I crossed off another regional skiing first earlier this week with my Monday visit to Jiminy Peak, an hour and 20 minutes away in Hancock, Mass.
And for full disclosure, the overnight trip with my two daughters and cousin, Brian McPhee, marked another first, too — allowing one of my daughters to miss a day of school to ski.
I know parents let their kids occasionally miss days for cheaper family vacations on non-vacation weeks and a variety of reasons, but I never had, and my oldest is now 20 and my youngest is a high school senior and has been accepted at the university she wanted.
So I allowed it.
And I’m glad I did.
I found a reasonably priced condo on airbn.com at the resort’s Wyndham Bentley Brook slopeside accommodations and after our Sunday evening arrival, we bonded over fish and chips, clam chowder and mac and cheese at Christianson’s Tavern at the base of the mountain.
Dinner was great, and made even better by the cute 1-year-old little blonde toddler gnawing away on bread from her high chair a table away and staring at my girls, who not so long ago looked pretty similar.
We then took a soak in the complex’s outdoor hot tub, and returned to the condo for laughs, games and a YouTube retro request hour with tunes played on a Bluetooth speaker.
The tunes we chose, like Rick James’ “Superfreak” for example, spurred impromptu dancing, singing and lots of laughs.
The girls call my 54-year-old cousin from Vermont “Uncle Brian,” and savor time with him. He’s one of those comedic relatives who is content in any setting, happy to be included and whose infectious laugh alone makes you laugh.
After a good night’s sleep, we were on the hill a little after 9, fueled by egg sandwiches and orange juice from the mountain’s quaint Country Store.
The six-passenger high-speed summit lift whisked us repeatedly to the top. Lift lines were non-existent and the corduroy slopes were relatively devoid of other skiers, another benefit of that Monday decision — not to mention Monday was the first time in days the mercury even flirted with 20.
We skied relatively tame black diamonds like Whitetail and Whirlaway and fun cruisers like West Way. Jiminy also sported some great glade opportunities, the spacious glades I prefer to tighter ones.
My daughters loved the place, and I did too. They talked about the speedy lift and manicured trails, but also about how nice everyone was, from the lifties to the lodge workers.
The base lodge also had a variety of trendy offerings including noodle bowls and lots of vegetarian options (one daughter is a vegetarian).
I was left wondering, however, where the bulk of the skiers and riders come from. Hancock is a little off the beaten path.
The pleasant worker serving us coffee and hot chocolate at the summit said many come from the Albany area, some from New York City and Boston — and some, believe it or not, come from Canada.
He said Canadian school breaks often don’t coincide with U.S. breaks, prompting them to flock to places like Jiminy for better deals.
Katie Fogel, director of marketing at Jiminy, said the mountain markets itself as a great place for families. She touted the mountain’s children’s programs and said they are again using the old “So much, so close” pitch to lure people in.
“It’s a big mountain feel, closer to home,” she said.
To me it was like Queensbury’s West Mountain on steroids, and probably what West owner Spencer Montgomery envisions there. The terrain was similar, it also sports night skiing, but the lodging and resort component is something Montgomery wants, badly.
Jiminy is also environmentally friendly, evidenced by the mammoth wind turbine that generates about half the resort’s electricity needs. And what isn’t produced by wind is produced by a solar field and cogeneration plant, she said.
“We’ve done a lot to reduce the energy bill and reduce our carbon footprint,” she said, rationalizing that climate change has an obvious impact on winter sports so it makes sense.
In a nutshell, Jiminy is just a really neat place.
While I may not win parent of the year honors for my school-day ski outing with my two favorite girls, this Jiminy excursion will be a cool lasting memory, and for their “Uncle” Brian, too.