Adventure, explore, experience. These are the buzz words swirling around the tourism marketing industry. People want to experience and explore something that is new to them yet represents an authentic adventure and no group craves this more than the Millennial Generation. For the past 5 months these words have been central in my work in social media and web marketing for my family’s guest ranch. I should have expected this. I should have known I would be infected with the longing that so many in my generation have fallen prey too. Adventure, explore, experience.
I am reminded almost daily by friends, family and strangers alike to enjoy this time we have with our children while they are young. I love these reminders because it is the voice of experience and sometimes regret, reminding me to experience life with my kiddos every day even when the milk and cereal are all over the floor and there is an increasingly elevated argument between the three and six year old over why mommy won’t let them have whipped cream over chocolate for breakfast. It is my intent to take every opportunity throughout this year to adventure, explore and experience the beauties of North Idaho with my family. Have I mentioned my family lately? My children, Emily and Gabe are adorable, kind and full of joy and humor. They are not perfect. They throw fits and pout when they don’t get their way and they fight with each other far more than my patience can sometimes handle. My husband Landon amazing. And I don’t say that in the totally cliched “my husband is amazing” kind of way. He actually is totally amazing. He knows what I am thinking and feeling almost before I do. He is gentle, kind, sensitive and thoughtful. He is strong, handsome and a gentleman. He is funny and inspiring and I could keep on and on about him and his blue eyes but I will stop myself. To make this long story short, I love my family and I love spending time with them.
To kick start our year of adventure, we awoke at 5:00 am on Easter Sunday, packed our pajama clad children in the car and headed to Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort for the Sunrise Service at the top of the Great Escape quad. What says adventure better than sunrise at 6400ft?
Thankfully I had checked the weather forecast and was prepared for a fairly cold, snowy morning. When we arrived at Schweitzer we bundled the children in layers of snow clothes and headed for the Great Escape lift. At 6:32 am we boarded the lift and began our ascent. Thanks to her amazing school, Emily has been skiing almost every Monday this year since Schweitzer opened for the season so riding this lift was no big deal to her. Gabe, however, had never been on a lift so he was very excited to ride the “roller coaster”. His nerves got to him about half way up and the super fun ride suddenly got scary. We distracted him with questions about family members, friends and ninjas and we made it to the top without a melt down.
After arriving on top we strolled around and soon found the rest of our group; my brother and sister-in-law and my cousin and her daughter. As 7:00, the time for the service to begin, came nearer the snow and wind simultaneously increased. We passed the time by huddling together to create a human wind blog so the children wouldn’t be so cold. Adventure! Right? My cousin Melissa came to the rescue with the hand warmers she brought along. Why didn’t I think of that?
We listened to praise songs on the loud speakers and the pastor spoke about the reason for our hope in Jesus and Christ’s resurrection on the third day, this Easter day. I sat in the snow and snuggled the kids while we sang songs of praise to our creator. In the middle of a blizzard, at the top of a mountain, it was beautiful and vulnerable and unforgettable singing to my Redeemer:
“My chains are gone
I’ve been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, amazing grace”
The service ended and the 200 or so people who had braved the elements to gather at the top of a mountain in the snow and wind to remember the reason why there is a holiday called “Easter”, shuffled toward the lift, huddled close to each other, and lined up to ride back down the mountain. The wind and snow cleared after just moments on the lift as it dropped in elevation, slowly moving toward the Schweitzer Village. I could hear Gabe on the lift behind me, sitting between his aunt, Libby, and cousin, Melissa, laughing and “weeeeeeeeeing” every time the lift when past a support pole. If anyone could make something that was once scary fun again, it would be those two.
Back at the Village, we thanked each other for choosing to experience the morning together and we went our separate ways. Nothing warms a little body like a good cup of hot chocolate so off we went in search the delightful chocolaty source of warmth and joy.
It was cold, and we couldn’t tell when the sun rose through the snow and clouds, but it was a great adventure. It was a memory made than none of us will soon forget. Even Gabe continues to ask when he can go back to Schweitzer to ride the lift, also known as the roller coaster. So thank you Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort for hosting this Easter Sunrise Service and for making it possible for families and friends to gather, love, remember, pray, praise and experience together.