Trip Diary: Vacation for the Entire Family
You know it’s been a special trip when your teenager is looking at homes for sale in the area. We just got back from Park City and are still basking in the afterglow of a fantastic vacation. The best part was having my whole family on the mountain together for the first time. I have two daughters; Syd, a 15-year old snowboarder and Veronica, a 12-year old first timer. Veronica has special needs and one of our family goals has been to find activities that we can enjoy together, but we’ve never been able to snowboard as a family. Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR) partners with the National Ability Center (NAC) to provide ski opportunities for all abilities, and like everything else I’ve experienced at PCMR, the NAC is world-class. I now have great memories watching my husband and kids, cruising down a groomed snowy run under sunny blue skies. It doesn't get much better than that.
Here are some of our trip highlights:
I was excited, but also a little apprehensive as to how the adaptive ski program would work for my daughter. She’s a speed-loving daredevil, so I knew she would enjoy the motion, but I was wondered how the equipment would fit her, how she would get on the lift, and if she would get too cold. It turns out the National Ability Center at Park City Mountain Resort has done this a few times before. They had a bi-ski ready when we got there and talked to her about what to expect. She sat inside and they practiced leaning with her, which brought a huge smile to her face. We bundled up and headed outside to the bunny slope, which is where I thought we’d stay. But by the end of the session Veronica was going down double blues with us and she actually got a little air off of some small terrain bumps. She had two more sessions, in which our family conquered a black diamond run and ran the NASTAR race course.
"The best part was having my whole family on the mountain together for the first time."
My husband, 15-year old and I took a 3 hour Snowboard Workshop with Jamie Hill. We told her that we wanted to try the terrain park, which I'm sure must have amused her. We took a few runs together to work on some basics, then we made our way to The Ridge mini park. Jamie explained how the park was arranged, and had us ride through together to see both sides of the features. Then it was time to put our instruction to the test. We took some jumps and a couple of box slides – I don't think the kids in the park were impressed, but I thought we were pretty cool. Besides, I was the only mom up there so that has to count for something, right?
While we were in our clinic, Veronica was hanging out with Rachel from Guardian Angel Babysitting. Snowmama Kristen told me about Guardian Angel, she has been using their services for years. I went on her advice, and she was right. Rachel was great with Veronica, comfortable from the beginning and was prepared with some books to read with her. When I asked my daughter about her afternoon with Rachel, she gave me a big smile – that said it all.
I thought our family would really enjoy dog sledding, Pawsatch Snow Dogs came highly recommended. They were already booked when I called, but Neil, the owner, invited us to come and see the dogs and equipment. We met some of the team that runs their sledding adventures, learned about the program and saw the dogs up close and personal. We will definitely set up a tour with them next time we’re in Park City, it looks like so much fun!
The NAC Ranch has many activities, including an equestrian program for all abilities. Both of my daughters took an equestrian lesson, which started with brushing the horses and helping with the saddles. My youngest was a little stressed to begin with, but the team working with her knew exactly how to make it a great experience for her. The lessons ended after the girls helped remove the saddles, brushed their horses and gave them a treat.
Rock Wall Climbing:
I’ll be honest, I really couldn’t see how rock wall climbing would work for Veronica, I thought I was going more to find out how it worked for other people. I guess I should have known better. Kim met us at the 32-foot climbing wall, and got Veronica in a harness, then a sling that hung from the ceiling. As Veronica reached her hands up to the next rock, and her feet looked for a rock to step on, her sister would pull the rope so that she would move up a little higher to climb the wall. Kim was awesome, so knowledgeable and knew just how to help Veronica reach her potential in that session. She explained that blind people often have a better perception about the climbing wall and I could see how the weightlessness and things to feel and reach for allowed for an experience that pushed my child to do more. We left with Veronica laughing and my husband figuring out how we can set up our own climbing wall. It might just end up in my living room…
Cross Country Skiing:
I’ve thought about ways to get our family to cross country ski, but wasn’t sure how to make it happen. What would Veronica ride in? And there’s this other little thing: my family snowboards.
We met Evan from the NAC at their Nordic ski yurt, he had a sled for Veronica and skis for us. Evan gave us some quick lessons on the basics of Nordic skiing, then we got moving: he pulled Veronica in her sled while we got our ski legs. They have miles of trails to access; we took a fairly flat, short loop, then it was my turn to pull Veronica’s sled. I’m definitely not a pro and will stay on flat trails for now, but Nordic skiing is another great family activity that we will do again.
Shopping on Main Street:
We were in Park City during Sundance and on the watch for celebrity sightings. The closest we got to seeing anyone was a rumor that Kim Kardashian was at Java Cow Creamery when we were on Main Street. We enjoyed shopping, meeting store owners, and people-watching. Snowmama Kim-Marie told me about Burns Cowboy Shop, they have walls of gorgeous Lucchese cowboy boots in every design and color, as well as beautiful leather goods and accessories. I picked out several of my favorite boots and started trying them on. I found the perfect pair - it was love at first sight and a part of Park City that I got to take home with me.
The Alpine Coaster is across from the PayDay lift. It’s a 10 minute ride on a track with individual cars that climb up the mountain, then twist and wind back down through the trees at high speeds with you in control of the brakes. You can ride alone or tandem. I thought Todd and Veronica would take it slow, but they went full speed in the car behind Syd and I, loving every minute of it. We all got off the ride laughing, talking about our favorite parts of the ride.
Now we’re home, but still talking about tour trip and making plans to go back – soon!
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