Hello Trekking with Twins readers! Sorry that we’ve been absent from our various online homes for some time, but gut renovating a house and welcoming a new baby tend to fill up your days (and nights).
One of our goals for 2017 is to breathe some life back into Trekking with Twins and keep sharing stories of the fun stuff we do as a family. It won’t always be far flung paradise beaches, but we’ll try to tell some good stories and share lots of good photos!
Over the Thanksgiving holiday this year Nana and Papa invited us to visit with them in “Stowe”, Vermont. They had scored a “bonus week” deal at a three bedroom condo and wanted to us to join them.
At first, honestly I was skeptical. Why drive 4+ hours to make Thanksgiving dinner in a small kitchen without all of the tools and ingredients readily available at home? Stowe, to me, is a ski town, and I didn’t expect to be doing much skiing in November. I don’t have much sway around here though, so we went anyway.
Luckily for us, winter started early this year and the Stowe area was blanketed with over a foot of snow in the few days right before Thanksgiving. So we rushed to throw snow tires on the Mini’s Van and proceeded to completely jam pack it with all of our winter and ski gear in addition to the normal payload of toys, games, baby paraphernalia, and food.
Come to find out we weren’t actually going to Stowe. Nana apparently was referring to the greater Stowe area, as the condo was in fact at Smugglers’ Notch (apparently called Smuggs by those on nickname basis with the mountain).
Smugglers’ Notch and Stowe share the same mountain for their ski trails, but are on opposite sides. Unfortunately for us, coming from the south, there is a notch that is impassable in winter between them. So while only a few minutes apart in the summer, we needed to drive an hour or so further around the mountain to get to Smuggs.
Smugglers’ Notch Family Vacation
On the plus side, once we got there Smugglers’ Notch was amazing! We loved the resort itself, all the activities on site, and fun day trips to Burlington and Stowe.
Smugglers’ Notch Condo
The 3 bedroom condo was huge and comfortable. The 5 of us shared one large bedroom which had 4 single beds and plenty of room for Piper’s pack-and-play. Nana and Papa had the master, and the 3rd bedroom was for Kat’s brother Erik.
The large outdoor deck was a perfect spot to store our turkey soaking in brine and other T-Day meal items that wouldn’t fit in the fridge (the Canadian freezer as Uncle Ryan would say).
Early Season Skiing at Smugglers’ Notch
While the condo was slopeside, the part of the mountain that was open was further up. So we did have to drive about 5 minutes up the road to find the base lodge and lift. If you come later in the season you would be able to ski from your front door.
When we went to buy our tickets we learned that the mountain was offering $20 off per ticket with the donation of a non-perishable food item. Definitely check the website for any deals on lift tickets before you go. Kids were free so the 4 of us skied for about $60.
Perhaps “skied” is a generous term. The one lift that was open went all the way to the top of the mountain. Now Jasper and Aurora are decent skiers as far as 5 year olds go, but they’re still learning and this was their first time hitting the slopes this season. As it turns out, the top of Smugglers’ Notch on a cold blustery day early in the season (=icy) where all the skiers are concentrated on one trail was not the ideal time to advance their skills.
We spent about 2.5 hours inching our way down from the top. Ski patrol stopped by once near the top and offered us a ride, which we declined, still full of confidence. At one steep pitch about half way down I was carrying both kids at the same time while Kat tried to take both sets of their skis. Luckily a friendly gentleman took pity on us and gave AJ a ride while I took Jasper.
There was a lot of crying and snow-pounding tantrums but we made it. Kat and I were a little afraid of a “what are you doing to those kids?!” reaction from Nana and Papa but J&A reported only great times and fun when they returned to the condo! They couldn’t wait to ski again and have since made huge strides taking lessons at Ski Ward and a couple of days at Bretton Woods.
Other Smugglers’ Notch Resort Activities
In addition to the skiing we had a blast sledding on the slope right outside our Condo. The kids had those little plastic disc things, but we forgot to bring our big toboggan.
Uncle Erik and I wanted to participate too, so Uncle E tried to improvise by using a big black trash bag. As you may be surprised to learn, this did not work.
I took a few runs on Jasper’s green plastic disc, which worked great until it shattered into several pieces under my heavier-than-a-5-year-old weight. Sorry Jasper.
Besides sledding, the resort also offers a heated indoor pool that we visited almost every night. There was an outdoor heated pool near our condo as well, but we didn’t have a chance to check it out. There are also two big indoor hot tubs at the indoor pool area.
In the evenings there are a variety of family activities at the Smugglers’ Notch Resort too. One night the Smugglers’ Notch mouse (no idea why they have a mouse) served hot chocolate around a campfire. Another time the resort put on a big bingo game which Jasper especially loved, mostly due to the macaroni pieces used to mark the squares!
In addition to all that we had an amazing Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, and spend a lot of great family time playing Mexican Train (fancy dominoes) and Legends of Catan (as Uncle E puts it “like the last 15 minutes of Monopoly, but the whole time).
Day Trips from Smugglers’ Notch
Kat and I escaped for a day in Burlington with Piper while Nana and Papa watched the (bigger) minis. We had a blast eating delicious crepes at the Skinny Pancake, tasting craft beers at Magic Hat (free tasting room!), and chocolates at the Lake Champlain Chocolate Factory.
On the way home we stopped in Stowe village for some shopping and lunch (Butler’s Pantry). We swung by the Trapp Family Lodge to remind us of our spring 2016 trip to the Alps (future post on that trip), and hit the Ben and Jerry’s factory too indulge in a giant bucket of ice cream.
All in all it was a spectacular weekend of charming New England winter vacationing. Good thing no one listened to me and we agreed to go!