Travel day back home.... With a full travel day ahead of us, we didn't want to be rushed so we were up and checking out of the condos by 8am. We took our time on our way back to Denver, made a few stops and took in the last of our mountain views for a while.
On our drive back we were entertained with the thermometer readings. This is a little blurry but it shows -18 degrees. BRRRRR....
After turning in our rental suburbans and checking our bags, we grabbed lunch and headed for our loading gate. Upon arrival we found out the flight was overbooked and Toppe and Gpa didn't have a guaranteed seat on the plane. To top that off, there were maintenance issues on the plane. We couldn't complain too much, we had a hassle free trip thus far. Then we got the notice, via email, that our flight was getting pushed back an hour and a half and there was a gate change. Wes, Jason & I decided this was a great time to "talk over the trip" and have an adult beverage and get a break away from the kids. Our flight left Denver around 3:30pm and we were back in Austin at 6:30pm and welcomed to temps in the 60's. What a change!
Now we are back in Texas and have lots of great memories from the mountains of Steamboat.
We were a little slow getting going on our 3rd day of sking. I was excited to be out in the snow again but not excited about slipping on ski boots. They were starting to feel like carrying 25 lb dumbells. After breakfast, Jason chauffered us down to the mountain base.
After spending the morning on the mountain, we stopped for lunch at Slopeside Grill... that place made me even want to get a hamburger. Best burger I've tasted in a while. It was at this time that I determinded I had rode my last lift. We were all worn out and Avery & Caleb were ready to call it quits too, but Austin was determined to ski a little bit more. Wes, though exhausted himself, agreed to take Austin back on the snow and Avery & Caleb & I went back to the condo to get warm and get out or our marshmellow clothes.
Later the guys met up with the grandparents at the mountain base for the 39th Annual Bud Light Cowboy Downhill. Imagine cowboys in chaps on skis after a morning of drinking, sking straight downhill with a few jumps. Quite a show! Avery & I opted for downtown shopping but everyone at the cowboy downhill seemed to have a great time.
Shopping for glasses.
Monday night we had a sleigh ride scheduled at Saddleback Ranch. The horses were huge, the sky was beautiful, but it was COLD!!!!
This is the beautiful ranch hall we rode to. Inside we had down home cooking - steaks and salmon. The ranch is about 800 acres and run by a local Steamboat family.
Ready for dinner.
After dinner, we were entertained with a lasso lesson from a real cowboy. Avery gave it her best and roped the metal bull. It was funny to watch the city slickers get such a kick out of the lasso lesson and our two-step opportunity. We Texans showed them how it was done!
One thing about sking, it wears you out. By the end of the day there is no desire to burn the midnight oil. After a good night's rest we were up by 7am, filling belly's for another day of sking and starting to layer. Day 3 we added an extra accessory... mustaches.
With one day under our belt, we were more comfortable getting where we were going around the mountain base. The 5 of us stayed together for the day. After a few trips down "Preview" we were off for the top of the mountain. The kids had a few spills, but was to be expected. They would get frustrated trying to get back after a fall, but after a little practice and patience, they were on their way again. We met up with the nonskiers for lunch at Bear River Grill at the mountain base. We needed to refuel and thaw out before a few more hours on the slopes.
Avery showing how to "pizza"
This is how Wes and Caleb skied day #2 & #3. These straps were lifesavers. Caleb wasn't quite strong enough to come to a stop on his own. He wasn't scared to let loose and ski fast and we were a little nervous about cutting him loose.
Austin... this guy really surprised me. He was zooming down the mountain.
Night #3 we opted for dinner in downtown Steamboat. We hit up an Italian spot named Mazzolas. I highly recommend! It caters to big groups with kids. They even gave the kids pizza dough to shape and then they baked it. After another full ski day and full bellys, we were longing for our jammies by 9pm. We tried to be party animals and play cards, but we only made it until 10pm.
We had a full night's sleep after a full travel day. Saturday morning we were up and ready for a day of sking. I think dressing three kids in layers for skiing is about as exhausitng as sking itself. We coached them through the process and we managed to get out the door, all feeling like marshmellows.
Our chauffer (Jason) dropped us off curbside and we headed out to find ski school check in. The mountain base was a bit crazy... pretty crowded. We attributed that to the holiday weekend and this was the first decent ski weekend Steamboat had in a few weeks. (It was -29 the weekend before). After finding check in, filling out the papers, and dropping off kids, Wes and I headed out on our own. We managed to find the kids on the learning hill later in the morning and catch them on their first time down on their own.
Austin's first trip down
Avery getting a little coaching down the hill.
Caleb's first trip down the hill.
A&A riding up the "lift" at ski school.
After watching the kids for a while, Wes and I headed out on our own. I needed the day to get my "ski legs" back. Wes put on his skis and looked like he skied everyday.
We spent a few hours learning the mountain (I had a few small spills), stopped for drinks and a light lunch at Slopeside Grill, skied a little more and then went to pick up the kids.
They were exhausted. I think the excitement had worn off. We had a little time before the lifts closed and Wes wanted to at least take Avery down "Preview" - the bunny hill. I stayed at the bottom with Austin and Caleb sat with the grandparents who had made it in from their snowmobile trip. After 2 trips down the bunny hill, Avery was sking down by herself. Austin tried next and was going down assisted and Caleb was asleep in Popo's arms... a good day indeed.
Saturday was by far the busiest day on the mountain. I was surprised at the number of kids in ski school but I guess that is what a lot of the kids do. 1 day at school was enough for our kids (and our wallet)... they picked up the basics and learned to "pizza" and "french fry". It gave them what the needed to head out with us on day 2.
When we booked our flight out of Austin, we were scheduled to leave at 8:08am. We received a notice a few weeks before our trip that the flight had been pushed back an hour. No complaints here, that allowed us an extra hour sleep and we were still in air early enough to have a full day in CO.
