Happy birthday, Santa! I celebrated with a snowboard and some shred lessons in Big Bear, CA. Just for you.
I had a lot of fun celebrating your birthday. I rented gear, coordinated my outfit, and made sure I had plenty of french fries in my system for energy.
Christmas Eve was Day 1, and I kicked it off with a beginners class. I started off probably how most people start off – awkward, wobbly, scared as hell. I got up, I came down. I stood back up, I crashed and burned. My legs didn’t understand why I was gluing them to a wooden plank and expecting them to smoothly glide back and forth across the mountain. I’m pretty sure my burning calves whispered to me at some point, “Lady, screw this. Let’s go back to the fireplace for a hot toddy.”
I persevered, though. And as frustrated as I was, I did my best to keep the four-letter words in check when I was around children. I might have let a couple slip, sending a few 4-year old ski bunnies running for their parents, but I tried to keep it down. You see, they don’t tell you when you fork over your credit card that the two hour lesson is essentially worthless. They make heavy promises about perfecting the bunny slopes and then shortly thereafter owning the chair lift. They flip around, “cut the edge” (still figuring that out), use their fancy stoner language and make it seem so easy. But they’re teaching you on a flat surface. All of those little tricks you’re learning need to be done with momentum. If not, you eat it every 15 seconds. So I finished my lesson and then moved up a notch to a steeper hill. At that point (for free) I was learning.
Anyway, I did okay on Day 1 and though I wiped out a lot more than I thought I would, Day 2 started off much better. At this point, I threw away the $5.00 coupon for my next lesson (how generous, Snow Summit) and felt pretty damn cool when I went straight for the lift ticket purchase. I attached the little thingie to my jacket, cruised around with my board propped up against my side and perfectly angled my goggles on top of my head – not too cockeyed but just enough to make it seem like I do this sort of thing everyday. Which I do.
Day 2 was better than Day 1 but not quite effortless yet. At this point, I was struggling to keep my legs from buckling underneath me completely since they still burned from the day before. They felt like jello filled noodles with a serious dose of lactate. Just sitting down, I had to manually lift one leg over the other to get them crossed. But I kept at it, and for a period of time my legs were warm enough that it didn’t hurt so bad. That’s not to say that I didn’t still crash and burn, because I did. Several times. At dinner that night, we actually tried to guess how many times I fell over the last two days. I think we came up with somewhere around 40, taking into account the ratio of falls to trips up the chair lifts. All limbs were in place and I don’t think I had any concussions, so it was a success in my book.
Day 3 was our last full day in Big Bear and my goal was to make it down the Snow Summit trail (it’s green and for those of you who don’t know what that means, think bowling with bumpers but still playing the game). More importantly though, I was going to fight that damn chair lift if I didn’t make it off without crashing. It’s tougher than you think sliding off those things.
So after a couple practice runs on the easier “trails,” I was headed for Snow Summit, up the asshole chair lift. We got closer and closer to the top and I approached it like Goliath.
“Boards down, bend your knees, weight on the front foot” the 15-year old lift controller shouted to each chair approaching the end. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ve heard this before and it all sounds great but it would be awesome if my legs understood and just did it.
But, magically, they did. I glided right off that stupid thing and over to the top of the trail where I could lock in my other foot. Santa, I can’t tell you how proud I was. I didn’t even care that the controller said, “yeah, but let’s see you do that again.” I beat the chair and I wasn’t paying attention to him. (By the way, if you’re out there reading this, Controller Man- I’ve now had a chance to absorb that and I wanted to tell you that you suck.)
So here I am cruising down Snow Summit, not a care in the world, enjoying the cool breeze and focusing on all of the little things I had learned the last couple days. I got this. I totally got this.
I look over to my right and there’s a jerk guy packing up some fresh snowballs. No freaking way was he seriously throwing snowballs at beginners. Who would do 18 unintentional back flips with the slightest mistake. On Christmas weekend. (I know, your birthday.) But he was, and I was the next victim. I glance over and watch in slow motion as he lobs one at me and BOOM, I’m on my knees flipping forward like an Olympic somersaulter. Once I came to a stop, I had to seriously sit there for a minute to regain my cool because I was about to flip the eff out on this dude. It’s been a long time since I was that pissed off and I promise you that if I a) knew how to quickly unbuckle my bindings and b) had any strength left in my arms, I would have ventured back to my softball days and thrown my board as hard as I could right towards his face. I don’t apologize for the four-letter words that time. No way. They were necessary and they felt good.
Eventually I got over my pity party and made it down the rest of the mountain. It had been a long, but really fun few of days, and not taking into account the Grinch on Snow Summit, I had an absolute blast snurfing. It was a great trip and a fun way to celebrate the holiday – Happy Birthday, Santa.