Traveling with Kids: Maggie Valley, NC
Stu Monsters See Snow Falling!
Florida Kids and Snow - Great Combo
Since we are a south Florida based family, it's not terribly often that we see snow. Last year, I took the kids to North Carolina just to see it. That is another article entirely... Perhaps I will publish it someday, but for now you can see some pics from it here.
In September, we began planning our ski trip. I love skiing. My family would go skiing at various spots all around the country when I was growing up. I'm not totally sure when I actually learned to ski, I think I was probably around 7 or 8. Anyway, it's been a good 17 years since my last ski trip (ugh, that makes me feel really old to say). Stu has never done it, and neither have my kids. This seemed like the perfect opportunity for everyone to try it.
If you read my last post (Traveling with Kids: Charleston) then you know my Crew drove from sunny, warm, south Florida to cold, snowy North Carolina. We thoroughly enjoyed the road trip... but we were all VERY happy to finally get to our cabin in the mountains. And as if on cue, it began to snow shortly after we arrived! It was too warm for the snow to pile up on the ground, but the kids didn't care in the slightest. They were thrilled to see it falling from the sky. Buddy proclaimed, "This is all I ever wanted for my birthday!"
We rented a cabin in Clyde, NC - about 20 minutes from Maggie Valley. It is wonderful. I have not stayed in any of the hotels around the ski area... I think a cabin/house is the way to go whenever possible.
Cataloochee Ski Area
Day 1: Skiing
Well, technically it was day 2... we all descended on the cabin in the afternoon of day 1. So we didn't do much other than run around like maniacs in the falling snow, unpacked our bags, claimed beds, and ate dinner. We finished off the night playing *. Bananagrams
So our first full day in North Carolina was dedicated to skiing. After a lazy wake up and a full breakfast, complete with Olaf-shaped waffles, we piled into the cars and headed off for the Cataloochee Ski Area. It was about 30 minutes total car trip from where we were staying in Clyde.
Cataloochee is kind of interesting to get to... you literally have to drive up a winding (kind of scary) road. Once you're about halfway up the mountain, you'll see the ski area.
The check in process was actually pretty simple and there are tons of staff around to help direct you or answer any questions you might have. We booked the kids into the Kids Adventure Camp for the afternoon. Buddy (5) wanted to snowboard like his Uncle Zach, and Rea (7) opted for skis like the rest of us. Stu (the hubs) decided on skis too. He'd heard too many horror stories about snow boarding and decided that skiing would be more fun. Even though I suggested a lesson for him, he wanted to teach himself.
Stu had a difficult time at first, but once he figured out how to move his body to control direction and speed, he was great! Listen, if you've never tried it, get a lesson... private 1 hour sessions are available at most ski resorts. It's worth the money. Skiing is not fun if you're constantly falling and covered in snow. Trust me. Been there, done that.
The Kids Adventure Camp was good. Rea loved it. Buddy was tired and really only wanted to build a snowman. So he was a complete no-go on the slopes. They kept him inside for a while playing games with other kids. Rea was game for learning to ski. So she and her class were practicing different things on the bunny slope. The kids aren't allowed to go on the green run until they are able to weave in and out of the poles on the bunny slope. Rea was a pro. Her instructor said she was amazing. But Rea didn't understand that the green chair lift didn't go all the way to the top of the mountain... She thought if she went on the lift, she'd have to ski the entire mountain. It never occurred to me to show her a map and explain how many different runs there are on a ski mountain. So when she was presented with the option to try the green run, she panicked and told her teacher she just wanted to keep on the bunny slope. And she did. We didn't push her.
I skied a handful of the runs with my sister, brother-in-law, dad and uncle. They were cool. The problem I had was that it really wasn't that cold there and the snow was not fresh. Cataloochee had the machines on the entire day blowing fake snow everywhere. Worse was that by mid-afternoon the slopes were pretty icy from the snow melting and the fake stuff. Kind of a mother-nature-bummer. Oh well. The runs themselves were super fun.
Have you skied Cataloochee before?
After skiing, we were all pretty close to starving. (ok, hyperbole for literary genius)
We were hungry though. And a few could have even been defined as "hangry".
My brother-in-law and sister spent their honeymoon in Maggie Valley just about a month ago. They said they knew of a really great place to go for pizza. It's a fantastic Italian restaurant in Waynesville, about 20 or so minutes from the ski resort. If you're in the area or going to be, go to Bocelli's Italian Eatery. (I attached the Yelp link for it)
They sat us upstairs in a large private room - I guess we looked like a loud, out of town, rowdy bunch. It was perfect. The tables are covered in paper, and there is a jar of crayons on each one. We all doodled with the kids while we were waiting for our pizza.
The garlic knots were yummy. We ordered those as an appetizer to take the edge off. Then out came the delicious pizza. I ate the ham and pineapple one. It was so good! And since it was Buddy's birthday, the waitress brought out a special birthday treat for him... let me tell you... this cinnamon, sugary sweet roll was AMAZING! We all took turns taking bites and passing it around the table. If you go to this place, you MUST order this for dessert! It is worth the trip!
What to Pack for Your Ski Trip
Ski Bibs (or pants)
Waterproof Winter Jacket
Gloves (2 pair)
Wool socks (several pair)
Beanie (make sure it covers your ears)
Ski Mask (or scarf for your lower face)
Sunglasses (for when you're not wearing goggles)
Sunscreen (the sun is a killer off the white snow)
I mentioned this game in the first section of the article.
We literally played this for HOURS every night of our trip. I have a set and my aunt brought hers too, so if too many people wanted to play, we divided into two groups and got to it. It helps to have a dictionary while playing... you can't use it during play, but it's needed when you want to question the validity of an opponent's word when they are trying to win. We used the Scrabble Players Dictionary.