For the second year in a row, our family road-tripped up to Mammoth Lakes for a “snow vacation.” We planned this trip in early January with another family and were anticipating a long weekend with lots of snow. In 2019, Mammoth Mountain recorded one of their biggest February months ever with 207″ of snow. This year, less snow was falling, but we were still hopeful that there would be a few feet of fresh snow for us to enjoy. But, week after week, as we approached our vacation, no snow fell. In 2020, for the first time in recorded history, absolutely no new snow fell in February. What.the.heck?
Even though we didn’t have any fresh snow for our vacation (except for the morning that we left to go back home), there was still snow on the mountain. It was a stark contrast from last year, though, and there was no snow in town. Still, we all got to go skiing and snowboarding and we took full advantage of the snow that was there. We had a wonderful time with our friends, still got to ski/ride across the entire mountain, and Vivian progressed in her skiing drastically.
Day 1: Drive North, Park Play, Welcome Center, Pizza
We left our house at 6:21am for our six-hour drive north. I am not a morning person at all, but it’s a point of pride for me now to leave the house early for our road trips. It took a lot of careful and extensive planning and preparing for all five of us to be buckled up and in the truck at that early hour, but by God, we did it.
We got coffee at Starbucks and then drove, drove, drove. It took nearly no time at all for the kids to start asking when we’d be there. They are not really used to long road trips. In fact, the girls kept asking why we weren’t flying there instead. However, they all actually did really well in the truck. We have a very limited media policy (TV only on weekends and vacations; no tablet use at all except on airplanes and by Vivian during weekend nap time to work on math/reading programs for school; no phone use at all), so the kids did not have a tablet or phone to entertain them. They’ve never used a device in the car, though, so they don’t even know that it could be an option. Instead, we listened to a lot of music, played games, napped, and snacked. After about five hours, we stopped in Bishop at Schat’s Bakery for a little break and some homemade (or, well, bakery-made) bread. An hour later, we checked into our rented condo.
Our friends weren’t arriving until much later that night, so after we unpacked, we went to Shady Rest Park for what we thought would be some snow play. Last year, we went sledding at this park. This year, there was no snow on the sledding hill – wah!
No Snow for Sledding
After some halfhearted attempts to make a snowman, we gave up and drove over to the Mammoth Lakes Welcome Center. Last year, there was too much snow to even walk around the outside of the Center, but this year we were able to take a walk and explore more.
Inside the Welcome Center – Don’t Feed the Bears!
By now, Dan and I were ready to put the kids to bed and settle down with our books, but we had to feed them. So we settled for a few beers instead of some rest and took the kids out for pizza and pasta.
We did get the kids bathed and to bed at an early time – well before our friends arrived at 9pm. When our kids woke up in the middle of the night, though, they were so excited to see their friends next to them that they all thought it would be perfectly fine to start playing together at 3:30am. After night 1, I put some hard restrictions in place surrounding the time that they were allowed to leave their room and we all got a *little* more sleep on nights 2 and 3.
Day 2: Skiing at Mammoth
At this point, I pause to remember what ski trips were like pre-kids. We’d get up in the morning, grab our gear, drive to the mountain, and just start skiing. No big deal. Oh.my.gosh. Now, it’s like running a marathon before you even get your first ski run in. First you have to appropriately dress and feed all the children. Then you need to make sure that they have all of their gear. Then there are child care dropoffs, ski school dropoffs, rental fittings and pickups, and making sure that all the kids are where they need to be (which is never all in the same place together) on time. Then you remember that you made sure that they had all of their gear, but you forgot half of yours, so someone needs to run back to the condo. Finally, you park far, far away because all the good spots got taken while you were dealing with all the kids stuff, haul your stuff to the lifts, and then, finally, hours after you arrived at the mountain, take your first run. And don’t even get me started on the cost of taking three kids skiing with you…
Anyways, once we got all the kids where they were supposed to be, Dan and I, along with our friends, had a great day on the mountain. The snow wasn’t fresh and there were even some bare spots and closed trails, but overall, the snow was decent. It was a little like Spring skiing, without the warmer temperatures. We stopped for a beer and lunch in the Main Lodge and peeked in on the big kids at ski school.
Beautiful Day on the Slopes – Sans Kids!
Vivian at Ski School
We picked up the big kids (including Vivian) after their full day of ski school in the late afternoon and then took them on a run down a bunny hill. Vivian immediately informed us that she did not need any help getting on or off the chairlift.
Dan and Vivian on the Chairlift
When she skied off the chairlift, she pointed in the direction that she wanted to go, and she went! Even after being very tired after a long day of lessons, she was doing awesome! I was so impressed that she retained some of what she learned a year ago and built on it. And oh my – she LOVES skiing. I was just giddy with happiness for her.
After our green run, we picked up the little kids from child care and took a group gondola ride to the top of Mammoth Mountain.
Chamberses at the Top of Mammoth Mountain, 2020
After a full and long day, we ate dinner back at our condo and all fell asleep fairly early.
Day 3: Skiing at Mammoth & June
On our second day on the slopes, Dan, Lil, William, and I went to Mammoth, and Viv accompanied our friends to nearby June Mountain. William went to child care all day, Lil took another half-day morning ski lesson (that, honestly, was too much for her – she only lasted a little while before she went in for hot cocoa and then joined the other child care kids for a gondola ride to the top of the mountain), Viv took another full-day ski lesson, and Dan and I enjoyed a full day of skiing all over the mountain by ourselves and with some Baker Ranch friends who also happened to be at Mammoth at the same time as us. We ate lunch at The Mill with our friends and then did a quick run up Chair 23 right before they closed many lifts at the top due to high winds.
Skiing with Woolly on Day #3
Although we didn’t get to see Vivian ski at all on this day, we were told that she was advancing and doing really well. She was independently skiing green runs and even went down her first blue run. We are thrilled that she’s learning how to ski well so young!
BFF Hot Cocoa Break at June Mountain
On this night, I made dinner for the gang – baked chicken, roasted vegetables from our biweekly farmer’s box, and parsley noodles. And then, once again, we all collapsed in exhaustion.
Day 4: Snow Play & Drive Home
After getting 0″ of snow in February, we woke up on March 1 to 9″ of the fresh stuff. The kids were able to play in the snow in the condo complex. I also pulled them on the sled to Mammoth Creek Park next door. There was a mixed bag of emotion in the snow – from excitement to screaming and crying. It was probably good that Dan picked the kids and me up directly from the park to begin our drive back to SoCal.
Snow and Sled Play!
We, once again, powered through our drive home, only stopping once for gas. It was a great weekend and I’m so excited to continue to build upon Viv’s ski skills over the next few years!