Posts Tagged ski

Why is Travel so Stressful?

Invariably, Mr. HalfFull and I will end up in a fight before trip. This is our pattern, and we know it.

napping in the park

Mr. HalfFull is an expert chillaxilizer wherever he goes.

HalfFull vs. HalfEmpty Prep

I think this unfortunate routine stems from our HalfFull and HalfEmpty tendencies. I am a planner, who likes to optimize for all contingencies. On the other hand, Mr. HalfFull likes to relax and figure it out as he goes (or not…no biggie).

For me, it’s stressful to think of and strategize for all possibilities. It’s even more taxing when I feel like I am the only responsible party with the entire burden.

I think Mr. HalfFull’s lack of stress makes me doubly stressed. Even though I know it’s not his modus operandi, I try to spur him into action. This exercise in futility further irritates me. Rinse, repeat.

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Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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I’m Back!

Ms. HalfEmpty is jumping back into blogging!

Ms. HalfEmpty is jumping back into blogging!

Hello? Is anyone there?

I’m the blogger who posted here almost a year ago (although I did edit the most recent post earlier this year). Yes, it’s been too long, but I’m back!

International Travel

I’m excited to announce that Mr. HalfFull and I are going on another epic adventure this summer!

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Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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Who Wants More Snow?

Snow Covered Trees

Snow delicately outlining the tree limbs (Philip Halling/commons.wikimedia.org)

Did you groan as you read that title? If you experienced a long winter with the polar vortex and repeated snow days, perhaps you did. I’ve heard nothing but complaints about this winter in the DC area.

But I may be one of the few people who wasn’t bothered. I actually found the snowfall beautiful. I love to see the winter wonderland effect of snow outlining each tree limb and tiny branch. Ah, the delicate elegance.

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Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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Ich bin ein Münchener!

After our 36-hour whirlwind tour of Dubai, we landed in Germany to spend the weekend with my two German cousins and their significant others.  The younger of those cousins, Herr Newlywed, inspired us to visit Mauritius.  He and Frau Newlywed got married there the summer before our 30/40 World Tour.  Mr. HalfFull was so intrigued by the photos that he added it to our trip itinerary.

Herr Newlywed was gracious enough to pick us up from the Munich airport while Frau Newlywed was at a Robbie Williams concert.  I’d actually never heard of Robbie Williams, but apparently he’s quite the heart throb.  So it was especially awesome for Herr Newlywed to chauffeur us while wondering about his new bride and her teenage crush.

In my younger days, I went on vacation with Herr Newlywed.  My first memory of spending time together one-on-one was when his parents took the two of us skiing in Italy.  At the time, I was 13 and Herr Newlywed was 16-years-old.  We were having a great time skiing together until he made me hike up to the highest point of the mountain in ski boots.  He had been skiing his entire life in the Alps, and was an expert skier.  I was not.  When he decided to take the most difficult ungroomed path in unmarked terrain, I opted to find a less challenging route.  I felt sure that he would wait for me at the bottom.

But as we all know, you can’t trust a 16-year-old boy.  He ended up abandoning me for a 16-year-old German girl.  I never found him that ski day.  I was just a little abandoned 13-year-old girl — scared and alone in a foreign country.  I didn’t speak any Italian at the time, and had to make my way back to the hotel on the buses alone.  When I found him again at the hotel,  he had the gall to ask me to go to the ski locker room with him to find that girl’s skis, so he could write down her name to look her up back in Munich.  Ah, young love…

It’s not like I’ve harbored hard feelings all these years.  Okay, it’s exactly like that.  Each time I see him, I take the opportunity to remind him how he abandoned me in Italy.  You know, in a good-natured way.

Alcohol Bottles in 2002

Herr Newlywed and Ms. HalfEmpty out on the town with multiple Bacardi Rigo bottles in 2002. Don't we look young???

