Monday, March 16, 2009

Totally Tubular!

I live in New England -- even though it's a gorgeous day in the Boston area, it's still likely that we'll get at least one last blast of cold weather before Spring is really here. So, last weekend in The Boston Globe's "Bring the Family" column, I suggested that local readers make the most of it by heading to the hills for a little tubing...

Tubular Fun

WHO: Globe Magazine staff member Lylah M. Alphonse, her husband, and three of their five kids, ages 10 to 15

WHAT: careening down a snowy hill

WHERE: Nashoba Valley Ski Area Tubing Park, Westford; 978-692-3033;

Standing at the top of the hill, tubes at the ready, my older kids were too psyched to complain about who had been bothering whom just minutes earlier. With 15 lanes and four lifts, the tubing park at Nashoba Valley Ski Area has plenty of room, and an abundance of tubes means that even during the busiest times you rarely have to wait to take a ride.

The slope may look gentle, but you build up some serious speed on those tubes, and your heart hits your throat when your tube hits one of the built-in sculpted bumps. Weather conditions permitting, you can link up your tubes to caravan down the hill in a chain. Unlike old-school sledding, Nashoba Valley's lift makes it easy to get back to the top - attach your tube to the tow rope, take a seat, and enjoy the ride.

I'll be honest: I huddled on the sidelines - OK, OK, relaxed at the onsite lodge and snack bar - with our youngest two kids, while my husband and our big three took turns bouncing and sliding down the icy hill on the huge tubes. Visitors have to be at least 42 inches tall or 6 years old to participate, and while our 4-year-old made the cut, height-wise, she was not really up for the speedy descents (vice versa for our 2-year-old son, of course).

The tubing park is open seven days a week, 1 to 10 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends (tubing under the bright lights at night is pretty cool), and tickets cost $22 for a two-hour run. Fresh snow (natural or man-made - the park does keep the tubing runs nicely powdered) makes for a slightly slower ride; the park sometimes delays opening because of the weather, so it's a good idea to call before you get in the car for the 40-mile drive from Boston. [More]

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