Saturday Escape to Jay Peak's Pump House
February can be a tricky time of year for even the hardiest of New Englanders. A few months of cold and dark have already been endured and we’ve still got, what, March to get through? It surely doesn’t help that the lure of spring (and steady sun and longer days), is all around us, too. Seed catalogs fill our mailboxes and the sounds and reports from spring training consume the sports sections. Suddenly, Yankee thrift is shelved and that Florida vacation seems a lot more attractive.
But on a recent Saturday afternoon I pointed my car north. It seemed counter-intuitive, considering just how ready my wife and I were for a little warmth. Confounding the matter was the fact that we were going to Jay Peak, which prides itself on its mammoth snowfalls. But skiing, big jackets, and hot chocolate were not on the agenda. Meeting up with a couple of friends, we beat it right to the Pump House and its steady 86-degree temperatures.
Yes, if we couldn’t actually go to the beach, we were going to get a little beach like weather. And that’s exactly what we found. If you’re not familiar with it, the Pump House is one of the more impressive indoor adventure destinations you’ll find in New England. A 60,000 square dome of glass, complete with a retractable roof (you know, for those actual summer days), the facility is a fun house of water tubes and slides, kiddie pools, surfer waves, and the longest indoor action river in the country. For those ready for it, there’s also a really long bar, which you can sit at in your bathing suit.
Upon arriving we quickly made our way to the locker rooms to change into our bathings suits, and then just as fast, made a rush to the water. Much of the afternoon was spent in the kiddie area, where our two-year-old son fell in love with short, yellow slide that dumped him in a small pool of water. He did it again. And again. And again. I mentioned he liked it, right?As far as family activities go, without a doubt our favorite was the Lazy River. Together, the three of us piled into a large tube and softly rode the current around the perimeter of the park. We passed under bridges, got soaked by a dumping of water, and careened back-and-forth off the faux stone walls that line the water path. We took three long runs around the river and if I hadn’t had the urge to finally try out the water slides, we could have hung out on that tube all afternoon. About the slides, and my fear of heights. These tubes and my phobias never seemed like a good marriage, but prodded on by a friend, I gave them a shot. I worked my way up, starting with the easy blue run, then the orange. These twisting, turning adventures even run outside the building, briefly casting the me in a pit of darkness before rushing back inside and dumping me off in a pool of calm water.
What I never managed to take on, never quite mustered the courage to try, was La Chute. Let me explain exactly what this ride involves. It requires you to climb several flights of stairs. It requires you to get into a pod. It then requires you to hear a countdown, before the guy running the thing pushes a button and–Whoosh!–you experience a 70 foot vertical free-fall before coursing through an upside down loop. The upshot is you end up moving 300 feet in about four seconds.
I wanted to do the darn thing. Even made my way up all those stairs to get in line. And then, well, I chickened out. I let others pass by me. No, please. Go ahead of me. I’m just waiting for someone. Not a big deal, at all. I eventually went back down those stairs and watched others get the full La Chute experience. Me? I was content taking on a slightly more relaxed endeavor. Like grabbing something to eat at the snack bar, sitting back in a recliner, and taking in this little bit of prime summer weather. In New England. In February.