Saturday, March 10, 2007

Downhill All the Way

Susan and the kids and I went skiing up in northern Michigan last week. We had a lot of fun. We had an opportunity to stay at Camp Michigania, on Waloon Lake, just south of Petoskey and 30 minutes from Nubs Nob Ski Center. It was the first time Susan and I had gone cross-country skiing in about 18 years and the first time any of us had gone downhill.

Max, who's 14 years old, really took to the downhill (it's a lot easier than uphill) and convinced me to bring him back the next day. He and I took a couple of runs down the easy beginner slope to get our blood going. Of course, I fell at the foot of the slope, right near the load area for the ski lift and lay there like a ladybug on it's back trying desperately to get up. Meanwhile, Max went up the lift without me. Another kid came over and asked if I was OK. I said, yes, but I couldn't get up. Finally, I realized that I would need to take off one of my skis. That made the process immeasurably easier. I got up just as Max was finishing his 3rd run.

Meanwhile it was getting very windy and snowing quite a bit. Some severe winds and storms had been predicted. We went on to the "advanced beginner's" slopes. They were lots of fun; just the right level of challenge, but Max quickly wanted to go on the intermediate slopes. I pleaded with him but he was insistent and started down a "blue slope". I quickly decided that I would be negligent in my fatherly duties if I didn't follow him down. What if he fell and hurt himself? About a quarter of the way down I realized that I wouldn't be doing him any favors if I broke my neck. Of course, at this point, it was too late. I fell twice on the same run down. The good news was that, now,I knew how to get back up.

We parted ways for awhile and I went back to the beginner's slopes. The ski-lifts were getting pretty rough, wind blowing them left and right. I am used to having ice form on my beard but I had never experiennced significant ice on my eyebrows. The wind was biting my face. I would get off at the top of the lift and find myself starting off on a thick slab of ice with a very small but significant slope and the wind blowing snow in my face so that it was as much of a challenge to see as it was to stand up. I couldn't understand why the slopes were still open, but, of course, this was the second time in my life on a ski slope. What did I know?

At one point, Max and I got off two different lifts which left us off at the same part of the mountain, about fifty feet away from each other. No matter how hard I tried, I could not make any progress toward him, as I was going against the wind. Fortunately the wind blew him to me. "OK, Max, this is it", I said. "This is the last run. It's getting too dangerous". "Ahhh, c'mon Dad! It's not dangerous!", was his reply. We went around and and around about this as the wind howled around and through us. After a while we parted ways again and took up the debate at the bottom of the hill. Finally I agreed that, if he let me buy him some goggles so that he could see, he could make two more runs down. He agreed, with the caveat that I let him pay me back for the goggles. Finally, after his last run, we returned our rented skis and headed out back to the cabin. About 5 miles down the road I turned on the radio. "Nubs Nob", the DJ announced, "is closed due to severe winds".

Bob Fisher is a novice skier and a Home Buyer's Agent in Ann Arbor, MI

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