“How could you live in Seattle and never take your kids skiing??” It’s a fair question. I’ll take the blame since I’m just that kind of a guy, and I’m usually in charge of fun at our house.
It’s mid-winter break, so Friday we drove to Eastern Washington to stay with friends and remedy the injustice we’ve inflicted on Lauren and Zack. They wanted to try snowboarding and I’ve been curious about it for years, so we signed up for lessons. I decided to take the plunge with them on the first day to see if I had even the slightest aptitude for it. If not, I could always trade in the board and enjoy skiing. (Several years ago I tried snowboarding on my own. After dragging myself up the bunny hill rope tow on my back, I ended up taking the board off, walking down the hill, and skiing that day.) Good for Susan, who was going to ski, even with the memory of a badly-broken ankle in 2006 still fresh in her mind.
Day 1. We arrived at Loup Loup Ski Bowl and eventually rounded up lift tickets, gear, and our instructor. Couldn’t believe how hard it was just to stand up on a snowboard, but in a short time we were able to get across the hill, execute some big turns, and ride the bunny rope tow. Sometimes we didn’t even fall. By the end of our two-hour lesson all three of us had made the transition from complete awkwardness to relative comfort on our boards. After lunch Zack and I decided to try the poma lift. The steeper slope meant harder falls, and after a few trips up and down the hill we were ready to call it a day.
Injuries: 1) One goose egg for Zack. While turning over from a sitting position he whacked his forehead with the board. 2) Moderate soreness for all. Even before we left the hill we were becoming very aware of new uses for old muscles.
Day 2. I decided to continue with lessons, and we moved from bunny hill to poma hill. The kids made more progress on turns and going down the fall line (straight down the hill). I worked on shorter, tighter turns and got an occasional sense of what real snowboarding might be like. Still surprised at how much effort it takes to stand up, and how hard it is to sit down gently.
Injuries: 1) A one-inch gash (okay – more like half an inch) right above my eyebrow from falling downhill when going pretty fast. Lots of blood. 2) And we thought we were sore yesterday…
Day 3. Back for more. Zack focused on nailing down the basics, and Lauren and I worked on successive turns that became 360s by the end of the lesson. Heady stuff for novices; very heady stuff for a 56 year-old novice! After lunch I felt confident enough to ride the chairlift, but didn’t realize how tired I was until I got myself all tangled up in my own limbs while unloading at the top of the chair. Sat down for about 15 minutes to enjoy the view and collect my few remaining wits.
Coming down the mountain this time I found myself bargaining with God and thinking thoughts like, ‘I just want to see my family again.’ This run felt like it was more about survival than fun. After one spectacular fall I checked my pockets and realized that my car keys were gone. Susan will love this – the last thing she asked me when we were leaving Seattle was if she should bring her keys. Guess what I said…
Injuries: 1) Pride pretty banged up. 2) Left arm nearly useless; eventually able to remove turtleneck without assistance. The human body has more than 600 muscles; I can feel about 450 of mine.
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I was relieved to wake up Tuesday morning – period. I was further relieved that we were not going snowboarding that day. However, the kids and I want to do more of it, and we may go up later this week. I still need at least one more day to recuperate — and get some keys made.