How you can tell I’m a travel writer…

Looking down the Single Chair - that's Mount Mansfield in the background. …and not a travel photographer. Although it is Friday, generally the province of photography themed posts around the interwebs, and although I am recently back from a family ski vacation in the very photogenic Vermont, not a single photo did I snap during my time there. Not with my camera, not with my phone. The prettiness at the top of this paragraph is not mine, although I did look at that view repeatedly last weekend.

Which isn’t to say that I returned from the weekend without a plethora of images to share. It’s just that they are all in my head, and I’m going to have to do so with words. So please allow me to tell you what I loved best about our trip, in no particular order:

  • The snow! Mad River Glen had so much more of it than I would have expected given the dun fields we drove past on the way there.
  • The impossibly deep blue winter sky on a cold and sunny morning. I swear if you looked hard enough, you could see from the mountain top into the solar system and beyond, perhaps into Heaven itself.
  • The startling ascent of two crows flapping indignantly out of a tree as I scratched past them. They were my only companions as I chopped my way through an icy, bumpy glade on my father’s favorite trail.
  • Discovering that there are some smoky, salty ribs to be had right up the road from the house we stay in every summer at the Localfolk Smokehouse. Ribs that can be doused with bottles of vinegary sauce at the table and accompanied by our favorite local microbrew Lawson’s Finest Liquid.
  • The boys’ joy at skiing with their grandmother – I didn’t see them for hours after she arrived to meet us at lunch one day.
  • Tommy’s eagerness to challenge himself on a steep, icy mogul field. And his desire to do it again after he went down mostly on his backside because, as he said, “I like to fall.”
  • The wooden owl that presides wisely over all from inside the lift house at the top of the Birdland Chair.
  • Waiting for Matt to catch up to me and trying to warm my fingers. Then forgetting about my fingers as I gazed at the rocky top of Camel’s Hump straight in front of me. The late-afternoon light was falling directly on it so that the triangular summit was aglow against a pale sky.
  • Hot chocolate and chili. Do they ever taste so good as when one is cold and ravenous from a winter morning spent skiing?
  • Reading Heidi to the boys in the car and imagining us all climbing in the Alps next summer and perhaps even drinking some goat milk (no other book has ever given me a desire to drink goat milk but it is such a magical and delicious cure-all in that story that it makes me want to try some).
  • Teddy’s intense pride at riding up to the very top of the mountain on the Single Chair for the first time. Was this the child who once insisted on spending the afternoon in the daycare? Fearless now, he nonchalantly side-stepped off at the top as if he’d done it every day of his life.
  • Zipping down the groomers, pretending for just a moment that my legs carried only 16 years instead of 41. And then watching Tommy catch some air and realizing that, yes, indeed, my legs have four times as many years on them as his do. And realizing that this is OK.

Perhaps best of all I loved the fact that the air was so clear and bright that on several of the mornings we could see three different mountain ranges – the nearby spine of the Green Mountains with the snowy White Mountains behind them and in the opposite direction the Adirondacks sloping down to the blue of Lake Champlain. For me, nothing makes the world seem more expansive than seeing it from the top of Mad River Glen on a cold day, just as I’m about to fly down to the bottom. I took that photograph with my heart and will keep it there.

(And of course I knew I needed at least one actual photograph so thank you to Ned Guthrie via Flickr.)

Reader Responses

1 fellow traveler had this to say

  1. I can completely relate. I was most recently in Spain, Hawaii and Bali and I can count the pictures I took on one hand. It’s all about the memories!

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