FREEDOM!!!

We did it…we dove off the parental deep end and went on a trip without the minis, and it was….AMAZING!  Not that I don’t love traveling with my kids, but there is just something magical about being on your own schedule for once and not having to ask a waiter for two highchairs and have him give you the look of disgust hidden discreetly behind mask a-la-faux-smile.  We did things.  Adult things!  Like lounging in a figure-8 shaped hot tub complete with a fountain, and you can’t leave out the night sledding in the Austrian Alps.  Yes, you read that right.  We went night sledding down a ski slope with a few lights and the moon to guide our way (and the giant red blinking x’s that basically marked a spot of imminent death upon crossing the imaginary dotted snow line).

It was like a thrill I’ve never experienced before, and I think it even tops zip lining through the Mexican jungle…upside down.  Here’s a tip to anyone going to a ski lodge for the first time ever;  take your snow boots!  I was told numerous times by Sean throughout the week that there was no snow at the lodge (the poor guy had to go a week early for work…yup, poor guy).  So here I am giving my snow boots the side eye, debating if I should bring them along but ultimately decide that I didn’t need them if there wasn’t any snow plus I was renting snowboarding gear so still no need for boots…oh how wrong I was!  Night sledding was a last-minute decision, like I show up, drop my bags, and off we go, kind of last-minute decision.  Feeling slightly awkward wearing my walking boots and snow pants, I trek my way to the bus and still not think much about the fact that I am not wearing legit snow gear (other than my awesome ski goggles that did come in handy…when I remembered to put them on that is).  Once we arrive to the ski lift our guide produces our sleds for the night, which were only big enough for one adult, and I don’t know about you but at this point I’m thinking “What the heck have I got myself into? You mean to tell me I’m risking my life sans husband?!?”.  Then it got worse…we were told how you steer the death contraption…with your feet!  Granted Sean wasn’t wearing boots but at least they were steel toed shoes for pete sake!  My boots, recently repaired with superglue, wanted to go whimpering into a dark hiding spot beneath the bus.  But alas, I am alive, I had fun, and I am the owner of a new pair of boots.

That's my friend Heather looking awesome on the snowboard.  I'm in the pink/brown coat and Sean is to my left (prior to shedding clothes obviously). Our instructor is in the blue/red snowboard gear. This image was actually taken by Heather's husband, because taking photos while learning to snowboard is kind of difficult.

That’s my friend Heather looking awesome on the snowboard. I’m in the pink/brown coat and Sean is to my left (prior to shedding clothes obviously). Our instructor is in the blue/red snowboard gear. This image was actually taken by Heather’s husband, because taking photos while learning to snowboard is kind of difficult.

Next on the agenda for our weekend stay in Garmisch, snowboarding lessons.  Sean has snowboard before but he just winged it and hoped for the best.  This time he thought better of that idea and took beginners lessons with me (thanks Sean!).  The thing is, that since it hadn’t snowed the tiny little slope we were practicing on with our group was made of heavily packed fake snow…aka, ice.  It’s no wonder about the no snow thing though, it was HOT (for January)!  We were all shedding our clothes left and right shortly after starting.  Which was kind of…errr…ummm…awkward for me because my coat was keeping my rented snow pants up.  The straps were too wide for my shoulders and even though they were tightened as far as they would go, the darn things just wouldn’t stay put.  I eventually ended up crisscrossing the straps across my chest, much to Sean’s displeasure.  It was like a snow bunny rendition of some kind of warrior queen, give me a shield and broadsword and I’ll come charging in on my snowboard to save the day!

I think it was my warrior-esque self that totally caught the eye of the instructor, not that I noticed…but Sean sure did.  For a beginner, I wasn’t all that bad.  Did I fall down? Sure, but who doesn’t their first time?  Anyway, apparently I did something right and the instructor told everyone to give me a round of applause, which I didn’t hear but my friend told me after the fact (P.S. having female support when taking on a new sport is very handy).  Next, the instructor asks me to help him remove the sleeves of his ski coat.  Odd..I thought, but helped the guy out because we were all dying of heat.  Then, what my husband told me later had me cracking up.  Apparently after I successfully completed a turn, Sean had been behind me in line waiting his turn when the instructor asked “Is that your woman?”, to which my lovely husband answers “No, that’s my wife.”.  Yup, totally giggled again as I was writing that.  In the end, Sean was having a blast and was tempted to pay extra to take the more advanced lessons the following day, which I was considering too.

This is a couple days after the fall. My poor knees!

This is a couple days after the fall. My poor knees!

Next run down, I completely lost my balance on a sheet of ice and went down on my knees as instructed (instead of smashing your wrists)…which may be okay for a normal person but I still have a dodgy knee from a soccer accident a decade ago.  My knees instantly ballooned up to the point it was hard to move.  I spent the rest of the lesson on my bum, with the lovely fake snow (ice) on my knees.  Thank goodness for that figure eight hot tub…my aching body sure enjoyed that.

That night we ventured away from the lodge to dine with our friends at a lovely italian restaurant in Garmisch, where Sean ordered the pizza hot enough to burn the face right off the Devil.  I took one bit of that pizza and was reaching for his beer like it was fountain of youth.  My lips still tingle from the memory of that burning pizza from Hell. Later we retired back to the lodge where we partook in their rendition of ‘Minute to Win It’.  Thankfully I wasn’t selected to go on stage, but Sean was!  That man loves him some competition and he was in the zone!  He completed his challenge in less than ten seconds, threw up his hands and yelled “WOOOOO!”…and then helped the small child next to him competing.  In the end everyone from our group was called on stage except for my friend and I.  I contribute her not being called on thanks to her son sitting on her lap, and well me…I kept my wine glass in my lap (and avoided eye contact with the selector at all possible costs).  Following the game show we were treated with an amazing fireworks show.  Dodgy knees and all…it was a pretty good day.

Thanks to my warrior queen snowboarding skills that landed me all black and blue, instead of another day on the slopes we spent the day in a more somber location, Dachau, the first Nazi concentration camp in Germany located just outside of Munich.  I’ve been wanting to visit a camp, not for the fun of it, but for the fact that it’s a somber reminder of cruelty that must never happen again.  Being that we were without kids, it seemed like perfect timing.  The weather couldn’t have been more perfect for our day spent in a gut wrenching venue…a fog so thick you could easily lose your spouse if you turned your back.  It’s truly hard to describe what it was like being there.  I wanted to cry, not just for the souls that were lost, or for those who ran the camp, but for humanity in general.  It’ll be an experience I’ll never forget, but who could forget when you walk from a room that once held dead bodies, to a chamber where the ovens were located and people once hung from the rafters.  Horrific.

I hate to leave you with the last images being from a concentration camp, but that is honestly how our trip ended.  We went to dinner in Munich, even with the lack of appetite, and called it a night once we made it back to Edelweiss Lodge.  The next morning we packed up early and headed home, eager to hug our little guys again.

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