Sunday, January 6, 2008

where was i?

Ah yes, snowboarding.

The Monday after the Christmas party, Brandon came home from work and asked me if I would like to go skiing that weekend. Feeling adventurous, I said 'sure', but then I didn't hear anything else about it all week, so I thought it had fallen through. Until I went to pick Bran up from work on Thursday. Instead of going to the car, he led me to the Dive Locker, which really isn't a locker at all but the building where the dive team part of Unit 2 works. The trip was still on after all, and Wally, one of the divers, had some gear for me to try on. Pants, a jacket, gloves, and snow boarding boots.

Wait, I thought we were going skiing? Right?

Wrong. Wally also had an extra snowboard and set of bindings for me to use, and everyone else was going to snowboard, so skiing was out and snowboarding was in. After we left the dive locker, we stopped by the Outdoor Recreation center to rent a board and boots and bindings for Bran. It was about $40 for the weekend, and if he decided to keep it for the season, they would apply that $40 to the cost of a season rental. Ok, that's cool. Let's see if we like it, first.

By the by, you know those pictures of Bran in the snowboard that were taken at the house? That was Thursday night, after we got home with the board.

Anyway, fast-forward to 7am Saturday morning. We all met up at the dive locker to car pool/caravan to the ski resort. We were some of the first people there, since most of the people were late. Christian walked in at about 7:15, and without a word to anyone, went straight to the coffee pot. I said good morning, he said "ungh." At that point, Brandon informed me that Christian is not a morning person.

Side note: Before that day, Christian had never been snowboarding. But, in anticipation of that opening day at the ski resort, he had gone online and purchased a complete set of snow boarding gear. And when I say set, I mean set. His board hadn't arrived yet, but he was all tricked out in black and red Spider cold weather gear. The pants, the jacket, the gloves, goggles, everything. And, the Spider logo is, unimaginatively, a spider. So he had little spiders embroidered all over his clothing. On the back of his leg, on the arm, on the shoulder, every where. And, being the impish little morning person that I am, I decided to have fun.

"Gill, hey Gill. Gill. Gill. Hey, Gill!" (I'm not really sure how long I kept that up, but you get the idea. Oh, and it's still the same guy. His name is Christian Gill.) "Gill, You have a spider on your pants."

His only response was to reach toward me with his hand open, and then squeeze it into a fist. "It's too early in the morning for that kind of shit from you."

Then I asked if he was still planning to drive. No answer. So I asked again. This time he looked at me and said, "What did I just say? It's too early for that." And to Brandon, he said, "Is she always like a broken record in the morning?" To which I responded, "Do it till it's funny." That was for Brandon's benefit, mostly.

Anyway, by this time, he had his coffee ready. He took one sip, sighed in apparent ecstasy, and answered me. After that, he was his usual civil self, and I just shook my head at those crazy night owl people, who need a coffee IV to get going in the morning.

Ok, back to the main story line. We finally got on the road at about 7:30. I slept through most of the ride, but Bran woke me up when we got into the mountains to look at the scenery. Which was beautiful. We were climbing ever higher into the snow covered mountains, so the view was becoming increasingly beautiful. Everything was coated in white powder...The trees, the road signs, everything. And, you could see where a snow plow had gone through to clear the road: there was a wall of snow on either side of the road, at least 4 feet deep! We passed houses that were buried in snow up to their windows, and higher! They had cleared out only the spaces in the driveways, and paths up to the front doors. There were huge icicles hanging off of the eaves too, easily large enough to use for a sword fight. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get any good pictures. I tried but they all came out blurry.

It was just crazy. And do you know what the temp was outside? Right about 10°F.

But I didn't know that, until we got there, and the guys started opening up doors. I changed into my gear in the back seat of Christian's truck (the windows were tinted) and didn't set foot out of the car until I was fully geared up. And I was still freezing. My fingers started to burn with the cold almost immediately. It seemed to take an eternity for everyone to get ready, but we finally trouped over to the lift ticket kiosk and got everything ready to go.

We all pretty much started out on the Bunny Slope, where the veteran boarders taught us noobies what to do. It was interesting... Tromp up the hill. Sit in the snow. Fight to get the bindings fastened with hands encumbered by bulky gloves, and the cold. Stand up, and try not to fall on your face.

That last part is a lot harder than it sounds. When I started out, I thought I was doing great. I would just hop up and cruise on down the little bunny slope, plop down on my butt, undo the bindings, and do it all again. I did it about half a dozen times and was feeling pretty good about myself. So good, in fact, that I decided to brave the real slope with the guys. I rode up the ski lift with Ski, so that he could help me with getting off at the top. I didn't have any trouble with that, amazingly. I just got out of the way and sat to do up the bindings. But when I got up, I started to zoom down the slope. I was going too fast, and I knew it. So I made myself fall, so I could "control" it.

At this point, Wally informed me that I had no business trying to go down the mountain with my board pointing forward. I would go too fast, and because I didn't know how to control the board, I would end up killing myself. What I needed to do, was to get up so that my board was perpendicular to the direction I wanted to go, namely, down. Well, that's just great. It would have been nice if someone had given me that bit while I was still on the bunny slope. You know that warm fuzzy sense of accomplishment that I was feeling earlier? Yeah, that went right out the window. Or down the mountain. Or whatever. As it turned out, I could only 'hop up' with my board angled down. In order to get up the right way, I had to crab walk my arms forward until my butt was almost above my ankles, then shove off of the ground with my arms while keeping my weight perfectly balanced back on my heels. Then, once up (I think I actually managed the feat once or twice) I had to keep my weight on my heels. To go forward, I had to ease my weight forward just a tiny bit. Too far, and I would slide too fast and end up digging the front end of the board into the snow, and go down.

