It’s February, which means… wait, what? The kids have two weeks off? Again?
…game face on…
Nothing says, “I am excited to spend two weeks with my children” like kicking off the two weeks in question with a 13-hour drive to Austria! Away!
Ziggy went to stay with his Uncle Paul for a week of pampering and delight to the extent that he probably considers it animal cruelty to come back to our place, but we were happy, he was happy, and Paul said he was happy, so… we go.
The drive was quite nice, considering. We took the Tunnel Shuttle (drive on to an industrial transport-y traincar, sit there for 45 minutes while you are zoomed through a tunnel under the English Channel, drive off in France), then drove through France on large toll highways. We slept in Nancy, then drove off through Switzerland, and finally to Austria. We saw lots of snow (mostly flakes, as it was almost blizzarding), mountains, some old ruins set high up in the hills, and discovered the very European joy of driving through tunnels that run through mountains. We ate at exotic places like — and forgive me if I spell this wrong — McDonald’s. And that was Friday and Saturday.
Sunday was spent exploring the tiny-yet-extremely-steep town of Pettneu. We took the skibus to St. Jakob to sign the kids up for skischule, organized our rentals, then went swimming at the wellness centre at the end of our street. A good day of planning and exercise was had by all!
We carried our gear up the street to the skibus (so we were already exhausted by the time we got to the skibus). The kids did skischule from Monday to Wednesday: two hours in the morning, one hour lunch break, then two more hours in the afternoon. After the first day, when I raced frantically down the mountain to pick up Tamsin in time for lunch (and then shared her 13-euro noodles with sauce and a glass of milk), and Chris raced frantically up the mountain to pick up the older kinderHuffs in time for lunch (crowded lodge, had to eat sitting on the floor), we decided that for an extra few euros a day, we could enjoy ourselves more by abandoning our children to eat lunch with their friends while we, well, enjoyed ourselves.
|Tamsin (ein kleine kinderHuff) and I, all ready to shush down the hills!|
And away we went!
On the way up the hill in the gondola, a woman had asked me how long I’d been snowboarding. “Ten years,” I replied, not knowing how else to reply. Ten years ago, I took six weeks of lessons! And the seventh week, I went snowboarding with Chris and Knowlton! And I haven’t done it since!
So… yeah. Ouch. And whimper. And pow, splat, and snif. Every muscle (go ahead, test me on my musculo-skeletal anatomy – IT WAS LITERALLY EVERY MUSCLE) was sore by the time we got off the hill the first night. The second night was even worse. Worse than that, though, were the overwhelming emotions of being not very good at something while being terrified of hurting myself and/or dying and the kinderHuffs having to grow up without a mother, while feeling extremely guilty that Chris wasn’t getting to enjoy his snowboard vacation because he was sitting in the snow for 4 minutes every 20 feet, waiting for me to get back up. Add, as well, the panic of not getting down the mountain in time to pick up Tamsin for lunch… and the embarrassment of all this on Hoppelweg, the bunny hill. Classes of tiny European children snowplowed by me, over and over.
|Snowplow: check. The kinderHuffs can SKI.|
|The girls prepare to show me what they’ve learned.|
We (the elders) took Wednesday “off”, taking the kids on the skibus, then having second breakfast, reading for a while, then going for a lovely-in-theory Valentine’s Day Anniversary Run in the snow! Apparently, a 4000-foot elevation change affects how hard you work. But anyway, it was nice.
|Happy Huffs, at Gampen (midpoint of mountain).|
Thursday and Friday, I swapped the Snowboard of Death for Skis of Relative Competence, and acted as Tamsin’s personal assistant/ski instructor. By the Thursday afternoon, she could use the button lift by herself, and while Chris took the big kids up to the summit one at a time, we happily stuck to the beginner routes. On Friday, it was warm and wet, and we made it to lunchtime before calling it a week.
One last apres-ski, one last feast with Sue and Liam (who joined us on the Wednesday), and that was it. We packed up the car, and drove the two days to come home.
- although snowboarding is super hard and maybe I should stick with skiing, or at least take another lesson or two, I am apparently unbeatable at Ticket to Ride
- long road trips with kids aren’t as bad as you’re afraid they will be
- books on tape save lives
- unlike in Canada, here you can see (drive through?) three countries in a day
- sometimes it’s worth extra euros to drive on toll roads, especially when the weather is terrible
- sometimes it’s worth extra time to drive over the mountains and through beautiful valleys
- nussschnecke is even more amazing as a food than it is as a word
|Apres-ski in St. Anton, with Sue and Liam. Bier, gluhwein, Heiße Schokolade…danke schoen!|