House at Hidden Valley
My Weekend Family Get-Away
Throughout my childhood I liked to escape from everyday routine and be alone with my family or my closest friends. There was the trail in the woods by the old battlefield where I would take my dog for long walks and for a change of scenery. There was the pond where my friends and I would go and throw rocks to see who could get theirs to skip the farthest. These places are vivid in my memory because that’s where I would go to have fun, but the one place that sticks out in my memory the most, the place I know better than anyone, my weekend get-away, was my family’s house at Hidden Valley Ski Resort. While I was growing up I was blessed to have this house to go to on the weekends during the winter. Come Friday I would be so excited because I knew where I would be going, I loved it up there. The sights of the resort, the distinct smell of the house, and the anticipation of the drive up there all contribute to the most vivid and realistic memories I remembered about this place
The excitement that filled my mind was incomprehensible to any person who has never experienced this for them self. The trip up to the house was only an hour but it felt like three or four. Snow would fall on the windshield, then be wiped away by the windshield wipers as we were driving, and every five minutes my mother would scream, “Watch out, Jeff,” as she would grab the handle on the door. As we pass through the tollbooth at exit 9, my Dad threw the change in the container. From the ting, ting, ting, sound the change made, I knew that we were close. “Only twenty more minutes,” he would say, then right after my Mom would say, “Yeah, more like ten the way he’s driving.” Finally, we would make the right hand turn into the resort and drive up the hill. About half way I would get a feeling in my stomach not the feeling you get when your nervous, the one you get when your excited. With the first step out of the car onto the frozen ground the snow would crackle beneath my feet. Sometimes I would get a little in my shoe right between my sock and my pants.
As I stepped out of our salt covered Chevy Blazer, and walked to the door. I would watch my dog Dakota run around the yard to mark his territory, he would always convince me to wrestle with him in the front yard before going in the house. Cold and wet in the most awkward places on my body, such as in my shoe right where my sock meets the top of my shoe, or on the back of my neck trickling down my spine. I would take a big deep breath of air, my lungs refreshed with that cold mountain air. Then I’d exhale, relieving my lungs of that chilled air only to have my breath come out as steam. My father would yell for me to come unpack the car, so I would run and grab a bag and head into the house.
Following those first few steps into the breeze way and then through the front door, I would notice a unique smell that occupies the house. To this day I can’t define that smell but it reminds me of my own house, as if I was walking through the front door of my home. Walking up the steps to “my room” on the top floor to the left, I’d throw my bag on the bottom bunk bed and run outside to grab firewood. The smell the fireplace gives off is not that of old wood or newspapers from August of 1986, but of cold nights sitting around it telling stories and eating nachos and cheese and lifting a chip to my mouth and having the cheese burn the roof of my mouth. Following the delicious snacks it was time for little Ryan to head off to bed. My room was the one on the top floor, first