Sunday, December 15, 2013

Our disastrous skiing weekend - Vacations gone wrong

I'm writing this blog post from the safety of our hotel room, because I refuse to go back out there.  Typing is a little difficult, since the fingertips of my right hand are numb with frostbite blisters.  And I can't move my upper body much, since my neck and shoulders have locked up.

Last night, as my friend cried in my arms in the hotel lobby, she said, "why do I think this is going to end up in your next book?"  I had to laugh, but so far both my novels take place in the sultry summertime, not at a freezing ski resort in Vermont on the coldest weekend of the year thus far.  But maybe if I set one in the winter in the future, I'll bring in some of the events of this past weekend. 

I'm not a huge fan of skiing to begin with.  My perfect vacation involves a great book, a warm beach, and a blender drink.  But I live in New England, and my husband and sons like to ski.  My husband and younger son are especially good.  We are friends with a ski-loving mom with two boys, and she suggested we all go together to their favorite ski resort.

Our first indication of trouble was the weather report.  A huge storm was predicted for Saturday afternoon through Sunday morning.  But we'd purchased lift tickets and rentals in advance, and it was too late to cancel our reservations without a fee.  We decided to just go.

We had to leave home on Friday evening, somewhat late since my husband's work scheduled a Christmas get-together for the afternoon.  I frantically packed, telling my 15-year-old son to make sure he had his winter coat.  Most of the time, he refuses to wear one.  But he found it (after pulling out a windbreaker and saying "is this it?") and I told him it was his job to bring it.

Four and a half hours later, we're unpacking the car at 10:30 at night.  My teenager is not wearing a coat, and it's negative 4 degrees outside.  When we tell him to go get it, he returns looking very upset.  He's forgotten it.  For a ski weekend.

My sons, after the borrowed gray coat arrived, before
the frost nip on the cheek appeared
Luckily our friend was leaving early in the morning, and she brought him an extra coat.  We could all laugh.  For a while.  The ski conditions were not good - icy and absolutely frigid.  The temperature at the top of the mountain was negative ten degrees.  After each run, we had to get inside to warm up.  My younger son had a suspicious-looking ribbon of red across his cheek which the medic deemed "frost nip".  We told him he was done for the day.

Why I didn't decide I was done for the day was beyond me.  I don't really like skiing.  It was bitter cold.  But I'd only had one run at that point (because I gave up my jacket for my son until the extra one arrived), and I wanted to get my money's worth.  I also wanted to do better, since my first run had been somewhat out of control.  Jokingly, I said I needed to "conquer the mountain" (from a green circle standpoint).

Me, still believing I was covered up enough
to head back to the top one more time

The ride on the ski lift was pure torture.  The biting wind cut through every layer of protection we had on.  We stopped at the halfway point and skied down.  Success - much better on my part.

Did I end it there?  Oh, no.  Because I wanted to take a picture from the very top.  A flipping picture.  One more run, I said.  My husband accompanied me all the way up, and I could barely feel my fingers, even inside my gloves, with hand warmers, by the time we got to the top.  I was so cold I had trouble grasping my poles.  At least that's what I'm going with, since what happened next was so absurd.  Somehow, I missed actually exiting the lift.  My husband pushed off, skied away, and I was still sitting on the lift, now looking at several feet between me and the snow below.  I only knew I didn't want to stay on that lift one more minute.  I panicked and jumped.  Yes, that's right, I threw myself off the lift, into the packed snow, and I faceplanted in what must have been hilarious from anyone else's viewpoint.  (This probably explains my locked neck muscles today).

Once I was up and my skis were back on, I said this is it, picture, down the hill, done with this.  Possibly forever.  My hand were already so cold, and what do I do?  I take off my glove to snap the picture.  My flesh froze so quickly I couldn't move my fingers.  I had trouble putting my phone back away, and I honestly couldn't close my fingers around the zipper of my pocket to zip it up.  My fingers simply didn't work.  Somehow I got my glove back on, got to my husband, and together we got the zipper up.  But the damage was done.  My hand was immobile, and I still had to get down the mountain.  Somehow I made it with no further spills.

Here's the picture that cost me my fingertips.  Worth it?

At the bottom, I raced right into the lounge and practically pushed everyone out of the way of the fire.  I tried to warm my hand, which is probably not the right thing to do.  My fingers burned with searing pain as blood tried to return to the damaged tissue.  We put in yet another call to the medic, but left before he got there.  Why, you ask?

Because my phone started ringing--it was my friend, calling from the mountain.  With the ski patrol.  Because her son had fallen off his snowboard and broken his arm.

She took him to the ER, we took her other son and went to dinner.  There was only one restaurant open in the resort, and it was very, very cold.  The manager came over and apologized profusely; it seemed the boiler had broken down.  Outside, the wind was whipping itself into a frenzy as the storm bore down on us.

Back in our room, I googled frostbite.  It seems I had a first degree case, blisters on my fingertips.  Reversible, thankfully.  I waited to hear from my friend, on her way back from the hospital to the resort.  She sent me a picture of her son, wearing a cast up to his shoulder.  He's a trooper, he was in good spirits.

However, her car is not 4-wheel-drive, and she began slipping along the back roads to the hotel due to the storm conditions.  She was getting very scared, and then she came upon a flipped SUV on the other side of the road.  Another car had stopped to help already.  Somehow she managed to keep her young son from seeing it, since he'd once seen an accident occur and had been traumatized for quite some time.  But once she got here safely and got him into their room, she called and asked me to meet her in the lobby.  There, she was free to cry without scaring her sons.  She's one of the strongest women I know, but the events of the day had taken their toll.

Aside from injuries, we were all safe and alive, though.  The emotions needed to come out so we could eventually try to laugh.  Which we did, over a glass of wine.  We don't know what happened with the flipped SUV, but someone had already stopped to help, and those cars are tough.  I'm praying everyone was belted in and that airbags deployed.

This morning, the storm is over, and conditions are perfect.  Lots of powder, no ice, and the temperature is up to a balmy 20 degrees above zero.  But I refuse to go back out there.  So here I sit, happy to have warm coffee in my damaged hand and a hot shower in my future.  Our friend's son with the cast is of course confined to his room as well, but he has his phone and a tv, and he's okay. 

I'm at my computer, working on the very last chapter of my third manuscript.  Which, ironically, I started last February on a ski vacation in Canada.  I'll probably finish ten months of hard work today.  So, in addition from some crazy incidents that will become funny memories, I'll have a completed Young Adult Paranormal Romance manuscript.  I'll take the good with the bad, and be grateful that our two families emerged with minor injuries that will heal, as well as some hilarious shared stories to eventually look back on.

Have you ever had a vacation turn into a disaster?  Feel free to share!

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