Friday, January 06, 2006

Duluth Day 3 and 4-Spirit Mountain and the Drive Home

Wednesday morning, Kristen and I got up at our usual 8:30 AM time slot and picked up some breakfast from the dining room of the hotel. Then we threw on our gear and hoped into the car for the short drive to Spirit Mountain.

Kristen and I had to be about if not the first people at the mountain, because the people working hadn’t even finished opening up there. We did get there a little early (9:30-9:45 AM) but we were really close by and wanted to get to the hill as early as we could. We made an appointment for a ski lesson at 10:00 AM, however, the lesson was pushed back when our instructor got locked out of her car and couldn’t get her equipment.

While we waited for our instructor, Kristen and I got our lift tickets taken care of and our ski boots and ski rentals all squared away. It was neat how the boots just strap on, however, they were really uncomfortable and hard on the calves. This was my first time with downhill skiing equipment or ski equipment in general since the last time I went Cross-Country Skiing with my folks when I was younger.

Having acquired our equipment, the two of us decided to familiarize ourselves with getting in and out of the skis and the basics of skiing such as how to move, how to break, turn, all of the things that our instructor would cover when we had our lesson.

We spent quite a while on the bunny hill, mostly because of me. I felt really confident being in that practice area, and probably would have benefited from a few more tries at perfecting my turning before hitting the four pipe or juggler Joe runs. Our instructor was impressed by our abilities for first timers; she was used to teaching little kids with little or no experience what so ever and appreciated the change.

From the practice area we set out for our first run down four pipe, the main drag of Spirit Mountain. Kristen handled her first run perfectly; I on the other hand, was having troubles slowing down and turning and ended up going down the hill way to fast. After going over a jump, I panicked and fell to my side to stop myself and start over. My instructor told me that my turns needed to be more gradual instead of the sharp turns I was doing, and that I needed to use my wedge to slow myself down.

It is really interesting how all of that good advice goes right out of your head when you are screaming down the mountain at lord knows what speeds, and all you are saying to yourself is “Oh crap this is way to fast, how do I get off??”

Juggler Joe was a fun run and was a great opportunity to practice turning. Kristen took the opportunity to work on turning using her polls and not just her hips, although I think she may have strained a muscle or two in the process.

After our lesson, we took a little break in the chalet and ate some cliff bars and washed them down with some much needed water. It was nice to get out of those boots for a while. Then we headed back out to do a few runs on our own. We didn’t last long.
My legs had been killing me since the lesson and my confidence faded as the strength in my leg muscles failed. On the runs that Kristen and I did, I had a number of big wipeouts that didn’t so much hurt me physically but they hurt my pride and they made me more discouraged. I know that the advice is to not let it bother you, but to me it did and it is something that I will need to work on. On my last run down four pipe I ended up going down way to fast, over a jump, losing control and falling pretty hard. Hard enough that both skis detached and I ended up laying on my stomach with a bunch of snow down my back. That’s when I lost it and was ready to go home.

Kristen agreed, though I feel that I let her down by us not staying out longer. There will be other ski trips in the future, and the two of us may even head out down hill skiing with my Dad in February. I am just really glad that I have a girlfriend who loves being in the outdoors and doesn’t mind putting up with a bruised caboose.

On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at the gas station and we picked up a six-pack of beer to enjoy later in the evening. When we got back to the hotel, we jumped into the hot tub and relaxed for a while and chatted about our likes and dislikes and what we would do differently the next time.

For dinner we ordered up some pizza (god I have eaten way too much of this food lately) and spent the rest of the evening recovering from our adventures on the hill. We channel surfed from the Rose Bowl, MTV’s Next, and other miscellaneous junk on television. Tired from the day we crawled into bed and watched Shrek on the lappy before falling asleep.

Thursday morning we checked out of our hotel and found the nearest Perkins for some breakfast before the drive home. Kristen and I both enjoyed several cups of coffee and water and our usual for me the Tremendous Twelve and for Kristen the Grannies Country Omelet. Having filled up on food and gasoline for the car, we struck out on South I-35 for Minneapolis and home. The drive home went a lot faster than the drive to Duluth and we didn’t stop once. Kristen’s CDs and the radio provided a lot of entertainment.

I am really glad that Kristen and I got the chance to spend some time together and do some adventuring. Hopefully with the success of this adventure we can plan a more extravagant vacation in the future. There are still plenty of places and things that Kristen and I haven’t experienced and would love to try such as Base jumping, Ski diving, camping, etc.

Thus ends the four day Duluth adventure, I end with these final words…

Thank you Duluth!!!!!!
(Duluth replies…) “Thanks for spending your money here!!!”

1 comment:

Kristen said...

What a grand trip! I still feel that you did wonderfully at downhill skiing and I couldn't have asked for a better partner to go with!