A lot has been written about powder skiing, extreme skiing, mogul skiing, and competitive skiing, but what about family skiing?
I may make a pretty lame Clark Griswald for the first 24 hours of our annual vacation to Big Sky, but Chevy Chase has got nothing on me after that. Loading up the '94 Toyota pickup (a pretty fine ride compared to the Vacation's Family Truckster) and ditching the wife and kids (very unlike Clark) for the drive down from Helena is a snap. In the upper lot by 2, it's more slip-into-a-phone-booth-for-a-quick-change-into-ski-clothes, than picking up Aunt Edna at Cousin Eddy's.
On the hill by 2:25 for eight quick laps on Andesite, then quickly into Whiskey Jack's for a few beers and watching the game (everyone enjoyed that Charger fan Sunday) before it's back to the pickup and the start of being Griswald.
Of course my, er Clark's, condo has 17 steps down, then 32 steps up. There's three coolers of food, three ski bags, four totes of dry foods and clothes, four suitcases...you get the idea. Down, up. Down, up. Down, up. Down, up. Down, up. And one more down, up.
Lock the keys in the truck and water is boiling over on the stove. Phone rings and it's the wife, "Where have you been?" Well, not exactly at the pool with Christy Brinkley.
The next morning it's time for a day on the slopes to burn up the next eight hours before the wife and kids arrive. Yeah, it's off to The Tram. The sun is shining off the peak in typical Lone Mountain-fashion as I load for that always awesome ride to the top. Everything's cool, but then a thick cloud - now I'm thinking was that Eugene Levy loading me in the tramcar? - decides to hang onto the side of the mountain for the next 20 minutes. I pick my way over to The Gullies and down, look back up and the cloud moves along. Figures.
All's good after that little episode as a couple inches of fresh snow blankets the rest of Big Sky and no more incidents for the day. Turns out that it's the calm before the storm.
Dork that I am, I decide to wait outside at the turnoff for the family to pull in. Just thinking about how excited they'll be to see me standing anxiously awaiting their arrival. I'm singing the Wally World theme song "Morty Moose" only changing the words to Tommy Big Sky. "T-o-m-m-y! B-i-g-S-k-y! Tommy Big Sky, Tommy Big Sky, Tommy Big Sky, guh-yuk, that's me!"
Here they come. I'm bouncing up-and-down, really giving it my all. The wife's car pulls closer. Something's wrong. Where are the kids? Another car is right behind. They're in there with my MOTHER-IN-LAW! OK, she's not exactly Aunt Edna, but you get the picture.
"Are you ready to haul more stuff down and up those stairs?" she asks as only a mother-in-law can. Yes, ma'am. Our ninth annual trip to Big Sky is officially off and running. Stay tuned for more . . . .
Tom Stuber spent 18 years as a sports writer for the Helena Independent Record and is hoping his new Family Truckster gives him an angle as ski writer.