Sometime in December my four-year-old became enchanted with an episode of "Caillou" in which the lovable bald titular character spent an afternoon frolicking in the snow.
My boy, born and raised in LA, is largely unfamiliar with all things wintry. He loved watching Caillou skating, throwing snowballs, and most of all making snow angels. The next day he spent hours in a pair of socks "skating" around the living room and throwing play dough at his brother's head yelling,
"Watch out for the snowball!!"
A week later, as we sat watching our boy in the back yard making angels in the dirt below the swing set, I turned to my spouse and announced with absolute certainty,
"We need to take that boy to find some snow."
And so it was that last Saturday we found ourselves traversing Interstate 15 North heading for the snowy wonderland of Wrightwood, California.
I booked a motel room so we could maximize snowy fun time, and we hit up friends and neighbors to outfit ourselves for our cold weather jaunt. By the time we actually packed up the minivan the kids were pretty much out of their minds with excitement
All week the kids had been leaping from their beds each morning shouting,
"Is today the day we are going to the snow?"
And finally -- Finally! -- that day had arrived. We drove a little over an hour to the turnoff for the Angeles Crest Highway -- anxious for our snowy adventure to begin. But as we rounded bend after bend on our way to Wrightwood there was not a snowflake to be seen.
I crossed my fingers that as we continued to head upwards we would eventually happen upon a magically-appearing winter wonderland.
This was not the case.
As we puled into downtown Wrightwood I was forced to accept the reality that the entire place was decidedly SNOW FREE. Apparently a week of rain had decimated the snows of December and left behind in its wake piles and piles of mud.
The first wail from the backseat snapped me to attention,
"WHERE'S THE SNOW???"
I instructed my husband to keep driving up the mountain. I was determined not to stop the car until we encountered some flakes of a wintry nature.
And so we pressed upwards, passing sign after foreboding sign:
- NO SNOW PLAY!
- TUBING PARK CLOSED DUE TO LACK OF SNOW!
- ABANDON ALL HOPE OF SNOW YE WHO ENTER HERE!
OK, I made up the last one but you get the basic idea.
About two miles further up the hill we located a patch of snow roughly the size of a football field crammed with about three hundred other families in their own desperate search for winter fun. We hustled the kids into some snow gear and rushed to fight for a spot.
The kids sprang from the van to frolic in what was, let's be honest, a field of slush littered with sticks and patches of earth, but we made do as best we could. We managed to throw snowballs at one another, we bought a twenty dollar sleigh and took a few runs down the muddy little hill, and we even managed to beat some other families off a large enough patch of snow to make a 12-inch tall snowman.
About twenty minutes into the frivolity the youngest members of our party began to get cold and we headed back for the van. We grabbed some hot chocolate, headed for shelter, and spent the next 14 hours trying to manage 2 adults and 3 children four and under in a tiny motel room full of tchotchkes.
...which wasn't all that fun.
The next morning as we headed down the hill David and I were exhausted. We'd put in over three hours of drive time, spent several hundred dollars in food and motel fees, and experienced some serious internal wear and tear on our already well-seasoned minivan. In every meaningful sense, our "snow vacation" had been kind of a bust.
But then we started listening to the boys as they talked in the backseat:
"My favorite part was making snow angels!"
"Mommy hit me with a snowball!"
"I want to have hot chocolate everyday!"
and it occurred to us that for them, the trip had been a wild success.
Their lack of familiarity with snow had worked to our advantage. They didn't know that we hadn't found "the right kind of snow." They couldn't have been happier if we'd brought them to Antarctica. And we had the pictures to prove it.
As I write this my kids are out in the backyard pretending to be cold and "sledding" down the slide repeatedly.
It may be a slight stretch but I'm moving the entire weekend into the "PARENTING WIN" column.
We take 'em where we can find 'em.