Because of where we live, we drive. A lot. Not that we live in a wild remote area, but it is 5 miles to the nearest grocery store and 6 miles in the other direction into town. When my son goes to High School next year, his school will be 13 miles away. That’s a lot of driving, but it hardly qualifies us to live in the Outback. No, what causes much of our driving is our remoteness from Denver and the things we like to do: namely skiing.
Thus, this past weekend, in the middle of the first real winter storm of the season, we were burning pavement to Breckenridge to get a free School of Shred pass for our 11 year old son. “Free,” mind you, is relative after one gases up the car at nearly $3.00 per gallon, eats lunch out, and pays for skating and swimming at the Breck Rec Center. Still, four free days at each of the Vail Resort Mountains is pretty good and we are still money ahead. (For more information on School of Shred, see my post of August 31, “Kids’ Passes: Gettin’ Schooled.”) You see, Vail Resorts is now based in the metro-Denver area and in their wisdom they do not offer the pre-season School of Shred pass on the Western Slope. Hence, we drove past Beaver Creek and drove past Vail to get a pass that we will use at Beaver Creek and Vail. But I digress…
All complaining aside, it was a great day. A super day. Freed from TV, the computer, their individual friends, daily chores and general boredom, our boys read, slept, chatted and laughed together more than I’ve heard since last ski season. You see, we love car trips as a family. Stuck together in a confined space, we have two choices: get along and have fun or be miserable. It really isn’t that hard a choice even for brothers who love to push their parents’ buttons and pick on one another when at home. In the car, it is all about togetherness.
We don’t have a DVD player in our car. On long car trips (such as our every couple of years jaunt to SoCal) we used to try to watch movies on a portable DVD player. Bad idea. It turns out that while our guys can read in the car, they can’t watch in the car and they nearly went through our entire stash of sick sacks.
Instead, when the boys were really young, we discovered a CD label called Rabbit Ears. I don’t even know if they are still in print (in burn?), because they were hard to find even back then except on Amazon and we often bought them used. Rabbit Ears records famous actors telling American and International tall tales, backed by original music from famous musicians. Thus, we heard the story of Aladdin and His Lamp told by John Hurt with music by Mickey Hart. John Henry is read by Denzel Washington with music by BB King.
There are about 45 Rabbit Ears stories and I am completely convinced that because we got into the habit of listening to them in the car when our kids were young, we all like car trips now (and the kids have awesome vocabularies — one thing Rabbit Ears most definitely does not do is dumb the stories down). We don’t listen to many Rabbit Ears CDs any more. Sometimes someone gets sentimental for one story or another and we pop it in, but mostly, now we talk and talk…mostly about skiing.
And so it was on Saturday. As we passed Beaver Creek and Vail, we could see that the ski season truly is upon us. Copper and Breckenridge are looking good too. With each mile through the mountains, we got more and more excited for the upcoming fun. At the top of Vail Pass, I got out to throw a couple of snowballs. There were only two cars in the rest area parking lot: us and a tele-skier, cranking the Dead and putting skins on his skis. We had to talk to him. Turns out that his name is Jeff Cricco and he’s a photographer for Powder and a blogger for Freeskier. In our minds he is also the season’s “first skier.” Jeff and a buddy were heading out to ski the grassy Bowman Short Cut chutes on the first snow of the season, the day before the lifts cranked up at Loveland. Loveland likes to claim that they are “first in the nation.” This year, I think honors go to Jeff and his buddy. Look for his photos in Powder. I’m sure we’ll all be jealous.
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