Saturday, January 14, 2017

Kids' First Ski Lessons

This winter, our kids have started expressing an interest in learning how to ski. Their school has a ski bus program, but we didn't get our proverbial ducks in a row in time to get our kids equipped in time, nor did we know if they would enjoy skiing, considering they had never gone before. We decided to punt on the ski bus for this year, but didn't want to squash their interest in skiing. So, we arranged for the kids to take a 1-day lesson at Snoqualmie, just to give it a try and get a feeling for how much they enjoyed this new sport.

Needless to say, they loved it!! Both kids' instructors were marvelous. They had the patience of Job and were great at teaching the kids in a way the kids were able to (a) understand and (b) enjoy. Kudos to the program for hiring such good personnel!

The only snag of the day was the gear pick up. We were instructed to arrive 30 minutes ahead of time to pick up gear. It was true mayhem in the gear shop. We got there 50 minutes ahead of time and the kids still got to their classes late ... and there were a bunch of people in line behind us at the gear shop. I'm not sure if they shop was understaffed, but whatever the cause, it was nuts.

We could not have asked for a more perfect day for going to the mountains. It was cold (15 degrees F, but felt like 4 degrees with windchill) with clear blue skies and no precipitation whatsoever. Correction, there were little "glittery" snowflakes, but I think that was just the wind kicking up the snow, not falling snow.

The kids started out learning how to put on their skis and then moved on to learning how to maneuver on a single ski. Eventually, they donned both skis and ventured onto some gentle slopes. Part of Annika's class (the part that was clicking with skiing, including Annika) moved up to the "Magic Carpet" (think moving sidewalk up a slope) to try longer runs.  Conor's class didn't make it to the Magic Carpet, but he did try it out after class was over.

Before we knew it, the 2.5 hours of lessons were up and the kids were itching to keep skiing. (Good sign!) We decided that lunch was a wise choice, so we ate lunch (with about a billion of our closest skiing friends) in one of the restaurants and then headed back out into the cold for some more snow fun.

The kids went on some hills they could climb up, as well as the slope associated with the Magic Carpet. After about another 30-45 minutes of skiing, they decided they were completely wiped out and ready to call it a day. I don't blame them!! They worked really hard all morning long.

On our way home, they declared that skiing is awesome and were already asking when they can go back. Looks like I might be spending more time up at the pass than I have in a long time! Totally worth it ... maybe next time, I'll actually get some reading done (or not ... let's see if the weather cooperates with photography). :)


Monday, January 2, 2017

Tubing Adventure 2016

For the past few years, we've collected our snow gear, packed up the troops, and gone up to Snoqualmie Pass to play in the snow and go tubing. This year, we incorporated our trip to the mountains as part of our Christmas vacation ... perfect timing, if you ask us!

The tubing area at Snoqualmie is great and this year was no exception. The snow was ideal, there was no wind, and we had great visibility. We expected snow to fall on us because of the dark, heavy clouds that loomed above us, but we didn't see any precipitation at all. (We heard people who went up later in the day got soaked with rain, so we're feeling really fortunate that we went when we did!)

As soon as we arrived, we got checked in, grabbed our tubes, and hit the hill with verve and gusto. When we got to the bottom after our first run, we realized that the rope tow we were so used to had been replaced by a covered escalator. How fancy!! 

We went up and down (and up and down ... and up and down) the hill for the entire two hours that our tickets were valid for. By the end, the kids were pretty pooped and ready to call it a day. Fortunately, other people called it quits sooner than we did, so the line for the escalator up the hill grew shorter as time progressed.

After our last run, we stacked our tubes and headed back to the car. We stripped off our wet boots, hats, scarves, and gloves; gulped down water (we planned ahead for once!); and plotted out where to stop for lunch. The closest non-summit place to grab food is North Bend, so we happily stopped there for some burgers before heading the rest of the way home. We also made a quick pit stop for some Starbucks for the grown ups ... we were cold and tired. Coffee = good! :)

All geared up - bring on the slopes!

Annika ready for her first run of the day

Conor wants me to point out it is really hard to smile while wearing goggles

Me getting ready for another run

Pre-launch planning conference

Eric about to re-conquer the hill

Bye, Conor!

Happy tuber

Inside the covered escalator

She looks happy to sit here and get her picture taken, but she was just
being kind to her old mother ... she really wanted to head down the hill again (at top speed!)

Annika agrees with Conor -- smiling while wearing goggles is no small task

The Olson Four

Have fun, Annika! See you at the bottom of the hill!

Our view for the day

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Wild Lights 2016

For the past few years, we've visited the Woodland Park Zoo's Wild Lights exhibit with our friends Dave and Anne. We attempted to go a few days before Christmas, but a fire at the zoo made us come up with a Plan B for visiting the zoo. We were able to reschedule for a couple of days after Christmas and, lucky us, the weather was incredibly cooperative!

We started our evening at Zeek's Pizza for some tasty pizza (duh!). The kids were thrilled with the menu and we adults appreciate that it is good pizza! The other plus of Zeeks is it is down the block from the zoo, so we could park once for both dinner and the lights display. Win!!

After filling up on pizza, we trekked across the north lawn of the zoo and entered a wonderland of lights and fun. Each year, the zoo expands the display and this year was no different. We had such fun finding our favorite lights from years past and discovering the new things this year.

We are grateful for the time together and the beautiful lights ... and the fact we didn't get rained on! :D

The dads and the kiddos

Gorilla family

Friends since birth
Go Hawks!

The watering hole

Annika, Eric, and Conor in the butterfly house

Dave and Anne

Hummingbird getting dinner 
Colorful peacock

The three amigos