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Best Holiday Vacation Ever! Part IV

Updated on April 25, 2020
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This final chapter comes to a Grand Finale. It's the best New Year's Eve I've ever had!

The previous chapter included camp owner Tim Windell's birthday. He wound up not celebrating, feeling depressed because of his age. I encouraged him, telling him endurance-wise, he's in his prime, and he reciprocated by helping me meet a new challenge snowboarding. To read about it, please visit this link:

Halo, Ting, Kumi, myself, and Heidi at Ski Bowl on New Year;s Eve
Halo, Ting, Kumi, myself, and Heidi at Ski Bowl on New Year;s Eve

Thursday, December 31, 2009

This morning, when I woke up, it was raining. "Oh no," I groaned.

"What's the matter?" responded Heidi.

I told her the weather, adding, "I hope it's not the same at the resorts."

"I'm not worried about it," Wanda said, when we met her in the living room. "I'm going home today, after breakfast."

I was horrified. "You're going to miss the best part of camp! We're supposed to go night skiing and shredding, and see the fireworks!"

"I don't care. This whole trip has been one big drag. This cabin is poorly heated, there's no fan in the bathroom, the food is awful, and the whole camp is set up for bratty boys! I can't wait to leave!"

"Well, excuse me," I exclaimed. "You only got private coaching from the camp owner, who came out of retirement just for you. Not bad for $1399! What else did you expect?"

Wanda stayed behind, while Heidi and I went to breakfast. "Good for you, telling her off," she said. "Everyone here has had issues with her constant complaints."

I responded, "Didn't she read the brochure or website? Anyone could see who this camp is geared to. Then again, maybe she's one of those types who just loves to complain."

"I hope she doesn't come back next year," moaned Heidi. "She certainly did not add anything positive to the atmosphere. Tim was very patient with her, but now his job is done."

"I doubt she will," I responded. "She can't love complaining that much." We both laughed.

After breakfast, we went up to Timberline, the highest resort. Fortunately, it was snowing there. Jeannette, who is sales marketing director and works in the store, acted as my personal tour guide looking for powder stashes. She filmed me shredding powder. I was thrilled after all these years to finally be doing that! I had tried with skis before, but my tips kept digging in. You need special lessons to ski powder, but with a snowboard, you just float right on top of it. Unlike the Rocky Mountains though, here it’s heavy and hard to turn in, so you really have to stay in the fall line.

Around 11am, we started getting a mixture of rain with the snow. "Maybe we should go in?" I suggested.

"No, let's keep going," answered Jeanette.

"Well - I don't think it's safe, shredding in the rain. We could get soaked and wind up with hypothermia." I personally can think of few conditions worse than snowboarding in the rain.

"At least it makes the snow soft," responded Jeanette.

"Oh - I hadn't thought of that. We don't have to worry about ice."

Jeannette said, "I try to always look at the positive side of everything. I think maybe that's why I've lasted with Tim for five years."

Jeanette's film of me shredding Timberline

"I guess we can shred until we get wet," I agreed.

My new snowsuit kept me pretty dry, but Jeanette got soaked quickly, so we quit around 11:30. We ate lunch in the lodge, then returned to camp. Wanda was already gone. I took a 2 hour nap so I would be refreshed for night shredding.

Joe Michaels, on his 18th birthday.  He got the black eye from crashing on his snowboard.
Joe Michaels, on his 18th birthday. He got the black eye from crashing on his snowboard.
Joe Michaels' birthday cake.
Joe Michaels' birthday cake.

At dinner, I noticed the central table held a giant chocolate cake. It turned out to be Joe Michael's 18th birthday. "Lucky you!" I exclaimed. "Celebrating your birthday at a ski and snowboard camp! Guess who you share your birthday with?"

"Who?" he asked me.

"John Denver, Donna Summer, and Lord Voldemort of the Harry Potter books," I told him.

"Well, wadayaknow!" he laughed.

"My birthday is in early September. I have a niece whose birthday is 6 days earlier. I'm hoping we can celebrate them together by coming here and shredding on those days next year. Imagine that - snowboarding in August and September. Timberline closes Labor Day, so we'll just make it."

