. Posted at 9:15 pm on January 22nd, 2006
There was, of course, the more or less standard basics: spending plenty of q-time with family and friends, fitting a trip up to see the folks in Eastern Washington and all the other general mucking around. About the most noteworthy event of the first few weeks of break was the big ‘ol ice storm that hit my home suburb, Troutdale.
If you every find yourself in the rosy heart of Portland, turn East and follow the Mighty Columbia upstream, stopping at the last ‘burb on your way out of Portland. That’s my turf, ‘cuz I’m from the south-central area of the T-dale Projects (as I like to call it).
I wouldn’t get out of the car, though – we Troutdalians have got a nasty rep as being the uneducated hicks of Portland, and we’re not above harassing anyone with even semi-conservative leanings. Slap a Kerry sticker on the back of your car and you’ll be fine. Slap a Nader one on and you’ll probably be offered a free lattes at every stoplight.
But I’m getting ahead of myself – the Columbia river is at the bottom of this big Gorge that basically acts like a wind funnel for the Cascade Mountains. T-dale is the first suburb on the way into Portland, making it prone to winds that would make a sailor cry tears of joy (admittedly not my best metaphor). Every six years or so we get real nasty ice storms, and this was one of the those years. Luckily I had my new camera to document it. My brand spanking new Canon Powershot sd400 cost me 52 hours of labor and is worth every bit – just wait ’til you get a load of all 400+ pics I took this break.
But asides from swooning over my new camera, I also got up to some non-regular mischief, too. Downhill skiing, mostly. My Ma’s Grandparent’s were straight-up, off-the-boat Norwegian immigrants and she meet my Pa (who grew up in Colorado) at Utah‘s Snowbasin ski resort. Being borne of such a formula, I oughta be a world-class Olympic downhill skier. I ain’t, but I can get down about any mountain with something that might be mistaken for style.
So I found myself in Ogden, Utah for the last week of my break. My Ma grew up there, I was born there, and my sister now goes to college in Ogden.There oughta be a word in the English language that describes friends who are so close that the might as well be family. If there is one, I don’t know it. So for now I’ll refer to Carl and Trish as my Uncle Carl and my Aunt Trish. They both call Ogden home, and good ‘ol Carl (plugity plug ) was kind enough to let me crash at his place for the week. This left me free to worry about getting my sister to skip class for the next day of skiing (turns out she doesn’t need much convincing).
And the skiing! Ogden is thirty minutes away from a handful of resorts. Thirty minutes! Back in Oregon it takes us an hour fifteen from garage-door-to-first-lift. And the snow! Dry and soft, like powdered sugar. They say it’s the Greatest Snow On Earth, and I believe it (for now, at least – it’s a life goal of mine to ski the Austrian Alps and really compare the two). But the snow is top-notch and there’s enough of it to go around. There are big open trails, threefold bigger than anything you’d see on Oregon‘s Mount Hood. And the Ogdenites can Ski with a capitol “S”. My Ma has the most beautiful ski style I’d ever seen until I skied with her childhood friend, Trish, who just baaarely edges Ma out. They both make me look like a chump, and I ain’t a chump. Let me reiterate that: I’ve got my share of character flaws but being a chump-on-the-slopes ain’t one. Not that I have to be the best skier on the Mountain to enjoy myself. I don’t, but these Utahians are better than great. They float down the slopes.
I also ventured down to Ogden High School, which you might recognize from such movies as Drive Me Crazy. It’s a beautiful school with big marble halls. The Sandlot was also filmed in Ogden and I sorta wanted to get a picture of the community pool, but it was too far to walk and I didn’t want to sacrifice a day’s worth of skiing to see it.
I’ve got two cousins, Shane and Cody, that go to school just outside Salt Lake. It’s a long story but, try as we might, everything aligned against us and I didn’t get the chance to go sloping with them. A complete bummer, but what can you do? I did get the chance to ski with my Pa’s cousin Ross (which makes him my super-cousin I think – 50% more cousiny than my other cousins). Before leaving Oregon, me and Pa and Ma skied in the New Years with Ross’ brother Ray (another super-cousin of mine). Ross himself lives in Salt Lake City (about 25 minutes south of Ogden) and we (with his daughter and her friend) skied my 2nd-to-last-day at Solitude, one of the Salt Lake resorts. Like always, we had a great time. On the way back we stopped by their house long enough for Ross to change and me to snap a few choice pics.
And so I type this up, waiting for my flight out of SLC to board, mentally unprepared for another semester in the flatlands of America. My knees are shot, my quads burn with enough lactic acid to jump start a car battery, and my little heart is singing. I spent seven of my ten Utah-days whizzing down deliciously deep snow on brand-new planks of fiberglass (I got new ones for Christmas and immediately named them Mary Kate and Ashley – they’re good-looking, skinny, and I walk all over them). If I close my eyes, I can feel the cold slap of the wind on my face as my skis go from groomed corduroy snow to powder. That’s when it feels like your skis lose contact with the ground and you just sort of float a few inches above the world. An incredible feeling and one I just won’t be able to duplicate in Missouri.
the Ketchup Lover
PS – I’m trying a new thing with the pictures: click here to see ’em and be sure to email me with any problems