Sunday, February 15, 2009


Sunday February 8, 2009

We get up early and dress for the mountain. Katelyn's friend Claire who flew in from Charlottesville for the weekend to go snowboarding is riding with us to the base. Feeney is coming along for our first stop, breakfast at Cafe DeLight and then headed back home to catch up on her day off sleeping.

Blueberry pancakes, with pure maple syrup naturally, scrambled eggs and coffee fill us up. We say good bye to Lauren and stuff ourselves into one car. We only have a short drive up to the base and we, along with all our equipment, fit well enough. We just miss being able to park in the lot adjacent to the base and so have to park in a lower lot and ride the bus. Before we board the bus, Lewis suggests that we put on our ski boots so we won't have to rent a locker for our gear. Walking in ski boots is quite the experience, but one quickly adapts. There are racks on the side of the bus for skis and snowboards but the driver tells us to bring ours on board since they are small. The trip is only a few minutes at most.

We unload and hoist our gear for a short walk to the lift ticket office. First we help Claire find Katelyn who is at work but gets a break since they are not busy grooming the courses at the moment. Lewis got comp tickets for working over Christmas and uses them for our day on the slopes or more correctly bunny hill.

We tag ourselves with our tickets and it is time for our lesson to begin. Lewis shows us how to get into the skis and walk with them on. He puts our (gasp) poles aside saying those will come in later. Okay so the walking stuff is not too bad, but when he tries to get us to snowplow, or pizza wedge as it is now called, we both fail miserably. My wedge is the stingiest slice of pizza ever and Lewis says that really doesn't matter it's the ski edges I need to engage. Edges engage. I send this message to my legs and feet but not much happens, I continue to slide forward. We at this point are at the base of the bunny slope so sliding is pretty minimal but still I cannot stop the motion. Donny does a bit better but we are going to need practice to master this technique.

Finally Lewis decides that we are okay enough to go up the bunny slope. This means getting on the magic carpet and off again. For those of you not in the know, it is like those moving walkways in big airports, but it goes uphill and you have to shuffle your skis on while it is moving, of course. The idea is to shuffle onto the moving part while leaning forward so you won't fall over. There is an operator to help you but kids are hopping on like nothing and you do feel pretty silly needing a hand. So going solo I get onto the carpet okay enough and immediately begin to worry about getting off. Lewis has told us to slide off at the end onto the slight decline of ice and then shuffle forward so the line does not get bogged down. I am in the lead and manage the off process without mishap.

Magic carpet update, Donny just reminded me about one of the more exciting parts of mastering the magic carpet, the unexpected stop. You are patting yourself on the back for not falling as your get on and it is actually a nice slow ride up a small slope. Then with no warning the carpet stops. Welcome to the magic carpet says Lewis from behind me. He is playing Donald Ball, he has forgotten to warn us about unscheduled stops. So now it is no longer a completely pleasant interlude. One must constantly be at the ready for a stop. Oh well, good core training.

Now we are at the top of the bunny slope. It is a Sunday and parents with kids are everywhere, as well as beginner skiers and snowboarders. But everyone is watchful of everyone. Lewis takes us one at a time. While he executes the pizza wedge backwards letting us hold onto his ski pole he is holding parallel to the ground at waist level, he has us wedge ski forward partway down the slope. Then he leaves whichever of us he is working with stationed in a holding wedge while he retrieves the uphill parent. In this manner he gets us down the slope with us doing a small bit of skiing. Donny falls once and cannot get up without Lewis' help. It looks easy enough until I take a fall and cannot get up either. Later at home I find I can hop up easy enough so I am not sure what part of the procedure is just not working on skis. We take the carpet ride up again and this time things are a bit smoother all around but at the bottom Donny has had enough partly because he is overdressed and not comfortable at all.

I wait while Lewis skis with him to the base lodge just a few yards away. When he gets back, Lewis says that was Donny's best skiing so far. While waiting for Lewis to get back I remember that wedge stopping was never any good for me with ice skates either and tell him this. We decide to see what my hockey stop looks like. It's better but needs work. I always did a circle stop when skating, sometimes a hockey stop. We go to the top of the bunny slope and I practice down hill wedge turns. When I remember to press with the correct leg it works well.

Lewis decides it is time for the chair lift. We shuffle ski to the lift and he tells me what to do. It really is simple but all so new! We take a short lift to a slope top pretty much just above and to the side of the bunny slope. We do the wedge ski thing with Lewis backwards guiding me and then he wants me to do some turns. I am constantly forgetting to use the correct leg and everything gets our of line and I fall usually losing a ski. Lewis tell me that I am leaning uphill too much in addition to using the wrong leg and that is causing me to fall. I am slowly getting the idea but when everything is in motion there is no time to think which is probably good but it is still comforting to hear him calling out instructions.

It is a short run to the bottom even with falls. We go into the lodge which is directly ahead and find Donny. Feeney has checked in and wants to know if it is too late to join us. She is finishing up some baking. We decide to meet her at the house. Lewis says a day with us is far easier than a day with kids. I think both are probably a lot of work. We send him out to take a run on his own and we gather our stuff to go look for his arrival. Before long we spy him gliding down the slope effortlessly.

It's been a good introductory lesson. Donny is glad to have survived the mountain. I am thinking about tomorrow.

Back on Pleasant Street, we tidy up and decide to go tour the Long Trail Brewing Company a few miles down the road. It is a small operation that will be 20 years old this May. The tour is self guided and nothing is running when we are there but it is still very interesting.

We can eat there but decide to go to Cappuccino's in town for dinner. It is a small Colington Cafe type place and the food is really good. Back home we run into JJ and fellow ski patrol buddy, Jim. Feeney learns that she was supposed to work today and is completely chagrined as she has never been scheduled for Sundays. She'll go in tomorrow even though it is now supposed to be her day off. No worries. Next week they are all due in an hour early and who knows what else as it is President's Day week and schools are out so the slopes will be busy.

Jim tells Lewis to bring me to the top of the mountain tomorrow and someone will give me a snowmobile or toboggan ride to the bottom, or I can ride the lift down. Failing any of that I can ski down the country road easy enough. Sounds like fun!


fiftypercent3s said...

At Long View Brewing we bought 8 22oz bottles of Coffee Stout. As with any Stout, it must be poured into a glass. Wow, darkest beer I've ever seen. Plus, think Stout, think Coffee; what's not to love about this combination?

Anonymous said...

What a great account of your day on the slopes at Okemo today. I hope you'll come back and visit us again soon.

Bonnie MacPherson
Okemo Director of Public Relations

Sandy said...

Hello Bonnie! We love Okemo. I cannot wait to get back. I have one more story to come about our first adventure on your mountain.