Stowe, To Ski or Not to Ski

Photo by skidream.com

Let me come clean right from the start, I don’t ski.  Yes, I’ve tried it.  It’s not that I’m terrible, really, I’ve got pretty good skills.  What happens is, when I start to pick up speed going downhill, well, I get scared.  There, I’ve said it.  I’m a big chicken.  It’s out now and I feel better about it.  I’m not so much afraid I’m going to die or crash or anything like that.  It’s just the feeling of being out of control.  I get completely freaked out by it. 

You are probably wondering why I would even bother to go on a ski trip if I don’t ski.  I go on ski trips because I want my kids to love skiing.  You see, my problem with skiing is I didn’t learn early enough.  I didn’t go near a mountain until I was an adult.  This delay in learning is why I can’t ski – at least this is my justification as to why I can’t ski.  Also, my husband loves to ski.  It’s hard to deny someone who loves to ski a ski trip just because you’re a baby.  So once a year, I suck it up and go skiing.   

Our most recent ski trip was to Stowe, Vermont.  Packing for a ski trip is twice as hard as packing for any other type of vacation.  You just need so much more stuff and the stuff you need is twice as big, think bulky sweater versus tank top.  On this trip, it was my husband, our 11 year-old son, our 18 month old daughter, and me.  Our oldest son couldn’t make it because he had to work at his part-time job (he’s just so darn responsible).  We did manage to get everything we needed into three suitcases, one diaper bag, and one backpack. 

We left in the late afternoon on a Friday.  The airport was quiet and there weren’t any lines.  We did have a minor incident at security.  We use the gogo Kidz Travelmate, which is a fantastic attachment to a car seat so you can wheel it through the airport instead of carrying it  – love it! We haven’t had an issue with the car seat but this time, the seat wouldn’t fit through the belt.  Now, I’m already on the other side of security with both kids, trying to gather our things together, so I don’t know what’s going on until one of the security people say to me, “He’s having a problem, do you know how to work the car seat thing”; Which, of course, I do, but what am I supposed to do? Go out and back through security with the kids? No, sorry, not doing that, he’ll just have to figure it out.  So, finally, after what seems to be for-ever, he gets the attachment off, only to find that the entire car seat won’t fit – it has nothing to do with the attachment! Now, they have to open the other security belt, which is bigger so the car seat will fit.  How doesn’t anyone figure this together sooner? For me, this issue results in two tips. 

Travel Tip One: You must be humble to the security gods.  Just because you’ve successfully managed you and your kids through security more than once, doesn’t mean you will every time. 

Travel Tip Two: Even though you feel the pressured stares of other travelers and security personal, try to take your time.  This is a hard one, but if my husband would have taken a second to review the situation, he would have realized the car seat just wasn’t going to fit – he’s quite smart – and saved more time than just assuming the attachment was the problem.   

We arrived into Burlington on time, breezed through the airport, and to our rental car.  The Burlington Airport is very easy to navigate and quite baby friendly, with large passageways, ramps, and easy accessible elevators.   

There are a number of restaurants a short distance from the airport but with it being a Friday night, most were quite crowded.  We ended up at a Ponderosa with no wait.  It was an okay choice for a quick meal but leads me to

Travel Tip Three: If you are going to need a meal prior upon arrival, do a bit of research before your trip to find a close restaurant that fits your needs.  We may have been able to drive a little further to find something better but at that point, we were too hungry to continue searching.   

We stopped at a market and picked up some groceries to have in our room and then made our way to the hotel, which was about 40 minutes on the road.  It’s an easy drive from Burlington to Stowe.  We checked into the Golden Eagle Lodge.  We received our room on the second floor. 

Travel Tip Four: When staying in a Lodge or Motel, anywhere without an elevator, you may want to consider requesting the first floor, which is much easier to navigate with your baby and belongings.  From my perspective this didn’t matter because I brought the baby and diaper bag up but my husband and son then had to deal with getting the bags up the outside steps in below freezing temperatures. 

The room, one large bedroom, a living room, small kitchen area, and one bathroom is exactly what I expect from a ski lodge.  It worked, was comfortable, but outdated and could use an upgrade.  The room did have a wood-burning stove, sounds great, right?

Travel Tip Five: Don’t be wooed into getting a room with a fireplace or wood-burning stove.  With kids, it’s a constant nuisance and safety issue.  The beauty of it is just lost.  Wait until your romantic couples retreat and even then, think twice.   

