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Best Holiday Vacation Ever! Part III
In the previous chapter, we learned new tricks in epic snow conditions. To read about it, please visit this link: http://sayyestolife.hubpages.com/hub/Best-Holiday-Vacation-Ever-Part-II
Scenes from Mt. Hood Meadows Resort
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
This morning, Wanda Heidi and I emerged into a world covered in a feathery ermine cloak. In honor of Tim Windell's birthday, it had snowed overnight at an elevation of 500 feet. "It's cold!" whined Wanda, shivering in her parka.
"We're going to have epic snow conditions today!" I rejoiced.
At breakfast, I wished Tim Windell a happy birthday. "Are you planning on doing anything special?" I asked.
"No," he groaned. "I'm 45. I'm too old to celebrate."
"What's wrong with that?" I countered. "Forty-five is one of my favorite numbers. Besides, I'm 49, and in the best shape of my life."
"Really? You don't look it."
"Thanks," I answered. "I discovered people reach their endurance peak at 40. I still have to figure out how long we hang on to it. In Hawaii, you have people over 80 doing the Ironman Marathon."
"Really?" Tim was incredulous.
"Yeah. Ever notice most people doing marathons are 40 or older?"
"Wow - I never thought of that. You say you're 49?"
"So you're the oldest one here. Older than me, even."
"I sure am."
"Doesn't that bother you?"
"Not in the least. In fact, when I attended High Cascade Youth Camp, my endurance was better than a lot of the kids."
"Hmm," he pondered. "Maybe there's hope for me after all. Thanks!" he brightened.
Today, we shredded at Mt. Hood Meadows; it was my first time there. My class consisted of Coach Halo, Wanda, Heidi, and Ting. Apparently my words inspired Tim, because once again he decided to snowboard, leading a group of his own.
My troop rode to the top of the Mt. Hood Express lift. Once there, Halo began giving instructions on trails and where to meet. "I just want a straight shot to the bottom," Wanda interrupted. "I don't like to go slow."
"Well - we're supposed to stay together," Halo told her, a little irritated. "I can't let you go alone." Turning to us, she asked, "Anyone want to ride with her?"
"I'm not that good," Heidi declined.
"I need to take things easy today, because of my injury," Ting evaded.
"Well, I guess that leaves me," I shrugged, cringing inside; I still saw myself as a major snowboarding klutz.
"Thanks, Yoleen," Halo said, giving me a relieved look.
It turned out keeping up with Wanda wasn't that hard. When we were about halfway down the mountain, I offered to show her my ballerina twirls, and she stopped long enough for me to demonstrate. "That's really neat!" she exclaimed. "You'll have to teach me how to do that sometime."
Once we arrived at the bottom, she went to the bathroom. While I waited for her and the rest of the group, I practiced the 180 degree nose rolls Coach Justin taught me last summer. Tim arrived with his class. "Where's everybody?" he inquired. I explained that Wanda and I had gone ahead of the others, and so I was waiting for them. "Why did you guys go ahead of everyone else?" he asked.
"Wanda wanted to. Halo sent me with her, so she wouldn't go alone. She's using the bathroom now."
Tim seemed irked. "Thanks for accompanying her. I noticed you were doing something here. What were you practicing?"
"I was working on 180 degree nose rolls. I figured I'd do them while waiting."
"That's a good idea," he responded.
"Yeah, if I were a coach, that's what I'd have my class do; practice stuff while waiting for a slow person to catch up."
"I'm impressed," he said. I felt flattered that the camp owner would tell me that.
Right then his two students came along. "Would you like to join us?" he invited me.
"Uh - what about my class? I'm with Halo."
"No problem - I'll radio her right now." He called her on his walkie-talkie, and let her know I was going with his group. Then we rode up the Mt. Hood Express lift together.
From the top of that lift, we rode up the Cascade chair. I wondered if we were going to do expert runs, but it turned out the trails were all intermediate. But then Tim led us off the trail. "We're going to do trees," he explained.
"Uh - I don't know," I protested. "I'm not that good." I had read how to do them; according to Snowboarder Magazine, you DON'T. LOOK. AT. THE. TREES; but I'd also heard horror stories of people getting slashed by branches.
"No harm in trying," Tim reassured me. "Really, it's easy."
I took a deep breath and followed. It turned out the trees were little more than mere branches, and waist high at most, Even when I hit one, I'd just run over it and keep going. I'd heard people who enjoy shredding trees say the snow quality is better there. It really was, in spite of the forest being almost a collection of twigs!
"Thanks, " I told Tim, at the bottom of the mountain. "Now I can say I've done trees as well. And you're right; it wasn't dangerous at all!"
