It’s so friendly at this family skiing resort in Northern Michigan, even grandma can ski with her grandchildren!
It’s one of those moments I will cherish forever. On a Sunday morning, just after fresh snow has dusted The Homestead’s ski slopes in Glen Arbor, my family has gathered at the base of Snow Drop, the resort’s bunny hill. Present are my daughter and son-in-law and their sons (my grandsons!) Ethan, age 3, and Simon, 20 months. Simon will be clomping around on teeny skis with his mom today, but Ethan is getting a full-fledged lesson from Brook, a bubbly young ski instructor on The Homestead staff. Armed with a shining smile and his beloved stuffed animal, Muffin, tucked safely away in his pint-sized backpack, Ethan is ready to go.
Now about me. I’m a grandma and I haven’t downhill skied in 10 years. After a couple of years of not using them, I gave my skis away, thinking I might as well. I missed the brisk, social days on the slopes that left me rosy-cheeked and feeling alive. But life seemed too busy. Of course, that was before my grandsons. Determined to join the fun (I mean, we’re at a family skiing resort!), I headed into The Homestead’s ski rental building, admittedly, just a bit nervous. Friendly staff had my equipment to me in minutes, and when I was literally struggling to buckle a boot, a ski instructor walking by paused to help me reorganize that stiff tongue that needs a special tuck in. A couple of clicks of my buckles later, I was ready to go: Ready to go as a newborn colt on wobbly legs that is.
Hitting the Slopes at The Homestead
I had hoped it would be like riding a bike—get right back on and go—but I was surprised at how awkward I felt initially. Thankfully, my instructor, Tom Bartholomew, is a Level III (the highest) certified PSIA-AASI (Professional Ski Instructors of America & American Association of Snowboard Instructors).
After my first trip up the magic carpet, basically a moving sidewalk that services the bunny hill, I am pretty darn grateful for that, too. Remember those tow-ropes that slid through your gloves (no matter how hard you tried to grip) and left you frozen in place while the kids behind you crashed into you? Or maybe you remember those pommel bars that came loose from between your legs and boomeranged out leaving you slipping and dodging? Not on this smooth ride. Here you simply step on and let the carpet move you slowly up the hill. Ethan and the other kids out today don’t know how easy they have it. As for me, I’ve silently nicknamed it Grandma’s Cadillac.
Ahhh yes, with Tom’s careful coaching it does come back. How to wedge to a stop. Where to keep my poles (tips by my ankles). Knees bent. Yep, there’s a turn. And another. After three trips up the magic carpet and down Snow Drop, Tom says I am ready for the beginner run Pearly Everlasting on the big slope. Brook and Ethan go, too. Yippee! I feel like a kid off school for a snow day.
A Family Skiing Trip Isn’t Complete Without Cocoa …
A couple of runs later and some exhales of delight over just how incredibly beautiful the expansive view of Lake Michigan is at the top of The Homestead’s slopes, I’ve rediscovered that brisk, rosy-cheeked, light-hearted feeling that a relaxed day at a family skiing resort brings. When it’s time for a break we head to Cavanaugh’s in The Homestead’s sweet winter village where Ethan and I fist bump victoriously over the much-promised hot chocolate with whipped cream (drizzled with chocolate syrup). We both came and conquered. And we can’t wait to get back and do it again.
By Elizabeth Edwards, Managing Editor of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine and Northern Home & Cottage.