Our handsome driver...
Once in Denver, we loaded in our 2 suburbans and made the 3 hour trek to Steamboat. I wasn't looking forward to the drive, but it went by much quicker than expected. The mountain scenery was beautiful.
We stopped about 30 minutes out of Steamboat for the kids to get out and get their first taste of real snow. They laid down and attempted to make a snow ball. We weren't there long.. it was about 10 degrees.
Once in Steamboat, we checked into our condo at Timber Run. We had a 3 bedroom, plus loft condo that worked out great for our group. The kitchen area was a bit tight but we made it work. Jason had room to work his magic for a few meals and the table was big enough for the kids to take down Toppe in a few games of Uno. It was their daily request.
Once we got things unloaded at the condo, the guys headed to the store for adult beverages, Barb & Jason headed to the grocery store and Toppe and I walked the kids around the condo so they could play in the snow. The kids found that the snow may be fun, but it's COLD! After we were all back together, Wes and I took the kids to get our ski equipment. The kids were jumping off tables and acting extra silly but we managed to get it done. Once back at the condo, we indulged in pizza and then honored a promise to the kids to try out the hot tub. The time in the water felt amazing.... the trek to and from the condo, not so much.
When Wes & I decided to book a ski trip, we let our parents know and told them they were more than welcome to join us. Not sure we thought they'd both say yes and then as a bonus Uncle Jason would be looking for a break from work and want to head to the mountains with us. Our travel group doubled! We had a good mixture along the trip... the grandparents were along to help out in the airport, we split up in Suburbans on the 3-hour drive to Denver and Jason joined our "burb" and provided sugar and entertainment, it was just Maurer Party of 5 on the ski slopes, and then everyone was back together in the evenings when we got back to the condo.
The whole crew
Toppe & Grandpa
Mimi & Popo
Fan favorite- Uncle Jason
I am reminded that a big family trip with both sets of grandparents is not the "norm". It's usually one set or the other and rarely do the two get along as well as ours do. A&A&C are SO BLESSED to have grandparents so active in their lives who want to be there to see their eyes light up at Disney's Magic Kingdom and watch their first trip down the ski slope. Not only to they want to be there, they are able. They take care of themselves and are able to be physically active with the kids. LOVE THAT!!
Then their is Uncle Jason.... where do I begin? From party mustaches to trips to the candy store to being our chauffer for the week... this guy is amazing and the ultimate traveler. Every kid deserves to have an uncle that not only loves them beyond measure but makes them laugh at the drop of a hat. For those of you reading that know him, next time you see him, ask him do to his interpretation of "Gangham Style" in a thick Italian accent. You'll be rolling.
We did miss Steven, Candice and Jack... hoping we can all go skiing together when Jack gets a little older. Can't wait!
Well, we made it back from Steamboat, CO. We are all in one piece, rested, but worn out.... if that makes sense. Yesterday was a long travel day as our flight in Denver was delayed and put us back in Austin later than expected, but I guess that 's all part of traveling.
It could take a few days for me to consolidate all our pics with the different cameras and photograhers we had along on the trip. So here's a glimpse of our crew before we headed out on the slopes the first day. We had a blast, but are glad to be back to Texas temperatures.
I can say packing for 5 for a winter vacation is a much more difficult task than packing for the beach. We are headed to Steamboat, CO for a few days for the kids first ski trip and in reality their first time to experience real snow. Ski bibs, thermals. gloves, turtlenecks and gaitors. I think we've remembered everything... I hope we've remember everything. We're flying out early in the morning and hopefully we'll all come home in one piece.
Background story: We didn't do cold when I was little. Vacations were always south of Brenham, aka the beach. When we got married in the month of February, we decided to head to Tahoe to experience white powder and skiing. Wes had been several times as a kid and was going to give snowboarding a try for the first time so at least we were both "newbies". Well, that first morning I spent several hours on the bunny hill and I was on the ground more than I was up on skis. Though athletic and in pretty good shape at the time, skiing and I just didn't jive. I think the most frustrating part was that everytime I was down on the ground, kids would whiz by me skiing without any problems. It was quite embarrasing actually. After a few teary tries, Wes and I headed to the lodge for appetizers and drinks. Wouldn't you know, the alcohol did the trick. Think it relaxed me a little and I was more willing to let my body go with the mountain. I told Wes on that trip that when we had kids, we were taking them skiing early to at least give the chance to see if they like it. I'd love to make this an annual vacation.... we'll just have to see how this trip goes.
Austin inherited his dad's ability to draw. He's always loved to draw freehand, would rather do that than color in a coloring book. I'm sometimes amazed at some of the things he puts on paper. A few weeks ago we received a note home saying that Austin's drawing would be on display at school for judging for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. There were only about 25 total Kindergarten entrees out of 350 students in the district. His picture wasn't chosen to move on to Houston, but he did get a blue ribbon and we are SO proud of him.
His picture depicted a cowboy riding a horse and coming up on a snake so the horse has his front feet drawn up. Austin mentioned to Wes one day before the judging that he forgot to draw the mane on the horse.
I'll note that this guy lost his 2nd tooth last week.
We spent New Years Eve with the Rau's & Siemsglusz's. Our families always try to get together at Christmas but our schedules just filled up too quick to find a time for the 3 of us to meet before Christmas Day. We figured since the 3 of us have 3 kids a piece and would likely be in bed by 11pm on New Years Eve, we'd join in together and try to keep each other awake.
Kade & Caleb toasting to 2013.
Addison & Avery toasting to the New Year.
Austin taking a swig to a new year.... don't worry it was staged and nonalcoholic.
We celebrated at 11pm Central Time. Pretty impressive for 9 kids.