Monday, April 28, 2008

Last run of the season

Friday, April 25th 2008:

We finally got all our gear together and are heading up to Mount Snow for the season's final weekend of snow and slopes. But first, we had dinner with some of Brian's co-workers up in Amherst, MA where the father of his co-worker, Montira, owns a restaurant called Thai's Corner. Running a bit late due to traffic and just packing our stuff for the weekend, we get to dinner close to 7pm when the meet time was 6pm. But no worries as they just had some appetizers and the entrees hadn't been served yet. Brian got his usual Pad Thai, and I got Chicken Pad See Ew, which was pretty tasty. Everyone pretty much gobbled up their food, not realizing how hungry they were. Montira was the only one who ate a little less ravenously and had asked to have her leftovers wrapped. The flighty waitress with the colorful, lens-less glasses took note, but in the end, somehow the leftovers turned into trash.

Bill, the chattiest amongst the group, seemed to have a similar taste in movies as us and proudly hails from NJ, and with such pride I haven't seen in like...forever, about NJ. He opts to get some bubble tea, which was declared by a passerby as not being very good in the area, while the rest of us goes to Bart's Homemade Ice Cream Shop for dessert.

After finishing our scoops, mine being cookies 'n cream, which doesn't hold a candle to JP Licks', my absolutely favorite oreos 'n cream ice cream ever - please open a branch in CT!!! - we head off to Vermont, but not before walking around an entire Bank of America building looking for an ATM, realizing we walked just a few feet past it and went the wrong way.

Gas is crazy expensive, seeing signs for $3.79/gallon, but we stumbled upon a gas station on our way up at $3.49/gallon. Lucky us, for on our entire journey up, we didn't pass another gas station that cost less. How crazy is that that it's lucky to find gas at that already outrageous price!

Our journey up is quite reminiscent of last year's ski trip except that instead of dark, scary, slow and curvy driving on snow filled roads, it was dark, scary, slow and curvy driving on clear roads. But at least it wasn't as much driving as it was less than an hour and a half up from Amherst. Brian even reminisces to even way back when we went to Mount Snow with Karim, maybe in '99?

We get to the Grand Summit Lodge around 10:30pm to pick up our condo keys. Kinda funny to see a Prius with a Tennessee license plate up here - could it be a Prius rental perhaps? or just some eager last-minute season folks? There was no sign of snow anywhere, but we hoped for the best that the slopes would be decently covered.

Our condo was located at the Snow Tree Hill Condominiums just down from the main lodge and ski area, more specifically Birches G. We only planned to stay one night, hit the slopes all day and drive back home, especially since Brian thought we would be sleeping on a murphy bed and the place would be tiny, since it was categorized as a studio. But low and behold, when we walked in and saw the pretty cool two-floor setup including a large flat screen tv, we thought, let's make a little vacay out of it and stay another night. And that way we didn't have to pack up all our stuff and check-out before hitting the slopes. Not finding a direct phone number to the main lodge, we drove back to check if the place would be available for another night. Being that our car was the only one in the parking lot and our being the only ones in that whole condo section, we really didn't have to worry. We got it at the same low rate of $70.

We had to wax the bottom of our boards, and with mine having sticky gunk from stickers, it was close to 12:30am before heading for bed.

Saturday, April 26th 2008:

The lift ticket office opens at 7:30am and the lifts start running at 8am.

Although I was still tired, the skylights in the bedroom helped a little with my getting up around 7:15am. Having brought up some food, we had some oatmeal and stuffed our pockets with some granola bars, and with excitement we headed out. As we look for a way to the slopes, it turns out that there was a brook running near our condo that I thought was noise from snow machines. They probably didn't run them the way things looked.

We had to walk up a somewhat steep hill to get to the clocktower where the ticket office was, and I was already tired and sweating. No surprise there wasn't a line nor many people in general. I made note on our map which trails and lifts were open.

We wouldn't be hitting anything more difficult than a green, so our options were limited:

Discovery Shuttle
Grand Summit Express

Launch Pad Learning Area
Long John
Deer Run
Beaver Hill/Tail

Alrighty get our feet wet, we head to the Launch Pad Learning Area.

We were the only ones there except for the lift attendant. It looked pretty sad. We didn't realize this until the end of the day, but this was the trail we tried snowboarding for the very first time back in '99 and where we encountered Dee Snider. How funny is that? I couldn't see the similarity of it at the time because of the lack of so much snow surrounding it.

Well, we did just one run on this, not because we rocked it, but because it was just too short. In fact, we noticed that the machine-made snow was not the best to be breaking in our gear since the texture was quite different from actual snow, and clearly we were not advanced enough to ignore the difference. We bid the attendant farewell and hoped the snow higher up on the mountain would somehow be better.

The Grand Summit Express was definitely express as it whizzed us up the mountain rather quickly, with no waiting in line.

Going up, we were a bit leary as the mountain wasn't quite living up to its name. The terrain certainly looked foreign for being a ski resort.

Wow. Nothing like the last trip. Our first run down the mountain took us about an hour, and not because it was a long trail. Let's just say that the snow wasn't snow. It was small, gravel-like ice crystals, so we weren't prepared for what we were about to embark upon. The carving definitely felt different and if you fell, which I most certainly did...a LOT, it felt like scraping your knees on a pavement made of small rocks - and there was a pretty bad fall where I fell and skidded about 5-6 feet on my knees - yowsah! Okay, so we didn't have the technique down on such terrain, but what made it even worse was that the trail itself wasn't wide, with one side being somewhat an unknown drop with trees. Who knew how far down it was if you just happen to keep going? Well, we were pretty much terrified of getting close to the right side, not wanting to find out, so if we couldn't control our turn, we essentially had to wipe it. Ugh. And to add to our misery, our gloves were no way near waterproof as they should have been, so the constant falling and pushing off the ground made our gloves sopping wet. At least it wasn't freezing out, otherwise talk about frostbite.

Talk about misery.

I was so happy when I reached the bottom, removed my board, sat in a chair, and called it the day. After that horrible run, I really had no plans to go back up.

Brian and I were defeated by the mountain.

We sat a while wondering, "what the heck" as we watched people and their fashionable attire pass by. Not exactly the best condition to break in new equipment.

We eventually ate some burgers for lunch with some beer. In the photo on the right below, the guy ordered a pail of Guiness, plowed through them and was gone.

So, after some rest, food, and beer, we decide to hit the slopes again.

We did 2 more runs, and while it did take us a shorter time to head back down, getting the hang of it here and there, it still wasn't as fun as it should have been. For the last run, I was about 100 feet from where Brian was standing at the bottom, and I just had to walk since it was flat and didn't have enough strength to balance myself on the board with one boot strapped in.

At the end of that run:

walking back to the condo

our sweet condo:

my knees, just after getting back: ouch!

After a much needed nap, we head out to pick up some munchies and some DVDs to watch.

watching "Death at a Funeral" on my laptop - instead watching it on the huge flat screen tv that didn't work, nor did it receive any cable nor did the dvd player work. We also watched "AVP Requiem", but Brian fell asleep early into it.

my knees, the next day:

Monday, April 21, 2008

Happy Birthday Weekend & Celebrating Earth Day

Saturday, April 20th 2008:

Sunday, April 20th 2008: