Before jumping in, here's a quick life update for those who want it!
I'm still working part time for FormAssembly (a local tech company), helping teach classes and design documentation on how to use their software. They're an awesome company if you ever have a need for web forms!
My main focus is still my Ph.D. in Instructional Systems Technology here at IU. As for the typical question I get - no, I'm not close to being done yet :) I'll be here until at least 2019, depending on how fast the dissertation process goes. That being said, I love it, and I'm getting to teach a freshman class and a junior/senior level class to students who plan on being teachers, and it's a ton of fun.
So, with that out of the way, let the real post begin!
Falling Down the Mountain... In Style
Now, the first and only time I've been snowboarding was in middle school, which was just about 20 years ago. Unfortunately, my memory is not what it used to be (being so old now and all), so what I remembered from my first snowboarding trip was that my brother Steven broke his arm, and that it was pretty cold. Interesting information to be sure, but not necessarily useful in helping me become an instant snowboarding legend on this trip.
The plan for most of the family was to get 5-day mountain passes, so that they could spend most of the week skiing and boarding. I jumped on that train (gondola?) as well, and figured 5 days would give me plenty of time to learn how to ride one of these things down the mountain.
For the first morning, I spent my time on the bunny slopes, with Pamela patiently teaching me the basics of riding, turning, and most importantly, stopping. Thanks to her expert tutelage, I was actually starting to feel somewhat confident about things, and so we decided to head up and try out a Green slope that afternoon.
Well, it turns out that was pretty terrible. Or maybe not terrible, but at least terribly slow.
Apparently for snowboarding, really wide, open slopes are wonderful, because you have lots of room to maneuver, whereas narrow slopes, with lots of flat traverses are pretty terrible. Lesson learned. It took my the rest of the day to get down a slope that probably would have taken a normal person about 3 minutes, and that includes a hot cocoa break.
I should mention at this point that, while I was starting to get comfortable with the basics, I was also spending a majority of my time falling down, getting back up, and repeating that cycle with zeal.
So with that in mind, day 2 began! Definitely the most eventful day of the trip. FORESHADOWING!
Day 2 started out on the bunny slopes again, with a few hours of warming up and with me trying to get more comfortable with the whole getting down the mountain without falling thing.
In the afternoon, Pamela decided to take me..... all the way to the top of the mountain.
There were some Blue runs up there that were nice and wide and we thought they'd be good for helping me learn more quickly. The only issue was that after the Blue, we'd still have to get all the way down the mountain (about 5,000 more feet).
So, I made it up to the top relatively unscathed (aside from falling of the ski lift at the end of the ride), skated over to the start of the Blue, peered over the edge, and promptly freaked out a bit.
Seeing as this was my first real time snowboarding, I was, to say the least, a bit intimated by the steepness and unendingness of the slope I saw before me. Nevertheless, I headed down it, and managed to survive the Blue surprisingly well.
However, it did take most of the afternoon for me to get down it, and now the sun was starting to get a little low, and we still had about 2/3rds of the mountain to get down.
Our plan was to take the easy, windy Green the rest of the way, but, as noted earlier, that's not so great, especially with time being an issue.
So, instead, as we slid past a Black Diamond, I said, "hey, this looks like much more a direct route, can't we just take it?"
Pam (and the rest of her family who had joined at this point) said.... "If you want to!" So we did.
And, while it did survive it, it drained the rest of the strength that I had left, because apparently snowboarding uses crazy muscles my body has never thought to let me know I had before.
After surviving my first Blue and Black slopes, we were still only about 2/3rds of the way down the mountain, and there wasn't a whole lot of day time left at this point.
There also wasn't a lot of feeling left in my legs. Or feet. Or really anywhere.
So, rather than call snow patrol which might have made sense, Pam's dad Gary was kind enough to take my board down, while I embarrassingly slid down the mountain on my ass. Yes. That's right. I turned the mountain into a playground slide and just went for it. Did it hurt? Yes. Did I end up with my pants full of ice and snow and branches? Most definitely. But I made it down that damn mountain by the time the sun set.
The remaining 3 days were less noteworthy. I spent some time on the bunny slopes, after realizing I still needed a whole lot of practice with some basics. I also made it up to the top and down that blue again (much faster the second time!)
So, in the end, it was an exciting and awesome start to snowboarding, and I definitely want to get out there again. That being said, it's a week later and I'm still sore in places I didn't even know I had.
I'll end with a huge thank you to Pamela and the whole Sojka/Lafky family. Ya'll helped me have one of the most enjoyable, exciting, and bruise-inducing Christmases I've ever had, and it was a wonderful time. Thanks for the meals, the beds, the conversations, and all the good times.
And a special thanks to Pamela for being ridiculously patient and an amazing teacher. I would have been an absolute frozen mess without you!
I hope everyone back home had a great holiday season and I wish you all a very happy New Year! I miss you all and I'll hopefully be back on the Kansas side for a few days during Spring Break! Adios for now!