- To hell with the pig... I'm going to Switzerland.

Ski Season! (Wednesday, December 22, 2010)

I am so glad ski season is here! I just spent two days at Ski Liberty in Pennsylvania, and it was wonderful. I drove up Monday morning, and spent the afternoon giving snowboarding another chance. It still sucks. I didn't have nearly as much trouble as the last time I tried it, but still way more trouble than it's worth. I think, even if I were good at it, that it would be too much work. Chair lifts just aren't designed with snowboarders in mind. Dragging a snowboard around is a pain in the neck. And no matter how good you are, the default position seems to be laying in the snow. But it was fun, nonetheless.

After boarding, I sampled the local "nightlife", if you can call it that. And you really can't. I had drinks, slope-side, at McKee's tavern, which was fun, even if their food and drinks are a bit resort-priced. Then later on, I went to the one "hot spot" in Fairfield, a few minutes away, a bar and pizza place called Ventura's. The pizza there was really terrific, and at $6 for a pizza, that's fairly impressive. The beer was also really cheap. The service was great, though it was pretty dead. I think I was the only non-local in the place, as everyone seemed to know everyone else pretty well. They allow smoking in the basement, so pretty much every few minutes, someone would head down for a smoke or come back up, and the room, while not bad, did smell faintly of smoke. I bet it would be pretty bad if there had actually been a crowd. I think next time, I'll head back to Emmitsburg, to the Ott House, which is supposed to be popular with the ski instructors, firefighters, and college students in the area.

When I finally gave up on Fairfield, I headed back to Liberty and parked by the hotel, and went back to McKee's in the hopes that maybe there would be some nightlife there, as the skiing wrapped up for the evening. Not a chance. I hung out at the bar with the bartender, who showed me lots of fun pictures of the family of opossums that she had rescued, and the manager, who happened to be another IUP graduate.

Monday night, I stayed at the hotel at Liberty, which was very convenient, although not what I would consider "up scale". The staff was very friendly and the price was fair. But I'd prefer my room to have the previous guests' towels removed before I arrive. It would be nice if the TV remote control didn't need to be re-programmed before use. I suppose having the hair dryer quit working would be expected, considering I fell directly onto a full bottle of water, which exploded in my pocket, and I had hoped to dry out my snow pants with its help. I certainly don't mind the peeling wall paper. But despite all of that, it was comfortable, the staff was helpful, and I wouldn't mind staying again. And I hear they are planning to refurbish everything soon.

Monday night, of course, was the total lunar eclipse, which was interesting to watch. I killed time watching Ocean's Twelve (or maybe Thirteen... I'm not sure which is which), and then headed out about 1:00. I had a perfect view of the moon, which at that point, wasn't doing anything, so I scurried back inside the lobby where it was warm, and chatted with the overnight desk guy. He was cool, and told me all about this job he has where he gets to evaluate and review new products. He had a pretty slick Android tablet, called a Coby Kyros, which while slick, was really buggy, and probably not quite ready for prime-time yet. We went in and out, watching the progress of the eclipse until it peaked around 3:00, and then I called it a night and finally went to bed.

Tuesday morning, I slept as late as I could, and then went and got the breakfast buffet that is included with the room. It wasn't great, but it wasn't bad — but definitely not worth the $11 you'd have to pay for it, if you weren't a hotel guest. After that, I got my skis (because one day of snowboarding is quite enough, thank you), and headed out to the mountain. I was worried about the horrible shape I'm in being a problem, but it came back to me like I hadn't ever been off the slopes. I did a few warm-up runs, and then headed up to the back side of the mountain, where I proceeded to have a number of fun runs down the intermediate slopes. Just before 1:00, I headed back down to the base area, to meet up with the instructor for the lesson that was included with my package. As usual, the class for skiers at my level turned out to be just me and the instructor. That works for me! So we went back up the mountain, and we worked on the finer points of my technique. He encouraged me to keep my upper body facing down the hill, and let my lower body turn under me, so that I don't get out of whack when I'm trying to start my next turn. He helped me refine where to release my downhill ski and transition the edge to the uphill ski, and that was very helpful. After my lesson was over, I went back up and made a couple of runs on the slopes that pass for a "double diamond" at Liberty. This early in the season, there aren't any moguls, so they weren't particularly difficult.

I wrapped it up fairly early, because, as it turns out, I am really out of shape, and I was starting to feel it. So, I packed it in, and headed for home. I was so wiped out last night, that I didn't even have time to call Ben and wish him a happy birthday. But if he'd come on the ski trip, like I asked him to, he'd have gotten an on-time birthday wish, wouldn't he? Hopefully, he'll come next time, and then we'll have some real fun!

So, all in all, a very successful ski trip. Hopefully, my friends will join me the next time, so the night life will be a little more interesting. And with luck, and more regular trips, I won't be in quite as much pain afterwards, as I am today. So until next time... think snow!

—Brian (12/22/2010 6:08 PM)


Now what...who, whom, where, why, how, there's an extra 'w' in there somewhere, would a guy put on a single board to go down a hill when they could have two boards on their feets to go down a hill? I ask people this? Snowboarding? BaHumbug. If you can't ski, then stay off the slopes; of course the question must be asked, can I ski? I will let Brian answer that (as he passes me backwards).

-- Ben (12/24/2010 12:44 AM)

On the bright side, Ben, at least you ski better than I snowboard.

-- Brian (12/24/2010 10:45 AM)

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