"That sounds like a cool idea," he replied.

All of us got a piece of his birthday cake with dinner. Jeannette announced that we were going to Ski Bowl in 2 groups, the first leaving at 6pm, the other at 8pm. "How's the weather at Ski Bowl?" I asked her.

"According to the forecast, it's raining there right now."

"Aw, shucks!" I moaned.

"You never know - it might snow later. Anyway, everyone has to come. You can stay in the lodge if you don't want to snowboard. You can watch the fireworks from there."

Ski Bowl Resort
Ski Bowl Resort
Night skiing / shredding at Ski Bowl
Night skiing / shredding at Ski Bowl
Wouned Warriors Arie, James Mason, and Joe Michaels.
Wouned Warriors Arie, James Mason, and Joe Michaels.

I left for Ski Bowl with the 8:00 group; almost everyone went then. Mercifully, the rain stopped when we arrived, though it was still rather warm. I decided to snowboard until it started up again; hopefully, it wouldn't.

I wound up shredding with Halo and about half a dozen others. She had us take a couple lifts to the top of the resort, then we took a long ride down, stopping to meet at various points. I worried it might start raining when we were mid-mountain, but I noticed about halfway to the base, there was a lodge, so I felt relieved. Oh well - my new snowsuit wouldn't let me get wet too fast.

It still hadn't rained when we made it to the bottom, so we rode up the two lifts again. We wound up going several times. I had a fabulous time, and was glad I'd come after all.

"This is our last run," Halo told us finally, while we were riding the lift. "After this, we'll all gather at the lodge to watch the fireworks." The sky had actually cleared a little. After reaching the top, we rode part of the way down, met up at the mid-mountain hut, rode partway down again, and met on a slope. While we were waiting for the others to catch up, a snowboarder plowed through our group, somewhat out of control. He clipped the edge of my board and fell.

"Can't you see we're sitting here?!" Halo yelled at him. "You nearly ran into someone!"

Struggling to stand, he muttered an apology.

"Next time, watch where you're going!"

I was so high on the whole scene, I called out, "No problem! Just as long as he's a hottie! Let me get a look at you!"

He jumped up and tore out of there. Apparently, I'd scared him more than Halo did.

"Boy!" exclaimed Halo. "He couldn't have been more than fifteen. That's jailbait!"

Welcoming 2010

We finally reached the main lodge at the bottom, near midnight. There was just time for me to get in a long line to buy a couple of overpriced beers. While I drank them, Roundhouse showed a bunch of us a phone IM sent to him from a former girlfriend from 10 years ago. The message was thanking him for taking her virginity, and that it hadn’t hurt one bit. "I blew it," he mourned. "She's a brain surgeon, now. I never should have let her get away."

I tried to cheer him up. "Regarding her message, have you ever thought of hanging out a shingle?" I jested.

He gave a small laugh. I think he was too upset about losing her for jokes.

Then came the fireworks. It was so warm, we all stood outside to watch. They were really spectacular, and for the first time in my life, I was able to take pictures. Thank goodness for digital cameras! I could have done it with my old Canon AE1, but setting it up would have been a major hassle, and I'd still have to wait for the film to be developed before I'd know if it worked. But here I was, simply pointing and clicking, and getting instant results!

The display lasted about 20 minutes. We could have snowboarded some more afterwards, but instead we stood around talking. I guess it's just as well, since most of us were drinking, and therefore had no business on the slopes.

We headed back to camp at 1:00am, when the resort closed.

Starting off the New Year right!
Starting off the New Year right!
Kataiah, Halo
Kataiah, Halo
Heather, Jeremiah
Heather, Jeremiah

Friday, January 1, 2010

Today, we got up an hour later. Once again, it was raining. At breakfast, Tim gave us the weather report; it was raining at Mt. Hood Meadows as well, but snowing at Timberline, so we were going there.

We hit the slopes by 10:30am. Conditions were icy, with some powder at the higher elevations. My group included Ting, Heidi, and Bob Michaels. Bob is a really advanced snowboarder; the reason he joined us is because he had injured his knee yesterday and wanted to take things easy.

