It’s Never Too Late! My First-time Skiing as an Adult

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Leave it to a Winter Olympics year and New England’s ever-tumultuous relationship with the winter season to will a transplant to try things one has never tried before. As a not-so-athletically-inclined individual and a tropical country native, the snow sporting world seemed like an alternate universe. I thought an image of me in skis on any kind of slope would be a bad idea, and I never thought I’d actually enjoy it.

Learning to embrace winter in New England was a gradual yet inevitable process. I did not grow up with memories of nor’easters or snow storms or offering a snow dance for the winter gods as a child in the hopes of a snow day.  Where I’ve been, a city shuts down from a couple of inches of anticipated snow or a country’s climate could essentially be described as only hot or hotter.

It took almost three years, but Alex and I have finally graduated from “surviving New England winters” to really making an effort to have fun with it. Nevermind that both of us were starting from square one. It actually turned into something new we could try and experience together, and turn into something special for ourselves!

We did a little bit of research online and turned to our own local sources to find a good fit based on our goals and schedule at the time. Since we decided semi-spontaneously (that is, we tossed the idea of skiing around all winter – again, thanks winter olympics! – but narrowed down a realistic day pretty spur of the moment), we had a fairly short but specific checklist:

  • Close enough to Boston for a day trip. We made the plan to go on President’s Day which also happened to be the first day of February vacation for most schools in Massachusetts.
  • A place that was beginner-friendly. We were looking for spots with just the trails we would need or want on our first time, and not much more. Just big enough for a couple that have never set foot on a ski mountain before and more likely to have and cater to others like us.
  • Reasonably priced. Hopefully including all our rentals and lessons. We weren’t sure how much we’d end up liking skiing, so we weren’t looking to splurge on a big experience (… yet, maybe).
When we arrived:

Boy, was. it. BUSY. We were aiming to get there as soon as it opened knowing it was a holiday and school vacation week, but definitely underestimated our prep process in the morning. By the time we drove in, it was around 9 am, the parking lot adjacent to the lodge was full, and they were running shuttles from parking lot 3 which is really only about a half mile away.

Since we knew we wanted to get a One-Day Adult Beginner Package in advance, it made the process a lot simpler. We went to Customer Service and lined up at a ticket window, paid the $99 each for our lesson and rentals (boots, skis and poles), and got general directions from the associate. I paid an additional amount for a helmet because I like to play it safe, but Alex only kept his beanie on and was fine for the level of skiing we made time for.

We made our way to the main rental building and entered our information at a kiosk to be linked with our equipment. We took the receipt slips to the pick-up counters for our boots and found a bench to try them on. We must of looked so new and lost amongst the crowd because one of the few associates walking around kindly checked in on us, helped us to strap our boots properly, and offered to pick up my helmet. We then picked up our skis that were set aside and labeled on our way to the locker area, where we rented a large locker to store the rest of our things (e.g. shoes, spare dry clothes) besides our phones and wallets that we wanted to keep on.

Before exiting the building was the information desk for lessons and a variety of other packages. We checked in to confirm our lesson time before picking our poles right past the exit doors and lining up with other first-time skiing students as marked outside.

This video by Wachusett Mountain Ski Area on Youtube shows a step-by-step guide for first-timers. Personally, being able to visualize the location and the process this way helped make it more fun and much less intimidating! Their map can also help in understanding how things are set up around each other when settling in for your activity of choice.

The beginner lesson:

Not knowing much about what to expect, Alex and I wandered off a bit with the half hour we had before our lesson, but then ultimately decided to just line up in eager anticipation. The build up was quite fun leading up to it as the group grew bigger and bigger. The teaching team decided to split us all into 3 groups of about 6 adults each. Because of the number of simultaneous lessons then, our group needed to trek over to the bottom of the “Easy Rider” green slope for some learning space. It was quite the warm up for the body and a fast lesson on navigating your way around people and slight inclines, for sure. Once there, our instructor walked us through the basics of skiing: locking the skis on and pushing them off, walking and climbing with skis on, setting up for balance when on an incline, stopping, and turning to each side. We were able to practice one by one with direct coaching, with ample time for each of us to take turns for several opportunities. I definitely felt the session was well worth it, and covered the essentials for our one-day agenda.

Bear with the amateur footage, but here was my end-result:

Lunch Break:

Excited from our lesson success and “new tricks,” we practiced a few more of the turns and stops independently in the same spot until we felt satisfied. We hadn’t had anything beyond breakfast bars and clementines up until that point in the day, so we couldn’t avoid stopping for a bite much longer. We made our way toward the base lodge and parked our skis and poles on one of the racks right outside. There was a variety of options at the base lodge to accommodate a busy dining hall packed with guests. We shared some chicken fingers + fries and had a hotdog each for our lunch. We thought they were fairly good for foodcourt-style offerings. We did wish they had a few condiment stations besides just the one that was understandably super congested the entire time we were there.

The Aftermath:

After our meal, picked up our equipment and braved the “magic carpet” to take our skills to new heights! The line fluctuated in wait times, but the staff was extremely friendly and patient with the skiers of all ages and skill levels.

