Hat on Top, Coat Below


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Back from My Happy Place

February 11, 2014

Mr. Karen and I spent last week at our condo on Schweitzer Mountain. The weather was not the most cooperative for skiing, but of course we had fun anyway (and the weather was fine for traveling; unlike my last ski trip I got both there and back on the actual days I’d planned to.

We flew in on a Saturday, getting to Spokane in plenty of time to make it to the Pie Hut in Sandpoint before they closed at 4 so we could get both a sweet pie and a savory pie as part of our provisions for the week. That didn’t end up happening, though, as the highway we take when we turn north after getting into Idaho was closed for a stretch, and there aren’t a lot of roads up there to detour around on. Since we weren’t sure how long the alternate route would take, we stopped well before the closure to eat at a Mexican restaurant we’d never tried before, so that was fun. When we did get on the detour, we saw a moose, probably trying to figure out why there was so much traffic in her neighborhood, and that was fun, too.

Sunday the skiing began, and I was happy.

In my happy place

Monday it got colder, and more windy, and some of the lifts were closed because it’s not safe to run them when it’s gusting like that, but we went out and hit the slopes and had fun regardless. Tuesday it was the same, with no new snow, so we decided to take the day off. Mr. Karen stayed at the condo to work on some projects there, while I drove down to Coeur d’Alene and Sandpoint to run some errands. My route took me past Silverwood amusement park, closed and snow covered at this time of year.

Snowy roller coaster

Wednesday it was back on the slopes, on what I think is probably the coldest day I’ve ever skied. It was minus 12 at the top of one of the lifts, with a wind chill of somewhere around minus 40. Conditions were so severe that there were signs at the bottom of the lifts (the ones that were open; still too windy for the high ones to run) saying you had to have proper attire to load, meaning enough gear to cover all your exposed skin. It doesn’t sound like a good day to be outside, but it was sunny, and we chose slopes where we knew we’d have to work at turning (trees, bumps, ungroomed stuff) and thus be moving more and keeping ourselves warmer that way. We ended up doing pretty much a full day despite the frigid conditions, and of course it was not at all crowded, so that just added to the excellence of the experience.

More fun than I expected given how frigid it was

Thursday the wind died down some and the cold eased up a little and the lifts that had been closed were open again and life was good. Friday brought some clouds and very light snow and an experience I’ve never had before on a mountain: having to call ski patrol. On what I’d planned as one of my last few runs of the day, I came upon an injured skier and his somewhat panicky female companion very soon after he’d gotten hurt. I asked if she was okay staying with him while I went to get ski patrol, and she was, so I did. Fortunately we were very close to the top of a lift that unloads mid mountain and also has a ski patrol shack, so I got in touch with patrol pretty quickly and then returned to the scene and tried to be calm and reassuring while we waited for help to arrive. Since there was a possible leg fracture, the first patrol guy on scene called in a second one to help with the splinting and getting the guy loaded onto the sled to be taken off the hill. I made sure his companion was doing okay before I left the scene, as the patrollers were quite rightly focused on the injured guy. I did see an ambulance leave the mountain village a while later, but it didn’t have its lights on, which I decided was a good sign that he was stable.

Our season passes don’t cover Saturdays (it’s cheaper that way, and we often travel on Saturdays anyway), and since there was no new snow and no other compelling reason to get out there, we stayed at the condo all day and worked on various tasks and got in a little relaxation, too. My big project for the day was staining the mattress frame for the Murphy bed Mr. Karen is building for one of our guest bedrooms.

Sunday it was time to head home. All went pretty smoothly—we even had an empty seat between us on the Minneapolis to Detroit flight—until we got to our car in one of the off-airport lots. Getting the snow and ice off the car was fine, but getting the car out of the space was not. The snow and ice covered pavement was so slick under our tires that we had to get help from one of the lot drivers to get us unstuck and on the road. Then when we did get home, as happens all too often on ski trips, we were faced with more inches of snow in our driveway than we’d gotten on the mountain. Instead of doing the smart thing and parking in the street until we could clear a way into the garage (which is what we did last time), we tried to gun it over the plowed snow and up the driveway. We didn’t make it. Why we didn’t was the subject of some disagreement between Mr. K and I, but we burned off that negative energy shoveling a path to finally get the car where it belonged before we headed inside.

Now I am back at work and trying to catch up yet again. I doubt that will ever happen, even if I didn’t go on vacation so often.

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