Oregon Trail

Location: Oregon, United States

Thursday, May 22, 2008


So the last blog was like a thumbnail sketch of what I've been up to. But there were a couple vignettes within the sketch that are worth telling.

First, a little more about skiing. The program Thomas and I took part in is a ski club. They rent a deluxe coach bus, which takes you up the mountain and then back again when you are done. Spiffy way to go. Some poor slobs had to take school buses up the mountain. The kids on our cushy bus called them "Ghetto buses". Snort. I tried to just be thankful for our glorious accommodations, bathroom included.

That is the upside. The downside is that we had to LEAVE by 6 a.m., which means we had to get up at about 5:15. On a Saturday. The first week this was no big deal. We were so pumped for this thing that it was all fun. The second week when I went downstairs to get Thomas he burst into a low moan, crying, and saying he didn't want to go, that he had decided he didn't want to do this anymore. Of course, I'm not exactly perky at this time of day and have not had my IV drip of caffeine yet. Not to mention that this is the first I've heard about him wanting to bow out. So I make him get up and get dressed, fussing and moaning the whole way, while I try not to engage, knowing that I am one millisecond away from completely biting his head off. He continues to moan and wheedle while we get our breakfast ready to go and pack up the car. I will not have it. I tell him we can have this discussion tomorrow, but not now. It is all I can do just to keep myself firm without laying into him or signing him up for another month of "torture". I tell him he needs to be absolutely quiet. It works for maybe three minutes. We make it to the bus, he curls up into a ball in his chair, still moaning and throwing me "I can't believe you are making me suffer like this" looks. Good Lord. I press my lips together in the thinnest of lines and remain silent. The bus drives away. About an hour into the drive, 7:15 or so, Thomas sits up in his chair and says, "Hey, I have an idea! What if we make a deal? I will not whine about skiing any more today. If I can do that, will you buy me a ______?" (I don't remember what it was, but it was a freaking sweet deal in light of the horrid morning we had just gone through). So I readily agree. And that was it! He was a changed man and we had a lovely day on the mountain. Honestly, I really don't think it had anything to do with our bargain. I think it had everything to do with the fact that his brain woke up at 7:00 and he had the ability to reason. Ugh.

Skiing vignette number two: I think I mentioned on the previous post that we had joined this club with a friend of Thomas' and the friend's mom. For the sake of anonymity, she will be known in this account as "Kathy". Kathy had taken Thomas to Mt. Bachelor last spring during spring break. She was a chaperon for the ski club. So I figured she knew how to ski. On the first day, there were several things she needed to do as a chaperon and we were not able to hook up until just before lunch. We finally did, and took a look at the hills available to us and chose a chair lift that had runs from Green (beginner) to Black (expert). As we made our way to the lift, Thomas and I pulled ahead and she struggled to keep up. First warning sign. We waited for her, and kept making our way to the lift. Once there, she asked the attendant to slow the lift down so she could get on. Second warning sign. Then, as we approached the top, she saw that the lift drops you off at the top of a small hill which slopes downward to a flatter area where you have some space to make ready for the descent down the hill. And she says, "How are you supposed to get off?" And I looked at her and said, "You just ski down the little hill and stop at the bottom." And she said, "I don't, I can't, I, I..." and then we were there and she HAD to get off and she started screaming, "aaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!", with her pitch rising as she swerved in between people at the bottom of the hill, missing them all, then falling down in a heap. Warning sign number three and we haven't even started down the hill yet.

So we begin making it down the hill. After a short distance, Kathy said, "Why don't you guys just go on ahead, and I'll make my way down at my own pace." This was beginning to sound like a good idea because we needed to have Thomas eat lunch in time for him to go to his lesson. So we left and went on down the hill. Then we had lunch, got Thomas hooked up with his lesson, and I skied two more runs. I tried to call Kathy a few times in there on our cell phone (this is a new concept for me, by the way - cell phone use as a way to keep in touch on the mountain! Brilliant!), but she did not answer. On my third run, I happened to notice a Ski Patrol helping some poor soul make it down the hill one little bit at a time and thought, "Oh, what a bummer, that person just got in way over their head." Then I looked again and realized it was Kathy. And all the should-haves came crashing in. I should have realized this run was going to be too much for her. I should have stayed with her. We should have had a better plan for staying in touch or finding one another (her phone had died - so the cell phone idea is great, but not foolproof). By this time, she had been on the hill for 2 1/2 hours. She had fallen and the lens of her glasses had fallen out. She managed to get it back in, but still couldn't see (Thomas and I had purchased goggles after our first run - it was snowing mightily and they were a necessity). In addition, her son had forgotten his snow pants and was wearing hers. So not only was she blinded, terrified, and embarrassed, she was also freezing. The ski patrol had been coaching her down the hill, staying with her and helping her not to give up and die in the snow. I asked if she wanted me to stay with them while they made their way down and she said yes, if I didn't mind. It was the least I could do. After another half hour, we made it to the chalet. Three hours on the mountain for her.


