Utah Adventures: Hiking, BYU and Skiing!

Every time I go to Utah, I walk away moderately obsessed with moving back. Said Obsession usually wears off within a few weeks of returning to Colorado. But with the pervasiveness of the coverage marijuana’s legalization is receiving, it may take me longer to recommit myself to my beautiful state that is literally going to pot. Can you tell I’m on a major soapbox about the moral decline of my community and the “pot tourism” that is threatening to take over? But onto happier things: UTAH!


One cold, clear morning (20 degrees), I hiked to the Living Room for some of the most glorious views Salt Lake City has to offer.

Really, the only drawback of our trip to Utah was the nasty inversion and thick layer of pollution. Another morning, I went for a foggy run up City Creek Canyon and stopped to meander Memory Grove where Jamie and I had our engagement photos taken.

I only nearly died once when the Freedom Trail hugging the cliff turned into a sheet of ice.


A trip to Utah in the winter would not be complete without a ski day at Park City Mountain Resort. The kids had an absolute blast tackling the Adventure Alleys.

Hadley’s first solo run on the alpine coaster

And the resort’s burger at Legends Bar & Grill is, welp, LEGENDARY.

We stopped by my fellow Snowmama Kristen’s new dream home and I am now committed to moving to Jeremy Ranch, a suburb tucked in the hills of Park City. I mean, just look at this kitchen and view!

I am smiling but really, secretly plotting her demise so I can inherit it all.

Brigham Young University

What would a visit to Utah be like without swinging down to our Alma Mater in Provo?  Fact: Jamie and I studied in the same department, walked in the same graduating ceremony, played on the same volleyball court one summer and had many common friends but didn’t meet until six years later. So, it was kind of like a stroll down memory lane without any memories of each other.

But it was awesome and we’d love nothing more than for our kids to go to BYU. They played air hockey at the bowling alley. Gorged at the bookstore’s famed candy counter. Ate lunch at the Wilkinson Center. Bought Cougar gear. Were inspired by the touching paintings of the Savior at Sacred Gifts, a world-class exhibit at the BYU Museum of Art.Candy, the arts, food, air hockey, mountain adventures. What more could you want out of a college?

Oh yeah, the education. That pitch will come later.

November: Because It’s Better Late Than Never

Sure, I know we’re already blazing through December but November, how I loved November. I’d be pretty darn remiss if I didn’t give a few of my favorite November moments a mention before they’re lost forever.

We had our first family ski trip of the season at one of my favorite Colorado ski resorts, Copper Mountain. Many more details to come but for now, our first of what I hope will be many pictures on the lift together.And then there’s Hadley. This fun, free-spirited, strong-willed girl of mine and I may not always agree but there’s no place we bond more perfectly than the outdoors.

There was plenty of bonding for the whole family on the slopes and off. That evening, the kids tried to make me jealous when they abandoned me for Jamie’s side of our booth at Casa Sanchez Mexican restaurant.
Nope, I didn’t feel envious even one bit.

When people say they have no desire to ever try skiing because it’s too cold and difficult, I honestly feel sorry for them because they think a ski vacation starts and stops on the slopes. Soaking in a hot tub under the stars and white lights as you listen to the groomers on the mountain is truly a magical end to the day.

Boy with creepy beady eyes notwithstanding.

Jamie and I had a great month in the romance department. It turns out that if you sing “You don’t bring me flowers anymore” that if you married a good man, he will deliver.

We went on some memorable dates but none was more memorable than when we were at a preview for the History Colorado Center’s new Living West exhibit and we tried the two-seater outhouse.

Let’s just say I saw him in an entirely new light.

Do you love It’s a Wonderful Life as much as my Jamie does? I surprised him with a date night to see this  story brought to life as a 1940’s radio broadcast at Miner’s Alley Playhouse in Golden. I’m admittedly not a huge fan of the movie but fell in love with the charming and hilarious cast who made us laugh ’til we cried and ignited an appreciation for idealistic George Bailey as he received divine intervention one Christmas Eve. This 130-seat theater was quaint, the acting superb and the audience interaction was fun (have you ever been playfully given Jelly Bellies by the actors prior to a show?) 
We made an evening of it and went to dinner prior to the show. Downtown Golden has some of our favorite dining options and we tried the new Indulge Bistro & Wine Bar with outstanding service, food and ambiance  in Golden’s Gateway Station. I’m still salivating over my Filet Oaxaca, a Black Angus filet mignon served with manchego potato puree, grilled vegetables, blackened shrimp and mango mole sauce. I could show you a picture but it would just make me  hungry again.
In honor of Thanksgiving, Bode gave a great lesson for Family Home Evening and they made a big gratitude basket where we listed all the things for which we are grateful.

Jamie cut out a big pumpkin and put “grandma” on it. We all know what he really meant.

For the third year in a row, we served Thanksgiving dinner and made cards for low-income seniors through Volunteers of America.I get a little choked up thinking about all the wonderful people we met that afternoon that really brought home the whole spirit of Thanksgiving. November, you’ve never been a favorite but you will be most welcomed next year.


Johnson Family Newsletter 2013

In typical bipolar fashion, I decided to do a holiday newsletter, then opted out and then upon receiving newsy holiday  newsletters from friends,  decided it should be back on. After all, the world must know what the Johnsons did in 2013!

Overall, we had a great time full of family and friends, travel and minimal hospital visits (our gauge for a good year). We took plenty of fantastic ski vacations all over Colorado and a week at our favorite, Park City Mountain Resort in Utah. Last summer, the kids and I spent almost a month in Canada on a 3,000-mile trip that covered two countries and six states (Colorado, Montana, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Utah). Jamie was only able to join us for a week of our trip, citing  “someone has to work to support your playtime.” Wise man; I couldn’t agree more.

Here’s a quick glimpse at our happenings. Click on the links for more details!

Atop 14,265-foot Mount Evans


Hadley (9 going on 19) is in fourth grade at her Waldorf charter school and continues to love their arts-based academic education. Our free-spirited, fun-loving girl has been on several camping trips with her class and keeps busy with piano and volleyball. She’s also a stellar skier and for my birthday, we had a girl’s weekend of mogul-busting, snowshoeing, lake-skating and sledding. Hadley is a huge fan of horses and was delighted to spend a week at overnight Camp Chief Ouray last summer. She loves Fat Kitty, swimming, hiking, crafting, gardening, cooking and she was the top-performing girl in her grade at her school’s Fun Run. I should know. I ran beside her the entire way until our fifth mile when she blazed past me and I walked with a limp for a week. Her love for Scooby Doo has been replaced by mind-numbing shows on the Disney Channel like “Jessie” and “Dog with a Blog.” It looks like we have a tween, folks.

Hadley’s first scary leap into the Rooster Tail at the lake house in Vernon, B.C.

Skating at Copper Mountain

Summer hiking group at Mount Falcon


Our resident geek, Bode (age 7) loves all things space, educational and ensuring everyone is following the rules all the time. He is moderately obsessed with being the best-behaved kid in his second grade class (yet somehow is also among the most well-liked), thrives in academics, is a great little soccer player, skier, hiker, cook, master pumpkin grower and lives for his bi-weekly WiiU and technology sessions. For the second year in a row, he and Hadley were my child models at the 9News Back-to-School fashion show and he put Zoolander to shame. He and his sister went to Avid4Advenventure’s Survival Camp last summer and I now feel confident they can survive exactly two hours solo in the great outdoors. He never shuts up on the piano loves to play the piano, enjoys to read Calvin and Hobbes, bike down to our neighborhood skate park and play with LEGOS. His current obsession is constructing dream mansions for us out of giant wooden blocks and creating intricate maps of his designs. We strongly encourage this as a future profession.

First solo flight to see Grandma in Utah!

A snowy hike in Evergreen=joy

First fish fly fishing at The Ranch at Emerald Valley


The Pumpkin Man had a great year. He grew his biggest pumpkin ever, 1,220-pound Stanley, and we landed a picture of him in The Denver Post. A professional carver drove down every day from Fort Collins for a week to chisel a marvelously creepy face into the giant gourd. And then Stanley and Jamie went on tour visiting both of the kids’ schools and harvest festivals, thereby cementing his status as a local celebrity. In other news (though really, is there any other news?), Jamie’s web development business Pixo Web Design and Strategy continues to grow, he has a few employees and is always busy. We marked our 10-year wedding anniversary last February and he surprised me by recreating the magical night we got engaged that included a limo ride to the swanky Briarwood Inn. He was recently released from the Bishopric at church and not even five days later, he was called as a stake clerk over technology, a real stretch.

