Saturday, January 05, 2013

1/5/13 sugarbowl day 3

OK, now we're in the groove -- and finally arrived "early" today! Katrina objected to a lesson, but once she's there, she's fine. Besides, her and Julian in lessons mean that it Gabriel and I can go to other places.

(top of Mt Disney)
Don't be impressed; we only went on the shortest, easiest run from there ("Market Street"). I just couldn't get a groove on today. Some days are like that. I had one final good run, but then we had to make our way back to pick up the other two.

After lunch, I dared to take all three of them up to Mt Lincoln, where Julian and Katrina had both been in their lesson today. This isn't actually all that hard, but the panoramic views and dropoffs on both sides are a little freaky. And no green ways down.

And it was crowded. The foremost three in the first photo are the three kids.

After getting down from the very top, Julian led us through some alternate paths.

I was surprised how readily Katrina followed her brothers through the trees!

What's wrong with this picture? Does this kid ever look where he's going?

We made our way back to now-familiar Judah, where Katrina promised me a photo of her on a rainbow box.

(Yes folks, this is the child who three days ago spent the entire day on the magic carpet....ugh!)

At the top of Mt Lincoln....I'd never ever have guessed even last year that we'd all be here!

SOO much fun! Though the kids roll their eyes about these photos now, I know they'll treasure them someday. I certainly do now!


1/5/13 placeholder

much to write and blog, but I've cut a fingertip and it makes my whole hand throb. turns out, it's pretty hard to type without an index finger, and actually many other things are greatly complicated too. such a tiny injury wreaking such havoc, spent much of the evening icing it.

(this is on top of a cut on my wrist, another cut on the side of my hand, a burnt right thumb, and still-sensitive fingers from 4 days ago when I froze them trying to dig out of powder. this just hasn't been a good trip for my hands.)

also car got stuck in the driveway again, this time barely 10 feet from the road. any attempt to drive it forward only made it slide back further as the wheels spun. knowing I only had about 2 attempts before it would slide into a snowbank again, I was just barely able to get it out by putting my passenger rubber floormats in front of the rear wheels and wood pieces behind them, and gave it the gentlest forward drive possible. the car fishtailed and wheels spun well past the icy driveway even in 2nd gear, must have been ice in the treads or something. gabriel was instrumental in this rescue by telling me it was the rear wheels that were spinning. such a kid, all 56 pounds of him offered to help push it out!

such great days skiing at sugarbowl! can't believe how much we've all advanced since the first time here.

heading home to the flatlands tomorrow sniffff, I'd rather stay up here in heaven!

ok my achy hand has had enough!


Friday, January 04, 2013

1/4/13 Sugarbowl Day 2

OK, we're in the groove now...I think! Once again, a late start, but we got there in time for afternoon group lessons.

To my delight, Katrina got the same teacher as yesterday. This meant no explaining, no cajoling, no over- or under-stating her abilities, no speculation -- a known quantity. As a result, she had another terrific lesson and advanced her experience and confidence tremendously -- if not skills so much!

She's so small compared to her classmates...she had lots of trouble pushing herself to lifts, but once they're moving downhill on the slopes, she's right there with everyone else. (That's her, second in line in her lesson.)

Meantime, Gabriel and I went off to play. We headed for Mt Lincoln, where Gabriel dared me to tackle a mogul-run. He had a lot less trouble with it than I did!
Gabriel on "Vanderbilt" at Sugarbowl:

It was so fun that we came around and did it again, and this time he filmed me. I had a much harder time this time around, but not as bad as another guy, to whom I was oblivious!

Turns out, Julian was tackling his first moguls too, same mountain, different run. This shot I took from the lift (he's at the top, green jacket).

On the way down, Gabriel and I hit our first half-pipe too. That was fun!!

Boy, skiing sure has changed since when I was a kid....moguls, trees, terrain parks, half-pipes...this stuff just wasn't commonplace when I was a kid!

After Julian and Katrina's lesson, I shifted to "watch-kid" mode and we all went on Mt Judah. I really appreciate Sugarbowl for this: an easy lift with several runs and terrain parks, where everyone is happy and I can keep track of all of them. I give the boys instructions, with 95% confidence that Gabriel heard and will follow them, and 10% confidence that Julian did.

