I’m particularly fond of the Eastern European tradition of mushroom picking after a rainfall.  The tradition is alive and well, I’m happy to report. As children, we’d hike through the woods for hours looking for edible mushrooms — and we’re passing it on to the next generation. The chanterelles (“lysychky” in Ukrainian, meaning foxes) pictured above were found beside an apple tree, ten meters away from our house in Lexington. The photo, incidently, was taken by my new iPhone 3GS.

There’s something rejuvenating about spending time in the mountains. Is it the clean, fresh air? The natural, unspoiled  beauty? Definitely. Add to that the lack of artificial noise and lack of light pollution at night, and you’ve really got a wonderful combination. In the summer, we meet up with our friends in the area at our near-secret swimming spot on the Schoharie Creek…

You know what else is special? No televisions. Kids keep busy for hours without it. Can you picture it? I can.

I used to spend my entire summer in the northern portion of Catskill State Park, in Greene County, New York. To this day, I still enjoy it and return rejuvenated, with my creative juices flowing.

Family Skiing

I’ve enjoyed skiing since I was 4 years old.  Except for last winter, I don’t think I’ve ever had less than 6 or 7 ski days in any given season.  This winter, I’m on pace to possibly surpass 10 days. We made sure our children learned to ski properly at Sugarloaf in Maine, where we spent one traditional ski week ever winter since 2002 (all in January, except last year; always very cold).

Now that I’m back on skis, I’ve come to realize lift ticket prices are very, very high. Having a ski week package with discounted lift tickets is a good thing. Skiing at smaller mountains like Plattekill, you take advantage of lower prices and accept lesser snowmaking coverage as a trade-off. Skier visits are down in Colorado this season, and some owe it to higher ticket prices. Generally, most ski industry leaders were optimistic this season (weather permitting).

So this weekend, we skied one day at Hunter for a change. A lift ticket costs $63 for an adult and $43 for a kid (junior, age 7-12).  We went up with several families and one of us got smart and wondered whether we qualify for a group rate. We did! Saved $54 when we paid our share for a family of four.

When planning a family ski trip, get other families to join in so you reach the group level (15+ people).