Atop McConkey’s lift for the first time as a family at Park City Mountain Resort

Stanley the Pumpkin

Stanley’s scary carving


I’ve had a busy year working for the newspaper and various freelance opps in the travel industry. Our favorite gig is writing for AAA Five Diamond The Broadmoor’s magazine because they pay their writers in trade, which amounts to an opulent, indulgent vacation like no other in Colorado Springs.  I love hiking every week, skiing, boot camp, volunteering at school and in the community. I received an award in recognition of journalistic excellence as a community blogger from Digital First Media, The Denver Post’s parent company. But my real prize was when I was at a media luncheon hosted by the Maui Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and my name was drawn as the winner of a trip to Maui (we’re going in February). At church, I was sad to be released from the Young Women (favorite calling ever) and now serve in the stake’s Public Affairs where I work with community leaders and media.  I’m also the volleyball coach and our ward’s Primary pianist and have mastered The Look from across the room, which quickly corrects the behavior of any misbehaving kids. We all have our talents.

Solo hike to Maxwell Falls in Evergreen, Colo.

9News fashion show

Girl’s only birthday ski trip

Fat Kitty

He’s still fat, snuggly, sleepy, sweet and lives for his backyard adventures of stalking mice and eating grass ’til he pukes. We often walk in on him licking himself in Cirque du Soleil-esque positions but it was this shot I took of him on my bed that convinced us all that he’ll be America’s Next Top Model. Look for him on a Kitty Litter advertisement coming your way soon.

America’s Top (Cat) Model

We feel infinitely blessed this holiday season for wonderful family, good friends and the gospel in our lives.

Merry Christmas!


The Johnsons

Four (Funny) Reasons Why You Should Ski This Winter!

We had a summer of non-stop travel and capped it off with a glorious trip to AAA Five-Diamond The Broadmoor over Labor Day. At a recent party, our neighbor queried, “So, when is the next big trip?”

Silence. Chirping crickets.  Could it be–the very bane to our existence (travel) and we had no future plans?

But then I remembered: Ski season is in a few short months! As we prep for back-to-ski season, I’ve compiled four fun(ny) reasons why you should hit the slopes.

Our family’s first time at the “top of the world” together

1) The Best Family Bonding Happens on a Ski Vacation

There is nothing my family loves better than cruising down the slopes in a Wonkaesque world of white–we’re like the Cleavers on skis, only cooler (literally and figuratively). Last year was the first time we were able to ski together  as a family with then-6-year-old Bode and 8-year-old Hadley and it was epic!

But here’s the thing: you don’t have to even hit the slopes to have a memorable time together. Many people dismiss a winter vacation in the mountains because they don’t ski or snowboard. All you need to do is love the outdoors and cozying up indoors.

Most resorts offer so much more than skiing. Last year alone, we hit hot springs and hot tubs, ziplined, tubed, raced down an alpine coaster, played in a snow fort, skated on a lake, snowshoed, took a sleigh ride to dinner, indulged in gourmet foods, played games by the fire, roasted s’mores and got pampered at the spa.

OK, maybe I didn’t do the last item but you’d better believe it’s top priority this year.

 2. You Win Parent of the Year Award (if they survive)

Daughter’s first difficult terrain

I’m all about teaching kids to do hard things and learning to ski can be hard at first. But after years of ski school, a few meltdowns and even a faked injury (yes, Bode I’m talking about you), both of my kids are good skiers and on track to becoming great.

A couple of years ago, my daughter and I were taking our last run of the day when I took a wrong turn. Instead of staying on a nice, easy cruiser, I led us to the point of no return with an intersection that had three options: a double blue advanced intermediate and two double-black black diamond (expert terrain) trails.

Haddie was a solid intermediate skier but as I looked down at the double blue’s steep, bumpy terrain a feeling of dread came over me. I didn’t let her in on my trepidation and explained our predicament.

“OK, let’s do it!” she fearlessly said.


I don’t know why I was surprised since we didn’t have any other options, other than being carried down on ski patrol’s stretcher. And so she gunned it down that mountain, never complaining and even squealing with glee.

That was the beginning of the end and soon she’ll be dragging me down the mountain. Hopefully stretcher not included.

The kids three years ago when I found my packing sanity

3. My Best Organizing Tip and the Day I Lost My Sanity

Winter sports get a bad wrap because there is a lot of equipment to remember: goggles, long johns, gloves, scarves, helmets, socks, ski pants, jackets…the list goes on. I’ve become a master of organization and now put all of their accessories in an over-sized Ziploc bag, which cuts down on the chaos when it’s time to get up and go.

Except for the first day of ski season last year when my son’s glove was nowhere to be found. I was positive I had set it out in his bag the night before so its whereabouts was a real head-scratcher. Had Fat Kitty eaten it? Was I officially out of my mind? Bode had lost his back-up pair of gloves and touque (Canadian word for ski hat for any uninformed Americans) the week before so it was a do-or-die situation.

Or rather, a find-it-or-freeze-your-hands-off scenario.

After about 20 minutes of looking, my wise husband investigated Bode closer.