Julian had learned about a "gully" in his lesson and wanted to show Gabriel. Poor Julian tries so hard to dominate, lead and be in control, but he had to have Gabriel as an older brother! It just never works. Julian showed Gabriel the off-piste route, but Gabriel had no trouble with it and lost Julian quickly.

But by then, I'd lost Katrina. She's so bent on showing off how fast she is that she doesn't wait! I skiied as fast as I could to the bottom, scanning constantly for her, but must have missed her. She'd fallen after a jump, and arrived a few minutes later crying. So brave, but still such a little girl.

As we were all finishing up, our route took us through the mini-terrain park, where Katrina did her first rainbow box! I missed the shot, but did get Julian following suit.

Now lifts were closing, and our ski day was done.

It's about now I can imagine that "real" grownups can relax, break open beers, climb into hot tubs, tell tall tales about the day...not me. I shift into caddy/waitress mode and struggle mightily to get everyone de-skiied and into the car. Julian creates twice the work of the other two: he doesn't listen, he ambushes them with snow, and when I repeat instructions, he responds unbearably rudely: "I KNOOOOOW MOMMMM!!" -- and then still doesn't take off his ski boots.

I wasn't done yet though: I had to brave the Truckee Safeway again (and I've never seen a more crowded supermarket than this one at this time), and then get everyone home.

After my towing debacle two days ago, I've been parking at the very top of the driveway, and then testing to make sure I could get out....but somehow today, I parked just a little bit too far back. And once again, I could feel the car sliding back. CRAP. I was stuck again, barely 10 feet from the road.

This time, Gabriel was there to watch, and I almost had him take video except it was getting too dark. But he told me it was just the rear wheels that were spinning, and the front ones not moving at all (except when rolling back). That irked me, but I had set that aside and focus on getting my car out. I tried the parking brake trick, I tried popping the car into 2nd gear, but nothing worked to prevent sliding back.

Knowing I had only one or two more tries before it slid back into a snowbank again, I used the rear floormats in front of the rear tires, and wood pieces underneath them, behind them. Somehow, I was able to barely pull the car out, fishtailing and spinning all the way up to the road. Thank goodness!!

Gabriel and I talked about it later. How is it possible that the front wheels weren't moving? He was certain of that. Ok, so there must be something about the traction detection or limited-slip or something that's not working right. Another clue is that when we'd first arrived, I'd pulled in forward and downhill, and was able to back up no problem out of that same driveway. Somehow, whatever wasn't working forward was working in reverse. And then there was that clunk sound I'd heard just before leaving...could that be related? Now I'm paranoid. So maybe this wasn't totally my fault for crummy snow-driving. If that's true, I'm sure in for yet more expensive repairs. Great.

Tomorrow, we're actually arriving early and skiing in the morning!


Thursday, January 03, 2013

1/3/13 Three Ski

How did I ever get everyone to ski school by 8:00 before?? Seems impossible now.

This morning, I had grand plans to get to Sugarbowl by 9:00am, to get through the rentals and lines in time for a 10:30 group lesson, but no one -- including me -- really wanted to hustle this morning. So instead, I downgraded expectations to a 1:30 afternoon lesson. Even then, it was a real struggle getting everyone out in time, park, get rentals, and to lessons in time. I pulled it off, but it was close.

This time, I found the Level 3 instructor when I dropped Katrina off and implored him: "PLEASE PLEASE, I BEG of you, no magic carpet." The danger in doing this is becoming one of those parents who overstates their childs' ability -- I really truly don't mean to do that, but I just can't bear another day of the bunny hill.

Level 3 at Sugarbowl means poles, a first for Katrina!

(The REAL reason for poles, I realized later, is that there's so much walking to do between lifts, and this reduces the towing the instructors have to do.)

While Julian and Katrina were in group lessons, Gabriel and I skiied together. This week, Sugarbowl is only teaching first-timer and novice lessons for adults. Wah. So, lessonless, we were on our own.

Gabriel took some video of me practicing 360s. Getting there, but far from smooth.

We didn't venture far, sticking to the terrain park and tackling Sugarbowl's two intro black diamonds. One isn't groomed and had developed moguls ("Steamers"), which seem right up my alley, but I learned last year I stink at moguls. Gabriel gave me some advice from a lesson he'd had last year, and he whizzed right down, so I followed suit with trepidation. Such fun that we did it twice more!

Another skiier sprayed me with so much snow it almost knocked me down from my precarious paparazzi spot to film Gabriel going down "Donner's Way." He's looking stronger this year!

