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Unforgettable ski trip went mostly downhill
Unforgettable ski trip went mostly downhill
Our memories usually retain the pleasant and delightful events of a vacation and, fortunately, let us forget the nuisances.
When you think of times spent at a beach, it's the beauty of the sea, the pleasant company and the delicious dinners that you remember. The blister on your foot, the mosquito bites, the plugged bathtub in the motel and the long waits in the restaurants are blissfully forgotten.
Of one ski vacation, though, we remember the mishaps. When Jeff was 11 and Kenny 6 years old, we went for a week to Utah.
The skiing ability of the two boys was quite different -- Jeff being an aggressive intermediate and Kenny a woeful beginner. It would have been impossible for one person to supervise both of them on the slopes, so we took along a skiing babysitter, Colleen.
She and I switched kids every other day, because, with Jeff, one could do some decent skiing, while, with Kenny, it was just babysitting. He wanted to make angels in the snow, go to the cafeteria right after breakfast, try all the video games and do a little skiing on the side.
One afternoon when Jeff and I returned to our condo, happily worn out, Colleen was visibly tired.
"You look bushed," I said.
She chuckled. "Oh, I feel like the world's greatest athlete."
Kenny sat in the corner of the room, quietly fiddling with a toy. He tried to avoid my eyes. "I couldn't help it," he pouted.
"Well," Colleen took a deep breath. "Kenny provided the challenge. We went to the top of the mountain. I thought we'd try the easy run down."
I put a glass of orange juice in front of her.
"Thanks. The first section was OK ..."
"Yeah." Kenny perked up. "I went fast."
"Then he fell ..."
"... and she couldn't get my ski back on."
"The binding didn't hold. Even a guy from the ski patrol couldn't fix it."
"So Colleen had to carry me all the way down!" Mischief gleamed in Kenny's eyes.
"The whole mountain?" I asked. "How?"
"Piggyback! And he held his ski in one hand and banged me on the head with it. Do you have any idea how hard it is to make all those turns with the extra weight on your back?"
Jeff, meanwhile, worked on Kenny's boot and ski. "It works now," he said quietly.
"Yeah." Colleen nodded. "We already found out."
"Dear, I'm very sorry you had those troubles. Why don't you have a nice hot bath, then we'll go to your favorite restaurant for dinner and celebrate the world's greatest athlete. Tomorrow I'll take Kenny."
Next day Kenny asked, "Mom, can we go all the way up? I can ski there. It was just the binding."
"All right, let's give it a try."
We chose the easier runs near the crest of the mountain, and Kenny did quite well. Even the binding held. When we went for lunch at the summit restaurant, Colleen and Jeff were just leaving.
"See ya later!" She waved.
"Bye, Mom. She's in such a hurry," said Jeff.
On a run down, I lost sight of Kenny for a minute or two. Around a bend, he was on the ground.
"That lady ran into me." He shook snow out of his goggles. "Then she took off."
I helped him up. "Kenny, look at that ski! The tip's broken off."
"I know." He shrugged. "It's here in my pocket. Will you have to carry me down now?"
"The broken ski is still a little bent up in front. Let's try to ski. If you go slow and stay away from deep snow, it'll be OK. At times you'll have to lift that ski a bit. Follow me. I'll try to find an easy path." We made it.
"How will I ski tomorrow?" Kenny asked when we were down.
"Might as well buy you new skis right now," I grumbled.
At the condo, Jeff asked, "Where are Kenny's skis?"
"Got new ones," Kenny beamed. "We'll pick 'em up tomorrow."
Colleen came into the living room. "What happened today?"
"There was a lady ..." Kenny told the whole story and ended proudly, "And I skied with the tip in my pocket."
Next morning, Jeff's eyes sparkled. "Today is my turn with Mom. She lets me go fast."
We took a trail -- I still remember its name, "Keystone" -- steep, rather narrow and a bit like a trough, the center lower, the sides higher up. Going fast, Jeff fell, one binding released, and, to put the ski back on, he unbuckled the safety strap.
"Watch out!" I yelled.
Too late. The ski took off, shot down the trail and out of sight.
Nowadays, each ski has a brake to prevent it from running away.
Suddenly, I felt very hot and had to open my coat.
"Mom, what do I do now?" Jeff sniffled.
"Try to get down on one ski. The snow's firmly packed here. You say that you're such a great guy. You'll make it."
So Jeff skied a vertical drop of about 600 feet on one ski with me hovering around him.
At the end of the run, where one could see it, someone had stuck the ski upright in the snow. Nice guy.
At home, Kenny shouted, "I did OK today. Nothing happened."
Colleen looked at Jeff and me. "What about you?"
"Tell 'em, Mom."
"Jeff's better than all of us. He needs only one ski now." I described the details of our adventure. "You three are great. Colleen played 'He ain't heavy, he is my brother.' Kenny doesn't need ski tips, and Jeff skis one-legged."
Kenny had a big grin. "Mom's the only one who did nothing special."
"Sorry, I didn't need any troubles of my own with you guys providing all the excitement."
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