Valentines in the Mountains

img_1759The adventure begins on the back of a sled attached to a snowmobile. I step on the grate and grip the bar as Brendan, an employee of Rock Creek Lodge, takes off into the woods. We wind through snow-covered Lodgepole Pine and over a running creek as a flurry of snowflakes drift down upon us. I look over to Joey and he’s got his mouth open to catch the snow.  The ride is over too soon. But our rustic cabin is perfect. It’s only 11am. Dinner is at 6.

The day unfolds before us: hikes through the woods, snacks of cold cuts and cheeses from Claros Italian Market, out loud reading Of Mice and Men, romantic sensual fun, a delicious nap, happy hour with red wine.

image1Early evening we walk hand in hand in a winter wonderland to the main lodge. We chat with other guests in the cozy den. Brendan uncorks and pours our wine without a service charge (although they do serve wine and beer). We adjournimg_1770 to the next room, sit down on long wooden tables and eat family style. The rosemary focaccia bread is divine dipped in balsamic vinegar and olive oil. The creamy red bell pepper soup that follows is only marginally beat by the honey sesame salad. (We’ll be recreating that dressing!) It’s all so damn good. Quinoa and pork loin with a reduced pinot and blueberry sauce rounds out the main course. Chocolate mousse with Kahlua ice cream follows. I’m served a dairy free coconut ice cream that reminds me how much I do miss this treat.

The other guests who are celebrating their 50th birthdays invite us to their cabin for a little party. This group of guys grew up on the same street in Eugene, Oregon since they were five. The camaraderie is infectious. Mike breaks out a guitar and passes out percussion instruments. We fall into a jam session illuminated by ambient light. As the night closes Joey and I stroll under the stars to our cabin in the woods.

fullsizerender1 Breakfast the next morning is yummy. Brendan offers to take our gear down on the sled and rents us cross country skis. We trek uphill a mile on groomed trail then overland through a foot of powder to Rock Creek Lake. The sun is warm on this bluebird day. Then it’s three miles downhill to the Sno Park on corduroy snow that img_1797sparkles, reflecting tiny rainbows. Snow coats drooping branches of the looming, bone straight pine trees like big white mittens. Wind lifts a fine layer of snow from the treetops and sends it swirling down in a mist of glitter. It’s only my second time on cross country skis so I’m not exactly graceful, but I am full of joy and childlike wonder at the beauty of this world.img_1774

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