Snowed In, In Utah; But We Didn’t Become Cannibals

Snowed In, In Utah; But We Didn’t Become Cannibals

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Destination: Utah Ski Slopes of Sundance
Date: December 2010

Our family picture taken the day before my sister’s wedding and our stay up at Sundance.
Kids ages at this time are Bailey, 12, Clay, 8, Leah & Lexi ,6, Bella, 3-1/2, and Colton, 14.

Recently, Utah received its first snow of the season.  As so many friends and family have posted so many beautiful pictures of snow covered lawns and majestic mountains, it reminded me of some great trips we’ve taken to the beehive state.  Our last snow vacation was actually during one of the biggest snowstorms/blizzards Utah has seen, Christmas 2010.  We flew all six kids up for my little sister “C”s wedding and after that beautiful event was over we had no idea what was in store for our ski vacation.

My sister “C” and her new husband “D” with a few of my little ones (including the crier)
 standing in the freezing weather of Salt Lake City during Christmas.
December 2010
Had to include this pic of my beautiful sister “C” as a winter bride
December 2010


On December 28 my little sister and her handsome husband were married in the Salt Lake City temple. My kids were beyond excited to get to Utah and celebrate both Christmas and this wonderful marriage with  all my family and friends.  Since I’m not from Utah it is kind of strange to have such a large circle of friends up there, but fun nonetheless.  We set out on our trip on Christmas morning after all the hoopla of presents was over and flew to Salt Lake City on Christmas day.  Yes, we are those people… the ones the airlines and pilots wish would stay home for just one day so they wouldn’t have to work.

All the kids during this holiday season
December 2010
Christmas morning 2010.  These kiddos are dying to get downstairs and see what Santa brought
December 2010

We arrived in Salt Lake around twelve in the afternoon, just in time for one more round of opening presents with Nana and all the aunts, uncles and cousins.  Three days later we got dressed and ready for a beautiful temple marriage and reception at a little chapel down in Provo Utah.

Since I have so much family that lives in Utah we began our trip by staying with my mother, however due to the wedding that also meant that lots of other out of town guests would be staying there too.  So we decided in an effort to alleviate the house of eight guests, we would check out of my moms house on the day of the wedding and go up to Sundance.  We rented a house up near Robert Redford’s swanky resort through the online website Vacation Rentals by Owners. vrbo.com

A previous ski vacation in Utah
March 2008

We thought it was a perfect plan.  During the chaos of the wedding day we fulfilled all of our duties as extended members of the wedding party. (No I wasn’t asked to be a brides made but I found out the color of the brides maids dresses and wore the same colored dress. So I looked like a bridesmaid. 🙂 A little presumptuous I know, but my sisters and I are like that.) Then after the wedding reception was over we ran to the grocery store and bought a few items to get us through the next three days.

A different Utah ski trip in March 2006, Colton & Bailey posing with cousins

As we drove up Provo Canyon towards Sundance we could see a few flurries of snow coming down.  We didn’t think much about it, and continued forward.  When we arrived at the beautiful little house in the woods the kids were so excited to explore our new home we rented for the next week.  We also brought along my nephew who was seventeen.  So all nine of us unloaded our rented Suburban, put away the groceries, hung up our fancy clothes and settled in for the night.  Little did we know the small flurries we had seen on our way up would turn into a full fledged blizzard as we slept.

The view from our second story deck door
December 2010
Trent posing with our wall of snow
December 2010

The next morning we woke up and readied ourselves for a day on the slopes of Sundance.  We had brought up all of our ski clothes that we usually leave in huge duffels at my moms house in Orem.  Once everyone had on the correct sized thermals, gloves, hats and all the paraphernalia that goes with skiing we headed out to the truck to load up.

Ok… we Texans don’t know much about driving in snow!
December 2010
Colton and Trent worked very hard shoveling snow to get the truck back in the garage
December 2010

When we opened the garage door we could see about a foot of snow packed in front of the door.  Since neither Trent nor I grew up in snow, and live in a part of Texas that doesn’t receive snow fall, we decided to put the truck in four by four and try to drive right through this drift.  I guess it isn’t too shocking that we didn’t get far.  Our suburban got about three feet into the snow and stopped.  There was going no further, snow this depth is impossible to drive through.  Little did we realize that since the drive way begins to go down into a slope the snow was much deeper the further we got down the drive.  Now with our ski clothes on our only goal was to get the truck back into the garage.  Our day on the slopes was abandoned.

