Fourteen years ago we invested in a condo in the Vail Valley of Colorado.
Actually, we own 1/12th of the unit! We have three weeks a year in our home-away-from-home – one in the summer and two in the winter.
The first year we went with our family of two boys – ages 1 and 3.
Those early years were full of hours on the bunny hill, lots of snowman building and a continual search for hot chocolate and cookies!
And then boy number three arrived and the pattern was repeated.
We have loved returning to the same place year after year. The familiarity is comfortable and decreases the stress of traveling (especially with small children).
One of the reasons why our partnership with Alamo Rent A Car is such a good fit for our family is that often when we take these trips to Colorado, we fly into Denver International Airport and rent a car to drive the rest of the way “home”.
Once we get there, we know the best places to ski, eat, hike and grocery shop – and having a rental car gives us the freedom to get to these destinations easily and make amazing family memories.
This photo was taken in 2006. It was the first time grandpa and Ryan (who is now 17) skied together on the green trails. What followed were many, many years of the two of them on the slopes progressing from green trails to blue and the occasional black. They were perfectly matched ski buddies.
One of our favorite restaurants to eat lunch is on the top of the mountain, Zach’s Cabin. It is only accessible by ski/snowboard or snowcat. We started taking the snowcat when some of the family was too young to ski (2006).
It became a tradition and sometimes the boys just wanted to ride the snowcat…even if they were capable of skiing (2009)!
This picture was taken in 2009 when all three boys were capable of skiing to lunch (2009)!
The memories of lunch at the top of the mountain are some of my favorite ones. This picture was taken in 2013. Some skied to lunch. Some took the snowcat. But eating together surrounded by some of the prettiest scenery in the world, can’t be beat.
Riding the chairlift as a family got easier and easier as the years went by (2010). At first, it seemed like a major production to get little skis, poles and bodies onto the chair in the short amount of time provided. They became faster…and taller which helped a lot!
We have our favorite trails on the slopes of Beaver Creek, Bachelor Gulch and Arrowhead. The boys like the treed, winding paths like Cabin Fever and Stirrup. We would ski behind them to make sure no one got lost in the trees!
Each of the boys started learning to ski when they were 3 years old. Because we were so familiar with the mountain (and the bunny hill), I ended up teaching them instead of sending them to ski school. It was more fun that way and if we wanted to stop and make a snowman along the trail, we could.
This is Reid, the middle boy (2010). He picked up skiing quickly and I remember the first time I took him down the big hill, he did really well–so well, that near the bottom I passed him, skied to the base and turned around to watch him come down. He saw what I was doing, stopped, turned around and skied backward the rest of the way!
More ski skills meant the boys were going with us to the more challenging trails (2012). They gained appreciated for one of our favorite blue trails, Roughlock, attacking it with less hesitation and more fun.
We went from skiing behind them to skiing in front of them to lead the way. At some point, we went back to skiing behind them just trying to keep up!
Some years just our family would ski. Some years we were joined by my parents, my husband’s parents or my brother’s family.
Each year brought new memories and snowman-building buddies (2012)!
Playing in the snow is really, really hard work (2014). Sometimes you just need to stop and catch your breath.
And just be warned, no matter how old you are or how tall you might be getting…your mom will always need a hug (2015).
I found that the easiest way to get the family photo done (as quickly and painlessly as possible) was to do it while we were on vacation (2016).
There was enough snow for a picture, but not enough to ski (2017)!
We are just a week or so away from our next trip to our other home. The Alamo rental car is already reserved!
It is nostalgic returning to the same place each year. Each direction I look brings back happy memories. When I see the lobby of Timbers, it reminds me of the freshly baked cookies the boys beg for then hoard. A turn on a trail will trigger a flash from the past of a past fall or accomplishment. Even stepping into the elevator will remind me how important being the day’s “button pusher” was in years past.
Printable Travel Memory Journal for Kids
My kids have built up years of memories from traveling to the same place. Inspired by how Alamo Rent A Car makes this so easy, we put together a printable travel memory journal you can print for your kids:
Download & print: My Trip Memory Book
We hope that no matter where your travels have taken you, your family can hold the happy memories close.