“Bode, what is that?”
“What is what?”
“That lump underneath your ski pants!”

Bode looked down and sure enough, there was a subtle lump near his calf. Sheepishly, he removed his ski pants to discover the MIA glove. The velcro on the straps had deviously attached to the inside of his ski pants.

Even the best plans are not fool-proof. Obviously. Signed, -The Fool.

4. Skiing/snowboarding=the best kind of stupid

Last year, we took my husband’s brother Chris skiing at a local resort for his birthday.

As we huddled together for warmth on the chairlift, we gazed down upon the wind-whipped chutes, marveling at the forests that were forever slanted from the gusts. Snow swirled around us and as we climbed higher, our world was temporarily blotted out completely white.

I turned to the birthday boy. “Chris, can you even believe we’re doing this?”

He paused, laughed and then uttered what will become my motto on all such bitterly cold days on the slopes: “Yes, but it’s the best kind of stupid.”

Hear, hear.

Bring on the 2013/14 season.


I am participating in the Back to Ski campaign, which was started by family travel blogger Mara Gorman in 2012 as a way to get families off the couch and on the slopes.  During Back to Ski Week 2013 from September 16th to September 20th you can enter to win some fabulous skiing prizes at the Back to Ski website.


Utah: How I Love Thee (Mostly) and our Park City Family Vacation

My complicated relationship with Utah was reconfirmed during our latest visit for spring break. I wouldn’t go are far as to say it’s a love-hate dynamic but I always struggle between “I want to move back here” and “I’m so glad I got out of here,” the former attributed to the mountains and family and the later, to cultural idiosyncrasies.

But what could be better than hanging out reading books with Grandma in her beautiful, new finished basement?
Not to mention dying eggs and a fun Easter egg hunt with our darling cousins?And sneaking off to do this memorable hike on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail behind Red Butte Gardens wasn’t too bad, either.
Our spring break was about two things: Skiing at Park City Mountain Resort and family. Fortunately, we were able to combine them both by staying at Silver Star, a gorgeous three-bedroom town home at the base. The gift basket is courtesy of Resorts West. The Cheese Balls, thanks to us.
We like to keep it classy.

For four days, we hot tubbed, watched The Hobbit, grilled burgers, ate and hung out.

Ski School

That was just the indoor fun. The kids did ski school for a few days and Bode rocked his “Superstar” class.

Attempting Mary Katherine Gallagher’s “Superstar” pose

And Hadley graduated to an intermediate-advanced class. Her instructor told us she used to train the U.S. Ski Team, gave us her card and said that she “could work with her.”
Some parents would sell their soul if their kid had an iota of Olympic potential. We’re underachievers who said “that’s nice” and went back to eating our Cheese Balls.

Jamie had a stellar time on the mountain, with the exception of the day I got really ill from an allergy-induced sinus infection.

I, of course, have to get sick on every vacation.

Tubing for a Bruising

Then, there was Gorgoza Park. On our final night in Park City, Jamie’s sister and her family joined us for some fun at this adventure park outside of Park City. Our kiddos tore up the mini snowmobiles.Our 3-year-old twinnies are darling and sweet but oh-so fearful. They’re under 42-inches tall so had to tube the Lower Lanes, which is a good thing because they were sufficiently traumatized. For the first run, Ada went down with her dad without a problem while Berkley was HAVING NOTHING TO DO WITH IT. Jamie’s sister Tammy soothed her fears and even Ada’s pep talk about “being brave” didn’t help. After several motivational speeches, they eventually went down with Berkley screaming the whole way.

Then came the final attempt. The staffer at the top complimented Tammy saying “Most parents just throw their kids in the tube but you handled that just right by talking it out with her.” But this time, it was Ada who decided to freak out and refuse to go down the hill. After trying to calm her down, they all loaded up and had the staffer push them down the hill with Ada screaming the whole way.

“You mean, the parents do it like this?” Tammy joked to him.

I always knew I liked her.

For Fear Factor, Edition 2 we dragged Jamie’s mom up and down The Big Hill.

She initially wasn’t very happy but unlike Ada and Berkley, Adventure Grandma didn’t cry even once.

Family Ski Day

There are few things that bring me more joy than skiing with my little family and though we hope to keep them in ski school as long as possible, I love when we can ski together. A tradition at many resorts is to throw bead necklaces in the trees as you’re passing them on the chair lift. We purchased eight necklaces from the Dollar Store prior to our trip and were so excited to try it.

The problem: Bode lost two of them before we even left the condo. We also hadn’t calculated the exact moment we would need to toss them, taking into account the velocity of the chair lift, the angle of the trees and our sheer incompetence.

