We’ve just returned from the top of the mountain where we took in some sun and winter sports, of sorts. While searching for a place to go ice skating in Grenoble (since we didn’t get to go in Colmar) I found that there’s a rink at Chamrousse. (check it out at Getting there wasn’t easy. Nothing ever is. Bill was determined not to be cold at the outdoor rink. He packed his ski pants, hat, gloves, Kaitlyn’s snow suit, hat, gloves, snacks, drinks, camera then told me to get my ski pants. (I don’t really have ski pants. I have an old pair of his that have been deemed mine, mostly, I think, because they are purple. Buying a pair, though, would mean a frustrating trip to Decathalon, so I’m yet to bother.)

        We got to the ice rink with just 20 minutes before closing for lunch. For us, that was perfect. That way we had a reason to force Kaitlyn off the ice before she wore herself out too much. Bill didn’t bother with skates, because you cannot carry a camera on skates. Kaitlyn and I were the ones hitting the ice. First, I had to figure out our shoe sizes for the skate rental. I think I did a pretty good job guessing Kaitlyn’s size. Mine, I looked in my shoes for the EU size. The skates still fit terribly. Rental skates never fit well and these blue plastic beauties were no exception. Note to self: if planning on skating much, buy a pair. I helped Kaitlyn hobble to the rink. Once on the ice I realized she is heavy! She was leaning all her weight against me with her hands so I was doing all the balancing for both of us. I tried skating backwards so I could see her. That didn’t work. I tried skating behind her. That didn’t work very well either. Kaitlyn spent a lot of time on the ice on her rear. Picking her up and getting her standing back on the skates was a serious challenge. I finally gave in and made my way to the wall so she could cling to that. Once the photo shoot was over, Bill walked along the outside of the wall holding one hand, and I skated holding the other. She did pretty well and was actually starting to get the hang of it. I think if we abandon the idea of capturing every moment in pixels, and both get on the ice with her, she’ll figure it out. She agreed to sit out a few minutes and rest her very tired ankles so that Mommy could skate a little bit. I forget how much I like ice skating. It’s like an actual activity I enjoy. I may even drive myself up there during the week and skate just for fun. Imagine that. Once our 20 minutes of thrills and spills it was time to take off those feet-pinching skates and move on.

        From the ice rink you can see one of the chair lifts and people riding up then gliding back down the mountain. Kaitlyn said that was what she wanted to do. No, not today, we have no skies and Mommy left her purple Barney pants on the table at home by mistake. We got in the car and drove to the other section of Chamrousse, the section where Bill had taken Kaitlyn sledding before. We drove by the little kid ski school – another activity Kaitlyn wants to do. I’m happy to have her do it, too. I asked her if she would mind that the lessons will be in French. She said, “non.” Now all I have to do is figure out how to sign her up. And rent her some skis.

        There isn’t much snow on the mountain right now. What is there is fairly icy. It’s cold enough for snow but there hasn’t been any precipitation. Today the car told us it was 5.5 degrees Celsius up there, which is a bit warm for snow. There’s enough for people to ski some of the runs (not all are open); there’s little enough to hike around. I saw an old lady trekking up the hill carrying her purse like Sophia Patrillo.

        There was enough snow to sled, although it’s packed down pretty hard. Since I have a tendency to go flying out of the sled, I prefer new, soft snow. So I let Bill be the sledding companion. The one time I was designated starting gate, I let Kaitlyn go and accidentally sent her right for a ramp that some older sledders had apparently made out of snow so that they could get airborne. Kaitlyn can’t steer and I couldn’t stop her, so she made the jump. It was successful, but that was my last time sending her down the hill.

        I love watching Kaitlyn fly down the hill in her little pink sled. (when she isn’t headed toward a ramp) She squeals with delight the entire way down. As soon as she gets to the bottom she says “Again! Again!” I think Bill had a good time, too.

        There’s a snack bar on the mountain, situated toward the end of a ski run and at the top of where the sledders ride. Kaitlyn wanted to eat there, so we did. It was right in the sun, warm enough to sit outside. We had no idea how or where to order. Finally a waitress came and, I think, asked us if we knew what we wanted. When Bill tried ordering food she told us she just gets drinks, that we needed to go inside. She told us mostly in French, but we figured it out. Not even thinking about what I was doing, I volunteered to be the one to go in. Kaitlyn naturally wanted to go, too. I had no idea I wouldn’t be able to figure it out. But there I was, holding a tray and unable to decipher where one places his order. Finally the people who’d been milling around the cashier left (I didn’t even see that she was the cashier until they walked away). I went to her and told her what I wanted then she walked up to a little window and hollered in the order. I am still not sure if that was the way it was supposed to go, but it worked. Sitting outside had seemed like a good idea at first, but once we had the food the wind kicked up and it got a bit chilly. The fries turned to sticks of ice quickly. I desperately wanted that waitress to come back so I could order a chocolat chaud (hot chocolate) but she didn’t and Kaitlyn finished so there was no more sitting enjoying the beauty of the scenery to be done anyway.

        While we were eating, Bill said we’re not likely to be able to live someplace else with that kind of activity so close to home. Maybe not. But in the last few days I’ve been thinking that wherever you live, there’s a host of activities that you likely never partake of simply because you live there and you’re not a visitor. Maybe we’d all be a little better off if we approached our homes like tourists – find the hikes, the sledding hills, the museums, the artisans, the groups to join. After all, isn’t that what makes wherever you live worth it?

        Kaitlyn made it back down the mountain without getting car sick. This time, Bill took off her ski jacket and her snow suit and her boots and he drove at a reasonable speed down the winding road. We had taken his car, though, because if she had gotten sick she might as well have just added to the stink that already exists. Honestly, riding in his car this week, I haven’t smelled the unmistakable odor of barf. He says it’s finally gone. I still think that car may not be in our driveway in a few months. We’ll see.

        Back at the house, Kaitlyn is napping and Bill is working on the pictures. And he’s probably wondering why there’s a bunch of some little old lady we don’t know carrying her purse up the mountain.

One Response to “Chamrousse”

  1. rachel says:

    From the one picture that Bill took of you by yourself skating, you look like you really enjoy it! I miss it–there isn’t any place in Birmingham to skate! (although there is in Huntsville!) We’ve lived here a year and we used to drive to Birmingham to do all sorts of things–have we done any of them since we’ve actally lived here?

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