Wednesday, August 13, 2008


The first time I ever put on a pair of snow ski's was in Watertown, New York. Rick Flanders, an Army buddy, invited me home with him just before Christmas. We had a long weekend and we caught a bus at Port Authority terminal in Manhattan on Thursday afternoon and rode for hours through the darkness towards upstate New York.
We camped out on the back of the bus and there was a bunch of young folks our age heading home for the holidays. I had the good sense to take my guitar with me on the journey. I wasn't that good then, but I could play old country standards, Dylan, and some Peter, Paul & Mary songs. As it turns out, that's all it took. We sat on the back of that bus and sang until we got hoarse.
It didn't take a lot of sleep back then to get by, so we were off to the slopes by early Friday afternoon. Rick gave me a few cursory instructions and said "it's easy, you'll love it."
I put on the boots and clamped on the skies. So far so good. We headed to the lift and I watched for a while as little kids and old folks hopped on the lift. It looked simple enough, but it took a few times to actually get on board. I didn't realize that the lift didn't stop when the get to the top. You're expected to hop off and then ski down the slope. When I got to the top my exit was less than graceful....I hit the snow face first.
I finally got up and started stomping my way over to the beginner's slope. A kid took pity on me and showed me how to start and how to slow down when I started going too fast. She was a good instructor for a ten year old, but I was not a very good student. I spent more time on my face and on my rear than I spent standing on ski's.
At one point I got to going pretty good and then I felt like I was going too fast. I used the braking technique which is to point the front tips of your ski's together, but the move was to abrupt and I almost snapped both legs off at the knees. I limped for a month.
I decided then and there that if I did any more skiing, it would be on the river. I kept that promise to myself.

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