White Friday

Today my brother Bob and I decided to drive to Ellicottville to Holiday Valley Resort so he could go night skiing on their opening day. I love it there, so I had no problem making the three hour trip and hanging out in the lodge for a few hours.

Ellicottville is one of the most charming small towns I’ve ever been to. It’s literally in the middle of nowhere in New York, and there’s not much else here besides the ski resort. Well, there’s actually two ski resorts. But the HoliMont Ski Resort is a private club on the weekends. Holiday Valley is amazing in itself with resorts and cabins — it’s truly one of the most rustic places you can imagine. Bob told me that he’s skied a lot of places, but nothing compares to the skiing here. It has something to do with the snow and how they groom it.

My brother brought us a back way off of Rt. 86, and we were able to see some of the most beautiful mountains — with a ton of snow — like 24 inches. And then we came into Ellicottville a different way than I know. It turns out that tonight is light up night in downtown and there were people everywhere. There were horse & carriage rides, photos with a live reindeer, outdoor caroling, shopping, santa and other festivities. It was amazing. I’m glad it was still daylight outside so that I could take the video as seen below.

I didn’t grow up on ski slopes. We were fortunate to experience many things growing up, but skiing wasn’t something that my parents ever did. I tried it once in high school, but it wasn’t easy at all, and I gave up after two horrible crashes at the bottom of the hill. I used to think our school trip was to Seven Springs Resort in PA, but when I had gone there about 15 years ago with my work, I didn’t recognize anything. But when I first came to Holiday Valley two years ago, I immediately remembered the main lodge and the place where I had literally wiped out twice. Our trip had been here.

Besides the group of loud and rowdy adults at the bar, there are a lot of kids here — actually a lot of families. I think learning to ski probably best happens when you’re like five years old and flexible — and have no problem getting back on the slopes when you crash. Or you have endless energy when you can’t get up off your back after getting off the lift. I’ve been there too. I don’t know how my brother learned as an adult. But he has that adventurous side in him. Anyways, these kids had all the ski gear. I mean the special boots, wake boards, helmets, snow pants and all kinds of layered clothing. I noticed them putting on layer after layer as they got ready to go back on the slopes. You know the skiers from the non-skiers, because they all walk around with these non-flexible boots and have to walk heel to toe. This is obviously an expensive hobby from gear to ski passes.

It’s an entirely different kind of life. I just heard a guy go up to the bar, raise his glass and say, “here’s to a new year — the start of our ski season!” and everyone cheered. After all, today is opening day, and these people are stoked. Just as everyone has their own talents, everyone has their own way of living life to the fullest.

I love it when I get the chance to step inside someone else’s world for a short while. While it is somewhat foreign, there’s something completely familiar too. There’s been a feeling of coming home every time I am here. I can’t quite explain it — and haven’t been able to explain it since we came here two years ago. From Yodeler Lodge to the wonderful small town of Ellicottville.

Bob after a long night of skiing at Yodeler hill.

Bob after a long night of skiing at Yodeler hill.

Bob just came inside to eat dinner with me and was telling me that he was warned about the “ice balls of death” at the one turn when he rode the chair lift with another couple. He said the best part about skiing by yourself is you get to bypass the ski lift line and go to an expedited line for single skiers. So he was able to ski more, as well as hear all kinds of crazy stories from the other people he met on the lifts. He had all kinds of stories! What a great way to meet other people. It could be like speed dating on ski lifts for single guys or gals — maybe we should teach my little brother how to ski!

Light Up Night in downtown Ellicottville.

Light Up Night in downtown Ellicottville.

Anyways, I guess they’re still perfecting the hills and turns. We laughed at his stories. We had a quick bowl of soup for dinner, and then Bob hit the slopes, waving to Mom from the webcam at the bottom of Yodeler hill. The Lodge is clearing out as everyone is either on the slopes or headed home for the night.

We left the resort by 8:30 and went back into Ellicottville to see the lights. There were still people everywhere and Ellicottville Brewing Company was packed so we didn’t go inside. Next time. We said goodbye to Ellicottville and headed home for the three hour trip. It’s been a great day spending it with my brother. And a great way to spend Black Friday — spending it at “White Friday in Holiday Valley.”

Let me know your thoughts!