Once there, I preferred to pause to gain my footing, scan the hill for clearings to map out my desired route, and refresh my body on what I needed to do to get it done. I imagine the rest of skiing lies on muscle memory at this point, so more practice time, future lessons, and ski exposure to solidify that learning for our body and brain connection is key for maximum enjoyment.

I can truthfully say I skied down the hill with a semblance of control, as best as I could muster, and landed safely at the bottom without panicking (too much) or knocking anybody out! I call that a win.

We went on the magic carpet probably 2-3 times more before we called it a day, leaving the slopes quite optimistic about ski trips in the future.

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On our way back to the rental building to return our equipment, I noticed the s’mores bar and waffle cabin – the perfect treats for a day of hard work. We most definitely stopped for Butter Beer (yes, you heard that right! and yes, it is nonalcoholic) from the s’mores bar for a mini après ski and people watching to cap off our trip.

If you’re planning to go skiing for the first-time as a newbie like me, here are my tips to prepare and some take-away points so that you can look forward to the having fun part!

Tips:
  • Take a lesson. I can say that my first experience was a positive and informative one because I was able to learn the basics properly and have a professional walk me through my learning process before having to go on my own. As an adult, I have to work that much more to teach my body new skills and ways to move. This way I was able to focus on practicing those skills and skip past the frustrations from failed attempts or unlearning poor ski habits.
  • Find a buddy. Whether you’re going with one friend or a group, it might be worthwhile to find someone go on a lesson and stay on the bunny/green slopes with you (if needed). I was lucky Alex and I were starting at the same level and could truly go through the experience together. I can be very shy when trying new things, so this helped my confidence and risk-taking attitude.
  • If you don’t care for “foodcourt food” plan your meals or pack your own. In our rush to get into the shuttle from the lot, we left our snacks and water in the car so we did rely quite heavily on the lodge’s food. Chicken fingers and fries, hotdogs, and  drinks worked well for us that day, but honestly, we went in there not knowing what to expect. Lots of people had coolers/bags around the foodcourt area in cubbies, some seemed confident about the honor system in the lodge, but Alex and I would probably aim for a cooler/bag we could pack into a locker if we were to go on a future visit.
  • Get there first thing in the morning for best parking odds. While all public parking is free, this could help with easy access to all your belongings. You might opt to leave items in your car versus a locker when your car is parked further away. If so, plan to pack lightly with bags/belongings that can easily fit in lockers. They offer standard or large sized. We had a backpack, both our boots and inner fleece coats – it actually got fairly hot for skiing that day! – and all of our stuff fit in one large locker all together.
  • Plan for at least a half day. We were there for our skiing lesson that was about an hour long, had lunch, and then wanted to make our money’s worth with a few tries down the slope. Depending on the crowd on your visit, and your line tolerance even, you may be able to take the slopes a few times more than peak days. Ideally, Alex and I think a ski weekend would really seal foundational ski skills the best, for ample instruction time, practice and enjoyment. However, the day trip worked out just fine to give us just a sample without feeling obliged to ski more or do more while there.
  • Stretch. Beware of the aches and pains from muscles you may have never moved or neglected for years and years. Although it wasn’t that bad for the amount of skiing or the effort we had to make as first-timers, stretching before and after is something Alex and I definitely wish we did more consciously for the sake of our bodies.

What’s your must-do/favorite part about skiing? Where’s your favorite place to go and do you have any other tips to share? I hope we get to go again before the season ends, but now I know we have something to look forward to next winter!

Leave a comment below if you have any recommendations, suggestions, questions! You can also check out Wachusett Mountain Ski Area’s website, other Boston-area recommendations by Boston.com for kids and newbies, or great places to learn to ski in New England featured by the Boston Globe. Feel free to link up with your post or favorite related links as well!

Thanks for reading!

x♡,

Valerie

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Making a YES for real.

dsc01316These days, there are so many things, places, and people to draw inspiration from, learn from, and follow. When the world is going at an increasingly fast pace and the “so much to do, so little time” mantra remains unchanged, the attention we pay to various things speaks volumes about the true value it holds in our life.

As my attempt at keeping up with the world, I have notes, lists, post-its – on my phone, on my fridge, on my desk – for literally everything I want to remember, for fear that I will lose out on a nugget of wisdom or a future million-dollar idea. It can really be quite the struggle to scale back. At some point, there ends up being way too many notes on notes on post-its with alllllll the ideas and to-do’s to keep track of and no work to show for it.

So what is the whole point to begin with?

When I started this journey almost two years ago, my inspiration and hunger was coming from a very similar place as today. It was the year of the olympics (and a leap year too). The first church that Alex and I have found and loved in Boston was closing. Thankfully, we had one more chance to step inside Our Lady of Victories, marvel at its beautiful stained glass windows and its rich history with the The Victorian Society in America New England Chapter before saying goodbye. It was a lovely moment, pushing me to reflect upon the many changes that have happened in my life up to that point and what I felt it was leading me towards at the time.

There must be something about February.

