Tuesday, December 20, 2005


"I can't feel my face!" I thought, as I felt my face, wiping off the sprayed snow. Five-day-old stubble does not quite fulfill the biological purpose of a real beard. Or a scarf, but I didn't have one of those either.

A more correct subvocalization might have been "My face can't feel.", but it was cold, and I was tired. I had just fallen down trying to descend a particularly steep part of the slope. I wiped the snow off of my face, and put my glove back on, retrieved my missing ski, and descended the rest of the way without incident.

The day began with a phone call. Heather called to say that she wasn't going skiing after all. I tried to call Laura, but I kept getting her voicemail, so I just hung up and went back to bed for a while. I got up a while later, and decided to go skiing on my own. I made myself some breakfast, and then headed off. On the way, I called Doug to ask where to go. You see, I've never gone skiing, and I wasn't familiar with the lifts. There are three ski areas at Snoqualmie Summit with different sets of slopes. Since I hadn't ever skied before, he recommended I start at the conveyor belt, which was at Central.

I found Central, put on my boots, and headed up to take a look around. I found the conveyor belt pretty easily. It was a mostly flat area with a gentle incline and several groups of people teetering on their skis and snowboards. You know what they say, "When in Rome..." So, I went to the top of the slight incline and teetered along with them. I had never skied before, but I had heard lots of theory on the subject. When you learn to ski, the two most important things to remember are: pizza and french fries. To go slow, you point the front tips of your skis inward, making the shape of a slice of pizza. To turn in this configuration, you shift your weight onto the foot pointing the way in which you wish to go.

Parallel turnining is like french fries. It's a bit trickier, but the idea is to have your skis parallel, or very nearly so. Actually, the skis should be slightly open. You lean on the outward foot, and guide the turn with the other. The trick, as far as I can make out, is to shift from one direction to the other in sort of a zig-zagging pattern.

I spent a while on the slight incline, watching the others and doing what they were doing, and then decided that I was ready for the bunny slope. I fell a lot, at first. I like to ride the edge of my abilities, and the surest way to know the edge of your abilities is to exceed them. Also a great way to improve. I was at it for a while until I got hungry, so I checked my skis and poles and had a burger at the diner. After lunch, I went back to the 'Holiday' slope for a few runs, and that's about when the sun started going behind the mountain. I didn't want to spend all day on the bunny slope, so I took one last ride on the chairlift and cut across to the "Central Express" lift.

Once at the top, I decided to look for a way down where I would get to do some real skiing, but also not kill myself (those were, in that order, my two goals for the day). An arrow to the left said, "Easiest way down", no doubt a message for all the newbies who had taken the wrong lift and didn't want to hurt themselves. Meh, not for me. Several arrows pointed in the other direction, many of them black, but, in keeping with my goals, I selected a blue rout that, if you look here, is labelled 'Alpine'.

It was quite a rush. I fell a few times, but after a while I started to get the hang of it. There was one part that was especially steep. I tried going sideways, but I would get going too fast, and when it came to turning around, I was at too much of an angle and it was too steep for me to pull off the turn with any regularity. I knew the proper thing to do would be to point myself straight down and jump side to side, but you'll remember my second objective. I wasn't confident that I could control my descent on such a steep, long hill. After that first run, I did the same one again, and then again, each time falling less and having more fun, but never quite satisfied with my performance on that one hill.

On my fourth run, I realized that I couldn't feel my face, my legs were tired, there was snow in one of my boots, and it was getting dark. My technique was improving, but I still always had trouble on that one part. I would have left then, but I didn't feel like walking all the way to where my car was parked along the road.

So I went again.

Friday, December 02, 2005

First Snow

We get one inch of snow and the local media goes bonkers. Well, I might as well milk it for all it's worth too, especially to all you Southern Californians.

Not exactly pool weather, is it?

I love my little bendy-leg tripod.

Downtown Renton at midnight