When we started The Simple Year project, one of our goals was to reduce our consumption, but to maintain the quality of our life. Obviously we would be living with less, but the goal wasn’t to jump into some monastic lifestyle in which we completely curtail our hobbies. In fact, a good deal of my posts deal with my kids’ activities and the thrash that often surrounds keeping them properly equipped with just the bare minimum. Although really, haven’t enough soccer shin guards already been manufactured? Can’t we all just start passing them around now?
At the risk of sounding like I’m writing a Match.com ad, I think it is safe to describe our family as active and outdoorsy. This leads me to the topic at hand.
Our recent family ski trip
Actual skiing is a bit more involved than the Coors Light commercial depiction of the graceful solitary figure snaking her way down a pristine mountainside. In reality, there is quite a bit of preparation which is increased to the tenth power if you have children. Plus, the sport requires copious gear. There’s really not much of an option to go minimal, unless you want to risk frostbite. My point can be illustrated by travelers at any major airport. In this age of pay-per-bag at the airlines, most vacationers can fit their week’s necessities in one suitcase or less. Except skiers, who you can always identify by the multiple pieces of body bag size luggage they’re dragging around.
I’ve been skiing for most of my adult life, I knew this. I had a plan. My husband and I own our own gear most of which we have had for years. And in October, I secured seasonal equipment rentals for the kids. I’d been collecting the appropriate outerwear at garage sales all summer. A week before the trip, I laid everything out, identified a missing pair of kids gloves, and subsequently solved the deficiency with a trip to Goodwill. I’ll admit it, I was a bit smug. Everything was coming together with the precision of an Olympic ice dancing routine.
Departure day finally arrived and I began to pack the car for our two and a half hour drive to the mountains. The plan was to pick up my husband at the airport (on the way) and the rest would be family vacation history.
Except, I couldn’t find my ski poles…anywhere.
Fortunately the forty extra minutes I spent searching for them coincided nicely with Chris’ flight delay. When we finally picked him up, after I explained the situation, he took a quick inventory and pointed out that it was actually HIS poles that were missing.
Oh really? Well that’s good….I mean, oh bummer for you, honey.
Suddenly, he recalled that his ski poles, in fact, had “walked away” on the last day of the ski season last year.
Oh, yeah…somehow I forgot about that when I was choreographing my ice dance.
Thus began the frantic on-the-fly search for a ski gear reseller. We have one in our town that I frequent. But we were headed to the mountains where I believe the motto is, “I am a local; you are not. Now give me your money, all of it.”
After calling a few chain retailers that deal only in new items, we finally found someone who begrudgingly told us about a brand new outdoor consignment shop located in the heart of downtown Winter Park, Colorado. We were delighted to find it was loaded with every manner of previously owned or demo outdoor paraphernalia.
I don’t know if all mountain towns have consignment stores, but if not they should. If this store was any indicator, the quantity of items floating around out there waiting to find a second home is vast. Plus, what a great way to lessen the environmental and fiscal impact of trying a sport you may not end up liking, like say…fly fishing.
Before The Simple Year, I think—no, I KNOW—that we would have just run into one of those chain retail outlets and bought a new set of ski poles. But instead, my hubby now has a pair of much nicer, slightly less expensive, previously owned poles that fell within the rules of our year. I would say it was a victory.