Super Saturday Sledding

Living in middle Tennessee is a bit of a frustration for the snow and outdoor winter sports set…. namely my kiddos. Since they were born in the upper Midwest and grew up sledding every year, often in their own back yard…AND the fact that sledding and snow days are often synonymous. My kids LOVE to go sledding. snow tube pic

If in your mind…you were imagining cute little munchkins all bundled in layers of coats and scarves and little pink mittens…you would be a bit off. Although I remember those days… my kids are a bit older, high school and college aged and still anxious to get to some snow.

The winter of 2011-12 in Nashville was like an extended fall with an early spring, minus the season of winter. No joke, we had like a 10th of an inch of snow for an hour one weekend, just enough to cover the roofs and decks and melt on the roads. School was never interrupted and there wasn’t enough cold stuff to even consider bringing the old sleds out of storage. I promised them that if it¬†didn’t snow… I would take them to a place where there was some and we would get our annual sledding fix!

Due to life and circumstance… that didn’t happen last year.

I was seriously in trouble with the kiddos…. this year I made plans to make sure that wouldn’t be the case. I looked up a place to take them in southern Indiana… Paoli Peaks. At Paoli, they have snow machines that crank out fresh man-made snow 24/7 during the cold-enough winter months and coat enough on their surprisingly steep hillsides to allow for modest amounts of snow boarding, skiing and TUBING!!!

Who wouldn’t want to go snow tubing in January ūüôā ?

So last weekend, I checked the ski resort’s website to make sure they were snow-covered and ready for us and then crammed my kids…including my daughters boyfriend Matthew and his family (Bob-Michelle and¬†Andrew) into our Honda Pilot and we made the 4.5 hour trip from Spring Hill TN to Paoli, IN. Leaving a 5:30am we made it to the ski slopes in record time and despite the obscenely early hour for a Saturday… no one complained! Matthew and Bethany - Jan 13'

The ski-tubing area was easily found and after signing our liability rights and lives away on the check in disclaimer…we purchased some 3 hour tickets to enjoy the hill and we’re given our very own snow tubes for the day. Excitedly we lined up on top of the hill and when our turn came we slid down the iced tracks at faster-than-you-were-expecting speeds!

I could hear my gang screaming in sheer exuberance as their lungs came into contact with the adrenaline laced 10 second slide and as they slid to a stop at the bottom… it was like a time warp…. I swear I could hear them say; “Again Daddy! AGAIN!!!”

Oh my gosh… that was some fun. We went up and down that hill twenty or twenty-five times in the next three hours, sliding on our stomach, in pairs (holding on to each others tube handles as both of you slide down together) and trying to make little jumps off the hill as you gather speed over the bumps in the tracks.. oh man it was a BLAST!

This was the next evolution in the art of sledding and I highly recommend it. Our gang of seven LOVED it, and when we got cold we ducked into the little hot-chocolate, pizza and coffee hut to warm up and refuel before bundling back up and diving down the hillside for one more run.

Paoli Peaks - Snow Tubing Hill - Jan 13'

Paoli Peaks – Snow Tubing Hill – Jan 13′

Highly recommend you try this with your families. I saw little ones as young as 3 or 4 years old sliding down with their parent and with the all of the safety measures and personnel around, felt completely safe to do so. The nifty little escalator thingee they have brings you and your tube back up to the top without any fuss and you not only don’t have to exert yourself, you can rest on the way. For those of us in the middle ages…that’s a plus ūüôā

The point is this… get out, go places, explore and do it with your families. It doesn’t have to be a big -long-complex¬†ordeal like a RoadTrip, rather it can be a four-hour drive to find snow and fun and memories that will last a lifetime!

God bless you this winter, from RTP!

PS – to find your way to Paoli Peaks, its website is quite helpful and from what we saw a few weekends ago, delivers on their promises, so you and I can deliver on ours! Paoli Peaks logo

January RoadTrip – Crazy Canadians

Heading North we cruised through Idaho and Western Montana without a hitch. Blue sky, cold temps and clear vista’s keep re-setting after each turn as we gazed at the beauty of God’s handiwork¬†all around us and our two lanes of private driving.¬†¬†We traveled through valley after valley, crossing from west to east on Idaho Hwy 75 and then headed North winding off and on interstates and highways until we ran low on gas and energy.

