We headed down to the Mountainblue (a little cafe inside the hotel) and I had my usual as I've had over the last few days (Oatmeal with fresh fruit), Dylan grabbed some fruit loops, and we grabbed some Pete's Coffee; what better way to start the day. On the agenda first was to hangout and head down to Northstar Village to go ice skating; Martina had arranged to have the rink all to ourselves for an hour prior to it opening. Once we arrived we were greeted with even more surprises, a gift bag for Dylan from the good folks at the Village, which included stickers, stainless water bottle, t-shirt, and some other goodies. Immediately we were told that another surprise was in store; that we had the privilege to drive the ZAMBONI! Dylan and I hoped up on it and had at it, what an amazing thing for us to do. How many get to drive a real Zamboni? And how lucky are we to be doing it? From there we laced up our skates and headed onto the ice. If you've never ice skated before, its not as easy as it looks on TV. Amber was having some stability issues as she was given figure skating skates, while Dylan and I were given hockey skates. As if it couldn't get any better than it already was, on Fridays the Northstar Village has live music, so we skated listening to local jams and just taking it all in. The guy signing even dedicated a song to Dylan, it was really touching. For the most part Amber and Dylan held onto the railings but it was still a great experience and fun time. From that we headed back to the hotel.
Back at the hotel we took advantage of there Arcade room, yes they have a arcade room and its full of PS3 machines; this place knows a way to a kids heart (ahh who am I kidding, mine too). We decided to head to downtown and grab some snacks, as well as some flowers for Martina. She has been so great to us and I know for a fact that 99% of everything that has been arranged is because of her. In an ironic twist, Martina used to help out at the Los Angeles Make-A-Wish foundation...is this really that random? How lucky are we that this place was chosen and the person whom was contacted and happens to be in charge is someone who knows all to well about how these "wishes" should work. Although its a coincidence, I have nothing by complete feelings that fate had a lot to do with this. Their is no way to explain it otherwise, and we feel so fortunate to be in her good hands. So we returned back to the hotel and Dylan in hand with the flowers for Martina. We had her paged and Dylan delivered the flowers and told her "thank you for making my days so special". I wish there was something else we could do, I just don't know what else to do to show her how much we care and appreciate what she is doing and has done. To top it all off, she asked what we were doing for dinner, and at this point we had not even thought about it. The only thing I had in mind was listening to the live music in the living area of the hotel; they offer live music Friday - Sunday and today they were having Ben Fuller entertain. She asked if we would like to eat at the Manzanita, which is the hotels signature restaurant, but she didnt stop there; they even offered to pick up the tab on tonights dinner. We happily accepted; the first night we got here we looked at the amazing menu but the pricing was out of our league...this would be a real treat for us.
We went upstairs and got dressed right away, we wanted to catch the live music before hand. As we headed down and made our ways through the hallway to the living room, the majestic vocals of Ben Fuller could be heard. This guy is so amazing, looking at him you would never put his voice to the face; he's very much a "pretty boy" but with such a edgy, smooth, raspy fantastic voice (I would say a blend of Jason Mraz and James Blunt). I didn't want to leave, this music brought back memories from when I went to college in Steamboat Springs, CO. I loved the small hometown feel this guy was putting off; their is so much junk on the radio these days...he belongs on the airways and deserves a shot at the "famous life" that comes with it. But it was now time to head to dinner (which is right around the corner).
Manzanita is visually stunning for starters, a open kitchen, rustic woods, and great ambiance. We got to meet the staff and were taken to our seat. We ordered our food (Dylan- non dairy chicken strips, Me- Duroc Pork, and Amber- Prime Filet of Beef). To even put into words what this food tasted like I would do it a disservice, simply put this was the most fantastic tasting food...I have eaten a lot of great food in my life and this tops all of my experiences. I know its rude to completely eat everything off your plate but both Amber and I gave them almost spotless plates in return...it was that good! Next up was desert, Dylan had a raspberry sorbet with fresh berries, Amber a meringue cookie with coffee ice cream candied almonds and hot chocolate syrup, I kept it low key with a black cup of coffee and 2 sugars. The chef, line cooks, prep staff all signed a paper chef hat for Dylan and even took him back into the kitchen to show him how it all worked. The people who run the show and work behind the scenes are what make this place what it is. We had such an amazing time, I will never forget this place or the people who opened there arms to my family.
Our day ended with heading to one of the three spa's here at The Ritz-Carlton, felt so great to be in 100+ degree water and only 20 degree cold breeze air blowing on my shoulders. As I stared at the stars I got sucked back into my thoughts and how only 9 days from now we embark on the hardest day(s) of our lives. I couldn't help but shed a few tears and become overtaken with fear of our unknown.
***The images below are in a slideshow format, you can hit the "Play" button on main image or click on individual images to have them enlarge. To get more images put your cursor over the last picture shown on the right, it will scroll to more images***