Pushing Snow

 

 DaveFaux_PushinSnow2

 The sun was setting in Los Angeles with maybe another thirty minutes to see the palm trees’ silhouettes through the tinted glass of my town car. Over the past few days, I had two major meetings, presented a lecture once to students and once to professionals, and led a group consultation. The meetings, in particular, were a sweet blizzard of lofty opportunities, all of which might be utter illusion. Now I was on my way to a red-eye flight back to JFK. All the discussions, consultations, and promises had taken their toll on my blunt, East-coast sensibilities.

Thankfully, before California I packed the Deuter Cruise 30 backpack and it could fit everything: change of clothes, ski pants, some leisure reading, my incredibly un-hip lobster gloves . . . So, after the flight, I took a long shower, awoke Wife and The Little One (“TLO”), and shoveled everybody with our luggage into the car. We left Queens and went straight across New Jersey for Mountain Creek. Everybody was still exhausted and we missed a few exits, with a drive totaling a little over two hours.

Once we checked into the Minerals Resort Spa, my energy was up again. It had been over a decade since I had hit any slopes, and this would be TLO’s first ski lesson, her first experience actually doing a winter sport. While Wife went to the spa, I took TLO to her lesson and re-assessed my legs on Sugar Slope, Mountain Creek’s easiest.

DaveFaux_PushinSnow3

 As a holiday weekend, the proportion of wait time at the chairlift (5-10 minutes) to time actually moving downhill (a minute?) was not very good. Additionally, I had to dodge the slow, timid, and immobile, leaving time for only two runs on the Sugar Slope and one from the top of Vernon Peak (Upper Horizon, feeding into Lower Horizon). Even from the top of the mountain, though, all the powder was on the side, the ongoing crunch of ice scraping on skis pervasive on every mountain throughout our time there. But, I still assert reasonability in hoping the trails from the peak would be better than Sugar. After all, like any other ski resort, Mountain Creek has its own version of a sweet, illusory blizzard: 1,000 snow guns.

But my legs felt good and my little girl had a good time at her lesson. Wife was relaxed and dinner at the resort restaurant was convenient and kid-friendly.

The next day, TLO had an early private lesson during which Wife and I went to the Sugar, after which we tried a plan where Wife would stay with TLO for supplemental skiing instruction while I went to the top of the mountain for a run; then I would give instruction to TLO while Wife went for a run. What could possibly go wrong?

In short, when I returned, everybody was crying. Wife was saying, “She’s not listening to me!” and TLO would shout, “Mommy’s being mean!” So we opted to take TLO on her first chairlift ride up Sugar. And this was probably the most beautiful part of the trip: everybody was happy, we were away from the chaos of the holiday crowd, and the waxing moon claimed the cloudless, pale blue sky.

DaveFaux_PushinSnow1Our descent was...laborious, as the lessons had not completely taken and TLO was having trouble moving her skis from “French fries” to “pizza slice.” It was certainly the last run of the day and we all went back to the hotel. My family relaxed on the bed and Wife talked of going to the well-heated outdoor pool. My self-delusion of a ski weekend was exposed, embodied by a wasted lift ticket, hanging pristinely from my coat—until Wife said, “Why don’t you just go back to the mountain. We’ll be fine.”

What joy! I spent the next several hours making sure that I hit every intermediate slope at the resort: Great Northern, Fox Tail, Garden State, etc. I even went on the free-style trails on South Peak, but felt like I was intruding on the fun of the snowboarders, so headed back to the traditional slopes. It was a great time, including some tracts where I was alone with a thin layer of snow, the trees, and the moon. I could coast with arms at my side or arms stretched up to the air.

 

Afterward, I showered, we picked up some food from China Star—some of the best Chinese food I’ve had. Wife and I watched “Life of Pi” while TLO slept deep enough to qualify as a micro-hibernation.

Mountain Creek is perfect for bringing a toddler to learn how to ski, or a spouse who needs to regain her legs. It is not as pricey as a resort in Vermont, Colorado, or (my favorite) Sun Valley. But in the larger scheme of resorts, it’s clunky and I was surprised to learn that they were opened year-round. The frustration I found on some Internet reviews seemed warranted. Ultimately, it’s skiing in New Jersey: a good family getaway and a welcome break from my usually illusory blizzards.

–Dave Faux (Family Ambassador).

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