I dared myself on three features at the terrain park, including a rainbow box. Like many things in life, they're the most scary getting on and getting off. I'm pretty sure they're really meant for younger people who've never thrown their backs out, because even a short drop makes for a hard landing. Another woman about my age cheered me after I made one of them though!

When I picked up Julian and Katrina from their lessons, I learned that Katrina had made it to the top of Mt Lincoln -- Sugarbowl's highest peak! This time, she was the weakest in her class, and her many beginner tendencies held her back (leaning back, the pizza wedge). But I was delighted that she'd had a great lesson and got some real seasoning under her belt. The lift up Mt Lincoln is a fairly serious one too, with long drops and steep slopes. Good for her!

We all did one last run together on Mt Judah, where I attempted to get photos of all three. Not easy, because Katrina took off so fast that I only got one of them together....and then I could barely catch her! Julian couldn't either -- I was surprised, he truly could not keep up. Just like Gabriel, she just bombed straight down, not bothering with turning or stopping.
(Gabriel complained later about having to stay behind her though :). Only once, just for my photo-op!)

She also aims for little bumps and jumps too.

I miss the freedom of them in all-day ski school, but it seems less necessary than before. I'm OK with two free hours with Gabriel, and it's becoming a lot of fun skiing with all three of them!


Wednesday, January 02, 2013

1/2/13 Ski day Two

Well, we almost didn't go skiing today. Katrina spent the morning posting comments to Facebook, the boys get involved in some game, and I had to work and was still not feeling well at all. But I felt so bad about Katrina not going on any ski lifts yesterday that around noon, we decided to back to Tahoe-Donner, for a "half-day."

I can't really ski if I'm with Katrina, since I have to stick close, help her get back up and put skis on, and lifts are still tricky. But I didn't mind at all, I was determined to make up for yesterday.

I let the boys go on their own, but we ended up meeting up, and spent most of the afternoon riding the lift together and skiing together!

We tried to coordinate hockey stops in which the boys would do their maximum spray on me, which didn't exactly work. But looking at this now shows me how relaxed they both are. Julian needs some seasoning, but he's got some ski style goin' on.

Katrina showed her joy her own way. She was actually humming and singing for some of this!

(That's Julian in the bright green jacket in the beginning.)

Now does this look like a child who belongs on a freakin' magic carpet all day?!

I didn't think Katrina would want to take on this tiny terrain park, so told her she could just ski around the bumps. "NOOOOO" she whined, and I thought that meant she didn't want to ski in there at all. Turns out, "NOOO" meant "I WANT to do the bumps!". She loved this. She's so much braver on the slopes than I think of her of in other parts of her life.

(At the very end I attempt to spray Gabriel with a hockey-stop but there's not much snow.)

At this pretty lame mountain, a half-day, and without the freedom to challenge myself, it turned out to be one of my best ski days ever!


Tuesday, January 01, 2013

1/1/13 First ski of the year!

Posting a day late here....first ski of the year! We went to Tahoe-Donner, the small downhill ski area right in the development we're staying in, also called Tahoe-Donner. They had availability for all-day ski school for Katrina, and a half-day lesson for Julian, so we could all get our feet wet again.

Except for the full-day reservation ski school at Sugarbowl, I've had a problem every time with Katrina not being put in a lesson at her level. So when I dropped her off, I was VERY VERY clear: She's skiied blues all day long at Sugarbowl, she is WAY past the bunny hill, give her a real lesson. They put her in Level 3 with a red vest, and the Snowflake School had their marching orders.

After dropping Julian off at the bigger-kid regular lesson, Gabriel and I went off to play. Conditions were perfect, and we raced each other (with varying results) on the fastest run we could find. With only one "real" lift there, the cycles are short: about a 7-minute lift ride, and a 1-minute ski down.

I picked up Julian at noon, and he'd had a great lesson (whew). After lunch, I basically let the boys go their own way -- Julian wanted to ski some runs he did in his lesson, and this ski resort is small enough that it's easy to find someone -- you can see the whole front side of the mountain from the lift.

Gabriel and I wanted to find a re-named "black diamond" from last year though, and found ourselves doing a little "off-piste" skiing, which was so much more interesting that we went back to it several times, venturing deeper into the trees, where there was still untouched powder.

