|via Smugglers' Notch Vermont|
We have lived in Vermont for twelve years and have somehow managed to avoid the ski culture almost entirely. As I have a fear of heights, downhill skiing has never held much appeal. My feeling is that while mountains are pretty, they are best appreciated from a distance. But there's no denying that skiing is a major source of tourist revenue here. When one moves to Vermont from out of state, the locals reflexively make the assumption that skiing was the draw. Why else, they wonder, would anyone willingly endure the long, brutal winters? Smuggs is one of the more affordable ski areas in the area and the most popular with the locals as a result. So I wasn't surprised to run into a few familiar faces over the weekend.
While we haven't done it much, I am open to the idea of cross-country skiing. So, rather than jumping at the free lift tickets, we opted for a cross-country lesson as our outdoor activity for the weekend. Our lesson was excellent, our instructor Kara knowledgeable, patient and encouraging. Cross-country skiing is hard work, though. While a significantly cheaper hobby than downhill, it's more taxing than snowshoeing which is near idiot-proof. Going down even a modest incline in skis is still anxious for a wimp like me. I recommend the instruction highly but long term, it's not a hobby I'm likely to pursue. Of the three of us, Our Girl was easily the most confident. She gets to ski in PE, the lucky kid
A ski resort is like a tiny, self-contained city. In addition to the numerous lodging options, there's a central area with a general store, restaurants, outfitters, an indoor pool and so forth. Our condo was a decent distance from the village center, which was fine by me. In fact, my favorite part of the vacation was the free shuttle service. I have found that, in general, my ideal holiday involves as little driving as possible and Smuggs was most accommodating. We had plenty of space - probably more square footage than we have on the main floor of our house. We could almost live there if not for the troubling lack of bookshelves.
The low-light of the experience was the resort's mid-range restaurant, the Morse Mountain Grille. We went the first night with a big group and it was disastrous. Our order took forever, even the drinks. We all stared at an empty table for nearly an hour. The numerous children with us, including our daughter, were amazingly patient but the adults got restless, then irritated, then angry. The food itself, once it came, was fine. But the piss-poor service ruined the meal.
The weekend was very nice, though I'm not sure there's much point in spending a weekend at a ski resort if one doesn't ski. If we should be offered the opportunity again, I'd vote for bringing our snowshoes and exploring the numerous trails on offer. It was fun to observe the skiers bustling about, an entire subculture that runs parallel to our everyday experience living nearby. Other resorts - namely Stowe - cater to the international crowd but I saw license plates from as far away as Ontario and Maryland. It's certainly tough to complain about a vacation when someone else is paying!