What did we do: Went to the snow
How did we save money:
- Winter gear - we have some from forever ago. Bought the kids new boots ($20/each). Which will probably never be worn again. Will donate.
- Lodging - got sticker shock looking at Mammoth Mountain ($1280/ four nights, 1 BR condo, cheapest I could find.) Googled, opted to go a little north to sleepy town of June Lake. ($672/ four nights, 2 bedroom cabin duplex.) Reverse Creek Lodge. We really enjoyed this place.
- Food - took food and grocery shopped. By far, the cheapest food was what we brought with us - mac and cheese, raw veggies, bagels, cheese & salami. Next cheapest was shopping at the Vons in Mammoth (do NOT go at 6 pm on a Saturday!!) But most of my shopping is NOT done in large stores, because they don't have the best deals. Finally, when really out of something - the June Lake general store. $5.49 for a loaf of bread, whee!! But we needed to eat. And they were really nice.
Approximate cost for food for the four days: $90. Seems like a lot, but less than eating out for sure. Plus way less pain and suffering than eating out with a four year old.
- Entertainment. June Lake has a ski spot, which is much less populated and much smaller, and more family friendly than the southern neighbor, Mammoth. It was also < 1 mile from the cabin. It's also quite a bit cheaper - kids 12 and under ski for free. And...we saved even MORE money by...not skiing at all. People who ski regularly probably: 1. have their own gear. 2. Know how to get cheaper lift tickets on-line, or at Costco. People like us, not so much.
We priced out skiing for 1 day at June Lake, and it looked like it would be approximately $600. That's rental and lift ticket for hubby (who actually knows how to ski), rentals and lessons for the kids, and a lesson for me, who last went skiing in 1998. The cost to do the same at Mammoth would have been quite a bit more expensive, at least $200. We thought about it, but the June Lake website went down the night we were thinking about booking, so that sealed it.
I realize that I'm not too old to learn a new skill. But...do I want to? I mean, in the best of times, skiing is like golf - expensive. And I live at the beach. If I want to learn a new skill, shouldn't it be something like stand up paddle boarding, or rock climbing? Something that doesn't require a 5 hour drive to accomplish? Maybe if we go some day where we would ski for more than one day, it would be more worth it. Cheaper cost per day.
In any event, the area is surrounded by the Inyo National Forest. Our cabins had sleds that you could borrow. The owners of the lodge directed us to a nice little spot with lots of places to sled. And no snowmobilers! So, our days went like this:
1. Wake up. For me, that usually meant "wake up on the couch". Because the upstairs was HOT. I would wake up at midnight sweating, and move downstairs where it was cooler. I usually woke at 5:45 or 6. Kid #1 woke up at the same time. Kid #2 always ended up moving from his twin bed in the kid room to the king bed in the parent room. So daddy and Kid #2 woke up at 7, and not always well rested.
2. Drink coffee (instant, because we had it).
3. Make and eat breakfast - bagels, eggs, toast with nutella, toast with almond butter and bananas.
4. Go for a hike. There was a snow-filled hill behind the cabin area. We climbed it, including some rock climbing. At the top, we wandered through another cabin's yard (more than 50% of the homes here are second homes, usually only inhabited in the summer). This got us to a road, and we wandered down some streets back to the cabin. The hike usually took an hour, was about 0.75 miles (you know, hiking with a 4 year old) - and involved a LOT of snowball fights.
5. Watch TV, make and eat lunch - sandwiches and raw veggies, or grilled cheese and soup.
6. Do the dishes. Go sledding (which involved a drive). We sledded for an hour in the afternoon - more snowball fights, made a snowman one day.
7. Go back to the cabin. Warm up, have cocoa, make and eat dinner, watch more TV, maybe play a game, read. Bed at 9.