The Christmas season is a busy time for the company I work for. I don't want this to shut down my family's skiing habit completely so this is something I have to think about when I head for the mountains. Spending hours and hours in an area with sketchy or nonexistent cell coverage, even on the weekend, puts me at risk of seriously letting my customers down. Luckily we live a little over two hours from Windham Mountain which has a big, powerful cell tower lright on the peak. In my book this makes Windham the number one choice for New York skiers who want to play hooky from work. So that's where I headed on Sunday with my normal crew in tow (my two sons).
We got there pretty early- not first chair early but close. As we booted up, I noticed something odd. We were surrounded by Santas... tons and tons of Santas. Windham, we learned from one of the men in red, was offering free lift tickets to anybody who dressed as Santa and donated to a local food bank. Pretty cool idea... and makes for an amusing spectacle as well.
Windham advertised nine trails open. For practical purposes this added up to three different ways down from the peak and some easier terrain off a triple chair, lower on the mountain. It was still early season skiing for sure but the mountain did a good job covering what they had open and with a fresh coating of natural snow from the day before, it skied nice. We alternated between the two lifts and the few runs open to maximize our fun but we wanted more. Variety, though, wasn't in the cards. We would have to make our own fun.
Our standby in this situation is to find someplace to have a race. We established our ground rules and handicaps (the eleven year old got a head start) and I made sure they understood any physical contact with a bystander would constitute a D.Q. (It was a little too crowded for racing really). We did five or six runs off the triple and we all had a few wins before getting bored again. My kids wanted to do some top-bottom runs to determine the championship but my parental conscience finally kicked in and I told them that wouldn't be safe.
Instead we designated successive mini-races, determining our finish lines as we went. First up was a scramble from the lift ramp down to the first turn. I thought I had it in the bag but only beat junior by a hair. This turned out to be a blast. We raced each other around the mountain most of the afternoon. When we finally ran out of race-ideas I spotted a Santa down below us and declared the first to catch up to him was the winner. The boys loved it. The next time we got to that spot on the mountain there weren't any Santas visible so I made it a scavenger hunt instead. The fist to find a Santa won, we decided. Junior thought he had it in the bag when he got out ahead of us on the way back to the base area but my younger son used his brain, pulled up at an intersection I blew past and spotted a Santa coming down the trail from above. Brilliant kid.