White Christmas in the Rockies. – How to make the most of Christmas away from home.
Sometimes it’s hard to be away from your loved ones on Christmas, here is how I overcame the Christmas blues by planning the ultimate white Christmas.
It was my first Christmas away from home, somehow up until that point; I had managed to stumble back to NZ from wherever I was in the world for Christmas. This time however, I was stuck in Vancouver but it was snowing! Actual ice was falling from the sky. For this Kiwi girl, an actual white Christmas was a novelty not to be passed up.
We gathered a group of friends together and decided to rent a cabin at Mt. Baker, in the Rocky Mountains just across the American border. The boys could go snowboarding and I could sit in the hot tub with a glass of something nice and watch the extraordinary ice falling from the sky thing I found so fascinating.
An online search found a perfect little cabin and at around $150 a night split between 5 it was surprisingly affordable and only a few hours from Vancouver. We had a false start when someone who shall remain nameless, forgot their passport and we had to turn back just before the border but eventually Ronnie the trusty Volvo got us and a tonne of food and drinks to Mt. Baker.
Our cabin was right on the snow line in a sort of holiday house community many of which were empty mid-winter but would have been stunning all year around. Our cabin had a kitchen, dining/lounge with a huge open fire, bathroom, double bedroom, a mezzanine that could sleep four and most importantly a deck looking out onto the snow-capped forest with a big hot tub.
Exploring the community was an adventure in itself, set against a backdrop of majestic mountains and snow-capped forests wreathed in mist. Many of the cabins were empty and you could stroll through their open plan backyards, checking out architecture hung with icicles like an ancient fairy tale and tiny paw prints of animals venturing through the pristine snow.
Following my white Christmas fantasy (thanks, American movie industry). I wanted to make a snow angel, the problem was the snow near the road was older with a hard icy coating. Much helpful advice was given by my travelling companions and I flopped around on my back trying to make an impression in the snow. After much hilarity and many photos of my antics. I had to admit defeat and return home to dry out my chilly bum and roast marshmallows in front of the open fire in our cabin. You win some you lose some.
Christmas Eve was finished with a cold drink in the hot tub, watching deer pick their way gingerly through the deeper snow in the twilight. Thinking maybe this Christmas away from home thing might be ok after all.
Christmas morning we stumbled out of bed, some more hung-over than others and sat down to open presents in front of the beer tree (see it was all for a good cause). As with most orphan Christmases gifts were minimal but my lovely mother had managed to get me a package before Christmas with strict instructions not to open it until the day. I was a little embarrassed by how spoiled I was but my embarrassment turned to confusion and then mirth as I started opening parcels. Mum had got me red possum fur merino blend woollies, a total luxury. First I opened a pair of socks, then a matching scarf next was a beanie and I was beginning to giggle. The next parcel had some red gloves and the last one an ear warmer. There were enough red woollens for everybody in the room to wear a different piece, which we of course did, Mum does have a tendency to go a little overboard! (Disclaimer, I came to love the red woollies and still use them whenever it gets cold out).
The rest of the day’s accomplishments included building an intricately detailed snow castle on someone’s front steps, learning to chop wood without losing a foot and only mildly burning Christmas roast in an unfamiliar oven. We finished the day of course with another hot tub (now disturbingly murky!) the perfect end to my White Christmas.
The crisp air outside that clouded your breath after the heat of the fire. The roll of mists through the tops of the pine trees. The smell of Christmas dinner and wood smoke rising into the air. Perfect cottages buried in snow like they were frozen in time. Relaxing in a hot tub and a bunch of cool people. Mt. Baker delivered the ultimate white Christmas and the area is well worth the visit even in summer for the amazing outdoor activities alone.
The next day my friends dropped me at a bus stop, they were heading home and I was going on to Las Vegas for New Year’s Eve, but that’s a story for another day.
Merry Christmas everyone, even if you happen to be on the other side of the world, I hope you have a good one.
Author of Stress Free Adventure Planning