Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Swapping trails for piste

The holidays I most enjoyed in the US were our trips to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and Snowmass, Colorado. TLOML loves to carve up a bit of powder if he gets the chance, and it's a good excuse to spend time with family and friends in a snowy resort. So I gave it a try. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed slowly trundling down a gentle slope, falling down several times.

It's easy to learn to snowboard in the US, I think. The resorts are pretty idiot-friendly with lots of gondolas and nice slow chair lifts which will be brought to a standstill for you if you give a good enough 'I'm an idiot!' wave as you approach the top. And if you get stuck, the chances are pretty high that someone friendly in an Aspen-Snowmass jacket will swoosh up and ask if you need help (I always declined but it's nice to know they're there). I also think it's very civilised the way they heat the paths and roads so they never get icy. There's a lot to be said for a purpose-built, pampering resort.
Snowmass, Colorado, USA

But we are Europeans now, TLOML and I. So it's time to wave goodbye to happy hour margaritas and wings, and say bon jour to le apres-ski, avec le reblochon et bieres. This week we've traded in our usual hotel in Snowmass, with a hot tub and a decent bar, for a chalet in La Clusaz with a pool table and a friendly chaletier (is that a word?) who cooks us ham and eggs for breakfast, provides beers and saucisson as a snack, and rustles up incredible dinners involving vast quantities of bread, reblochon, and jambon at night. Plus I am happy because I get to hang out with my favourite little sister, her lovely husband, their awesome twin boys, and all their nice mates. I'll gladly swap the hot tub for a game of Risk.
La Clusaz, Haute-Savoie, France
Putting aside the home comforts I am a little less convinced. Instead of a nice comfy gondolier, I'm risking my life on a distinctly unfriendly drag lift. Mind you, a week's lift pass will cost me what a long weekend in Snowmass did. The West Coast powder I was finding my feet on has been replaced by alternately sloppy and crunchy Alpine snow. But there is the most incredible view: the Alps make a beautiful backdrop to even the most painful of faceplants.

And as I type this, we're sipping Kronenbourg and munching saucisson as we enjoy England beat France at rugby. TLOML does not appear to be missing the American beers and wings combo one little bit.

All in all, it's a good trade.

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