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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Wintertime Fresh Air: Innertubing!

IMG_0884Our kids were getting cabin fever. It’s not like they’re never outside, what with FootGolf, tennis, and other activities. Antsiness (is that a word?) has been in the air since the realization of Thanksgiving’s approach is on the horizon, with our second son’s 18th birthday happening the day before that.

The four teens needed to get out and about. And I had just the thing.

About a month ago, my son and I were doing some archaeological survey in the middle of Virginia not far from Lynchburg. On our way inbetween homes, we stopped for a few minutes at Liberty University, largest Christian college in America.

I must admit that spiritual considerations were not our motivating force. Instead, we IMG_0902headed to their Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre for some mountain-style innertubing. We were not disappointed.

First, we took the kids to a small museum and wove in a visit to the mountain. For Liberty students, the IMG_0903snowboarding, skiing and innertubing are free. For those heading there through this Sunday, three canned goods for the needy will get you an hour on the slopes.

We were there, the kids with their dozen cans in hand.

Two girls, two boys, two dogs, two parents in the SUV climbing up CandlersIMG_0897 Mountain Road. The view of the campus below us and the mountains surrounding was stunning. Entering the charming, mountainside Lodge, we wondered if the facilities were even open, seeing no one on the slopes at 3:00 pm. Hold your horses: many were just leaving classes and heading for the hills.

The unique system employs Snowflex technology: a synthetic material designed to simulate the slip and grip effects of real snow, giving IMG_0898snowboarders and skiers a year-round experience. And when the weather drops, with a high of 19 degrees like it was this day, misters begin to work, adding a thin, slick layer to the manufactured slopes.

But none of it mattered to us, since we opted for innertubing which promised speeds in excess of 30 miles per hour, no snow required on the Neveplast plastic surface. Just one month before, I had squeezed like a plopped-down sausage into a brightly-colored tube and flown down the IMG_0882chute, spinning round and round as the mountain hurtled me in the direction of gravity.

This time we broke it down into an adventure. Our children were so used to doing things together that we felt they should experience the thrill of a new challenge… solo.

Benedetto sent Mashenka, our 16-year-old daughter, up the carpet lift first. Her mission was to hold onto the innertube while standing on the moving conveyer, and proceed to the mid-mountain first stop where an attendant would assist her in heading down. IMG_0893Translated that means some guy comes out of a booth and tells you to sit, and gives your tube a good shove in the downward direction. We watched from below as one Nervous Nelly began her ascent.

All went well. Within no time, the remaining kids went up one by one, first down the mid-level run (300-foot), then going up to the top run (525-foot).

Sashenka, the 14-year-old daughter, slipped on a mat when she stepped off the conveyer and further hurt an ankle already sprained from tennis. After a couple of runs, she was done. No matter, it had cost us only three cans of corn.

Pasha, the soon-to-be 18-year-old, used his height to his advantage, flying all IMG_0901the way down and then off the end of the chute, crashing into the protective cushioned wall ahead. He giggled, loving it.

“Uh, please protect whatever brains you have until your 18th birthday,” I cautioned, which made him giggle even more while heading up the hill again.

Mashenka was on her 2nd or 3rd run when I saw her shoes come flinging off halfway down the mountain. Both of our jaws dropped on that one. I pulled her aside, she was so stunned, and said her brother would help.

Speaking of whom, just then, Petya the 18-year-old came like a speeding luge over the errant shoes, laughing, and hopping up as he came to a stop.

“Mashenka’s shoes! “ I called. “Did you see what happened?”

IMG_0911“Yes, I’ll get them!” and so he ran up the side of the lane to where they lay, retrieving them much to the relief of his sister.

The freezing, fresh air did wonders for the family. Benedetto sat with his computer on a bench, watching, using the WiFi and trading options for his few minutes in the sun. I took photos and cheered them on. Afterwards, all gathered in the warm Lodge on comfy couches, drinking hot chocolate beneath evocative apre`s-ski stuffed moose and elk heads, with bearskin rugs spread on the walls. We took the dogs on a little walk and fed them as the sun dropped in the late afternoon sky.

Gearing up for another long drive into the evening, not one could stay awake in the car, Scotties included. That was the way we liked it: work hard, play hard, and pass out! Fresh air was going to be our new best friend.

Tomorrow: the unusual museum we visited.


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4 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Karen says:

    Looks like some major fun! We could use a break along these lines – thanks for letting us know about the facility. Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. avatar melin says:

    What a good mama you are. You always seem so in touch with the children’s needs. And then you act upon that information, which makes you unique.

    The children are so grown! You don’t have little ones around at all. Big kids, big opinions, big challenges and equally big joy. Someone once said that to be a parent is to wear your heart on the outside of your body for the rest of your life. That sounds about right.

    I’ve been to Liberty a few times. I’m always amazed at how they keep that place running considering the reasonable tuition. Rather, it tells me how inflated other colleges are. Have you ever struggled with this? I love the spiritual education my child would get there but I feel as if my child is more academically competitive. I wonder if this means my priorities are not in the right order? There was a time when I wasn’t interested in my children going to a christian school, per se, but honestly, college campus’ are out of control. I understand a lot of the same stuff happens at christian schools and that they might hide it better. But truly it does not happen in the same proportions. I’m obviously a little sour today about rampant secularism.

    • avatar admin says:

      Hi Melin, thanks for the encouraging words! I agree with the rampant secularism surrounding us and I wish I had an answer vis-a-vis universities. We want our kids to be able to thrive and study and mix with professors and peers who will add to their educational experience rather than distract or diminish who they’re really meant to be. And as you said, Christian schools are not problem-free. On the other hand, my husband and I generally like the academically-rigorous atmospheres of secular schools. So it’s a toss-up. For now, our oldest is studying online with a great school abroad, while maintaining the positive influences of our home and congregation. He’s spreading his wings with a couple of part-time jobs and relishing the hard work of juggling it all. So far, so good….

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