My next memory of hanging out one-on-one with Herr Newlywed was when I was in college on a scholarship to dance in Sweden, Finland, and Russia.  During that time, I took a quick break from dancing to visit Herr Newlywed’s parents, my aunt and uncle, in Germany.  One night, Herr Newlywed picked me up to take me out on the town.  At the time, he claimed to be a teetotaler and nonsmoker to his parents.  (This was odd because I’m pretty sure his parents would not have minded.)  I discovered a different reality during our outing.  But to preserve the image he had created, all photographic evidence was staged to look like I was the only one drinking.

Alcohol Bottles in 2002

Herr Newlywed and Ms. HalfEmpty recreate the photo of 2002 in 2011

We recreated that same photograph almost 10 years later on Herr Newlywed’s balcony, with beer instead of Rigo, as we waited for Frau Newlywed to return from the concert.  Even though all the bottles are once again in front of me, please don’t get the wrong idea.  I am not a lush.  There were 3 of us drinking on that balcony.

After Frau Newlywed arrived home raving about Robbie Williams, we all headed to an outdoor bar where a friend was spinning the tunes.  Herr Newlywed’s brother, the Prince of Munich, joined us as well.  The Prince of Munich is one of the most gregarious guys you’ll ever meet.  He knows everyone!

Munich Outdoor Bar

Herr Newlywed with his DJ friend watching the crowd, including the Prince of Munich at the head of the table

Currywurst @ Gartencafe

The Prince of Munich and Ms. HalfEmpty with currywurst at Gartencafe. You can still see my henna tattoo from Dubai, but not the "poop finger."

I’m not a huge fan of German food, but I tried currywurst at Gartencafe.  It wasn’t the wurst, but I can’t say I’d order it again.  It mostly tasted like ketchup to me.  After a short time at Gartencafe, we headed to a dance club.

Bucket of Alcohol

It wouldn't be a Friday night without a bucket filled with Red Bull, vodka, and champagne!

There, my cousins ordered a bucket of alcohol.  More drinking ensued and the Newlyweds hit the dance floor.  By this time I was exhausted.

Remember how we did some cultural immersion training to keep up with the party crowd?  Apparently, we didn’t practice enough.

The next morning, my cousins arrived with their Porsches to pick us up for a drive to the lake.  Mr. HalfFull got the chance of a lifetime when the Prince of Munich offered to let him drive on the autobahn.

Porsche on Autobahn

View of Mr. HalfFull driving the Prince of Munich's Porsche from Herr Newlywed's Porsche

Mr. HalfFull with Porsche

Mr. HalfFull poses with the Porsche he drove on the autobahn. He seems quite pleased with himself.

Apparently, it’s not a free-for-all on the autobahn as we originally thought.  There are actually sections with speed limits.  I learned this while sitting in the passenger seat of Herr Newlywed’s car after he said, “Mr. HalfFull is going to lose his license.”  Um…what?  Shouldn’t someone tell him there is a speed limit here???

Biergarten

Tutzinger Biergarten at Lake Starnberg

Eventually, the Prince of Munich must have clued him in on the rules of the road.  But Mr. HalfFull did get up to 250 kph.

Tutzinger Biergarten

Mr. HalfFull found a helpful German mann to point us to the beer garden

When we reached the Lake Starnberg, we enjoyed one of my favorite consumables — coffee!  It was actually a beer garden.  But since it was still early, and we had already sustained a big night with more to come, coffee was in order.

That evening we were invited to dine on fondue at the home of the Newlyweds.  It was a beautiful spread and so much food!  I only lost a few pieces in the fondue pot.

After dinner, we headed out to a VIP party.  The Prince of Munich had warned us that it would be a dressy affair.  But our duffels didn’t really contain many options.

VIP Party

Ms. HalfEmpty chats with the Newlyweds, the Prince of Munich, and his Princess over drinks

Even though Mr. HalfFull has never met my German uncle, they now have a special connection.  We were staying at my aunt and uncle’s house while they were celebrating my aunt’s birthday in Italy.  I’m sure they would not have minded if we borrowed their stuff, so we took a look in the closet.  As it turns out, my uncle and Mr. HalfFull wear the same size shoes!  So Mr. HalfFull borrowed some black leather shoes and a black button down shirt for the party.  I made do with what I had, but felt underdressed.