Powder skiing is the best, but if you lose a ski, you're doomed. I basically tripped at a standstill and a ski came off. Fine, so stand up and push it back on, right? No -- as soon as I tried to stand, I sank in waist-deep. My other knee just about came up to my shoulder. Poles are useless, they sink even further and don't come anywhere near to bottom. There's some pole-crossing trick that's supposed to help, but I couldn't see how it would right then. It's really hard to extricate yourself, let alone get a ski back on.

Fortunately, I was only about 20 feet from a groomed run and pretty much butt-slid down to it, where there was solid ground to push down onto the ski. Even then, I couldn't get it to stay on until my 10yo son pointed out that the lever needed to be pushed down.

By then my fingers were completely frozen, so that was my last run for the day. I de-skiied myself, found the boys and gave them a time and place to meet me, and went to retrieve Katrina.

When I finally found her, the teacher explained she had been in the Snowflake learning area, with the magic carpet, but her class couldn't handle it -- so they moved her class to a shorter and easier magic carpet. I was floored. "Are you serious? She spent the whole day on the easy magic carpet?!" He apologetically explained that they have to teach to the lowest level.

I couldn't take it out on the poor teenager, but I was pissed! I saw plenty of other Snowflake groups out on the bunny hill and other runs -- why not Katrina? How are they forming these groups if a "level 3" 6-year-old (this school is for 4-6) gets stuck with rank beginners who are still crying?

As I was taking her back to the lodge, she skiied down a little incline, and made a handy controlled turn and stop right in front of the Snowflake school director. "Nice turning, that's what I like to see!" he said. "What was she doing on the magic carpet all day then?" I asked. Turns out, he'd taught Katrina in the morning before she got moved to another group for some reason. "Didn't you evaluate them?" I asked. He made light of it, saying they used her as a teacher assistant, demonstrating to the other kids how to go around cones and under tunnels. Which meant they noticed she could actually ski, so why was she on the stupid magic carpet?

He said I have to communicate to the teachers when I drop her off, and I just about hit the ceiling -- "I DID! I put her in level 3, she had a red vest, I said NO MAGIC CARPET, and yet this still happens!" Then he said I should stick around for 15 minutes to see how the classes form -- yeah right, ski instructors love parents hanging around micromanaging. Then I just look like a nutty helicopter parent to be ignored. He said they love graduating kids to the lifts -- too bad he hadn't known. What, do I have to hang a sign around her neck with all the receipts from the Sugarbowl ski school stapled to it?

This is so frustrating, I just don't know how to prevent this, it happens again and again, and this time was the worst. It really sucks being a decent 6-year-old skiier who has to depend on lessons instead of parents to advance.

Waiting for the shuttle bus back to the parking lot.

Katrina was a great sport about it, but I was in a foul mood about it all night -- it actually kept me awake. What a squandered opportunity, again. The boys and I had a great time though, and none of the kids seemed worse for wear.

She wasted no time playing in the snow again when we got home. This is a snow seat she built out of my bank of shame (where my car got stuck) -- notice my car now safely parked at the edge of the driveway!

I semi-plan not to ski tomorrow at all, partly because I feel really sick tonight, and burned my thumb badly, but I just can't stand that my poor girl didn't get to actually ski today. She really loves it, and nothing is happier for me than to see my kids enjoying something like this so much. I need her to have a great time!


Monday, December 31, 2012

12/31/12 Mishaps

"Remember the time you accidentally drove to Carson City?"

The kids love to tease me about my various mistakes and mishaps on our snow trips to the mountains -- and the material is plentiful. I kid myself about it of course, turning genuinely stressful moments into fond memories...but sometimes I wish there were just a fewer of them to joke about!

It is true that one year ago today, I missed a crucial turn-off on a drive from South Lake Tahoe to Incline Village in the Northern Lake Tahoe area, uniwttingly staying on U.S. 50. Everyone misses exits from time to time, but if you miss this one, a concrete barrier prevents a correction until you've arrived at the capitol of Nevada!

Then there's the trip that I didn't have a thorough checklist of snow items, and was missing one of Katrina's snow boots. And then hung Julian's soaking-wet jacket on a wall furnace and melted its plastic zipper into a useless mass. Same trip, the restaurant I'd planned on for dinner wasn't open for dinner, and the kids had to make do with oatmeal in a motel.

And that's just skiing. Don't even get me started on the mistakes I've made camping....the most recent one being leaving behind all the flashlights. SIGH.

