Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Skate Skiing on the Dry Farms, AKA Crust Cruising

Sometime I'll have to write a post about how I've fallen in love with skate skiing.  I learned many years ago (1988-89) when I was a freshman in high school.  Gulp.  That makes me feel old.  I was on the skate ski team and had one whole season of coaching and racing.  Since then, I've only gone a handful of times.  This past November Jeff and I signed up the whole family for an all-day cross-country ski clinic in West Yellowstone.  Jeff and I were in the skate ski group and got some excellent coaching.  Also, this is the first time that everyone is at school so I have had time to ski in the mornings, between 9 and 10:30am, home by 11am to get Charlotte from kindergarten.  Finally, we actually had enough snow this year for a skate ski trail to be regularly groomed and skiable at the local golf course (thank you, Randy!).  Oh, and Jeff taught me how to wax my own skis, giving me some autonomy.  All these things combined to make for a WONDERFUL winter of skate skiing.  It's been delightful.  I've watched myself progress in skill, balance, speed and stamina and believe it or not, have not missed going running one bit.  Instead, I've skate skied about 5-6 times a week, between 5 and 20 miles each time, averaging about 8miles each time.  I even entered a race, my first since that freshman year in high school. It's thrilling to move over the snow so fast.  It's rejuvenating to work my whole body.  It's lovely to be out in nature.   Yes, sometime I'll have to write that post about falling in love with skate skiing... Or maybe I just did write it?  :)

Jeff's ski buddy (and my high school friend's dad) Randy, introduced me to "crust cruising."  He saw how downhearted I was at losing the skate ski trail at the golf course (since the snow is melting, and the groomer broke down).  He took me up to the Dry Farms and showed me that I can still skate ski as long as the nights get cold enough and there is still snow on fields.
Now that I know it's possible to keep skate skiing, I'm taking every chance I can before it all disappears.  Saturday while Jeff took our oldest son Sam to a meeting, I took the other three out to the fields.  We live about a mile and a half from the wide open farmland, so it's very convenient.  Everyone donned their snow pants, hats, mittens and ski boots, clipped into their skis, and strapped on their poles without any need of assistance (except tying the girls boots)!  This is a big deal for me.  For over thirteen years I've been helping at least one child or usually hopping from one child to the next, making sure everyone has everything they need.  They're growing up!  They're also used to getting themselves set for skiing.  Wow.

Oliver is working on his skate ski technique here on the dry farms.  I think it's awesome.

Charlotte is working on making Oliver pull her along as he skate skis.  She thinks it's awesome. :)

Giddy-up, Mom!

The reason I like this picture is that you can get a glimpse of just how happy I am to be out with the kids on a perfect day, sharing the fun of skating.  My only regret was that I missed having Jeff and Sam with us.

Eleanor urged me on with encouraging words like, "Go, Big Red! You're doing great, Big Red!"  I know, my coat is orange.  But my hair is red, so maybe that's where I got this equestrian nickname?  I'll have to ask Eleanor about it, or maybe I'd rather not know.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Winter Report

Jeff won the "Best Costume" award at the Spooky Cross Cyclocross Race.  I think a man in a skirt is a little spooky myself.  ("It's a KILT, not a skirt!" he yells in a thick Scottish accent.)

Oliver ("Vector" from Despicable Me), Jeff (sans skirt, oops, I mean "kilt"), Eleanor the Medium Good Witch, Sam with his invisible Butterfly Wings (he really has them on), and Charlotte the Little Good Witch.  I had a Witch's hat on, too, so I was the Big Good (good, right?  not bad!) Witch.  Spooky Cross Race in Victor, Idaho around Halloween time.
My cool boys on the cool winner's podiums at the Spooky Cross race.  Now compare their smiles to the girls in the next photo.

Thank Heaven for little girls  :).  Aren't my little witches fun?

After the Costume Race (they had to do one lap in costume), the real race began.  Here's Jeff doing the cyclocross thing.  Without his skirt.  I mean kilt.

This winter's highlight:  Eleanor's baptism!  We are so lucky to have such a sweet and lively girl to sparkle up our lives.  She's a keeper!
Eleanor-the-Lamb and Charlotte-the-Chinese-Girl in the local Nutcracker Ballet.  They were thrilled to put on make-up,  but that excitement didn't last once they learned how irritating it can be and how annoying it is to remove.  Phew!  That's a lesson worth the three months of ballet practice!

I sure love my bunch.  Oliver, Charlotte, Eleanor, and Sam, building forts in the forest where we found our 17' Christmas tree.
I don't know anyone else who has ever had a pet Madagascar Hissing Cockroach.  Eleanor's pet Sally (who was once named Crunch until we discovered her gender), passed away this winter.  Eleanor was heartbroken.

We crafted a coffin out of tissue paper-filled medicine cups.  

The Funeral Procession.  Eleanor's friend Lydia dropped what she was doing to run over and support Eleanor in this difficult time.  Charlotte was a sweet addition, too.

Our grow box now holds the remains of Sally (to be exhumed at a later date and disposed of).   It was a very sad day at our house.  Thankfully, Eleanor decided to hold off on replacing her pet.

For Christmas, Eleanor asked for (and received) a camping trip with Dad.  They skied in to a Yurt in Harriman State Park (it was late so they skied w/headlamps), spent the night, then spent most of the day hanging out in the Yurt and cross-country skiing around.  She maintains that it was her favorite present EVER

Eleanor in the Yurt, whittling away.  Literally.

Sam, who is really enjoying cross-country skiing.  Really.  Right?  Maybe just a little?  Or not...  And Oliver, taking off like a madman.  He wasn't really mad that I made him ski, was he?  Naw...  

Charlotte with her bunny ears, having a blast cross-country skiing.  Maybe if we gave her brothers bunny ears they'd be happier?

So I insisted on buying a copy of this awesome picture of my awesome husband. That means I can use it on my blog, right?  Jeff  raced in the 25K Rendezvous Race, had a blast, and did amazing.  Great form.   

I took the kids out skate skiing on Saturday.  The snow is melting but there's still enough on the dry farms to do some "crust cruising" as our friend Randy calls it.  Charlotte took this picture, tilting it to make it look like I'm really strong pulling Eleanor up a big hill.  I wasn't sure what to think as Eleanor urged me on, "Come on, Big Red!".  I've always liked horses, just never wanted to be one...