Canada on Hwy 93 Northbound into Narnia!

Canada on Hwy 93 Northbound into Narnia!

We refueled in Missoula MT at a ¬†Gas¬†& gambling casino place with a sort of attached¬†McDonalds …right off of I-90. After fresh cups of hot coffee and French fries we tuned in the football playoffs and listened in agony as Denver lost in OT and Peyton Manning’s comeback miracle year ended as abruptly as the daylight faded on our road.

Winding our-way north we drove the twisting and black as pitch¬†highway 93 to Whitefish MT on¬†the way to the Canadian border. By 9pm it looked and felt like it was midnight and we were ready for a warm meal and a cheap place to crash. We found the cheap place to crash easy enough, but the town of Whitefish it seems¬†was packed! I mean no parking downtown as the locals and tourists and skiers had all converged on the four or five block square that was crowded with modern cafe’s, high-end restaurants and honky-tonk bars with an Apr√®s’ ski air. This town was hopping.

We finally crammed into a compact parking spot and dove into the first restaurant without a waiting line and it turned out to be AWESOME. Latitude 48¬†was the name and it was amazing. Fresh, reasonable fare with amazing service and a great old west – meets modern world vibe. Highly recommend. 5 stars from us ! The loaded potato soup and home-made pasta’s were magnificent and we were tired and hungry and deeply appreciative. It seemed that God was determined to exceed our every expectation, even in the tiniest of details.

Bow Valley Peaks - Jan 13' RoadTrip

Bow Valley Peaks – Jan 13′ RoadTrip

Dawn was cold, crisp and very January in its grip. -2F¬†and rosy-tinted¬†as we drove early and fast out of Whitefish, eager to be gone and on our way to the Canadian world of mountains and winter wilderness perfection. We crossed the border at Roosville and as far as we could see, were the only commuters that day. No one else was waiting or in front of us, behind us etc… we had the crossing all to ourselves and the gracious Canadian border agents who took our passports, asked their probing questions and sent us on our way in short order.

We had arrived. Finally!

Canada in the winter and the sky was clear. What a treat we were about to unwrap! Last year we had made a very similar trek from Spokane WA to Jasper Alberta and had seen less than nothing with nearly constant fog &¬†dense cloud layers had completely blocked out the beauty. This year, we were optimistic that the clear skies would last and hopefully stretch north enough to allow us a glimpse¬†of our sacred¬†Canadian Rockies…to finally see them¬†as they were meant to be seen. I could picture them in my mind…robed in powdery white layers of alpine majesty, as regal in their misty crowns of ice and snow as any queen could be.

We were NOT disappointed.

One word on the crazy Canadians. They are absurdly nice, polite and gracious without any hint of exasperation, impatience or anger at any of our rude American ways. They also have no ice. Funny, with so much cold around them, it wouldn’t seem that cubed ice would be an issue for a drink, but I be dad-gum, they don’t have it. I would have to suffer on… no ice for my tea and no cubes for my Diet Cokes. Crazy.

Clothed in White Wonder...Oh Crazy Canada Eh?

Clothed in White Wonder…Oh Crazy Canada Eh?

By noon we were fully embraced by the beauty and wonder of the Canadian world and my anger at their lack of ice-cubes completely forgotten. This was worth any inconvenience. We drove North along Canadian Hwy 93 all the way to Radium Hot Springs and then across Kootenay National Park into Bow Valley and within sight of Banff and Lake Louise.

We had arrived and I was suddenly very jealous of those crazy Canadians.

The sun was high, the sky was blue and everywhere we looked a glittering white diamond display was reflecting back. Off of the billions of ever-green trees, off of the glacier fed lakes and streams, off of the roads and hills, and mountain peaks…off of the rocks and roofs and houses, two and three feet thick… snow was as abundant as sand on a beach.

We had arrived in Narnia and the travel brochure had totally under-estimated the impact. WOWEE EH?

It seems God is just like that… He promises to meet our every need, He promises to be faithful and true and just, and so often we brace for the reality, that when we reach the end of the road, when our destination is in sight… we’re so afraid to be disappointed.

