1. Winter Vacations

School vacations typically land in the middle of key business periods and for years I haven’t had much chance to spend time with the kids during their breaks.  This year, our local school system did a convenient job of combining the days off with key holidays.  Combined with my newly found time, we’ve headed out on a couple trips already.  We thought we had planned the perfect combination of winter vacations this year: skiing at Mt. Tremblant near Montreal in January and then a much-needed warm up week in Tucson at the end of February.  We managed to hit both during some of their coldest weather of the winter.

Mt. Tremblant is a good-sized east-coast ski mountain about an hour north of Montreal.  The ski village works hard to simulate a French alpine feel and succeeded well. Typically, cold weather doesn’t affect me, but I met my match this year.  The high temperature during the trip was on the final day: 4°F (-16°C).  Most days we we skied in temperatures ranging from -5°F (-21°C) to -15°F (-26°C).  After finally getting ourselves and the kids some hard core face masks, it was at least bearable…barely.  Luckily we visited with a couple other families and made up for the cold with some good social time.

Tucson didn’t reach these cold temperatures, but still went below freezing every night and even snowed a couple days.  We had booked a “glamping” site for the first five days by a company named Under Canvas.  Our sleeping arrangements were a large platform tent for the parents and the kids shared a teepee next door.  Although well-run and very high-end for campground, it was still camping in the cold.  Normally cold isn’t a problem for us, but we were without our “real” comping gear and sleeping under regular blankets and comforters. Our main tent had a wood stove inside, which began to seem like having a newborn – every two hours during the night we got up to feed it with more wood to stay warm.  Our two oldest slept without heat but Under Canvas supplied so many warm blankets they were able to bundle up successfully. 

We still got in a lot of hiking in Saguaro National Park and even some horseback riding. It turned out to be an interesting way to introduce them to the desert, but next time I’ll take it with 70° days!