From the title of the post you will see that this is Part II. If you missed Part I, just scroll down and read that first. Or don't. But don't come crying to me when you get all confused half way through this post when I pull the duck-billed platypus out of my pants...
I didn’t find any fried cheese sticks at the breakfast buffet, so I settled for some oatmeal and an elk McMuffin. I suited up for the day, buttoned the flap on my longjohns and followed Mrs. F’er to the foot of the bunny slope where we waited for our instructor, who was easy to spot in his required blue jacket and soul patch. I thought it might be just a private lesson for the F’ers but we were joined by Young Nick. Many travelers enjoy the opportunity to meet interesting people from all over the world while on vacation, so I decided to put aside my anti-social side and see what Nick’s story was. Turns out that he was from a faraway place called Fort Worth, Texas and was even on the same flight as us the day before. Little did he know how close he was to being eaten in the tragic plane crash that never happened.
So we started the lesson and did drills with mystical far eastern names like “The Falling Leaf,” which might imply some sort of meditative state that allows one to be one with the board. However, it was more a method for me to demonstrate my young grasshopper ability to alternatively fall violently on my face and my ass and learn firsthand why helmets are recommended for snowboarding. All while Young Nick applied his skateboard skills and gracefully “falling leafed” down the slope, picking up young lasses along the way. Mrs. F’er, who was a natural on skis, struggled with the new concepts only to be saved by Soul Patch Scott the instructor, who patiently took her by the hands and gracefully led her in a fluid ice dance down the slope which was freshly groomed by my chin.
We eventually achieved a level of competence for which Soul Patch Scott determined would allow us to take the chair lift to the green runs with a minimal risk of required medical attention. Anyone that has learned to ski or ride will know that one of the more intimidating exercises as a beginner is getting off the chair lift. It’s not exactly like a cab that stops at your destination and you step off onto the curb. It’s more as if the cab were just to slow down a bit and have you jump out while trying to simultaneously get your wallet back in your pocket or purse. With a piece of plywood stapled to one of your shoes. It’s not too bad – when starting out you just try to keep your balance long enough to clear the ramp down from the lift and then roll out of the way when you fall down. If you make it farther than your wife, she will blame you for pushing her or cutting her off. If she makes it farther, then it’s because she pushed you or cut you off. Fortunately, it wasn’t crowded and there were no lift lines, so we were able to get our own chairs and avoid divorce court until we better mastered those skills. But I digress.
This part of the lesson involved more falling leaf stuff, except on a steeper slope as 4 year-olds blow by on skis while laughing at you. All while Young Nick stopped to build his own terrain park to practice on while we caught up.
I was soaked in sweat and breathing like an obscene caller after spending three hours lifting my entire body weight off the ground and chasing down Young Nick, when Soul Patch Scott mercifully announced it was time for lunch. I dragged my ass to the cafeteria and sat in quiet reflection wondering if golf was really as bad as I made it out to be. Mrs. F’er, recognizing the importance of food and drink, forced us to eat despite the feeling that my body might reject anything other than euthanasia. As soon as I finished my last bite and was starting to feel a little better, it was time for Part Deux of our session.
This time we took the high speed quad lift a little further up the mountain, which would provide the opportunity for more face plants per run on the way down. Actually, we started to get the hang of it and spent the afternoon transitioning from the falling leaf pattern to linking our turns and not looking like winter wonderland stunt doubles. However, the longer runs were taking their toll and I found myself purposefully crashing into snow banks at various points just to rest my fatigued muscles. I eventually slid into the base area, landing at Soul Patch Scott’s feet, ready to beg for mercy when he announced the end of our lesson. I hugged his leg and felt a tear run down my cheek…
We walked the quarter mile back to the inn and I used my remaining energy to extract my feet from the snowboard boots which was on par with trying to get the plastic off a new CD. I donned my swimsuit, not for the swimwear competition, but for the hot tub. Luckily we had the hot tub to ourselves that day since I was surely making pornographic noises as the jets hit each seized muscle. I eventually withdrew from the hot tub and ventured back to the room where Mrs. F’er led a stretching session that proved me limber as tree trunk. But I played along and after a shower, I felt ready to attempt a trip to dinner.
I shuffled to the town shuttle and ended up at Donita’s for some Mexican food. The cheddar jalapeno soup was stellar, the burrito was filling, and I highly recommend the spinach enchiladas in which Mrs. F’er partook. Shortly thereafter, I overdosed on Advil and fell unconscious.
