Monday, February 23, 2015

Hittin' the Slopes!

Back in December, when we were attending the Camp Harlow Auction, one of the items up for sale was a "board/ski rental package/gift certificate to Mt. Bachelor" offered through our locally owned Berg's Ski Shop.  We went ahead and bid on it, and upon realizing we'd won it, bid for a stay in a condo nearby (owned by the Vickers) in the Silent Auction, so we could make a family weekend out of it.  

The condo was available the weekend of February 20th - and we'd hoped, that by then, the resort would be replenished with snow.  But, instead, it was a record dry winter for Oregon - our snowpack is practically nil.   It concerns me for the sake of farmers facing drought, but even more selfishly, for what the lake levels will look like to boat in.  However, in the immediate need, we were thankful that the place we picked to buy a certificate from, turned out to be the only place that still had quality snow.  

You can tell by the pictures taken on the preceding Thursday night just how glorious our weather has been instead.  Nothing but blue skies as we got fitted for our rental equipment at Berg's.  That's definitely the way we'll do it in the future - to be able to avoid the hassle on the mountain was huge!  And, it felt great to be able to run into and catch up with Ashton's dad, who's the manager there.

By about 5:30 Friday night, we were off.  Due to an accident on a local highway, we opted to take the pass route that would lead us directly to the mountain vs. going through Bend.  However, we ended up being told when we gassed up in Oakridge that the route was closed this time of year (we knew that, but were hoping that the lack of snow had re-opened it early).  So, we took our chances and kept driving until we hit a gate....Uh oh.

Fortunately, our GPS system on John's new rig is very detailed, so it showed us a route that would skirt along the edge of the mountain - on an unpaved road.  (We really did not want to turn around and go miles and miles out of our way to take an alternative route).  There wasn't a LOT of snow, but some patches that had us a little concerned.  The biggest problem, though, was the felled trees that allowed only an inch or so of clearance on each side (remember, new rig!).  But, amidst my excitement and Mikayla's anxiety - we made it.  And, we emerged on the other side of Bachelor - just about a dozen miles or so from our condo!   =)

Seventh Mountain Resort is about as old as I am, and it has definitely gone through some growing pains over the years.  Now, it is owned by a bigger time-share company, and hopefully they will continue investing money into it and its facilities.  Its proximity to Mt. Bachelor puts it in a very advantageous location - it deserves quality upkeep!
After we got settled in to our condo, the family talked me into abandoning my Kindle to go explore the skating rink and mini-grocery/tourist store.  It definitely has ambiance.  =)

As close as we were, there wasn't much need to wake up a the crack of dawn to get to the mountain, knowing they didn't open until 9:00.  This was the view as we approached - couldn't ask for much better!!!

John and Brayden both rented snowboard equipment, while Mikayla and I chose to ski.  So, we knew we'd be splitting up soon enough - and did our best to get a family selfie in.

And, then, the selfies on the ski lift...

I wish this wasn't so blurry.  We have Go-Pro footage of Brayden boarding, but this is the best evidence my phone got.  

Likewise, not a great shot of John, who realized that the bindings were in the wrong position (he boards "Goofy"), so he was thankful the lift operator had a screwdriver he could borrow.

Another group shot.  

So, here's the deal with John and Brayden.  Somehow, they didn't communicate well about where they'd meet up and John would see Brayden boarding down while riding up the lift and vice versa.  At one point, we sent Brayden down the hill ahead of us to try to catch up with John in line, and I was impressed with just how fast and straight he went.  But, that turned out to be the problem.  I guess Brayden wasn't so good at slowing (and turning to decelerate) so, if it got out of control, he'd just wipe out.  That happened a few times too many, and without a helmet (don't even get me started about how that decision happened), he didn't want to continue on and face a concussion at the rate he was going.  (That's definitely a decision I applaud, on the other hand).  So, they were done after only a handful of runs.  Not the high level of success we were all hoping on, but the lodge cafeteria had a lot to offer too - so it wasn't all bad.

