Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Glorious Day!

One of the things I love about North Carolina is the varied landscape (well, other than the predominance of trees). Drive 3 hours in one direction and you are at the coast with its weird sand spit that runs along the whole coast line so that you have to cross over marsh land to get to the beach. Drive in the other direction and you are in the Appalachian Mountains. They were beautiful in the fall. We went back last weekend to a very small ski resort. Anything that offers skiing is beautiful to me! This wasn’t the sort of skiing you would get on a plane from the UK for but I was impressed that after only a 3 ½ hour drive I could ski (or certainly try to!).
As we approached the area I got very worried. There was no snow to be seen anywhere. There is nothing worse than going skiing and having no snow! It is a fundamental requirement! Only when we got to the bottom of the mountain did we see the snow! It was like a little snow oasis, maintained by snowmakers. This is America! When I say small, it was just one 'mountain' and you could see all the runs from the bottom! One black run (they said two but the second was really a sliver that joined the main run half way down, 3 intermediate, 1 tiny green run and a baby slope. Oh and some crazy terrain parks for crazy snowboarders! Rather than try the ‘Hard core’ black from the top, I managed the sliver – called ‘a thin slice’. So thin in fact that I had to slide down sideways. Still – it was my first black run! Had they sold hot wine or hot chocolate and brandy at lunch I might have been persuaded to do ‘Hard Core’! In fact they sold no alcohol at all and the resort was separate from the town so there was no European style Après ski. For most part people were local or had driven a few hours so I guess there was no market for it – or maybe they don’t do Après Ski!
Upon arrival we paid the parking fee (unusual here) and drove to what my hubby calls ‘Parking Muppets’. Those luminous jacketed people you get in car parks to point to the obvious space. This one was a gem. He stopped us and we wound down the window. He asked ‘How many cars are you parking today?’  Ummmm just the one – unless the Dodge Challenger in my head counts?  We went into the ski lodge and hubby asked where the ski hire was. The man looked bewildered so hubby asked again. Hesitantly he looked out to the mountain and pointed to the chair lift… Ski Higher! What we should have asked for was the rentals!
Hubby is a reluctant skier which is great for me because he is happy to stay with the children. I had to make lift buddies  – friends you make for 5 minutes whilst sharing the chairlift. I got on the lift with a temporary lift buddy . He asked ‘Where in England are you from?’ I could tell he was a clever man with those additional words ‘in England’ added to the usual question. I told him.
‘Ahh Birmingham. Home of the dog show!’ I like that and made a mental note to self to use that as a stock response. Made a second note to not hastily feel obligated to add ‘no – I was never a participant or contestant’. Turns out it is a small world. My lift buddy had been a lecturer in Manchester when I was a student there.
My 5 year old son had never skied before. After a day’s group tuition and a private lesson he progressed from the now ‘dumb’ baby slope to the ‘bunny’ slope. He took this a little too literally and tried bunny hopping down. He was over zealous on his turns too and ended up going full circle and skiing backwards. Eddy the Eagle in the making.
My 8 year old daughter had skied twice before but still did the beginner’s day. After her lesson on the next day she did the smallest intermediate run with her dad. On the last day he suggested I take her on the most challenging intermediate. I stood with her at the top. It was one of those where you can see the top and the bottom but not the bit in-between until you go over the edge! It was very steep at the start. What was I thinking? She could just about snow plough turn! You are meant to protect your children not lead them down a kamikaze mountain plunge! By the second turn she was out of control and crying. I managed to stop her (and stop her trying to point her skis downwards!!!) and it took all I had not to disembark and walk her down! I explained that every time she went across the slope she would slow down. We continued – lots of wide turns till we got to the bottom when she said ‘Mommy you are much too slow!’ Kids!
The Irish family we went away with have lived in the states 15 years and became citizens last year. Fully fledged Americans with American children. They are still asked ‘Where are you from?’ I am tired of it after 7 months. While it is never asked in an unpleasant way – Americans are always interested and pleased to talk to you and love the accents- it does remind you that you are a stranger. I am frequently asked if we will stay here. I sat on the ski lift alone – going to the top for my final run of the trip. The sun was shining, the sky was clear blue and the snow sparkled like tiny diamonds below. It was a glorious day. For that moment I asked my self – Why would I ever want to leave?


  1. Watch out for them banjo players in the Appalachians missy

  2. I was worried that I might see some serious banjo strumming when I saw that the black run was called 'hard Core'!

  3. Don't get those thoughts to often, we want you back home.Home is where the heart is. We all know hubby's heart is on the Hairy mountain!!!

  4. Its him that needs to watch out for the banjo's ! lol

  5. Now that really did make me LOL- howler!!!! Strumming Banjos on the 'Hairy Mountain'!!!!

    (I should add that I hope it is the Hairy Mountain in Dorset is where his heart is - named affectionately because of the tall grass in Summer - not on the hairy banjo strummin' mountains of NC!!! As you say - he needs to watch out for those!!!)