We spent the long weekend in Woodstock, Vermont. I’d seen pictures of Woodstock in a recent issue of Martha Stewart Living, and thought it looked like a town designed to be featured in Martha Stewart Living. I also knew that I wanted to give my husband a ski trip for Christmas. He has fond memories of skiing as a teenager, and he pictures our children learning to ski and enjoying that on family vacations. I did not learn to ski growing up. I’m not a big fan of being cold, I don’t like going fast down hills (something I know from cycling and even driving) and my parents never presented that as a winter vacation option, probably both because they didn’t do it growing up, and the price tag. In college, I knew some people who skied because they grew up in ski towns. And then there were others who thought nothing of flying off to ski towns for long weekends, decked out in pricey North Face gear. So that’s always been kind of my impression of skiing.
Nothing about the price tag of this past weekend convinced me otherwise, though it did make me think that the economy must be booming, unless ski crowds at Killington are a lagging indicator. Lift tickets and rentals cost over $100/day. Yikes. Of course, it was a present, and an experience, and I am trying to spend more in both categories, and so we drove up Friday, and stayed at the Woodstock Inn. On Saturday morning, we got the kids secured into their day cares or ski day camps (a brilliant idea, by the way — that’s why we went to Killington vs. other ski resorts), and I took a private lesson. The goal? Being able to ski well enough to enjoy it enough that I wouldn’t say never again, much as I did with scuba diving. Yes, I am that woman who learned to scuba dive because my boyfriend liked it, got certified, went once with my new husband on our honeymoon and then declined to do so ever again. As Gretchen Rubin says as one of her secrets of adulthood, what is fun for other people may not be fun for you.
So…skiing. My instructor (“Peachy”) claimed I was a natural. My balance is good. I have plenty of leg and core strength from running 20 miles a week. He took me on the beginner mountain twice, then decided we should go for it with the medium mountain. I think it would have been OK if it hadn’t been a holiday weekend, but there were hundreds of skiers and snowboarders zooming around me, and as I was struggling to go very slowly down the steep and narrow hills, I realized I would much rather be at the bottom of the mountain, spending my money on a massage.
Which is what I wound up doing on day 2 of our vacation. The baby was up big chunks of the night, blackmailing me to nurse her by screaming every time I tried some other soothing tactic (Project weaning: not going so well) so that was my first reason for begging off. But also, after a nap, I rather enjoyed wandering around Woodstock, chatting with local artist Chip Evans as he was painting in a gallery, browsing the stacks at the local independent bookstore, eating lunch at the Mountain Creamery, getting a short massage at the hotel spa, and reading by the fire place. (The kids were enrolled in 2 days of day camp, so that made all this an option). There are fascinating quirks to the town, like the fact that the covered wooden bridge looks historic, but was only built about 45 years ago. This is a town that wants to be cute. It wants to be featured in Martha Stewart Living, so people like me will see the pictures and decide I have to go book a long weekend there. So I enjoyed myself, and my husband got to ski the black diamond hills he likes and all was good.
Except for dinner in the resort restaurant. The Red Rooster is a fancy place, yet has a kid’s menu, so it seemed like it would be OK, and they were very understanding, but by the end of a tiring day of skiing and playing, the kids were just ridiculous. My husband and I both got up to walk around with the baby multiple times, the boys were yelling, food was getting jostled around, and you probably couldn’t have designed a better ad for birth control for any young people there skiing on their college vacations. And that’s even before they got to experience the baby’s explosive diaper issues on the drive home!
The upside is that the boys did like their ski camps, so perhaps it will become an annual thing. We shall see. I won’t say never on skiing, I just know that things become more enjoyable the better you are at them. And not having really tried downhill skiing until age 34, it will take quite a bit of work and time to become good at it. As I always say, we have time for anything, it’s a question of whether it’s a priority. Sometimes the randomness of life means that by the time you have the means to make something a hobby, you no longer have the bandwidth. Though my husband says his father didn’t try skiing until age 45 or so (which is when his family’s circumstances started to allow skiing) — and he got quite into it.
Have you tried anything for the first time as an adult? How did it go for you?
In other news: I'm featured on a podcast from Two Guys & Your Money. This was a fun one. The interview with me starts about 20% of the way through.