Our First Day in the French Alps

Heading out to find our adventure! But first … locating the recycling bins!

Martin and I decided to take the family to the French Alps for a week to celebrate the New Year. I found a ski resort near Modane, France, not far from the border with Italy, that was a pretty straight shot south of us through Switzerland. Various websites praised its beautiful views and tobogganing trail, so we packed up and headed that way on Jan. 1.

It makes me so happy to peek over my shoulder in the car, and see her completely engrossed in a good book. 

We checked into the apartment in our chalet easily. I felt like a Domestic Goddess, too. The others gave me soooo much grief for insisting we bring along the portable wardrobe and hangers, but sure enough, the reviews I read were right: the chalet we got here in the French Alps offers amazing views, but very small closets. No joke – American school lockers are bigger. It took me less than 15 minutes to get things set up and unpacked! All those years of Tetris playing and IKEA living are paying off. We have a place for all our snow gear now.

Écoute ta mère!!!

Leaving our chalet and the village below to head up the highest mountain we’ve ascended so far as a family.

So this morning, our first morning, we headed to the ski rental hut just a few yards from our door, and learned that the tobogganing run was closed due to a lack of snow. That’s when we made the decision on the spot to take up skiing, and we all got outfitted with the appropriate ski gear.

My ski buddy … for now. We’re signed up for snowboard lessons later this week.
The view on top.
The Middles on skis make me happy.

Lunch on the mountain top included pasta carbonara, pizza, and a giant cheese omelette. AND this giant crusty marshmallow swimming on top of melted caramel sauce.

As it turns out, I‘m a pretty decent skier. All those hours on the Nordic Track finally paid off. The best hand-me-down sports equipment ever!!!

It was pretty fun seeing the kids react when Martin spoke French today. They either didn’t remember or didn’t know that he speaks it. And they also didn’t know that Martin began skiing when he was 5, going every year until the year he met me and joined the Bundeswehr. We all got about four hours of him teaching us the basics today, which came in handy because….

When the medics arrived, I looked over at Miss C and she just said, “On it.” And took this pic for me. Because family documentation is important!!!

Miss C and I were coming down a slope, and I could see Jaz and Lola ahead, but not Martin. So we veered to the Middles, and there was Martin sprawled on the snow, his arm at a super awkward angle. He was conscious, but could not move. A French boy indicated his father had gone down to get help.

The Middles were very quiet when I arrived, but I think once they saw that he was talking and I wasn’t panicking, they felt comfortable enough to be themselves again. “Can we go again by ourselves? It’s cold. Not like Dad’s doing anything right now. We can get at least one more trip down, I know it! You can wave at us when they take him!” 

That’s when Martin told me he and Jaz were going up the rope pull when there was a pile-up, and to avoid plowing into kids with his skis, he toppled over and landed wrong. Really wrong. He knew his shoulder was dislocated. Completely out of socket. So we waited.

And waited. And waited. I got impatient.

Lola used to dislocate her elbows all the time, and I became the family expert at snapping her back in place. Martin was game, but just as I tore off my gloves and started rubbing my hands like Mr. Miyagi, one medic skidded to a stop next to us. And then she called for another, and then a third. Because of the angle of his arm, they needed to use a special sled and pull him down to a waiting ambulance.

Leaving me alone to get three beginners AND our gear AND Martin‘s poles, and mine, down the mountain. That‘s when I KNEW I was wrong before … those hours on the Nordic Track were training me for THIS.

It took awhile, but we all made it down the mountain! I got the kids and gear to our chalet, then picked up Junior from the resort’s childcare center before it closed, and then carried him back uphill to Miss C (who really stepped up for her Mom today) at the chalet so that I could drive down into the city and join Martin.

Figured all this counts towards my daily cardio goal.

Martin is fine now. His shoulder was super dislocated, but the first thing he said when I arrived at the hospital was that I could have easily popped it back for him. I told him having a beautiful French nurse (also named Julie!) do it for him after that sled ride was a lot more exciting. He was prescribed some pain meds for the muscles that were pulled unnaturally, but we also stopped by the grocery store for a few other items.

Also? That’s his scarf, not a neck brace.

We made it home just in time to enjoy the Sante Fe chicken stew I had cooking in the crock pot since this morning. Martin and I are now relaxing with some mixed vodka and beer drinks while Junior chugs some fizzy apple schorle. Just another day for our family on vacation!