Tag Archives: travel

Wisconsin Family Trip

For our last family hurrah of the summer we packed our suitcases, headed to the airport and flew east to Wisconsin to spend time with Alex’s family and some long-time friends.

Our trip took us to Lake Delavan, located in the southern part of the state, where Alex’s parents have a condo. This visit was long overdue and we were thrilled to finally introduce Hannah to her extended family and meet our new nephew, Marco.

Taking two toddlers on a plane is no small feat. We expected chaos. We expected screaming. We expected a very frustrated Hannah, not being old enough to understand just why she was trapped in a metal tube flying in the air for more than 4 hours. We did not expect harmony or peace or frankly much enjoyment from her at all. But! Enjoyment and harmony is what we got!

We knew Ben would be just fine but we didn’t expect Hannah to be, too! Hannah is obsessed with airplanes flying in the sky – I honestly didn’t think that interest would carry over into actually flying in an airplane. She was giddy with excitement with all the people in the airport, standing in front of the big windows watching the planes and then once we boarded the plane she connected all of the dots and realized she’d get to fly, too!

She did so, so well – on both flights, even. It really was a dream scenario. I hardly had to pull out any of the toys and activities I brought for either kid. Our flight {to Wisconsin especially} actually ended up being a highlight of our trip.

Enough about our travel day!

While we were on the ground in Wisconsin we filled our days with family. We so enjoyed a big family gathering with Alex’s relatives. It was fun to meet some of his cousins I hadn’t met yet, see how many great grandchildren Nana has {a lot! and probably only half of them were there!} and catch up with his aunts and their family friends, The Baileys. I loved sneaking away to go for a run with Alex’s uncle, a marathoner, and I even got to spend time with one of my college roommates, Julie, and her family too.

One of the major highlights of the trip for us, and one of the biggest reasons for taking the trip, was spending time with Nico and Marco, Alex’s and my nephews. Nico is 2 1/2 and Marco was 3 weeks old when we were there.

Ben and Nico got along famously. It was the sweetest thing watching the two of them pal around. It fills my heart with forward-looking joy and anticipation of the cousin love that’s starting to form.

We absolutely loved the time with the kids.

Another big highlight of the trip was when Alex and Alina took the littlest ones {Marco and Hannah} to visit Nana one afternoon. It was so special for them to have that time together.

The weather wasn’t really working in our favor for much of the trip. We had a few nice days but it was so windy! I really couldn’t believe it. It was too windy and cool to comfortably boat or go to the pool most days. Thankfully Grammy and Papa were well-prepared for us and had stocked the condo full of toddler toys and they acquired quite the slew of toddler vehicles for the kids to roll around in.

Alex and I had planned to spend one night in Chicago while we were there. We took the train into the city and made it just in time to have lunch and see a Cubs baseball game with some of Alex’s long-time friends. I had never been to Wrigley Field before and he was eager to show me around.

We loved staying in the Wicker Park neighborhood and had a really nice, leisurely morning being tourists. We found a great brunch spot and just enjoyed adulting and taking a really long walk through a fun urban neighborhood.

One of the highlights for me was early morning cuddles with Hannah. We’re probably still paying for this a bit now, but when she’d wake up early in the morning I didn’t want her to rouse the whole house so I just brought her into bed with us. It’s not something we really ever do so I was happy to “break the rules” a bit. It was very special time with my girl.

Our trip quickly came to an end after we returned from Chicago. We were lucky that Grammy and Papa had planned a trip of their own to come to Seattle the following week, so that made saying goodbye a little easier. Until next time!

Cat Skiing Rossland, BC

While Ali and her dad were off skiing Whistler, my friend Patrick and I packed up and headed North as well. We were aiming for Rossland, BC a town just across the Canadian border. We chose Rossland for its proximity to Washington as well as its access to several resorts and (more importantly) several Cat Skiing operations.

What is Cat Skiing you ask? Well, imagine a giant snowmobile with a box on the back that can fit you, two guides, and 10 of your closest friends (or strangers, in our case). These cats can access great skiing far from anyone else, and we had our fingers crossed that conditions would be good.

This is the cat - a magic box that takes you into great terrain.

This is the cat – a magic box that takes you into great terrain.

