Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Our ski adventure

Home ... all of us well, no bones broken, nothing torn that would require surgery! Quite the successful weekend ski getaway, all told. I felt bad for Dwaine, who trekked to the top of the mountain and retrieved lunch, shoes, and other assorted items while the rest of us went skiing. He did get preboarding on Southwest Airlines, though, being less than a week out from surgery when we departed.

I was a ski school dropout. You've heard the song, "Beauty School Dropout?" Yes, I flunked ski school -- the one for those "first experiencing" skiing, no less -- and sent myself to the remedial class the second afternoon, after falling (not quite literally) far behind my so-called "beginner" peers. Here's the story.

I was the one who was late to the party ... by the time I had fussed with all the apparel, gotten both ski boots on, made an extra trip to the bathroom, and ascertained that our older son had given up on the rest of us and gone ahead, Andrew and I were late for ski school. Andrew, being habitually late, was unconcerned by the small detail that our group had left and gone up the mountain already without us. We stood forlornly by the "first experience - ski" sign at the base of the mountain, just the two of us, until a helpful instructor noticed us. He then proceeded to personally escort us to join the group at the midway station, where ski school was starting. He even carried my skis for me! The boys wound up in one group together, while I joined a second group.

I learned that first morning to put on skis, put them on again if they popped off, how to ski one-legged, and finally, how to sort of ski down a very gentle slope without injuring myself or anyone around me. My group was actually a perfect fit for me, consisting as it did of one person who came down with altitude sickness and had to leave, and another person who fell down on her skis whenever she moved. Between those two, the instructor didn't make much progress with the rest of us.

We removed our skis and went to the summit in enclosed gondolas (no barbaric chair lifts for the likes of us) to lunch, and I was promptly separated from the group. No worries, though. I quickly found my lunch waiting with my faithful hubby, Dwaine. PB&J sandwiches I had made the night before, naturally chilled water, and an apple -- the best lunch ever!

It occurred to me at some point that I didn't know where or when my ski group was to gather for the rest of the full-day lesson. Dwaine went off to watch the boys ski while I absorbed the fact that not only was I lost, my shins were being mercilessly squeezed by ski boots that had to have been invented by someone with a sadistic streak. The pain was radiating up my legs, through my whole body, and to my brain till I could think of nothing else. Through the mental fog, a thought finally struck: I'd had enough fun for one day. As much fun, in fact, as I could stand. So I staggered through the snow back to the gondola, dragging all my ski gear with me, and went on the long ride down the mountain, where I got fitted for a better-padded ski boot that they apparently reserved in the back only for people who complained enough.

That was my first day. A good day it was, especially the half-day bit, as we were to return for another full day of similar excitement the following day. The kids fared better than I did, being natural daredevils, and actually bumbled their way down the mountain without either killing and maiming (that I know of) or being killed themselves, and with only about a dozen falls apiece. What a victory! We were all in bed, enjoying the absolute motionlessness and warmth, by 8:30.

The next day was even more promising. It turned out that I had never turned in my ski school ticket the day before. What this meant, a helpful attendant at the rental place explained, was I could go again! Yippee!

This time, I was no longer having my "first experience," so I was bumped up to "beginner." By the way, I was early, not late, for the day two lesson. This time, the group summited right away. We spent the morning learning to stop and turn down a very gentle hill, taking a nice little conveyer-belt ride back up to the top in amongst loads of about 6-year-old kids that were also skiing and snowboarding there. Just my speed! But then, right before lunch, the instructor took us to a terrifying-looking hill and announced that next, we would ski down this slope. There was a cliff on one side, and trees lining the other, plus a steep turn to avoid the cliff. Yikes! I started very tentatively before falling over, just short of the tree (to avoid the cliff side of the hill.) After I got to my feet with assistance, I skidded down a short way before falling again. I have no memory of how I finally got down that hill to the chair lift that we had to ride to get lunch, this time.

After the lunch break, I knew that I was out of my element. I went up to one of the instructors on the mountain and asked -- begged, actually -- to switch to an even more "beginner" group, the one that would have just finished learning to put on their skis in the morning. Of course, since I was paying, regressing was no problem. I went happily to the remedial class and spent the afternoon skiing even more slowly than I had in the morning, on tiring legs. Once again, the instructor capped off the lesson by taking us to the terrifying slope! This time, I managed to -- very slowly -- weave my way down, back and forth, very very slowly. Did I mention how slowly I was going? Somebody walking down the slope in snowshoes would have gotten to the bottom quicker.

I only fell twice, and got up by myself both times. Getting up on my own was truly my greatest accomplishment while skiing!

On day two, the boys went all the way down the hill on a difficult green slope about 6 times. Next time, they want to learn to snowboard! Yes, there will be a next time, sometime. The best part is that Dwaine will get to ski then!

Sorry, we took no pictures while at the summit, (that would have been Dwaine's job, and that explains it). We snapped a few just before we piled in the car with our luggage to drive out of snow back to Denver. Those don't look too convincing. Not only do we not have our ski gear on, Andrew --- in typical fashion -- isn't even wearing a coat. I haven't loaded them to the computer, and it's too much trouble to get them posted here at this moment. Besides, you don't come here for pictures!


  1. Hey lady, I know you must be busy with tax season and everything else, but I thought I'd let you know that I've missed your blog posts!!

  2. I'm glad you and your family were able to go skiing and enjoy some time away from home.

    You have learned some very valuable lessons of late, huh? About permanence and impermanence, sitting still long enough to ponder those deeper issues of life, health, family, having a job, having a home, love, and the simple pleasure of eating dinner at home. May those lessons stick with you for a long time - and with all of us.

  3. I've missed you! Hilarious story. Shall we do dinner soon?

  4. My fan club!! How I've missed you all! Let's all do dinner soon.


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