Friday, December 26, 2003

Family vacation notes 

We spent a delightful day skiing on Christmas, which some people might find mildly blasphemous, especially insofar as the resort near Durango is called “Purgatory,” with runs with names such as “Diablo.” However, we knew it wouldn’t be crowded and blasphemy risk has never figured prominently in the planning of our activities, so we went anyway.

The day started poorly, in that both Starbucks and its worthy back-up, the Durango Coffee Shop, were closed (apparently both were unwilling to incur blasphemy risk). On the brink of the pit of despair, we noticed that the “Buzz Café” was open, so we were in fact able to caffeinate before hitting the slopes. The Buzz Café is run (or on this day was staffed) by a bearded ski town type who looks and speaks as though he gets his buzz in many different ways. Nevertheless, he made excellent espresso drinks and thereby earned a huge tip just for being there on Christmas Day. “Thanks, man.”

The skiing was pretty good, notwithstanding several minor catastrophes. Nobody committed a “yard sale” (a fall that distributes skis and poles around the slope, some distance from the fallen skier), but we were definitely a bit jinxed. On our second chairlift ride, number one son dropped a ski pole into some bushes along the edge of a run, and had to ski back down to retrieve it. Of course, number one daughter heaped massive scorn on number one son for this atrocity, scorn-heaping being one of her real talents. She suffered some serious karma backlash, though, when the next time she got on a chairlift she lost both poles and her left ski. We decided that this was an “embarkation yard sale,” which number one daughter nevertheless tried to claim was still “not as lame” as number one son’s lost pole, since it happened at the base of the lift instead of in the middle of the ride. Not surprisingly, she refused to countenance any alternative characterization.

I strongly reinforced the widely held view that I have poor gross motor skills. Cruising behind the crowd (there were something like eleven of us, ages 8 to 72, skiing together) on a gently sloping “green” run, I managed to catch an edge and fall in such a way that the handle of my pole smashed into the right lens of my goggles, and then slid along my cheek to my lower jaw before the pole snapped and I came crashing to the ground. My goggles cracked, and I got a fat lip and a nice swell going on my lower jaw. Just call me Contusion Boy.

Of course, everybody tried to make me feel better about it by sharing their own stories of spectacular falls, but the ugly truth was that nobody really could understand how it was possible to wedge a ski pole between one’s eyeball and the ski. I assure you, it is.

Athletic ability is definitely not distributed evenly. Our South African au pair had never been on skis until Tuesday. She took a two-hour private lesson, spent another couple of hours tooling down the bunny slopes, and yesterday managed to get through a day skiing with the rest of us without falling once. She is looking forward to skiing in the eastern Transvaal when she goes back home in July. Who knew there was skiing in Africa?


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