Sledding (2005–2006)

We have been leaving our sleds out most of the winter as offerings to the snow gods. So far it has been working, although I had to correct the kids on making the proper offering. Scattering the toboggans about the yard is not the way to get the snow gods’ attention: One must place the sleds vertically, up against the deck or porch railing, as if ready for instant use. You don’t want to get rain all winter, do you?

This is Naomi’s first year sledding.

Above: NaNi, at the bottom of the hill after one of her first-ever sledding runs. “Again!”

Sledding was great last night at Roby Park, in Nashua, which is not far from our house! The snow was perfect for speed; we were getting within about 20 feet of the fence at the bottom of the hill. Conditions should be same for the next few nights; I can’t go tonight. I might go on Tuesday, but will probably have too much work.

Isaac was practicing on a $1, small, narrow snowboard we got at a yard sale—it’s amazing how quickly he learns. He had several runs where he made it almost completely down the hill. I wonder how he’d do on a larger board with boot clamps. David tried it sitting and laying down. Isaac also challenged us to race him, sleds versus feet. He’s fast.

Above left: Isaac’s Calvin & Hobbes snowman (2 heads, 4 arms, etc.).

Above right: Our three-toboggan sled train. NaNi is in the front, Doug is in the middle (and providing the steering), David is in the back.

Naomi was completely thrilled. She always wants to go from the very top of the hill. I hold her sled in front of mine, which provides excellent steering control. The second day we went sledding, someone bumped her, and she was noticably timid for the rest of that day; last night she was fine. She seems nervous still while we are getting in position. I reassure her by explaining what I’m doing. “I’m just getting onto my sled. Don’t worry, I won’t let go of you. Remember, we won’t move until you say, ‘Go.'” And then she counts down (or up), and calls out, “Go!” and we’re off! Her first word upon reaching the bottom is, “Again!” She burst into tears when I said it was time to go home.

Above left: In the Wilcox backyard, the natives are restless. Isaac uses his bow and arrow to enhance his Mutant Snow Goon.

Above right: Even though our sledding was done, and we were all a little wet and cold, NaNi insisted on continuing to play outside.

Earlier this year, I took some pictures, and even have a short video clip of one of Naomi’s first sledding runs (if for nothing more than freaking out Nichelle). I’ll have to see what’s worth posting. (Editor’s note: I looked; the video isn’t that great, and the photos are mostly dark or blurry. It was cold when I took them! I’ve added the one that was decent.)

(New photos above added January 25, 2006.)

25 Replies to “Sledding (2005–2006)”

  1. Ok…now it’s time to slap the old skis on! Actually, it is ashame that skiing has become so expensive. When Beth wasn’t much older, her dad was a patrolman at a little area in Londonderry (now defunct). It was great! She skied free because he worked there and it was close enough that she could go for just a half day. I remember the first time we took her I had anticipated she would spend her first year on the “bunny” slope. She took about three runs and was on the regular slopes! Of course it helps that she was so close to the ground…low center of gravity and all. It was years before she was big enough to ski with poles. You’d see her zooming around on her skis, sucking on the thumb of her mitten (it must have helped with balance). Fortunately she got over that habit by the time she raced for the Va.Tech. team. 😉

  2. I have thought about skiing. I don’t know how we’d afford it. I also didn’t grow up skiing, so it’s a bit of a foreign culture. We do try to go tubing once each season. (Last year we went to Pat’s Peak, but I hear Nashoba Valley is better, so we’re going to try that this year.)

    At any rate, sledding is still free, and we will probably find a cheap snowboard or two somewhere. Now that Isaac has progressed so well on a toy one, there’s a bigger incentive to step up.

  3. So glad you guys are sledding…I remember the killer saucer runs dad used to make us at 59 Pine in Easton…He actually went out with water after he got the saucer run just right and iced it up for us…..heehaa…

  4. Now I’m going to age myself…BUT when I was in HS… I paid $50 for a seasons pass! That was in the days before litigation pushed the price to the stratosphere.

    There are still bargains out there, but not for an entire family. A few years ago I got a $200 seasons pass to three areas (including Loon and Bretton Woods). It was good weekdays/nonholidays only, which is fine for someone as footloose and fancy free as me! Besides, I’m not a big fan of holiday and weekend skiing. We used to take the 4H club skiing every year during school vacation and I was terrified hearing screaming teenaged girls barrelling down the mountain behind me on a trail they lacked the ability to be on. When the weather is bad that happens even more frequently. They have to close trails and that clogs up the only ones left open.

