A blog about me and my adventure as an ex-pat.
Because someone told me to... Thank you Gaby.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

more fun on the snow...

When we moved here we were given lots of great advice. One piece was on how to survive the Michigan winter.

It can start snowing here as early as November and still be cold and snowing in April. When we arrived at the end of March (almost 3 years ago!) we brought 12 suitcases full of winter and summer clothes as no-one could tell us if it would be sunny or freezing in that first month before the rest of our clothes arrived.
And they were right - we got everything! From freezing cold temperatures, a light dusting of snow, thunderstorms and then a gloriously hot and sunny Easter in April!
The weather is definitely unpredictable and there seem to be 2 main weather systems... Freezing cold with snow or sweltering hot and humid. Spring and Autumn go by in a flash! I was looking through fall and winter photos from this last year and found ones of the kids running around the back yard in swim suits in September! Bearing in mind that it was cold and rainy in August, it did make me chuckle!

So how do you survive a Michigan winter? Escape to somewhere considerably warmer like the UK or Florida? Well if you don't work or go to school that is a possibility but for those who are here and enduring 5 or 6 months of winter the best advice we were given was to find something you enjoy doing in the winter and embrace it. Like skiing or tubing.

We really haven't been able to do that yet. The first winter we were here, the snow was so deep it came up to Toby's knees and he just stood and cried!

We do have all of the snow gear - snow pants, fleece lined water proof coats, hats, gloves and snow boots but it is still just too cold sometimes.

However the Saturday after Christmas the sun came out and we decided to make the most of it and head to a local tubing slope called Echo Valley.
We were the first people to arrive at 10am which was great because we had the whole place to ourselves! For $18 per person we could tube and toboggan all day long. With a lodge serving hot chocolates and snacks to refuel us we managed a few hours before it got too busy and the snow and ice started to melt in the sunshine!

Our passes. We started with the $14 tubing pass then upgraded to the $18 combo pass that got us access to the tubing and toboganning. If the ice rink had been frozen, we could have done that too! 

We started on the tubing slope. We grabbed a tube each, with smaller ones for the kids and took the plunge down the steep slope. On the first go I decided to stand at the top and take photos. It might or might not have had something to do with my fear of heights! It just seemed like a big drop off the edge!

Beautiful day to be outside! 

But Jeremy and the kids made it down in one piece so I gave it a go. We went down in twos - with the adults holding onto the kids' tubes so we kind of danced down the slopes, swirling around as we pulled each other down!

I was very proud of Charlotte who told me that she was a bit scared. Her face was a picture as she cringed on the descent but then was full of a big beaming smile by the time we got to the bottom. And she was the one begging to go down the steeper and faster toboggan slope!

So after a few successful tube runs we decided to give the toboggan run a try.

Our toboggan

Bearing in mind that I am pretty sure I have never been sledging or tobogganing in my life! To say it was a bumpy ride would be a bit of an understatement! As the ice thawed, the ride got bumpier! The first run was all four of us on one toboggan but quickly decided we would be faster in pairs!
It was so bumpy that your brain was shaken in your head and your neck felt like it had been compressed an inch or two! I was quite dizzy after the second and third runs! The run itself has been around for over 70 years and you can reach speeds of 60mph.

 The kids using the rope to get an easier trip back up the hill! 

But it was a lot of fun and we would definitely go back again! We only left because it was getting busy and that meant long wait times on the tubing slope. Plus the rise in temperature to 40+oF meant everything was melting.

So we dragged our tired but excited children back to the car with the promise of returning one day soon!

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