Return of the Quasar (Day 3)
To read the previous hub, Day 2, please visit this link:
Thursday, August 7, 2014
This morning, I awoke feeling really nervous. Having had two beers the night before, and this being the second time I had really snowboarded in 4 years, I wondered how it was going to affect me. Amazingly, my legs felt fine. It was my arms that were sore, since I hadn’t stretched them yesterday. Also, I felt slightly less than my best; fortunately drinking a Gatorade solved that problem. The chalet refrigerator was stocked full with Gatorade; apparently, they were a major sponsor of High Cascade this year.
At Timberline Lodge, I bought a Red Bull from the vending machine for $3.25 (I have not had time to go to Govy General). I put it in my lunch bag, then we headed up the slopes.
Once again, I got off the Palmer lift with no problem, though I wound up far left of my group. I walked over to them, and as I was strapping in, Coach Jason complimented me on my dismount. I told him about what I had learned at Club Med in 2005, regarding sliding my free heel slightly off the edge of the board. “It’s a good technique for beginners,” he said. I decided to stick with that, anyway.
“I’ve never heard of that before,” stated John. “I feel uncomfortable getting off the lift, too.” So I wasn’t the only one; I felt relieved.
“All your weight is supposed to be on your front foot,” Jason told him. He unstrapped his back foot and waved his leg around, then put his foot on his knee.
“That looks like a Yoga stance,” said John.
“The Josh Dirksen stance,” I jested, referring to the free-leg jump he did in the movie, From ___ With Love. The class laughed.
“We’ll start off with a couple of warm-up laps,” he told the class, “then we’ll go to the lower Park and spend the rest of the time working on the jump there. While we’re doing the laps, I want us to work on bouncing on your knees while riding; this will help with proper stance. Do a couple of bounces between turns.” He demonstrated, then we set off.
I wound up snowboarding even better than yesterday. The first time, we went through the Park, leaving our backpacks near the lower jump where Justin had our class in 2008. “You did great,” Jason remarked to me, as we rode together on the lift for our second run. “Aren’t your legs sore?”
“Not really,” I answered. “That’s because I stretched them yesterday. It’s my arms that are sore, because I forgot to do them.”
“I noticed your stance was sometimes goofy when you were riding from the Park to the lift,” he commented. “Which way do you normally ride?” The reason I trade stances there is because that part of the hill slants downward in two directions; the gentler slope goes towards the lift, so when I get tired from riding on my toe edge, I go switch on my heel.
“I normally ride regular,” I told him. “Since I didn’t skateboard or anything like that as a child, I never learned to favor one side over another. I skied and did a little roller and ice skating; those sports go only forwards and backwards. So that made it easier for me to learn riding switch. The reason I even snowboard regular is because when I tried goofy, pushing myself that way made my strapped-in foot charley horse.”
“That’s interesting,” he stated. “You can find out your stance by standing relaxed, and having someone push you from behind. Whatever foot you place forward is your stance. You can also run a few steps and slide across the floor.”
“I tried sliding, with mixed results,” I told him. “I’ve noticed something else; when I ride regular, heel turns are easier, but when I ride switch, toe turns are easier. The last time I snowboarded, I was able to do ground 360’s – I call them ballerina twirls – both ways. I even have a video of myself doing that. I tried doing them this time, but couldn’t bring myself to do a full rotation.”
“That’s great,” he said. “I’m surprised you can still ride switch, after not having ridden for so long.”
“I admit, I haven’t practiced doing kick turns on my skateboard for awhile. That’s how I cross train for that. Since I seldom get to snowboard, I’m a huge proponent for cross training.”
“So that’s how you do it. That’s amazing,” he responded. “We’ll work on switch riding later on this session.”
We took one more free run, then went to the little jump. "You guys can ride over it first, and work on catching air later," Jason told us. Vincent went first, then John, then Emily. Then it was my turn; I sideslipped too far, and couldn't make it over the hump. "Hike back up and try again," instructed Jason.
"Will you guide me over?" I asked, then realized I'd have farther to climb if he did that. So I obediently unstrapped my board and walked up. Jason stood at a spot and said, "Come down to here, then point your board straight. You'll make it over, then."
I sideslipped down to where he was. When I started to go further, he grabbed my right hand, turning me straight. I zoomed 90 miles an hour over the hump, crashing on the other side. The slushy snow was firm and crusty from the potassium preserving it, so the landing was slightly painful.
Now for the long haul back up. I remembered all the time I had spent the past 4 years, long-distance swimming and on the Stairmaster; would they pay off? Fortunately they did; I returned slowly, but with little trouble. "That was good," complimented Jason. "Try it again; this time, make your board flat, and look at the parking lot below. You fell because you were on your toe edge."
