We just got back from our 3rd annual family ski vacation in Park City, Utah. Jonathan and I love the mountains and one of our goals is to have a place of our own someday, so we have been sampling different ski communities for a few years now. Park City definitely has a lot to offer, the number one factor being how close it is to Salt Lake. A direct flight and a 30 minute drive had us to our condo about 6 hours after we left our house in Houston.
We stayed at Park City Mountain resort in the thick of the action. Our balcony literally looked out onto one of the major ski lifts on the mountain and Forest’s ski school was located right downstairs from us.
Now I will say that with the convenience came quite a bit of noise, both from late night revelers and early morning snow groomers. I haven’t quite decided if not having to tote ski equipment around was worth it. At 3 AM I didn’t think so, but it sure was nice at 1 PM when I just had to ski down the mountain and ride up an elevator to get home and then skip downstairs to pick Forest up from ski school.
Most ski schools start around age 4 but you can find a few resorts that offer full-day programs for 3 years olds. Forest did the ‘Ultimate 3’ class from 9am-3pm and absolutely loved it.
They discourage parents from watching, just because it could make them upset to spot mommy and daddy, but I couldn’t resist. The problem was, on day one they decided F was ready for the ski lifts and was skiing a beginner greens so spotting him was harder than I thought. It seemed like most of the little boys and even some girls were wearing red and from a distance 3-6 year olds are pretty comparable in height.
When I finally spotted him on the first day I thought he was looking a little rough. He seemed to be falling quite a lot. In his defense, it was the first day he ever just blew through nap time without a rest, but I was certainly thinking that skiing wasn’t in his natural athletic skill set.
Well it turns out I read the situation all wrong. As you can see from this video, there are 2 instructors to 3 3-year old boys. Each of the other boys is basically one on one with an instructor the whole time while Forest is ‘allowed’ to go by himself- hence the fact that he’s falling more often than them. When I picked him up his teacher said he did awesome, had a blast, was the leader of his group and was moving up a level. The next day he apparently moved up ANOTHER level (3 of 3) and spent basically the whole day on ‘First Run’, on and off ski lifts.
I happened to spy him from our balcony and raced down to get some pictures and videos. I couldn’t believe how well he was doing and how much he improved from the day before.
He still took some tumbles here and there but actually looked to have good balance and control the majority of the time. These toddlers on skis are incredible. And adorable. For instance, I think it’s safe to say that Toddlers getting on a ski lift has officially dethroned toddlers wearing backpacks as the cutest thing ever.
|Oops, he spotted me...|
When I picked him up at the end of the day his new instructor said he was doing great and had even learned to turn a bit. He said next year he’d probably need a day just to relearn everything but by day 2 he’d be building on his skills even more. He also said they loved Forest and that he was (direct quote) “Seriously the easiest and most chill kid I’ve ever taught.” I almost choked on my hot cocoa. Forest easy and mellow? Bahahahahaha. That’s one of the perks of his shyness- he comes across as really well behaved until he gets comfortable and then he is full on distracted and joyful puppy.
As far as my skiing goes, I feel like I’ve gotten worse! I’m just not as in shape as I used to be so my muscles got tired really easily. The awesome thing about Park City Mountain that I haven’t seen anywhere else is that it’s extremely beginner friendly. You could go to the very top and have a few options to ski greens down the whole mountain if you wanted, whereas on most mountains you have to be able to at least ski blues if you want to get much elevation.
I technically *can* ski blues without wiping out but I don’t have much fun. I’m just not an adrenaline junkie. So I really loved that I could do super long green runs without having to step a ski on a blue. They even had signs at every crossroads that pointed you towards the easier option, and the ‘easiest way’ was clearly marked the whole way down. I LOVED THAT!!!
Jonathan got a little bored with it though and would leave me to my hot chocolate and ski-school spying to ski some more adventurous terrain. We’ve talked about doing snow-boarding school together next year to kind of even the playing field since he’s got so much more experience that I do with skiing. But we both suspect it’s not lack of athleticism holding me back from more challenging skiing- it’s complacency. I don’t WANT to go faster, longer, harder. And now I’ve found a mountain where I don’t have to. Huzzah! We can even ride the lift to the top together and meet at the bottom.
After 2 days of skiing, we used our last day to explore Utah a bit. We made the drive down to Sundance resort (so fancy!) and did some sightseeing along the way.
After playing at Sundance (and taking some shots for a photography class I’m in), we stopped at a historic railway to let Forest explore real live train tracks and steam engines.
|Rethinking that power struggle over not wearing mittens.|
He is in peak train obsession right now so he loved this. Seriously, skiing, hot chocolate, frolicking in the snow, and trains???? Forest had the best week ever.
We even saw moose on our way back to the condo for naptime! A momma and baby moose wandered into the resort and munched on the local trees for the rest of the afternoon.
If you ask Forest, this was his favorite part of the trip. It might have been mine too! I mean, how often are you just driving by and see a moose having a snack on the side of the road? Maybe if you’re Utahan it happens a lot because these two gentlemen don’t seem to even take notice. Ha!
After a big nap we loaded up to visit High West Distillery up high on a mountainside on Blue Sky Ranch. It was set to close at 5 and we got there at 4:15 hoping we could do a tasting and explore the grounds a bit. Unfortunately they had just done last call when we strolled in since they were closing early for an event. Jonathan was definitely bummed but we still had a good time taking in the views and the smells.
The aroma and snowy mountain atmosphere definitely transported us back to Scotland. Aaaaah. We headed back to the resort for some burgers and cocktails and Jonathan even sampled some of the High West Distillery whiskey at the restaurant. That night Park City got 8-10 inches of fresh powder and we considered pushing our flights back a day to ski some more but knew we needed to get home to Samson.
It was such a fun and successful trip and we are looking at maybe spending some time in the area this summer for hiking and biking. Texas, you are great and all but you could really use some more mountains. Forest even said he’d rather go back to Utah than Disney World. Parenting win.