We didn't work on any tricks today; we just cruised. Ting was the fastest, continually going ahead of the group, while Heidi was the slowest. Whenever we caught up with Ting at the lift, she would want to continue, rather than wait for Heidi. Finally, Halo got tired of arguing with her.

She turned to me. "Do you mind waiting for Heidi?" she asked.

"Sure, I'll wait."

"Thanks!" Halo rode up with the others while I stayed behind.

They were not even out of sight when Heidi arrived. "Where are the others?" she asked me, and I pointed to them on the lift.

"Ting put the pressure on them to leave, didn't she?" Heidi said, in a disgusted tone. "I'm so mad at her. She's always in such a hurry. I'm like, where's the fire?"

"It seems to me she should get into a more advanced class," I told her.

"I agree, but she's afraid to do steeps. Still, though, rushing everyone else is unfair to the whole class."

"I agree."

"Anyway, thanks for waiting for me."

"Sure, no problem."

We rode up the lift together. We both fell getting off, and Heidi yelped in pain. "Are you ok?" I asked her.

"No," she answered.

I got up. "Do you need help?" I offered, holding out my hand.

"No, that's ok. You go on without me; I'll catch up later."

I discovered the rest of the group had waited for us. We all strapped in, then took off. Ting was a few yards ahead of me. I hit an icy patch, lost control, and slid into her, clipping her board. I freaked, remembering how she had been injured this way our first day on the slopes, but miraculously, neither one of us even fell. After apologizing to each other, we went on.

I met Halo and Bob at the bottom of the run. "Where are Heidi and Ting?" Halo asked me.

"Ting isn't here?" I looked around, puzzled. "It seems to me she would be. You know how she's always ahead of everyone else."

"No, she wasn't here when we arrived. What about Heidi?"

I felt embarrassed. "I haven't seen her since we got off the lift. I guess I should have stayed with her coming down, huh?"

"No, that's ok. Let's wait here awhile, until they show up."

We waited several minutes, but neither one came. "Let's ride the lift again, to see if we find them on the way," suggested Halo, so we rode up again, but didn't see them. We didn't find them as we shredded down the mountain either. We did see a couple snow patrol people carrying someone off on a sled. "I hope that's not anyone we know," Halo said, warily.

After that run, we stopped for lunch at the lodge. Halo told Tim about Ting and Heidi missing, and it turned out he already knew. He informed us what had happened to them.

"When Heidi fell off the lift, she was in so much pain, she couldn't stand," he reported. "Ting saw this, and hiked back up to her. She called for the snow patrol, and they came and transported Heidi down the mountain. She was sent to the hospital in Sandy; Ting went with her; she's there now. It turns out Heidi has a broken scapula, because of repeated falls."

I couldn't believe I'd missed this. I was with her when she fell; why hadn't I known? I felt awful. I told this to Tim.

"Ting feels terrible, too. She blames herself, for rushing Heidi and leaving her behind all those times. That's ok; it's nobody's fault. Beginning snowboarders are more likely to get injured, as opposed to skiers, where it's mostly experts who run that risk. Usually, injuries happen to their wrists."

"That's why I always wear wrist guards," I said, showing them to him.

"Wise choice," he responded.

Halo, Bob, and I finished out the day, heading back to camp at 4pm. Heidi and Ting were there when we arrived. Ting kept apologizing profusely to all of us, but Heidi acted as if she were carrying a badge of honor.

"The doctor said this is the second broken scapula he's ever seen," she told us. "The first one was on an 85-year-old woman!"

"I bet she didn't get it snowboarding," I jested, and we all laughed.


Back at camp, we all returned our gear and packed our things for departure tomorrow. Then we had video analysis in our living room. Halo showed footage of all of us snowboarding, including the one where I wiped out on the box at Mt. Hood Meadows. It looked really spectacular. I remembered summer of last year, when Coach Justin told me I hadn't taken one good spill that he saw, and thought to myself he'd be pleased. I asked Halo to show it again and again.

"Aren't you embarrassed?" Ting asked me.

"Not at all," I answered. "I'd like to photograph that. Can you stop the film at any moment?"

"Sure," said Halo. We found a place that looked perfect, then I tried taking a picture of the TV screen, but had trouble with the lighting.

