During Spring Break the boys and I rented a cabin at Massanutten Resort, just north of Elkton, VA in the Appalachian Mountains. We flew from Sanford, FL to Roanoke, VA and stayed Sunday 3/16 through Thursday 3/20.
Once we arrived we picked up our rental car – a Ford Focus. It was a bit on the wimpy side, but it was very comfortable and had plenty of room for our all our gear. As you can see, the 2-hour drive from the airport to the resort was very exciting for the kids:
We arrived around 11:30am and went straight to the ski slopes because they were running a special for veterans and their families to ski FREE for the day! The mountains were pretty but everything was brown and bleh. We quickly bundled up (WAY more than we needed to, haha! Silly Floridians.) to stay warm on the snowy slopes.
We had the option to rent skis or snowboards and all 3 of us opted for skis because we heard it was easier to learn. We took a 2-hour class; the first hour was at the bottom of the slopes and the 2nd hour was skiing down the mountain. I was surprised at how easy and fun skiing was, and how quickly we all picked it up.
About 2 hours into our day it started to SNOW!!! We were SOOOO excited about this – we hoped to see snow falling on our trip but the forecast was iffy. The snow was super fun, and it didn’t come down too hard until the very end of the day when the slopes were about to close. The heavy snow made it difficult to see on our last trip down the mountain, but that was perfect timing.
I’m afraid of heights and wasn’t sure if I would be able to do the ski lift, but it was absolutely no problem at all. Here’s a quick video, the guy next to me is our ski instructor. He’s a local college kid and teaches ski classes mostly to get free access to the slopes. He was super nice and very patient with us.
Here’s a video of rockstar Jacob going down the mountain. They gave him ski poles but the instructor advised against using them because kids tend to rely on them for balance too much, plus when they’re not leaning on them they’re swinging them all over the place so they become weapons more than tools. Jacob didn’t seem to mind the lack of poles. Check him out!
At the end of our super fun but exhausting day, we were happy to see the white ground and snow-covered car. How cool is that!
(answer: Very cool. It’s snow – duh)
Jacob’s quote of the day as we’re walking to the car, “Mom, I think my legs are about to pass out”.
After that we arrived at our cozy cabin (for the first time!) and snuggled up to the fireplace. Ah, what a great way to end the day.
That night it snowed quite a bit and we woke up to a very white yard!
After playing in the snow for a bit we headed over to the Massanutten water park. The drive took almost exactly 2 minute from the cabin – about the same distance as the ski slopes except this is the other direction. The snow-capped trees were beautiful!
It’s completely indoors and has 8 waterslide, a lazy river, a boogie board machine, and tons of other water features. It also has a restaurant, a cafeteria, a coffee shop, a bar, and an arcade – all overlooking the water park. The water was warm as was the air inside – I’m always cold but I was perfectly comfortable walking around in a bikini. Jacob loved the water park and I enjoyed watching his face just beaming with joy. Logan was bored after a couple hours. :-/
Day 3: The kids started to argue about what we were going to do each day. Logan wanted to snow ski, Jacob wanted to snow tube (which was in a different area from the ski slopes), and I wanted to go for a hike. We ended up going zip-lining, snow tubing, and snow skiing – in that order. The kids were not so impressed with the zip lines. Jacob wanted to go on the higher one but he was just a few pounds shy of the requirement, so he was stuck with the kids course. He thought it was “just ok”. It was not very high off the ground and was clearly designed for younger kids.
The snow tube slopes change texture (and therefore speed) throughout the day, and we got there on a day when they were particularly fast. Jacob could have snow tubed all day long but Logan was bored after a few runs.
Jacob and I were hooked together for this one, he was facing forward and I was backwards.
After snow tubing we went back to the ski slopes. This time Logan did the snow board; he loved it! I twisted my knee on the last run we did Sunday and it was still sore, so I sat this one out. I hung out in the restaurant at the foot of the mountain and watched the boys come down the mountain. Logan was in a 2-hour lesson at first, and didn’t want to hang out with Jacob anyway, so they skied separately. Logan caught on to the snowboard very quickly and said it was more fun that skiing – despite being a little more difficult. I was impressed with Jacob’s ability to get on the lift and pull the bar down by himself, as well as his general fearlessness on the slopes. At one point he rode the lift, then hopped on another lift to go higher on the mountain! I scolded him for doing this without my permission, and he said it’s ok – he wasn’t interested in doing that one again because it was very steep.
This is the only photo I took – my view from the restaurant. I camped out at a table by the window where I had a perfect view of the area where all slopes end.
Day 4: The kids are really starting to get crabby and again argue over what to do. I wanted to visit Grand Caverns and since we did their choice activities the day prior, we went to the caverns. Logan was looking forward to it but Jacob had zero interest – and he let me know all morning.
The tour was 1 mile long and took about 70 minutes. We lucked out and happened to be the only people on the tour, so we were able to ask lots of questions and stop to take pictures. All 3 of us enjoyed the tour very much and had no regrets about going.
We saw huge rooms, tiny rooms, amazingly reflective water pools (impossible to photograph!). We went through some pretty narrow spaces and took several flights of stairs which were carved into the cave. This particular cave is the oldest continually-open cave in the U.S. All caves have their signature formations, and in this one it was very rare “shields” (looks just how it sounds). We also saw lots of “cave bacon” which was draped and translucent, with waves and streaks of brown beige. It looked exactly like bacon! All of the formations were difficult to photograph and WAY more impressive in person, but these will give you an idea of the varying types of stalactites.
After the caverns we headed back to our humble abode.
Day 4: This was a pretty mellow day – Jacob and I went snow tubing while Logan stayed behind and played on his laptop. Amazingly, Jacob and I ran into some people (2 moms and 3 kids) from Lake Mary – the young boy and Jacob actually have a mutual friend! They hung out together on the tube slopes while the adults sipped lattes at the bottom and gabbed about things we have in common.
After lots and lots (and lots) of snow tubing we headed back to the cabin. Jacob was tired and Logan was bored, so the boys stayed there while I went for a short hike to try to catch a sunset from the mountainside. I was about a mile from the cabin and the hike was pretty short, but I managed to lose the trail and end up on a steep part of the mountain where I had to choose between climbing up in the slippery slush or wading across a small river of melted snow. This is when I realized it was probably not a great idea to go hiking alone! I chose the slush in lieu of hypothermia, and of course made it safely back to the trailhead. Phew. Oh and the sunset was not very impressive from the trail – too many trees obstructing the view.
This was the end of our last day there. All in all I think everyone had a good time and enjoyed the multitude of new experiences. We made some great memories that we will cherish forever, and I hope we have more opportunities to explore new places in the future.