung out at the window, watching for Bill and Alex.
She was a little sick of me taking pictures at this point, so I stopped.
While we watched all the skiers and snowboarders roll by, I made a decision.
Next year? Bill and Alex need to wear neon yellow jackets or something. I took far too many pictures of people who looked like Bill and Alex until they finally got close enough for me to realize that nope, that’s actually a gray jacket. In heavy snow, brown, black, dark gray, and even dark blue tend to look the same. Especially far away.
Maybe pink helmets. To match Julia’s. Something like that.
Anyway, when we finally did spot the male half of our family, it was because they were standing behind us.
They were kind of snowy.
They were cold and wet and sweaty and snow-encrusted around the edges.
But they’d had a great time.
AND – Alex skied his first double black diamond! Yay!
And soon after that, we were scraping snow off the car and heading south.
And this is what it looked like:
We called the above phenomenon – where a whole bunch of snow suddenly falls from the upper parts of trees – a treevalanche. We saw lots of treevalanches on our journey.
We also saw a thick layer of snow slide down a roof and fall to the ground. It was pretty cool.
But apart from that and frequent treevalanches, the drive pretty much looked like this:
Actually, these pictures aren’t doing it justice. The visibility seems better in the pictures. Maybe Bill should have driven while looking through the camera.
There were times when we couldn’t see a thing in front of us. Just white. I didn’t take pictures at that point – I was busy being co-pilot and navigator, which meant I had to lean as far forward as I could and squint at the white in an effort to use my latent x-ray vision to see the actual road ahead of us. Because two sets of eyes are better than one.
We had to stop at some point to get rid of all the slushy ice that had build up where the windshield wipers pushed it, and then later, I just rolled down my window and scooped the stuff away from the lower corner of the window so it wouldn’t stick to the end of the right-hand wiper. Here’s a little chunk that flew in the window.
Once we reached the southernmost parts of NH and upper MA, the snow had pretty much switched over to rain.
Not as pretty, but the visibility was much better.
The trip took about 5 hours and fifteen minutes, as opposed to the less than four hours our ride up took.
But we got home safely, and that was the important part.
Thus ends the final chapter of our little mini vacation.
Food posts will resume soon.