At noon, the whole camp met in the lodge, where we ate our sack lunches. Afterwards, I rejoined Halo, Ting, and Heidi. "I'm cold and tired," Wanda complained. She decided to call it an early day; she stayed in the lodge until time to go back to camp.
Tim joined our class; he and Halo led our group to a narrow sheet of plastic that lay on the snow. "We're going to be working on boxes today," Halo told us. "The purpose of doing boxes is to get people used to going off jumps. First you do ones that are flat on the ground, like this one; then those that end a few inches up, then a few feet, then finally you go off a real jump." She demonstrated to us by riding on and off it, then hiked back up. Next, Tim rode it; he fell in the process!
We all took turns doing the box. I did well, and so did Heidi. Though Ting was the fastest shredder in our class, for some strange reason, she kept going too slow onto the box and falling off. But overall, it was non-intimidating, and we all had fun practicing.
After riding the box 3 times each, we snowboarded to the bottom to take the chairlift up again. Near the base of the resort, there’s a 12 foot halfpipe, and we worked that on the way back to the lifts. I practiced the same moves I’d been taught rocking the halfpipe skateboarding, and found it works much better snowboarding. I made it nearly to the top of the halfpipe, and found it very easy to control my speed and how high I went. Perhaps Allison had learned to rock a snowboard halfpipe before skateboarding, and that’s why she picked up on it so quickly. After all, she was in a more advanced class.
We spent the rest of the afternoon riding the box several times, then returning to the halfpipe to rock it before boarding the lift again. We stayed until the resort closed at 5pm, by which time it was nearly dark. I was amazed at how easy it was to do a halfpipe snowboarding! I hoped I could use the same skills and finally rock a halfpipe on a skateboard tonight.
At closing time, everyone gathered at the lodge, we loaded up the vans, and headed back to camp for dinner. Wanda had taken some pictures. "When we get to the cabins, let's share ours," she told me.
"Great idea!" I exclaimed. I had gotten some of us doing the box, but none of the sunset.
Once back, we downloaded each other's pictures on our laptops. It turned out she had gotten some from the Portland Airport that it hadn't occurred to me to take. She had also taken some scenic shots of the ski resorts we'd visited. I, on the other hand, had several action shots; she had none.
After dinner, we had free time. There was an activity in BOB for the kids; it was Zombie Volleyball. They painted their faces and played the game in the giant halfpipe at the back of the building. This meant the giant halfpipe wasn't available to the others. Only a few kids played; most enjoyed the rest of the building, skating all the other features, bouncing on the trampoline, and jumping off a 5 foot platform into the foam pit. I considered trying that, but lost my nerve. The highest I'd ever jumped from was the 3 foot board at the swimming pool. (Later, after I got home, I kicked myself big time because I couldn't find any high dives lower than 8 feet from which to jump.)
Jumping off 5 foot platform into the foam pit
I got into the 2 foot halfpipe and tried to rock it, but with no success. Shucks! Why couldn't I do this with a skateboard, even though I had no problems snowboarding?
Halo saw me, and came over. "You need to push yourself higher up the rise, to gain momentum," she told me.
"Uh - could you help me by rocking me in the halfpipe?" I asked her.
"I can do it only a few times. I'm recovering from injuries to both knees, so I need to take things easy."
"Well - maybe you can help me drop in?" I suggested nervously. I had actually been successful dropping in 7 times last summer, with a coach holding both my hands. Then I needed to give others their turn, so that was the only opportunity I had.
"Normally, we have two coaches spotting you if you want to drop in," said Halo. Wow - that made me feel a lot better! "We're short on coaches right now, but at 10pm, we're going to have a special adults - only session. So wait until then."
"I will!" I agreed.
"Meanwhile, why don't you practice pushing yourself around the building to build up your strength," she told me.
That sounded boring, but that was just about all I could do skateboarding. So I did that, taking breaks to bounce on the trampoline wearing my rainbow chiffon cape and having a boy take pictures of me, to see the effect. Halo awed me by rolling down a steep embankment and flying into the foam pit. I told myself once I learned to rock a halfpipe, I could rock myself up to the point where I could roll into the foam pit; then I could do what Halo did.
Halo doing a roll-in into the foam pit.
By 9pm, I began to feel really tired. "Why not go ahead and leave," said Halo. "Hardly any adults are here, anyway. I don't think we're going to have the late night session after all. None of the other coaches are here, and I can't be of much help."
So I returned to my cabin. Wanda and Heidi were already asleep. Quietly, I prepared for bed.
All around BOB
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
When we woke the next morning, it was snowing big time. "Classic!" I exclaimed, jumping down from my bunk.
Heidi turned over in hers. "What do you mean by that?" she moaned.
