Ronan resting on 'il serpente' after a long hike uphill in the snow at Donner Ski Ranch
Earlier this week Ronan and Nieve got their fist exposure to snow during our family trip up to the Lake Tahoe area. Unfortunately our trip coincided with a notable storm that arrived a few hours after we did and was still churning when we left. The storm brought 30 mph sustained winds (gusts up to 80 mph) and almost three feet of snow over the four days we were there. The winds prompted several ski resort to close but we still managed to spend some time playing outside.
Even closed lifts couldn't keep Ronan from enjoying the slopes
The audio is mostly deafening wind noise, but you get the point
Ronan loved just about everything we tried - sledding, snow hiking, snowball fights, drift jumping, snowman construction, and digging out the car. He delighted in the presence of snow moving equipment - snow plows, large front loaders with snow chains, snowmobiles, snowcats, and even an excavator. As long as he was properly bundled he did not mind the howling wind or blowing snow.
Mom was happy to be outside in the brisk weather - Nieve, not so much
A not-so-happy Nieve
Nieve was less impressed with the wind, snow, and freezing temperatures. The only time she cracked a smile when outside was when she tried eating the snow. Other than that, she keep her 'scowl face' present whenever we took her outside. That said, Nieve loved the condo we rented, reveling in carpeted stairs, a warm franklin stove, and various bear themed decorations (she thought they were dogs, and kept panting at them). She was also notably compliant while in the car, perhaps knowing if she complained she'd be taken out into the elements. Better to be warm and bored, I suppose, than to be frozen to death.
Nieve's much cuter inside where it's warm
Ronan's showing he has the right attitude to excel at skiing
What impressed me the most during the trip was Ronan's first attempt at skiing. On the second to last day we finally got to Sugar Bowl (a beloved resort to me, as I skied there frequently during college), rented him some skis, and hit the slopes. I assumed all he'd be able to do is fall down, giggle, and get tangled in the clunky ski gear.
Ronan's favorite crash position - on his head
He did, of course, do all of that, but he was also uncharacteristically focused on his skis. Mom and I have learned time and again to never question Ronan's gross motor skills or agility (he's remarkable at doing complicated things like accurately kicking a soccer ball that is still moving) and his balance and strength became apparent (especially to instructors who were watching us) when we were on the slopes.
Amazingly Ronan paid attention and followed directions on the moving carpet
Ronan mustered the patience to ride the moving carpet (basically a rubber conveyer belt, not unlike the moving walkways found at airports) without incident (even when it stopped suddenly, then lurched back to a start). On the way down his favorite part was crashing (the faster the better), but he listened well, was able to make a few turns, and by the end of our couple hours Ronan could ski the whole run with only a couple of falls.
Trying to keep the boards parallel
The end of this video was me falling down... running backwards in soft snow while keeping Ronan in the video was more complicated than I could manage
Like me Ronan's incapable of snow plowing properly (I kept pleading with him to, "make a slice of pizza!") but he grasped that bent knees and hands out in front gave him control. Although he didn't quite understand weighting the different skis to initiate turns, Ronan was able control his direction and purposefully change course.
Enjoying a snack at the Sugar Bowl lodge during lunch time
Most importantly, Ronan seemed to have a blast on the slopes, and so did I. Our time at Sugar Bowl was probably the most laughter filled three hours we have spent together (as measured in total laughter minutes weighted by chuckle intensity). He loves being physically challenged and having nice soft snow to pad his 'fun' crashes removes the element of pain. I hope he continues to enjoy skiing - if he keeps at it he'll ski circles around us by the time he turns five!
"Apres ski" Ronan reviews the runs he conquered on the Sugar Bowl Trail Map