Saturday, February 26, 2011

Waterville Valley and Skiing for Novice Parents

It was a cold, empty January many, many years ago.  The trip up to Okemo Mountain in Ludlow, Vermont was harrowing, what with one or two inch per hour snow hitting our modest old style SUV as we drove up from Hartford, Connecticut to meet friends of our parents at "their mountain."  The fact that the drive was taking place at night made things even more scary for this youngster, who was looking forward to his first ski vacation.  In fact, the flakes were bouncing off of the light of the our headlights at such a rate of speed that I was surprised my Father could even see the road beneath him, much less the direction in which we were going.

Waterville Mafia
We eventually got to our destination safely, not without some tire problems, but still safely.  Safe was, unfortunately, not a word that I would use to describe my first time on skis.  Unable to stop at the base of the mountain, the morning after our revival, I had to make myself fall to avoid a family of four as they were coming out of the lodge to put on their skis.  We all had a good laugh at the time (at least that's how I remember it, I was 10 years old at the time so I was probably pissed that everyone was laughing AT me rather than WITH me), but my first attempt on skis on the modest bunny slope brought all of the laughter to a screeching halt.  In an attempt to stop on my first pass down the .0005% slope, I fell headlong into a snowy and steep ditch off the slope.  As I lay there thinking about whether I had any broken bones and why they built a bunny slope with a steep ditch off one side, I could here my horrified parents, concerned ski patrol, and even children younger than me hurdling toward me.  I had to lie still for what seemed like an eternity as they thought I was really hurt and moving was only going to make things worse.  Bruised pride was all I had suffered, but I was in such a contorted state that I needed help to get up any way.  

I vowed at that time never to put skis on again.  Fast forward more than 25 years later.

I ignored invitations to go skiing in High School.  I went to college about an hour from Sunday River and never skiied.  We've been to ski areas and did everything but ski.  I thought my vow all those years ago would hold up.  And then...the kids got the ski bug.  Crap.

Friends of the boys invited us up to their condo at Waterville Valley Ski Area this month so the kids could ski and the parents could get together for beers, apres ski.  We mentioned to our friends that we didn't ski and they described the many things that we could do.  We could go to Town Square (which is a small commercial area consisting of restaurants and stores about 5 minutes away from the entrance to the Mountain) and shop, snowshoe or cross country ski.  We could spend time at the lodge and have beers and lunch.  We could stay at the condo, go to the pool or the exercise room (as a condo owner, only).  Anything but ski, right?

How would the kids react skiing for the first time, though?  That was the important question.  We made the decision to throw them into the fire immediately by signing them up for the full day of Kids Camp at $90 per child.  Oh yeah, we also got hit with $22 in ski rentals and $13 for helmets for the day too.  Clearly this is not spending the day at the beach, monetarily.  It did include a lift ticket for the kids though, so I guess we got a deal?  Regardless, the college students running the program seemed nice and the kids all went into the main area with excitement and anticipation.  Despite their disparate ages, all three kids were considered "Explorers" rather than "Scouts" so they were all together, if anything went down, at least.  By the way I checked it out and there were no ditches off of the bunny slopes.

We then went on to take every one's suggestion to go to the Town Square, exercise and watch the kids' lessons from the bar attached to the base of the mountain, Buckets.  From our point of view at the outside patio of Buckets, it looked like everyone was having a great time.  And by all accounts, everyone did have a blast, so much so that not only did they want to go again the next day, but we actually considered it.   Ever since, instead of seeking ways to avoid ski talk and all things snow, we are actually considering renting a condominium for a week or two next year.  I don't think its going to be too long before I have wax up the skis.  Really?  Really.

What's next?  Starting to call the mountain I ski at "my mountain?"  I think my vow is going to be unvowed next year.           

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