Tradition.  Merriam-Webster defines tradition as “an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior.

Traditions can be good. They give people something to look forward to.  Families have traditions around holidays, birthdays and special times.

“We always go to the family cabin at the lake every Christmas!”

Something that is familiar seems comforting. Trying something new and different can be scary.

For Bryon and me, our tradition has been the annual week-long ski trip in Colorado.  Ever since we moved to Nederland, we’ve been doing a week-long ski trip usually sometime between January and March.  Many times, we’ve gone to Winter Park where I teach skiing, sometimes we’ve gone to Steamboat.

We stay at the same condo, because we know what to expect, and it seems familiar and yes, comfortable.

But traditions can also mean being stuck in a rut.  You don’t break out of your comfort zone, and experience something new, something fun, something wonderful.

This year, we won’t be taking our annual ski vacation.  I don’t deserve kudos for doing something new.  It was mainly a function of saving all my vacation time for next November.

But we did do something new, which turned into something adventurous and exhilarating.

For most of our marriage, Bryon and I try to give experiences rather than material things as gifts.  A long time ago, I read a book about financial happiness. The author argued that buying stuff, just leads to more stuff and not more happiness. But spending money on an experience (like a great trip), gives you more happiness and the memories enrich you for years to come.

So in an effort to give an experience, I reserved a room in a romantic western lodge in Jackson, Wyoming for the President’s Day weekend.  We took off an extra day and made the long drive up to Jackson.

We gained new respect for how treacherous travel can be in such a windy state.  Interstate 80 was closed most of the weekend due to wind and drifting snow.  It forced us to drive back a different route, experiencing a part of the state we had never seen.

We also broke out of our skiing rut, going to Jackson Hole Ski Resort for the first time.

On the one hand, it was a bit discomforting not knowing what the trails were like, what lifts to take, or how to get around.

But it turned out to be a banner powder day, so didn’t really matter which trail we skied, as it was powder, powder and more powder.  We would get off a lift and just try something, not knowing where it went or what it was like.

We also ended up having some great conversations on the chairlifts with locals, or gave us suggestions on trails to try. This resulted in a memorable run down Cirque trail at the end of the day in knee high powder, complete with whooping and hollering.

The fun didn’t stop at the ski resort.  Exploring around Jackson, we got to see thousands of elk on the National Elk Refuge and sample yummy elk and bison at a local restaurant.

As we departed, glimpsing the Grand Teton peeking through the clouds, we were already planning a summer trip back up to go backpacking.

A new tradition begins…