From Ski to Sea! The Moxie Crew Prepares To Head South Again

So long, France, Hello USA (for a few days) and then back to the Caribbean we go! No need to mince words here...we had a hell of a...

So long, France, Hello USA (for a few days) and then back to the Caribbean we go!

No need to mince words here...we had a hell of a good time in Chamonix!  
Some people may have thought we were a little bit nuts to trade in the best sailing months in the Caribbean for a winter of snow and cold in the Alps, but it had been a dream of ours for a long time and we took the plunge.  We know we won't be full-time traveling forever, and we realized that if we didn't jump on the chance to go be ski bums in France now, we might not ever do it. In typical Moxie fashion, we shot from the hip and just went for it.  And I'm SO glad we did! I swear, the BEST times of our travels have been the trust-your-gut, oddball decisions we have made.  The Chamonix trip was one of those.  Here are some highlight from our five months in Europe.... 

Chamonix is the land of trams.  This shiny red one takes you to the summit of the Le Brevent ski area, and it's a high, freaky ride!  These trams used to scare the pants off me but now I am (kind of ) used to them. 

Here's Hud, celebrating his 12th birthday with friends (and Viv, of course) at the summit of Brevent on a bluebird day.

Trav booked a trip to Budapest, Hungary as a surprise for my birthday-- I didn't know where we were going until we got to the airport.  Budapest is a city I've always wanted to see and it did not disappoint.  The history there is incredible, in the city center you feel as though you've stepped back in time (I took about 100 photos just of the architecture).  We all absolutely loved it. and want to go back   

Viv gets a good soaking at one of the famous mineral baths of Budapest.
This historic marketplace in Budapest is just enormous. On the first floor, they sell produce, meats, and other grocery items.  The top level is postcards and Hungarian crafts and travel souvenirs.  We lost Viv up there for about 1.5 minutes and were in somewhat of a panic state.    
I'm a sucker for aesthetic, and I love weird things.  For instance, I love every thing about this trolley-- the size, shape, colors, details, EVERYTHING.  Budapest just worked for me!  I could look at it endlessly.
View from our hotel room.
I had told Hud that I'd buy him a mocha when he turned 12. This was a special treat in a fancy Budapest bakery that's been in business for 140 years!
Courmayeur, Italy!  Spending the day in Italy was easy for us because of the Mont Blanc tunnel-- a little 20 minute drive through that mountain and BAM!  You're in Italy! Viv loves the language (after one day there she began studying Italian on Duolingo), Hud loves the ski area, I love the people (so warm and expressive and hilarious!), Trav loves the slate roofs (Do NOT get him started on the slate roofs. He will never stop), and we all DEEPLY APPRECIATE the food.  Here's our favorite place to eat and relax at Courmayeur: the historic and utterly charming Maison Vieille.  

Don't ask me to remember what this giant booze-bowl thing is called , but it's made to be passed around and you're never supposed to put it down til it's empty.  Mission accomplished.

Lovely, lively Chamonix at Apres-ski time.  You can see the glaciers of Mont Blanc in the upper right corner.

France is not afraid to be charming and adorable, vintage , funky, and cool as hell.  Case in point: this lunch truck in the tiny village of Vallorcine.

Travis' Mom Ginger (on right) and her sister Aunt Jeanne, came to visit and we had a blast with them!  They skied with us like champs for a day at Les Houches. I'm not going to reveal their ages, but let's just say, you don't see a lot of ladies their age (Aunt Jeanne is a great-grandmother) on the slopes. Role models!
The stunningly beautiful cave at the Mer de Glace ("Sea of Ice") glacier is a fascinating, eerily lovely  masterpiece, carved out from the ice every year.  It features winding passageways, gorgeous sculptures, and is definitely the best ice cave we have ever visited.  (Also the only ice cave we have ever visited.)

Trav taught the kids to tune their skis this year.  Here's Hud on our minuscule deck, giving his sticks a good scrape.

Getting ready to ski the Vallee Blanche!!  The stoke is high. (If you are interested in the Vallee Blanche, one of the most famous off-piste ski runs in the world, I wrote a whole blog post about it and you can read it here: Best Ski Adventure Ever: Our Self-Guided Tour of the Vallee Blanche)

One of the best parts of the ski season was when our dear friends from Maine, Erik and Jenny McClure  came to visit.  Adventures like these are better with friends, especially friends who share our passion for mountains, adventure, and laughing.  We love you crazy kids! 

Here in the mountains, evidence of global warming is all around us.  The Mer de Glace  glacier has shunk so much in the last 50 years, they have to keep building more staircases to access it.  Here I am, climbing back up from a Vallee Blanche run, passing a sign marking where the ice had been when I was in 5th grade. 

Hud is a talented  skier, and it brings him such joy.  Here he is, in his element.

As soon as we arrived here, Hud and Viv began learning about global warming in an immediate and personal way as we explored the rapidly diminishing glaciers and started doing research about what climate change is and what needs to be done to stop it.  After they participated in the Kids' Climate Strike here in Chamonix, they wanted to do more.  They learned about POW (Protect Our Winters), and became members of the organization.  Then they decided to raise awareness and funds for POW by selling cookies and ukelele busking for the apres-ski crowd.  This was a plan entirely of their own devising, and their efforts were incredibly successful.  To date, Hud and Viv have raised and donated more than $300 to POW.     

Road trip to Paris!  When we rounded a corner and the kids saw the Eiffel Tower for the first time, they both shreiked!  It was like meeting a  fictitious superhero that you've admired all your life, and then suddenly that character is standing in front of you, live and in the flesh.  Awestruck is the word.

Cool Tower shot by Trav.
Exploring cities by foot is always one of our favorite things to do.  You never know what weird and fascinating (or creepy) things you'll find!

In Paris, the love-lock thing is OUT OF CONTROL. They are on every bridge, every fence, every tree branch. (Not really, but I bet people have tried.)  They're even in unromantic places, like fencing on construction sites.  Trav was so annoyed he took about 40 lock photos, out of sheer angst.  This one was at Monmartre.  

My sweet Mom and Dad came to visit! Here they are with Hud in front of our favorite restaurant in this area: Le Comptoir  in Vallorcine. 

Trav had taken Hud on a father-son trip down the Vallee Blanche, and so he wanted to take Viv by herself, too.  Although she had made the trip 3 times before with all of us as a family, this trip was extra special because it was just she and her Dad.   Here's our 8 year old adventurer, leading the way down the ridge line to where the ski routes begin.  It's a 60 degree pitch of sheer drop-offs on either side of her.  

Nana and Buppa congratulate Viv after her amazing Vallee Blanche run!
When we left Telluride, this sweet girl was a 3 month old she's a 3 year old girl and has a new baby sister.  So much fun seeing our dear friends the Yug family here in Chamonix. 

We said a tearful goodbye to France on April 30, flew back to our old stomping grounds in Maine for a few days to ditch our ski gear, and on Monday we fly back to Grenada to get back on Moxie and begin sailing north. The quick switch-around from Europe to US to Caribbean is pretty surreal and our heads are swimming right now, trying to get all of our ducks in a row for the big sails and big changes that are ahead of us (I will elaborate more on these changes in a future blog post!).  But for now, we're just trying to live in the moment and enjoy every day, no matter how crazed and rushed we might feel during this wild transition time.  More soon, I promise!  Thanks for being along for this ride! xo

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