  5. I should add some background Wilcox family sledding lore, especially about our attempts to reproduce the sledding experience in Florida:

    (1) The famous saucer runs were done by my father when our family lived at 59 Pine Street in South Easton, Massachusetts. This was long before my time, although I did inherit one of the aluminum saucers, and in my teens, eventually turned it into a shield for use in cosplay (a word that didn’t exist when I was a child); I still have it.

    The saucer runs started somewhere beyond the outhouse, and extended “down in back,” down the long hill that was in the back yard, into undeveloped land (probably swamp) and were shaped by sledding. My father sprayed them with water to ice them over, and hung a light up for after-dark play. (If I have any details wrong, my sisters can correct them.)

    (2) One or two Christmases my brothers Paul, Aaron, and I attempted to replicate the New England experience of sledding on the rather decent hill across from my parents’ house in Beverly Hills, Florida.

    We first tried using The Wagon. The Wagon dates back at least 45 years to when “The Girls Were Little” (my oldest sister will be 60 this year and my youngest sister is around 50). The Wagon was a very large, heavy wagon, the original wheels of which my father replaced with heavy, ball-bearing wheels that were salvaged from discarded grocery carts. (My father grew up during the Great Depression; he also worked for Fernandes Super Markets—hence the scrounging and the source of the wheels.)

    The wagon worked well, but only for a couple of runs. It was treacherously bumpy, and we discovered just how treacherously when the entire front wheel assembly was ripped off when we hit a hole, and we all went flying head-over-teakettle. There were at least two of us, probably three, in The Wagon at the time. (It was reparable, and The Wagon is still in use.)

    Later we switched to cardboard boxes. Still, it wasn’t quite the same as snow.

  6. We led a very small sledding expedition last night after church. The wind chill made the temperature equivalent to 8 below zero Fahrenheit. I always think of Kip and Oscar on Pluto when it’s that cold.

    This time, unusually, John joined us; so it was John, our friend Phil Luchon, Naomi, and myself. (NaNi started begging for sledding when she saw the snow falling Sunday morning.)

    Due to the cold we only did three runs, but the hill was really fast! NaNi and I came within about 5 feet of the fence. NaNi and I, with our two-sled train, got much better distance and speed than either John or Phil on their individual sleds. We’ll have to do some experimenting to see why that was.

    It was brief, but fun. It’s great having Naomi’s sled right in front of mine. She counts down, says “Go,” and yells “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh!” all the way down the hill. As soon as we stop she exclaims, “Again!” She cried when it was time to go home, as usual; this time I distracted her a little bit with thoughts of hot chocolate.

  7. Doug,
    Skiing with all 6 of our kids if crazy but fun. You know that age span I was talking about…well, this is something that we all enjoy together. Phil used to be a ski instructor so…I had to learn how to ski. I never tried it up till then (I was 19) I LOVE it! We buy all of our stuff at used sports stores, we actually have enough now that we can just get the box out and see who’s boots and if we need to drag out another box and find the bigger ones. Phil did hit a great sale a couple of years ago and picked up skis for most of us at an incredibily low price! And we too have gotten the season pass. (much cheaper if you ski more than 2 or 3 times a year) Last year Betsy was in 4th grade and did the ski your turns project and after she finished that she was sent a coupon book THAT was great!! saved a lot of $$ on that one too! We really enjoy skiing as a family!
    Sledding is great too! We have some GREAT hills here. The kids go out for hours when there is fresh snow. The problem is when the snow starts to melt you realize that you are sledding in the cows summer pasture!! yuck! OK…so, I posted on your blog! how about that? 🙂

  8. Doug,
    You forgot the more recent bit of Wilcox family sledding lore: The one that involved a toboggan, you standing up, and a trip to the hospital. . .

  9. Thanks for the post, Jen.

    We don’t have many problems in Nashua with cowflops while sledding, just crack vials and discarded needles. (A little city-versus-rural humor, there.)

    Almost, thou persuadests me to take up skiing. I’ll have to look for a way to get into it without costing a small fortune. (There’s a time investment issue as well.) We have friends at church who are often up at Pat’s Peak; I’ll have to talk to them.

  10. Mike:

    HEY! There isn’t much more to say, except that it was an embarrassingly small hill, and the only injury of that severity that I’ve ever suffered.

    It did expose me to your brother Dave’s quirky and excellent humor.

    On the way to the emergency room (I couldn’t put any weight on my ankle; it was sprained), he remarked, “The last time I went to the emergency room was when we were in Brazil. It was a long time ago. I only remember the screaming.”

  11. On Wednesdays up at Ragged Mt (which is close to Beth) they have carload Wednesday and it is $25 per car (I am not sure if it is the same this year) But we did do that last year. It really is affordable if you look for the deals!