The people at the property were very nice.  There was a convenient shuttle to and from the mountain.  There was also an indoor pool, workout area, game room, and hot tub.  The game room was nice with fooz ball, small billiards, air hockey, ping pong, and some arcade games; be sure to have your stack of quarters unless you only want to play fooz ball or ping pong.  The workout area was small but the locker rooms were very clean and neat.  The pool was big enough and located in an all glass building letting in a lot of sunlight.  My daughter loved the pool, which is one of the things we did while the boys were skiing.    

 Travel Tip Six:   Do something interesting.  Even though the thought of leaving your nice warm lodge room and packing up all your swimming stuff and your kids swimming stuff, and bundling up to go outside, and bundling your kids up to go outside, and walking through the snowy, windy, somewhat icy parking lot with an 18 month old who wants to do everything herself seems not worth the effort, it is.  Just bite the bullet and do it.  My daughter and I had a great time at the pool.  I was so glad I made the effort instead of just hanging in the room.  The other upside was, she was so tired out from the swimming and the walk over and back, she went right down for her nap when we got back to the room.

We also visited Ben and Jerry’s while we were there.  How could we resist, it was only about 20 minutes away and the last tours leave at 6p so we had plenty of time even with a full day of skiing.  I imagine if you visited in the summer there is more to see outside but it was cold and snowy when we were there so no outside adventures occurred.  When we first went inside there was a long line.  I couldn’t believe there were so many people waiting to visit the factory.  However, I took a second to move around the line and realized there was no actual line for the factory tour.  The line was for the Ben and Jerry’s cafe; area where you can buy ice cream and other treats.  Then, I couldn’t believe there was such a long line for that!

Travel Tip Seven:   Don’t just stand in any line.  Be sure you know what line you’re standing in and why! 

We went in and look around the gift shop until our tour started.  Leah was not so interested in the tour and made it very obvious but it was still interesting to see how it all works and they do a good job to make it quick and cute.  Quick is good because there is a free ice cream sample waiting for you at the end!   Some people may think the sample is too small but we enjoyed it and they actually offered us seconds (not sure if that happens all the time!).

My husband and son enjoyed the skiing.  They had some fresh snow and even though the temperature was low and it was windy, they had fun.  One downside to Stowe is the kids ski lessons.  We like to have half day lessons so that my husband and son have time to ski together in the afternoon.  Unfortunately, Stowe only offers all-day kids lessons so there’s no choice unless you want to pay for a private lesson.  My son took all-day lessons both days and my husband skied with him for a short period on the first day.  The second day, he took him from the lesson a bit early to have more time together.

As far as food, my son’s lunch was included in the lesson.  His comments on the quality of the food were not very good.  This is something to consider if your little one is a very picky eater.  The first day my husband ate at the lodge, which he quite liked.  The second day, I picked him up and we ate at Piecasso Pizzeria and Lounge.  This was a great place, kid friendly and good food.  The portions were large enough and the service good. 

I already filled you in on our first night’s dinner.  The second night we ate at Pie in the Sky.  This was a really good place.  It also was very kid friendly with great service.  There was a lot of variety with the pizza and it everything we ordered was enjoyable.  We don’t always choose pizza, just a coincidence as the places open for lunch are limited.

Our last meal was from the Burlington Airport.  They have a cafe; upstairs in the back.  The menu looked great and we got our orders to go.  It’s close was imminent and that may have affected our meals.  The burger my son ordered was burnt and the bagel sandwich we got for my daughter was stale and inedible (even for my husband).  However bad it was, it was good we got it.  After making our way through security, there was nothing open in the gate area.

Travel Tip Eight:   If you have any take-out food you are bringing with you through security, be sure to review your security plan prior to getting in line.  It adds a new dimension that can trip up your normal smooth passage.

Travel Tip Nine:   If you are travelling on a flight leaving after six, be sure to come prepared with something to eat and small bills for vending machines (although amazingly enough the ones in the Burlington Airport accept credit cards).

One note, on our way to the airport, for the first time ever, the cheapest gas was actually right outside the airport.

Travel Tip Ten:   Always, always, check the gas locations and prices on your way out of the airport.  You never know where the best deal is.

We returned from our trip on time and made it safely home.  Leah was so tired.  She went right to bed and even slept late the next morning.  Another benefit of traveling with kids!

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