When our next door neighbor came over recently and asked if we wanted to use the last half of a timeshare week they had in Big Sky, Montana, we couldn't pass up the chance, so we took the kids out of school a couple days for a midwinter ski trip.To get to Big Sky, we drove north out of Rexburg on Highway 20 all the way to its end in West Yellowstone, Montana. From there, we turned north on to Highway 191, which skirts the Northwest edge of Yellowstone Park, and even goes inside the boundaries for part of the way through some very beautiful country.
Most of the way follows the Gallatin River, which I almost got to flyfish a couple years ago when Lori and I went to Big Sky for our anniversary in September. (As luck would have it, snow was coming down pretty hard the day we were supposed to go, so we bagged it and came home.) Here are a couple pictures of cute little Ayla... just being Ayla.Anyway, the condo where we stayed was right next to Big Sky Ski Resort. It had two bedrooms, plus a couch bed and a loft, so it was quite roomy. Lori's sister Cari and her husband Aaron happened to be visiting when we decided to take the trip, and although it strained our powers of persuasion, we got them to come along with us. We also happened to be watching a couple of other kids for our friends who were on a cruise, so we took them, too. That worked out well since they are Nathan and Ashlynn's ages, so they each got to take a friend along. All together, there were eleven of us, including our little baby niece, Kendall. Here's a picture of Ashlynn's friend Alli.We had been told that the resort at Big Sky is big, but even so we were surprised at the sheer size of the place. The resort itself has something like fourteen lifts, which cover an astounding amount of skiable terrain; one of the nicest things about Big Sky is its many extremely long, wide, well-groomed runs that are excellent for beginners. They aren't too steep, but they're steep enough to keep you moving without having to stop and climb. Here are Ash and Alli behind me on the chair lift. Most of the lifts there are high-speed quads, so they really get you up the hill quick. We didn't have to stand in a single line the whole time.I was amazed at my brother-in-law Aaron, who before this trip had never skied. He spent 10 or 15 minutes on the bunny hill, then got on the lift and went for it. He skied all day long, and even went on a couple of "blue" runs before the day was over. He had his share of wipe-outs, but he really caught on quickly, and had a lot of fun. He was so sore the next day, however, that he had no desire to return for another round. Here he is with his daughter on the tubing hill.Cari, on the other hand, wasn't such a quick study. She gave it a try and, much more typically for a beginner, struggled to catch on. We started with a simple skill known as "stepping on to the magic carpet," which took a little time to master.For some reason, riding that thing was worse than a bucking bronco for her; she kept falling off. One time, she fell down, landing face down on the tread. Since her body was only halfway on, the moving belt beneath threatened to rub her face right off, so she just flopped around like a little fish until she could get herself completely off into the snow. The whole thing was terrifying for her, and really embarrassing I'm sure, but for the rest of us this little episode provided excellent belly laughs for the rest of the day.
In her defense, she does have a mild case of cerebral palsy, and I think those ski boots really weren't getting along well with her shortened achilles tendons and off-kilter stance. She was a trooper to even try; I think she could do well with a little more time to learn. Even if she didn't do well, we would all get a kick out of watching her try!
Avree had a couple more sessions of ski school; she's really about ready to be done with that now. She's getting pretty good, and will soon be keeping up with the other kids. Ashlynn had a lot of fun with Alli, but she scares her dad because she likes to go through the trees, and I'm afraid she's going to wrap herself around one.
Nathan loves to snowboard, never having had any interest at all in skis. He looks pretty good out there, and is learning more tricks all the time. We make them all wear helmets.Here's a picture of Lori's new skis, affectionately known around our house as the "naked ladies" because the design on them includes a rather busty chinese woman who is, for some reason, fanning her exposed cleavage. (Here, they have been covered with snow to protect any innocent eyes.)Yeah, that Lori is getting pretty wild in her old age. Watch out, pretty soon she'll have a tattoo. She had to try on several pairs of boots before she found some that fit very well; even then she needed to have some special fitting done by a "Master Boot Fitter" so that they wouldn't make her retarded right foot go numb. (Where do you suppose a Master Boot Fitter goes to school? Does he have to be an Apprentice Boot Fitter first?)
Lori has skied quite a bit this year, and has really enjoyed having something to do outdoors during our endless winter. She feels like she has gotten a lot better at it, too; all I can say about that is strap a couple naked ladies on my feet, and I could glide pretty good, too!
The second night, we took all the kids up to the "family fun zone" to go tubing. It was a blast, and we all had fun, but one time Ayla and I went down a little too soon after Avree, and when we got to the bottom she hadn't quite got off the course yet and we ran right in to her. She went flying! I would have just bailed off the tube, but I didn't dare with Ayla on my lap. Avree was a little shaken up, but okay.Here I am shushing down the slopes.
We had a really great time in Big Sky, and made some great memories. Skiing has been a fun family activity this winter. We really appreciate our neighbors the Bauers for letting us use their condo. They're the greatest!