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Crystal Mountain January 2009

Sandra's parents, Adriano and Any Crespo from Santiago, Dominican Republic, came to visit us along with Sandra's nieces Claudia (16) and Daniela (13). While they had been to Michigan before, they had never seen snow or these colder temperatures. After a few days of acclimatization in the Lansing area, we headed North for a ski vacation at Crystal Mountain. We had never been there before, so we didn't know what to expect, especially since we've never seen a mountain in Michigan.

I used to do a lot of cross-country skiing, and I think I may still have the skis and boots that I got when I was a teenager. I don't even remember the last time I used them, but it must be twenty years ago. I've done a bit of downhill skiing around Quesnel, Kamloops, and Whistler (where the Winter Olympics will be held in February 2010!). For this trip, though, I was banned from the slopes! Due to a shoulder dislocation a year ago, and a separation of the same shoulder three months ago, Sandra decided I had better not do any skiing.

Driving North

On the trip North, we saw a few sights not normally seen further South: snowmobiles filling up at a gas station, ice-fishing huts on a lake, "bear crossing" signs!

Three nights in the country!

We rented a townhouse close to the base of the hill, in the development known as "The Cottages at Water's Edge". It was fully furnished, with three bedrooms (one of them with two bunk beds), two bathrooms and even a jacuzzi in the larger bedroom. It had a fireplace in the living room, and a small but full kitchen. The townhouse had a nice view through trees to a man-made stream and gathering pond. With at least a foot of snow and more falling every day, it was a beautiful sight.

The Cottages

The roughly 30 cottages by the townhouses were part of a planned development that included a man-made creek and pond with bridges. In the summer, a pool, hot tub, and climbing wall are all available in the middle of the cottages. Each cottage was painted a single color with thick wood trim, making the place feel like some kind of mountain village. Especially charming were the nameplates - each cottage had its own name! Firefly, Moonbeam, Chickadee, Sundown, Wild Pine, Snowshoe, Dune Grass, and Blue Heron were some of the names.
We had some fun trying to come up with new names, such as Mistletoe, Bobcat, Ladybug, Gold Rush, Blue Jay, Ringtail, and quite a few others.

The Hill! (aka mountain)

We were able to walk to the lift area in under 10 minutes, a very nice feature of renting where we did. I wish that I had been able to get to the top of the hill to take some better pictures, but since I didn't ski on this trip, there are only pictures from the bottom. All of the girls were able to do the easier runs without much trouble by the end of the day. Since two of them had never even seen snow before this trip, it shows that this is a great place for beginners to learn how to ski. Click for a trail map: Trail Map

Lessons

Sandra, Claudia, and Daniela all took a 2-hour lesson, while Christina enrolled in the kid's camp, which involved 5 hours of instruction. The extra few hours helped a lot, and Christina improved noticeably toward the end of it. On the Saturday, they took snowboarding lessons, and on the Sunday, they took skiing lessons. It was easier for them to keep from falling using skis, but apparently it was a lot more work to keep the skis in position, and most of them said that they enjoyed the snowboarding more than the skiing. Strangely, though, they were able to do the regular hills on the skis but not on the snowboards.