"Look at it this way," my husband consoled as I slunk away from the Killington ski repair shop. "You've just added a little comic relief to somebody's dull workday."
We'd arrived in Vermont the night before for a week of skiing. First thing Monday we got our equipment checked, which involved dressing up in full regalia and stepping onto a raised platform. The hip in-house expert stared at my feet in silence, then looked up. "You might find your boots a little more comfortable if you tried wearing them on the right feet," he counseled in withering tones. Snickers all around.
A fitting opener to a vacation I wasn't exactly keen on. My husband loves to ski. This year it was his turn to choose the vacation.
I'd been skiing three times before -- not exactly a beginner. I can make it down most baby slopes without falling down. But I'm a coward by nature. Heights, chairlifts, going fast, freezing -- if it's connected with skiing, I'm afraid of it. I ski, as my husband never tires of telling me, like a wooden statue.
Worse, I can't even make it as a ski bunny. By the time I pile on layers of long johns, insulated pants, sweaters, mufflers, arctic jacket and hat, not to mention facemask, goggles and mittens, it's not even clear what sex I am. My perpetually runny nose completes the effect.
Still, my ski vacation wasn't a total disaster. Fellow not-so-hot shots will be glad to know that there's more to do on a ski trip than ski.
You can take pictures. Photographing skiers is a great chance to practice panning and stop-action techniques. You don't even have to invest in a lift ticket -- just walk a little way up the mountain, station yourself at the bottom of a mogul and snap people in midair as they fly by. Or ski with your camera. Figuring out a way to keep it from slamming into your chest with each bump will help take your mind off broken bones, frostbite, etc.
With the family album in mind, my husband and I worked out a system: I'd ski down to a suitable vantage point, get set up and signal for him to ski past me. After six or eight such sessions, I'd reach the bottom, spine intact, before I knew it. My husband wasn't exactly thrilled with these delays, but he was so glad I'd found something to amuse myself that he cooperated. I liked this system because it justified my slowness as I snowplowed my way from vantage point to vantage point -- after all, I had all that expensive camera equipment to think of.
After the picture-taking, stop in at the base lodge with your equipment slung artfully over your shoulder. It'll do wonders for your image.
If you tire of photography, you can always get a head start on this year's suntan. I found the chairlift the best place to grab a few rays. When the sun's out, its glare off the snow is just as effective as it is in summer. A powerful incentive for the vain.
A little photography, a little sunbathing, and the morning's over with before you know it. Lunch uses up a good hour. That leaves the afternoon. I found it a perfect time for catching up on my reading over a hot chocolate or two in the lodge.
Eating is a great way to pass the time. As a matter of fact you can make a total pig of yourself, guilt-free, on the theory that you'll burn up the calories on the slopes. By the time we left Vermont we'd turned eating into an art from, lingerring for housr over our meals, gorging on goodies we wouldn't dream of eating in real life. Incidentally, we also disproved the burning-up-calories theory. We gained 14 pounds between us.
Sight-seeing, both on and off the slopes, is another pastime. If you go to New England, the scenery will help take your mid off skiing. Killington, in central Vermont, is especially beautiful, with spectacular views from the mountaintops. The town itself is full of pseudo-chalets and gift shops, but just a few miles away, down Route 4, there are quaint frame houses, one-lane bridges and decayingly picturesque barns galore.
As a last resort, you can always try a little skiing. A big place like Killington is a must for mismatched skiers. The baby slope there turned out to be plenty challenging for me, and there were lots of more advanced trails to keep my husband busy.
If all else fails, you can daydream. I spent a lot of time planning next year's vacation. It's a toss-up between the Virgin Islands and the Bahamas . . .