It’s never too late to snowboard in Pennsylvania

My physician wasn’t thrilled when I told him I wanted to learn to snowboard at the tender age of 57. He sighed — and suggested I buy a motorcycle instead.

That’s in the midlife crisis handbook.

But I had made a bet to commemorate being five years cancer-free by doing something out of the box. I couldn’t succeed though without a practical and novice-friendly place to do it.

Living near our nation’s capital, with its milder winters, and having minimal travel time and funds forced me into an affordable means to face my challenge within driving distance. Enter my favorite Pennsylvania playground of nature Laurel Highlands. The region’s big three co-owned niche ski resorts offer a New England-caliber experience without the schlep — or price.

The massive Seven Springs resort anchors a premium winter triad that also includes family-first Hidden Valley along with laid-back historic Laurel Mountain in a revitalized state park. Also known for summer activities such as golfing, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, and fishing, these are the closest thing to an Alpine destination in the Appalachians.

There’s snow, and plenty of it — an unusual amount for this geographic area, blanketing 33 slopes and trails, seven terrain parks or halfpipes, and a highest elevation of 3,000 feet with 285 acres of skiable terrain.

Hidden Valley Slope from Lodge

But let’s get back to those lessons. I ended up being the oldest and coldest in my first class. My instructor, young enough to be my grandchild, taught me that falling is the best way to learn.

Somehow, I survived the first lesson on “technique,” which entailed standing still with both feet on the board and creeping along sideways as slowly as possible for control.

Learning to snowboard is an adventure. After mastering the standing, I got to hobble around with one foot on the ground without twisting a knee while the other foot is still strapped to the board. I got on and off a chairlift, which turned out to be as hard as snowboarding itself. I stayed the course.

Then followed the first attempts to actually zigzag downhill. Yay. But forget everything you know about falling. It won’t be long before you “catch an edge,” which is a rite of passage for new snowboarders. The result is a sobering and stunning face plant in snow that surely must be colder and harder packed than even the ski area would admit. But I stayed the course.

As I recovered from my first face plant by sitting up to wipe off the freezing fluff, an eight-year-old girl in a state-of-the-art matching pink board and parka flew by in a blur, looking uninterested. I couldn’t decide whether to be encouraged or shake my head.

Falling in snow doesn’t hurt. Rather, it constructively humbles and motivates — if you embrace it.

I was reminded that a critical part of the process is just having fun, face plants and all. People seem to have forgotten how. Maybe they are too busy taking themselves and life too seriously, and not appreciating what they have? Something I knew, but may have been reinforced the hard way? Without that, it is just another thing to do.

Pennsylvania’s Highest Vertical Drop Outside of Laurel Mountain Lodge

My last lessons during a later visit to Laurel Mountain were the most meaningful. I was delighted to have been paired with an instructor of the female persuasion more toward my end of the age spectrum. She understood me. She was the only one who noticed that my boots needed tightening, which is what was holding me back from world fame. I was verklempt (look it up). Just the motivation I needed. No face plant. Ego intact.

Not constantly falling allows you to appreciate what’s around you. The purist less-is-more Laurel Mountain is my favorite place to do that — mixing history and natural resource appreciation. Don’t let the subdued nature of this partnership between Seven Springs and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources fool you. The steepest slope and double diamond vertical drop in Pennsylvania (yikes) awaits in a revitalized park with an antique lodge complex that is older than this writer. (That’s old.)

Nestled near super historic Ligonier, dripping with Revolutionary War history, Laurel Mountain’s “new” ski resort reflects an Austrian design that promotes the Arlberg Method of modern alpine technique during the initial 1940 opening. Some of the original structures are still there from when only the most prestigious residents of Pennsylvania were members. Now it is gifted to the commonwealth for all to enjoy. Unlike most other resorts, the rustic lodge and parking is at the top of the mountain, so feel free to gorge on the outstanding meat and potatoes menu at the end of the day. No need to pace yourself for a last downhill run back to the car.

Author Ready to Solo

I survived snowboarding in one piece. And no one even said, “Look at the old dude.” I wasn’t the only old dude (or dudette) there. On a good day, I can now do an intermediate slope without falling, but with a bit of flailing. And that’s just fine with me.

But, I got the motorcycle anyway. Doctor’s orders.

Underwritten by

Underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Underwritten by Enterprise

A family-owned, world-class portfolio of brands. A global network that spans across more than 85 countries. Some 97,000 dedicated team members sharing common values. And more than 1.9 million vehicles taking our customers wherever they need to go.

Underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Underwritten by

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Underwritten by InsureMyTrip

It’s simple. InsureMyTrip finds you the right travel insurance plan, every time. InsureMyTrip is the authority on travel insurance. Rated A+ for travel insurance by the Better Business Bureau. All travelers that purchase a policy through  InsureMyTrip have access to Anytime Advocates® for claims assistance.

Underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at

Underwritten by SCOTTeVEST

An innovative apparel brand for people who want easy access to everything they need. For those who live for every second, SCOTTeVEST lets you maximize your life. Ditch the carry-on bag and pick up a  SCOTTeVEST.

Underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit

Underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Underwritten by Sungard Availability Services

Leveraging more than 35 years of experience, Sungard AS designs, builds and runs critical IT services that help businesses manage complex IT, adapt quickly and build resiliency and availability. A leading provider of critical production and recovery services, Sungard AS partners with customers across the globe, delivering resilient IT systems, infrastructure and recovery services tailored to achieving desired business outcomes.

Underwritten by makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at

Underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International,, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

%d bloggers like this:
This free newsletter will save you from scams.