My three boys have not had very much contact with snow. That’s mostly due to my wife’s natural allergic reaction to any temperature below 83 degrees Fahrenheit. She gets cold watching snow on TV. But like me, she grew up skiing, and she didn’t want to completely deny her children the experience, no matter how much she might suffer in the process – from the front seat of the running car, sipping hot chocolate with the heater blowing full bore.
The best we can do for them is to let them play in the snow. They won’t grow up skiing or snowboarding with any regularity, because going skiing as a family of five these days literally costs a thousand dollars - four hundred dollars for lift tickets and six hundred for five cheeseburgers and a small water at the lodge. Since a skiing scholarship is a tenuous gamble at best - and only one of the boys is displaying any real coordination - we’re just going to go ahead and save for college instead. We’re actually trying to save for four tuitions – three for the boys and one for me. I want to go back with them. I had a blast in college! That might have been because my dad didn’t tag along, though, but who knows?
We live in California, in the Central Valley that sits next to the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Sierra Nevada is an old Spanish term that means “steep road to casino covered in ice.” It never snows down where we live, but we can visit the snow like tourists in under an hour, any time we feel like it. Sorry, Wisconsin... and almost every other state.
Not too many people are aware of this, but the California side of the Sierras usually receives some of the highest snowfall totals of anywhere in the U.S., and way more than anywhere in Southeast Asia. I say usually, because in the recent few years we’ve received about half an inch of snow in the spots that normally get thirty feet. As a result, all of our lawns are brown and we can only shower every other week, and only if we pair up.
We’re having our first wet year in a long while this winter, and the snow is once again piled high where we keep it, a convenient fifty-minute drive from our house. Again, sorry, Wisconsin. It was time to head for the snow, so my wife put on twenty-seven layers of clothing and we headed up the hill.
We are a little light on snow gear and toys, though - again, due to my wife’s severe temperature allergy, and our financial aversion to ski resorts. We go to the beach a lot because it’s free. I never have to pay $185 to get a “beach pass.” The flipside – there are no sharks on the ski slopes. It’s a give and take.
So, we own wetsuits and boogie boards for the kids, but not sleds and skis. Or snow pants. Or snow boots. Or good gloves... nothing, really. So, we borrowed some snow clothes for the boys, conveniently omitting the information that Son Number Three’s snow pants were really owned by a girl in his class, and off we went for a weekend in Tahoe.
The boys had a blast the first day of sledding, zooming down the small hills and flying off the jumps we made. On the second day, we got a little more adventurous and headed up the side of Mt. Rose to the public “snow play area,” which is an enormous steep hill that rockets you out onto a highway if you fail to stop in time. It would have been great, but the weather was not exactly cooperating.
While my wife watched in shock from the car, the three boys and I battled thirty to forty-mile per hour winds across the slope, along with the rest of the other idiots who decided to get out of their cars.
You know, those plastic saucers people have can really get moving through the air in a strong wind, like a sheet of plywood in a hurricane, nearly decapitating you as you hit the deck and watch them travel a quarter mile off into the trees.
We watched one lady, who obviously also favored the non-frozen water sports, chase her inflatable pool mattress all the way across the highway, where it had lodged itself under someone’s pickup truck.
Such rookies! We beach people had the upper hand that day. Boogie boards have leashes on them that attach to your wrist. Sure, the board is almost as big and heavy as the kid, so when the gale-force wind catches it, the kid gets pulled off his feet and his arm almost gets pulled out of the socket, but at least you don’t lose the board.
Those other people are probably still looking for their saucers.
See you soon,
Copyright © 2016 Marc Schmatjen
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