Best Holiday Vacation Ever! Part II
For eons, I'd wanted to attend Windell's Holiday Camp. Finally I got to, and it promised to be the best vacation ever. One of my roommates turned out to be a major whiner, which made no sense to me; how could anyone whine about a ski / snowboard camp? To read about it, please visit this link:
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Breakfast began at 7:30am. We arrived as instructed; fully dressed for the slopes, and bringing all our gear, which we left outside. Since we were scheduled to leave at 8:10am, that left us 40 minutes to eat breakfast and make a sack lunch. When I arrived at the dining hall with Heidi and Wanda, I saw everyone standing in line for breakfast. I could also see that there would be utter chaos when they all made their lunches later, so I fixed mine first. I made a couple of turkey sandwiches with a bag of chips and a granola bar.
Then I enjoyed the pancakes, eggs, and bacon breakfast with the others. Ski and snowboard videos played on the overhead monitors. Sarah, one of the staff members, was sitting with us. "We're going to Timberline Resort today," she said. "Any of you been there before?"
Neither Wanda nor Heidi had. "I have, but only during the summer," I told Sarah.
"Then you've only snowboarded the upper mountain," said Sarah. "They close that in the winter, because of bad weather. Sometimes they open Magical Mile, but they don't even bother to dig out the Palmer lift. We'll be doing the lower part; it's an entirely different resort. There are loads of runs below Wy'East Lodge."
After breakfast, we loaded up in 3 vans and set off for Timberline Resort. High Cascade is only 6 miles from there; since Windell's is nearly 23 miles, the trip took a lot longer.
An African American guy introduced himself as Kevin. "It's really tough," he said to Roundhouse, who was driving. "Every time I go to a ski resort, I get stared at. It's because I'm nearly always the only black guy there."
"That's just awful," Roundhouse responded sympathetically.
"That's strange," I joined in. "What resorts do you go to?"
"I live in the Sacramento area, so I go to the ones in Tahoe."
"I grew up skiing Tahoe resorts," I told him. "No one ever stared at me."
Kevin looked puzzled. "Are you sure?"
"Yeah. Actually, it seems you'd be so bundled up most of the time, they can't tell your race anyway." Roundhouse and some of the other passengers laughed.
"Still, snowboarding is mainly a white man's sport," stated Kevin. "You rarely see minorities of any race doing it."
"This van is full of minorities," I answered, noting several passengers were Asians. "Japan has a huge snowboarding scene. I'd love to visit Hokkaido someday."
Kevin remained silent the rest of the trip. I felt relieved; I don't think snowboard camp is a good place to discuss racism.
Once we arrived, several staff members, including an African American man named Kataiah, helped unload our boards from the tops of the vans. Then we entered the lodge and gathered around the big Smokey The Bear statue. We stretched, tightened our boots, got into coaching groups, and headed for the slopes.
I always wear wrist guards when snowboarding or skating. As a result, I have never had a wrist injury. These can be worn under gloves. It amazes me that more people don't wear wrist guards. There is a proper way to fall, but you don't always think about that in the heat of the moment.
My group consisted of Wanda, Heidi, our next door neighbor Ting, and 5 guys. Sara was our coach.
"First I'm going to assess your skills," she told us. She led us all to a nearby bunny slope. We all linked our turns well.
"Very good!" Sara said. "Now let's work on mini ollies." I thought that was going a bit fast; all we did was show how we could turn, and she was having us do tricks already!
"When you ollie, you don't just jump; you lift your front foot first. Just jumping is called a bunny hop," she instructed. We each took turns ollie-ing over a tiny knob. We all sailed a few inches.
"Great!" exclaimed Sara. "If you want to catch big air, you need to go faster. If you go fast enough, you won't even need to jump."
"Yeah, but what are the chances of getting injured doing this?" Wanda asked cynically.
Sara gave her a sneering look. "Nobody gets hurt on a bunny slope! Now, everyone hike up and try again."