I'm not sure this will top the Carson City debacle, but today I definitely added to the long list. Last night, when we arrived at a new rental house in the dark, I discovered how steep and icy the driveway was, but managed to back out -- and up -- out of it, to back in -- and down -- for optimal escape the next day. I'd backed out and up, turned around, then backed in and down in the dark. Low-traction skills? No problem!

Not quite. Conditions changed by late afternoon, and despite perfect visibility and being faced the right way, I just couldn't get enough traction to pull forward at all. The car slid back and into a snowbank at the side of the driveway, and my attempts to rock it free only got it more dug in. I tried digging it out with a shovel and putting wood strips under the tires, but that made no difference. The car was stuck.

Let's not forget this was a rapidly evaporating afternoon on New Year's Eve, I was alone with 3 kids, and we were almost out of milk! My panic was totally called for.

I invoked a "get out of jail free" card I've carried around for years and years and until today have never used: AAA. To my amazement, a tow truck showed up in under an hour!

The nice young man knew exactly where to hook up the car, and laughed sardonically that mine was the 3rd Subaru he'd pulled out that day, though I was the first who acknowledged that all-wheel-drive is no "stay out of jail free" card. I'd parked in a nonideal spot (backing into it at night), and squandered whatever teeny bit of traction I had when I first tried to pull out. I know all this, but apparently wasn't able to apply it right.

Gabriel oversaw the extraction, which was more dramatic than I expected. The car hadn't looked all that stuck, but it sure sounded like had been with all the creaking and groaning that went on when it was pulled free.

I am so not parking down that innocuous-looking, but car-sucking driveway, again!

This was a short drama in an otherwise terrific snow day. The kids played out in the snow all day, sledding, making piles of snow, of course snowball-fighting. It was colder than we're used to, and they came in often for breaks, but once they warmed up, were right back out.

This snow is way deeper than I ever remember dealing with as a kid in New York. It can be pretty hard to move around in -- you think you're walking OK, then suddenly you hit a soft spot and your entire leg sinks in. I had to laugh when the AAA dispatcher asked me, "How far from the pavement is your stuck wheel?" I had no idea!

I spent my share of time outside today shovelling snow too, outside windows so as to see outside. Snow piles up so high that it blocks the top of patio doors and windows. That's Truckee for you -- often topping the nations' cities for highest and deepest snowfall. Sometimes it amazes me that people live here, Mother Nature is so in control, it almost seems unnatural.

Unnatural or not, fortunately, snowplows and tow trucks are on the alert for people like me who insist on experiencing Mom Nature at her best!


Sunday, December 30, 2012

12/30/12 Pretty In Pink

Leave it to was such a struggle getting him to get ready for our snow trip this morning, that by the time I got him in the car, I was too frazzled to check on him. He was finally in the car, and sometimes, dealing with a kid like Julian, that's all that the moment.

But at our first stop at actual elevation, I discovered: he hadn't put on a "regular" jacket - he was wearing just a T-shirt and shorts when he strapped himself into the car. Gabriel and Katrina cottoned on to the concept that we were heading to higher elevations and lower temperatures, and donned appropriate gear (sort of) -- but Julian?

The kids all have ski jackets in the "snow bags" along with all their other ski stuff, which is never allowed out of my sight until a chair lift is immiment. But when you're heading to 8000 ft in January, you really need a "regular" jacket.

Fortunately for Julian, I have an entire bag devoted to spares. So when we arrived at our rental in Truckee tonight, with my car thermometer reading 18 degrees, at least we had an extra jacket.

Most people believe the humiliation for a 9yo boy having to wear a pink jacket would resolve his chronic irresponsibility, but I know better.

Thanks to my lack of trust, he does still have his "regular" ski jacket, and will not have to suffer the humiliation of wearing pink on the slopes -- but if somehow that jacket too escapes my rigor, he will have to ski in drag.

We arrived at our rental house in the dark, but that didn't stop the kids from suiting right up and zooming out to play in the deep snow. Ah, I so feel like "I done good" as a mom seeing the kids' delight with simple joys in life like snow. Beaches and sand are a close second, but snow wins.

Nothing like popcorn, hot chocolate and a movie to cap off a long drive and a happy reunion with "SNOW!!" (as Katrina would put it).

Meantime, I have to say: pink is a terrific color on Julian!