We were just boys. I don’t know, maybe 10, 12, I’m not exactly sure, my memory is a bit foggy.
What I do remember is that for a few years there, we went skiing every winter. Being a dad and a grown man now, I’m not sure how they pulled it off, but the dads would drive through the night and we’d ski the next day.
Sometimes it was a church youth group thing, sometimes just good friends and families.
But we’d load up in vans and make the trek across Kansas, past the Welcome to Colorful Colorado sign, through a lot more terrain that looked like Kansas but was actually Colorado, and then we’d catch the first glimpse of the snow-capped ridges.
I don’t remember anything much more exciting than that when I was younger. The anticipation, the promise of what awaited, the adventures that were waiting to be had.
I loved skiing. But after college, life happened.
And all of a sudden, 15 years went by without making the awkward walk in ski boots through a crowded lodge or the desperate race to the spot where the ski lift scoops you up while you just hope you don’t bite it.
Brooke and I skied one day last winter with some good friends.
Then this year, we finally got our five kids to the mountains when they were covered in snow. We were joining two other families, good friends of ours. Like my parents did back in the day.
And as life would have it, one of those boys I used to follow through tree trails and off big jumps with was one of the other dads now on this trip for the next generation. With a wife and kids of his own.
6 adults, 13 kids. 3 days of skiing. 4 nights of hot-tubs, card games, whiskey-sipping and story-telling.
Our car probably would have gotten us there just fine, but we had to rent a giant 15-passenger van, similar to one I rolled out there in all those years ago.
As a boy, I remember sleeping all the way across the wheat fields of Kansas, especially on the way home. This time I drove every second of it, with Brooke next to me and our five kids and one of their best friends in the back three seats.
The windmills are different now, they’re giant, steel freaky-looking futuristic things now instead of the ones I saw all those years ago.
The whiteouts, especially on those curvy mountain roads, seemed different now too. I was the one white-knuckling the turns this time.
The wind-chills were different too. Instead of being the one doing the whining and complaining, Brooke and I were the ones helping our kids understand that we paid way too damn much for them to shut it down because of a little frostbite. 🙄
The whiskey, as mentioned earlier, was certainly different. With big smiles and sore bodies, the adults sat and told stories around a fire, knowing full well our kids will tell stories about this trip too someday.
And the wipeouts?
As our 60-year-old ski rental guy in the small mountain town of Leadville instructed us as we walked out the door, “Shred the Gnar today”, I simply replied with, “I’m just hopeful I don’t shred my ACL.”
Turns out though that the boy I chased through the trees all those years before, has turned into a man with kids of his own. But that didn’t stop us from thinking we were still 10 or 12 or whatever we were.
The difference this time?
We had our own kids doing the same.
Falling in deep powder, getting skis stuck on tree stumps, panicking getting up to the ski lift, having no clue how to walk in ski boots, crushing trail mix and granola bars, thanking whoever invented hand and feet warmers, riding up the lift with the random single stereotypical Colorado snowboard guy, trying to find every jump on the run, you know, skiing.
The last day, neither of us said a word, but I’m certain he was thinking the same thing.
We were following his oldest daughter and our oldest two daughters down the mountain. All three of them about the age we made all those memories all those years ago.
This is on the heels of his two sons and our son being inseparable all weekend, on the mountain and off. And on the heels of 6 adults and 13 kids creating memories that will last to the next generation.
“Not sure how it gets much better than this,” we thought.
They finished their run, and we peeled off to stare over the edge of the start of a black diamond. Again, we didn’t have to speak a word, but we were both thinking “what the hell, let’s shred the gnar…”
Down we went. As fast as we could.
Luckily, our ACL’s are still intact. Our kids got to see those snow-capped mountains. And there’s no going back now.
Well, at least until next winter when we see those creepy windmills again as we head west…