A Weekend Away With the Boys (Day 158 to 164)

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Day 158 – Monday – Back to the Co-Working Space

I decided to start my week by going to the co-working space. I spent most of the day there doing work and having conference calls. From there I picked up Leila from dance and came home for a home-cooked meal.

Day 159 – Tuesday – Lunch at Our Friends

We were invited to Charmaine & Michael’s apartment for lunch. They brought all their stuff from the States (which took 3 months to arrive). The apartment was amazing, it was large with 4 bedrooms, high ceilings and a lot of character. Michael is in the music business and has thousands of records, some sort of vacuum tube record player attached to the best speakers you could imagine. Their sofas and chairs were so comfortable. There was art hanging everywhere with character. I just felt at home. It was as if they had lived there for years.  All of a sudden our Ikea furnished apartment with white walls was feeling very plain.

After a great lunch, I went to a WeWork where I have a free quasi membership through my Amex card. I worked for a few hours and then met Kelli out for quick tapas, before coming home to put our kids to bed.  

Day 160 – Wednesday – Another Home Cooked Meal

Spanish class, spinning/gym, work, took Leila to dance, home cooked meal with perfectly cooked brussel sprouts and pasta by my beautiful wife.

Day 161 – Thursday – The Never Ending Forum Meetings

By mistake, I scheduled both my forums meetings on the same day, and their times even overlapped. I guess it is a good thing that happened, as we were also booked in the same space by accident. Luckily, I was able to get my first forum to make the meeting earlier and the second, a bit later. However, it also meant I was in forum meetings from 12:30 to 8:30. A full day’s work.  I made sure to go to the gym and spinning first.

While mentally draining at times (as tough stuff generally is) the meetings were good. I then went out to dinner with a few people from the forum at Xavier Pellicer.

Day 162 – Friday – Boys Ski Trip

Friday was a special day as it was my first alone trip with the boys. Kelli and Leila had book club at our apartment Friday night with about 8 other mothers and their kids. Therefore, we needed to have the boys out of the apartment and instead of making it a night out, I turned it into a weekend away. Even better, my friend Andy decided to take his two kids skiing as his wife, Jenn, had to go back to the States.

We ended up going to Ax Les Thermes in France which means The Thermal Baths, as there are a lot of natural hot springs in the area. To make it a little more special for the boys, I picked them up at 12:30 at school so we could get a jump on our trip. Well that was one reason. The other reason was that this trip was taking me the same route as last weekend on our way to Andorra, where I ended up driving in dense fog in the pitch black. I did not want to go through that again, alone with the boys. There was no fog, it was clear all the way!

We arrived around 3:30pm and the first thing that was apparent was that there was no snow anywhere. In fact, the Gondola takes you up over a ridge to the main mountain, so we could not even see the snow on the mountain from where we were staying. It has been warm the past week, and the weekend was supposed to be in the 50s and 60s, so skiing would certainly be different.

No snow to be found in the town of Ax Les Thermes
Boys enjoying their healthy lunch when we arrived in Ax Les Thermes.

We headed to town and had a late lunch at the only place that was open. The Rapkins arrived around 6pm and we all went to rent our skis (again, learning my lessons from last weekend), then out to a local French restaurant for dinner.

Andy heard about this area from a Catalonian and he said it gets almost no Spanish tourists and certainly no American. He was right, we seemed to be the only non-French people around, and it was kind of cool.

Dinner was good, but I think I hit my cheese fondue limit until next year. Two weekends in a row was enough. As we headed back to the rooms, the kids ran through these hot water mist fountains that came up from the hot springs. We got ice cream and headed back for an earlyish bedtime.

Day 163 – Our Best Ski Day So Far!

The day started off like our past two weekends….not necessarily on the positive side. We arrived at the Gondola and it was pouring rain. Not really the best weather for skiing. We got to the top of the mountain and that rain was 50% ice crystals. This put our waterproofing to the test, and lets just say, gloves were not meant to get this wet and the kids hands were frozen. It was foggy and hard to navigate. There was a plus side though, the snow actually felt pretty good to ski on. Since it was in the high 40s, low 50’s there was no ice.

By lunch-time Jonah was soaked to the bone and wanted desperately to go back to the hotel. We had hot chocolate, spaghetti, chicken nuggets, fries, and crepes for lunch. All in the hopes that would re-energize him.  However, it was not until I bought him a new pair of cheap DRY ski gloves that he was ready to go back on the mountain. And we were glad that we did. The rain stopped, and the clouds were clearing away. We found a run that took at least 10 to 15 minutes to complete and did it over and over again.  They loved it. Josh became Jonah’s instructor and we kept going up and up again. Until finally, it was the last run of the day around 5:30.

On the way home, Josh looked at me and said, “this is our best ski day so far.” Victory! 

Enjoying their first Ski Day in Ax Les Thermes.

Day 164 – The Vistas of The Mountains

If the theme of day 1 was the rain, the theme of day 2 was the heat. It was supposed to get to 68 degrees on Sunday. As we all headed up the mountain, we could certainly feel the heat and the bigger crowds. But the thing that really stood out to me, that I did not get to see with all the clouds the day before, were all the mountain ranges surrounding us. It might have been the most beautiful vista of any ski experience I have been to previously. 

It took us 2 gondolas and one chair lift to get to the top of the mountain.
View from the Gondola.
The view does not get old!

We skied with the Rapkins in the morning, until Josh was begging to do a red. I pushed hard against it as I wanted to stay with the Rapkins, but reluctantly followed, as it did not look so bad for Jonah. BOY WAS I WRONG.  The way I saw it, we had to traverse across the mountain to a trail I saw in the distance that was doable for both of them. What I did not realize was the steepness of this traverse across.  

Jonah could not hold an edge and kept slipping down the mountain, plus he had no poles to hold him in place. Things came to a head when he got stuck over the steepest part. Because of the lack of snow, there was a 15 foot drop into rocks, about 20 feet below us. I took off his skis and told him to climb up, but he kept slipping, while I was under him. Then I told him to scale the mountain sideways, on his hands and knees. One small step at a time, we finally got across the drop off. Phew! I then put his skis back on and held on to him. We skied somewhat down and traversed to get to that trail. Lesson learned! 

The rest of the day, we had great conditions. I cleaned the apartment, packed the car, and we headed back to Barcelona. There was an accident so a 2.5 hour drive was closer to 4 hours. 

We got home and exchanged stories with Kelli and Leila about our weekends. While we were skiing, Kelli and Leila had what sounded like a very fun book club at our apartment on Friday night. They went shopping on Saturday followed by Leila’s friend sleeping over.  And on Sunday, they spent the day at the beach, in 70 degree weather, with a group of friends and parents. How amazing is it that Kelli and Leila were at the beach and the boys and I were skiing, both a drive from Barcelona?!


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