Dancer on Stilts

No, that's not a super tall woman. I actually think she was on stilts while grooving to the tunes in her long gown.

The party was quite a spectacle with candelabras, party dresses, and women on stilts.  Of course, it was a night of more champagne and more vodka.  Although this time, we mixed the vodka with ginger beer instead of Red Bull — much better for Mr. HalfFull’s blood pressure.  I called it a night early, but my cousins and their ladies partied hard (as was evidenced the next morning).

Urban Garden in Munich

Urban Garden in Munich

The next day, we tried to walk to the subway.  We got quite close, but our directions were slightly off and we never actually made it there.  However, we did stumble upon some lovely gardens.  Since land is so expensive in Munich, most people don’t have yards.  But they still want to cultivate plants and flowers, so they rent nearby plots.  Each plot had a shed or small house and beautiful landscaping where people could spend the day and escape the concrete jungle.

Prince of Munich Grilling

The Prince of Munich grills sausages on his balcony

For our final dinner in Germany, the Prince of Munich invited us to the penthouse apartment he shares with his Princess.  I’m not usually a fan of sausages (I know you can’t say that in Germany!), but the ones grilled for me by the Prince of Munich were delicious.

Sausages

Delicious spread prepared by the Prince of Munich

We had a lovely evening with the Prince of Munich, his Princess, the Newlyweds, and another couple.  Afterward, Mr. HalfFull and I decided to take a stroll through the city on our way back to the suburbs.  We found some beautiful photo locations and enjoyed being tourists.

Even though both of my cousins are older than me, that weekend taught me that I am old beyond my years.  I think I may need to continue my study of the party culture.

  • What secrets did you keep from your parents in your younger days?
  • Were you ever abandoned in a foreign country?
  • Do you like to party?
  • How fast have you driven?
  • Do you feel self-conscious when your attire is more or less dressy than the crowd?
  • Do you feel old beyond your years?
English Garden

Ms. HalfEmpty in the English Garden

Touring Munich

Ms. HalfEmpty on the walk home from the Prince of Munich's home; surprising that he doesn't live in the castle!

Lederhosen

My cousin has a work party every Oktoberfest where everyone wears lederhosen. Since we were out of season for that party, at least we found these guys outside the Hofbräuhaus on our walk home.

Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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1 Bus, 3 Days, 1000 Kilometers

Oz Experience Bus

Squatter walking back to the Oz Experience bus, which acquired quite a bit of dirt along the journey

Australia is a big country.  We knew we couldn’t see it all on our schedule, so we chose a small part.  We flew into Sydney, and knew we were flying out of Melbourne.  So Mr. HalfFull decided that it would be fun to see the part in between from the ground, and booked us on an Oz Experience bus tour.

Squatter

Squatter breaking for lunch after our hike to the summit on the final day

Our driver was an ex-military officer named Squatter.  Even though he currently owns his own house, I think he got the name from squatting at his mom’s house too long.  Anyway, he was a great storyteller and made the ride a lot of fun.

We arrived early at the meeting point in Sydney.  Everyone was just hanging around outside the bus, so we decided to get coffee.  It turned out to be a fairly complicated street to cross with inconvenient crosswalks and fast traffic.  By the time we got back, everyone had selected their seats on the bus.  One side had double seats and the other side had single seats.  Of course, most of the singles had reserved double seats for themselves in the front of the bus.  Mr. HalfFull and I wanted to sit together, so we were relegated to a double all the way in the back.  This was not a good start!

Australian Capital Territory road sign

Our whole bus group posing for a photo on the side of the highway

One of the first stops was on the side of the highway.  I was quite confused.  Was the bus broken?  Did someone need to pee?  No, Squatter thought it was a good photo-op with the Australian Captial Territory sign.  He gathered all our cameras as we huddled and shivered behind the sign.

