Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Adventures in a Winter Wonderland

We're back from our annual Christmas visit to Vancouver, and I wish you had time to hear about all our adventures. For now, I'll just tell the story of my favorite day and also throw in a few other pictures...

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)
As the cold bit into my cheeks and froze my fingertips, despite two pairs of gloves, I was reminded of the bitter cold on morning one of my 3-Day Walk. I wished I would have brought along Bill's ridiculous hat with ear flaps, which I'd worn that day:
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!"

 Yep, she was having a blast with her cousins...

...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
"You do realize we have no healthcare coverage in Canada?" I said.

"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?
After our lunch, we took a few pictures of the amazing sunset, which I added to my mental list of things to be thankful for:
Me and My Sweetheart
Meanwhile, Lisa and the boys were nowhere in sight, and Mom actually went to Search and Rescue to call them. Turns out they couldn't resist hiking all the way to the peak!
Lisa, Travis, Ethan, Kurtis
 Along the way, they found some giant icicles:
 One had fallen, and they dug it out of the snow. Lisa carried that 20-pound hunk of ice all the way back down! And then Travis insisted on taking it home. It was quite a conversation piece. While we were waiting for our sleigh ride, Travis dropped an apple into what looked like the bowl of his giant ice spoon. "What have you got there?" an attendant asked.

"An apple," Travis replied.

Sleigh Ride
My favorite part of the day was the glow of pride I felt for Ethan. I think neither of us realized he could sink his metal boot tips into that ice and trudge all the way to the summit.

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.


Gen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Victor S E Moubarak said...

I'm so glad you had a great time.

God bless.


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