This past weekend, we went to Hamilton to stay with the Nelsons for Rachel's 6th birthday. We met at Costco in Missoula for dinner and went ice skating at the Fairgrounds. Then we drove to their house in Hamilton for cake and ice cream and a good night's sleep. Their house is GREAT - really interesting design and perfect for the kids. They, of course, have art everywhere. My favorite is a VERY large painting in Doug's office of George Washington and Nathan Hale; discussing the upcoming Culper Spy Ring going ons, no doubt. I cannot remember who painted it - shame on me. They also have lovely bronzes all about. Saturday morning, we got up bright and early and headed out for a day of skiing at Lost Trail Powder Mountain where both Karen and Doug are ski instructors over the winter (they had passes for us all!!). We had a great day skiing with our own personal instructors. Karen's daughter, Michelle, is 13 and assists Doug teaching his classes. But on Saturday, she devoted herself completely to the kids and us. Brad has snow boarded, but never skied. I had not skied for about 18 years. I thought it would be like learning all over again, but after a few minutes, it all came back to me. Brad decided that he is done snowboarding - skiing is the way to go. And the kids - WOW. After and hour and a half, they were up on the lifts ( all except for Micah). After lunch, Karen (Nelson) was done in the kitchen (she somehow got recruited to bake 80 - yep, 80 - pizzas for the last day of ski school) and took the kids (and us) up the mountain for some more instruction. The Nelsons have a baby - sweet Baby Lauren - who has already skied more mountains than I have in my life....she is not quite a year old. I wish I had my camera with me up there, because it is quite a sight seeing Karen skiing with Lauren in a backpack. They don't take her on hard runs, but they do ski with her regularly. Brad and I took turns on the bunny run with Micah who was doing GREAT. She got tired of us trying to help her real quick and just said she wanted to go down alone....and she did. She couldn't figure out the snow plow thing, but could turn and did pretty good stopping. She loved it and even rode the tow rope all by herself. The Nelsons' kids - whose last name is Cassens - are hot dog skiers. They have been skiing for years. Weston, who is 9, has no problem with double black diamonds.
The Nelsons park their 5th wheel up at the resort. We were planning on staying in the trailer and a SNOW CAVE that we were going to build but decided the night before that it would just be too crazy getting all of our food and gear ready to be able to stay. The kids were so dissappointed about NOT building a snow cave, that we decided to go ahead and do it. So, at the end of the day, we went back to the 5th wheel and started digging. We figured out that there was no way we would be finished in time to sleep in it (shew!). The kids snow shoed and sledded a bit and then Brad and Doug stayed with a group of them (Michelle, Jessica, Weston, one of their friends, Josiah, and Isaiah) at the trailer for the night (still all wearing their ski clothes since we didn't realize that we were staying) and scrounging what food we all had left from lunch. Karen and I went back to the house with Rachel, Elisha, Micah and Elias. The kids were plowed!!! Elias slept the whole hour home. The next morning, Karen took food to everyone on the mountain and their family all stayed to ski. Brad brought our kids back to the house and we left to head home. We had a great weekend and are trying to figure out how we can buy pre-season ski passes for Big Mountain here in Whitefish for next year. See photos here.