Thursday, February 3, 2011

Skiing Away the Winter

Skiing Away the Winter

One year, when we were in our mid 20’s, three friends and I rented a summer cabin on a lake next to Great Gorge /Vernon Valley Ski area in Northern New Jersey.  It was not a great ski area, but it was close to the city and we weren’t that good anyway.

In fact, I had just started skiing the year before.  Mark and his wife had taken me to Great Gorge/Vernon Valley for the first time.  I had no equipment or knowledge of skiing.  They said they would show me.

I rented skis, poles and ill-fitting boots and I was ready.

They took me to a small hill, showed me a “snow plow” technique and said I should practice.  I did for a little while, gaining confidence and bravado.  When they returned, I said l wanted to go on the chair lift and try to ski down the mountain.

They advised against it, but I was stupidly confident I could do it.  We set off for the chair lift.

Now the issue became, who was going to go with me on the chair lift.  There was some disagreement between Ellen and Mark.  She didn’t want to go herself, but was not confident in taking me.  Mark was insisting I couldn’t go alone.

I settled the argument by getting on the chair lift and leaving them below.  Once on the lift I realized I didn’t know how to get off so I frantically yelled down to them for instructions.

I made it to the top and half fell, half skied off the lift, mostly fell.  They soon joined me.

From the top, the way down looked daunting, but armed with unwarranted confidence I started down.  I was about halfway down when I approached a snow gun.  It was spewing snow onto the slope.  There was a guy next to me also heading for the gun, expecting me to turn.  The problem was I wasn’t good at turning.

I turned to him and said, “I don’t know how to turn.”

He got this panicked look and quickly moved away from me and the snow gun.

Remembering my lesson from Mark, I used my emergency procedure.  I fell down.

All in all a successful day and one that got me hooked on skiing.

The next year we rented the summer cottage.

There were 4 of us who initially went in on the rental, Mark and Ellen, Turtle (a friend of Mark’s, who was called Turtle because of his penchant for wearing turtle neck shirts in college), Cindy and Richard, and Barbara and me.

There was a grate in the floor of the living room where some heat came out, but not enough to make a dent in the cold in the bedrooms.  I don’t believe the house had insulation.  It was cold.

Cindy and Richard had a child and they quickly decided it was too cold for them to stay there so they left the group.

We brought up space heaters and Dr. Denton’s, but it was really cold.  In spite of that, we had a good time.

We would get up there Friday night, the guys would wake up early and go skiing until 12:30 or so, come back, have lunch and then all of us would go to the new Playboy Hotel that had just opened a mile or so away and sit in the hot tub and have drinks and appetizers. 

The Playboy club would even supply paper bathing suits.  Miraculously they didn’t deteriorate for the few hours we used them. The girls never used them they looked like the Gym outfits from High School.  Definitely not flattering and there was always the danger of deterioration and transparency.

Sunday we would ski for the morning then go home to the city.

A great way to spend the winter.  We had a really good time, skiing, going to the Playboy club where we would have dinner sometimes and get out of the city for the weekend.

Occasionally another couple or another friend would join us.

Now Turtle was an interesting guy.  He was nice and friendly, but a little strange. 

One time we were skiing and met two students of mine on the slopes (I was teaching high school in Port Washington) who had come for the day.  Turtle was immediately taken with the girl, a senior and spent the whole day following her around, making sure he was on the chairlift with her, etc.  We pulled him aside and asked if he knew how old she was.  He seemed shocked we thought he was interested in her. Duh!

On New Years, I brought my sister up to the cottage figuring she and Turtle could hang out.  When we got there on Friday night, we were greeted by Turtle wearing red Dr. Denton’s and announcing he was very sick and would be remaining in his room for the weekend.  Why he came is a mystery.

All was not lost; we all (except for Turtle) went to the Playboy Club and saw Bill Cosby at the midnight show.

I continued skiing for the next few years, although we didn’t take the cottage again.  Barbara never got the hang of it.  Once she fell, she couldn’t get up.  Her center of gravity was wrong (my theory).  She also doesn’t like rides and I think this was too much like one for her tastes. 

Once we moved to Florida, I never went skiing again.

I wasn’t too good, but it was a heck of a lot of fun.

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