Woodstock

photo-41Sometimes people ask if there is any financial upside to having your business featured in a magazine. The answer is yes, if I’m the person reading the magazine.

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.



19 Responses to Woodstock


  1. Cloud says:

    I’ve got nothing on skiing- I am firmly in the “why would I pay that much money to be so cold?” camp. Luckily for me, my husband agrees with me, and we focus on water sports in warm places, instead. Hooray kayaking! He’d like to surf more, but that one never really clicked for me, despite a few lessons and lots of time in the break (the bunny slope of surfing).
    But I can give you my #1 weaning advice- if the baby fights you after trying for a couple of days, back off for a couple of weeks, and then try again. This worked like a charm with both of my kids. But I wean near 2 years old, and was OK with going a little longer… so your mileage may vary.

    • Laura says:

      @Cloud- I think I’d be in the bunny slope of surfing for a long time. Maybe even longer than I would be for skiing!

  2. ARC says:

    I love this – “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.”

    So true. I have SO MANY things I want to do now hobby-wise, and so little time to try them out. I keep a list just in case, though, so I can come back to it later when the girls are older.

    Sorry to hear about Project Weaning :( We ended up dropping 1 feeding at a time very gradually after we got the ok to introduce soy milk (T has a dairy allergy and was cleared to get soymilk at 11mo). So we were down to nursing 2x a day once soymilk was cool, and stayed at that for a while, then dropped to 1 and stayed there for a while too. Good luck.

    • Laura says:

      @ARC – I think this is part of the human condition…when we have money we no longer have time. But yes, I’m hoping for a confluence of the two later, ideally starting around age 50, when the baby is 18.

  3. Nother Barb says:

    Scuba diving: I got certified in college, but my dive was in a murky Texas lake after a heavy rain, and I was a tad claustrophobic. Had I been in an lovely coral reef, things might have been different. Walking in the open air is more this midwestern gal’s cup of tea (not hiking, which in my mind leads to camping.)

    We visited Stowehof in Stowe, Vermont, with our 2-year-old. He’d been incapable of sitting for 2 minutes the whole trip (to family and an inn). At Stowehof we discovered the rathskeller, the apres-ski lounge with long banquettes and low tables. It was off-season October, but we could have dinner sent down there. It was perfect. Our son was just the right height to stand at the table or lean against banquettes AND EAT! It was quiet and cozy so he wasn’t overly stimulated. Now 19, he’s been a delightful dining companion for years. Take heart.

    • Laura says:

      @Nother Barb – I did the first half of my certification at a pool in NYC, then did my check out dive in Belize. Belize is supposed to be warm and tropical and have beautiful reefs…and I still didn’t like it. I liked seeing the fish, but pretty much nothing else. And in some places you can see the fish with just a snorkeling mask. That’s a lot less intense – and still pretty fun. Also, I don’t like being on boats, so that’s another mark against scuba diving.

  4. I went whitewater rafting with my husband once, and on the bus ride to the river got overwhelmingly panicky. The experience ended up being a lot of fun, but afterwards I saw a few people who were scraped up from having flown off the raft and my fears were confirmed! It’s an odd situation in that even though I enjoyed myself, I’m now too nervous of it to ever try again, I think! It’s too bad, because my in-laws enjoy it and keep suggesting it as a family outing.

    • Laura says:

      @Laura- whitewater rafting. Wow. OK, that’s a sport I’m glad my husband hasn’t indicated he’s into. That I would not be into at all!

  5. EB says:

    I’ve tried to learn new languages as an adult and I fail miserably (especially as I live in the US and rarely have a chance to use Italian or French). However, I like to think I’m still exercising part of my brain.

    As for skiing, I skied as a child every year with my family. I took a hiatus from it when I went to college and as a young adult when I was now responsible for footing the bill for such trips. However, I recently returned to skiing and I’ve found it has had a tremendous impact on my happiness and how I view winter. I noticed during my hiatus that I dreaded winter as it was cold and no one went out. Considering that I live in the NE, a cold winter takes up a 1/4 of my year. My husband and I have started trying to make day trips to local area mountains. I really do like skiing. And if I can only ski in the winter, it gets me looking forward to winter again instead of dreading it. Granted, we still only tend to make it to a nearby mountain once or twice a season, but the anticipation of it brings me joy. The money and babysitting logistics make it difficult to get to the mountain for day trips and/or an extended vacation. I’m hoping when my toddler son is a little bit older, we can all take snowboarding lessons and learn together. (I’ve only skied, so snowboarding will be something new that I try to learn as an adult).

    • Laura says:

      @EB- I can see the appeal of skiing. When I was in my own pricey North Face clothes, I did feel reasonably toasty (granted, it was like 30 degrees the day I went, not 10. I wouldn’t go for 10). The mountain was beautiful and it was nice to be spending time outside in the winter, doing something active. I think I probably have to do it enough to get over my trepidation, and focus on the enjoyment. But there is the question of what one intends to make a priority.