We arrived in Rossland on a Saturday and things did not look great. It was warm, raining, and the locals were wandering around the quaint little ski town rather than up at the mountain skiing. Still, we woke up Sunday morning and headed up to Red Mountain Resort for some skiing. Unfortunately conditions were not great. Lets just say Patrick and I usually avoid groomed ski runs, and on Sunday we were seeking them out. Still, there was snow in the forecast so we again went to bed with visions of powder skiing in our heads.

Monday morning Patrick and I woke up and headed up to another resort nearby, called Whitewater. We didn’t know much about Whitewater other than the tree skiing was good, but rumor had it that they got some good snow Sunday night. This turned out to be more than true. When we arrived at around 11 AM, we were greeting with no lift lines, lots of new snow, and the best tree skiing I’ve ever experienced. The runs were mostly open glades, with the spaces between the trees filled with nice light powder snow.

Patrick in the trees, wondering where everyone else is.

Patrick in the trees, wondering where everyone else is.

With tired legs and faces sore from smiling, we prepped for our first day of Cat Skiing at Valhalla Powder Cats.


The Valhalla office, complete with transportation.

The Valhalla office, complete with ski bum transportation.

Having never been Cat Skiing before, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I was prepared for a hard day of skiing as I knew it had snowed a lot more overnight and that Valhalla had a reputation for excellent terrain – it seems to be the choice of pro skiers. I was a little intimidated, but luckily we were set for another excellent day of skiing.

Our guide, showing us the ropes before we drop in.

Our guide, showing us the ropes before we drop in.

Our day started with an avalanche briefing and a long bus ride up to Valhalla Pass. Once there, we did some rescue drills and loaded up into the cat for our first run. After a few turns all concerns about being over my head were replaced with the feeling one gets when they are over their head in powder. Turns were deep, terrain was great, and our guide kept us moving and safe all day. Needless to say, it was excellent.

The face of a man who just skied untouched powder and is about to do it again.

The face of a man who just skied untouched powder and is about to do it again.

It snowed hard all day, and everyone in our group was having a blast. We ended up being paired with a group of German tourists who came to BC specifically for powder skiing. I think they timed it quite well. We slowly developed into a rhythm – ski one at a time up top with a buddy keeping an eye on you. Once out of the steep terrain, we would dip into trees together (again, keeping an eye on each other) and find our way down to a road where the cat would be waiting to pick us up and do it all over again. The guides were constantly re-assessing conditions and safety and making changes to the plan along the way. From top to bottom we skiing untouched powder in great steep terrain.

Loading up for another run.

Loading up for another run.

At the end of the day we had developed a great group and tired legs. Luckily, we had another day of Cat Skiing ahead of us the very next day. Even more luckily, we realized that even though we were going with a different company we would actually spend the day skiing with the German group as well as our guide from Valhalla.

Day two - tired legs but big smiles.

Day two – tired legs but big smiles (and the sun even came out).

Day two found us at Big Red Cats, a different cat operation with the same group and same guide. The day progressed mostly the same – meet at the office, load up into a bus, load up a cat, safety briefing, and then of course powder skiing.

Resting the legs after skiing powder for 3 days straight.

Resting the legs after skiing powder for 3 days straight.

We once again found excellent conditions, great terrain, and a really fun day. The sun even came out for a bit, allowing us to get a sense of what we were skiing and the vastness of the terrain. Its hard to complain when you have a large section of a mountain range to yourself and the snow is soft, but by the end we were definitely feeling our tired legs.

Rossland BC-8

Looking up at our tracks coming out of the forest.

Unfortunately all good things must come to an end. As this was the last Cat Skiing day, I took the next day off to rest up my legs so they could be fresh for Friday’s attempt to ski Red Mountain in better conditions.

Our group on day two. Tired and happy.

Our group on day two. Tired and happy.

While there wasn’t much new snow Friday, the sun did come out allowing us to ski Red Mountain in Spring-like conditions. It also gave us a chance to glance at their abundant (and steep!) terrain. We scoped out a few named in-bound runs that would put Jackson Hole to shame. Needless to say, I will be back.

Enjoying the view at Red Mountain.

Enjoying the view at Red Mountain.

After a hard week of skiing, the only thing left to do was head to our favorite ski town bar and drink a few beers to celebrate. We packed up the car Saturday morning and hit the road just as the rain came back. Somehow we managed to time this trip just right. Given the terrain, the snow, and the fun we had I can’t help but think we will need to make this trip something of a tradition.