Ski with the family: Crested Butte, Colorado!

Every winter our family makes the pilgrimage to the vast playground of western Colorado.  Since we live in New England, an area brimming with ski slopes, people always ask us why we bother to go west.  In a nutshell…  Big sky, big mountains and in the winter BIG snow. Not to mention unobstructed family time that is becoming rare.

family, ski, colorado, gunnison, crested butte, elk mountains

cousins!

 

But when the reality hits of paying for airfare, ski equipment, rental car, lift tickets, food, blah blah blah I sometimes wonder too… why are we doing this?

Well, this is why…

 

colorado, snow, ski

Beautiful Mt. Crested Butte

And this…

red lady

Not to mention that Crested Butte is a destination.  You don’t just stumble upon the town or pass through and decide to stop for lunch.  If you are there, you are meant to be there. It’s very remote and therefore has kept a lot of its original, old mining town charm.  Which they rightfully place in high regard and a trip to the local museum on Main St. will guide you through the town’s mining past.

The town is not wrought with schwanky overpriced stores, and restaurants. Although it is LOADED with incredible eateries and funky boutiques.  It bursts with color and charm and hospitality.  For as cold as it gets here in the winter, Crested Butte is still one of the warmest places we’ve visited.

troublemaker, wine, stash, pizza

The bookwall at The Secret Stash, Crested Butte, CO

The mountain itself is low-key but offers incredibly diverse terrain and a slew of outdoor activities for every age range and IT IS NOT SUPER CROWDED!!! I thankfully do not have to worry about our kids having a mid-run collision as much as I do at some of the more cramped resorts. I think this is in part to the fact that again, Crested Butte is a destination. It is far enough off the beaten path that you do not have as many weekend skiers as you do closer to Denver or in the East.

From extreme, crazy, cliff caressing, hair-on-fire skiers  to 2 year old bunnies riding the Magic Carpet, and every level of skier in between, Mt. Crested Butte does not disappoint.  Our kids are usually taking turns at one of the terrain parks.  Which is surprisingly fun even for an older, average skier like myself.  Granted the kids had to teach me  what to do and I did manage a face full of snow at one point, but still fun. And the kids LOVE it.  There are two smaller terrain parks and then there is one super colossal, mac daddy, wear your knee brace, park.  My fearless duo and their equally fearless cousins love el grande.

Lessons.  Great all around.  We’ve enrolled the kids for the past few years (ask for Todd- he’s great!) and from every lesson the kids come away with something new.  I will say that the lessons are not cheap but are totally worth every penny.  My 2 sisters-in-law and I took a powder lesson a few year’s back and loved it! Being from New England, I’m used to skiing on ice so the lesson was needed if I wanted to hang in the powder.  Learned a ton. Again, worth every penny.  If you have little littles, they have a great daytime child care program while you hit the slopes.  Plus a great “park” at the base offers skating, tubing, bungee/trampoline jumping and rock climbing.  Music’s always playing, sun is shining, life is good!family, ski, west, colorado, snow, fun, big sky, blue, mountain

Although we have never stayed in any of the Mt. Crested Butte Resort lodging (they offer the Grand Lodge, Elevation Hotel & Spa and Mountaineer Square), all of their properties are newly renovated and have breathtaking views of the mountain. The resort runs ski an stay deals quite often especially early in the season.  We opt for ski-in, ski-out condos.  Check Visit Crested Butte’s vacation homes listings or search VRBO,  Home Away, or Flip Key for more options.

For dining be sure to check out:

The Secret Stash – great pizza and very cool atmosphere. Be prepared to hang out for a while.

The Ginger Cafe – great pan-Asian food

Pitas in Paradise – Global comfort food

Camp 4 Coffee – a must have for a perfectly roasted bean. I always bring a few bags home.

stars, funky, fun, lights, nightlife, night, pizza,

 

 

Family Travel Planning & Reading Lists: The Spain Edition

For us, family vacation planning is like child development.  When your child is born you first confirm that all of the large, gross motor skills are functioning then move on to assess the more detailed, fine motor skills.  With trip planning it’s generally same thing. We get the big heavies out of the way first… planes, trains, and automobiles.   When this stage of travel planning is complete  my husband & I heave a long, sigh of relief and start planning the details.  What will we see, do, eat, and experience?  This is the fun part. The “fine motor details” of the trip, necessary to having fun and being efficient with our time.  This is crucial especially when traveling with kids.

 

S reading at Shakespeare & Co., Paris

 

The development that goes into your vacation planning can foster your child’s personal development.