God in some ways; is like the Canadian Winter Wilderness. No one can describe its/His beauty; No one can capture it/Him in a  hi-res picture or painting and no one can adequately explain all of its/His amazing details and sense of true wonder; Just like our God. He exceeds ALL our expectations and He keeps on surprising us with how well He knows our hearts and the desires of our hearts. Thank you God for caring enough to be personal and intimate with each and everyone of your children.

Tomorrow, Day 4&5 and finding out if Father Brian really can¬†fly ? ūüôā

Finding snow in a heat wave… RoadTrip Parenting goes to Oregon

Thursday June 14 – Day 7 of our Epic Pacific Northwest RoadTrip

We were¬†up¬†early…¬†wanted to see the¬†sunrise light on those Lassen mountain peaks.

The SE view at the Top of Lassen Volcanic NP

Found the views equally as pristine in the am as they had been in¬†pm. The trail we chose to hike (bumpass¬†hell – 3 mile hike…no joke that’s the trails official name) was closed due to snow ( still¬†about 4-5 feet still on the ground)As were most of the trails in the upper park… June 14th is still late winter…maybe early spring here. Drove on to see¬†Mt Shasta via hwy 89 and it was amazing to see the glacial peaks reflecting the sunshine from over 75 miles away. It’s a biggen for sure at over 14k feet! Awesome to watch it get bigger and BIGGER… and BIGGER in the windshield as we drove over an hour straight at it.

Due to time…we jumped on the I-5 northbound for the 100 miles left to reach southern Oregon and a delightful lunch in Ashland, at the standing stone brewery ( patio soup,¬†sweet – sweet potato¬†fries¬†& salads) sat out back on their deck…¬†in the perfect sunshine – a cool 72F for the afternoon high…overlooks a super cute college town with an amazing historic and artsy¬†downtown district of upscale shops and eateries and galleries.¬†

Mt Shasta from 30 miles away…

Home to Southern Oregon University it has great green spaces and river walk – lots to do for sure. Jessica decided to transfer from Tennessee Tech to SOU pretty fast… ūüôā Just kidding Tyler !

¬†We drove onto Crater Lake National park after about 2.5 hours of two lane mountain roads the temps had dropped 20 degrees but the sun was still high and bright when we arrived at 4pm. The visitors center on the lake rim was still partially covered in 15-20 feet of snow pack as we’re the sidewalks and parking areas ! Crazy deep snow still for mid-June ! Avg snowfall is over 570 inches a year and the blue color of the lake is the deepest and brightest I’ve ever seen!

¬†The deepest freshwater lake in America(1800 +feet) this unique natural wonder is a “must see” for southern Oregon RoadTrips! Take the road west and east on the rim if they are open… ( the east rim was still closed when we were there due to snow) the elevated 7500-8100 feet views of the surrounding lakes and volcanic peaks of the southern Oregon Cascades are epic in their beauty and panoramic vistas.¬†

Crater Lake NP with Jessica in June !

I think we could actually see Mt Shasta in Northern CA from there. The camera was out and going most of the 3 hours we spent there. Great trails and drives for all ages and stages to enjoy! Would have loved to take a boat tour but they were not running yet due to snow.

 Continued on North to Eugene OR and took Hwy 97 up to Hwy 58 Рwhich wound its way down and across some beautiful valleys and peaks and raging river towns. Slow and winding the road is a perfect way to unwind and open the windows for some fresh air and plenty of pull offs for pictures of the cascades and their treasures of beauty and timeless views.

Eugene was a rest stop for the evening and our Shiloh Inn ( pacific northwest hotel chain) off of I-5 was a great and affordable place to crash and grab some dinner. At $69 per night their rates were excellent as was the clean rooms, free wi-fi and excellent attached local food / diner. Things were quiet and I was fine with that… long day, long drive.

I was amazed at how cold the peaks and passes remained… the lodge at Crater Lake NP was still drifted with 20 feet of snow, roads were still closed and at Lassen Volcanic NP, the two road side lakes were frozen solid in mid-June. Meanwhile… Nashville was melting under 108F heat… I think I like the cold better ūüôā

We crashed in our comfy little room and Jessica and Tyler¬†had their evening¬†Skype session¬†and as they giggled¬†and laughed and generally¬†caught up… well that’s… all I can remember, or will write down here… ¬†ūüôā

Seattle part 2 tomorrow !