Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Family Holiday at Bretton Woods

Lately those of us who love snow have felt we're at the mercy of Mother Nature's very fickle whim, but luckily Old Man Winter got in the game just in time for Christmas.  After a unusually warm December, we woke up on the 23rd to flakes falling gracefully from the sky, covering up the dingy browns with a bright white. With family coming for the holiday from Cape Cod and upstate New York, I was relieved to be able to showcase our favorite scenery. We had big plans for skiing, sledding, and a sleigh ride for Matt's parents, and our dreams of a white Christmas came true.

Inspired by last year's trip to Bretton Woods, Matt's brother and his family were eager to ski again, and had bought new ski boots to go with the downhill skis we had given them last year.  Their eight year-old daughter, Anya, was happy to get out on the slopes as well, and our first stop was at the rental shop where they quickly got her set up with boots and skis.  (Beginners usually forgo the poles until they've got the hang of moving around in ski boots and on skis before adding poles to the mix.)  

As Matt's brother, Brian, and his wife, Eva, struggled to get their new boots on, I was reminded of how awkward all this ski equipment might seem at first, even for adults.  Shoes in general often need breaking in, and that is especially the case for ski boots.  They are made to hold your feet and ankles in place so that your skis move as part of your legs, but all that stiff plastic takes some getting used to.  It takes a few days on the snow to get them worn in - and if something REALLY hurts, it's a good idea to take them back to your boot fitter and have them take a look.

Getting three kids and three adults geared up always takes longer than I think it should, but we eventually made our way out to the Learning Center.  Four year-old Bridget is now able (and sometimes willing) to put her own skis on, and I helped two year-old Timmy while Matt got Anya headed in the right direction.  We talked about how to get on and off the lift, and at the top the kids loved to push up the safety bar just before it was time to stand up and ski off.

Matt took Anya for a few runs, and she picked up sliding on snow quickly.  At first she seemed a bit tentative, but she practiced keeping her weight forward by putting her hands on her knees and making big arcing turns along the slope.  On the third run, I started off skiing with Anya, but had to stop for a moment to untangle Bridget from her skis, and Anya asked, "Is it okay of I keep going?"  I said sure, and off she went, all on her own!  I was so happy for her, and could see how proud she was.  Her father also picked it up quickly after not having skied in many years, and her mother declared she was ready for a trip up the "big" lift.

The kids took several runs before we needed to all take a hot chocolate break.  I took Timothy home for a much-needed midday nap while the girls took a few more turns down the bunny hill.

Meanwhile, Matt's parent's, who had stayed at the Omni Mount Washington Hotel for the weekend, were finishing off their holiday with a sleigh ride around the hotel grounds.

After the excitement of Christmas and a full morning of skiing, the girls were exhausted, but were revived with a stop at Fabyans Station for a late lunch.  The wait for their tried-and-true favorites, hot dogs and spaghetti, passed quickly as they watched the model train fly around the track near the ceiling in the dining room.

The skiing the next morning didn't go as smoothly for the kids as I would have liked, but despite the fact that we all really wanted the kids to spend as much time skiing together as they could on their last day, it just wasn't happening.  Timmy wanted to go to the Kinderwoods Playground instead, Anya complained of a hurt leg, and Bridget just wanted to follow her older cousin's lead.  So while the girls had a snack in the lodge, the adults took turns skiing and sharing kid duty.  I had to remind myself once again that it isn't worth it to force the kids to ski - it just isn't fun for any of us. Not only do we get frustrated, but I fear the kids will see skiing as a chore, something I really want to avoid.

Apres ski time, however, was a success for everyone.  Anya and Bridget went to the Kids' Apres Ski program, a party for the 4-12 year-old set that Bretton Woods hosts for free on vacation weeks.  Simplicity the Clown greeted the girls, and soon each had a balloon creation in hand. Meanwhile, the adult party downstairs featured acoustic guitar and drum beats from local band Los Huevos.

Downstairs from the girls, we sipped cocktails as Timmy exclaimed, “SNOW TRACTORS!” and we watched from the picture windows of the Slopeside Restaurant as the groomers cruised across the base area and up the mountain to smooth out some fresh corduroy for night skiing.

Happy New Year and happy family skiing to everyone!


  1. Love Bretton Woods...been going there for about 10 years now after going to other ski areas. Those were nice, but there is something about Bretton Woods that is, well just 'normal' seems I didn't have to worry about the shoes or the cooler I left on the table when I went out to snow board...or worry about inconsiderate folks. And, I was greeted when I parked to unload in front of the lodge..imagine that...somebody wasn't there to yell at me and make me move my car immediately ... somethings are minor touches but believe me, they make a big difference to everyone.

  2. Thanks for sharing your experience at Bretton Woods! It really is a friendly place, and I agree that those small touches are so important.

  3. Love reading all of this! Hope to get to Bretton Woods soon....... Jonathan's mom

  4. Jonathan's mom, the skiing really is great right now! I'm so glad to read that you are enjoying the blog and hope to see you at BW soon!

  5. Any special discounted Senior fares?