Thursday, December 27, 2001

At Snowshoe

We had a fun 3-day trip to Snowshoe. Winter came late this year, so we only got one day to ski. But we made our own fun, and it was a nice opportunity to "get away from it all." I figure it was the first vacation from work I took that didn't involve somebody's wedding, or bunking at somebody's house.

Snowshoe as a resort was not exactly ready for visitors. The person who checked us in needed help to do so, the staff told conflicting stories about the availability of night skiing, the snack bar person had to ask for help ringing people up, a waitress was unfamiliar with the menu, the ski instructor didn't know what to do with our lesson tickets, etc. Each thing was minor, but it added up to an overall impression. Also, you'd think the lack of snow would lead them to arrange more activities, but the new aquatic center did not open until the day we left, and the comedy club opened up right after Christmas.

The snow itself they didn't have much control over. (Well, except for the fact that they made it, but they couldn't start until the week of our visit due to unseasonable temperatures.) As a result, they only had one trail top to bottom. (And one at the Silver Creek area, which we should have visited, but didn't.) After a few runs on the very crowded bunny slope, we headed to the top-to-bottom trail. Unfortunately, it was icy and not all beginner (green) terrain. More unfortunately, all the idiots on the mountain were zooming down it. (Not strictly true: some guy in a Jaguars jacket backed into me while we were in the lift line on the easy slope. Later, we saw him fall over trying to walk in the snack bar door.)

Here's something I realized: most people zooming down the mountain weren't good skiers. They just didn't know how to stop.

After a 2nd discouraging run down the mountain, Christina and I decided we needed a lesson to bring our skills close to where they were last season. It was a pretty good two-hour long affair, but by the end we were exhausted. The night skiing question was moot. On my last run on the bunny slope, my goal was to exercise all my newly acquired technique, but I ended up as the recipient of a snowboard in the shin. So I skied the last half straight toward the lodge yelling, "Ow."

The two best things that Snowshoe did were Saturday night fireworks and dinner at the Junction. But the overall best thing about the trip was hanging out with friends and throwing our cares to the wind.

Tuesday, December 25, 2001

Merry Christmas from Arizona

Merry Christmas from my parents' house outside of Tucson. We had a nice day. We opened lots of presents, then we had a nice dinner with my Aunt Pam and Uncle Bill. Earl and Claudia were over for a while.

My trip out wasn't too bad. I got to the general vicinity of BWI slightly more than 2 hours before my flight was scheduled to depart. The BWI parking radio station advised me that satellite parking was closed, and I was to head to the BWI rail station for "overflow parking". The roadside signs, by contrast, pointed me towards the Gold Lot. I chose the Gold Lot. Oops. Gold Lot closed. So I turned around, parked at the rail lot and took the shuttle to the terminal.

For this trip, I forsook United, my airline of choice, for the less expensive flight on Northwest. I consoled myself by using most of my remaining Northwest frequent flier miles to upgrade the outbound portion of my trip to first class. This seemed an even better idea after I heard the horror stories of long waits at BWI -- at least I would be able to get in the first class line. I needn't have worried. There was one person in the regular check-in line, and none in the first class line.

So I had 1.5 hours to wait for my flight. As I lined up to take advantage of early first class boarding privleges, I attracted the attention of a security screener who thought I was in line for an extra search. Upon discovering that I wasn't, she selected me for a "random" search. I can't complain about being singled out; I just hope they also perform searches on people they have to walk a bit farther to get to. I know I have a right to a same-sex frisker, but she explained he had "wandered off" to another airline. Whatever. I'm not sure which gender would be more invasive, but it was a mild frisk in any case.

So I boarded the flight not with the early first class boarding, but with everybody else. As I settled into my seat, I noticed there was some unusual amount of to-ing and fro-ing with one or more of the passengers, but didn't take much notice of it as I started to nod off. After we had pulled away from the gate, the captain announced that a passenger had been removed from the plane after she had gotten "contraband" past security and assured us that all of her luggage had been removed from the plane. OK...

The rest of the trip proceeded without incident, unless you consider taking 45 minutes to get my luggage an "incident". Both the flight out of BWI and the connecting flight from Minneapolis to Phoenix landed ahead of schedule. I used the flights to finish reading Fellowship of the Ring, in preparation for seeing the movie.


Sunday, December 23, 2001

Random Task

Well, I'm back from West Virginia, and what has happened in my absence? Nothing much, except...what the? Somebody tried to blow up a transatlantic flight?

Am I the only one who thought, paraphrasing Austin Powers, "Who tries to blow up a shoe? Honestly! You fight like a woman!"