"It's snowing outside! That means we'll have the best conditions ever! When I was at High Cascade last summer, it snowed June 21st, and conditions were weird; a mixture of ice, slush, and packed powder. But today, we'll have total powder! That's something I never get, living in Hawaii!"
Heidi smiled. "That's one way to put it," she said, getting up.
"You get a lot of ice in New England where you're from, right?"
"Yeah, but that's not always the case."
We met Wanda in the living room. "I'm not snowboarding today," she growled to us. "I hate this weather! Why did it have to snow during my vacation?"
At breakfast, I noticed the kids who had played Zombie Volleyball still had some residual paint on their faces. "So you're going to be doing Zombie Shredding today," I teased them, and they laughed.
Tim informed Wanda she could not stay behind at camp. "You can sit in the lodge if you want," he said. "But you'll be missing a major treat."
We went to Mt. Hold Meadows again. While Wanda stayed in the lodge, Coach Halo, Ting, Heidi and I worked on boxes, moguls, and jumps. Moguls are ever so much more fun on a snowboard than on skis! When I try to ski bumps, my tips keep getting caught; a snowboard glides right over them with no problem, even flattening the soft ones, making it easier for skiers. That's why I use the term "shred" for snowboarding.
We did the simple box again, and for some reason, Ting just couldn’t get up enough speed to do it. I saw her do a much larger box farther on down the trail, and decided to try that one for myself. I wiped out BIG TIME! (Later on, I found out I had broken my digital camera during the fall.)
"I caught you on film", Halo said, laughing, when I caught up with her. "That was quite a spill! You simply rode onto that box, didn't you? You're supposed to jump on."
"Oh, so that was it," I laughed with her.
Ting gave me a concerned look. "Are you ok?"
"Sure, I'm fine," I answered." "But I find it strange that you could handle that big box, but not the little one."
"That's because she's good at jumping," Halo told me.
Because it snowed all day, we had epic powder conditions. The resorts got 3 feet of snow! We wound up leaving the mountain at 3:30pm because Tim was concerned we would be snowed in. I can think of worse fates than being trapped in a ski resort all night...
Evening activity for the kids was staying at camp for dinner, then going bowling afterwards. Tim Windell took us adults to dinner at a sushi bar named Koji Osakaya in Portland. There, we were told to order any type of sushi we wanted, as much as we could eat.
"Sake bombs!" called Wanda. We were all served a large glass of Kirin beer and a shot of sake. Halo showed me how to place two chopsticks across the glass and balance the shot on it. Then we all cried out, "Ichi, ni, san!" (one, two three in Japanese) and banged our fists on the table. The shot of sake fell into the beer, causing it to foam, and we all drank it.
Contrary to my usual habit at snowboard camp, I had several beers that night. I hoped it wouldn't affect my snowboarding the next day. It was such fun, talking with the others about how their day went.
"I was a pro snowboarder back in the 1980s," Tim told me. "I set the world record for speed on a snowboard."
"Wow! How fast was that?" I asked him.
"Back then, it was 66 miles per hour. That has long since been surpassed; it's now somewhere around 125."
"Uh - I don't think I'll be doing either speed in this lifetime."
Besides operating sessions year round, Windells also has school, called Windell Academy. It offers the usual courses, and for PE, the kids get special coaching snowboarding. "I wish I were in high school again, so I could attend," I said to Shawn. "Though maybe I could teach there. I am a substitute teacher. What are their requirements?"
"You need a teaching credential," answered Shawn, "I don't think they hire subs, because they only have 2 teachers and 20 students. Maybe wait a few years before you apply."
"It's weird," added Robbie. "Some of the parents visit, and it turns out they have no idea what type of school it is. They say, 'Oh, it's a snowboard academy.' I can't believe they're spending $30,000 a year to send their kids to a boarding school, and they didn't even bother to find out anything about it."
In spite of the school being located at a snowboard camp, I found this very sad. "What are the kids like?" I asked. Images of barbarianism exhibited in the book The Chocolate War came to my mind.
"They're all nice," Shawn and Robbie informed me. I felt relieved.
After dinner, we all went across the parking lot to a gas station to buy various items. I bought some energy drinks. "Why don't you get this instead?" Wanda suggested, showing me a can of Sparks drink.
"What is that?" I asked her.
"It's an alcoholic energy drink. You've never heard of that before?"
"I've heard of Vodka Red Bull," I answered. "I tried it once, but it didn't do anything for me."
"This stuff is great," said Wanda. "Why don't you buy one?"
"I will, next time. I believe I'd better cool it with the alcohol. I've already drunk way more than I normally do at snowboard camp," I answered, deciding to save the information for later.
We rode back to camp in the vans, arriving about the same time as the kids.
In the next, and final, chapter of this story, we celebrate New Year's Eve in grand style. To read about it, please visit this link:
© 2013 Yoleen Lucas