This story begins in the spring of 2019 when the ULLR Club approved a western ski trip to Big Sky for March 2020. Soon ULLR members began submitting their first payments to reserve a spot on the trip. They were joined by five new members: Mike N, Galen V, Lynn S, Steve H, and Rick H. The eventual number of participants was 36.
Trip Co-Chairs Sharon M and Nancy S were excited about the number of participants. A pre-trip party was held in early January. Sharon and Nancy offered an optional excursion to Bozeman Hot Springs one evening. Twenty-one ULLRs planned to soak sore ski muscles in 13 hot pools. Plans continued to evolve for a Welcome Pizza party at Huntley Lodge when ULLRs with March birthdays would be recognized with cupcakes and candles. Our on-site Big Sky representative, a former Minnesotan, accepted an invitation to visit us at our group dinner at Chet’s Bar and Grill at the Lodge. We were going to present her with a ULLR bandana.
Trip Co-Chair Nancy had skied Big Sky the previous week with her family, had scouted the best runs over the area, and was anxious to share her experiences, including a recommendation to snowshoe on the ULLR Trail at Lone Mountain Ranch.
But then some members had family health issues and others began to have COVID-19 concerns about traveling. At the time of our March 15 departure, 24 ULLRs planned to be on the trip with five driving to our destination. When we boarded the plane, we were aware that some ski resorts had closed, but Big Sky was open! So, at 9:06 am off we went into the wild blue yonder with expectations of being able to have our ski week at Big Sky.
Alas, that did not happen. We landed in Bozeman at 10:38 am. By the time we deplaned, we knew Big Sky was closing, but our spirits were briefly lifted when we were greeted by Nancy’s smiling family with a sign saying, “Welcome Grandma’s Ski Group.”
We learned new information that no additional people would be allowed to check-in at the Resort. Trip Co-Chairs Sharon and Nancy immediately notified those who were driving, initiated conversations with our tour company and Big Sky, and canceled several events. ULLRs retrieved their luggage and hunkered down to wait for what was going to happen.
We were surprised to see a ULLR Race Team member waiting for our same flight. We gathered four new members for a photo and posed three birthday ULLRs for a photo. Trip Co-Chairs Sharon and Nancy found a bison sculpture, and Ken volunteered to be the photographer. We had expected our trip photos would be of ULLRs in ski gear with beautiful snowy mountain scenes in the background!
At the airport, ULLRs were on their phones with friends and families, had lunch, and waited to hear if we could get seats on a flight later in the afternoon to return to MN. Our tour company made that happen, and Delta did not charge their normal fees for any of our extra bags.
So, this year’s Big Sky trip will not be memorable for excellent skiing, but for the skiing that never happened. How many skiers do you know who fly to Bozeman for lunch at the Bozeman airport and return home the same day? How many skiers return home with a suitcase full of clean clothes that were never unpacked and don’t need to be washed? How many ULLR ski trips end with no one who fell or with absolutely no one hurt or sick?
But the best is that our ULLRs accepted the circumstances with patience and understanding. Their acceptance of the circumstances was amazing and a true example of the kindness and thoughtfulness of people who choose to belong to our ULLR Club.
Will there be a future trip to Big Sky? We hope so!