Skimania — the epilogue

So, we finished our little ski trip having accomplished our goal, but it did take some resolve. On Wednesday we awoke to a steady drizzle, and when we hit the slopes we were immediately soaked. No matter, we thought: a rainy day means shorter lift lines. The highlight of the day for me was skiing down the “terrain park,” full of winter-x-games-style jumps and grinding rails. I resolved to complete at least one of the stunts, and so began a search for the one least likely to result in injury. I found a jump with a “knuckle,” requiring a jump of at least 20 feet or punishing the jumper with a hard landing. No problem — I made the jump and landed safely. If I was 20 years younger I would have been spending all day in the terrain park, but now I realize the value of four intact limbs.

At 3:00 we began to hear thunder in the distance, and, fools that we were, didn’t take that as a clue to stop skiing and go home. Instead, by 3:20 the park was closed, and we were stranded at the top of a chairlift a mile from where we had parked our car. There were about 100 skiers huddled in the now driving rain there waiting for the shuttle bus, so we thought we’d be “smart” and have a hot cocoa in the small lodge there until the crowds had been shuttled to their locations of choice. At 3:50 we went back out to the now-abandoned shuttle stop, only to be told that the shuttles had been shut down as well, rerouted to pick up the 600 skiers stranded at the bottom of the mountain with no shelter whatsoever. So, it turned out we had a rainy mile-long trudge with all our ski gear to the car.

Finally, by 5:00 we were on our way. The thunderstorm was in full swing by then. It was the first time I can ever recall driving home from a ski resort in a thunder shower. Even more surreal was listening to the designated audiobook for the trip, The Outlaw Sea, filled with stories of massive, poorly maintained ships being sunk by even more massive typhoons. It made me think of my shoddy maintenance record for my own car. The little sticker from the garage said my next oil change was due at 53,000 miles, and the odometer now read 57,000. And when was I supposed to change the transmission fluid? Wasn’t that at 50,000? The background for all this was William Langewiesche’s gravelly voice describing a rusty tanker being torn in half by a hurricane and unleashing massive sticky balls of fuel oil on the Brittany coast.

We did manage to arrive safely home by 10:20 — just about a five-hour drive. My muscles were sore, and the car smelled of musty wet laundry. I can’t wait to do this again next year.

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