Friday, May 16, 2008

Catching Up

Okay! It's been a few MONTHS since I've last blogged. Eeek! This is due to several factors: 1.) life is busier now, as I believe we are 80% acclimated to living in Oregon now. The other 20% of non-acclimation factor is due to severe pining for friends and family back in MN. Sigh. I don't think that will ever go away. William has it the worst of any of us, poor bugger. 2.) I have kids that use my computer and believe it is theirs, fussing and moaning whenever I "need" to use it. Therefore, the path of least resistance was for me to skip using the computer until after they go to bed. Well, duh, I'm freaking exhausted by then and for some reason Paul prefers my computer to his laptop, so then HE wanted to use it. Fine, I'll just read a book and go to bed. 3.) I think, as we become more adjusted here, that life feels more "normal" every day. Stupid things like driving on the obnoxious highway with 42 traffic lights and 200 billboards between here and the next city don't seem so novel. Seeing the llamas on the way to work is a highlight, but no longer out of the ordinary (except now they've had babies again - OMG, they are SO CUTE!).

In any case, I still have things to say and I've been missing blogging. We finally got Thomas a computer to call his own - for two or three birthdays and Christmases, that is, until he pays for it. So now I have my computer back.

The first thing you need to know is that Thomas and I skied every Saturday in January on Mt. Hood through a program offered in our community. Downside: getting up at 5 a.m. to catch the bus so we could get to the mountain when the slopes open. Yuck. But the bus was this deluxe coach thing and there were video screens available and we watched these wickedly awesome videos about skiing by Warren Miller so by the time we got on the mountain we were frothing at the bit to get out there and GO! I've never skied a mountain before. The chair lifts are a good three times longer than anything in MN, and the weather is not bitter, just cold enough for the snow to stay powdery, and the runs are downright glorious. I am hooked for life. I have begun scrapping plans to buy a mini Cooper and am looking into cars with 4 wheel drive. I am figuring out ways to support my habit - maybe it would be cheaper in the long run to have my own gear? For sure it would save time - no lines for rental gear - therefore more time on the slopes. Maybe I could use three of my birthdays and Christmases to buy gear and season tickets. Maybe, rather than having to leave before the crack of dawn, it would be better to have a cabin or condo up there. That way, we could go as a family, bring the dog, and ski as much as we can handle physically. But I am the only one in the family that is experiencing this feeling of bliss about skiing. I would gladly get up every Saturday at 5 a.m. just to go.

So you see, it is bad. I am progressing in my addiction and it is out of control. I love the mountain. When I drive on the aforementioned ridiculous highway full of signs and stop lights, the mountain is visible on a clear day and it calls my name. It is absolutely beautiful. I used to wonder how Monet could stand to paint the haystacks over and over, with variations due to the time of day, but I can understand painting the mountain over and over. There are never two days alike. Sometimes you can barely see it because of the faint haze. Sometimes it is in stark contrast - white against a deep blue sky. I could go on and on, but you get the picture. I think I need to write a sonnet about it.

I've also gotten to spend a few wonderful afternoons with my friend and her horses. Dang, now I have to choose between addictions. She has allowed me to ride one horse, Fury, a bit, groom the horses and just hang out and smell the horsey air. The little horse, Digger, is my favorite - he is too young to ride yet as he is still being trained. But they let me work him on the lunge line (I found out there is an art to doing this without getting dizzy - blea!) and I get to watch while they train him. He is a character.

William and Stephen have been participating in a local Pokemon league. This is a great group of people from adults to young children that get together every week to play the game and trade cards. We went to the regional tournament in Salem, which was a blast, in a B-movie kind of a way. There were people (adults and children) dressed in character, and one of the leaders got a promotion to a higher level volunteer, which they announced at the beginning of the tournament. Evidently, this is a very big deal because the fellow threw his arms up in the air and yelled, then nearly fainted and everyone cheered and some ran up en masse to hug and congratulate him. Seriously, folks, it was like being at a Star Trek convention or something. BUT, you couldn't ask for a nicer group of people. They will lend you a card so your deck is stronger and then you can beat them. One of the members of our group got stuck with someone who had never played the game before, so he had to spend a lot of time explaining the game to her (there was an odd number of players - when this happens, they recruit from the parents that thought they were just coming along for the ride). Well, in the end they ran out of time and she had more points, so he lost. They gave him a "good sportsmanship" prize and recognized him publicly for his generosity. This has been a great source of entertainment for William and Stephen and a good place to make some friends.

Lastly, for now anyway, Stephen and I have started taking martial arts training again. The place that we are going to is a WHOLE lot different than the one we were attending in MN. We got to spar on our third day there, and it is a better cardiovascular workout. Probably one third of the time is spent on form, compared to 3/4 in MN. The MN training was a more pure form of martial art, which has it's benefits, but right now, Stephen and I just need to MOVE and have fun doing it, so I'm really happy with the program.

Okay, that is the bare bones of what we have been up to. Hopefully, now that I have a computer to use again, I'll be able to blog more frequently again and fill in some more of the gaps. Later!