Oz Experience bus on highway

Walking back down the hill to the bus on the side of the highway

Then he commenced talking about Australian war history. I suppose this was interesting to him because of his military background, but I was beginning to wonder if he ever talked about anything else.

As we slowed down in the capital city of Canberra, the bus repeatedly stalled at low speeds in traffic circles.  I was not impressed.  Already I was in the last seat listening to war stories… and now the bus didn’t even work properly!

War Memorial

Red flowers next to the names of the fallen at the War Memorial in Canberra

I soon learned why Squatter was telling us so much about wars.  Our first stop in Canberra was the Australian War Memorial, which is also a museum inside.  Mr. HalfFull enjoyed the exhibits, but I’m not a huge fan of museums.  So a museum about war wasn’t my cup of joe, but I could appreciate that it was a beautiful memorial building.

Canberra

View of a Canberra promenade from the War Memorial

Canberra was a strange city.  Apparently the citizens in Sydney and Melbourne couldn’t agree on which city would be the capital, so they created Canberra as the capital in between.  Canberra is a planned city (actually designed by Americans).  Rather than the usual grid of streets, Canberra follows a wheel and spoke model, so all the main promenades flow into the center of town.  These wide streets are huge and seemed strangely empty.  But Squatter said they were designed for the influx of millions of people for celebrations.  The normal population is much smaller; plus many of the ministers of Parliament don’t even live there full time.

Old Parliament

Old Parliament House with Aboriginal Embassy on the lawn including the word "SOVEREIGNTY"

Our next destination was the Old Parliament House.  When Parliament was in session here, the Aboriginals set up a tent city on the lawn across the street to demand their own embassy.  The tent city has become their embassy, but must be manned to remain so.  Squatter warned us not to take photos of them because it might start a fight.  I didn’t actually see any people at the camp and we took our photos from across the lawn, so I guess that’s okay.  It reminds me a bit of the Occupy DC camps that were recently dismantled.  However, the Aboriginal Embassy had a lot more green space and fewer tents (and no expensive name-brand camping gear; it was pretty decrepit).

Australian Parliament

Ms. HalfEmpty sips coffee in front of Parliament House in Canberra

Queen at Parliament House

British lad on our tour kissing the statue of the queen at Parliament House

After seeing the Old Parliament, we were off to the current Parliament building.  Squatter gave us a tour of the inside and made sure to add a lurid detail about each political figure as we passed his/her portrait.  The design for the building was selected through a worldwide architecture contest.  While the final result is impressive, it’s not terribly practical.  The flag that flies 81 meters high gets so tattered in the wind that it must be replaced every 2 or 3 weeks at great expense.  On our tour, Squatter dared the 18-year-old lad from the UK to cross the ropes and kiss the statue of the queen.  As he knew (and Michelle Obama learned), you can’t touch the queen!  Shortly thereafter, our group was reprimanded by a security guard.

Australia

View from the bus

The rest of our day was spent driving to our overnight accommodation.  After the decrepit nature of the bus, I was rather worried about where we would be staying.  But as we pulled up, I saw the word “hotel” and was relieved it wasn’t a hostel.  I already knew that we paid extra to have a private room, rather than be in a dorm-style hostel.  But if they had both types of accommodations at the same location, I figured I would be roughing it a bit.

Snowy River

At least the hotel had a nice view of Snowy River

I was right.  This was unlike any “hotel” I’ve ever encountered. We did have a private room, but it was so tiny.  It was basically just big enough for the bed and to swing the door open.  At the foot of the bed was a bookcase.  When I say at the foot of the bed, I mean touching the mattress so that the lower shelves were inaccessible.  This also made the far side of the bed inaccessible without crawling over your companion.  There was a small TV on top of the tall bookcase — far too high to watch.  It was plugged into the cable outlet, but not electricity.  So I brought it down and looked for an outlet.  There was only one, but the cord didn’t reach that far.  I had no idea why they had this TV in the room since it was unusable in the current setup.  We also shared a bathroom with the other room in our block.  Unfortunately for us, it was a dorm style room with 10 people!  The bathroom was a single toilet, single sink, and single shower all behind a single door — such a poor design for so many people.  Our dinner and breakfast were included in the “hotel” dining room mess hall.  Dinner wasn’t so bad, but breakfast was terrible.  They served military style powder eggs.  I was glad when our night was over!