"I can't see why you want to do this," Ting puzzled. But when she saw I was determined, she helped me with my camera settings, and I was able to preserve the moment. Eat your heart out, Jump-In Justin!

Scenes from our last dinner
Scenes from our last dinner
Me (self portrait)
Me (self portrait)

We went to our last dinner, which was a bittersweet experience. It was made especially so when Tim announced to us that Kevin Pearce was in a coma.

"As you may know, he is one of the FRENDS crew," he told us. "He was supposed to be in the 2010 Olympics, and expected to beat Shaun White; he had actually already done so in an X-Games contest earlier this year. What happened was, while practicing the Double Cork McTwist, he caught an edge of his board and crashed. He is currently in critical condition."

I felt totally creeped out. I’ve heard a lot about snowboarders and skiers getting injuries, but this was someone I’d actually met. I remembered summer of last year, we had discussed dropping into a skateboarding halfpipe, and he had sympathized with me, saying he'd felt nervous his first time doing it. Now he was hanging between life and death. Even if he made it, the next time I see him, he wouldn’t be the same. It was really weird.

There was a hot dog eating contest after dinner (not practical planning!). I think the winner ate 3½ hot dogs – I forget how many. Then they had a giveaway. We all got beanies and T-shirts. Mine was way too small, so I wore it only once. I’m going to sew it onto a sweatshirt.

"Now, it's time for the drawing to give away one snowboard," declared Tim. "That is, we normally have a drawing. But this time, we decided to give it to James Mason instead. This is why; James came all the way from Austrailia, and has had a nasty streak of bad luck here. He chipped his foot, but continued to snowboard anyway; that shows true spirit. But then he had $450 stolen out of his wallet! Someone had apparently picked it out of his pocket, then left it in the woods. Talk about bad luck, coming halfway around the world for this! Let's all cheer for James!" We all gave him a loud, hearty cheer as Tim handed him a Burton snowboard.

"Now let's boo the thief!"

We did that just as heartily.

After getting our departure times figured out, we all went to bed.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The camp served a continental breakfast in the dining room all morning. We campers straggled in at odd times, so we didn't eat in a group.

I called Margie, to see if I could stay at her place again since my flight left the morning of January 3rd, but she was at her boyfriend Leonard's beach house in Pacific City, a 3 hour drive from Portland. She was having car trouble, so she couldn't come out until it was fixed. "No problem," I told her. "I'll just rent a car for a day, and spend tonight at the local youth hostel."

"Why not just go to a hotel near the airport?" she suggested. "They often have deals. It would probably cost the same as your idea." She gave me a phone number to call.

I dialed it, and discovered Ramada Inn offered a room for $50 a night, which would have been the cost of the car rental and the hostel. So I booked a reservation.

Heidi’s flight wasn’t until 10 tonight, so we were both scheduled to take the last van, which left at 2:30pm. We both relaxed and hung out all day.

The picture I sent with my post. I am between Scotty Lago and Kevin Pearce. This picture was taken at High Cascade summer of 2008.
The picture I sent with my post. I am between Scotty Lago and Kevin Pearce. This picture was taken at High Cascade summer of 2008. | Source

I opened a FaceBook account because that’s where Kevin Pearce’s family and The Frends Crew set up their site for people to post comments. I posted:

Aurora Quasar: Hi, Kevin Pearce! SO SORRY to hear of your accident! PLEASE get well soon!

I remember meeting you at High Cascade Snowboard Camp summer of 2008. I won the Girls' Skate section of the Huckleberry Skate Jam (true, I was also the only girl). I was learning to drop into a skateboarding halfpipe, and you told me the first time you had done that, you were scared, too. (btw, I have since successfully dropped into an 18" halfpipe!). I also won a Salomon Lush snowboard during the camp's Last Day drawing, and you admired it.

You have been a major inspiration to me! PLEASE get well soon, so we can meet again!

The Frends Crew actually answered me back!

Well Wishes to our Frend Kevin Pearce: Aurora, your spirit is unforgettable. The Frends crew embraces you! Thank you for all of your love and support!

