Loveland Blues

Elise, Maly and I flew into Denver Colorado on Saturday afternoon to meet up with Steve and Joanne and Elise’s uncle Norbert (Uncle Nob). Nob was kind enough to leave his Tahoe at the airport for us so we could drive it to his house in Lakewood while he was still at work. The girls’ and my flight was a little late and Steve and Joanne’s flight was a little early in from Des Moines, so we all arrived at the airport within half an hour of each other.

Steve and I took a van to the parking lot to pick up Nob’s truck and install Maly’s car seat. We drove back to the airport, picked up the girls and then drove the 45 miles to Lakewood. When we got to Nob’s house, he was fast at work in the kitchen, cooking a roast, mashed potatoes and green beans. We had a great dinner and sat around the kitchen table and chatted. At some point, Nob asked if we wanted to see the grand tour of the house. We went to his bedroom, which he had recently added as well as his new living room. When we walked down the three steps into the living room, I saw an unopened Nintendo Wii sitting on the coffee table with a card propped up against it. I looked at the box curiously for a moment, and then I caught Joanne’s eye. Then I saw Joanne look at Elise and smile. Elise was looking around the living room, I guess waiting on Nob to start in on the details of the room. We all looked at Elise and giggled. She was totally clueless and soon seemed to be the brunt of some joke. She kept asking what we were laughing at. She finally saw the Wii and her card.

The Wii was Elise’s birthday present from her parents. Steve and Joanne then told us the hassle it was to obtain a Wii. I knew they were hard to come across and was very impressed that Joanne was able to score one.

Needless to say, we were up late taking turns playing the Wii.

Sunday was a slow, relaxed day. Nob played golf with some of his friends. Elise and her parents went to church and to the grocery store. Maly and I stayed back at Nob’s house and played and ate lunch. Later that evening Elise and I made chicken fajitas for everyone and then Nob, Elise and I went to the local ski rental spot to pick up our skis and boots.

Monday morning came early. Elise, Nob and I woke up at 6:30 and were out of the house by 8. We drove an hour west, into the mountains for our first day of skiing at Loveland. If you know me, you know I don’t like cold weather. And it was COLD. Luckily Marc and Cyndi loaned us their ski gear so we were well equipped. Since it was a Monday and Spring Break hasn’t started yet, we pretty much had the mountain to ourselves.

Nob went skiing while Elise and I took ski lessons. Elise was considered a Level 2 skier since she’s skied many times before. This was your humble narrators first time on the slopes, so I was deemed a Level 1. Since there was virtually no one the slopes, Elise and I both had private lessons. Bert, my instructor, was very impressed with how quickly I picked up how to snow ski. I think I can attribute that to good balance from years of Tae Kwon Do and water skiing. So after half an hour of flat land instructions, we were on the lift and at the top of the bunny slope. I’ll admit it: I fell. A lot. And I quickly realized that falling really sucks. It’s not so much the falling part as it is the having to get back up. So I quickly became an expert and falling and getting back up. And my muscles are still reminding me of this mastering.

Up the lift, down the slope; practicing my turning, stopping, falling and getting back up again. My instructor again praised me for picking up the sport quickly and said he thought I’d do great on the slopes alone. So at 12:30 I was given a slap on the back and left to my own devices and newly acquired knowledge of the sport of snow skiing.

I skied back to the lodge and met Elise and Nob for lunch. After lunch we bundled up and put on our skis. If memory serves me correctly, I had Elise go down the bunny slope with me a couple times, just so I could show her how wicked awesome I’d become and because if I were to fall and have to shriek like a little girl, I’d rather it be in the company of someone who knows me best.

Shortly after that, I found myself on a lift with Nob and Elise that was actually traveling up the side of the mountain. And this lift was going far up the mountain. Like, really far up the mountain. My wicked awesomeness quickly began diminishing as we were approaching 11,000 feet.

Being the trooper that I am, I followed as Elise and Nob exited the lift. Although not as gracefully. Elise and Nob both skied of the lift. I sort of waited a second too long and found myself having to jump 4 feet and land not-so-gracefully, while hitting Elise in the head with my ski pole. So we had a quick laugh and then quickly began making our descent down a green slope. Then we made a turn onto a blue slope called Switchback, which left me with my face down in the snow more often then not, and also very discouraged. We made another turn back onto a green called Boomerang which eventually brought us back down to the base of the mountain.

We made a few more runs, I stuck to the greens. Given my overall general good health, I thought that the greens were pretty difficult. Elise’s instructor as well as mine concurred that some of Loveland’s blues are considered ‘easier’ blacks compared to other mountains. So if that puts anything into perspective for those of you who have ever sno skied. Nob, an avid snow skier, admitted that these greens were difficult.

Anyway, after a few more runs, we called it a day. I was extra tired because of all of the energy I had to exert to pick myself back up each time I fell. We called it a day, loaded up and headed back to the house. We stopped in Georgetown on the way home to get some caramel cappuccinos and then to Target in Lakewood for some sour cherry juice (supposed to help with fatigued muscles) and finally to the liquor store for some much needed scotch (also for fatigued muscles).

We got back to the house and unloaded our gear. Steve fried chicken and we had a good, hearty dinner after a long day of skiing. I was bushed and headed for bead at 10 p.m. Everyone else quickly followed suit.

Elise, Nob and I again rose early on Tuesday. We were all mostly rejuvenated after having had a full night’s rest. We drove the hour west out to Loveland again. This time we hit the Loveland Basin. We had three great runs down Turtle Creek and Home Run. Each run was approximately three miles and allowed to get my legs working the way that I thought they should.

We broke for an hour and had lunch in the lodge. We then decided to take the #1 lift and take a run down Cat Walk and Mambo. I was finally getting really comfortable and was having a really good time. Which meant I wasn’t falling down nearly as much and was really honing my turns. We decided to take that lift again for a couple more runs. This time Elise and Nob branched off and took a quick run down a blue called Waterfall. We reconvened on Mambo and raced down the mountain. Nob barreled down, Elise was gracefully using the whole slope do descend quickly. I was trying to keep up with Elise…

I got a little over confident and found myself in a spot that was pretty packed and I was ascending faster than I was comfortable with. I turned hard to the right and I over compensated. It was my hardest wipe out in my many over the course of the past day and a half. I heard the snap and I yelled as my face landed in the snow. I winced in pain and knew something wasn’t right. I sat myself up as quickly as I could and as painful as it was, I removed my left ski. I think my right ski was already off from the fall. I quickly jabbed them into the snow behind me in an ‘X’ formation. Elise turned uphill and saw that I was hurt. She took off her skis and started the trek uphill to me. The snow patrol quickly skied up and radioed for a snow mobile to pick me up.

I was taken to the infirmary where my ankle was iced and they medic made a make-shift splint out of cardboard, bubble wrap and tape. The offered to have an ambulance take me to the ER, but I opted to just ride back to Lakewood with Nob and Elise.

An hour and a half at the local emergency care clinic to find that I’d broken my ankle.

So as I write this I have a temporary cast that has my left leg immobilized. I have a 9 a.m. orthopedic appointment tomorrow to see if we can just set the break with a cast, or find out that I’ll need surgery.

But I’ve found many silver linings: I can get in tons of practice playing tennis on the Wii, we can park in handicap parking spots everywhere we go and most importantly, even before Elise asked the question, I had already decided that I will snow ski again.

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