January 24, 2011
I went on another ski trip last week. Just like the last one, I took Sock Monkey and went to Idaho. This time, Mr. Karen flew out with us, too. An early Saturday morning departure had me more worried than usual that we’d miss our flight; we did not, though the parking lot shuttle guy made me sweat as he drove around for what seemed like forever picking up more people even though there was a whole line of other vans waiting to load. After boarding the plane, we had a delay for deicing, and I worried that we’d miss our connection in Salt Lake City (we’ve had to run for a plane there before), but our connecting gate turned out to be right across the hall from our arrival gate, so we even had time to grab a sandwich. Thanks to the early departure and the three-hour time, we were able to stop at both Home Depot for project supplies and The Pie Hut (for pie, of course) and still make it up to Schweitzer Mountain in time to see the Winter Carnival torchlight parade and fireworks that evening.
Sunday Mr. Karen and I went to town with our friend Wendy (she’s the one who’s been taking care of our condo for us) and took in more Winter Carnival events. Since it was raining on the mountain a lot of the day we didn’t even feel bad about taking time away from skiing. First up was the K-9 Keg Pull, which I was going to go see even if I had to do it by myself on a powder day. This event is a benefit for the local animal shelter in which “â€¦ dogs of all shapes and sizes sprint for glory down a snow-packed course pulling appropriately sized ‘kegs'” (quoting from the official program). I’d seen a bit of film from a prior year’s running of this on the resort tv channel on one of our earlier visits; I was prepared for it to not be as much fun as the film made it look, but it was better. I had a goofy grin on my face nearly the entire time I stood watching; Mr. Karen and Wendy were not nearly as entranced but they indulged me and we stayed until nearly the very end. Some dogs had clearly trained for this and were super focused and super fast; others were very much confused by the whole thing and would wander off into the crowd during the middle of the course. It was just so much fun watching all the dogs and their owners and cheering for the dogs by name with the rest of the crowd. I hope we can time our visit next year to see it again, and next time I’ll try to be on time so I don’t miss a minute of it. After the keg pull, we swung by the Oreo stacking and SPAM carving contests and grabbed some non-Oreo non-SPAM lunch before heading to the fairgrounds to watch part of the skijoring competition, which was interesting but rather confusing since none of us really knew the rules of the sport. At one point, all of us in the crowd took our eyes off the skijoring as a bald eagle swooped across the whole length of the grandstand, almost as if it were doing a scheduled fly by. It was very impressive.
The rest of the days we were there, we did ski. The weather was not nearly as cooperative as it had been over Christmas, though we got quite a variety of conditions: sticky snow, hardpack, bulletproof corduroy, blowing, drifting. Mr. Karen remarked that if it had been this way the first time we visited, we probably wouldn’t have bought the condo. Good thing it wasn’t that way, because I like the condo and I like the mountain. As usual, crowds were nonexistent. We did get some new snow for our last ski day, so we were able to tire ourselves out on that before having to get into the truck for the long drive back to Michigan. The weather mostly behaved itself for the road trip portion of our vacation. We did have some snow and ice to deal with, primarily in Montana, and it got really, really cold as we made our way through North Dakota (the lowest we saw was -26 F; when we stopped for dinner Saturday it was -11 F and Mr. Karen said “hey, we don’t even need our coats”). After three longs days on the road, we pulled into our driveway about 11:30 last night, and I’m happy I’m going to be home for a while now.