Saturday, December 31, 2005

I'm paying for a white Christmas

Christmas morning, we go to wake the girl up and the first thing she asks isn't, "Did santa come?" No, it's "Is there snow outside?" No, but it's 50 and raining, will that do?

And why not? Every single Christmas special and movie is filled with snow -- can't have Christmas without snow. Unless you're the Little Drummer Boy living in the desert, then your home will be burned and your parents will be raped and murdered. Later you will be forced into a life of servitude. I'm sure there's a point to all that, but with all the hysterical screaming and crying I know no one who's made it to the end. Then the nightmares halt any further viewing attempts.

So we're thinking about scheduling a Christmas vacation for snow. Probably not the next one, but soon, while Santa is still real.

My first thought, having been to Grand Marais and camped in the Boundary Waters, was the Gunflint Lodge. Doesn't this sound fun:
The snows keep coming and everything is white and beautiful. The lake has frozen over and the timber wolves are starting to roam about on the ice. Firewood is stacked by each cabin for a warm toasty evening while you are curled up with a favorite book.
The deer have started to come in for their winter handouts and we have about a ton of corn stored, as we plan ahead.

The crosscountry ski trails are all open and groomed. The trail groomer is out nearly every day setting tracks and keeping everything perfect for excellent skiing. The sled dogs have arrived for the winter and the mushers have them out on the trails every day getting them in shape for trail rides.

Guests that came up on our decorating weekends did a bang up job on the lodge and grounds-- the Christmas trees are up and decorated, garlands hang everywhere around the lodge and on the outside light poles, and strings of white lights illuminate the outside of the lodge come evening.

Our chef has an all new winter menu that has some very tasty selections. He is featuring more entrees of the country. Among his new choices are an Elk steak, a big double bone pork chop, new walleye recipes, new pasta selections, new salads, and new breads and desserts.

Otherwise, ski resorts seem the most likely spot for snow and activities.
Also in Minnesota is Lutsen Ski resort along the North Shore.

Within driving distance of Atlanta are the North Carolina resorts. Though actual snow could be a bit of a gamble.

Then there are the usual slopes out West and in the Northeast. Never been to any of them, but our first thought was more towards a New England style Christmas...whatever that is. Then we had the idea of doing a couple days in New York - see the Rockettes, go skating, do some shopping, then head for New England or Maine.

And then we found Rovaniemi, Finland otherwise known as Santa's hometown. There's a Christmas village, reindeer, carolers, parades, elves, etc. And at the Christmas village, there's a big sendoff as Santa leaves to deliver toys! How cool is that.

Rovaniemi is also the capital of Lapland. Arctic safari, anyone? It's also cold and dark. For December, the average high is -7.7 celsius and the average low is -17. Sun rises at 10am and sets at 2pm. Ok, so we'll need new coats.

List of sites:


Going to Finland could be a hassle. Checking Orbitz for New York to Helsinki, fares aren't that bad. Around $500 roundtrip. Didn't see any non-stop flights, so with at least one stop, it's a 12 hour journey. Then we still need to factor in travel from Atlanta and Helsinki to Rovaniemi.

Still, other than the expense, Santa City is getting the biggest wow factor from us. We'll see. Recommendations are welcome. we require snow and over-the-top Christmas celebration would be appreciated.

UPDATE
The Washington Post ran a travel article Christmas about traveling in Finland [link]. This has been printed and filed away:
A reindeer named Charlie pulled Santa to the door of our lodge. We skied, tobogganed down a chute lighted by flaming torches, slept a major part of one night in a four-bedroom igloo, toured husky dog and reindeer farms, and repeatedly warmed ourselves with hot mulled cider served in wooden cups. All the while, the snow kept falling.

...

Back at the lodge, the cooks have prepared a traditional Finnish Christmas Eve dinner of reindeer, salmon and duck. After dessert, word goes out that Santa has been spotted. He arrives in a small sleigh pulled by a single reindeer, the aforementioned Charlie.

While the kids stand by to await the distribution of presents (the hotel works with parents to make sure Santa gets the wish list straight), Maddie and I go out to meet Charlie. His owner and driver, Markku Rauhala, an English-speaking Sami in traditional native costume, invites us to talk to the animal but tells us that reindeer are shy, gentle creatures that prefer not to be touched.

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