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Feb 1, 201102:40 PMResident Tourist

Looking to Chill

Feb 1, 2011 - 02:40 PM
Looking to Chill

The cute vintage sign in our rented house makes downhill skiing look easy.

Last winter, I succumbed to peer pressure to downhill ski despite the total lack of skills and an intense dislike for speed.

Still emotionally scarred a year later by a harrowing descent on the green level “Salamander” slope at West Virginia's Timberline Resort, I resolved to bring a stack of good books and crossword puzzles and to skip the slippery antics on this year’s ski trip.

I would prop pillows by the cozy fireplace and not even once think about riding the swaying ski lift, dangling like an earring over a vast icy mountainside, while people darted like hornets all over the slope below.

No, this year, I would avoid the whole chaotic scene and stay put in our cabin. At least that was my plan until I heard about White Grass.

Just five miles from our rented house was a laid-back, cross-country ski mecca with a homey café and a hippie vibe, and it was there—after enjoying a delicious bowl of spinach and barley soup and a turkey Panini—that I found my new sport.

Proof that I did it. White Grass has been outfitting cross-country skiers since 1959 and it has a North Pole, vintage feel: a big, pot-bellied wood stove glows in the foyer and hand-painted signs adorn the rental area. No molded plastic boots stomped up steps; no bad, expensive hot-dogs and pizza congealed in the lodge; no lift lines (or ambulances parked nearby!).

The difference between the hubbub of the downhill slopes and the whispery winter trails at White Grass was the perfect cure for my ski-related terror. A 20-minute mini-lesson (only $6!) with a cute instructor had me striding and gliding in short order past barns and horses and snow-laden pine branches.

I stuck to the “easy beginner” trails, but there are more challenging ones with sections of hills and twists for the thrill-seeker. For a path to becoming a fearless skier, it's totally chill.

How about you? Would you trade downhill thrills for a country glide through the woods?

For photos of my White Grass experience, view my gallery below.

White Grass

Old to new | New to old
Feb 1, 2011 03:12 pm
 Posted by  amandaw

I love this area! I have been to white grass for hiking in the spring and fall. We have been considering a cross country trip this winter (our family are die hard downhill skiiers), maybe this is the place.

I would suggest a visit to the Purple Fiddle in nearby Davis to anyone in the valley. The Purple Fiddle is a restaurant/coffee house with live music most nights. It attracts a family crowd and there are often kids, teens and adults all dancing to some great bands.

Feb 1, 2011 03:41 pm
 Posted by  StengerFrank

Great stuff Dani...more, more, more!!!!

Feb 1, 2011 04:31 pm
 Posted by  Binky

What a fun job you have here, Dani. Exciting and adventurous. Keep up the good "work."

Feb 2, 2011 08:15 am
 Posted by  DougSpiro

The Resident tourists strikes again! You always pick beautiful areas that are really in our backyard and leave us with a gem like White Grass. I can't wait until the next adventure!!!

PS good job on the Salamander” slope¡¡¡

Feb 2, 2011 11:41 am
 Posted by  LM

sounds like a good place to try while the others are downhill skiing! crosswords still sound good though...

Feb 2, 2011 06:04 pm
 Posted by  Linda

Dani -

I just love your writing style. You really know how to capture the essense of a place and your imagery just cracks me up. But overall, it really sounds like a great adventure. Hmmmm - I've always wanted to give cross-country a try.


Feb 10, 2011 05:34 pm
 Posted by  City traveler

Many years ago a terrifying crisscross trip down an ice sheet-covered "medium"-level slope put downhill skiing in the "I will never ever do that again" category. But this sounds great. And I love what sounds like an old-fashioned, down-home ambiance. Gonna check out right now exactly where White Grass is located and make a plan. Then next time a snowstorm is forecast for our area we can head out to White Grass and have fun instead of being snowbound here. Thanks! Looking forward to reading your summer- heat destinations.

Feb 11, 2011 08:09 pm
 Posted by  RD

Loved the shot of "lavender snow"...really made we want to go there. Last time I went cross country skiing was over 10 years Russia! Your article made me think that I should give it another try closer to home.

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About This Blog

Resident Tourist highlights off-the-beaten path destinations in and around Montgomery County. Check here for day trip ideas, weekend adventures, reviews of interesting neighborhoods, quirky shops, great spots for lunch, and guidance on visiting tourist sites. Grab a friend and go!

Dani James has lived in Virginia, Washington, D.C. or Maryland all of her life. She has spent the last 17 years as a Silver Spring resident discovering the area’s nooks and crannies with her family and friends. In 2008, the James family stepped away from their regular lives for a year to travel around the world.

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