At 23, I was certain that I was all grown up, a full-fledged adult. Less than a year out of nursing school with a disappointing love life and more confidence than deserved I was convinced that a professional adult destiny was to strike out and leave home. Life loomed, an uncharted future required action. I snatched pieces and parts of others’ stories of travel, sport, adventure and position. Snow skiing was on my list. I planned, persuaded and cajoled trying to create a ski vacation.
It was a time (30 years before the internet)when there existed “travel bureaus” and talent experts called agents to provide ample color pamphlets about every kind of travel, often with personal testimonials or industry spin. Sometimes travel incentives were included in low seasons like an extra night’s stay, a meal or welcome reception. Amenities like this screamed elegant!
Skiing in the US was located in the Rockies or Adirondack mountains, west and east coasts only. I lived in the Indianapolis,central Indiana where the topography is much like a table top. We didn’t have hills and my only mountain experience was touring Mammoth Cave in Kentucky.
I began my quest. Sadly, lack of ski experience, equipment, finances, and time prevented my success is recruiting a friend to go with me. Not to be deterred, I began to consider Midwest skiing. A disappointed travel agent, seeing her air commission fly away, reluctantly explained a few other options. Boyne Mountain in upper Michigan, or what I then thought was upper Michigan. It was drivable, far more affordable and familiar to some others around the med center.
A med student I was dating seemed a bit intrigued, more about the travel than me. He had friends that skied. He got revved up about an adventure and recruited two couples to share in the trip. Dates were selected, cabin booked and it was off to get the ‘outfit.’ I tried on many versions of ski pants and jackets most of them were binding, puffy and uncomfortable. None felt like the stirrup, slim-fitting, stitched seam polyester pants and the Nordic decorated sweater I gotten for Christmas at age 12. (Imagine Hollywood, European après ski attire of the 60’s) I finally settled on a belted jacket and matching zip pants in an attractive safety orange. In my all or nothing industry I purchased boots, skis and poles.
Boyfriend balked at the entire trip when he saw how much the equipment cost, so in my benevolence (aka single-minded-ignorance) I bought his bibs. He and his friends planned to rent equipment. I kept all of the shiny penny new stuff. I prepared and practiced, walking night after night with feet and lower legs in the boots (casts) with bent knees to the 15 degree forward bend of my fibula, as I talked to myself, ‘Fun lies ahead. Stay the course. Pain is your friend.’ I was aching and stiff before leaving town.
After my shift, Friday I loaded equipment and bag into the car and took off. The first hours were great. I was excited, relationship hopeful, with new, coordinated clothing with my eight track blaring John Prine or Beatles as I drove alone to pick up ‘boyfriend’ on rotation in South Bend. Upon arrival it was obvious the new location had new my date was smitten, again not with me. So of course, we set off as planned with a full load of awkward in tow. We were the first to arrive at the two bedroom cabin. The second married couple came in a bit later. The third couple would be arriving in an hour or so.
Tired and irritable, we went to bed. About 3 in the morning couple #3 made a noisy, reckless entry. We stumbled out to make brief introductions, and to share tomorrows- NO- TODAY’s itinerary. We go back to bed and lay wide awake and silent as couple #3 lustily welcomed each other to the cabin as though the rest of us were deaf or still in Indiana.
Sleepy eyed we got up as the couple #3 snoozed in the front room hide-a-bed. The sink was outside the toilet/tub area. My date got into the shower first because he needed at lot of time with his hair to get ready. Fine! I got up to the sink to brush my teeth etc. The light awoke med student #3 who proceeds to repeat his performance of only a few hours ago while I am at the sink. Horrified I went in to the bedroom whose wall was sound proof as a hanging sheet. Shocked and embarrassed I stuck fingers into my ears to muffle their rutting sounds.
We and couple number two went to breakfast. The two guys knew each other slightly, had never even socialized. I was a mess and finally admitted my horror at how offended and dirty I felt. The woman across from me said, we thought that was you. My date and I looked at each other with equal measures of disgust. So off to the slopes we went. Couple # 2 had skied before so went off one their own. The two of us went for a one hour lesson. I wasn’t certain we would graduate. Frankly I’m very surprised any novice returns for a second day of snow skiing. It’s difficult, new postures and weight and angles, but the kicker was trying to put your casted feet with polished 5 foot boards into worn groves of the snow and grabbing ropes to get yanked and hauled up to some incline. Within the first couple of hours I can say with certainty I wanted to cry. But I continued, mostly because I was doing better than so called boyfriend.
Fortunately it got better as the day wore on. My favorite art was the hot chocolate and lunch and living through an entire eight hours.
Exhausted the four of us returned to the cabin. Luckily it was empty. We shared a quick easy dinner and hit the sack. We were exhausted and hoping for a quiet night. Couple # 3 disregarded our plans and humped the night away. Grumpily, the four of us headed to ski the next morning. It turned out to be a much better day with some trails and increased confidence. My inability to stop or slow down on the slopes was as successful as in other aspects of my desires…….train wreck.
Once home with my lift passes affixed to jacket’s zipper, the stories dressed in bravado I felt victorious. It was the experience of only two days at Boyne Mountain now armed with ski clothes and gear I decided to move across country to real mountains and to escape the disappointing bumpiness of my life. It had to be location, or so I thought.