My Ski Trip to Stowe, Vermont Helped Me Face My Biggest Fears

I don’t know about you, but I’m coming out of the heart of the pandemic like a newborn giraffe learning to walk. I’m wobbly in all aspects of my life (especially when it comes to socializing with other human beings) and I’m learning to face my old fears again. What better time though, right? !

One of the fears I’m facing again is my fear of driving big cars. Although I’ve had my driver’s license since I was 16, my family can attest that my spatial awareness isn’t great and I’m pretty poor at parking. My first and only car was a Kia Sportage, which was tall enough to feel safe but small enough to handle tight traffic. I live in New York now so I never have to drive unless a zombie apocalypse happens. So when Nissan invited me to drive their all-new 2022 Pathfinder to Stowe, Vermont for a ski weekend, I immediately Googled “how big is a Pathfinder” and I started sweating while watching ski videos.

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This is another fear I’m working on: I reluctantly started skiing in 2020, just before Fauci told us to hide indoors. My boyfriend and his friends are into “winter sports”, and I refused to be the person who sits in the ski lodge while everyone is having fun on the mountain. Skiing is something I would never have chosen to do alone because I hate the cold and am terrified of heights. But, alas, we make silly choices for love. After two years of absence from the sport, I was afraid of not knowing how to ski or of starting to cry on the chairlift.

Finally, I decided to push my spine: I would drive the big car for a long time, and I would get back on the skis.

Warning: the editor received a free stay, meals, rental car, and activities for ~research~ this trip.

what you drive

Although the 2022 Pathfinder can be described as “beefy”, I think it’s pretty cute 👉👈 . This is the big car for all the girls who hate driving big cars… The interior is plush and it’s fitted with second-row captain’s chairs that make your rear passengers feel like they’re flying first classroom. My absolute favorite feature (which I played with 100 times) was the driver’s seat memory system, which remembers exactly where you like the positions of your seat, steering wheel and exterior mirrors. When you stop the car and open the door, the driver’s seat and steering wheel move back and up to give you more room to get out.

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This car is perfect for a road trip in many ways. There’s a wireless charger located in the front shifter, an easy-to-read touchscreen for your map, and more cupholders than even your thirstiest passenger could ask for. The head-up display projected onto the windshield shares information with the driver, such as your speed and next-turn directions, so they can keep their eyes on the road at all times.

As a Big Car Scardey Cat™️, I’ll admit that Nissan’s safety features in the Pathfinder made me feel incredibly safe. The Safety Shield 360 is waiting for you to detect pedestrians or other vehicles and brake if necessary. It will also save your bumper with automatic rear braking. On the highway, I felt in control with the Pathfinder’s lane departure warning that makes sure you only change lanes when you want to. If you try to enter a busy lane, the steering wheel will buzz to say “not so fast”.

where you stay

From New York, it took me and my boyfriend about six hours (with a bathroom stop or two) to get to the Lodge at Spruce Peak. When we arrived the snow was falling in big puffs and the temperature outside was around 10 degrees. Pro tip: September to February are traditionally the best months to visit Stowe to enjoy both foliage Instas and winter wonderland vibes, but of course you have to drive through said winter wonderland. Luckily, the Pathfinder comes equipped with various drive modes, including a snow mode, which can help the car adapt to a range of snowy, icy and wet conditions that might otherwise make you a little nervous.

aerial photo of the lodge at spruce peak in stowe, vermont
Stowe is a bit magical.

The Lodge at Spruce Peak

The Lodge at Spruce Peak is Stowe’s only luxury ski-in ski-out resort. Each suite has a fireplace that will warm your room at the touch of a button. Yes really. Although we had a perfect mountain view, all we wanted to do was take a hot bath in our sprawling bathroom and find some mulled wine. Oh and by the way, the resort is dog-friendly, so prepare your eyes for goofy sightings throughout the property.

What do you do

Whether you are new to skiing or have been skiing for years, the mountain offers runs for all skill levels. I chose to take a group lesson on the first day to make sure I remembered what I was doing. My instructor took me and five other intermediate skiers down a green run (the easiest of all terrain levels) where we practiced turning, side-slipping, hockey stopping and navigating on steeper trails.

After a break for lunch – more on the ~eats~ in a moment – we concluded the day with some more runs on steeper trails and returned to our room for some après-ski activities (Mario Kart and moisturizing masks) . And another hot bath and a glass of wine, ofc.

what you eat

We had the pleasure of eating at Alpine Hall and Tipsy Trout, the resort’s two main restaurants. After ski lesson, I joined my boyfriend for lunch at Alpine Hall, where we had grilled cheese and tomato soup, aka the most perfect meal on a windy day.

But our most memorable meal outside the resort was at a little restaurant called Prohibition Pig, a short drive from Waterbury, Vermont. We have to warn you: if you want to eat quickly, you better show up early, before all the skiers and boarders head inside to stock up on craft beer and smoked meats. We can’t recommend the cheeseburger highly enough. Order a side dish of duck fat fries and ride to heaven.

prohibition pork cheeseburger
I dream of this burger.

Mia Lardiere

My take on Stowe overall

Alright, I faced my fears…thanks to the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder, I felt comforted enough to (maybe) enter my big car era. Every time we pass a Pathfinder on the street, I point to it and say to my boyfriend, “Here’s my girl. As for skiing? I have more work to do to feel more confident in my abilities again (I would definitely go back to Stowe for the mountains and the burgers) but in due time I won’t freeze when I can’t see the bottom of a race or hurt me when I look down from the chairlift. Small steps, small steps.

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