  6. Jenni says:

    I have been in a kayak – in the pool – because my husband used to be a passionate kayaker. Never got to whitewater and will not, although if I get into good enough shape I’d try ocean kayaking, which he thinks is boring.

    I never camped as a kid and we camped a lot in the early years of our marriage. I really liked it. More recently (and in a different vein), we’ve taken up hand-drumming together and we both love it.

  7. Judy says:

    We were just in Killington over the holidays. It is so beautiful up there. We stayed in a great VT inn. XC skiing, snow shoeing, snow mobiling, massage and dining all right on the property. But crowds on the mountain are terrible. I share all your feelings about skiing but have embraced it also for some of the reasons you mention. I skiied only briefly with the boyfriend, pre-wedding, 20+ years ago and then the skiis became mice nests in the garage. We decided to introduce it to our kids four seasons ago. It is an activity that the family can do together (although together is a bit of a strech since the teenagers very quickly became much more competent skiers that the parents and they really don’t want to ski “with” us anymore. But it is a shared experience.) I highly recommend making the effort to ski out west. If the price tag doesn’t break the pocket book, it is worth it. Two or three days in all day ski school will give your kids skills well beyond their peers that have been skiing for years. (Beaver Creek is known for its outstanding ski school.) Conditions are incredible. Scenery is spectacular. You can ski in the Spring and enjoy very comfortable temps. The experience really does not compare to east coast skiing. Last year we skiied Lake Placid when it was sub zero at the summit, crowded, icy and always steep. I vowed that I was too old to ever do this again – a lodge mom I would be. Easter week in Breckenridge changed my mind.

  8. Nancy says:

    @Judy – I couldn’t agree more. I learned to ski in Jackson Hole after college and to my surprise, really enjoyed it. If you fell, it was in powder and it didn’t hurt. If I had tried to learn anywhere in the Northeast, I would have given up immediately – too cold, too icy and too crowded. We now put up with the challenges of the Northeast, because it is all that my boys know and it is one of the things that we do as a family – that we all equally enjoy. Laura, don’t give up before you’ve tried skiing out West. And/or think about cross-country skiing (great work out, less crowds, not going downhill fast). Stay warm.

    • Laura says:

      @Nancy- yes, sounds like out west (my husband is pushing Colorado) would be good. Of course, then we hae to fly there with three small children…

  9. Cara Marcano says:

    I LOVE TO ski and was fortunate to have a friend who as a child would take me from the age of 11 or 12 when her family went b/c it wasn’t and still isn’t really a middle middle class activity in america anymore and given some of the demographic changes in the US right now( few latinos -latin americans except chileans ski) but I would LOVE to understand better how to do a ski vacation with young kids… I am not sure about how I feel about them at the daycare/lesson the whole day but finding that balance..and yes it does make you just appreciate winter, and being outside it is very hard to worry about things or not feel that yoga ish free feeling when you are chatting with somene on the lift up or sitting silently or on the way down you can’t talk you just have to be physically there in nature. i love it but don’t know how to do it with little kids andit was forbidden while pregnant so it’s been a few years since i’ve beenreally out there.. but i do look forward to get ting back to it. the fireplace, massage let me take my kids’ aunts, uncles, grandma so I can try that also sounds good but I haven’t orchestrated anything like that yet and it does take quite a bit of mental energy to organize that perfect vacation with little kids.

  10. oilandgarlic says:

    I learned horseback riding as an adult and loved it even though I was horrible at it. I also tried skiing as an adult (and never got off the bunny slopes). I think a lot of things are easier to learn when you’re young and more fearless but for me, having the means didn’t happen til I was working. It’s never too late!

  11. Gina says:

    I went skiing last weekend for the first time too at age 35. Wasn’t great but I’m giving it another shot this weekend. Mark loves it and I’m hoping the kids will take to it too. I admit the massage sounds better!

  12. hush says:

    So great that you’re exposing the kids to skiing. I now live 30 minutes from a ski resort, started skiing when I was 14, and I can handle myself on double black diamonds. My folks never skiied, but I’m so grateful they gave me that exposure. But snowboarding? Wow – it has a super steep learning curve. I’ve tried twice to learn to snowboard over age 30, but to no avail. Some physical hobbies are better learned young. I’m much more physically risk-averse now.

  13. Kathy says:

    I tried skiing for the first time in my 40s and hated it (and was truly terrible at it, also). Since we live in Florida, I didn’t think it would be worth it to try to become proficient at it, so I quit after half a day’s lessons. (I don’t like going fast downhill either!)

    I did, however, take up horseback riding in my 30s, bought my own horse at age 40, and am quite happy riding, playing and taking care of him.