If you are a parent who is planning a ski trip for your family, odds are you’ve wrestled with what to do after the slopes close, especially if your kids are under 10 and if (how should we say this?) sitting still in a restaurant is not their forte.
I was thinking about this conundrum last Wednesday as I approached the Lynn Britt Cabin at sunset, riding shotgun in one of Aspen Snowmass’ snowcats. I had been invited to join eight families for the cabin’s weekly Chuck Wagon Dinner, a family-oriented evening of good food, sing-alongs and playful fun halfway up Snowmass Mountain.
While my four-year-old daughter couldn’t come along with me this go around, I couldn’t help but see the whole event through her eyes.
Stepping out onto the snow, our group was greeted by the sweet smell of a campfire. Above, pastel-pink clouds were making way for the purple darkness of night, and before us, the cozy cabin was lit-up in holiday lights, exuding a warm glow from the inside.
As I watched a few kids make snowballs (only to toss them into the campfire), I thought back to how I spent my evenings on ski trips from my teen years: This sure beats ordering a pizza and a pay-per-view movie, I thought. The ride in the snowcats, the Western cabin, the quiet ski slopes under a rising moon … These kids will probably remember this night for a long time to come.
As we were seated inside the cozy restaurant, we were introduced to the Harmony Sisters, Susan Anderson and Barbara Cyr. They have been performing for chuck wagon dinners on Snowmass for 16 years, dating back to the Burlingame Cabin days, and each Wednesday they serve as MCs for the Lynn Britt Cabin family dinners.
They immediately had kids singing along to a handful of campfire classics as well as a few requests from the parents, like Van Morrison’s “Brown-Eyed Girl,” which a father dedicated to his daughter. A box of musical instruments was set out, and soon the room was filled with the kind of joyful noise that only a band of kiddos can create. Parents beamed and passed around a few bottles of wine while the first and second course were served.
Speaking of the food, it was a delicious yet rustic take on Western classics. After warming up with an apple cider, we were served tomato soup with corn bread muffins, and a family-style salad comprised of local organic greens, candied pecans and dried cranberries. Roasted chicken was complemented by pan-seared trout (which was substituted by mac-and-cheese on the kids’ servings). Then came the decadent, apple-raisin bread pudding which seemed perfect for this cold winter’s night. When no one was looking, I went back for seconds.
After a little storytelling and a chance for the kids to enjoy the outdoor campfire a little more, the team fired up the snowcats for the return trip down the mountain. I asked our snowcat driver, Peter, if it takes a long time to round up the kids at the end of the night.
“No, not at all,” he said. Then he smiled. “It’s the parents we have a hard time wrangling.”
The Lynn Britt Cabin Family Chuck Wagon Dinner is served every Wednesday night through the ski season. $65/adult (excluding alcohol) and $35/child includes the 10-minute snowcat ride and free entertainment. Call 970-923-8715 or 1-800-525-6200 ext. 4715 to learn more information and to make a reservation.