Monday, April 16, 2012

18MPH a Family Adventure: Reintroduction.

our family on the road to Jackson Hole, WY

This morning as I prepared breakfast for our son and myself, I thought, how awful that I haven't taken any time to write a post. Since Oliver's birth, now 13 months ago, I've sort of ignored the social media thing and just lived. Aside from posting pics of our kid and learning about new snowboard related activity on the Tweets, I don't do much in the internets any longer. However, I wanted to share experiences with like minded people and show how a family can still be active and have adventures. We're not rich, so we don't get to just drop and go as we please, but we make our life outside a priority. It's important for parents to spend time with their children in the outdoors and doing activities as a group. Even when their very young.

After Oliver was born Melinda made running a marathon a goal. Running is something she enjoys and wanted to prove to herself that she could raise the money, train and finish. She did just that in the Twin Cities marathon, with the Team in Training. This spring, she's made it my turn. I'm doing the Lifetime Lutsen 99er mountain bike race. Not that I want to be competitive, I just want to ride 100 miles on a mountain bike and challenge the hell out of myself. This race happens June 23rd in Lutsen, MN. Hopefully the Summer will be filled with other MTB races. I don't have a strong group of riding friends in Minnesota, so I hope to break out of my shell and get with some groups. It's not for a lack of riders here, it's a scheduling thing now. I can't just drop everything and ride. Also call it Minnesota nice. People here ride. There's world class riders that are very nice. They just don't want to ride with you. There are some great folks at the Angry Catfish I get to ride with on occasion. My only real day to get a long ride in is on Sundays. I'm now a weekend warrior. Still I commute on my work days.

We make Oliver apart of this training any way we can. He goes with on Melinda's runs in the Mountain Buggy. He goes on hikes with Melinda while I ride. He gets to see me ride and thinks it's the best thing ever. Smiles the whole time! We now need to purchase a bike trailer for him. At Hoigaards, a local outdoor sporting shop, he walked right up to a Burley 'Lite and got inside. I pulled him around the store in it, and nothing but laughs. Surprised we haven't already made that purchase. It's coming. The car needs tires. Stupid cars.

Aside from these challenges we simply enjoy showing our son the life that is outside of mundane city life. We're not condo people. I've learned that I'm less of a city person in the last few years. My job as a body piercer keeps me here. I've been piercing for over 15 years and can't seem to get away from it. It's something I've been heavily involved with, but you won't find me blogging about it. Not here. This blog is about family, travel, outside experiences and products we use. I do plan to be reviewing some things on this blog as a part of how we experience bike rides, snowboarding, kid's stuff, foods, nutrition and hikes ETC.

There! The blog is reestablished after a long hiatus. Let's get down to business. What I'm writing about today is a major turning point for our family, our first road trip. This would be the first time either of us traveled with an infant for 19 hours in a car. He's been on a plane to California, drives to northern Minnesota, but nothing like this. Altitude, temperature changes and long periods of time in a vehicle, not to mention, day care. He was a champ.

Snowboarding to Melinda and me is a major priority. We are not ashamed to admit that we've already got high hopes for our little man to ride. He shows a lot of interest in it. As much as you'd expect from an older child. He watches videos with us, likes to play with our boards (and his own), not to mention loves the snow. It's important for a child to experience and try just about everything and let them decide if they like it or not, yes. However, for us, snowboarding is huge. If Oliver decided he didn't like it, that's okay, but he's still going to the mountains with us. But I'm sure he won't have any problems with that. He loves time outside. 

Our original plan was to fly into SFO and meet Melinda's mom, drive down to Monterey and then out to Squaw Valley. This plan was for the middle of February, so there should be tons of snow. Not a chance! Squaw didn't see any snow until the week of our plans. Jackson had been getting the most snow of anywhere. After a little research, we found that it wasn't going to kill us in the wallet either. Melinda was getting a good tax return and decided that we needed the vacation. Even if it was several hours in the car to save some money.

