North America

Seeing snow for the first time

October 3, 2011
Snow in Brussels

It’s often the simple, unnoticeable things that makes travel moments special.

A good example would be the first time I saw snow.

For some this may not be milestone,  but for most people coming from tropical countries (or at least from people I know), there is an unavoidable excitement that comes out once you get to see and touch snow.

December comes in the Philippines but we never see a single snowflake – perhaps I’ll never see it happen here at least in my lifetime.

So as a kid, I had ways to “create” snow.  I used to scrape our fridge freezer lining to get the ice out and play around as if it was snow. I also used to take old boxes and scrape the styrofoam to create small bits.

So I was delighted to find out that I’ll get a chance to see snow on a trip.

My first encounter with snow was on a trip to the US in 2002 –  also my first trip abroad. We went on a 50-day trip across the country – from California, Texas, New York, Virginia and Florida.

It was a trip of many firsts. Aside from being my first international trip – it was also the time when I first got to drive (it was a truck) and first to ride a rollercoaster. It was my first time to eat a turkey leg and first time to see sunset at 10 in the evening.

My aunt drove us up to Squaw Valley Ski Resort in California the day after we arrived in San Francisco from Manila.

The drive from San Francisco was scenic – making the four hour drive passed quickly.  I remember passing through Napa Valley (made famous for me by Parent Trap).

Squaw Valley, the site of the Winter Olympics back in 1960, was a pretty epic place itself. We took a cable car (another first for me too) to go up to the ski park. We got out, and just saw white.

Squaw Valley Ski Resort

Me, my sister and grandfather on Squaw Valley’s Olympic podium


There it was – a white field that glistened like glass. The ground shone so much that I had to wear dark eyeglasses. It wasn’t that cold thanks to the thick jacket and snow pants that I borrowed from my aunt. Well, it was April, the beginning of spring, so it was a cool 8C.  I knelt down, removed my gloves and touched the snowy ground – it’s not like ice where you feel wet & slippery but more of a powder.

Squaw Valley Ski Resort

Every time I stepped on snow there was a thrump. I was wearing shoes that weren’t snow proof so as I step on the ground tiny bits goes inside my socks and got it wet. But I didn’t complain, I didn’t want to ruin the perfect day.

Snow Tubing in Squaw Valley

Snow Tubing in Squaw Valley

We went to do snow tubing where we rode a tube and  slid down a small hill.  I wanted to ski but there was no time as we were there one day.

After snow tubing, we went on to do ice skating. Luckily Philippines, despite its year-tropical weather, has a few indoor skating rinks so it wasn’t much of a novelty. I had slight problems standing and gliding across the ice, but we were tourist so we were allowed to be clumsy.

We took lots of photos – souvenirs that I was looking forward to showing to my friends back in the Philippines. The day passed by quickly – in the end we were  tired and slept on our way back to San Francisco. Despite being tired, I remember feeling that I’ve accomplished something  extraordinary.

It was the day where I went out and experienced things that are different – a philosophy that I took on as I continue my travels. They maybe something as simple as snow, but you take on and enjoy the moment.

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  • Reply Aussie on the Road October 7, 2011 at 09:39

    I remember the first time I saw snow quite clearly. I was 12 and woke up to thudding on my windows as my Dad and younger brothers pelted it with snowballs to wake me up.

    Got the day off and everything!
    Aussie on the Road recently posted..Fantastic Fremont Street, Las VegasMy Profile

  • Reply paul | walkflypinoy October 3, 2011 at 21:59

    i can relate! snow is a definitely a novelty for us filipinos. and i got to touch authentic snow this year in china! i was so excited about it. haha. and i agree, travelers need to have that openness to different things. 🙂
    paul | walkflypinoy recently posted..Off the Beaten Path – September Top PicksMy Profile

  • Reply Monica @ Total Travel Bug October 3, 2011 at 19:51

    This is great. But you aren’t the only one who gets excited by snow, I get excited every year and it’s always a magical moment when you see the first snow flake of the year.
    Monica @ Total Travel Bug recently posted..Total Travel Bug is Moving!My Profile

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