Sunday, March 25, 2012

March 25, 2012 - Skiing, Grouse Mtn B.C.

We are nearing April and ski season is going to be winding down in a month.  So, we opted to skip boating this weekend so we could spend the entire weekend skiing.  We drove up Early Saturday morning and went strait to Grouse Mtn.  We were on the slopes just shortly after the mountain opened.  Kevin and Steve on their snowboards, and Kathy and Cindy on their skis.  I (Steve) hadn't been on a snowboard in at least 10 years.  Kevin wants more than anything to be a snowboarder.  So, Kevin and I spent the morning together practicing on our snowboards, while Kathy and Cindy roamed the mountain on their skis.

Kevin and Steve on their snowboards.
Kevin and Steve snowboarding, as viewed from the chairlift.

The weather was fantastic.  In fact, it was almost too warm.  We were definitely overdressed by afternoon.  The snow became soft and slushy by afternoon.  It was typical spring skiing.  Full sun, warm temps, and soft/slushy snow.  It would have been great boating weekend.  But ski season is coming to a close, and we just can't pass up opportunities like this to ski with our kids.

The spectacular view over Vancouver B.C.
While we were there on Saturday they were having a snowboard competition.  The jumps were HUGE!  We stopped and took our lunch break on the slopes next to the jumps and watched the guys fly.  Amazing!  It was a great way to eat lunch; sitting in the snow, soaking up the sun, watching some really good athletes compete.

The BIG snowboard competition on Saturday

What a nice way to spend our lunch break.  Sun, heat, and a great show!
Saturday was a great day of snowboarding and skiing.  The slopes were pretty crowded, which is always a bit frustrating (waiting in lift lines), but the weather was spectacular.

We stayed at a really nice hotel about 10 minutes from the mountain.  It had a small kitchen so we were able to avoid the cost of eating out for both dinner and breakfast.  That really helps out on the cost of skiing.  The hotel had a very nice indoor pool with hot tub and sauna.  We spent several hours in the pool area Saturday night.

Cindy leaping into the nice pool at our hotel.
Sunday we had breakfast in the room and were at the mountain in time for the first runs of the day.  It was another beautiful day with full sun and warm temps.  With no competition today there were noticeably fewer people in the lift lines.  The kids went ice skating today, and we took a tour of the "Eye of the Wind".  It's a modern wind generator high atop the slopes of Grouse Mountain with an amazing observation room at the top.  You are more than 4000 feet above Vancouver, so the view is without compare.

Cindy checks out the ice at the skating rink.

Inside the observation room atop the "Eye of the Wind"

The wind generator was HUGE.
On Sunday Kevin went down his first "Black Diamond" runs.  Black Diamond runs are ADVANCED runs. Usually we go down Green Circle (beginner) or Blue Square (intermediate) runs with the kids.  But Kevin is quite adventurous and wanted to try a black diamond run.

Kevin, then Steve, go down a "Black Diamond" run.

We are SO proud of our kids.  They are becoming good skiers and they love getting out and exercising all day.  Sure, they sometimes complain when it's cold and windy, or they sometimes don't want to get out of bed at 6:15 in the morning so we can drive 2 hours to Grouse Mountain, but they always have fun and look forward to going up gain.  We can't ask for much more; it's a great family activity!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

March 5, 2012 - Skiing & Snowmobiling in North Idaho

Again, a blog entry that doesn't involve boats!  Well, man can't boat ALL the time!  Since it's winter and our kids are really enjoying snow skiing, we are doing a lot less boating that we usually would this time of year.

We made another trip over to Sandpoint Idaho on Wednesday night, after I (Steve) finished a two-day water maker technical training class in Seattle.  Water makers convert seawater into pure/fresh water that is safe to drink.  Most long-distance cruising boats now have water makers, and they require quite a bit of maintenance and a well planned installation.  I am now a certified RACOR/Village Marine water maker technician.  Woo Hoo.....If you want to learn more about reverse osmosis water filtration, go here:  Village Marine's website

There hasn't been much snow in north Idaho this winter, which has made snowmobiling directly from Kathy's parents house pretty much impossible.  But luck was on our side and north Idaho received a lot of snow just a few days before our arrival, and it snowed hard again when we arrived.  Enough snow had accumulated so we were able to bring the snowmobiles down to the house.  There have only been two weekends all winter this was possible, and we just happened to be there for one of them!  Most winters we can ride directly from the house up into the forest trails, but this year the snow just hasn't been there, and a lot of the trails have been unusable due to lack of snow.

For the 4th year in a row Kathy's parents have allowed us to bring our friends over.. There were 16 of us this year, which is the smallest group we have had.  Mark and Jennifer were at St. Maarten in the Caribbean on a no-kids family reunion so their kids (Aidan and Grace) came to Idaho instead.  Every year our group takes over the house while her parents go off and have a fun vacation somewhere else.  This year they went to Parma Idaho to go skiing at Bridger Mt.  This winter trip is a special time for all of us because it is very rare that we can take a group vacation like this, and go to such a fun and beautiful location.  It is truly one of the highlights of the year for all of us.  The kids REALLY love it!

Every year we have built a sled run in front of the house.  It has turned out to be extremely popular with the kids who spend the bulk of their free time sledding on "the tube run".  They get a lot of great exercise playing in the snow with minimal "screen time"; this is good wholesome fun!  We were very lucky with all the new snow.  Just a week earlier there was not enough to build it, which would have been a huge disappointment for the kids.

We built the sled run on Thursday morning and also did quite a bit of snowmobiling.  Everyone in our group of friends can ski so Friday we all went skiing at Schweitzer.  Kevin has been dying to try snowboarding so we rented him some gear and put him in a two hour private lesson.  He's now a snowboarder and he loves it!  It was a great day of skiing with good snow, no lift lines, a huge mountain to explore, and lots of friends to ski with.  Saturday we played around the house on the sled run, in the snow, and out on the snowmobiles.  It warmed up Saturday and everything started to melt.  By the time we left on Sunday the sled run was almost gone and riding snowmobiles from the house was impossible.  Our timing couldn't have been better.  In fact, this was perhaps the ONLY weekend of the entire winter that there was enough snow to make this all possible.  We live charmed lives...

Rather that outline every event, I'll just post some pictures with captions:

Sledding in front of the house.

You can see the ski runs at Schweitzer Mtn, across the lake in the sun.

Some of the kids having fun at Kathy's parents house.

Kathy and Tess dropping out of the woods back onto the road.  Wheeeeeeee!

Jamie and Grace coming through one of the woods "trails".

Aidan, Cindy, Grace, and Kathy on the Stella chairlift.  Schweitzer Mt.
Getting ready for a steep downhill trail.  Everybody ready?
I think the kids are saying "hey grown-ups, let's get going!"
Vaughn takes Steve for a ride over the landscaping adjacent to the driveway.

Jamie and Grace, then Tess and Kathy, on one of the trails.

Aidan and Mark return from a fun ride through the forest.
Kathy and Steve stop to enjoy the view of lake Pend Orielle.
Lunch break after a few good hours of skiing.
Tons of new snow.  Schweitzer Mt. Ski resort.
Grace and Cindy riding "Musical Chairs".
Kevin puts on his snowboard.  Emily is ready to ski!
Kevin can now snowboard.  He's so excited.
Kevin links two turns together. Most people can't this their 1st day.

Dinner for the kids. 

Video "phone call".  Aidan & Grace chat w/their parents (both on a sailboat in the Caribbean).

The human pyramid!