The life of a professional skier can be charmed, but it is also arduous. Traveling the globe for film and photo shoots means copious amounts of time away from the family. It is difficult enough when it's just a significant other waiting at home. The trials are amplified when you add a child to the equation.
For Dave Treadway, it all came to a head last winter when a substandard season near his home outside of Whistler, B.C. caused him to be away from his wife, Tessa, and their now two-year-old son, Kasper, even more than usual. While sitting in the Kicking Horse Resort parking lot last March, they made a bold decision: take the entire clan on the road.
“We’d just driven up to the ski area. Kasper had fallen asleep in the car, and we were sitting in the parking lot waiting for him to get up so we could go skiing,” remembers Treadway. “We were talking about the winter, how it hasn’t been that great of weather, and how I’ve been away a lot. Tessa saw some RVs, and just off the cuff said, ‘Why don’t we just move out of our place, buy an RV and just spend all next winter traveling as a family together.'”
A month later, the Treadways moved out of their place in Pemberton, B.C., bought a camper trailer, and embarked on a nomadic lifestyle. They chronicle their adventures on a blog called Free Range Family. “It was just the idea of being able to be together as a family,” Treadway says. “Still skiing, but being able to do it as a family as opposed to me going on trips, coming back to hang out for a little bit, then going on another trip.”
Aside from the Red Bull Cold Rush contest in Revelstoke in early February and photo shoot for Dave’s clothing sponsor, Peak Performance, later that month, the Treadways have left their winter itinerary relatively open. “Everything that we’re doing this year, or I should say 95 percent of it, we're doing as a family, together,” he says. They have toured through British Columbia, and in March plan to cruise north through the Yukon to Alaska and take a ferry back to B.C. Their path retraces the trip that Dave and Tessa took when they got engaged, with one twist. “When we were doing it last time it was all about hitting the major spots for sledding and heli skiing,” Treadway says. “For this trip we kind of want to do the opposite, hit all the little places we blew by. We want to hit a lot of these … little, tiny, one-T-bar town ski hills.”
Treadway says their mobile abode has everything they need. There is a fridge and propane stove. It is fully plumbed, though they use five-gallon camping jugs for drinking water and to flush the toilet in the winter so the pipes don’t freeze. The rig is equipped with electric heaters when they are able to plug in, and propane for when they are not. They also have a 3,000-watt generator and a solar array that supplies them with power—when it’s not covered in snow.
An additional layer to the adventure was added when Tessa became pregnant with their second child. “With Tessa being pregnant, smells really affect her,” Treadway says. “Because there’s not like a separate kitchen, if you make a bunch of smell it stays there. We don’t like to eat out. We like to make our own food. We haven't been doing a lot of that this winter, which has been tricky.”
Another challenge is laundry, which can be difficult when a two-year-old does toddler things like throw up on the bed. “We don’t have a ton of storage, so it’s not like we’re carrying a whole extra set of sheets,” Treadway says. “We just gotta figure it out, throw something down for the night, and try to run by a Laundromat somewhere.”
On the flip side, Treadway says skiing for the family has never been easier. “We’re always parking in choice locations, pretty much right where the skiing is,” he says. “We spend way more time outside, so that's something that's really rad.” Of the two parents, Treadway says Tessa is getting the lion’s share of the ski time. “It’s skiing without poles and chasing Kasper around, so she's not getting radical,” Treadway says. “A few times this year we’ve been able to go ski together. [For two] days it was just the two of us heli skiing together, which was pretty cool. Other days when I’m doing office type work or fixing the camper or the truck or something, she’s up on her skis with Kasper because it's the easiest thing to do.”
As for Kasper, the two-year-old has more than 60 days on skis this winter, to go with the 50 he got in last year.
Concerning plans for when the winter is over, Treadway says it’s still up in the air. “We’d love to be able to settle down somewhere and have a home, grow property, hobby farm, build a little cabin in the woods,” he says. “We’re having a hard time deciding where, is the big thing right now. But who knows, maybe we’ll just keep gypsy-ing around with two kids.”
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