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A Tale of Two Vacations

January 7, 2014

I spent last week at Schweitzer Mountain in Idaho kicking off my 2013/2014 ski season. If we consider just the part of the trip between when Mr. Karen picked me up in Spokane and when we left there together eight days later, it was quite a pleasant vacation, even though I was still sick (whether the germs I picked up in Florida were especially tenacious or some Michigan germs slipped in behind them to extend the duration of my symptoms, I don’t know, but I am just now, three plus weeks later, feeling well enough to get through my days and nights without turning to over the counter remedies, though if I could find one that worked for my cough, I’d be ingesting that even now). If we consider the parts of the trip that required air travel, it was the worst vacation I’ve had in a long time. If there are gods that control air travel, I have apparently angered them and need to figure out a way to make amends before I have to fly again. Basically, I had two vacations: the nice one, where I got to hang out at my favorite mountain, and the bad one, where I got to deal with missed connections in both directions.

My journey began the Friday after Christmas. Instead of getting to Spokane that night as planned, I got there Saturday evening, 20 hours late, thanks to Frontier Airlines. At least I knew about the delay before Mr. Karen started the two-hour drive from the mountain to collect me (he’d driven our truck out to Idaho before Christmas, as he had more holiday time than I did). Since I wasn’t feeling that great, I didn’t get too adventurous with my unexpected layover, just slept as late as I could (the hotel let me check out at noon) and explored the airport until it was time to leave (the weather was much warmer than what I’d left in Detroit, so I spent some time outside on the top level of the parking decks on either side of the terminal, having a picnic for one on a concrete wall with a view of the mountains). If I’d been feeling better, I might have tried to get in touch with my internet friends in Denver and see if we could meet for lunch, or perhaps found a way to get into town and explore on my own, but I just wasn’t up to it.

Self portrait with DIA

Once I finally got to the mountain, Mr. Karen and I fell into our typical routine of sleeping in, skiing, and doing projects around the condo. I didn’t have as much energy for skiing as I’d like, what with my lingering respiratory issues, but I enjoyed the runs I did get in—well, with the possible exception of the one where I ventured into part of a trail that had not enough snow to cover all the small trees and bushes, making finding places to turn an adventure, but had plenty of snow for me to get stuck in when I failed to make a turn and fell; I flailed around in hip deep snow there for quite a while before managing to extricate myself. At least I got to do my flailing in private; even though it was a holiday week, it wasn’t too crowded on the slopes, which is one of the things we like about Schweitzer. We could have used more snow; the coverage wasn’t as good as last time this year, but that’s how it goes with skiing. It might have been just as well; if we’d had more than the one day we got with fresh powder, I might have been tempted to push myself more and not taken as much time to rest and try get over these germs. I’m hoping by the time we go back, there’ll be a lot more snow and I’ll be feeling perfectly fine.

Lake peeking through

The Sunday after New Year’s, it was time to head home to Detroit. All was going well (we even got to do TSA PreCheck) until the moment when I was sitting on the plane to Minneapolis, checking my phone one last time before turning it off for the flight, and saw that the Detroit flight we were connecting to was showing as cancelled (even though we’d gotten a boarding pass for it just an hour before). Even then, I wasn’t too worried; Delta has plenty of flights between Minneapolis and Detroit, so I figured they’d rebook us on the next one that night or one of the ones the next morning and we’d be at most 12 hours late. I was wrong. Our rebooking was so heinous that we ended up renting a car and driving back to Detroit, getting home a full day later than planned (and still ahead of when Delta was going to get us back). Greeting us in our driveway when we pulled up was about a foot of snow; geez, universe, we could have used that in Idaho. I know, I know—me and my first world problems.

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