Tyler, Charles, Hess
Tyler, Charles, Hess
Katiah, Alex, Jeremiah
Katiah, Alex, Jeremiah
Matt, Tim
Matt, Tim

Then I hung out with the staff members at the Headquarters / Store until it was time to go.

"I believe we found out who stole James' money," Kataiah told the group. "When we booed the thief, one boy looked really ashamed. Did you notice?" The others commented that they had. I was very awed by their clever psychology! I wondered if he would return James' money. It was too late to punish him, but since they knew who he was, most likely he would not be welcome back to camp.

I showed them the response the FRENDS crew had given me on FaceBook, and they were all impressed that I had gotten an answer from them. The Well Wishers site had been flooded with condolences, and here they had singled me out!

"Help yourself to videos," Jeremiah said, showing me a large box full of them. "They're all free."

I went through the box, choosing one of each. There was a summer camp recap that was nearly 3 hours long. Another was a weird ski video called Never Again - Maybe Tomorrow, where the music was entirely black guys rapping, but the skiers were all white guys. The video was made at Stanford University.

Parting is such sweet sorrow...
Parting is such sweet sorrow...

At 2pm, we loaded up the vans and set out for the airport. I had expected the mood to be one of sadness that camp was over, but it wasn’t very depressing. I think one reason is that there were two injured people in the van; Heidi and James Mason. I invited Heidi to stay with me at the hotel until her plane left at 10pm, but because of her broken scapula, she didn’t want to do much moving around.

They dropped everyone else off at the airport, and then went looking for Ramada Inn. I then got another reason why the atmosphere wasn’t sad; once all the other campers were out of the van, the driver said, “Now we can listen to real music!” and he changed it from the techno-pop that had been playing all session to 1970’s Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. They said they were going to spend most of the time in between sessions catching up on sleep; it turns out they only get about 4 – 5 hours of sleep while sessions are going, because they have early morning staff meetings! Wow – talk about disorganization!

We had problems finding Ramada Inn, and I finally had to place some phone calls to get directions (it’s not right on the airport strip). The guys were very nice about it, and helped me get my gear out of the van and onto a trolley to take to my room. After checking in, I had dinner in their restaurant, ordering chicken with pasta and artichokes. I ate half the meal, saving the other half for breakfast tomorrow. Then I went back and talked with Margie on the phone, once again discussing my fears about living the life I wanted.

"I have never gotten over having to leave Seattle," I told her. "I had to be rescued by my brother, at the ripe old age of 40; I really resent that! But I guess I have to realize Seattle is not my whole life; I have succeeded in other places, like Silicon Valley."

"The Northwest is a real drag," she responded. "I personally don't like it. It's too cold and rainy. But then, I don't ski or snowboard, either. I prefer sailing, but it's too cold to do that here. I'm seriously considering moving back to Hawaii."

It occurred to me that no one was asking me to move back to Seattle; there were lots of other ski towns I could choose from. Also, I remembered the conversation the staff had in the store; at one point, Jeannette said she had given a reference for two jobs to a woman who had moved to Seattle, and apparently she had been fired from both jobs. It is highly unlikely this woman would have worked well here, then screwed up on those other two. I told Margie this.

"Well, I wasn't fired from Jeannie's care home, but having gained 40 pounds in 4 months and messing up my back in the process, I had to quit for my health," she told me.

I recalled an LPN co-worker who went through 3 jobs in 6 months. Apparently, things like this happen in Seattle all the time; it wasn't just me! Then I remembered my friend Cheryl starting her own business, and being the most successful person in Seattle that I knew. Apparently, that's what it takes to live there.

I watched parts of XXX and The Jacksons Movie. I went to bed around 10pm. My window looked out into a grim alleyway, and this made me nervous, so I kept the TV going all night on the Nickelodeon channel to keep me company.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

I left Ramada Inn at 7:30am, and am now reversing my trip back to Hilo. I’m all prepared for the profound depression that is sure to set in; I’ve just got to get the courage to act on my dreams. Anyway, I have High Cascade to look forward to next June. And I will do everything I can in my power to make Windells a holiday tradition!

Recap of Windell's Holiday Camp 2009

© 2013 Yoleen Lucas


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