Mikayla and I reported a different story.  She hadn't skied since she was 5, so it was 8 years ago since I've been on the mountain myself.  (Wow, how time flies).  My experiences in skiing since I first tried in middle school have been varying in their success stories.  When I've started slow and steady, its been good, but when I've scared the heck out of myself by trying something too hard for myself right from the start, its led to feelings of fear associated with the sport.  So, I figured, between the two of us, we might be a good pairing.  Of course, we started with the beginner hill, (along with hundreds of little tykes in ski school).   Mikayla panicked in the beginning, not feeling like she had any control and nearly choosing to give up.  But, I tried to resurrect what I had been taught, and by taking it steady, we got down the slope without injury and her confidence picked up.  On the second run, Mikayla showed a ton more mastery, and by the fifth run, we were traversing side slopes.  I think, as we went through the lift line on the 8th run, the guy directing us to our lift seat commented that he was seeing us way too fast and perhaps we should try something new.  So, we listened to his directions and were taught the route to go from the top to another ski lift, and then take the "Marshmallow" run down from there.  We were up for the challenge! 

And, we did it!  But we actually decided, while we were up there, that it was a little different style than what we liked, so we decided to go down by going across the mountain, so we ended up back at the lodge where the guys were.  It was a very long run, but SO FUN!  I felt like we were on an adventure that neither one of us would have guessed we would have been capable of at the beginning of the day, but we were doing it.  I'm starting to realize that so much of skiing has to do with confidence in your abilities (like riding a horse or a bike) - if you believe you are capable, often you really are.  But, if you try to go down with trepidation and in fear, it's not so successful.

If it weren't for the weather beginning to change and the guys waiting for us at the lodge - I think Mikayla and I would have been up for numerous repeats of adventures such as this one!
A little after noon, the clouds did indeed start rolling in and snow was coming down in icy pellets (as shown on Brayden).  Just as well, as the guys had kind of kind of declared "being done" with the mountain.  

When we returned to the condo, Mikayla and Brayden talked John into a trip to the hot tub.  Were it right outside our door, I would have been all over the idea.  But, the walk back through the campus of the resort after being wet in freezing temps was enough for me to definitely decline the offer.  
We kind of hit a stalemate by the end of the day.  I don't think we'd put much thought into the trip beyond just the experience at Bachelor.   So, we ended up taking a field trip into Bend.  Brayden tried out some of the songs he was considering on putting on a Disneyworld Family Playlist (many were denied!), we got Dutch Bros for the family, and bought all sorts of indulgent junk food at the Safeway closest to our property. 

The snow pellets were long gone by the next morning.  What a glorious sight to wake up to on a Sunday morning!  

This time, I agreed to family bonding in the expansive hot tub.  Unfortunately, the water wasn't hot enough, it was a little murky - and most disturbing - there was a group of about 5 10/11 year old girls that kept invading our space.  I know the allure of a 15 year old boy had everything to do with it (that, and they were bored and wanted to be entertained), but it was SO ANNOYING!  At one point, they asked where we were from and when we said "Eugene" they asked how we were enjoying Oregon.  Seriously?  Eugene is like the second largest city in Oregon?   Oh dear.  (And, yes, they are from Bend - they should know this).  

Thanks the Vickers generosity, we were blessed with a late check-out, as she had us booked through Monday.  We took our time packing up and eventually passed through Sisters (opted for the conventional driving route this time) around 2.  I never tire of this view...
We gave this new little pizza place a try for lunch.  It was tasty.  And, after a stop for Fro Yo for Brayden, we ended up down at the other end of the small town at the Sisters Bakery. 

You can see Brayden and Mikayla in the window there...

It was definitely not a weight-loss weekend!

Despite some of the setbacks and complications, it was a very memorable and fun mountain adventure for the family.  One that we would all certainly like to repeat in the future!

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