It's All About the Goggles

Of course not, but it's fun to say.

I got new goggles this week. At least, I think it was this week. I have lost all track of time since about December 23rd. But yes, it was this week on Boxing Day actually. The first Boxing Day I have gone shopping in any recent memory.

There's nothing special about these goggles. They weren't expensive. They're not a fashion statement. I choose them because they fit over my glasses.

I skied last season without goggles but the more we ski, in all wintry weather conditions, the more I need coverage around my eyes. My glasses just don't cut it on their own.

Of course I didn't pop in just to talk about goggles but to tell you what a fabulous time we are having as we host our friends on a ski vacation. This trip of theirs was kind of impromptu. We didn't make the arrangements until just a couple weeks before Christmas.

These friends are from Maine. We met them on a hiking trail in the Whites. They are a family who loves the outdoors. We are a family who loves the outdoors.

If you think our kids are amazing hiking all the miles we do, that's just because you haven't met our friend's kids. They rock the hiking and ski trails and they are just early elementary aged. 

Our friends arrived three days ago and it's been straight skiing since then. First a day at the local hill where live. Yesterday, backcountry trail skiing in the mountains. Today we're going back to the mountains for some on and off trail backcountry. And when we get home, if we have any energy left, we'll take the kids tubing at the ski hill. 

For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, backcountry skiing is when you ski non-groomed and non-lift areas, usually mountainous terrain. You can do this with cross country skis but for particularly steep areas you use different gear. You walk up the mountain on your skis (they have "skins" on the bottoms or special wax to help you do this) then you ski down. 

The down is the fun part and it's why we make all the effort to go up. That and of course the spectacular beauty. Which of course you're not seeing in this post since it's all about the goggles. 

I hope to be back to "regular" posting sometime next week but I'm having way too much fun right now to say for sure when I will return to regular life. Our friends leave tomorrow. But then there's clean up and maybe we'll start homeschool again, and of course more snow in our backyard to ski...

If you have any skiing or outdoorsy questions I'd be happy to answer them here. When I get in from skiing that is. Here is the story of how our skiing adventures began last winter. And Damien's written a great post on how we outfitted our kids for this kind of skiing (which is kind of non-standard). 

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  • Amanda

    Amanda on Dec. 30, 2012, 2:03 p.m.

    We've been skiing 6 out of the last 7 days, and we'll be skiing the next 3 as well! Cross-country, that is. We are all so glad to finally see a good amount of snow - we have no idea when homeschool will begin again, other than an in-depth examination of snow, of course! :) The house is a mess, nothing else is getting done, but we are really happy!! Have fun skiing and we'll see you when we see you!

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  • Sarah

    Sarah on Dec. 31, 2012, 4:15 a.m.

    That's AWESOME that you take your kids back country skiing! Skiing is one of my favorite pastimes (and is by FAR my brother's favorite--he wants to be a pro big-mountain skiier) but I have never gone into the back country. We live on the West Coast (Tahoe, Wasatch, Rockies...) and back country is dangerous (avalanches are too common for my comfort) here. I'd love to know if that is a risk in the East and if so how you figure out what is/isn't safe (i.e. what trails to go on, when to go after it snows, ect.)... Do you have certain people/books/websites you use to get that type of information? My other question is whether your children are into all of the outdoor activities you do or whether there is some cajoling, bribery, ect. (I know that not all of my friends love the outdoors as much as my family does...)

    Thank you! Enjoy the snow!

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    • renee

      renee on Dec. 31, 2012, 7:59 p.m.

      Depending on the area, the time of year, and amount of snowfall, the backcountry is not dangerous where we live. We don't yet ski areas with avalanche risk. Maybe someday. But not till we're trained in that. And personally I have no desire to ski avalanche risk areas. Not my gig.  These eastern mtns are nothing compared to the western ranges, but they're ours and we take full advantage of living in them. And one such advantage is less danger - both in terms of conditions and wildlife. Interesting question about where we go looking for information - are you asking because you want to see these sites or because you want to be be sure we're not neglient parents (smile)?In either case, Damien does all of that in our family and so I have no sites to recommend. But I do know he gets an avalanche report every week. We do not bribe or cajole our kids into the outdoors. (we don't bribe or cajole on much, in fact nothing comes to mind.) We do this because it's just who we are. Just like we don't bribe them to eat salad for lunch, or to do their math, or whatever else we do. This is a question I'd like to answer in-depth someday on our adventure blog because we've been asked this before. And other questions like "what if your kids grow up and never want to go hiking again?" (answer: that's their choice).

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      • Sarah

        Sarah on Jan. 2, 2013, 3:03 p.m.

        Hahah--I was asking because I'd love to back-country ski when I'm in the North-East... but only if it's safe because I have very limited avalanche knowledge.

