Sun and snow

I’ve been hearing that it’s unseasonably warm on top of the fact that season ends next week, so I was a bit apprehensive about how much snow I’d see and how good it would be. Sure enough, Whistler Village is looking very summery, and there’s a “compulsory download” from from the top of the main gondola, meaning there’s definitely not enough snow to ski back down to the village at the end of a day’s fun. Well the only way to know for sure was to get up there, via a beautiful tree-lined ride on that gondola.

Most of the time I was with experienced people taking it all for granted, but I just used that to pick up gossip and snow conditions. I quickly picked up that the place is awash in Aussies – second only to Canadians and a long way ahead of any other accent (mainly Brits, Kiwis, Japanese).

Happily, the snow is great. It’s patchy in places, but there are more lifts to go higher so I followed the small crowd up there. Also happily, I’m (barely) good enough to do better than just survive on blue runs, given that most of the beginner terrain is closed. It’s warm up there, and shorts turned out to be the right choice, except for sunburnt legs!

No injuries, and no particular muscles overtaxed, which is to say my entire body is exhausted. I put in a full day yesterday, and did almost as many runs today much more quickly, then decided I’d had enough mid afternoon. Early dinner, another soak in the hot tub, more (!) sleep, and I’m ready for another day tomorrow. I wonder if the weather will hold.



Long Lunch

Sorry for taking such a long lunch, but the snow has been so very much fun. We stayed with Andy and Kathryn, Adelaide and Willow in Traverse City MI, and a week flew by. They’ve recently had a ‘mud room’ built onto their house, and it proved particularly helpful with all of the boots, jackets and snow gear we piled up between us all. Eleanor and I were out in it the most, as she surprised me with her stamina, walking about the neighbourhood, following the natural creek which was half buried in snow, flinging the wonderful white snow about the place, and collecting icicles for good measure. Addy Mae is a little younger and didn’t last quite as long, but she and Eleanor spent a bit of time sledding and making snowmen, plus she and I played a little baseball and she has a pretty good swing. The others joined in for bouts of snow play, but Andy had to work a few days, and the others preferred to prepare the hot chocolates for us to sip once we retreated from the cold. Hannah loved the sled, but ran out of oomph pretty quickly.


Traverse City has a strong boutique industry, ranging from cherries to cider to clothes to woodwork and other gifts. I suspect there’s a lot of local fruit and veg in the right season, but with winter coming it was being delivered from the South. For some reason we had no concerns buying Mexican produce even though I like to buy Australian when I’m in Australia. Am I simply Unamerican? Perhaps it’s the lack of ocean between the two countries. In any case we had a great time sampling all of the above, as well as the distillery which Andy dutifully pointed out. It turns out I not only like Scotch, but a range of whiskey options – just not when they’re mixed with maraschino cherries: yuck.


Andy and Kathryn managed to play tour guide remarkably well, given their work and parenting schedules, and we managed to weave together an effective sort of cohabiting for a week. The girls shared baths, toys, meal and play times, and went separate ways at various nap and quiet times. Young Willow is a lovely kid, finding her feet and her confidence around strangers invading her house, and Addy Mae was right at home with us, showing us stories, toys, and even her dance class where Eleanor was able to join in.


It all came to a close too quickly, and we were on the road again, a few hours of driving one night to Bay City MI, then a few more the next morning, over the border to Ontario. That night driving is best described in hindsight, since we arrived safely: The wind was blowing and the snow was falling heavily in parts, so we were driving quite slowly and copying the other drivers who had their hazard lights flashing to increase the chances of being seen! I was glad to have been upgraded to a SUV for free (after refusing to pay for it).

Goodbyes, Transit Days, Settling in to Michigan

After a great weekend together, the family trickled back to jobs and daily lives, so the group changed a little each day. Young Brylen showed his colours with Hannah one afternoon, following her around and helping with all manner of things, playing one-year-old games and generally being a lovely young man. Eleanor and Ty spent an entire afternoon doing craft – CRAFT, Daddy! – and chattering away the whole time.


Of course, there were grown ups, but they don’t matter, right? Seriously though, it was great to spend time chatting with everyone, since they all found a way to at least drop by. Kaleb started work at some ridiculous hour the next morning, so we had an early dinner with everyone one night: 18 in all, by my count.


It was then time to say goodbye, and spend a full day travelling. Three hours (plus stops, lunch, nappy changes, etc) South back to Dallas, a flight to Detroit and then on to Kalamazoo (because it was cheaper than flying just to Detroit, and less driving afterward), a night’s sleep, and another three hour drive, this time North to Traverse City. The girls coped pretty well, but were a bit cranky by the end of the big day. The Kalamazoo hotel had a much appreciated heated pool, and warmth has suddenly become rather attractive, because …


Yes, that is snow! One more gratuitous photo of that gloriously cold, white, wonderful stuff, since it got properly white overnight:


It is lunch time, so that will do for now.