We were so close. My two-year-old, Rey, had been on skis since he could walk. Granted, at first I was carrying him a few yards up the very gentle slope near the magic carpet, setting him on the snow with his skis pointed downhill and then running down in front of him as soon as I let him go. He kept his skis together and giggled while gravity took over and did the work. By February of 2020, he was just starting to find the muscles to manipulate his skis and take control. I was certain he’d have his snowplow figured out, if not mastered, before the snow was gone.
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Then the pandemic shut down the world and we couldn’t get on snow again that season. We didn’t know what the next one would look like either. The following summer, Rey would call up from his car seat and say “Hey Dad, look: snowplow!” He had his feet up on the back of my driver’s seat with his toes pointed in the wedge. His older sister, Rosie (6 at the time), was showing him how to place his feet as they talked about skiing during seasons to come. My heart was encouraged by this off-season dreaming.
Finally, the 2020-’21 ski season arrived, albeit with a number of restrictions we all had to get used to, and sure enough, after all that talk of skiing over the summer, it took Rey all of two visits to our local hill for him to stop on command and soon he was practically linking turns. Now, I needed the magic carpet to open up to save me from carrying him up the hill.
With pandemic restrictions loosening and the kids comfortable on their skis, it was time to go on a family ski vacation to get out of town. We booked an Airbnb in Park City and drove out from Colorado. It may seem silly with so much great skiing in our home state, but a change of scenery sounded really nice after being homebound for so long.
And just like that, all four of us were riding Park City’s First Time Lift together—something that seemed fairly unlikely a year earlier. We met up with some local friends and did a few laps to get the kids (mostly Rey) warmed up and then popped over to the Crescent high-speed quad to explore more of the mountain. Rosie was pretty patient with her brother on the lower slopes, but once our friends’ kids showed her the Blaster run through the trees with sculptures of monsters made of scrap metal along the way, she was ready to go at her own speed.
That was a long run for Rey. My wife, Jordan, skied patiently with him while Rosie and I ducked into the trees. Rey took his time making turns. By the time we made it back to the parking lot we were ready to drive back to the house for lunch and a nap.
That afternoon, Jordan and Rosie took the car and went ice skating. Rey and I took the free bus back to the slopes. He loved the bus and could have ridden it all day if it weren’t for the enticement of getting on the Quicksilver Gondola. He’d spotted it on the trail map attached to the safety bar when we rode the chairlift that morning.
The next day we drove around to Canyons only to find more gondolas to Rey’s delight. The day was overcast, a perfect contrast to the bluebird day before, and it even started to snow (always on my last day skiing somewhere). We cruised a few exploratory laps as a family—Rosie led us into some trees and her drive encouraged Rey to give them a try as well. He loved it. Then we split up again, Rey with mom on the gondola down to lunch while Rosie and I got some father-daughter time as we skied down to meet them.
Between the snow falling, Rey’s goofy grin peeking out from under his goggles, and Rosie perfecting her parallel turns, this trip was just what we needed—online learning be damned. We had lots of family time in our Yukon getting to and from Utah, skiing together as a family and building memories, and each parent pairing off to ski and play with each of the kids. The only thing missing was a night out without the kids. Next time, for sure.
Family Guide to Park City
While ski-in/ski-out, or even base village accommodations, are (usually) the easiest lodgings for families on a ski vacation, Park City’s free bus system is easy to use and we found a great vacation rental right on the bus line. The other beauty of a vacation rental is having a kitchen—that means not having to deal with squirmy kids at a restaurant for every meal. But to take a break from cooking and have a fun night out with the fam, check out Deer Vally’s Fireside Dining experience at the Empire Canyon Lodge. Book a horse-drawn sleigh ride before dinner to wow the littles. Be sure to visit the new Woodward Park City while you’re in town. The facility’s 66,000-square-foot Indoor Sports Hub is a kid’s dream, with skate parks, foam pits, a parkour zone, and Olympic-grade trampolines.
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