Only a half full thinker would consider going skiing in the mid-Atlantic for Spring Break. To top it off, the DC area even had an 80°F day in March. But Mr. HalfFull convinced me that even if it was too warm to ski, we would still have fun. So we set our expectations low, but still hoped for a ski opportunity.
As we were driving to West Virginia, the temperature gauge in the car read 75°F. Had we made a horrible mistake? We didn’t spot even a patch of snow on the entire drive up the lush green mountain. At the top of the mountain, it was 55°F. But in true half full fashion, we went to get our ski rentals (which were free that day since it was so late in the afternoon) and hit the slopes! We got our ski legs back with about an hour of skiing before the lifts closed. We also didn’t have to bundle up; I don’t think I’ve ever skied in such light layers!
The day we arrived was warm, but the temperatures dropped significantly during the rest of the week, and you could barely tell it was spring. It certainly felt cold and windy out there! We even got two days of new snow including one the day after we arrived, where we woke up to a beautiful view from our condo.
When we booked the trip, we also booked discount lift tickets with our package, but later found out that we each got 5 days of free lift tickets since it was the end of the season and we had booked lodging on the mountain. Sweet! When I went to rent my demo skis, I was expecting them to cost $35/day for value season pricing, but they only cost me $16/day. Another awesome deal!
I got to start my days out with Starbuck’s coffee by the fire before hitting the slopes. I did not bring my half full/half empty mug on the trip, so I didn’t have to decide which side to use. But coffee was great fuel for my ski days (and all days).
The vacation was only Mr. HalfFull’s second ski trip ever, but he was impressive! Look at him skiing parallel down the slope like a pro. He must have had a wonderful, yet humble teacher (Ms. HalfEmpty). I had fun on the slopes too, and even caught a little air that Mr. HalfFull was able to capture.
We got to see some interesting ski apparel on the slopes. The kids were all dressed quite well, but we saw several adults with jeans or sweat pants that were visibly soaked. I’ve never seen that in Colorado, perhaps it’s a West Virginia thing. But it makes me wonder if we will be able to rent ski clothing in New Zealand since we will be unable to carry our own. Of course you can rent uncomfortable boots and decent skis anywhere, but what about the clothing? We’ll have to see. But if skiing isn’t in the cards for us in New Zealand, at least we got to ski once this season!
Since Mr. HalfFull and I are at different ski levels, we did not spend all of our time together on the slopes. Sometimes I would venture off to the Western Territory (accessible by taking your skis off and carrying them across the main mountain road), which only has black and double black terrain. The slopes were not crowded, so in general, if you were skiing alone, you rode the lift alone. However, at one point in the Western Territory, which is even less crowded than the regular ski area, a guy asked if he could ride with me. There was no line and it was a long ride up, so it seemed a bit strange, but we ended up riding together. I found out that this guy was from my area (just a few towns away) and was quite a character. I had watched him ski down the double black terrain with ease despite the ice, so I knew he was a good skier. I also learned that he had gone bull riding the previous week in Dallas! Apparently it was his first time, but he won the invitational competition, to the dismay of the professional cowboys. He explained that it was a real bull, he got thrown seven times, and he had lots of bruises despite protective clothing. I also learned that he was flying to Jackson Hole to ski the following day, so he was just in WV getting warmed up.
In between bragging about his skiing and bull riding exploits, he complained about the snow in WV. He was hoping for 11 inches of snow, but they only got about 2, so he felt like he wasted money by paying for lodging on the mountain and getting a free ski day. Some people just can’t be happy. Mr. HalfFull and I were thrilled that we had gotten to make first tracks in the powder that morning. It was a nice dusting of winter on top of the groomed snow and we waited with excitement for ski patrol to pull off the ropes at 9 AM! However, the snow did not do much for the Western Territory, it got even icier with the cold temperatures and was just a light dusting of powder that blew around on top of the steep ice. So I see Mr. BullRider’s point, but I was happy for any snow and thoroughly enjoyed first tracks!
On Saturday the lift lines got a bit crowded, but people didn’t seem to understand the concept of joining groups and the lift operators did not see that as part of their job description. Out West, they have specific lines for singles, doubles, triples, quadruples and the lift operators beautifully orchestrate the traffic patterns to keep the lines moving fairly. But in WV, it was a free for all. To make matters worse, they put the singles line farthest from the lift, which made no sense at all. The point of the singles line is to jump in easily when a chair has an extra spot or two, so you need to be close to the front to do that.
I tried to jump in where I could. On one lift that serviced mostly black terrain, but did have a green route, I asked a couple (male and female boarders) if I could join them. For the first time in my life, they said no! I was really surprised and I guess I looked it, so the guy followed up with, “We’re more comfortable just the two of us…we might fall.” So it was hard to tell if they just wanted to be alone on the lift as a romantic couple of if they were new snowboarders who didn’t have much control exiting the lift. But it was a four person lift and they were only two people.
After my lift line rejection, the two skiers behind that couple graciously let me ride with them. I learned that one had driven from Indiana to pick up his buddy in Louisville, Kentucky. He arrived in Louisville at 4:30 AM and got to the slopes that afternoon. Woah, that’s quite a drive. I’m pretty sure I would be asleep after that, not skiing.
Since it was the last weekend of the ski season, the resort had a pond skimming competition. The staff created a small pond and groomed snow into a large hill near the pond for speed. Many of the competitors wore costumes as they attempted to skim across the pond and jump out on the other side. Whenever a contestant had enough speed and balance to make it all the way across the pond, the crowd erupted in cheers. It was especially exciting when some of the contestants were able to do 180° jumps off the final ledge of the pond.
Some of our favorite costumes were a sumo wrestler, half-naked cowboy, sword wielding Caesar, gorilla, 2 hot dogs (a kid and an adult armed with what Mr. HalfFull tells me was a “beer bong”), Teletubbie, and old man with cane. The sumo wrestler turned around backwards before entering the water, which didn’t give him enough speed to skim the pond and his costume deflated underwater.
A little kid in a hot dog costume was super cute, but did not have enough speed to skim the pond either. He ended up sinking and was short enough that he was completely submerged with the weight of a snowboard pulling him down. To top it off, his hot dog costume had a lot of space at the top between his head and the top of the hot dog. When he went under water, his head got lost in the costume. When he didn’t resurface, a ski patrol woman jumped in to pull his head out of the water and then rifle through the costume to find his head and drag him to the side of the water where others lifted him out. Scary! Lesson learned: if you find yourself dressed as an extra long hot dog, steer clear of the water or resize to fit the bun.
Mr. HalfFull especially enjoyed the scantily clad cowboy as he did his run with orange cap guns blazing into the air!
It turned out to be a fun half full trip with some interesting characters and a few surprises.
- How do you manage expectations when the weather may not cooperate with your trip plans?
- Would you ski without appropriate pants or in a hot dog bun?
- Have you ever rented ski clothing?
- Do you enjoy riding with strangers on the chair lift?
- What would you wear if you were in a pond skimming contest?