We hiked up, and practiced ollie-ing again. When we had all reached the bottom, as we squatted to unstrap our boards, one of the boys who had never snowboarded before slid down the slope, totally out of control, and crashed into Ting.
"Lucky you!" I called to her, in jest. "You're attracting hotties already!"
The boy apologized profusely, stood up, and reached out his hand to Ting. Then we saw the blood. I remembered not to gasp in horror.
"You idiot!" Wanda snapped.
"Are you ok?" Sara asked Ting.
"I don't know," she answered.
"Just stay seated. I'm going to call someone," Sara told her. Turning to the boy, she said, "It's ok. Accidents happen. Go back to practicing; I'll take care of this." Nervously, the boy removed his board and hiked off.
Sara pulled out a walkie-talkie and radioed someone. "Keep practicing," she told us. "An ambulance will be coming out soon." Nervously, we practiced ollies on a nearby slope. About half an hour later, paramedics arrived, helped Ting onto a berth, and carried her away.
Once she was gone, Sara took us to a park with actual jumps. "Just ride over the side of these for now," she told us. My first two times, I rode in between; I finally got up the nerve to go up the side on my third try. Some of the boys actually did the jumps, of course.
Next, Sara led us to a terrain park with little boxes that had drop-offs that were about a foot high. I was too intimidated to try those. True, the box I did at High Cascade summer of 2008 had a two foot drop-off, but it was much wider than these!
Kataiah rode up, and saw me standing there, not trying the boxes. "I think you have a problem with your stance," he said. "That's why you don't feel confident. How about I work with you the rest of the morning?"
"Sure, thanks," I answered.
"Are you regular or goofy?" he asked, referring to which foot I place forward while riding.
"I'm regular," I told him, since I ride with my left foot forward.
"Have you ever ridden switch?"
"Yes, I do it all the time." Having grown up skiing, I'm not used to restricting myself to constantly placing the same foot forward.
"That's great! Let me see how you ride switch."
I showed him.
"Personally, I think your stance is really goofy, not regular," he told me.
"Wow - I'm flattered you think I'm that good," I answered. "But I really am regular. If I try pushing myself with my left foot instead of my right, my feet charley-horse."
"You're doing really good," he complimented. "But you need to squat more and bend over less. There's a saying; sit on the toilet; don’t smell it." We both laughed.
I tried the stance he told me, but found it very difficult to maintain for more than a few seconds. "Your board setup is too narrow," he said. "When we get back to camp, I'll get you a longer board with your feet farther apart. That will make it easier for you to maintain a proper stance." This scared me, but I decided to go along with it.
At noon, everyone met in Wy’East Lodge and spent an hour eating lunch. (At High Cascade in the summer, we eat outdoors on the hill, and everyone is on their own.) I chugged an energy drink, then rejoined Sara’s group for the second half of our day. I had no problem snowboarding after lunch, though Heidi got tired and after a few runs, spent the rest of the day in the lodge.
We did the jumps some more, and some steep slopes as well. We left the mountain around 3:30pm. I wound up sleeping on the way back. I didn’t remember that happening in the HCSC vans. I wondered what the difference was, then remembered I didn't spend as much time on the hill during the summer.
Once back at camp, Sara announced her class was to meet in Roadhouse for video analysis. Roadhouse is where the boys are staying. "I bet it really stinks, rooming with all those guys," I overheard Wanda whine to one of our male classmates. I felt my face grow hot.
Soon as Wanda walked off, I caught up to him. "I bet Roadhouse is loads of fun, rooming with all those guys," I said.
He gave me a surprised look. "Thanks! Actually it is," he answered. "What are your living quarters like?"
"It's a cabin with 2 bedrooms. That woman who insulted you is one of my roommates. She grabbed one room for herself, and she froze last night because the heating system doesn't work in there." We both laughed.
We entered Roadhouse, which turned out to be a dorm. One wall of the living room was completely covered with skateboards. "Wow - you guys get to skate any time you want!" I admired. "It must be never a dull moment!"
