I Gave it up at 17 Below | Zehnder's of Frankenmuth

I Gave it up at 17 Below

By Al Zehnder, CEO of Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth

It must have been 10 years ago. We had planned a family ski weekend in Northern Michigan. It was something we enjoyed as a family. Well, we rode up as a family, dad paid the lift tickets for the family, we met for lunch in the ski lodge as a family and drove back home or to wherever we were staying as a family. We may have skied one or two runs or rode up on the lifts together once or twice but that was really it. Not real cool to ski with your parents when you were in high school apparently. Even less cool in that I was still skiing while my kids had transitioned to snowboarding. Snowboarders, it seems, have their own sub-culture to which adults (particularly parents) weren’t particularly welcome or accustomed. We arrived at our usual destination, Nubs Nob. We got there early, just when they opened the place. We (I) bought our lift tickets and were ready to go. This particular day was cold. Really cold. The kind of cold day when the snow squeaked under your boots. I remember the temperature, it was 17 degrees below zero. Not with a wind chill, just plain 17 below. My wife had the good sense to stay back at the condo.

The plan was to ski for an hour or so, meet in the lodge, regroup and go out again. My oldest son, his then girlfriend and my oldest daughter went one way and I went another. While I dressed like I had many times before, I was cold just standing there. The trees even looked cold. Frost bite warnings were coming from the loudspeakers. How could it be sunny yet so cold? Coming down the side of the mountain, I was sure I was going to freeze one or both of my eyeballs, a finger or one of my ears. Exposed body parts just aren’t made this this.

I met the rest of the group at the appointed time. While it was only 10:30 am and I had braved only three runs, I declared myself done. Yeah, I was a wuss but I was a frozen wuss. My son, having driven himself, (and not wanting to look like a wuss in front of his girlfriend), was staying; my daughter had enough. No amount of hot chocolate would change our mind.

And that was it. While my oldest son and daughter continued to pursue their appreciation for winter sports, I gave it up that day and haven’t strapped the skis on since. My wife who had the good sense to stay back that day and cuddle up with a good book is now prodding me to hit the slopes once again and introduce our youngest two to the joy of northern Michigan skiing. I feel myself weakening under the pressure.

If you have any winter family memories, I would be happy if you shared them with us. And remember, if your family needs a warmer winter getaway, it’s always 82 and sunny at Zehnder’s Splash Village, voted #1 Family Getaway by the readers of Metro Parent Magazine.