Translation: We failed at physics and I think only two actually made it into the trees.

There were many, many other adventures including skiing down the Adventure Alleys designed for kids, doing the jumps at the terrain park, the alpine coaster and Flying Eagle zipline.And then my very favorite moment of the entire trip: summiting the top of the McConkey Lift. Perched at the top of the ski resort, only intermediate and advanced skiers can access it and this was our first as a family.

Bode squealed, “I’m the king of the world” as he gazed out upon the endless sea of mountains. Then as he peered over the edge as he skied and he confessed, “I’m kinda freaking out” but went on to ski it like a champ.

His wasn’t the only breakdown. The day before, Jamie had taken me down double-black expert terrain at Jupiter Bowl when I was still recovering from the plague. There are no pictures of his indiscretion, which is probably a good thing because the less evidence, the better.

Hopefully, Ada, Berkley, Bode , Grandma and I will have forgotten those freakout moments by the time we return to have the time of our lives at Park City Mountain Resort next year.

Copper Mountain: Mother-daughter bonding at its best

Mom: “Can you please unpack your lunchbox?”

Daughter: “Why should I do it? You’re the one who packed my lunch for me.”

Mom: “I did it to be nice. It’s your responsibility to make it and then unload it.”

Daughter: “Well, if you made it, you should be the one to clean it.”

Thus is a sampling of a conversation I had with H a few days before our trip to Copper Mountain. Mother-daughter relationships are complicated during the best of times but we’ve entered a new phase: The pre-teen years.

But parents everywhere, have faith because I have found a cure for tween moodiness: Take your child on a ski getaway with just the two of you and you’ll swear they’re a different person by the end. One you really, really like.

The scheduling was perfect. The Sunday evening before President’s Day, we drove to Copper Mountain in a separate car than my husband and son. We skied together as a family on Monday and early Tuesday morning, the boys left for work and school. My daughter did not have school until Thursday so we would spend Tuesday and Wednesday (my birthday) together in the mountains.

Here’s the catch: I got really sick. But even that couldn’t hold me back from the healing balm of a ski vacation with my firstborn. So behold: Your guide to having the ultimate getaway with your son or daughter.

1)      Leisurely wake up in your condo. While you’re fighting off your flu (or just need extra time), lounge by the fireplace, build a fort and eat breakfast in it.

2)      Ski together that morning. With over 150 trails across 2,465 acres, we fell in love with Copper Mountain’s varied terrain. My daughter enjoyed the runs off Timberline Express, a veritable intermediate-level Mecca.

3)      Go shopping that afternoon. Center, East and West Villages offer all kinds of restaurants, shopping and activities. Buy yourselves hats from Kelly’s Closet to commemorate the occasion and justify the expense as an early birthday present. Attempt to buy mini doughnuts from Sugar Lips Mini Donuts but upon realizing they’re closed, succor your sweet tooth with cake pops at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. Tip: S’more kits are available for $5.95 per kit and firepits around Copper Mountain are plentiful.

4)      Rent skates for $10 from McCoy’s Mountain Market and skate to your heart’s content on West Lake in the heart of the Village at Copper (open from 10 a.m.-10 p.m.) Point out the hockey-playing Canadian dude making slapshots in the net and give your little half-breed (half-American/Canadian) something to shoot for. Literally.

5)      Get a rush on the Alpine Rush Zip Line. For just $10, this zip line soars across West Lake daily from 1-5 p.m. Despite being petrified the day before, my daughter begged to do it again twice. Go to the middle of West Lake as she flies overhead, take a picture and entitle your shot, Conquering Fear. Tear up a little that your girl is growing up.

6)      Race over to nearby Pizza Carlo for Kids in the Kitchen. Served every Monday-Thursday at 4 p.m., your kid will go crazy over this interactive dining experience as they make their own chef hat, don an apron (that they get to keep), get a tour of the kitchen, learn how to toss a large 18” Kids Chef’s Pizza and prepare it with all their favorite fixins. Devour that, along with garlic cheese bread, family-style salad and soda. When you think you can’t eat another bite, bring on the dessert pizza where your child will go crazy decorating it with cookies, M&Ms, sprinkles, chocolate syrup and whipped cream. Roll out of there, raving that you won’t eat ever again. Until your birthday breakfast the next morning at Belgian Bean Waffles & Coffee.7)      Go back to your condo and hit the hot tubs. Soak your weary bones as you download your favorite moments of the day while watching the steam rise in the frosty air and marveling at those crazy grooming machines prepping Copper Mountain for the next day.