Tim Windell met us here, and gave us the news on Ting. Her shins had been cut to the bone by the boy's snowboard! She had required stitches. However, she was fine; she would be back later on tonight.
The video analysis lasted about 15 minutes. Only the guys had anything interesting to show; They did a bunch of jumps. I had minimal coverage.
Ever wonder how pros do all those spectacular crashes, then get up and try again? They wear body armor underneath their clothing. This device protects the spine.
After dinner, I bravely brought my gear back to the trailer, where Kataiah gave me a Ride Fever board that came up to my chin (150cm), and set my stance wider.
The Staff Sale was happening that night, in the trailer. It was absolutely nothing like HCSC’s; there were a few articles of snowboarding clothing set on a table, and that was it! Something was said about selling some of the demo gear, but as far as I know, no one bought any.
There were two evening activities that night; the Campfire with s’mores, and the Dizzy Bat Relay in BOB. I went to the campfire; about half a dozen guys were there. I tried to get some ghost stories going, but no one was into that. It was very cold; in fact, I was still wearing my snowboard clothing. I think that’s why the turnout wasn’t very good. The guys who were there really didn’t feel like talking. I told one “scary” joke, which they seemed to like; it was one where a man killed his wife, and her ghost kept haunting him, saying, “Give me my golden ring…give me my golden ring…” then she finally screams, “GOT IT!!!”, startling the listeners. I asked the others for ghost stories, but they said they were better told when there were wide-eyed little kids to enjoy them.
Campfire lasted barely an hour. Afterwards, I went to BOB for the Dizzy Bat Relay. It was to be held in the back bowl. It consisted of the kids being divided into two teams; they held a plastic bat to their foreheads and were spun around a bunch of times, then tried to run to the other end to pass the bat to the next person.
However, there was no Dizzy Bat Relay when I arrived. Everyone had gathered at the trampoline; it turns out the second injury of the day had occurred there. Twelve-year-old Arie had been practicing flips when he crashed against a rim and knocked some of his teeth out; rumor had it the number lost was four. Blood was everywhere; it looked scary. The counselors administered first aid, then sent him to the hospital in Sandy. Later, we found out he had only knocked out one tooth, but had to have a metal plate put in his lower jaw.
I stayed in BOB for awhile, practicing skateboarding and bouncing on the trampoline (no flips). I left after an hour because I developed allergy symptoms. Roundhouse told me this was because of the mildew in the foam pit; lots of people were using it, and that sent the spores flying. So I decided to call it a night and went back to the cabin.
Wanda and Heidi were watching TV and drinking. I told them about Arie's injury, and they were horrified.
"Are you catching a cold?" Wanda asked me.
"No, it's just allergies," I answered.
"Here's a Claritin," she said, handing me a pill. "You probably got it from the mildew in this place, didn't you? This camp is awful! The first day is barely over, and 2 people are hurt already! These people running the camp are totally irresponsible! Our class was too large today, and Sara's a lousy coach! Don't you think so?"
"Uh - thanks for the Claritin," I answered, then ducked into the room to go to bed and avoid hearing more complaints.
Monday, December 28, 2009
Today, new coaches were brought in, and we were divided into smaller groups. Now I only had 2 classmates; Heidi and Ting (she sure recovered quickly!). Sara and Katai divided the 5 boys between them. Wanda got a prime placement; Tim Windell himself came out of retirement to be her private guide! (So this is what complaining gets you. Maybe I ought to try it myself - lol!)
Our new teacher introduced herself as Halo. "Actually, Halo is my middle name," she told us. "My first name is Angela. My mother gave me the middle name of Halo because I had one on the crown of my head when I was born. I'm originally from Indiana, and used to go skiing once a year in Wisconsin. Soon as I turned 18, I headed for Oregon, and have lived here ever since; it's been six years.
"Today, we're just going to cruise. We'll work on new skills some other time." She led us to a slope off in the distance, and we took a ride to the bottom that must have been about 2 miles. I had no idea Timberline Resort had such long runs!
