We were so ready for our winter snow trip. We’d bought and borrowed as many winter outfits as we could, secured a capable and comfortable 4WD vehicle (a 2017 Pathfinder, courtesy of Nissan – look for a review soon!), and quickly pounced on four affordable plane tickets during one late-night search.
My wife and I had promised our two Florida-born-and-bred sons they’d see snow this winter, and we were going to deliver. Our plan was to stay with friends on top of a white-capped mountain in western Maryland. During the week leading up to our departure, our collective excitement grew as we salivated over the white-drenched scenery shared with us from friends and family already there.
When the day finally came, we kissed the sunny, 75-degree Fort Lauderdale late February morning goodbye, and boarded our plane for Baltimore; four full days of snowball fights, building snowmen, and tubing awaited us.
Of course, if you’re anywhere near the mid-Atlantic, you already know what happened next.
We were greeted by record-high temperatures a mere three degrees lower than what we’d left. I’m not exaggerating when I say our first act after disembarking from our flight was removing our sweaters.
Needless to say, our winter snow trip didn’t go as planned. Without the expected snow, we were forced to improvise…and as a result, we were able to do and learn things we wouldn’t have had the chance to otherwise. For example:
I Enjoyed a Preview of the Apocalypse
With temperatures fluctuating between 40 and 50 degrees for much of the first two days, we were able to stay comfortable under only one or two layers of clothing. Due to recent snowfall, the surrounding foliage was bare of color.
This combined for an odd paradox. The temperature was still too cold for the trees that lined the rolling hills surrounding Cumberland, MD to bloom, yet not too cold that I couldn’t sit outside on the porch swing and marvel at the scene.
It was surreal. The normally lush, green mountains were stripped down to their bare brown roots. In front of me were hundreds of thousands of natural skeletons, stretching as far as the eye could see. I couldn’t help but picture myself in a gritty, post-nuclear fallout novel set in the not-so-distant future every time I glanced out a window.
Somehow, I think snow would have dampened the effect.
We Became Certified Bad Asses
Our hosts for the weekend own a gorgeous house backed by a vast expanse of wilderness. They also own a stable of all-terrain vehicles. I’ll let you guess which one of these was more important to our kids.
Within an hour of our arrival, the kids, our host’s husband, and myself mounted a couple of the ATVs and took off into the woods – tearing up and down narrow rocky trails, past several abandoned, century-old wooden homes, and a private pond with an ancient diving board extending from the dock.
On day two, the wives joined us, and we traveled up to the peak of the mountain at sunset, only to be rewarded with an unencumbered view of the entire town below.
Driving a four-wheeler isn’t quite like riding a motorcycle, nor is it quite like driving a car. It is, however, 100% awesome.
I Achieved a New Driving Accomplishment (Sort of)
Having never driven in the snow, I was kind of looking forward to putting a new feather in my driver’s cap – which is totally a thing. I would brave the slick ice, and push the boundaries of my vehicular control skills. Everyone back in Florida would be totally impressed.
That didn’t exactly happen.
At the very least, I can say I’ve driven through the Appalachians in February without incident. In fact, I did technically drive through some snowfall. Which leads us to our family’s final realization:
Our Kids Will Be X-Games Stars in No Time
While our trip was completely devoid of blizzards, snowmen, and epic snowball battles, we did encounter some honest-to-goodness snow one day. The capstone of our trip was an hour-long trek out to the Wisp Resort in nearby McHenry, MD.
Along the way, we encountered more than a few flurries of tiny snowflakes rushing toward and around our windshield. So, ha!
Although the unseasonably warm weather hampered the onsite artificial snow-making, and the highly-anticipated snow tubing lanes were closed, there was just enough of the white stuff on the ground that the boys and I were able to go snowboarding together for the first time.
I’d only tried this particular feat once before – close to 15 years ago – so I was a little unsure of the advice I was doling out to my sons. They didn’t listen to much of it, which was fortunate, because as it turns out, they’re both naturals!
From the very first time they strapped in, both were able to stay upright and navigate down the hill with relative ease…a couple close calls with other visitors notwithstanding.
Within 3 hours, my four-year-old was doing little hops and 360-degree spins, and my seven-year-old was picking up serious speed on longer and longer downhill runs.
I managed to make it down once without falling flat on my ass.
No Snow, No Problem
While our winter snow trip extravaganza wasn’t quite what we’d planned on, it was undoubtedly a fun trip that ended far too quickly. Looking back, I’m convinced that more snow may have actually hampered our enjoyment rather than heightened it.
My kids still haven’t shut up about buying a four-wheeler, and every time I’ve stepped outside since being home, I’m a little disappointed at not being met by a wistful living graveyard. Our suitcases are still half-packed, almost begging us to pick up and go back…which we plan to do this summer.
We won’t be chasing snow this time around – but our expectations couldn’t be higher.