Next morning I woke up paralyzed with pain. I felt like I had been run over my a Sherman tank and then hogtied and placed on some train tracks by Snidely Whiplash. The bastard. The Advil had worn off and I demanded a morphine drip. Mrs. F’er denied my request and brought me more Advil and insisted I stretch again. I began my ascent to the floor and approximately 30 minutes later I was ready to begin. It wasn’t stretching as much as it was learning to regain a semblance of motor skills. She doubted my ability to continue, but after a shower I was ready to give it a shot. We got a late start and took a leisurely lunch, but we spent most of the day on the slopes and actually made some progress. I wasn’t exactly ready for the Olympic snowboard team, but the crashes were less severe and not as painful. Except for the last run of the day when I landed so hard I swear at least four inches of my large intestine shot out my ass and would need to be repacked. But it did reinforce that whole downhill edge lesson pretty well.
After more obscenely gratifying non-sexual hot tub action, some stretching and a shower it was pizza time. We made our way to the Secret Stash and found one of the coolest restaurants I’ve been to in a long time. Lots couches, loveseats, and cushions for floor seating which looked cool but from which I might not have been able to get up from after the meal. Fortunately we were seated at a standard table that night and met our server Melanie when she sat down with us, asked us excitedly how we’ve been, wanted to know what we did that day, and instantly became our best friend forever. Even though she seemed like she was developing a character for SNL, we loved her and she gave us some killer recommendations, including the stuffed mushrooms which are served out of the oven in a dish so hot it will burn you and give you a scar. Which we know because she showed us hers. Nonetheless, I burned my finger, too. Great pizza – Melanie and the F’ers both recommend “Me n’ My Uncle’s Pie” with chipotle sauce, cheddar, chicken, black beans, corn and red peppers. Be forewarned – the pizzas are all hand-tossed and made to order so they can take a while, but in another stroke of good fortune, a couple and their child were seated next to us shortly after we ordered. Now Sid doesn’t like kids too much, but their child wasn’t a kid as much as he was a pirate. Wearing his Buzz Lightyear pajamas, a black bandana on his head, and an eye patch, he was an entertaining, yet well-behaved little pirate, and was rewarded with some pirate dipping sauce from Melanie for his cheese bread. Soon after finishing dinner, I overdosed on Advil again and lost consciousness.
Wednesday, I woke up just as sore and was encouraged by Mrs. F’er to take a day off. A day off? On vacation? What is she, nuts? There was a mountain out there waiting to be conquered. You think Admiral Byrd took a day off as he marched to the South Pole? Hell, no, and neither would I. She reminded me that I really wasn’t Admiral Byrd, so we compromised and spent the morning doing a few runs to stay loose and practice some more turns. Besides, a storm was brewing and I wanted to be well-rested for the fresh powder on Thursday. That afternoon we went to town for lunch at Pitas in Paradise (“big on taste, little on seating”) so Mrs. F’er could get her coveted falafel and while I munched on a gyro. We stopped by the youth hostel to do a load of laundry then mosied back for our hot tub ritual. Dinner that night at the Last Steep was enjoyable despite the group of generic businessmen at the adjacent table who were so important that they spent most of the meal on their cell phones and checking email on their Blackberries. If the town could only jam the signals for all that stuff, it would be the perfect destination.
We awoke Thursday to mounds of fresh powder – “Have you any idea of what the street value of this mountain is?” This was a good thing as it greatly softened the impact of my crashes. It was like going from that fine grit they call toilet paper at work to a fresh roll of Angel Soft. This did wonders for my confidence and I was soon carving turns like someone that carves turns really good, chasing Mrs. F’er down the steepest of green runs. It was a good day. Except for that hour when the winds kicked up and created some near whiteout conditions at the top of the Painter Boy lift.
Mrs. F’er cursed me for suggesting that one last run before lunch prior to quickly disappearing down the slope. I decided to ride out the storm, and befriended a Siberian girl who showed me how to build a shelter from the worsening conditions. We sat safely in our makeshift camp and I shared the slice of pumpkin bread I had stashed in my pocket at breakfast. We spoke the international language of love before the skies cleared and we went our separate ways. Or that might have been a delusion resulting from a crash caused by the snowblindness.
We finished off dinner that night at a nice Italian joint called Marchitelli's, but Mrs. F’er cringed when I suggested the bread pudding for dessert. I developed a liking for bread pudding during my stints in New Orleans and had tried to re-create the experience back home. It wasn’t pretty. I appealed to her sense of adventure and assured her that they could do a much better job than I. She agreed, they delivered, and there was much rejoicing.
By Friday we were exhausted but spent more than half the day showing off our newfound skills to the batch of newbies that had arrived in town that day. We watched knowingly as the new students went down hard, and then crashed ourselves since we weren’t paying attention. Reluctantly we turned in our equipment and were off to Pitas in Paradise for a late lunch. In town we noticed that the main street was shut down – apparently the townfolk build a giant ski jump in the middle of the street downtown each year for the Winter Carnival. They seem to have a lot of wacky ideas there, but instead of laughing them off they actually implement them. Sadly, we didn’t get to stick around to see the exhibition the next day, but we did get back to the Secret Stash that night to celebrate the greatness of that little town.