Skiing, Singing, and (Outdoor) Sports

Last week we visited my hometown in Pennsylvania, it was a really great trip, but rushed. This trip had several purposes: 1) to visit with my family, 2) to take my kids skiing so that my daughter could earn a badge for her American Heritage Girl troop, and 3) to attend the Great American Outdoor Show in Harrisburg to scout out fishing trips. As a kid, I went with my dad to the show – back then it was called the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show – and had memories of it being a HUGE show with everything outdoor-related. This year, my main interest was finding a fishing outfitter, but with my Appalachian Trail hike looming, I was very interested in seeing some hiking-related vendors and outfitters.

Lovely Pennsylvania Weather

Lovely Pennsylvania Weather

Due to my schedule and commitments, I had to leave on Tuesday and return on Sunday. It’s a 12-hour drive that was made worse by my very late departure on Tuesday (10:00 am). Normally I’m able to do this drive in one day, but when 3:00 rolled around, I knew I’d need a hotel for the night. On one hand, I was somewhat frustrated with myself for leaving so late, and making this into a 2-day event, but I also knew I’d be regretting NOT getting a hotel in a few hours from then.  The next day, after driving through rain and fog, we arrived at my dad’s around noon. Less than a mile from my dad’s place, my kids and I spotted a large bird swooping above the field, and I knew it wasn’t a hawk…as we drove past it my kids and I exclaimed at the same time, “It’s an EAGLE, it’s an EAGLE!”  Now, over the past years, we’ve driven out to Yellowstone and up to Maine with the hopes of spotting a Bald Eagle in the wild, but with no luck. Who knew I’d find one so close to home?! Apparently the eagle population there is growing. That really made our day!

The ski lessons went downhill fast. HA! Great time at Whitetail Resort.

Thursday was ski day. I’ve been before, but my kids had not. It turned out to be a great day; the temps were not freezing, the sun was out, and the ski resort wasn’t crowded. Whitetail Resort offers a package (as many places probably do) that includes all equipment, lesson, and lift ticket until 10:00 pm; this suited our needs perfectly. Now, I had read some unfavorable reviews on Google, so I have to admit I was a little apprehensive about just setting the kids loose with an instructor, without me being around. However, I know from working with kids that sometimes parents have a hard time sitting on the sidelines and NOT parenting, so I suspected the negative reviews were a result of sideline parenting. My dad & I shuttled the kids through getting their equipment and that went very smoothly. The employees – for the most part – were really helpful and friendly. After that, we waited for the lesson to start. My kids were in a small group lesson, there were only 2 other adults. Their instructor, Phil, really took extra care with the kids and I was allowed to come out and take pictures, as long as I didn’t parent during the lesson. When it came time for them to try out the lift, I started getting nervous. What if they fall off?  But, Phil came through again! He helped both kids get on the lift, then rode up to the top with them. It seemed to take forever for their group to come back down the mountain, but once they did, I could see their enthusiasm. My daughter, swooshed over and exclaimed, “This is awesome! Our instructor really did a great job! Can we go again?!” So, this time they went unassisted up the lift; and they both skied back down. Once we saw they were doing alright, my dad and I went over the coffee shop and watched the more difficult slopes. An hour or so later, we ventured back to the beginner slope to see both kids just having a blast. They absolutely loved it, didn’t want to leave, and wanted to go back the next day. All in all, I’d give Whitetail Resort an A+ for this experience with the kids.

Friday night was an evening I had been looking forward to, a night of catching up with friends at a pub in Mercersburg. Now, we all went to high school together but became closer friends through Facebook. I see these folks, maybe once a year…though one I hadn’t seen one of them for two years! Although we are all middle aged now, it’s fun to get together and be completely silly once in a while (and sing 80s songs into wooden spoons).

Air Rifle Shooting with the NRA

Don’t Shoot Your Eye Out! Air Rifle Shooting with the NRA

Saturday, it was off to the Outdoor Show. It was opening day, so I knew it was be really busy with big crowds. However, we got there about an hour before the doors opened and found a good parking place, then got in the line with about 30 minutes to go. My dad was primarily interested in hunting, archery, and finding a deer blind. I had slightly different interests! As we went through the different halls, there were plenty of things for kids to do, from shooting sports to archery to fishing. Shortly after lunchtime, we got to the outfitter hall. You name it, there was an outfitter for it, in almost any location. From African safaris to more “localized” boar hunts, there was definitely something for everyone. Well, not me as I prefer fishing! After the outfitter hall, we finally got to the fishing outfitters. I was really looking for a fly fishing outfit…but I never did find one. Perhaps I missed it, though. However, I did find a lot of really neat looking trips that caught my eye. Rock fish charters on the Chesapeake Bay, salmon fishing in upstate New York, and cod, tuna, and SHARK fishing in Massachusetts are just a small sampling of the outfitters represented. The latter really caught my eye. Shark fishing isn’t exactly something I set out to do, but I got really excited thinking about the possibility of catching a shark. Let’s just hope it’s not Jaws! I’m really looking forward to planning a fishing trip with my family, and maybe even bring some friends along!

The Outdoor Show had something for every outdoorsy person…except for camping & hiking. Unless I missed something – which is possible, but I did re-review the layout – there was no designated place for hiking and camping. I saw a couple vendors here and there, but not in a concentrated area. So that was a bummer.

Sunday came much too soon. I didn’t sleep very well on this trip, so the prospect of driving back all in one day was not very exciting at all. There was no time to plan “fun” stops on the way home, either! But, we survived and made it home safely. I hated to end our visit after only a few days, but I’m very excited about being able to turn my full attention to finish my preps for the AT/VisionQuest Hike, and be looking ahead to more adventures on the high seas!

What adventures are you preparing for?!

©2016 Stacy De Smet


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