For the tenth time in two months I’m on a plane. I’m somewhere above America, flying from Salt Lake City to Newark on my way back to the Netherlands. It’s going to take me two days to make the complete trip because for some crazy reason the airline companies didn’t consider that someone might want to wake up in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, fly twelve hours and across eight time zones so they could go to sleep in Dordrecht. The best I could manage was getting to Newark airport at 11:00pm on Saturday, and then taking a Sunday night flight back to the Netherlands, which arrives at 8am of the following day.
I am going to write a strongly worded letter to Continental, KLM, and Delta about this serious lack of sensitivity to their customer’s needs.
Why am I doing this you may ask? Because I love pain. I love strapping myself into a four foot high piece of composite materials with wax on the bottom and throwing myself down the steep side of a snow covered mountain, and then repeating the process until all body parts are sore and/or bruised.
You may know this phenomenon by its more common name: snowboarding.
I’m on my annual Guys Snowboarding Trip. This is the second installment in what I hope will be a yearly tradition from now until I am too old and arthritic to tighten my boot straps. The “Guys” in this case are my friends Ken and Jimmy and my brother Mark. This year we decided to spend a week snowboarding in that perennial snow paradise, “the West”.
When you grow up skiing in such places as the Adirondacks, the Poconos, Vermont and New Hampshire, you say “the West” with the appropriate amount of reverence. In the East we get small mountains with short runs which are more suited to ice skates than skis. But you take what you can get and you love it. Well, you love it until you go someplace that nature truly intended humans to ski or snowboard. These places include Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Vancouver, and Lake Tahoe (which is where the first annual Guys Snowboarding Trip was held).
It is only when you see the sheer size of the mountains in the West, when you carve a tight turn on a bed of soft snow with the sun shining on your face while you’re wearing only a sweater, that you truly understand what a cruel joke Northeastern skiing is.
That said, the locals told us that we picked one of the worst seasons in memory to go to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. This year they only got half of their usual amount of snowfall due to strange weather systems with Hispanic names which pushed most of the snowstorms either north or south of the Tetons.
It’s still freaking fantastic. The first day was a little tough because the sky was overcast, so the snow stayed hard all day. I got a rude awakening to the fact that Jackson Hole is not a mountain for beginners as I repeatedly fell on my ass and got pushed around by the moguls. The second day was cloudless and sunny, and the temperature reached into the high forties, the snow softened into a heavy, slushy consistency which allowed us to push IT around… and there was much rejoicing.
We ate our lunches outside almost every day with the sun on our faces and our coats off. We took various pictures of ourselves in front of vast panoramas of mountains. We played poker at night with the four of us. We made fun of Mark to the appropriate level as he is our token whipping boy, a role which he excels at.
Mark is on the Guys Snowboarding Trip thanks to the generosity of his investors, Mom and Dad, who believe that having something to look forward to is a good incentive for Mark’s performance at the Florida State University in Talahassee. If Mark keeps the grades up he can probably milk the Rents for at least one more free ski trip.
Sadly I had to take a whole day off to finish a final for my Managerial Accounting class, but beyond that it was a fantastic trip. Here are some of the highlights:
- Reviving the liberal use of the word “punani”
- Mark slashing Ken’s chin open with the edge of his snowboard on the very first day so that he needed sixteen stitches. Ken is no punani though. He got stitched up, then got back to the mountain for a few more hours of boarding. In the words of Ali G, “respec!”
- Mark coining the phrase of the trip: spicy. He first used it in the story he told about the barber who trimmed his moustache so that it was pencil thin, which he then complimented the barber on by saying, “yeah, that’s spicy!” Little did Mark know the versatility of this accolade. For example: “Did you like that run? Yeah, it was spicy!” and “Nice shot on the 8 ball Ken, spicy.” “The stock market has been really spicy lately.” Give it a try. (By the way, Mark, pencil thin staches only work for John Waters and certain sexually ambiguous boy bands. And maybe Buscemi. Maybe.)
- Losing my entire stack within the first five minutes in two consecutive no-limit Hold ‘Em tournaments. What can I say, I know how to pick ‘em.
- Beating Ken on our last night in two consecutive heads-up Hold Em tourneys. Spicy.
- The guy at the Board Room, a local snowboard store where apparently the staff are not allowed to show up to work unless they are stoned or just naturally slow.
- Finding a beer called “Bitch Creek”
- The “Nut Sack.” A bag of snowboard screws, nuts, and washers sold in one of those little plastic netted sacks that they sell Hanakkuh candy in. The packaging sports a picture of a squirrel with a huge nut sack hanging between his legs. Spicy.
- Finding a replacement for the “Awful Awful” from Reno on our last trip: Billy’s Burgers. Cheap, greasy fare that tastes great as long as you don’t watch how it’s made. Still, you either eat it or you’re a punani.
- Finding the one table at the Rancher pool hall with felt so bad that it ended up correcting for my inherent suckiness at pool long enough for me to beat Ken (who owns a pool table and is a truly spicy pool player) once. I also counted at least seven cowboy hats there.
- Buying a new snowboard. (Ann if you’re reading this, they were practically giving them away. 230 including tax. That’s really not even fair to the board shop. Plus, I’ve had my old one for seven seasons now. Ann, it was just too spicy NOT to buy. Honey? Don’t hurt me. I’m a punani.)
- Ken, Jimmy, and Mark snowboarding after drinking two pitchers at lunch one day.
- Listening to Mark make these cute squaling sounds every time he took his boots off because of the coaster-sized blister he developed after the first day. Talk about being a punani.
Well, I’m just past Cleveland now. The captain said the tailwinds are spicy and we should be in a half hour earlier than anticipated. I’ll have a few hours on Sunday to meet with Princeton friends and then it’s another cramped economy seat across the ocean.
Catch you all later.
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