People always ask me why we drive about five hours to Lake George NY for adaptive skiing at Double H ranch.
After all, it’s less than two hours to the Pocono mountains for us.
This is it, right here:
We have had more changes than I can count over the past few years…
No sooner did we move to a one floor home and auction off my parents’ home and household items than we found each of our oldest two graduated college and our twins graduated high school. The eldest married, our goddaughter married, GRAMMY married (crazy kids💁♀️) and now our middle daughter is engaged to be married shortly.
We have sought a new primary care doctor and left the pediatricians. Currently we’re researching the ideal medical center to oversee their care as adults. Visits to numerous post high school day programs and habilitation opportunities are our new pastime as our time in the educational system comes to a close. We continue to desperately work to understand the social security system, waiver system and all the forms and paperwork that go with them. As a result, we attend numerous seminars and conferences on those topics.
I understand how a Five hour trip (each way) for One day of adaptive skiing seems bizarre in the midst of all the things we juggle.
BUT IT IS SO MUCH MORE THAN A DAY TO SKI.
Lets back up to the beginning. About ten years ago I hosted a moms’ support group in my home. Best thing ever. (We may not meet much anymore, but I still know the bond runs deep among us. We are all juggling change.) One of our goals for that time was to share resources. I believe it was our fearless leader, Candy, who pulled out the Double H Ranch brochures. She asked if anyone was up for checking it out. 🙋♀️
Thus began an annual trek of three families for a free weekend of adapted skiing in the Adirondack mountains.
It only cost us the time, effort, and gas of traveling. Meals, lodging, evening entertainment, adapted skiing, as well as siblings ski lessons, were all covered. No wonder why we did that for years!
Eventually a few of our kiddos took on other programs the camp offers…all of them free.
Funding happens through the Paul Newman foundation, serious fun network. (Think spaghetti sauce and salad dressings) There are fall family weekends that they group by diagnosis. Ever popular summer camp weeks are open to kids affected by disability and illness. Some camp weeks can include their siblings. I’ll admit, it took me YEARS to feel comfortable sending our two daughters, who have cerebral palsy, to overnight camp. Now we mourn the eventual loss as we soon age out.
Summer camp has its own delightful rituals.
With energetic counselors, complimentary tickets to The Great Escape Amusement Park, pool parties and adapted ropes course they are kept busy! They can hardly stand the anticipation for dance parties, crafts, camp fires, talent shows and whatever other shenanigans will go on. While they are sacked out from exhaustion, the five hour drive home is a breeze.
I have my own summer camp ritual as well.
That first year I chose to stay close by in Lake George for my own peace of mind. But over the years it has added peace for my mind. I was afraid to leave the girls and then afraid of being alone for 4 solid days. So unsettling! But this year, when we needed to take a gap year, I found that I have come to depend on that time for silence. It’s been my chance to hear my thoughts and talk things out with my Maker.
I also force myself to do something alone that would surprise my family, and myself, each year.
It started as a dare. I went horseback riding to prove I could. (thoroughly hated it.) Since then I tubed down the Hudson River, cruised on the Minnehaha, tried to use a stand up paddle board (what in the world is my problem there??) hiked and floated down a gulch, walked Lake Placid, and picked lavender at a farm which I turned into lavender sugar. ( I’m not entirely certain I used the culinary herbs rather than the cosmetic blooms. Shhh.)
And that is why, as we walked through the automatic double doors into the lodge this winter, it felt like coming home.
You know, that feeling you get when you walk into your parents’ house and it smells of mom’s cooking and her preferred laundry soap. Except this was a mix of woodsy dampness and chili…in a good way! And I almost wept.
Thanks, Double H, for your role in enriching the lives of our family. All of us.
You nurture us in ways that makes this piece of property feel like home. A time to take a deep breath and reset our inner compass. It was a thrill to see the girls out on the snowy slopes again. It is their one and only opportunity to breathe in the goodness of winter rather than being bundled and hustled from vehicle to building. To feel a sense of independence as they lean, using their core strength, to turn their sit-skis under the watchful eyes of the volunteers they are tethered to.
One year, while driving to the top of the lake to check out the Fort on the northern end, I discovered this Matthew West song. It described my mood perfectly that week. I was staring at all of those changes that were coming at me. Later I added a picture I had taken when I stopped for lunch, alone, after dropping the girls off at summer camp. I just stumbled across it in my files. I think this is reason enough to make the drive, don’t you?