Monday, January 18, 2010

Angel Fire or Bust!

The headlights from behind flashed in a bright, frenzied pattern. Checking the rear-view mirror, I saw Courtney’s car pull to the side of the road, her brights still flashing off and on. I pulled onto the shoulder of the desolate two-lane highway, darkness cloaking the landscape. The lights from our two cars illuminated the black road winding toward the mountains.
After a full day of driving, we were just a couple hours shy of our destination as we stopped outside of Springer, NM.
“U ok?” I texted.
My phone rang and her words rushed out, “I just nailed a deer. A huge buck, maybe an elk?!”
“What?! Everyone ok?”
I thought of our four boys sharing Nintendos and Ipods, peering out the front window with wide eyes and a rush of adrenaline as the SUV hit the enormous animal at full speed.
“Yeah, we’re all fine, I mean, that thing just ran right in front of my car. There can’t be anything left of it.”
“Want me to drive back there?”

“I think we’re ok. Let me check the damage. Just a sec, going to look at the front of the car.”
I circled back to Courtney’s suburban, whispering a prayer of gratitude that the buck didn’t go flying through her front windshield, and that she didn’t swerve but instead knew to hit the animal straight on to keep from crashing.
“Hey TJ, the boys want to try and find the buck. You ok with that?”
(Laughing) “Sure.”
I drove on slowly past her suburban, shining my brights into the mountainous no-man’s-land, cringing at what I might see. At once the huge buck lumbered right into the beam of my headlights, jerking it’s body right and left, crying out from obvious pain.
Oh no.
Worse than road kill, this animal was ALIVE and in tremendous pain.
Courtney pulled up next to me, the beams of her car narrowed in on the dying deer. Rolling down her window she said, “TJ, I can shoot it. What do you think?”
I knew her dad’s gun was tucked away in the glove compartment, but I also knew she didn’t have a New Mexico hunting license.

“Courtney! You can’t use that gun here without a license!”
Later I regretted not encouraging her to put the poor thing out of it’s misery. Not only would the buck have been relieved of its suffering, but my boys would have had a STORY to tell...

So this was the introduction to our very fun, very eventful trip. My friend Courtney and I just took our (seven!) kids on a week-long ski trip. We successfully got our kids to Angel Fire, NM, got them on the mountain with all the necessary gear, and enjoyed a week of skiing and snowboarding. We enrolled the kids in ski and snowboard school and ended up with all-day private lessons because NO ONE was on the mountain. Literally, our kids had two-on-one, all-day lessons with snowboard and ski instructors for a fraction of the cost because they were the only ones in ski and snowboard school.

By the end of our week, our first-time skiers Basden and Caroline cruised down blues, and all of our first-time snowboarding boys looked like they’d been on boards for years. Even after consecutive full days on the mountain, none of the kids were ready to stop. I told Courtney I felt like it was such a GIFT to have this week, pivotal for all of our children in regards to learning skiing and snowboarding skills.

Corbin, Todd, Mama and Papa got there half-way through our week, and then the real fun began. Yummy meals, a home brimming with family and friends, and sunny days on the slopes with our families.

My favorites from our week:
- Down time with the Breedings, long-time friends from church. Our kids were such compliments to each other; everyone but Esther had a perfectly-matched playmate (and even then Essie made her way in to play with whomever she wanted.)
- Simply spending time at Papa’s Mountains - lounging in the lodge with a hot cup of coffee while the kids whisked down sleds from the road to the pond.
- Cameron keeping Esther ALL WEEK while we skied. And then convincing me that she loved every minute of it.
- Corbin and Uncle Alan pulling kids and sleds up the hill on snowmobiles for hours on end.
- Watching Bran and Hud (and Ashton and Sawyer and Foster) scoot down the mountain on snowboards, gliding left and right and jumping like experts. I was amazed at their ability in such a short amount of time.
- Basden’s cautious manner of wanting to ski “pizza-style” and not go too fast with “french fries.” But as she grew more comfortable skiing, her wedge gradually turned parallel without much effort. And she LOVED every minute of it.
- Mama and Papa’s sacrificial love, giving up their bedroom all week for Corbin and me. They flew in from Seattle after keeping River and Nera for a week, and then came “home” to camp out at Cam’s for the rest of the week. As always, they made us feel like a very welcomed disturbance to their quiet and accommodating lodge.

This bragging Mommy must end with a few (very short!) videos. Here's Bran, Hud & Basden (with Daddy) on the slopes: