Return of the Quasar (Introduction)
My friend Margie thinks I’m nuts. Why would a 53-year-old woman leave Hawaii to go on vacation? She is finally getting herself out of a financial rut, and is dreaming of taking a Caribbean or South Seas cruise. She moved from Hawaii to Oregon for career reasons, and it turned out to be one of the biggest mistakes of her life; there may be more opportunities in Oregon, but the business world there is much more competitive and cruel. So it’s a good thing I stayed in Hawaii, where the pay is low but the jobs are steady.
It’s been four eternal years since I’ve been to High Cascade Snowboard Camp on Mt. Hood. That is because I too had money problems. I’m trying not to worry about the fact that since the last time I went there, I have passed the big Five-Oh. It shouldn’t matter, because 1) a number of adult campers were older than that when I went, 2) I’ve been keeping myself in shape the whole time, and 3) my looks haven’t aged at all in that time..
I still weigh 160 pounds, and can run a mile at 6 miles an hour. I can do a pull-up removing 35 pounds off my weight, which means I can lift 125 pounds. In addition, I’ve learned to ride a Ripstick, which I intend to use during the skateboard contest; it will be hilarious doing it as a hula to the sappy Hawaiian song, “Please Don’t Go”! Who knows, I may even win a prize! I did last time, in Girl’s Skate (I was the only girl). Even if I’m not the only girl this time, I’ll probably be the only one with a Ripsitck!
I also know to stretch my arms and shoulders every day, after getting off the hill. That will keep them from jamming from all the falling I did, like the first two summers I attended camp,. It had gotten to the point where I couldn’t swim or push myself up into a backbend; I had to have a massage therapist fix it.
Regarding going off a high dive, two years ago, I actually went off the 8 foot platform on Coconut Island twice. A kindhearted pastor talked me into it. But I haven’t had the nerve since. I considered using a fire escape ladder to hang from the higher tower (14 feet) and climb up a few feet, jump from there, climb higher, jump from there, until I could do it from the top of that tower. But I could find absolutely nothing from any store on the Big Island. Justin, my landlord, suggested children’s slides. I found an 8 foot one and slid down it a few times, then made yet another attempt on Coconut Island. A girl named Marina, who was visiting from Mexico City, said she would sit with me until I could make the jump, but again I was too freaked to do so. I felt terrible, knowing she had sacrificed part of her vacation for me.
After leaving Coconut Island, I decided to buy a strong rope at Walmart and create my own ladder. When I arrived, a clerk led me to a fire escape ladder that sold for $40! He was as surprised as I was, since they don’t normally sell those. Of course I bought it.
Two days later, there was a Tahitian Dance Festival at the Hilo Civic Center. I remembered Marina had told me her sister was participating in it, so I went there looking for her. When I finally found her, I told her about buying the ladder, thanked her again, and gave her the movie Hawaiian Starlight (I had originally bought it for Margie, but since I was going up Mauna Kea the next day, I could easily buy her another one). I figured I could expand on Marina’s vacation that way, since she hadn’t had time to go up Mauna Kea. She said she knew I would eventually go off the high dive.
Using the ladder would have to wait. A week later, I left for Oregon. My original plan was to arrive a few days early so I could meet Kevin Pearce again. I had met him and danced with him when I attended HCSC in 2008; since then, he had suffered a traumatic brain injury while practicing the Double Cork McTwist for the 2010 Olympics. He was a featured pro in Session V, which I could not attend since they don’t have an adult section then, so I chose Session VI so I could come early and meet him. However, I had not checked dates carefully; it turned out there is now a 2 day lag between the sessions, and VI started on August 5th instead of 7th, as it had in the past. I had already booked my flight in May, flying out the night of August 3rd and returning on the 14th. I called HCSC to see if there was any chance Kevin was staying after the session, but they said he had left early.
It was a miracle I even got to attend HCSC. My finances had gotten really tight; that’s why I hadn’t been able to go the past 3 years. The reason I was able to go this summer is because several years back, substitute teacher wages had been illegally reduced, so as a result we got payback. Mine ($1845) was barely enough to cover camp fees (two years earlier, I had sent in a $500 deposit, then had to postpone attending). Dad sent me $300, and I found a bargain flight through PriceLine for $597. I had points on my credit cards to cover the $60 baggage fee each way. My roommate Christine has a brother named Jim who lives in Portland; she arranged to have him host me for the days I would not be at camp, so I didn’t have to worry about renting a car or paying for a place to stay.
The bargain flight meant I would have to fly out of Kona instead of Hilo. My other roommate Leanne drove me over there in my car. I allowed her free use of it while I was gone. She was also going to take care of my cat Darshan during my absence.
My flight went without incident. I flew from Kona to LAX, then to Portland. Flying into Los Angeles, I could see daylight ahead, and wondered if I was going to suddenly emerge into it, as I have heard about on red eye flights, but it turned out to be a one hour sunrise. However, it was weird seeing that happen at 2am!
I arrived in Portland around 10am. Christine’s brother Jim met me at the airport. He’s a retired school psychologist who remains active by cycling and surfing. He used to ski, but can’t handle the cold anymore. He took me cruising through Portland, explaining its various neighborhoods. I told him I wanted to move to Portland in a few years, once I got myself into a situation where I no longer had to work.
Jim’s wife is an architect, and his younger daughter, who is 19 years old and an aspiring architect herself, works with her. I met them when he picked them up from work (their older daughter is attending University of Oregon in Eugene). His daughter tried skiing, but it didn’t hold her interest, so snowboarding is completely out of the question – shucks! I was hoping to get her interested in High Cascade.
The only significant time I spent in Portland was when I vacationed there in 1991. Back then, the northeast section was a ghetto; it had been the crack capital of the US 3 years earlier, with 50 crackhouse fires. It has since gone through a MAJOR renovation; I believe the ghetto is now in Gresham. Jim and his family live in the northeast section, in a beautiful home. Since it was built in 1928, it obviously was around during the ghetto years. Strange…
Portland was really hot; 90 degrees! Jim told me they were having a heat wave, and he was concerned there might not be much snow on Mt. Hood. I checked the snow conditions, and they didn’t say much.
First, a brief tour of High Cascade and the town of Government Camp.
Camp TourClick thumbnail to view full-size
The next day at noon, Jim dropped me off at Carousel Two – and there my High Cascade adventure began.
When do people reach their physical endurance peak?
The correct answer to this poll will be provided on Day 3.
© 2014 Yoleen Lucas