Mountain Mayhem: Virtual Vacations | AspenTimes.com
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Mountain Mayhem: Virtual Vacations

May Selby
Mountain Mayhem

With trips canceled this spring due to COVID-19, virtual vacations have become a wanderlust workaround for some. A couple of clever families tapped into their imaginations, bringing travels to their living room and backyard, replete with attentive service, stylized menus and more.

The Schmela family was looking forward to a Hawaiian spring break until their travel plans were understandably foiled. Parents Eric and Stacey tied the knot in Hanalei on April 28, 2001, so for their 19th anniversary, instead of being beside the ocean, they made do in the mountains.

“Eric thought it would be fun to bring Hawaii to us during the quarantine,” Stacey shared. “The whole thing was a surprise to me and our kids Carter (age 16), Haley and Tyler (age 13) helped with everything from planning, decor,” and being “hosts, chefs, wait staff, taking their roles very seriously. Eric contacted our friend Emily at Brunelleschi’s and she put together most of the food for the kids to prepare at home. Eric also picked up a few favorites from White House Tavern and ordered fresh, beautiful leis for everyone from a florist he found in California.”

For the surprise date, Stacey was asked to be ready at 5:45 pm, then blindfolded and driven around Snowmass Village with no idea where they were headed. “When we got to our ‘destination,’ he took off the blindfold and we were back at our house. On our front door it said Ristorante Hanalei. When the door opened, the kids were all dressed up in Hawaiian shirts with leis and we were led to our table outside. It was a very special evening and so fun to give the kids something to do during the lockdown. This truly was the most fun and memorable anniversary we’ve had in 19 years!”

The Dingman family of six always loves taking trips and daughter Aubrie, 11, was determined to plan one this spring despite the pandemic. She decided it would be a flight on “Coronavirus Planes” and got to work on the travel documents, seating, flight plan and more.

“First, I made a menu on Google Docs with the stuff we have at home on it like appetizers, dinner, drinks and stuff like that,” she explained. “I looked in our freezer, fridge and pantry to see what we have and made the menu off of that. Then I put towels on the couch so we could eat there and on the TV I went to YouTube and searched up planes flying and found a video that lasted like 10 hours. It was basically a video of someone looking out the window of a plane to see the wing and a pretty sky. After that, I drew tickets for everyone and handed them out and told them to wait at their doors. When everything was ready, I took my phone and pretended it was a scanner, scanned everyone’s tickets, and they went to their seats on the couch. My mom kept saying, ‘It’s first class, so we get a drink before we take off.’ They were also allowed to bring iPads because it was like they were on a plane.”

Then she passed out menus, took orders and served her siblings and parents. When everyone finished dinner, they were asked to exit the plane. A five-star, first-class flight to remember!


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