December 14, 2003
Yes, I’ve been gone. As is my wont this general time of year, I was skiing in Colorado with Mr. Karen. It being early season, the snow wasn’t great and none of the areas we went to had all their terrain open, but still, it’s skiing on real mountains, so any snow is good snow. It was also a good thing that we had a row to ourselves on the flight there; traveling mid-week definitely has some advantages. Or maybe the flu epidemic had scared some people away; not me, since I hadn’t heard anything about it until after we were on the plane.
We spent our first night in Denver, upholding our getting used to the altitude before heading to the mountains tradition. We’ve always chosen the Super 8 as our host for this important part of our Colorado ski trip plan, but now that they’ve changed their discount program to a points system which looks like it’s going to be more trouble than it’s worth, the tradition may move to a new venue next time. There’s a spiffy new Comfort Inn right next door, so we wouldn’t even have to retrain our brains to find a different exit late at night after landing at DIA.
After our Super 8 sojourn, we spent the next three days up in the mountains, staying and skiing with our friends Sue and Dan (they’re the ones whose wedding we went out for in September). Thursday’s resort of choice was Copper Mountain. I hadn’t been there in a while, not since just after IntraWest bought them, and was happy to see that the feel I liked was still there. The village has grown but it seems to have grown in a way that doesn’t interfere with getting to the hill; there was no traipsing through blocks of shops to get to the ticket offices (or at least no more shops than had always been there since I started going). Dan had to work, but Sue met us and skied with us for most of the day, until we tired her out. Now that she’s a local, she doesn’t have to get in as many runs as possible each time she goes out since she gets out a lot more.
Friday the three of us (Dan, again with the working) went to Vail. I’d never skied there before. It’s huge; even with only limited runs open there was more terrain to cover than we could get to in a day. Some of the legendary back bowls were open (I know they’re legendary because the trail map says so) and even though those runs are black diamonds, I got down them okay. We even got lucky and skied off the Teacup Express lift, which we read in the paper the next day had only been open for three hours so the locals could track out the snow before the next storm hits. It was a good day, but I left feeling like I didn’t really have to come back any time soon. It was a little hard to get around (a trail map is a necessity) and for an early season non-weekend day, it was way too crowded. I don’t know if there actually were a lot of people there, or if the ones who were just got concentrated in a few areas because of the way the resort was laid out or which facilities were open; I just know that I don’t want to have to try two restaurants before I can find a place to sit inside and eat lunch at 1:30 in the afternoon.
Saturday Dan and Mr. Karen and I headed out to Beaver Creek. I revisited the scene of the first black diamond run I ever did. This time, I got down it much faster. I still fell, true, but the first two times it was more like just gently sitting down and the third time I didn’t lose any equipment even though I did have my skis above my head at one point. I also revisited the run where as a new skier I sat down in the snow and cried because it was too steep and too long and too scary; now I can fly down it. Sue joined us for lunch and few runs in the afternoon. A few runs after that, I let Mr. Karen and Dan catch the last chair up while I went in search of the oatmeal raisin cookie that had eluded me all day. Oatmeal raisin cookies are one of my personal ski trip musts, and I’d only had one in three days. On my third stop, I found a place that had white chocolate chip cookies, and that seemed like a good compromise. I do not know what was in that cookie, but by the time Mr. Karen and Dan joined me to get the bus back to the parking lot, I was starting to have some definite stomach pain, and by the time we got back to the house, I was thinking I might have to throw up in the front yard. I didn’t, but it was a near thing. I was afraid I might have gotten the flu, but the symptoms gradually subsided during a long lie down I took before dinner. Maybe that was the universe’s way of trying to break me of my ski trips = cookies idea.
Our plane back was delayed, so instead of writing this at a somewhat reasonable hour, I’m up too late (but not if I go by the Mountain Time zone). At least we once again had a row to ourselves; that makes air travel easier to take. I wasn’t planning to ski again until February, but I had such a good time that I’m going to sit down tomorrow and see if I can figure out a way to do at least a short trip next month. I sometimes wonder if it’s worth it to take a vacation that involves getting up early and trudging around in the cold wearing uncomfortable boots and carrying heavy unwieldy sticks (mostly I wonder this in the mornings, when I’m trying to get to the hill), but all I have to do to convince myself that it is is remember the way hitting a fresh patch of groomed snow makes me giggle gleefully as I fly down it or the way negotiating a black diamond mogul run that would have terrified me a few years ago makes me feel ridiculously pleased with myself. It’s worth it.
A year ago, I’d just finished the zoo baby quilt.