  12. Beth participated in the Chester afterschool ski program when she was in 7th and 8th grade (even though she attended Calvary, she was a local resident and could participate). I think the kids went once a week and she enjoyed it. That was pretty reasonably priced. But I like the “carload Wednesdays” plan…but that would be a hike for you! Of course, you could leave Nani with Beth and Clover for free. 😉 [They would have to get used to each other first. I imagine Clover would soon loose her allure if Naomi’s family walked out the door without her!]

  13. Then you add in the $2.34 a gallon for gas $$$ 😉
    OK,so you either need to bite the bullet and buy all your equipment OR yard sale over the summer, we did get some great skis at yard sales for $5 one time! boots you can get at goodwill for $4-5 at times. You need to watch for the deals. As for leaving Naomi with a sitter, we bring all the kids with us, Claire is only 1 months and Anna is going to be on skis for the first time this year is 3 we take turns on the lodge. Phil skis more and better than me and it is very rare that the kids are out all day, unless you are a die hard. NOT ME!! love it but need to take a break every once and awhile. Cabot is out all day, he makes himself sick, it never fails that he needs a bucket with him in the car on the ride home! it is a ritual now! He kicks and screams (OK mopes) when we tell him he needs to come in for a break or to eat or whatever! He takes after his Dad!
    BUT really…look into it more if it is something that you are interested in! It can be affordable, you just need to LOOK for the deals! Ok, enough about skiing!!

  14. Well, I think we’re going to have to look for a sale, or start figuring out what we can cut from the budget to plan for next winter. I also should probably find out who in the family is interested in skiing or snowboarding. (Not that I wouldn’t make them try it, mind you.)

    Naomi would actually probably handle a day with Clover and separation from the rest of us much better than being at a ski area and not allowed to ski.

  15. To my surprise (the forecast changed between last night and this morning), the kids had a snow day today.

    When Naomi got up, she saw the snow, and said, “Daddy! Snowing! … Sledding!” Then she asked, “David sledding? Isaac sledding? Uncle Phil sledding?”

  16. You know what, Doug? Sledding is a FINE activity for your family! Nobody goes through all that in order to go skiing unless they love it so much they’re willing to devote so much effort and $$. Sledding sounds simpler! And apparently your kids have enjoyed the family time. Very creative use of snow! [And use the $$ you’ll save for the college fund. You just KNOW where those kids are headed…may they all get Assistantships!]

  17. Watching Doug and the kids, especially Naomi sledding last night was a treat. First of all, being “well enough” to go was great. I had on many layers of clothing and stood off to the side and took pictures and a few videos of their sledding experience. Naomi was a wild girl. I wasn’t alone on the side either. There was a couple of girls (late teens or early 20’s) there as well, watching their boyfriends sledding and cringing everytime they went down the hill. They thought Naomi was adorable and couldn’t believe what she was doing. I felt the same way. It was a lot of fun and I was glad to be able to go with them. I’m sure Doug will have some pictures added in a day or two.

  18. Naomi was much more daring and experimental on the hill on Monday. She tried running down the hill several times (after challening me to a race, the way Isaac does), and only fell once. She toyed with sliding down on her bottom. She insisted on walking up the hill herself, rather than being pulled in a sled (although pulling her own sled was a bit too much for her). I’m amazed at how quickly she adapts. The first time up the hill she had trouble with the very icy patches where the hill was steepest, but by the second time she looked like she had been doing it all her life, much to the chagrin of one of the teenagers there who couldn’t get up the hill herself. For the last run of the evening, Naomi insisted on using my toboggan by herself, instead of the two-sled train we normally use, and went down luge style, on her back. She cried longer than usual when it was time to go home.

    We also tried some three-sled-chains with David in the rear. David is much louder than Naomi!

    Isaac spent a lot of time trying to hit the sled jumps that are normally built on one side of the hill. Isaac got some great air, but his landings were a bit painful. Isaac’s snowboarding is getting better, too.

    (I posted photos from this trip back into the main sledding post.)

    Regarding skiing, et al., I think our next phase will be looking for some yard-sale snowboards to use/share.

  19. I took Isaac, David, and NaNi sledding again last night. Due to the cold, I expected to be out only about half an hour, but we stayed about an hour and a half.

    There was just barely enough snow, and we had to stay on one side of the hill, but what was there was quite icy and fast.

    NaNi went down the hill on Isaac’s snowboard (which is smaller than she is). My heart rate increased a bit on that one, but she loved it. Of course, the best part about that was seeing Nichelle’s reaction to the description.

    This might be our last sledding trip of the season, so I’m glad it was a good one.

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