It could just be the winter blues. Maybe it’s because the new year is not so new anymore and the struggle to keep “resolutions” up is too real. Or, dare I say it, perhaps its the realization that although time is infinite, a lifetime in it is only so finite. There will always be things to try, to gain, to lose, and yet there’s only so much of life to have and enjoy.

This February, it’s also the sense that lent is coming (it’s here!), and now more than ever, I’m feeling the urge to really work on faithfaith in myself, faith in others, faith in the world, and faith, most important of all, in God. The fact that the day of love this year can mean much more than the love we can see, feel, or ever give is exciting and a challenge. One I hope to step into with more intention and the support of those who wish to take part in it.

And so, here we are.

To a YES in my life that is at the core of it all. The yes that has been resting in me, sitting with me and now nudging me, prodding me, and moving me in ways I have yet to understand. I have a feeling I’m bound for something I’ve been searching for a long time. Sometimes, I’m learning, saying YES for myself means saying NO to some things in the short term in order to focus on the important things requiring my best efforts first.

If you’d like to join me or follow along, I am getting ready for the Best Lent Ever. It will be nice to have a friend through it all – just let me know!

Meanwhile, the regular Always al Fresco programming will be starting back up too! It was a difficult few months of work, studying, and test-taking claiming the front seat for a little bit, but hey, we’ve got some good stuff on cue here for you.

Tell me, how has your February been?

Wishing you a love-filled Valentine’s/Galentine’s/Palentine’s Day!

Thanks for reading!

x,

Valerie

PS – Alex surprised me with quite the Valentine this year, which helped tie everything together for me and really jumpstart this journey (below). Let me know if you’d like to see more of that or if you have any questions and other thoughts. Feel free to link up with your related post or favorite related links as well!

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She’s Nauti and Nice [A Weekend Getaway to Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod: Highlights]

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There’s something about her that just seems to capture the hearts of those she comes into contact with. With pristine beaches, blue ocean waters, and the breezy salty air to sweep you off your feet, it’s easy to get carried away by the lure and the charm of Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod.

One trip, let alone one day, is hardly enough to do it justice, but a short and sweet encounter is better than none at all. Recently, a group of friends and I — mostly hailing from the metro-DC area or further south — hoped to scratch the surface on what the northeast has been keeping secret from us all this time.

Since, A and I are based in Boston, we were the resident “guides” spearheading this trip. Our friends flew from Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York and Virginia and arrived on a Thursday, allowing us a nice long-weekend stretch for maximum adventuring and eats.

Our first full day was dedicated to our daytrip to Martha’s Vineyard. Because our homebase was in Cotuit, it made the most sense for us to drive for the ferry from Woods Hole in Falmouth first thing in the morning by parking our van at the dedicated off-side lot (approximately 4 miles away), and take the shuttle from the lot to the terminal. The ferry ride certainly played a big part in the build up to our vineyard experience. It was so peaceful and so beautiful, and just the perfect distance to enjoy without any fear of motion-sickness (knock on wood).

Once we made it there, it was truly all that I had imagined a quintessential New England small beach town would be. In Oak Bluffs, was our terminal of choice and therefore where we spent our first and last few moments in the island. The area was very walkable and chockfull of surprises. Although there were a handful of businesses closed for the season post-Labor Day, a good bit of seaside activity remained for locals and non-peak season visitors. Edgartown wins the popularity contest for sure, and is home to the Vineyard Vines. However, if you look hard enough and are patient enough, many things lie off the main streets and back roads of these quaint towns. By far the highlight of our trip in my opinion was our pursuit of Bad Martha Beer.

For a day trip, our focus was to enjoy our time together within the three main towns at the tip of the island – Edgartown (our farthest point), Vineyard Haven, and Oak Bluffs. We made sure we had ample time to hit the mandatory sights, such as the Gingerbread Houses/Cottages and Trinity Park Tabernacle, and leisurely stroll around the neighborhoods following our instincts for food and drink stops as well.

As for the remainder of our weekend, we weren’t quite as lucky with the weather, and had to make plans for colder temps. What’s great about Cape Cod and the islands in this case is the multitude of options for groups, couples, families, and adventurers of all comfort levels to create the experience you’re seeking. For equal parts of adventure and solitude, we spent a morning biking along the Cape Cod Rail Trail courtesy of our Dennis Cycle Center rentals. I have not touched a bike in YEARS but they made the process so easy, and the trail right next to the store had a couple of appealing pitstops (hint: one is a winery along the trail!). Well worth the exercise, I tell you.

We of course couldn’t miss an afternoon in the classic town of Chatham for some a lighthouse sighting, beach time, and sunset (or close) cocktails. This vacation life could have lasted forever, in my opinion, but alas we knew it had to end. At least for now.

What’s your must-do/favorite part about Cape Cod and the islands? I have yet to make it to Nantucket so that’s certainly on my list!

I’m sharing our al fresco finds on the trip as well as our quick getaway guide + recommendations based on insight from our Cape Cod-based friends, prior research, and what worked for us on this trip.

Leave me a comment below if you have any questions or check out the Travel + Leisure features on Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod, MassVacations.com the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce and the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce websites. Feel free to link up with your post or favorite related links as well!

Thanks for reading!

x,

Valerie

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