Ski, bless his heart, stayed with me the entire time. When it became apparent that I couldn't get up on my own (after the first time or two, my arms just couldn't muster the strength to launch my body weight up) he started helping me get up so I could at least get down the mountain. I can't tell you how many times I fell. Most of the time, it was either on my butt or my knees, but I did have one rather spectacular face plant. Thank God for the goggles I was wearing. Eventually, I just gave up on the board and decided to walk the rest of the way down. I was about 3/4 of the way down anyway, and I'd fallen hard on my wrist. I didn't want to push my luck.

So, I went to the ski lodge for lunch. Tete (pronounced tay-tay) came in shortly after I did, so I had some company. Then, just as he was leaving, a big group of the guys came in. I stayed in the lodge for probably about 2 hours, as the guys from the group filtered in and out for lunch. Bran was one of the last ones to stop for food, and when he went back out, I went with him. I didn't want to punk out in front of all those guys, half of whom were SEALs, and I figured I owed it to myself to try at least one more time. Besides, I didn't have any pictures of Bran on the slopes. They were going up the Big slope this time, so I grabbed my board and tagged along. The plan was to take a few pictures, try the snow boarding thing one more time, and if I still sucked, I could just sit on my board and ride down that way.

Well, I got my pictures. I tried again and again, but after I fell on my ass for about the 100 millionth time, I decided that it was time to try using the board that way. I sat in the middle of the board, with one binding in front of me and the other behind, with my legs crossed Indian style around the one in front. But wouldn't you know, that I couldn't do that either? There was no way to control it, really, and not a whole lot to hold on to. I kept sliding off of it to one side or the other. When my naughty bits slammed into the binding in front, I decided that enough was enough.

Now that you have a fantastic mental picture of me bumbling my way down the mountain, let me tell you about Brandon. He took right to it, like a fish to water, the bastard. He was no pro, certainly, and he did his share of falling, but on the whole he spent more time on his feet than off of them. On that second time down the mountain, he was the one who stayed with me, to help me and give me pointers. When i gave up on using the board as a sled, he convinced me to try boarding again. He'd help me to my feet, and then stay by me to help me balance. He did a lot of falling at that point, but that was because I kept knocking him down. I eventually gave up again, vowing to walk the rest of the way down. I sent Bran on ahead, with a promise to meet him at the lodge at the bottom.

The only problem with that plan was that we had gone down the wrong side of the mountain. You see, back at the top, I was having such a hard time controlling the board that I actually went down the wrong way. I kept trying to correct, taking my board off and walking back in the direction that I wanted to go, but I just kept going in the direction of the steeper slope. So, since Bran stayed with me, we both ended up going the wrong way. And let me tell you, it was even hard to walk down the damn mountain. The snow had been packed down in a few places, but mostly it was just fresh powder. I was trudging through knee deep snow on a steep incline, lugging a snow board with me. Call me what you will, but it was hard! I'm a Florida girl, remember? Anyway, I finally got to the bottom, only to realize that I had no idea where to go. I knew that the lodge was, in general, *that way* but I had no idea how to get over there. There was a bloody mountain in my way. So there I was, trudging forlornly through the snow, wondering where my husband might be and how I might get back to the rest of the group. I wasn't paying attention to where I was walking, and whooops! Down I went into a little ditch in the snow. There was a creek running through there, so even though the snow was built up on either side of it, and almost above it, it still left a cleft in the snow. Thankfully, I didn't get wet, but I was definitely stuck. The snow was too unstable for me to push myself out, and I still had that damn board to worry about. There was a little family not far away, playing with their baby in the snow, who saw me fall. They were watching me, and kind of laughing (who could blame them?) so i asked them, in German, to help me. They spoke English, though, and after the guy helped me out of the ditch, I asked them how to get back to the lodge. But they pointed me in the wrong direction! Apparently, the main lodge was *that* way, but the lodge I needed to get to was *that* way. I was just about to sit down and cry when Brandon comes around a bend, and starts walking toward me.

Salvation! The couple directed us to a foot path paralleling the main road through the resort, so that's where we headed. At first, we went in the direction we needed to ultimately go, but we realized that it was taking us down the mountain. We needed to get back up, and then over. So we back tracked, crossed the street, and found a path leading up and in the right direction. It took us a while, but we got there . And, my knight in green camo carried my board (and his) the whole way. Needless to say, as soon as we got back to familiar ground, I went straight to the lodge, ditched the board, and ordered a mug of gluhwein (hot, spiced wine) and stayed there until the lifts closed.

Now, don't think that the day was miserable, and a total loss. It was a learning experience, to be sure, and one that I won't soon forget. I did a lot of laughing, at myself, mostly, and learned a lot about the guys that Bran works with. I had a good time, trials and all. Since then, Brandon has gone with them twice more. He loves it! I don't know about him being "addicted". Especially since the last time he went, they came home early because it was so ridiculously crowded that you couldn't even get on the lift. He spent all his time in line, waiting to get on. We do have a trip scheduled for the end of this month, to Garmisch, which is another skiing town/resort. Brandon ended up renting the board for the full season, so he will definitely be snowboarding, but I plan to try my hand at skiing. I've been told that it's easier, which is definitely a good thing. But, just in case, I plan to bring a book and my sudoku puzzles. :)

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