        That's awesome that you don't bribe or cajole--I admire that... but I know how sad I would be if I couldn't show my children all the things I love in the outdoors. I do think that a lot of enjoyment in and willingness to be in the outdoors comes from positive previous experiences.

        I have another question if you're still answering... I'd love to know what foods you eat to fuel up for doing energy-burning outdoor activities... And what foods you eat when back-packinging (especially to keep it light). That may be too in-depth to answer here... in that case, maybe it's a future post? :) I am vegetarian and find myself eating a lot of dairy (especially eggs) to get protein (also beans and lentils) when I'm skiing, hiking, mountain biking, running, ect. Thank you!

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        • renee

          renee on Jan. 2, 2013, 3:32 p.m.

          Sarah, ah.. that's the reason behind the question. In which case I should add that I know nothing about backcountry skiing in the north eastern US, except that some people do it at Tuckerman's ravine at Mount Washington in NH. But... if you come out east and are willing to come to the Gaspe peninsula we can take you skiing in the backcountry with us. And if it's safe enough for us to take our kids, it's definitely safe enough for you. Are you planning to go to school in the north east? We used to live in Lewiston, Maine and Damien worked at Bates College - a great school. Bates was a big part of our life for those years. There's a great student outdoors club at the school (which Damien was casually involved in). We met great students at Bates, through the outdoors club, that our still our friends today.  As for food - that's really too long of a comment to share here. But it's funny because we just had a phone interview with a writer, who is publishing an article in the Appalachian Trail Conservancy magazine in the spring on that very topic. And that's what she interviewed us about - What we eat. How we prepare and prep our food etc.  We will get a digital copy of that article and when it's out we'll mention in on Outsideways (and probably here).  In short, our hiking food is different from backpacking food. But both are simple foods - with lots of beans, or tofu as well as some grains. We also eat lots of dried fruits and nuts for mor fat, protein and energy.

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          • Sarah

            Sarah on Jan. 3, 2013, 12:59 a.m.

            I'd love to ski TUckerman's Ravine--my dad did it (a long time ago!) and still tells us about it.... and I would REALLY love to make it out to the Gaspé peninsula and meet you and your family... and go backcountry skiing! Wow, now that sounds like a lot of fun!

            I am hoping to attend school in the north-east... and I am considering Bates! It does seem like a wonderful community and an especially wonderful outdoors community (and a beautiful place--I hope to get up there to see it, although I am not sure if we'll make it there). It is an exciting (and difficult) process for many reasons, especially because it will make me look at who I am and what I want/need more. I am also considering McGill and UBC (the schools I am thinking about in Canada).

            In regards to food--I look forward to seeing that article... and to eating more tofu! (My family eats meat and tofu has never featured as a big part of our diet, even though my parents and I love it... I'm not sure about my siblings.) I also follow Outsideways--that's actually how I found FIMBY.

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            • renee

              renee on Jan. 3, 2013, 1:41 a.m.

              Sounds like some fabulous school choices and I have feelings about all of them. Montreal is AMAZING (we lived there for one month this summer) so McGill would be cool. British Columbia is one of the places in Canada we'd really love to live so I vote for UBC also. And Bates is a wonderful american college in a wonderful state! nice chatting with you Sarah. (smile).

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  • mandi

    mandi on Dec. 31, 2012, 5:56 p.m.

    i really enjoy your blog! Thanks for taking the time. I was looking at your pics today of your skiing adventures and was wondering what kind of vehicle you drive. That is a lot of gear to be hauling!! My husband and I are expecting our first little one in around a month, we can't wait to have adventures like you do.

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    • renee

      renee on Dec. 31, 2012, 7:46 p.m.

      Mandi, interesting question. Damien and I have always had small vehicles, even when we had three kids in car seats. No minivans. Now we have an old Rav-4. I actually wrote about it. A poem of all things! A couple thoughts on vehicles, children and adventure. You don't need a big vehicle to have adventures, go camping, skiing etc. We don't even have a carry box on our roof. We do have a roof rack that we tie our adult skis to.  You don't need a big vehicle to have kids, even three kids. You don't need a big vehicle if you don't want one. I have nothing against larger vehicles but they're not for us.  We made the choice a long time ago (early marriage actually) to keep our car needs simple. We have a lightweight camping and backpacking philosophy that allows us to have adventure and not need a huge vehicle.  This summer when we lived in Montreal for a month we fit everything we needed and then some into the back of our car.  As for the skiing specifically, our whole family does three kinds of skiing - cross-country, back-country and downhill with one equipment set up each. I.e.: we each have one set of skis for all three activities. Damien's done a lot of research and planning to make this possible. And all our boots, skis, poles, and backpacks fit easily in and on our car. This is probably a longer response than you expected but I'd like to encourage you as a new parent that you can raise a family on less vehicle than most north americans believe possible! I mentioned your comment to my family (as I do many comments on the blog) and to quote my 13 year, "we just smoosh in and live simply".

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