Colton tending the fire
December 2010

The funny thing about this trip was as soon as we got back into the house and out of our ski clothes, the power went out.  Losing our heat quickly Trent, the kids, and I all began searching the house, and the perimeter of the house for firewood.  There was none!  We couldn’t believe it.  The owners had big metal racks where firewood should be sitting, but no wood.  Even inside there were built in benches around one side of the fireplace that looked like wood was stored, and again it was empty.  Our only supply was the three small pieces that sat in the unlit, pristine fireplace as decor and one box of starter logs we had brought up with us.  We had no choice, we had to light it up.

Bailey staying warm and quite stylish during our power outage
December 2010
Leah and me snuggling to keep warm
December 2010

We closed all the doors that led to the fireplace and grabbed out all the blankets and began to burrow ourselves in.  Then we called out on our cell phones to see if any of our family outside of the canyon could tell us if any snowplows were coming to our rescue.

Our stove top served as more counter space since it was inoperable, Trent made a great chef though
December 2010

Believe it or not this turned out to be one of our families greatest adventures.  Right up there next to Guatemala 2009!  There we were… snowed in, very few groceries, no firewood, and no electricity.  I had to begin taking down and use the cast iron pots that were hanging on the walls in the kitchen as decoration.  Luckily we found a can opener and began making tomato soup, grilled cheese sandwiches, fried eggs, bacon all over an open fire in the fireplace.  As you may have guessed our firewood didn’t last long and our only option was to start burning either the huge pine furniture that adorned the house, or the extra siding the owner had in the garage.  We opted for the siding.  We knew this was expensive firewood but we also knew we had no other choice.  We couldn’t freeze to death!

We played every game they had in the closet
December 2010



Bella was not happy I asked to take her picture during her iPod time
December 2010

The power was out at the house for forty-two hours.  At one point we did walk the mile-and-ahalf down to the resort to find out when the snowplow would make it up to our street.  We could see and hear him working all night but every day for three days we looked out to find the snow was still six feet deep on our street.  He finally showed up the morning of the our fourth day.  It had been a long four days and we all had cabin fever.

Part of our house when the snowplow finally arrived
December 2010
So happy to see this guy show up, we all danced and cheered as he pushed the snow away
December 2010
The wall of snow left behind in the wake of the snowplow
December 2010
Colton and Trent walking down to the resort to find out some information
December 2010

The funny thing about the electricity being out, or being snowed in, is that we had lot of fun playing games, doing mini-preformances for each other, and telling funny stories.  For those days we were stuck in the cabin we laughed so hard, and tested our skills at cooking over an open fire and keeping warm.  At night it was the scariest because we never found any flash lights or candles in the house so we had to use iphones, and iPods as flashlights then take them out to the truck in the garage and charge them.  We had a great time coming together as a family and though it wasn’t the ski filled days of fun we thought, we still played in the snow and bonded like never before.  We had been tested and we came through.  It really was a vacation we will never forget.

Clay Clay exhausted after one day on the slopes
December 2010
Bailey and Colton taking a break on the slopes
December 2010

In the end we got in one day of skiing.  I highly recommend Sundance because it is a smaller resort.  It is very close to the Provo area where BYU is located and it is beautiful.  The ski instructors for the kids are mostly college students who are very kind and professional with the kids.  If you’re child is lucky enough to get one of the more creative instructors they will take your child through the candy forest where the tree elves will throw candy to the child if they can keep their skis in the “french fry” or “pizza” formation, depending on what the instructor is asking.  We’ve put our kids in ski school at least ten times at Sundance and have always had a positive outcome.  We even make our older kids do at least one half day of ski school every time we go, just so they can brush up on their skills.

Playing in the snow…not everyone is having a good time
December 2010

The slopes are well taken care of, and there seems to be a few challenging slopes for even the most proficient skier.  I would definitely recommend Sundance to anyone.  www.sundanceresort.com  The resort also has some great restaurants, a small general store, and a gift shop.  This crazy trip to a house up in Sundance wasn’t our first time staying in the area.  We have also rented other homes in the area that are managed by Sundance, and I think that those homes get the first priority to the snowplow before the homes that aren’t. Either way I do realize that storm of 2010 was quite a doozy.  But looking back on it now I wouldn’t have traded that experience for five full days of skiing.  It really turned out to be… that fun!

Leah and Lexi on one of our ski trips in
March 2006

As a recap however, I would definitely make sure that the owner of a cabin like this keeps a good stock of firewood.  When we arrived at the house I should have checked for emergency supplies like flashlights, and candles.  I also should have found out what the emergency plan was for snow fall this deep.  Just having the phone number of the snow plow would have made a big difference.  So that’s my two cents on cabin rentals.  In the end the owner gave me a 50% discount for our hectic week and was very empathetic to our ordeal.
Safe and Happy Travels!

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