As I nervously strapped in, I made up a mantra; "Straight! Go flat! Look at the parking laht!" ("laht" being based on Jason's Australian accent). I slid down to where he was, then nervously went again, chanting it over and over in my mind. I succeeded again - this time without crashing! The class cheered when I came back up.
"Lunchtime," announced Jason. So we sat on our inverted boards and ate from our lunch sacks. "This is officially the end of your lesson," he told us. "The Palmer lift closes at 2pm; you can shred laps until then. Or you can stay in the Park until 3, when it closes. Remember, the last van leaves at 3:15."
The others decided to do laps until the lift closed. "I'm going to ride this jump 10 times," I said.
"Good for you! I admire how you're willing to stick to it."
The Red Bull saved me from the after-lunch slump, but I still felt nervous when I strapped on my board. I took some pictures, stretched my legs a little by sitting with them straight out and bending forward, then set out to do the jump again. My nervousness grew so intense, I spoke my mantra out loud, and it came out as, "$hi+! Hot damn! Get off your @$$ and jam!" I crashed; I also cringed, wondering of anyone had heard me, since there's a rule against swearing at camp. But no one was looking at me. On my next 7 attempts, I remembered the proper words; my rides over the jump were successful, and fall-free.
Jump-in Justin would be pleased, I thought to myself, remembering how terrified I was the first time I'd faced this in 2008. I decided to try catching air tomorrow; I was very tired. So I headed down the hill back to camp.
Afternoon activity for adults was kickball. I was WAY too worn out to play, plus I remembered the one time I did 5 years earlier, I’d experienced a tear in my left stirrup muscle. I really wanted to skateboard, but frankly felt too tired for that too. I was relieved to find out there were no youth skateboarding activities planned, so I decided to go along with the adults to kickball and sit on the sidelines stretching.
We met at Cobra Dogs at 4:30, and the vans took us to Welches. We stopped at an arcade where the others bought cases of beer. I bought sloe gin to offer Madame Pele when I returned to Hawaii (I had asked her to let me go to camp this year, promising her sloe gin when I returned from there, since you can’t it on the Big Island), and a Rock Star lemonade for myself. I was so fatigued, I didn’t even want to think about drinking alcohol. As it was, I nearly fell asleep in the van.
We went to a nearby park, and the group lined up to make the teams. They decided on a rule that to play, you had to have a beer in your hand at all times. “I’m sitting this one out. I’m too tired,” I explained, when I didn’t join the line.
“How come you’re drinking a Rock Star? Where’s your beer?” asked Sandra.
“That’s because she is a rock star!” declared Meese.
I felt extremely flattered. “Thanks,” I told Meese. Then to Sandra, “I nearly fell asleep in the van, so I don’t want to drink alcohol now. I’ll probably have some at dinner.”
“The place we’re going to serves the best Margaritas,” she said.
The teams were formed with people being counted off by 1s and 2s. Vincent approached me. “Since you’re not playing, would you mind filming the game for me?” he asked.
“Sure, no problem,” I answered. He handed me a tiny tube, showing me how to work it. It could have easily hidden in my hand, and it had no lens to look through, so I had no idea what I was getting. I told him this, but he said don’t worry about it.
I did my best to capture the highlights of the game. There were some slides, keep-aways, and interesting misses and catches. At one point, Sandra launched a weird device in the air. “What is that?” I asked a camper.
“It’s a video camera,” I was told.
When action lagged in the game, I zoomed Vincent’s camera on unique features such as people’s tattoos. One target was Lindsey’s necklace; it had an intricate pendant of an elk’s antlered head. She said no, and backed away in protest. I then realized I had inadvertently focused on her cleavage. I apologized, and aimed it at her shoulder tattoo instead. I felt awful about my lapse in judgment, but she didn’t seem mad at me the rest of the game.
The points between the teams were pretty close. Midway through the game, the winning team got together and tried to decide on a victory chant. The only one they could come up with was, “We’re not that drunk! We’re not that drunk! We’re not that drunk!” (which meant they probably were!). They wound up winning the game. We piled back in the vans, and set off to El Burro Loco for dinner. I was wide awake by then, thanks to the Rock Star. I wound up sitting with Chris and a bunch of other guys.
My indiscretion with Lindsay still rankled. I wondered what to do, then it occurred to me to discuss the matter with Meese. She had said a few days earlier at 48 she felt she was getting to be too old to be a camp counselor, but I had told her then I was older than she was, so that wasn’t likely. Her age would be a real credit, here!
I called her outside, and told her the incident. “Was Lindsay very upset?” she asked me.
“Not really. At least, I don’t think so.”
“Then it’s probably no big deal. Maybe you can just delete that section of the video.”