"I really like what you're doing with your outfit," she said to me, as we were riding the lift back up. I was wearing the powder blue Bonfire snowboarding suit I'd bought on sale last summer. Yesterday, I had worn the matching skirt with a lime green petticoat underneath; today, I was wearing a rainbow tutu.
"Thanks," I answered. "I'll probably be wearing this every day, so I figured I'd switch it up with embellishments." I had brought with me a couple of snow pants, but they were nearly 20 years old and being mere shells, didn't do much to keep out the cold.
"I love seeing people being creative," Halo responded. "I model for Bonfire."
"Really!" I felt excited. Halo is about 5’2”, so apparently being a really good snowboarder is more important for them than being tall. "How did you get to be so good, skiing only once a year when you were a kid?"
"When I first arrived, I got a job teaching little kids to ski," she told me. "In my spare time, I learned to snowboard, and practiced as much as I could. I eventually became a pro, and got the job modeling for Bonfire. I work for Windell's on an on-call basis. I rent a cabin nearby, with my boyfriend. It takes a lot of juggling, but I'm doing well."
"That's encouraging!" I said. "I live in Hawaii, so I rarely get to snowboard. I try to make up for it by cross-training on my skateboard. I'm trying to be good at it, in spite of the fact I hardly ever get to do it."
"Do you ever shred Mauna Kea on the Big Island?" she asked me.
"Yes. I live on the Big Island. Only problem is, Mauna Kea rarely gets snow. I got to do it 3 times last winter, but it hasn't snowed this season yet. Most years, I'm lucky to get in one day of shredding."
"What is that like?" Now she was getting excited.
"Well - it ain't Aspen. The snow is wet and heavy, and you need at least a foot of it to do any shredding; you rarely get that much. There are no lifts, so you have to either hitchhike or walk uphill, which is quite difficult at 13,000 feet. Also, the obstacles are unmarked, and there's no snow patrol, so you're on your own; that means you can't afford to take risks. There are no real facilities, either; just some porta-potties at the bottom of the hill. You have to bring your own water and food. You can buy snacks at the Visitor's Center 8 miles down the road. The nearest gas station is in Hilo, over 40 miles away. Generally, I drive to the Visitor's Center, then hitchhike the rest of the way, because at that altitude, your car can cut out, and tow trucks charge $600 to get you off the mountain."
"Still, though, you can say you snowboarded in Hawaii!"
"Yes. It's mainly for bragging rights. Plus it's free. However, you have to bring your own equipment from the Mainland. The locals use boogie boards. They're really good, but it can be dangerous. A few years ago, a girl flew off her boogie board into a field of lava rocks and sustained brain injuries. She died later."
"Uh - I'd rather focus on something positive," interrupted Halo. "I've had my share of injuries myself, but if I dwelt on them, I'd quit snowboarding. It's extremely important to maintain positive thoughts if you're going to improve."
"Oops - sorry," I replied.
We took another run down the hill. Ting was the fastest. Halo suggested she join a more advanced group, but she didn't want to. Heidi was the slowest; I was relieved to not be the class klutz.
At one point, while we were midway down the mountain waiting for Heidi, I decided to show Halo and Ting my ballerina twirls. Summer of last year, Coach Justin at High Cascade had taught 360 turns to his class, and I had been afraid to try them. I had spent the rest of the year practicing kick turns on my skateboard, and now could easily do them, one after another, in either direction. Last summer, I had showed Coach Justin, and he had been very surprised and pleased. He didn't believe cross-training helped any, but I wound up proving to him that it did.
Halo filmed me doing the ballerina twirls. Both she and Ting were delighted. When Heidi caught up with us, I showed them to her as well.
Me doing ballerina twirls
Once again, we took a leisurely hour for lunch, eating it in the lodge. Ting decided she didn't want to shred afterwards, so she headed back in the next van. Shortly after returning to the slopes, Heidi fell from the chairlift and hurt her arm and tailbone, so she decided to call it an early day. That left me with private coaching from Halo, so we worked on some more jumps. I managed to clear a few inches from the ones Sara had us doing the day before.
