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Rocky Mountain high, or how I spent my family vacation

By Wendy Sachs, Special to CNN
April 3, 2014 -- Updated 1601 GMT (0001 HKT)
Customers wait in a long line for their turn to buy recreational marijuana outside the LoDo Wellness Center on Wednesday, January 1, in Denver. Colorado is the first state in the nation to allow retail pot shops. Customers wait in a long line for their turn to buy recreational marijuana outside the LoDo Wellness Center on Wednesday, January 1, in Denver. Colorado is the first state in the nation to allow retail pot shops.
Retail pot shops open in Colorado
Retail pot shops open in Colorado
Retail pot shops open in Colorado
Retail pot shops open in Colorado
Retail pot shops open in Colorado
Retail pot shops open in Colorado
Retail pot shops open in Colorado
Retail pot shops open in Colorado
Retail pot shops open in Colorado
Retail pot shops open in Colorado
Retail pot shops open in Colorado
Retail pot shops open in Colorado
Retail pot shops open in Colorado
Retail pot shops open in Colorado
Retail pot shops open in Colorado
Retail pot shops open in Colorado
Retail pot shops open in Colorado
Retail pot shops open in Colorado
Retail pot shops open in Colorado
Retail pot shops open in Colorado
Retail pot shops open in Colorado
  • Wendy Sachs wanted to try using pot to relax during a family vacation in Colorado
  • Weed is legal in the state, and she looked up a local dispensary for supplies
  • Sachs kept her children in the dark about it; they aren't old enough to understand
  • The high wasn't all she hoped, but it lent a new aspect to the traditional family ski trip

Editor's note: Wendy Sachs is an award-winning TV producer, former Capitol Hill press secretary, media strategist, work-life expert and author of the book "How She Really Does It: Secrets of Successful Stay-at-Work Moms."

(CNN) -- I have always romanticized the family ski vacation -- that's before I actually started skiing with my own children. What no one warns you about is that skiing with young kids can suck the relaxation right out of you.

I am the ski Sherpa, schlepping my kids' boots, skis and poles, as hand warmers and granola bars bulge from my pockets. By the time I get to the slopes, even in the midst of a Polar Vortex, I am sweating right through my Hot Chillys long underwear.

Wendy Sachs
Wendy Sachs

Welcome to Vail and the Sachs family ski trip of 2014.

My kids are pumped to be in Vail, home to several Olympic athletes, and the Sochi Games have just kicked off. The conditions are fabulous, with snow dumping at an exceptional rate. After a day of lessons, both of my kids are officially better skiers than I. And I am wiped.

My thighs are aching from plowing through the 20 inches of fresh powder. It was glorious; I'm just pooped. If it weren't for my debilitating headache at 10,000 feet, a cocktail would be in order. But alas, it's Colorado and legalized weed has given après ski a new meaning -- so I start weighing my options.

When you are traveling with precocious tween kids who are super judgy about any type of smoking and recoil from the stench of beer, how do you even broach the subject of marijuana? Mommy needs her glass of wine is now mommy needs her hit of weed? It feels wrong, but maybe that's why it's so exciting to even contemplate.

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Still, my kids are not sophisticated enough to understand the nuances or subtleties of life or why parents do what they do to relax and reinvigorate. There are some things they just don't need to know, and I decide this is one of them. At their age, it's probably best to keep it black and white. Drugs, drinking and sex are all bad -- very bad!

READ: Would you tell your kids you got high?

I considered drawing others into my quest for the green stuff. We were staying at the gorgeous, new Solaris luxury residences in Vail. I was assigned a concierge named Ilse to do everything from stock my fridge to schedule my son's snowmobiling adventure. Could I also ask Ilse to hook me up with pot? I felt like I was 16 years old again, trying to score some wine coolers.

It may be legal, but it still seemed illicit. I couldn't bring myself to ask Ilse, but I did check the weed situation with Bob Armour, my awesome ski instructor who also happens to be the former mayor of Vail. They wear many hats in this town.

Bob confirmed that the Vail Resort is pot-free and smoking on their magnificent mountain is illegal. It's federal land and lighting up outside is a big no-no. They take it seriously in Vail -- I get it. No one wants stoned skiers near themselves or their kids. But I would argue that boozing boarders are just as scary and there's no shortage of alcohol at ski resorts in America. So while weed wasn't for sale anywhere in Eagle County, a quick Google search and a click on the Best Buds app turned up a half-dozen dispensaries within an hour's drive.

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In Colorado you can ski a bowl in Vail and smoke a bowl in Breckenridge, all in a few hours. The PR folks may scoff at that tagline, not wanting to sully the sophisticated image of Colorado skiing, but it could be a boon for the industry. Utah has Sundance; Colorado has Mary Jane. And after a day of hard skiing, you may just want to skip the Hot Toddy and relax with a tasty pot edible instead.

With my husband's enthusiastic support, I went in search of the Cannabis Club in Breckenridge. It felt a little stealth as I told my kids that mommy needed to run a few errands before Valentine's Day.

READ: 'I like weed, and I'm a good person'

So I cranked up some tunes in my rental minivan and hit Interstate 70 to downtown Breckenridge, where the marijuana market is nestled along the picturesque main street across from a Starbucks.

Wendy\'s THC-infused cookie
Wendy's THC-infused cookie

After consulting the Cannabis Club's petite, blonde, 20-something budtender -- that's what they call themselves - I bought a $25 chocolate chip cranberry "Lucie in the Sky" cookie and some THC-infused chocolate truffles in a shiny, silver package. I considered the gummies, but the chocolate seemed more festive.

A couple of doors down, I found a fancy candy store for my kids. Mission accomplished. Chocolate-covered strawberries for my children, THC chocolate truffles for my man -- happy Valentine's Day! Even though it was all perfectly legit, I felt a little giddy. Old habits, I suppose.

At night after the kids were asleep, my husband and I nibbled on the jumbo cookie and watched some Olympic slopestyle, waiting for Lucie to work her magic. She was to be my masseuse-by-pot-proxy, easing my tired and aching body into a blissful, peaceful state. After all, I never can break away to a spa on a family ski trip. It's too time consuming and it's tough to grab an alone moment when we are away. But Lucie, well, she's conveniently sitting on my nightstand waiting to be appreciated.

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We made sure to keep Lucie locked in our bedroom so as not to confuse her with my kids' cookies in the kitchen. Earlier, my budtender warned me to only eat a quarter of the cookie, but I must have consumed more than was recommended because the next eight hours turned into a heart-racing, chest-thumping, head-spinning trip. The potency of edibles is apparently unreliable, and they can pack a punch. Who knew?

The next morning after some strong coffee, I was back in the heated, Wi-Fi gondola, not only happy that I could finally stand, but psyched to squeeze in a few more hours of Vail powder before the trek back East.

My THC cookie didn't give me the relaxing zen that I was hoping to have, but I didn't regret the experience. Next time I could do without the heart palpitations and pay closer attention to my budtender's recommendations. Perhaps the oatmeal raisin cookie would have been mellower.

A week later, my kids were still talking about the 50,000-plus vertical feet they shredded as recorded on their handy EpicMix app. As for me and my chocolate truffles, it's illegal to transport any form of cannabis over state lines.

Those weed amnesty drop boxes popping up at airports around the state are probably getting a lot of action, and not just from stoners. Colorado skiing has always been known for its Rocky Mountains and blue skies; now après ski gives the family ski trip a whole new high.

Parents, weigh in below: While on a trip with the kids, would you use pot to relax -- the same way you might have a drink after the kids are asleep?

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