Remember how I told you that the bus was stalling at low speeds in Canberra?  It continued to do this all day.  There was another Oz Experience busload staying at the same “hotel.”  That group was doing the reverse of our trip and would end up in Sydney, the location of the fleet’s mechanic.  So we switched buses with them and were on our way.  I wonder how they fared with the stalling bus.  I didn’t know it at the time, but it would become very important for us to have an operable bus for the terrain we would encounter the next day.

Toboggan Hike

Mr. HalfFull with his toboggan in search of a sledding hill

The “hotel” was mostly inhabited by skiers and boarders since it was at the base of a mountain.  We drove up to the ski area, but only had an hour, so it wasn’t enough time to actually ski — super disappointing!  Instead, we rented toboggans and practiced our most daring sledding moves.

Sledding

Looks like Mr. HalfFull found some snow. Did he leave any for the other kids???

We were a little out of control standing on the toboggans.  But it’s not our fault they don’t steer well!  There were only a few close calls with small children, but we didn’t take any out.  Although, we did see some of them take their friends out.  The real problem was that no one was telling the children not to walk up the middle of the hill where the sledders should be.  We tried to set a good example by walking up the sides, but the children never followed us.

Weighing Options

Mr. HalfFull weighs his options (with two rocks) in the wilderness. Don't fall in!

Back on the bus, our next adventure led us to remote mountainous roads that require a special driver’s license.  These are narrow dirt roads with curves and cliffs — no guard rails.  It was rather exciting at times.  (My mom would have been screaming.)

Squatter & Friends

A koala and other furry friends help Squatter drive the bus through harsh terrain

We stopped periodically to admire the landscape and take photos.  After one such stop, we all piled back on the bus.  But the bus wouldn’t go.

Apparently, there is a safety feature that if the door is ajar, you can’t accelerate.  So Squatter asked the person near the door to shut it.  This shutting process went on for minutes.  There were gentle closes and hard slams, but nothing seemed to allow the bus to accelerate.  Squatter was able to override this safety feature by using the hand brake.  But he knew he couldn’t drive like that for hours on these roads.

Tinkle Tour

Mr. HalfFull goes in search of a tree to tinkle behind

This location was so remote that there is no cell phone service.  So in addition to requiring a special driver’s license, you are also required to carry a satellite phone.  Squatter set up the satellite phone and called the mechanic, who conveniently never answered.  Fortunately, a Mexican girl in her early 20s had similar problems with her old car back home.  She suggested that we remove the fuse to disable the door safety feature.  It worked!

After getting back on the road, the microphone started acting up.  Squatter spent much of the trip telling us great stories about what we were seeing, and also about his experiences working with Aboriginal kids.  So the microphone was essential.

Fixing the Microphone

Squatter breaks out the toolbox to fix the microphone

The microphone was also essential for another reason — making sure all parties were on the bus.  Squatter told us a story about a previous trip where  a guy went into the woods to “hide an Easter egg.”  This trip included two buses with every seat filled, but no one bothered to do an actual count of passengers when they departed that particular stop.  The guy in the woods had been sitting in the back of the bus (I feel his pain) and no one alerted the driver that he was missing.  Apparently, this guy heard the bus engines start, which made him start running with his pants around his ankles and “Easter egg” all over.  He did not catch the bus, and the drivers didn’t realize he was gone until much later.

So on our trip, we would check in on the teams from each country.  Squatter, would ask for Team Germany and the two German girls would respond.  Team Mexico consisted of one girl.  Team Canada sat directly in front of us on the bus and consisted of a 30-something woman, her boyfriend, and her parents.  Team America was me and Mr. HalfFull.  When Squatter would call out, “Team America?” the Canadians thought it was hilarious to scream, “F*@# yeah!” in response.

