Friday, March 5, 2010

Diggin' the bunny slope

My family made it to the snow-covered town of Beech Mountain, North Carolina (a mean misnomer) in the midst of what the locals call a winter storm and this Georgia girl calls a blizzard. Despite our trepidation, neither snow, nor ice, nor my migraine would stop us from having a good time.

"Can we make it from here?" my husband asked a lone man walking on the side of the road through what appeared to be a ghost town.
"I've been stuck for days in my two-wheel drive," he said, "but you can make it to the resort. Just whip it into the first parking lot, gun it so you can get up enough speed to make it over the hill, and then be prepared to hike up six flights of stairs."

"Is our truck four-wheel drive?" my son asked. It's not, in case you are wondering, but when you have a headachy wife who drank a whole pot of tea that morning, plus two anxiously chattering children, somehow you overcome these obstacles.

"Are you ready to ski?" asked the man at the ski rental counter once we, particularly, me, had finally located "the facilities."

"Well, I'm a little out of my element," I confided. "I've only skied three times in 20 years. I'm pretty nervous about the slopes. I'm really not sure I can do this."

"Here are your skis. Feel free to trade them in for a faster pair later."

Boy, that man was a lousy listener.

Yet another flight of steps later, and we were ready. But first we had to put our skis on. Did you know that if your ski boot has snow on the bottom of it, it won't fit into your ski? Talk about a design flaw!

Thanks to my husband prodding the snow off my boots with his ski poles, I was finally ready to hit the slope -- the bunny slope -- that is. Unfortunately, my first move toward it resulted in my falling flat on my face, with my boots popping out of my skis; hence, more prodding from my husband's poles while I balanced precariously on one foot.

"Come on, mom," said my son as he zipped effortlessly up the hill to the metal handle tow.

I willed my skis to move. They did -- backwards.

"Just walk, mom!" said my son on his second round down. "Put your skis like mine"

I complied and soon found myself sweating through my seven layers with the lift just out of reach.

"Is this your first time skiing?" asked the twenty-something girl manning the bunny slope bar tow.

I moved my ski, slid back, moved my ski, slid back.

"Noooo," I said.

"Have you taken lessons before?"

"Yes," I said, my pride making it sound like, "Duh?"

"Hmmm ..." she said. She might as well have added, "'Well, they didn't take."
She reached her hand out to pull me toward the tow. I moved my skis, and then slid back. Recognizing a pattern here?

"You've got to dig into the snow," she said. "Don't use your poles! Bend your knees! Turn sideways!"

I tried again -- and failed.

"Here, like this! Dig in like this," I heard a man behind me say. I looked back and that's when I realized there was a crowd of 25 people waiting for me to learn to dig.

"Oh, y'all just go around me," I said, on the verge of tears.

"No," said the darn ski tow girl. "You can do it."

About that time, the crowd started to chant "Dig! Dig! Dig!" and so did my son.

What could I do? I dug in the snow, much to the protest of my knees, and grasped the handle of the bunny slope lift with one hand, squatting like I learned to do with water skis.

"Stand up!" the young lift girl yelled. I did, but not before I dropped my poles.

"Now what do I do?"

"Let go when you get to the top!" my son said.

I did, and promptly fell again on my way down. That's when I realized I had no idea how to get up. By the way, why do other skiers gawk? Isn't it common place to see folks on the ground?

I eventually separated my boots from my skis and made my way to a vertical position. My knees, shoulders, and pride aching, I decided I would become my family's official photographer -- without my skis, that is. But, first, perhaps a little more hot tea, for medicinal purposes, of course ...

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