Thinking about Montana on a Monday

We are going to Montana in a few weeks, and I really need to get organized!  We decided in the fall that instead of visiting Mammoth to ski this Christmas Break, we would go and visit relatives in Billings and sneak in a couple of days at Big Sky Resort.

Now Big Sky was a bit intimidating for me.  This is Rocky Mountain skiing. My husband has skied in Colorado before, but the girls and I are California skiers (like totally fer sure).  Big Sky is Big Time!  When I called to make hotel reservations, I talked to a guy (sorry, he sounded young…I can’t call him a man) at the front desk about the skiing, both the conditions and the temperature.  He said that the powder is amazing, almost like flour, and is nothing like slushy California skiing (a bit judgemental, but I let it slide).  And he admitted, that yes, it’s a bit colder (a total understatement).  With that, knowing what I am up against, I am going into full planning mode.

TRANSPORTATION

Since, of course, it will be winter, I tried to limit our driving as much as possible.  I was able to book our flight so that we are flying into Bozeman and out of Billings.  Bozeman is the closest airport to Big Sky and a fun stop in it’s own right.  We stopped for a delicious lunch and micro brew at Montana Ale Works when we were en route to Yellowstone a couple of years ago!  We may have to eat there again!  We will drive along Hwy 191 and the gorgeous Gallatin River to get the ski resort (hoping the weather is good!).  For the driving, we rented a SUV which is costing us an arm and a leg.  They usually do in winter, but pick up and drop off in different cities is always pricier. I’m going to scour Hotwire over the next few weeks to see if I can get a better deal.

Looking at my flight reservations again, I see that I paid for priority boarding (I had forgotten!).  My husband will be so happy!  I also prepaid our in-flight internet access so that my kids will love me too!  When everyone else is happy, then I can settle in and read my book that I’m hopefully getting for Christmas (hint, hint).

ROOM RESERVATIONS

We are staying at the Lodge at Big Sky, numero uno on Trip Advisor.  As I mentioned, I quizzed the front desk staff about the convenience of the resort.  We do NOT like schlepping ski gear.  Especially when all of us are wearing ski boots (worst inventions ever).  The dude at the front desk assured me that the lift was only 100-150 yards walk.  However, 100 yards is still a football field…and that is still a long way in ski boots.  As a back up, they also run a shuttle to the lift every 30 minutes.

Of course, access to food on vacation is critical.  Note, I already told you I have lunch taken care of on day one…I’m not messing around!  I was happy to be about to get a double room with a kitchenette.  We always return from a day on the slopes STARVING, so it will be nice to have some snacks readily available.  Our room rate of $299/night also includes breakfast (continental plus hot food).  It’s hard to tell on the map how close we are to restaurants, but we will bust out our snow boots and go forage for food if we have to!

CLOTHING AND GEAR

Speaking of snow boots (and snow gear in general), I am preparing for dealing with a new level of cold.  I called in my friend Jen to be my gear advisor to understand just how many layers we need to take.  She introduced me to my new favorite thing:  the down sweater from Patagonia.  Oh how I love my down sweater (especially since I got it a REI for 25% off).  It’s warm but light.  And the material is slick enough that your ski jacket fits over it.

So back to the layering, this is what we plan to do:

Base layer (Hot Chilis always)

Quarter-zip fleece (picky about the thickness)

Down sweater (yum!)

Jacket (suitable for cold weather…no shells here)

The girls and I are getting mittens for Christmas (don’t tell).  I bought the Montana Mitten from The North Face (sounded appropriate)…and yes, I bought my own gift.  And I got a big box of hand warmers on Amazon.  The girls are also getting boot warmers for Christmas.  This is a total experiment so we will have to report on their effectiveness.  And if we don’t sound wimpy enough, we will have balaclavas for our faces…no skin showing here!

We are bringing our own boots and helmets (heck ya!), but will need to rent skis.  I spoke to a very nice gentleman (he sounded a bit older than a “guy” or “dude”) at Big Sky  and directed us toward the online rentals.  He recommended we arrive at 5pm the night before our rental starts to pick up the skis (4pm is too crazy).  I got my husband and myself high performance skis, which for me is laughable.  But at least I’ll look good!

We can’t wait to go!  I’m sure we will have a lot of report and many lessons learned.  Stay tuned!!

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