For a while, Mr. HalfFull abandoned me to go sit up front and hold the microphone wire for Squatter so it wouldn’t be jostled on the rough roads.  Eventually that workaround was no longer effective and Squatter broke out the toolbox, and I got my husband back as a travel companion and seat pillow.

Remember that I told you about my applicator-less tampon experience?  It happened on this day of the journey out there in the middle of nowhere.  But at least there was a port-a-potty with toilet paper, and I didn’t have to use a tree for cover like Mr. HalfFull.

Dirty Bus

Ms. HalfEmpty is incredulous reading the message on the back window of the bus: "I wish my girlfriend was this dirty!!"

It was a dusty, bumpy journey and the bus certainly looked like it.  Remember the British bloke from above who kissed the queen?  He also decided to leave a note in the back window of our bus.  (See photo at left.)

Kangaroo & Joey

A kangaroo with a joey in her pouch

The next day was the final leg of the bus tour and included my favorite part — kangaroos!  I had seen kangaroos twice on the trip so far, but those were only in passing as we drove by.  This time we were in a field of kangaroos.  We were so close; some people in our group even touched the tail of a kangaroo.  It was amazing to watch them spring into the air in person.

Emu

The emu posed for a photo

We also saw an emu in the same field.  It was impressively large, but at least it wasn’t so close that it towered over us.  It fled pretty quickly and I never saw another one, unlike the swarms of kangaroos that allowed us to close in.

Our final adventure of the bus trip was a hike in Wilsons Promontory.  At the summit, we had a picnic lunch on the rocks and enjoyed the view.  From our vantage point, we could see two oceans!

Australian Poop

Can you guess which is emu poop and which is kangaroo dung?

I complain a lot about conditions like the bus and the accommodations.  I’m just not that rugged, and I do enjoy my creature comforts.  But I know we couldn’t have done all of that on our own.  The number of hours behind the wheel was insane; I don’t know how Squatter does it.  But that also meant that we had to wake up early, so he could cover lots of territory.

Kangaroo & Emu Crossing

Ms. HalfEmpty & Mr. HalfFull pose with the quintessential Australian roadsign

Three days was certainly enough for me, but there are people who take a series of these trips all the way across Australia and back.  In fact, the British lad did a 31 day tour across the United States!  I know that’s not my half empty cup of coffee, but we did have some great experiences and meet interesting people during our Oz Experience.

 

 

 

 

 

  • Where do you prefer to sit on the bus?
  • Do you ever stop on the side of the highway to take photos?
  • Do you enjoy war history?
  • Are you a fan of museums?
  • What do you think of the Aboriginal Embassy?  Does it remind you of Occupy DC?
  • Do you enjoy sledding as an adult?
  • Have you had vehicle issues while traveling?
  • What wildlife did you see while traveling?

Related:  All posts in the 30/40 World Tour series

Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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Who goes skiing for Spring Break???

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!

Morning view of the slopes from our condo

Morning view of the slopes from our condo

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!

Ms. HalfFull drinks coffee by the fire

Ms. HalfFull enjoys her tall skim latte by the fire

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).

Mr. HalfFull skiing

Mr. HalfFull on the slopes

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.

Ms. HalfEmpty airborne after a ski jump

Ms. HalfEmpty catches some air

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!

Western Territory view

Spring Break, Western Territory style!

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.

snow on trees in Western Territory

Snow covered trees in Wild & Wonderful West Virginia made it feel like winter

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.

pond skimming snowboarder makes it across the pond

Snowboarder skims across the pond as crowds cheer

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.

Pond skiiming contestants

Costumed pond skimming contestants

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.

hot dog contestant

HalfEmpty Hot Dog descends the slope on his way to the pond (note oversized costume)

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.

cowboy with guns prepares to skim the pond on skis

HalfNaked Cowboy with cap guns blazin' prepares to skim the pond

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?
Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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