8)      Bedtime. Relish as your daughter raves about how she’ll never forget your amazing mother-daughter day. Next time, vow to hit the Tubing Hill in East Village and the 9,000-square foot Woodward at Copper, a year-round snowboard, ski, digital media and skate program that features indoor artificial snow jumps, large foam pits, fly-bed Supertramps, terrain parks, a Superpipe and go-pro rentals.

Because the sometimes-moody tween/teen years last a long time. And I’m convinced mother-daughter trips are the best cure.

Thanks to Copper Mountain for hosting!

The article that has everything

A Canuck love story. Awesome, affordable Colorado destinations to explore. A call for wussy Denverites to repent. It’s the Denver Post article that has everything!


I was born and raised in Canada where winter sports are a way of life. My earliest memories are freezing on subzero chairlifts and flooding our garden to make an ice-skating rink. My parents even met when they were on the same curling team.

If that isn’t a Canuck love story, I don’t know what is.

When I married an American, we

Click to Read On.

Skiing, zipling and extreme sportin’ at Copper Mountain

I’ve decided winter is exhausting. Not only do we usually come down with The Plague (Jamie is on week four) but we have a short few months to cram in as much outdoor fun as we can. With Denver’s dismal snow year, it has been that much more mandatory for us to head to the hills.

And yes, I said mandatory. As in HAS TO HAPPEN.

Copper Mountain was our latest destination to host us. A favorite among the locals because it’s an easy 75-mile drive west of Denver up the I-70 corridor, it remained a glaring omission in my must-ski list (though we had a stellar time there in Oct. 2011).

Hadley had a five-day weekend and Bode had three days off so we drove up after church on Sunday, skied as a family on President’s Day and then the boys drove home early Tuesday morning for work and school. That left two glorious days for Haddie and me to play, and one of them was my birthday.

X-Treme Sports

Upon arrival, we did a tour of Woodward at Copper. I’ll admit this 19,400-square-foot year-round ski and snowboard camp half-amazes, half-terrifies me. Nicknamed “The Barn,” Woodward is an all-steps progression program to help ages 8 and older learn aerial tricks and skills in a safe environment that you can translate on the mountain. See those ramps? My kids thought they were the coolest things ever.And I guess they are if you’re inclined to catch more than 1 inch of air on the slopes (which I am not).

The Barn offers drop-in day sessions, summer camps, SuperTramps and will undergo a big makeover this spring and improvements will include a new progressive foam pit designed for development of beginner park skills. The street area will double in size allowing for full access by BMX, mountain bike, skateboards and park skis and snowboards.

As a nervous parent, I was impressed with the capable staff’s emphasis on safety. Helmets are mandatory on the ramps and to even jump into the foam pit, my kids had to fill out some waivers and receive instruction.And Bode is counting down until he’s 8 so he, too play.

Copper Mountain

We’ve traveled to a number of mountain resorts around the country and what my family loved most about 2,465-acre Copper Mountain is that it was so easy. Easy to get to and the 140 trails across three mountains are easy to navigate. In fact, Hadley marveled about how wonderfully contained the base village is. “We don’t even have to get in the car!” she raved. “We can walk to skiing, dinner, tubing, zipling, skating and dinner.”

I didn’t correct her when she said dinner twice. It is, after all, very important.

On President’s Day, the kids went to ski school while Jamie and I hit the slopes. It is one of the few Colorado ski schools that has incorporated the FLAIK global positioning system, which tracks the kids’ on-mountain location, skier stats, and runs skied. Their instructors simply attached the GPS device around their leg and at the end of the day, we went online to see all their logistics. Turned out, they skied a lot harder than Jamie and me but we didn’t tell them that, of course.

Good thing there’s no tracking devices for parents who opt for an extra-long, leisurely lunch by the fire at Copper Station.

At first, I was disgruntled The Schoolhouse is located in the West Village, a shuttle stop away from the Center Village. But after dropping off the kids, Jamie and I rode Union Creek, followed by Timberline Express and that is where we found the best snow conditions that day.By day’s end, we were happy and tired. This was our first major outing since getting sick, which took quite a toll. In fact, sweet Bode fell asleep on the two-minute shuttle ride back to our condo.

How to Get an Alpine Rush

We vacillated on our plans. We had hoped to try out the new Alpine Rush Zip Line in the Center Village and then head over to the East Village for the Tubing Hill but remember the exhaustion thing? We opted to swing by the zip line since it was close to our condo, go back, chill out and then see if the kids were up for tubing. 

The latter didn’t happen but the former did…in a big way.