We got off the slopes at 4pm. We were among the last ones, so we wound up catching a ride with Tim Windell himself in his car! It turned out to be an ancient station wagon. He was barely out of the parking lot when he got a flat tire, and his spare was flat as well! So he called for someone to come up in a camp van to take us back, while he stayed behind to deal with the matter.
This device protects the tailbone - very important if you're riding or skiing rails! (Heidi could have used this one.)
At dinner, we all discussed our day. I waited to see what complaints Wanda would make, but surprisingly, she had none. (Actually, that shouldn't be surprising, considering the camp owner had given her private lessons.) It turned out they'd spent the day cruising.
Tim made it back to camp after dinner. The evening activity for the kids was a visit to Goodwill store; for adults, it was a trip to Skyway Restaurant for Happy Hour. Tim took Coach Robbie, Yuki, Ting, Wanda, Heidi, and me; he treated all of us to drinks and hors d’oeuvres. Tim's girlfriend was there, but I never figured out who she was.
"What was your scariest moment snowboarding?" I asked Tim and Robbie.
Tim answered, "It was in a speed contest. I went around a corkscrew bend too fast and flew off course, knocking myself out."
"Whoa! That's how Jill Kinmont broke her neck!" I told him, referring to The Other Side of the Mountain, about the woman who had almost made it into the 1956 Olympics.
"Fortunately, I wasn't seriously hurt. I believe it happened because I over-analyzed the slope. If I hadn't thought about it and just done it, I probably would have made it."
"Uh - personally I disagree," I said. "I think analyzing can do a lot to prevent injuries. I always wear wrist guards; that's why I've never had a problem with my wrists, even though I fall a lot."
"Yeah, but fear can make you hold back at the worst time, causing an accident," Tim warned.
"My scariest moment shredding," said Robbie, "was when I was barreling down a slope which suddenly ended in a cliff. I came to a screeching halt just in time."
"That sounds like a scene in Glen Plake's movie, Snow What?" I told him. I decided not to add that a little analysis could have saved him from that near disaster.
"What was your scariest moment snowboarding?" they asked me.
Every time I strap on a snowboard I get scared. Andrew Crawford says the same thing, but our reasons are entirely different. Andrew Crawford is a pro who is constantly pushing himself; in my case, I'm a klutz who is terrified of snowboarding. I do it anyway because in spite of my fear, I love it.
After thinking awhile, I decided to tell them about last summer's incident. "I was at High Cascade snowboard camp. The Palmer run was bulletproof ice. I was going to take off my board and walk down under the chairlift, where the snow was at least churned up enough to get a grip, but my coach made me snowboard down the slope."
"Ooh," moaned Robbie. "If your skills weren't up to that, he shouldn't have made you do it."
"Well," responded Tim, after a brief pause, "I think he did the right thing. If she'd slipped and fallen while walking, she wouldn't have been able to get a grip with boots. At least snowboards have edges."
"That's what he told me," I said. Then I cringed, realizing I could have caused a major catastrophe, especially if I'd crashed into someone else or hit a pole or tree; that's how Jill Kinmont had broken her neck. The snow may have been churned up under the lifts, but it was still slick, so it was highly unlikely I could have gotten a grip. "You're right," I said to Tim. "Fear can make you do foolish things. When we finally caught up with the rest of the class, my coach gave us all a lecture about how only scared people get hurt." I was really beginning to feel unnerved. I remembered what Halo had said about keeping positive, so I chugged and finished my local microbrew. "Our coach used drunk drivers as an example; he says they walk away from accidents without a scratch because their muscles are relaxed. So how about we go night shredding after Happy Hour, to prove his point?" We all laughed, and Tim ordered another round for all of us.
By the time we left, the resorts were already closed, so we didn't get a chance to prove his point.
Tomorrow is Owner Tim Windell's Birthday. To read about it, please visit this link:
© 2013 Yoleen Lucas