We got 4 days of riding and 5 days at the mountain, staying at the Hostel, a private room without TV or any luxury aside from a shower. We could hear our neighbors in all directions and it lacked much luster, but we didn't care. It's not luxury we're in for when visiting the mountains. We were on the mountain, near the tram and next to the Mangy Moose. Great food there and a good place to wind down after a day on the steeps of JH.

Oliver's first daycare experience, Wranglers at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

So, what to do with the munchkin while we're out riding? Wrangler's day care! We were excited that Oliver would get to spend time with other kids while we were on the mountain. He loves kids and socializing. He's really not afraid to be away from us. A very independent child, indeed! This was more expensive than the passes to the mountain, but worth it to get to enjoy sometime in the snow together without worry. When meeting the staff we were pretty relieved that they were so great, not that we had much doubt. Most of them were in their early 20s and genuinely liked children. We did have to pack his bottles, snacks and a pack of diapers. Not a problem for prepared mothers.

Oliver loved it in the snow and was very curious as to what we were doing there. He loves anything to do with the snowboards and getting outside. Next season is his!

Melinda only got one day in the snow. This her at the top of the gondola, with her Burton Feelgood Flying V. Her first realtime riding it. She made a very important decision to sacrifice riding... Why? Another little munchkin is on the way!!! That's the really big news in the blog.

This is the start to another new adventure. We'll be a family of 4 next season.

So, with Melinda not riding, she surprised me with a gift of some new Burton Cartel EST bindings to go on my Custom X. I traveled out with both old Custom and a new Custom X. The only bindings that go on my boards have been Cartels for the last 6 boards. My 2009 custom has 2010 purps on it. I didn't get to touch the old Custom since the edges were a little dull and the hills were pretty packed and icy. The Frost Bite™ edges on the X gave me serious confidence. For a chunk of the trip, I ventured into the JH backcountry, but kept it safe. Always watched the avy reports and made sure there were others around. Melinda's not much into riding off piste, so that means I've got to get social on the hill and make some new friends. The fact that I have the right gear, and know how to use it gave me an advantage to finding a couple people to tag along with while hiking off the tram and into the back ridges.

New Driver X kicks inside of the 2012 Cartels

A couloir that I was fortunate enough to find

Four Shadows. The snow had been baking too long anywhere else. Loud, packed shredding!

Basking in the morning sun, about to get technical and have fun spinning off the rocks

I just wish we could have stayed longer. I'm sure this won't be our last Jackson trip. There's a lot more to explore out there. 

Overall, the trip went very well. Only a few moments of screaming baby at night time, when he was just over driving. Altitude had no effect on him. He stayed under 7,000 ft. Another reason we stayed in Jackson was the lower altitude than, say, Breckenridge or other Colorado resorts we had talked about visiting. I wish I could get more into the logistics of this trip and the how-tos of packing with an infant for such an adventure. As we get into camping season, we'll touch on that more. 

We look forward to many more of these trips. Next season's big trip will have to be in the Tahoe area. We're a little bummed that the winter didn't happen in Minnesota this season, but now it's on to MTB Season. I've already put in 50 miles on the single track. Still, I'm dreaming of those days spent in Wyoming. There's a lot more to tell of this adventure. I'm sure I'll make mention of it again. I may even do a full write up of the foods we had in the village and the visits to the little natural foods store in town, Jackson Hole Foods. 

New Years Eve snow. Oliver standing sideways for the first time

Checking this everyday until it's time to ride that beast

Bundled up

Melinda adds to the beautiful view

First tram ride

Road fun.

fare well Tetons 

Co Pilot

Inventory time 

Melinda behind the wheel for a few hours

No Joke

Shreddy The Yeti in the Burton Stash Park_ Best park I've ridden. Wish I had some fresh in it at the time I rode it. Can't wait to take the kids in here!

That last big adventure for the Element. Good bye old friend. You got me and the family to many places safely and with much fun. We had to move up to a bigger car. The Pilot. 

To learn more about our leetle family, check out Melinda's blog:

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