Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Two More Winter Sports

The next day, the others went back to the mountain for some more skiing.  Discretion being the better part of valor (not to mention that I'd returned my skis the day before), I thought it might be best to, y'know, not give it another shot.

I decided instead to go ice skating.

I haven't been ice skating for years.  I kinda lost interest after I twisted an ankle ligament (not by skating, interestingly enough -- it was a Freak Theatregoing Injury) -- anyway, I quit skating when my doc said the ligament was "as healed as it's going to get, but if you injure it again, ..."  I didn't like where that ellipsis lead off to, so I'd decided to stop jumping or doing anything remotely ankle-hazardous skating.  Which made the whole skating thing really dull.

So I went to the rink in Park City just to see where I was with skating, and whether it caused any ankle (or, at this point, knee) strain.  Surprisingly, it didn't.  Sure, my feet hurt like hell, but that was good pain.  And I got back a good deal of my skating.  It was funny because, when I got there, I was fairly uncertain just skating around, and wobbled my way into a forward crossover.  By the time I left, I had a lot of my crossovers back (with speed), some turns, a two-foot spin, and a waltz jump where I jumped a whole 12 inches or so (oooh, ahhh).  When I left, a woman who I hadn't even seen out there commented something like, "It all comes back, doesn't it?" which made me feel really good.  (She also added, "You were really working out there," which made me feel even better.)

The really scary part about the whole thing was that my three hour "Never Ever" skiing lesson actually made me a better skater.  (And boy, do I hate admitting that.)  But I had always been told stuff about centering spins on "the ball of your foot" (well, skate) and the problems of "sitting too far back" on the skates, but I'd never really felt it before.  After a few hours on skis (which are, y'know, way longer than skates) it was very easy to understand what all of this meant and (even better) felt like.  I was making small adjustments in my skating based on where I was putting weight in my boot, and I'd never been oriented on that detail before.  Neat how one thing helps the other like that.

Our final wintertime activity was snowmobile riding, which we did for two hours before we had to catch the plane yesterday.  By this time, there were only four of us (one of the other ladies had already gone home) so we pretty naturally fell into pairs for the snowmobiles.  The guys drove and we chicks sat on the back.  (I tried to get into a leather-jackety motorcycle mama character, but it's hard to do when you're wrapped up to your eyeballs in cold-weather gear.)

My driver was Steve.  Steve was very wise in choosing a snowmobile.  He picked the one at the front of the line, right behind our guide.  And he pretty much matched the guide move for move.  So we kept a pretty fast pace.  The snowmobile driver behind us was taking her own sweet time, which slowed up everyone behind them (and prevented them from seeing what the guide was doing, making it that much harder for them).  Every few minutes, the guide would pull over (and we'd pull over behind him) while we'd wait for the others to catch up.

So this one time, we're pulled over, and the snow looks so white and clean and fresh, I figure I'm going to get off and make a snow angel.  So I step off the snowmobile.  Then I take one step outside the "road" we've been driving on -- and I'm up to my knee in snow.  No kidding.  And there was no walking out of it, either -- every step was just as deep, or deeper (kinda like quicksand).  I ended up throwing my body down (to distribute the weight over a wider surface) and rolling back to the snowmobile.  I wasn't going to try that again.

So we keep riding, and then we get to a big clearing, and the guide just tells us to "have at it" so all 9 of the snowmobiles start tearing around the clearning.  (Well, 8 of us do.  One thinks they're running out of gas.  The guide tells them that the gas indicator is most likely wrong, but they don't want to risk it.)  So we're snowmobiling around this clearing full-speed.  And it's on a hill, so the turns are HARD.  Steve has to pretty much sway his whole body to one side (I lean in sympathy) to get the damn thing to turn.  He offers me a shot at the controls.  I decline, seeing as it's a hill and itseems like pretty tough terrain.  He offers again and I figure, "What the heck -- when else am I gonna drive a snowmobile?"  So I take the controls and Steve is telling me what to do from behind, being all encouraging with the "that's right, just ease on the throttle" and stuff like that.  So I do a small turn to the right and then I need a sharp turn to the left and we're going uphill.  I'm going pretty slow so I yank it hard to the left with all the force I can muster and it doesn't seem like we're really MOVING.  Steve says something from behind me but I can't hear so I kill the throttle.  At which point Steve repeats himself -- he'd said "Don't stop when you're going uphill."


We're good and stuck now.  We wave over the guide and he and Steve pick the snowmobile up from the foot or so of snow in which it is now buried.  Of course, I had to get off the snowmobile when they did this, so I became buried in the snow again too.

Later, we stopped in another clearing -- a flatter one -- but, by this time, I wasn't willing to try again and risk getting us stuck a second time.  Besides, Steve was starting to get genuinely good at this and he was having fun driving us between tightly-placed trees and racing around at high speeds.  (And I only got whacked in the face with a tree-branch once.)

On the way back, we kept stopping to make sure all the snowmobiles were with us.  At one point, we'd lost one.  The guide left us all there while he drove back to see what happened to the other snowmobile.  I was thinking all sorts of horrible thoughts (missed that last turn, horribly lost, drove off the edge of the mountain...) but it turned out to be much more mundane:  Ran outta gas.  I'm sure the "Toldya so" was of little consolation to the two people sitting back there on a stalled snowmobile for twenty minutes, until someone figured out they were gone.

No comments: