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BROWN: Skiing adventures from Mulligan's Hollow to the peaks of Colorado

• Nov 27, 2018 at 2:00 PM

The first hint of winter is here. Snow days are coming. For kids, these are the days that make being a kid pay off. It’s pure freedom.

However, for adults who need to get to work, snow can be a bit frustrating and can even make driving dangerous at times. But, when you have the day off, snow days can lead to new adventures.

A bonus of being a Lakeshore kid is Mulligan’s Hollow. I didn’t realize this until we moved here from Grand Rapids or, as we like to say, “town.” On snow days, my son Connor would spend the day at Mulligan’s Hollow with his friends. At the end of the day, I lined up with the other moms in their SUVs and minivans to pick him and his friends up.

Jerry and my sister-in-law, Sandy, and their family are from East Grand Rapids, so they are the Eastie Browns, and we are the SL Browns. Leveraging the best of both worlds, sometimes we’d go sledding in town at Manhattan Park or at the lakeshore. Out here, we snow-blow the frozen bayou and everyone puts on their skates, or we make a luge on my parent’s hill.

Building on our winter enthusiasm, one November Saturday when he was in elementary school, I picked out some downhill skis that were on sale. Connor and I started out skiing at the Cannonsburg Ski Area. Jerry picked up some skis for his then three kids, and we skied together on Saturday nights.

Bundled up and brave, the kids master the rope tows on the Bunny Hill and then advance to the chair lifts.

Jerry’s son Mitchell is 3 years old. My brother holds onto his little jacket and keeps Mitchell tucked safely between his skis as we make it down the Triple at Cannonsburg. Tiny and fearless, Mitchell beams as my brother coaches him, “Make a pizza! Make your pizza, Mitch!”

As the evening progresses, Jerry takes the older kids on the tougher runs while I bring Daisy and Mitchell into the lodge for hot chocolate and french fries. We peel off our wet hats and gloves, unhook our boots, and sit together in front of the big windows as the hot chocolate warms us, lights sparkling on the slopes.

Jerry gives all the kids special snow names. Mitchell is Snow Dog. Sophie is Snow Flake. Daisy is Bean Dip and Connor is Gizmo. Together, they make their way down the runs at Cannonsburg in a small pack, practicing turns and jumps.

Sometimes they fall down. Sometimes their skis pop off. They get snow in their boots. It’s the yin and yang of skiing. They get up, brush off and try again.

I wasn’t surprised when, one day, Gizmo announced that he was moving to Colorado to work at a ski resort after spending a year at college and working. He packed up his stuff and drove himself out there in our old family car — the car that we were told to “only drive around town.” The car made it over the mountains, and he spent the winter working at a mountain resort on a lift at about 10,000 feet.

When he told me that Intermediate in Colorado is different than Intermediate in Michigan, I couldn’t resist it. I reminded him, “Remember to make a pizza.” #Mom humor.

— By Carrie Brown, Tribune community columnist

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