Mont-Tremblant: Day Two
Picture Bill Murray, tied to the mast of a yacht in the movie "What About Bob?" bellowing, "I'M SAILING! I SAIL!" and you have a picture of us, skiing.
It took us all day to get the point where four of us could manage one good run, but my God, no Olympic team was ever more victorious.
All five of us got started with private lessons this morning, but the Littlest Who came to the end of his rope early. When you are just learning to ski, you spend an inordinate amount of time clomping around, as opposed to actually skiing, and it's exhausting. After an hour of snowploughing down the kiddie slope, he was through. Clomping with him to the nearest bathroom, I discovered the resort daycare, and promptly made a reservation for him for the afternoon. It was expensive$60 for three and half hours but totally worth it. He later said that daycare was his favorite thing all day.
After our lesson concluded, we took the gondola to the very top of the mountain for lunch. We ate at Grand Manitou, where we helped ourselves, cafeteria-style. On my tray: poutine (french fries with gravy and cheese curds), a box of Smarties (the Canadian version of M&M candies), and a bottle of Molson beer. All pretty awful, but as mandatory as moon pie and a coke would be to Patrick if we were visiting Arkansas after a long absence. The place was packed, but people were cheerful. Everyone was flushed and exhilarated. I assumed it was because it was lunchtime, and we were all still alive. Right below the window where I sat, skiiers and snowboarders were flinging themselves off an icy precipice. I pointed them out to Patrick.
"I bet you see them come out further down the slope a few minutes later, right?" he said, peering through the plate glass.
"I think the bodies are just piling up at the bottom," I answered.
We rode the gondola back down and spent another hour on the kiddie slopes until the clomp-to-coast ratio got tiresome.
"I think we're ready to take a real slope," I ventured. "The worst that can happen is we walk down the mountain."
Actually, what would be worse would be coming down the mountain with an eight-year-old clinging to your thigh, as you snowplough for two. Fortunately, he eventually found his own center of gravity and let go. Both big kids were champions, in fact. As was Patrick, who has never skied either. When we all finally came to the bottom, we high-fived and grinned for a while, and then my husband was chivalrous enough to let me take the last run of the day down by myself. It was beautiful. I wish we had more time. With another day of daycare, I'm sure I could conquer all the beginner runs, and maybe even step it up a notch. But there are other adventures in store. In fact, I'm counting on tomorrow's itinerary to provide me with cocktail party conversation for decades to come.
To my mind, the measure of any really worthwhile vacation is the point at which you start plotting to come back. That moment came for me during our apres ski dip in the pool this afternoon, as I daydreamed about bringing my sister to Tremblant. Just us?, I wondered, imagining us hitting the spas and the nightclubs for a mom's long weekend out. Fun, but it would be a shame not to let the kids and our husbands ski together, I thought. In which case we'd have to bring our mother. The steaming pool quickly began to fill up with my imaginary entourage.
Somewhere in the promotional literature I was given, it explains that Tremblant gave up on competing with the Rockies for elevation, and decided to excel in amenities instead. From what we've experienced so far, they seem to have succeeded. Being here is a lot like what I imagine being on a cruise ship to be like: great food, luxurious facilities, and a wide assortment of activities to choose a la carte. I don't have much of a frame of reference for the skiing, except to observe that something keeps skiiers of all levels going back up the mountain for more, and I don't' think it's the poutine.
We wrapped up our second day with a soak in the bathtub-hot outdoor pool, and dinner in the Windingo dining room, all here at the Fairmont. I had a sumptuous pate de foie gras, accompanied by a chilled glass of muscat, french onion soup, and a cheese, leek and pecan stuffed portabello. Patrick had trout tartare (served on a disk of ice), seafood chowder, and an Asian-seasoned noodle dish with prawns and lobster. My ten-year-old astounded us all by asking to see the adult menu, and proceeding to order the half-lobster and beef filet. At such a moment, a parent is filled with equal measures of pride and alarm: pride for a growing child and a maturing palate, and alarm, because, holy crap, the lobster and beef filet?? That's one less cheap date at our table.
We are being spoiled, but no one need worry about us putting on airs. Just as my foie de gras was artfully presented, along with a tray of gourmet salts from which to choose, one of our party announced loudly and graphically that he needed to go to the bathroom, and for what specific purpose.
It's a bit hard to project sophistication after that.