Ow my liver! (Learning to Snowboard)
Winter 1997

How bad could it be?

Pretty bad, as it turned out. My first 30 seconds on the snow (ice) I glided standing up for about 5 seconds and then began to wobble. No problem, I'll just sit down. Hey, that wasn't so ...

My vision shut down.

I now know why cartoon characters see stars. I saw them. Nothing else. My tailbone was so hurt I couldn't lie down to sleep without pain for more than a week.

But I didn't stop there.

I kept on falling for the whole day. Toe-side balancing comes naturally. Our knees flex that way. We look that direction. Duh!

Heel-side is another story. I was always out of balance. And afraid to fall. So much so that when I inevitably would, my body would prevent further tailbone bashing by twisting. This meant I'd crash and wrench my neck violently. I think I still don't have a full range of motion to this day because of that. I found out by learning to laterally breathe while swimming.

Anyway, I was a stubborn jackass and refused to leave hurt-enough alone. The next morning I was a mass of pain in the shape of a human being. It took Scott threatening to leave me there to get me out of bed and into a hot shower. I melted like a candle into a slag heap.

Somehow dressed and back at the scene of the crime, every fall was a post-traumatic epic. The ratio of time spent moving to time spent talking myself into getting up again fell sharply. Eventually I realized this was counterproductive, and retired to the cafeteria for an early lunch.

I found an empty table in the middle of the empty, huge secondary eating room. Of course, I was joined by a grizzled fellow almost immediately.

I debated getting up and leaving, but was curious how this would turn out. He proceded to rail against those damn snowboarders until I put my snowboard-booted feet up on a chair in full view. He just smiled, McCarthy-like and continued eating in silence.

Not an auspicious start, I'll grant you, but I wasn't through. I spent part of the afternoon watching people board down a blue toward the lodge. I knew I could do this. I'd just have to be patient. So, I signed up to go with Scott to Montana in six weeks. I even bought my own gear. Scott, to his credit, tried to talk me out of it, but in a supportive way. He didn't want me to be stuck with gear I'd never use if I quit.

Our week in Montana started outside Missoula at the Snow Bowl. I took a lesson with a cute chick named Anika. She taught me how to sideslip. This was useful. I drank some beer at a glorious lunch on the deck at the lodge. It disagreed with my "athletic" pursuit and I spent most of the afternoon nauseated.

Back up at the Big Mountain in Whitefish I found myself the beneficiary of a truly enlightened lift policy. The lift that brings folk up from the parking lot to the base village does not require a lift ticket. The terrain between these points features 3 green slopes where I abused myself daily. For free.

I took one day off and compounded my error by learning to cross-country ski in Glacier National Park.

1998: (with Brendan) Just about the first time I ever dismounted w/o biffing

1998: Autumn, me (that hat got me free Mountain Dew), Brendan and Scott

1999: Scott, Jogen, Bob (his only time),
Brendan (with the hat I gave him)
me (helmet!) and Rick