Poor Bode practically sleepwalked through Center Village and I honestly wasn’t expecting him to even try. But the second he spotted the zip line soaring over skating rink at West Lake, there was no holding him back. (Note: You must be at least 50 pounds and each ride only costs $10),

Jamie got outfitted in his harness and went first, racing across the sky. Hadley freaked out, “That’s too fast,” she wailed. A couple of summers ago, the zip line at Vail’s Adventure Race traumatized her and she’s been gun shy (terrified) ever since.

“I’ll go!” Bode boldly volunteered and he was off.The more you weigh, the faster you soar so Bode was considerably slower than Jamie.

“Maybe that wasn’t so bad,” Hadley faltered.

“You’ll go as slow as Bode. Let’s give it a try,” I encouraged her. The staffer soothed her fears and before she knew it, she was flying.In fact, the next day she begged to do it two more times. I’m not sure if she’s cured but her fears were definitely calmed.

Now, I just need to follow her example and tackle the ramps at The Barn the next time we’re at Copper Mountain.

Stay tuned next time for our memorable mom-daughter adventures the next two days!


YMCA of the Rockies: The Nordic Redemption

Now, when I entitled this blog post “Nordic Redemption,” I didn’t mean this.
But rather, this.
The back story: As a Canadian, I grew up cross-country skiing the golf course across the street from my house. Jamie is an avid alpine (downhill) skier so I figured his transition to Nordic would be a snap. It turned out to be a different kind of snap when he fell over going 0.0005 mile per hour and claimed a concussion.

That was ten years ago and I figured it was time he got back on the horse again. I signed our family up for a group lesson at YMCA of the Rockies’ Snow Mountain Ranch’s world-class Nordic Center, which offers more than 100 km of trails—from beginner loops to advanced ski trails. The kids are both becoming good skiers so I figured they were ready to add another style of skiing to their repertoire. Though I get a passing grade in cross-country skiing, I’m not an expert and would like to take up more advanced techniques, like skate skiing or mastering backcountry climbing skins.

Or not running into your friend Aimee when she’s trying to take your picture, which was my memorable wipe-out that day.

Our husband-wife instructors were excellent but the conditions were not. The snow was hard-packed so it was baptism by icy fire when they opted to start our lesson by taking us down a short, moderate slope while demonstrating the hallowed snow plow. Crash after crash occurred but the only one who took it to heart was Bode, whose confidence was shattered early-on.

“It’s OK,” I consoled him as I wiped away his crocodile tears. “You’re the youngest one in the group and you’re doing great.”

And he really was. When we moved to the beginner practice track, he started to regain his mojo as we all learned to stride, kick, push and glide like “neanderthals.”

I somehow didn’t think neanderthals were all that graceful prior to our outing.

The tepid skiers in the group stuck to the practice track and Jamie offered to stay behind with Bode while a handful of more courageous folks ventured out and followed a trail alongside Pole Creek. Hadley started mastering the smooth cadence and I was thrilled to see at least one member of our family take to Nordic skiing.

“So, when do you want to do it again with Mommy?” I queried, salivating over Snow Mountain’s bright winter sky, frosty trees, long mountain views and fast tracks.

“Maybe in, like, a couple of years,” she replied.

Though Jamie had a much more positive experience, he still wasn’t sold. “It was OK but I like downhill skiing more. Besides, it’s a different breed of people out here.”

“What do you mean?”

“There are no, ‘hey dudes’ or ‘let’s hit some bumps.’ These people are more like the marathon-running crowd.”

That’s his nice way of saying, “NO WAY” and I’m on my own. I’ll take it.


Don’t miss parts I and III of our adventures.

YMCA of the Rockies: My Colorado Love Affair

YMCA of the Rockies: Reliving and Reinventing the Glory Days

Keystone Resort: “I Spy” a Dropped Pole, My Happy Place and a Yeti

Just 90 minutes from Denver, Keystone is renowned as the largest resort in Summit County with 3,148 acres of bowls, bumps, glades and groomers. Three years ago, I learned to “ski like a girl” at Keystone Resort’s Betty Fest ski clinic.

Girl’s weekend in boas

A couple of weekend ago, my family was invited for a media preview at Keystone.

Skating Keystone Lake

My, what a difference a few years make.

I have wanted to revisit Keystone since they instituted Kidtopia, an entire winter festival dedicated to kids that runs November 22 through March 24. Our itinerary included tubing at Adventure Point at the summit of Dercum Mountain, riding in a sleigh at Riperoo’s Village Park Parade, the Kidtopia Fireworks and skating at the new 7,200-square-foot outdoor Dercum Square Ice Rink.

