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A Holiday vacation in Montana’s Big Sky country

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Reg Mel and Matt hamming it up at Big Sky Resort in Montana

DAY ONE It’s seven in the morning and we’re ensconced in a cozy log cabin with a stone fireplace at Big Sky Ski Resort. I smell bacon and coffee — my husband is cooking us a hearty breakfast before our first day on what is billed as “the biggest skiing in America.” I’m hoping my kids will love here that Big Sky allows access to some of the country’s biggest vertical drops and steepest lift accessed terrain anywhere.

Sixteen year old Mel already has a ski movie on the TV from Matchstick Productions to get everyone ready for the steeps and deeps and is waxing her new skis — a combination Hanukah and Christmas present.

I’m just glad all five of us are together in this spectacular place for a few days anyway. And we’ve even got our own hot tub in this cozy cabin at Powder Ridge condos a short walk from a lift. This is the kind of cabin that would be fun summer or winter, I think, and of course Montana has as much to do then as in the winter.

But getting everyone together is never easy — or stress free. Yesterday (Dec. 21) we were traveling on the busiest travel day of the holiday season, according to the Air Transport Association. Even getting to the airport was no picnic — not with nine pieces of luggage (including three ski bags) and us jammed in the car. We’re meeting my older daughter Reggie, who goes to college in Colorado, in Bozeman, Montana, and I’m worried the whole way that she won’t get there – last Christmas, after all, she was stuck in Denver by a blizzard for days.

I thought I was being smart to check in on line. But when we got to the airport, we mistook the long, long security line for the check-in line in side and opted to wait on an interminable line to check in our bags outside) at $2 a bag plus tip. Next time, I’m going to scout out the line inside first.

But amazingly, once we get through security, the trip goes without a hitch. Northwest even waits in Minneapolis for 10 passengers whose flight from Boston was late. “Otherwise they wouldn’t make it to Bozeman for days because all the flights are full,” the pilot explains. I can’t member the last time a plane waited for delayed passengers. Everyone seems full of the holiday spirit.

We pick up our SUV from Enterprise Rent-A-Car and pick up Reggie in Bozeman, a cool town. Then we head out to the mountain. Finally, we’re settled in front of the fire, takeout pizza on the way. All the stress of getting here is worth it, I think, looking at my kids smiling faces. But then the teasing starts.

Who says a trip — even to such a terrific sport — would be one Kodak moment after another. I just help myself to another glass of wine.

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