Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tubing at Wintergreen

While other families routinely ski and go tubing, we just hadn't managed it since the kids were born. Partly they weren't ready, we seem to have bred some especially risk averse kids, and part of it was that we were pansies and didn't want to be outnumbered on the slopes. I mean, who would get stuck alone with two (possibly miserable) kids and someone was bound to. But after last weekend's only snow of winter, we decided the children could handle tubing and we were prepared for any and all outcomes.

Mostly prepared anyway. We called Casa Fraught to see if they might make the journey too and Amy suggested we might want to buy tickets in advance. Huh? This had never even occurred to us. Sure enough, the 12-2pm block was sold out and we had to opt for a later time. We had, it seemed, narrowly averted disaster.

The drive was uneventful and we were full of hope, though we became worried when we were here:

and the cries of hunger started. But we did what any prudent parents wanting a successful day at the slopes would do, we threw money at it. $32 and some fried food later and we were back in business! Look at how happy those little swindlers are.

With one exception,  which we'll get back to, the day was a complete success. All the kids loved it and all were willing to go it alone, which was important as someone had to each time. 

But I find myself utterly conflicted about the whole thing. The last time I had been tubing was in the millennium prior and it was a very, very different experience. I can't decide if it was better. 

Back in the old days, let's say about 1980, we were living in Northern Indiana and tubing meant you first had to find a hill, no small feat in the flatlands. Said hill was probably less impressive than my neighbor's driveway but at the time was massive. We'd truck us the hill, hauling what I believe were actual inner tubes from tires, complete with pointy out-y inflation valves. Not a handle in sight. Then you went careening down the hill, god help anyone who was in your way. Crashing, into trees as well as the other tubers and sledders, was half the fun. The only thing limiting your trips down the slope was the speed with which you could make it back up the hill.

Then there is tubing, 2012 style. There were ten groomed runs. No matter how fast you went or were jostled from side to side, you never left your selected chute.

You waited in line for your turn. Each wave was  released with a countdown and all ten riders left simultaneously. When you all were done, the next wave was held back until everyone had cleared the area and were well out of harm's way. In our 2 hour allotment, we managed 8 runs.

So yes, it was safer, there were zero injuries reported as far as I could tell, but it was all so sterile. It was some very controlled, well organized fun. And while each run was (very) fun, they were also all kind of the same. No real danger or excitement. None of the Lord-of-the-Flies unrestrained joy I remember from back in the day.

But then again, before I get too nostalgic, back then we also didn't have the very fine moving walkway to shuttle us back to the top of the hill. And I can't say I missed getting stabbed by the inflation valve either.

We'll settle on different.

The one disappointment? Tim hoped so very much that the kids would see the skiers and get enthused about trying it themselves next year. It's been since before we had kids that we've been skiing. This is, by and large, my fault. When I found out I was pregnant with Morrigan, the first thing that went through my head was how happy I was. The next was, "Sweet! I probably won't have to ski for years!" And I mean that literally. I've been skiing in Michigan, out West, in West Virginia and I really don't care for it. 

Correction, I can't stand it. I loathe it. Just the thought of spending all that money to be on some unstable bootery (I have enough stability issues in everyday life, thanks) in cold, which I hate, is enough to make me miserable. I've been viewing the inevitability of a ski trip for years, about 11 now, with a sense dread that I don't even feel for dental appointments. At least those are warm.

So needless to say, I  have not been pushing for a trip. 

But Tim knew that if the kids wanted to go, I would too, as happily as I could manage. The wee ones, however, all independently said how they had no desire to ski. [I swear I didn't coach them. I generally try not to bring it up at all - it only leads to talk of ski trips.] This was a crushing disappointment to the love of my life. 

Certainly, I could feel for him in a very peripheral way but any sympathy quickly turned to panic as he set his sights on just us going out West to ski. Oh no! At least if the kids were there I could use them as a crutch and stay on the bunny hill all day. Without them, I would be forced to the top of green or even blue runs. All the misery of previous trips started flooding back. 

So I decided it was time for brutal honesty and a major concession. 

I told Tim, maybe for the first time, how very much I hated skiing. How I had tried, really and truly, but there is little I want to do less. Now I was willing to try taking the kids to Wintergreen to ski next year; limited financial risk, short time span. But a week in Vail, Aspen or any of those other cold places, no thanks.  BUT, and this is a big one, he could go with a friend. Big because we never vacation alone. We've found the payback just sucks too much. In this case, however, not going was payback enough for me.

Tim is happily researching his destination and I feel like the weight of the world has been lifted. [I can't help to add here that I really have some first world problems rolling today.]


  1. I hate skiing just as much, maybe even more than you! We used to be forced to go up to Michigan and ski down some icy hills with my church youth group. It was horrible. Then we went to Snowshoe with the kids and that was the most miserable weekend away for me EVER. I do, however, love to snowshoe and x-country ski. I love doing those sports out West. We x-country skiied a lot in Ohio winters on golf courses. But mountains? Are you kidding me? That gear? Those chair lifts? No way.

  2. Hurrah! Can we have a "we hate to ski" trip too?? I know that kind of gets in the way of the "concession" aspect, but I am quite thrilled to find others who feel as I do about the slopes!

    On another note, the last time I went tubing was in the mid '90s. We found us some honest innuhtubes and trucked over to Hunting Hills one bright night and had some of the most fun I can remember as an adult, sober with my clothes on. From your description... I think I will try to take my kids free-range tubing next snowfall. Gotta find me a farmer or a trucker for some tubes...