But then it got cold. Really cold. Or, as my kids call it, “Canadian cold.” For uninitiated Americans, this means run-for-cover-kind-of-cold. And unfortunately, that is what we did so many of these items remain on our bucket list.

Though needing to return to Keystone again? Not a bad prospect.

Keystone Lake

Our kick-off event was at Keystone Lake. Their five-acre lake is touted as the largest Zamboni-maintained outdoor skating rink in North America and is my happy place. When we arrived at Lakeside Village, we marveled at the ice sculptures that dotted the grounds.

But remember that arctic blast? Families were hunkered down at the activity center, playing arcade games and socializing as they drank hot chocolate and cookies. After about a half-hour, I queried, “So, is anyone going skating?”

Blank stares.

And then Hadley came to the rescue. “I want to go skating with you, Mommy.”

Blank stare back at her.

You see, we went skating with our friends at Evergreen Lake over Christmas break and she had a complete skating meltdown as she claimed to forget how to skate (never mind she has taken two sessions of lessons).

“Let’s go, then!” I would pretend like it had never happened, which is my parenting strategy in most situations.

The boys opted to stay indoors and I did not push the situation due to the extreme conditions. Only the most hearty Canucks and half-breeds could withstand it.

I was thrilled that the lake had loaner trainers (think: walkers for kids) and Hadley started pushing it around like an old lady. But within a few minutes, her confidence surged and she was gliding all around the lake like a champ, previous tantrum forgotten.

As for me, I repeatedly looped around the lake, relishing the freedom of the frigid air and cursing my parents for never encouraging me to become a speed skater (read: unrealized dreams). When we finally went indoors, I encountered Jamie.

“You look happier.”

“I am.” I had admittedly been a bit moody earlier that evening.

“I told everyone to just let you stay out there for a few hours and you’d be fine.”

He knows me so well.

Keystone’s Mountain

We have had countless ski instructors over the years who have fastidiously worked with my kids. Patiently strapping on their skis. Bending over backwards (literally) trying to help them navigate down the mountain. Instilling a love of the sport when all (our) hope was almost lost. To all of them, I say “THANK YOU!”

And I’m glad it wasn’t me.

Jamie and I are finally benefiting from the fruits of their labors as both kids are finally capable enough for us to ski together.

Our version of a family photo

The previous weekend at Winter Park, Bode skied his first blue (intermediate) run and wanted to keep the momentum going. But shortly after it started, it stopped on the high-speed Montezuma Quad. Jamie took off his glove and joked, “My goal is to not drop it.”

Hadley should have taken the hint because 38 seconds later, she accidentally dropped her pole from three stories in the air. If you’re not a skier, many runs directly until the lift are reserved for extreme terrain. This was the case but there was another complication: Tower 13 (where she dropped it) was a closed, roped-off area. Whoops.

“What are we going to do?” she wailed.
“We’ll figure something out,” I replied. It was about time she went extreme.

She was spared her initiation by fire (or snow) when we were advised to stop at the Snow Patrol building and file a report. It was my first visit, which I deem a good thing because usually they’re hosting injured folks on stretchers. Following the paperwork, they loaned her another pole. But the fun didn’t stop there. Every time we rode past Tower 13 on the lift, we played the very captivating game, “I spy” as we looked for her pole.

We sure know how to party.

Our plan was to check-out the conveyer-belt-serviced tubing and the Kidtopia Snow Fort at the top of Dercum Mountain but by 2 p.m., we were frozen so we only did a token stopover at the Snow Fort for the kids to crawl through the tunnels and climb on the turrets.

Hint: If you’re already an icicle, sitting on a throne of ice won’t help the situation. But it sure was fun and we’ve vowed to return during more agreeable climes.

Der Fondue Chessel

One of my favorite childhood traditions was fondue so I was delighted when I saw Der Fondue Chessel was on the itinerary. But there was a problem. The restaurant is perched atop Keystone’s North Peak Mountain and it was too cold to access at night. And so the resort pulled all the stops and recreated our fondue night out at the fine dining restaurant, Keystone Ranch. There was delicious fondue (duh).A Yeti and White Winter Wizard (duh).And what would a recreation of the Alps be without our very own polka band? At one point, they launched into the “Chicken Dance” and the children raced out to participate. As I snapped shots of them, I did a few token moves when, before I know it, someone grabbed me and started swinging me around. Fortunately, it was just a strange dude and not the Yeti.

Chalk that one up as “things I never thought I’d say in my lifetime.”

But at Keystone, you’ll sure have the time of your life.


Be sure to check-out my other Keystone write-up at Travel Mamas.