Reading about our destination (in a non-travel guide format) is just as much a part of travel planning as is scouting out local markets or researching historic sites.  We try to nurture our kids’ personal development, education and cultural mindfulness through our travels. Choosing captivating reading material to peruse ahead of time is a fun way to launch the adventure.

We create family book lists for all trips, domestic or international.  (Unless we’re going to Disney.  They’ve been adequately schooled.  Thanks Walt!).  If our lists are done well (and followed through with…) it’s fascinating to watch the kids’ minds puzzle together pieces from their reading, their travels and their school education.  Below is our book list for our upcoming trip to Spain.

 

The Story of Ferdinand  by Munro Leaf

The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf

“Ferdinand” was first published in 1936 and it weaves the tale of a young bull from Andalucia, (Ronda as it looks from the illustrations) who finds his inner strength not from being the chosen bull for the bull-fights in Madrid, but by being himself and enjoying the simple pleasures  in life that HE treasures.

 

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes.

Don Quixote of the Mancha (Everyman's Library Children's Classic) by Miguel de Cervantes adapted by Judge Judge Parry

Classic, Spanish and fun.  Although we are feeling bad for Don Quixote right now…

 

Platero y Yo  by  Juan Ramon Jimenez

Platero y yo / Platero and I by Juan Ramon Jimenez

Jimenez paints a beautiful picture of the Andalucian countryside in his touching tale of a young man traveling with his donkey Platero. He describes the life and children of Andalucia and bits of their rich heritage.  We bought the bilingual version so we can practice our Spanish.  Honestly, this has not “grabbed” our kids yet, so excerpts from the book will do the trick.  There are more kid friendly all-Spanish versions available.  Hopefully a good read for post trip reflection.

 

Building on Nature: The Life of Antoni Gaudi by Rachel Victoria Rodriguez

Building on Nature - The Life of Antoni Gaudi by Rachel Victoria Rodriguez

“(Antoni Gaudi’s) home is in Catalonia, a place of jagged mountain peaks and silvery olive trees, splashed by the sparkling sea. The wild beauty of this landscape makes a deep impression. He thinks of it as the Great Book of Nature, and he will read from it all of his life.

Gaudí becomes an architect, learning the rules of form and structure that buildings are supposed to follow. But the shapes and colors of the natural world still inspire him, and he works them into his buildings. Leaves climb up walls. Pillars are giant animal feet. A long bench snakes around a playground.

Antoni Gaudí turned nature into art, and in the process he revolutionized the world of architecture.” (text courtesy of Rachel Victoria Rodriguez and Amazon.com)

 

Messi: The Inside Story of the Boy Who Became a Legend – (a biography) by Luca Caioli:

Messi: The Inside Story of the Boy Who Became a Legend, by Luca Caioli

Now, even though Lionel Messi is Argentinian, he has become a legend for Spanish soccer (and beyond!).  Our son adores him and this book was for his enjoyment and pre-trip excitement.  Now if we could only get our hands on four Barcelona vs. Real Madrid tickets.  Sigh.

 

The Story of the World: Volume 2:  The Middle Ages, by Susan Wise Bauer

Story of the World, Vol. 2: The Middle Ages, by Susan Wise Bauer

 

Great children’s history series!  This volume covers the fall of the Roman Empire to the Renaissance and honestly, and I cannot wait to read it!  Again, this is another “excerpt” read for now, but the info collected in this series is really well-done and will be a great cross-over book for future European exploration with the kids.

 

Trip planning and child raising both have unique development phases.  But a well developed trip can help form a well developed child.  

PLEASE feel free to add your suggestions in the comment section.  We’d love some more ideas!

Happy Reading!

 

 

 

Daily Photo – Flea Markets in Southern France

Flea Market Finds

On a recent family trip to France, we visited the bustling flea market in Isle-Sur-La-Sorgue near Avignon.  This charming town, complete with fairy tale streams and antique water wheels is worth a visit any day of the week, but the Saturday flea market is exceptional.  The prices were a little high, but the kids haggled in French (thankfully, the people were very kind and adore kids!) and they found some reasonably priced treasures.  Here is a picture our daughter ‘s favorite vintage soda bottles.

Daily Photo – March 2, 2012

S & S checking out the Rockies in Wyoming

 

In like a lion, out like a lamb!  March is here and that means summer vacation is just around the corner.  Here is a photo of our kids just before we entered Jackson, WY last summer.  We visited Grand Teton National Park and then headed south to Crested Butte, CO.  Idyllic summer break.  Fresh air, big sky and endless outdoor adventures.  We’ll trek out west again this summer and we can’t wait!