“I can’t. It’s Vincent’s.”
“Then perhaps you can tell him, and ask him to delete it.”
“Great idea. Thanks!” I was SO relieved!
So I called Vincent outside, and informed him about it. “No problem; I’m glad you told me. I’ll delete it when I edit it on my computer,” he said.
“I’d be so grateful for that, and so would she!” I sighed.
Now, I could really relax and enjoy dinner. Looking over the menu, I ordered a burrito. Nachos and salsa were provided for everyone, and I helped myself to those. I noticed they offered a Margarita in blackberry flavor; I broke down and ordered one.
"That's the first time I've played kickball since I was a kid," said John. "I figure we should do all this active stuff while we still can, before we're too old."
"I'm trying to find out when that is," I responded. "I discovered on my own that people reach their physical endurance peak at age 40."
Everyone gave me a puzzled look. "Really?" asked John.
"Yes. When I was 40, I went through a period when I had a lot of time on my hands. I remembered when I was a freshman in high school, when we had the AAHPERD test in PE - have any of you guys heard of it?"
A few of them had. AAHPERD stands for. American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance; it involves doing a ridiculous amount of various activities in a microscopic amount of time.
"I hated that test," I groaned.
"I think everyone hates PE tests," concurred John, and the others joined in agreement.
"After 7 months of training, on the day of the test, I ran one mile without stopping. It was the first time I had ever done so - and also the last, until I was 40. At that time, I was overweight and horribly out of shape. I decided to see if I could still run a mile, so I began training. Not only did I achieve this, but it took me only 3 months instead of 7 - and I ran it uphill. I have since run as far as 3 miles without stopping." They were all impressed.
"Maybe you're an exception," said Chris.
"I don't think so. Have you ever read about the first successful ascent of Mt. Everest?" Chris nodded. "Ever notice how emaciated Sir Edmund Hilary was, after the climb? He was 25 years old. On the other hand, Sir Tensing Norgay looked the same as he did before. He was 39 - that's almost 40."
"I know," responded Chris. "I'm 39 myself; I'll be 40 in a few weeks." I was surprised; he appeared to be a lot younger. "Why do you suppose that is?" he asked.
"You accumulate bone and muscle mass up until around age 30," I explained. "That's why doctors advise women younger than that to take calcium supplements, to avoid osteoporosis. When you do something that requires extreme endurance, the body digests muscle, and even bone, to survive. If you haven't yet accumulated your full amount, you operate at a deficit. On the other hand, if you have it all, including some extra like middle age spread, that gives you an advantage. Ever notice most people running extreme marathons are past 40?"
"Wow - I hadn't thought of that. Thanks; you just made my day!"
I felt pleased, and wondered if Chris would be interested in me. I hadn't revealed my age; would being 15 years his senior bother him?
“Yeah, life really does begin at 40. If you take halfway decent care of yourself, that’s when you achieve your peak endurance. However, if you’ve been abusing yourself with smoking and excessive alcohol, 40 is when it hits you. That’s what those insulting birthday cards are all about.”
Chris winced. “I did some heavy drinking in my early 20’s.”
“As long as you correct it, it’s not a problem. My father drank a fifth of scotch for 3 years, until his wife made him go to rehab. He had that alcoholic look at 51. He has since overcome it, and is still in excellent shape at 78.”
Chris sighed with relief. “That’s good to know!”
By the time we headed back to camp, the Rock Star had worn off and I was sleepy again. Soon as we arrived, I prepared for bed. I listened for Lindsay next door, but she didn't come. So I went downstairs; I found her talking with Chris.
"May I see you outside for a minute?" I asked her nervously.
"That's ok, you can tell her in front of me," said Chris.
"This will only take a few seconds," I told him. Lindsay and I stepped out on the balcony.
"I wish to apologize again about what happened at kickball," I told her. "I wasn’t thinking; I was just focusing on your necklace. I had a talk with Vincent, and he agreed to delete that scene."
"That's ok; it's no big deal," she reassured me. "Thanks for talking with Vincent." We hugged each other, then went back in.
"I know what happened, said Chris. "When you called Vincent out at dinner, I wondered what was going on, and asked him when we were riding back in the van. He told me all about it. I really respect you for that.” He held up his hand for a high five, and I gave him one.
“I was feeling really embarrassed; that’s why I didn’t want to say it in front of you. I just wasn’t thinking.”
“That’s ok. This is 2014; we need to consider all sorts of things that weren’t issues before. Besides, that really is a cool necklace.” We all laughed.
I went upstairs to bed in high spirits. Not only was the matter resolved; I’d had only one drink. Surely it wouldn’t affect my snowboarding tomorrow.
To read the next hub, Day 4, please visit this link:
© 2014 Yoleen Lucas