Sunday, December 26, 2010

Our 7th Ski Trip to Taos Ski Valley

Last week, we went skiing at Taos Ski Valley for the 7th time in 7 years! Due to dry weather and relative high temperature there, we nearly changed our plan. Fortunately two days before our scheduled departure time, a winter storm brought a foot of snow to Taos. We were also fortunately to have another family to go skiing with us.

On the Road

The 700 mile drive takes long time, but it is actually always a good twosome time for Lily and I. As Kids were quietly watching a movie, we had time to talk about topics other than kids' education and discipline, such as tax cut, health care reform, "dream" act, ...; we also spent time talking about our work, long term career plannings and expectations, exchange or re-exchange research philosophy, personnel management, team building ...

In this trip, for the first time, Justin actually stopped watching movie, stopped listening to MP4, he listened to our conversation with great interest for extended period of time.

In between movies, we sometimes play traffic related math games, other times we play Whiz Quiz type questions and answers. When we were tired of talking, watching and playing, we dosed off, of course except the driver.

The long trip was not boring at all, and it was not tiring either since Lily and I shared the driving responsibility.

On the Slopes

It was snowing in the mountains as we reached the ski resort for the first day. We all started at the novice slope to warm up. After a few runs, we headed into the mountains. Justin went alone - the rest of the family was too slow for him now; I escorted Lily and Nick. The puffy snow covered trails really helped to build up their confidence in their skiing skills. One run after White Feather ( a green trail), Nick wanted to go on to Porcupine ( a blue trail). I was worried about Lily on White Feather on her own, but she was confident that she could handle it. It was a pleasure to see Nick zigzagging down Porcupine with confidence, it was a even bigger pleasure to see Lily catching up with us at the trail intersection. Due to low visibility, we quit skiing by 3:30pm, but we had already made 5 runs. Justin skied until the last lift, made 8 runs.

The next day was warmer, windy and the cloud broke up from time to time, revealing the crystal blue sky above the mountains and letting in flashes of sunshine. We went to the slope early to catch the freshly groomed trails. We took lift #1, skied down White Feather a bit to lift #2, which took us to the top of the front side mountain. The view from top, ~ 11800ft elevation, was magnificent and beautiful under the sunny blue sky. The easiest way down was Bambi, a blue trail. It was Lily's first run on a blue trail. Nick was in the front leading the way, Lily in the middle, I was in the back so I could easily help them when they fell. We got to the base in 20 minutes or so, not bad at all. We went to pick up Michelle, the daughter of our friends,as planed, for her first run in the mountains. She was nowhere to be found. We went up to the mountains skiing and stayed there using lifts 2 and 8 alternately to avoid the crowds at the base, until lunch time.

It turned out that Michelle and family met her friend Celine and family. Michelle skied with them, and Justin skied with Harvey, Celine's older brother. By the end of the day we enjoyed all opened trails!

The third and last day Michelle skied with us in the morning in the mountains, her parents took ski school. Justin went alone until Harvey arrived. After lunch, Celine and parents, Nick and parents plus Michelle went up together, Justin and Harvey went their separate way.

The two girls, Celine and Michelle, and Nick really got along real well. They were considerate to each during downhill skiing, they had fun playing snow during break, later they rode the lift together not allowing any parents sitting with them. It was a plesant sight: the three of them on a white slope, one after another, in their colorful outfits. They also energized each other: Nick and the girls went up the slope one more time as the 4pm closing time was approaching. He had way more runs than he had ever had before. Justin and Harvey had great time skiing together as well. Even more amazingly, they talked to each other in French since both of them took French class in high school.

After a day at ski school, Michelle's parents skied down White Feather on their own during the last run of the day! I was really pleased to see them enjoy skiing and succeed in keeping up with their daughter on the slopes.

That night, the three families had dinner together at Song's Asian Restaurant at Taos. All 11of us had great time despite relative long wait for the table and food.

Side Trips

Due to the long distance from DFW to Taos, we took side trips from time to time to make the most out of the trip. We have been to Albuquerque to visit friends from our graduate school time, and many other places for sightseeing, including Santa Fe, Banderlier National Monument, Las Alamos National Lab, Palo Dura Canyon State Park, Petroglyph National Monument and Pecos National Historic Park.

This time we went to Rio Grande Gorge Bridge right outside Taos, and we stopped at Trader Joe's at Santa Fe. Michelle and family went to White Sand National Monument in southern New Mexico.

Concluding Notes

Some people were amazed that we could go to the same place skiing so many times. For us, every trip to Taos is different, from dramas on the road, to our improving skiing skills, to different companies we have had, to choices of slopes, to the ever changing magnificent and beautiful mountains at Taos Ski Valley. Even with so-so snow conditions this year, we had a wonderful time there.

We will visit other great mountains for skiing in the future. Even then, I am sure we will go back to Taos Ski Valley from time to time because of its enchantment, its closeness to Texas, our familiarity with it and our fond memories skiing there - We are enchanted.

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