Monday, January 3, 2011

Wintergreen Ski Resort 12/30/2010

In my relatively short time working at NATVAR I come to know several of my coworkers and supervisors quite well. One of which is the Director of Engineering, George Love. During lunch one day George and I got to talking about our hobbies and as it turns out he stays away from motorcycles but enjoys riding snowboards and has been doing so for many years. When the weather started turning colder we began talking more and more about getting up to the mountains and doing some riding. So when it came time for me to purchase my own gear, he was the first one I called.

Just before the plant shut down for the holidays, George and I began throwing around the idea of going riding the week between Christmas and New Years. Unfortunately, that time of year tends to be the most crowded and the lift tickets are also more expensive. We were both unsure if it would happen, but we decided to keep the week open in the event we could work something out.

Tuesday night I received a phone call from George asking if I was available to go riding on Thursday at Wintergreen Resort, which is just shy of Staunton, Virginia. We would leave first thing Thursday morning, so it made the most since for me to go back to Raleigh on Wednesday and crash at his place Wednesday night. So I packed up my stuff and headed out.

Wednesday night I get to George’s house around 7, his wife was out with friends and he had his daughters, which are 3 and 6 years old. While George was getting the girls situated in his truck so we could go grab a bite to eat, I moved my truck out of the driveway and into the side yard. Due to the rather crappy turning radius of the truck I wasn’t able to get the truck quite where he wanted me to and as I was backing into the yard I heard a crunching sound. At first I thought was that I was running over some snow that was still on the ground, but something told me that wasn’t the case. I stuck my head out the door to hear the sound of water spraying and noticed that it was coming from the back of my truck. I had backed over his well, the crunching sound was my bumper crushing the fake stone that I apparently did not see…

George quickly flipped the breaker to the well pump to stop the rushing water. I moved the truck up further to clear the accident and then began cutting back the insulation on the plumping to see what the damage was. It appeared that I had cracked the cross over tube right at the joint of the T fitting that comes out of the well head. After getting the girls back inside, we grabbed some flash lights and pondered the situation a bit and how we could go about resolving it.

Sparing a few details…. A few hours later we had returned from Lowes with some PVC pipe, ate dinner at Chick-fil-a and were starting to remove the busted plumping. After a couple hours of work and few cold beers, George and I had replaced the busted pipe and celebrating the fact the repair was holding pressure. Now the jokes started….

The next morning at 6am, George and I started loading up the Expedition with our gear as the rest of the group arrives. George had informed them of our set back the night before and was sure to let them know the trip was still on after we had repaired the well. As you can imagine the 4 hour ride to the slopes were full of jokes of my well disaster and I was nick named the well killer. This in turn led to jokes about “Whale Wars” which further led to my truck being nick named the Nishi Maru after the Japanese whale hunting vessel.

Eventually we made it to the slopes and geared up for the first set of runs. Winslow and his brother went to the ski shop to get Winslow’s board repaired, so George and I headed to the blue slopes for a few warm up rides.

Trial map of Wintergreen Ski Resort.

POWDER!! Holy cow, it really was amazing. There was probably a good 4 inches of nice powder sitting on top all the way down the slopes. This was completely different than anything I had ever ridden on before and it was really quite nice! The further you got from the middle of the slopes the better the snow got. (As usual)

The blue slopes were rather short, and after a few passes the lines began to get rather long for the chair lift, so we made our way across the mountain to where the black and double black diamond slopes were located. On this side of the mountain, the crowds were much smaller and the lift was a high speed, 6 person lift which meant there was hardly ever a wait for a chair.

Riding the chair lift up to the top of the blue runs.

The slopes were in just as good a shape as they were on the other side of the mountain, with the exception of a few icy spots here and there. I am pretty sure that I surprised the hell out of George when he realized I was right behind him the whole way down the first set of black diamonds. Once at the bottom we quickly got back on the chair lift and headed to the top. After dodging the enormous amount of skiers, we found a spot to sit and strap in. As I grabbed a few quick shots, George asks, “Are you feeling froggy?” My response was, “Leap.” Off we went to the double blacks.

Skier overload at the top of the black diamond slopes.

The doubles here were not near as steep as those at sugar, not even close. I really wish that someone could come up with a standard for rating slopes based on grade over a length of time, something. (Engineer speaking) I had absolutely no problem on any of the blacks or double blacks at this park and after about an hour or so of riding, George and I had worked up a thirst and were a bit hungry. Off to the bar we went…

Enjoying my Sam Adams Winter Lager. Yum!

A couple hours later after having two winter lagers, two SoCo and lime shots and a bowl of chili, George and I left the bar and headed back to the slopes. I wanted to stop after one beer, but George kept ordering rounds… Winslow and his brother met us in the bar and said that they were going to finish their food and meet us back at the chair lift on the blacks. So let me just say that I have never been drinking before while snowboarding and I must admit that I was a bit unsure about it. Laughing at my struggle to strap back into my bindings, George says “This is when snowboarding gets fun!” After fighting with my bindings, I get up on my feet and make my way down the green slopes around the small kids and commence to fall on my face. Oh what fun I am going to have….

Eventually I got my legs under me and to my surprise the alcohol did end up making things a bit easier. The little bumps and jerks that used to mess with me and throw me off really didn’t seem to matter anymore. Thus proving that the board is much better than the cheap rental ones I was used to and I could handle rough terrain at greater speed without a problem.

After a couple runs I was really getting the hang of the slightly intoxicated riding, or as my mom calls it “Drinking and Sliding.” We eventually met up with Winslow and his brother and caught a lift back to the top and the horse play began.

Black diamonds... really weren't that tough here.

Say hello, George.

On the way up we got behind a couple girls on skis that were riding together. We tried to catch a lift with them, but we failed. Once we got to the top and strapped in, we started down one of the blacks and on the way George and I passed the two girls on skis. Half way down the slope, George and I stopped for a moment to see where the other guys were and while we were resting the girls passed by us. Being the gentleman I am, I smiled and said hello. Would you believe it, neither one of them even smiled nor said a thing back, not even a look! What the hell? (May I remind you that I am still a bit intoxicated at this point?) I couldn’t stand for this so off I went chasing after them with intent to pass them and stop down towards the bottom and try again, or something. Not really sure what I had in mind… Either way I flew by em’ carving here and there until I got towards the bottom. I cut hard on my toe side pushing out on my rear foot to get the board to dig in the snow and come to a stop. Stuck out my chest and caught an edge on my heel side and backwards I went, down the mountain. I slid and spun around with my board facing down the mountain. As I was picking myself up, wondering what the heck just happened, I get covered in snow not once but twice from George and Winslow’s brother who were apparently right behind me. Then the girls passed, again. I gave up.

Laughing hysterically in the line for the lift we decided that it was time to have another round of drinks, so we headed back to the bar for two more quick rounds of SoCo and Lime. After a drink a dash we went back to the black diamonds’ for a bit until they ended up closing them for the day as they have no lights on those slopes. So we rode another lift back to the blues and finished up our day on those slopes.

We pulled out of Wintergreen around 6pm and started our 4 hour ride back to Raleigh. It was a great day for boarding, a bit warm and some rain at one point but still had a lot of fun. Can’t wait to get back to those slopes again!

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