All week long, we tried to plan a visit to Grouse Mountain, but it kept raining, so we had to go with plan B, bowling:
|Katie and Allyson Playing 5-Pin Bowling|
...and then plan C, the movies. The kids wanted to see the latest Chipmunks movie, Chipwrecked. So Lisa, Bill, and I shamelessly left all the kids with Grandpa and Uncle Trevor while we saw We Bought a Zoo--very wise decision! Lisa and I were crying on each other's shoulders. It was awesome.
On Friday, we finally got a lovely clear day with plenty of snow on the mountain, so we rode the swaying gondola up for a day of snow-shoing. The gondola ride alone was thrilling; each time we crossed a support tower, we swayed wildly against each other (packed in like clowns in a Punch Bug), and everyone breathed, "Ooh!"
Once we'd strapped on our snow shoes--okay, once BILL had strapped on our snow shoes, we set out for a brief hike through the snow.
|Bill's Sister Lisa, Mom, Me (The Big Red Mummy)|
|Gentle and Me at the Start of Our Adventure|
"It's a bit different walking in minus-two degree weather in the snow, isn't it?" Bill asked, reading my mind.
The next memory that resurfaced was the last time we'd gone snow-shoing, when Allyson was just six months old:
"I can't believe you hiked up the mountain with her strapped to your body," I said to Bill. "Good thing she can climb by herself now!"
...until the path got really, really steep and she began to whine. Good thing we opted against the Grouse Grind [a 10-kilometer trail straight up the mountain], I thought.
Grind or no Grind, Bill heaved Allyson onto his back and piggy-backed her up the next two slopes, her snow shoes jutting out on each side of his waist. About halfway up the second hill, he noticed the trail marker. "SSG? Isn't that the Snow Snoe Grind?" he asked. "We must have taken a wrong turn."
It was all coming together now, but I didn't say anything because I was breathing too hard. He explained our error to Lisa and told her we were going to head back down to the lodge.
She looked at Ethan and her two boys, Kurtis and Travis, and said, "I think we'll keep going. Just a half hour more, and then we'll turn around."
"Are you sure?" I asked, eying my mostly sedentary teenager. "It's really steep."
"Sure, we can do it," she said, and the boys all nodded their approval.
Thinking of how the boys had been sliding and tumbling down every slope we came to, and even jumping off of ledges, I shuddered.
|Kurtis on a Ledge They All Jumped Off|
"Shh," Bill said. "They'll be fine."
So they went on while Bill and I headed back down with Mom, Katie, and Allyson--who insisted on riding Daddy's back down the mountain too.
I forgot my worries when my tummy started rumbling. Back at the lodge, the main dining area was full, so they sent us up to the fancy dining room with the white tablecloths and the $100 plates (and the $100 view). We sheepishly unpacked our Wal-Mart bag of turkey sandwiches, brownies, and Christmas oranges, which Allyson discovered that she loves(!). We'd almost finished when a waiter kindly asked us to move as they needed the room for an event--a wedding, apparently. We later saw the bride and groom ice skating on the pond:
|Can You Spot the Bride?|
|Me and My Sweetheart|
|Lisa, Travis, Ethan, Kurtis|
"An apple," Travis replied.
And my second favorite part of the day was basking in the warmth of my tush on Lisa's heated carseat while we caught up on a year's worth of visiting.
My gratitude list just gets longer and longer.