We chose this timeshare resort because we'd banked our own three years ago and it was "use it or lose it" time. Brier, Washington to Island Park, Idaho is about 800 miles, a reasonable two-day drive. And I wanted to spend some winter time where it snows.
We spent Monday on a snowcoach tour in Yellowstone. If you only get to the park once, it should be in winter. The roads are closed, so you go with a guide on a snow vehicle. Our group of nine was alone at all the stops in the park. It was beautiful. I'll be posting the rest of the photos I took when I'm not using wi-fi in the resort's laundry room!
We start driving home on Saturday, Christmas Day. Here's what I've learned so far this week:
1. It's all about layers. Through experimenting I know that, to walk or snowshoe when the weather is in the teens or twenties, I need, on the bottom, silk long underwear, jeans, snow pants, gaiters, wool socks and snow boots. On top I need silk short-sleeved underwear, a knit shirt, a vest, a heavyweight sweatshirt, and a hat. If it's windy I also need a scarf and maybe a snow coat. I own all these things, but until this week I had never worn some of them - and certainly not all of them at the same time. The idea is to be room temperature wherever I am - or, at least, not to be wet or cold.
2. Snowshoeing is easy. Easier when walking behind someone else or in the tracks of a snowmobile. Otherwise, excellent aerobic exercise. And, while a groomed trail in a state park may be nice, if you don't feel like driving 15 miles to get there, you can use the resort's golf course as your wilderness.
3. A new IPad will do just about everything except operate a blog, so you only need to go to the clubhouse for the wi-fi when it's blog time.
4. If you're in a remote area and it's snowing, you can get a lot of reading done. I have read two issues of Atlantic, one of Yes, one of Habitat World, two of The Sun, three of Smithsonian, two of National Geographic Traveler, and seven of Time. I brought all these magazines with me and I am proud to say that my magazine basket at home is empty for the first time in 15 years. That's the first retirement goal I've met so far.
5. If there's five feet of snow on the ground, and you keep the blinds open, it's bright enough in the condo that no light box is necessary in the morning. And you need sunglasses to walk outside even when the sun isn't out.
6. If the climate is moist where you live and dry where you're visiting, you need a lot of chapstick and you should have brought some kind of moisturizer for inside your nose.
7. If you bring soup ingredients from home and make a huge pot on the first day, you can eat it for lunch every day. When you're looking at three-foot-long icicles outside your window, the soup tastes good no matter how many times this week you've eaten it.
8. It is lovely to have your living area heated by a gas fireplace.
9. When you wake up in the middle of the night, you could swear your cat has jumped onto the bed, even though she is at home with her paid companion.
10. If you are staying in a remote area, but the terrain is flat and wide open, it doesn't feel nearly as isolated as when you're in the country in the middle of a forest.
11. If you've put all your snow clothes in the washer, you can be assured that's when your husband will call and say there's a sleigh ride in 15 minutes and do you want to go?