Monthly Archives: April 2016

My Crazy Spring Break

I inhaled the crisp mountain air, as I swooshed down the mountain. The panoramic view of snow capped mountains and giant evergreens was so perfect it looked like a cheeesy 70’s landscape painting. The edge of my skis cut through the powdery snow, which provided the perfect amount of resistance as I sailed down the mountain. Adrenaline pulsed through my veins, as I fought to maintain the delicate balance between speed and control…

“Mom! Moooooom! Is it time to go yet?” Carson, my 6 year old, elbowed me in the stomach, obnoxiously pulling me back to reality. I wiped the drool from my chin and realized that we were not in Colorado. We were in the Tampa airport, where we had been for the past 5 hours.

The morning had started smoothly enough. We had made it to Nashville airport on time, all children and luggage accounted for. We sailed through security, without any “special screening” for my ethnicity vague looking husband. However on arrival at our gate, we discovered our carefully planned direct flight to Denver had been cancelled due to weather. Our best chance to get to Denver was to fly to Tampa and catch a flight from there later that afternoon. So away we went, on what was to be one of the strangest travel experiences of my life.

Shortly after I was awakened from my snowy dream, I was informed by my Hubs that the Denver airport was shut down due to a nasty blizzard. Our flight from Tampa to Denver was also cancelled. Our choices were: return to Nashville (with no chance to get to Denver) or stay in Tampa for 2 days and fly to Denver on Friday afternoon. I did not like either of these choices. During my 30 minutes of denial and tears, the direct flight to Denver filled, and we got the last remaining seats on a connecting jet through St. Louis.

We were all ridiculously disappointed. This was our first Colorado ski trip in 8 years and we (and by “we”, I really mean “Russ”) had been tediously planning it for months. We quickly realized though, that if we were going to be stranded somewhere, Tampa was not a bad place. So we rented a car and checked into a hotel while wearing our puffy ski jackets and carrying 2 giant suitcases full of fleece. Luckily we had packed swimsuits (for the hot tub at the condo), so the first thing my travel exhausted boys did was cannonball into the pool. Then we made a trip to Sears to buy shorts and t-shirts.

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When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.

My first thought was to go to Disney (about an hour away), but the planner in me was already so frazzled by this hiccup, I didn’t think I could handle going to Disney during spring break with only 1 day notice (I need months to plan my fast passes!). We realized we were staying 10 minutes from Busch Gardens, so that was our new destination.

We arrived at Busch Gardens right when the park opened then next morning, hoping to be first in line for the rides. Beating the crowds was great, except that several of the major attractions didn’t open until a couple hours after the park opened {insert sad trombone}. Busch Gardens is half zoo, half amusement park. The bigger roller coasters were a little too intense for my gang, but the boys enjoyed the animals and the tamer rides. It was frustrating that they charge extra for fast passes and the safari tour (both included in price at Animal Kingdom). We also kept missing the train which takes you through the park to see the animals in the fields.The kids had a great time, despite not being able to ride a ton of rides due to long lines and my youngest being vertically challenged.

I loved the “Gardens” at Busch Gardens. The park is decorated with several elaborate topiaries shaped like various animals. I made my gang mimic the bushes for the photo ops.

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My Octopii

Our flight didn’t leave till 4 o’clock the next day, so we decided to visit nearby Clearwater Beach and go to The Clearwater aquarium. This is the home of the dolphins Hope and Winter from the Dolphin’s Tale movies. The drive across Tampa Bay was gorgeous. It was quite surreal to be driving a thin bridge across the ocean lined with palm trees when we were supposed to be in the mountains. The actual aquarium was interesting but Winter was shy that day, so it was difficult to get a good look at the dolphins. I enjoyed the experience, but honestly my boys were underwhelmed.

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Tampa Bay

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Hope the dolpin

We got to the Tampa airport around 2 and finally arrived at our Condo in Keystone at midnight, where my brother and sister were waiting for us. It had taken us 2.5 days to get there. I could almost hear the hallelujah chorus playing in the background as we unloaded our suitcases.

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View from Condo

The next morning we dropped our young ‘un at ski school (it was his first time), but then discovered that our pre-rented skis did not get dropped at our condo as ordered. We grudgingly ventured out to rent equipment, which seemed especially painful, because I JUST WANTED TO GO SKIING AND NOT WASTE YET ANOTHER HOUR OF MY LIFE. Alas, I took a deep breath and realized I was finally inhaling that crisp mountain air I had been dreaming about and all was good.

When we finally got on the the slopes, the snow was perfect. The lift lines were not bad and Keystone itself was phenomenal. The blizzard that had delayed us was at least thoughtful enough to leave us the most fantastic powder. At the bottom of the first run I was able to catch up with a friend from high school who also happened to be there (the wonders of FB), but as we were chatting I noticed my older son was acting a little off. He and the hubs both had awful headaches and headed back to the condo. They texted me later that they had altitude sickness. Seriously people, you can’t make this stuff up.

I then went back to the condo to care for my family. I then took advantage of the afternoon with no kids and skied my quads off with my brother.  Please don’t judge me, I promise that I did text frequently to make sure they were still OK.

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Keystone with my brother (to whom I am currently making payments to ensuring the go-pro videos of me skiing are never released)

Luckily, everyone felt better with some rest and fluids and the whole family was ready to ski together on Sunday. Finally.

On day 2 of skiing I decided to work with Carson instead of sending him to ski school. Not sure if this was my best idea. There were many tears and tantrums. And Carson got frustrated too. Eventually, he got it figured out and by the end of the day he made it down the mountain, albeit falling a million times. Even when he would fall, he would shout “This is soooo awesome!”

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My ski buddy

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The last day, everything seemed to finally come together. I skied with my boys in the morning and they both zipped down the mountain like it was nothing. Their grins were epic. Watching them have so much fun together was worth all the drama getting to the mountain. Russ and I also remember how much we loved to ski. We all can’t wait to go back.

So how was my spring break? Not what I planned, not relaxing, not cheap and definitely not low stress. Despite all the drama, it was pretty awesome. I got home with some great stories and special family memories that I think we’ll be talking about for a long time.

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