Our impression before getting here was that Winter Park wasn't the resort that some of the others are, but as far as skiing goes - the mountain is great. The town isn't much, but it has everything we need (restaurants, jewelry stores, toy stores) and we don't tend to spend a lot of time bumming around the town anyway.
A friend who lives about an hour away came up to ski with us for the day. She arrived a day before us, and was going to stay another day but school testing got in the way of that plan. No matter - we skied our hearts out. Helen and I stuck to the green trails with Ellen and her children while the boys adventured further afield. This was perfect, because for the first time in memory, I had a touch of altitude sickness. Prior to lunch, I wondered several times whether I'd be able to make the day without losing my cookies. After lunch, I felt much better.
Best about our meet-up was probably that Helen immediately fell into a friendship with Ellen's daughters, and the three of them quickly decided there was no need for mothers on the lift chairs. This meant Ellen and I could gab in 10 minute increments up the lifts. And frankly, we are experts at the 10 minute interrupted conversation because we met each other when we were already mothers. Interruptions are our lives!
We took two days off from skiing - one to go to a nearby YMCA ranch which had every activity we could imagine, and was the same place we had visited with my family a couple of years ago as part of our dude ranch vacation. At the ranch, we tried snowshoeing for the first time with the kids, and also enjoyed roller skating, tubing, dodgeball (Connor), ping pong, and wrapped the evening up with a horse drawn sleigh ride and a great dinner. The only thing missing was country dancing (which accompanied a similar event a few years ago). My family goes on these sorts of adventures regularly, but Ed's family tends to go to more mainstream restaurants and hang out at home - without the kitsch that I love so much. To my father-in-law's credit, I don't even think he sees these adventures as ridiculous anymore, and to Ed's credit - he's the one who planned the ride AND planned our dinner with pirates last summer. He has gone from rolling his eyes to jumping in with both feet.
Our other day off brought us to dogsledding, mini snowmobiles, and a bit of shopping. Helen is the proud owner of dangly earrings, which she adores. Watching the kids on the snowmobiles was hilarious. Connor was full throttle (which isn't particularly fast) from the moment he hopped on. Helen, on the other hand, cautiously steered her snowmobile as slowly as possible, letting us know she thought Connor was crazy.
Our condo has an arcade so it is truly unfortunate that my dad no longer travels on our ski vacation each year. He and my mom used to come and babysit while Ed, Ed's dad, and I skied. But now everyone skis, so we don't need family babysitting services. My dad has a thing where he's always bringing the kids quarters. And oh boy, if he was here, those quarters would've been put to good use. Even with limited quarters, Helen has become a pinball wizard. She's barely tall enough to see the console (it's a multi-game system where you move the joystick right and left when you want the electronic flippers to move), and she somehow has added in this little hip wiggle whenever she moves the joystick. It is hilarious. She made the high score board, only to be knocked off by Connor later that day. I got a free guy on Ms. Pacman and desperately wished my sister was with us. She used to own that game and I'm sure her legendary aunt status would be even higher if the kids saw her play.
I somehow jacked my elbow, and am hoping that it magically heals itself. I finally texted my brother-in-law for his always excellent sight unseen medical advice, and he's guessing soft tissue damage, nothing broken. Ironically, the last time we were in Colorado I was texting him photos of a weird rash Helen contracted. Perhaps this place is a bit cursed for us.