Monday, January 12, 2009

Skiing/Snowmobile Vacation

Well this year like every year for the last 24 (I haven't been to all 24 I've missed at least 3 years that I can think of) my family went on a winter vacation between Christmas and New Years. For most of those 24 years it was the "Snowmobiling Vacation", within the last five or six years I've tried to add skiing to the mix, with some success. Taking a big vacation every year presents all manner of difficulties. One of the biggest is housing, particularly given how big my side of the family is. At this point we're up to 29 people and for many years we had to rent a lot of condo's which ended up being spread over quite a big distance. However as of last year we moved into an inn which has more than enough rooms for everyone, a giant entertainment room and a huge dining area. Last year it was awe inspiring, this year it was nice, but not quite the dramatic change it had been the year before.

Anyway my own vacation was kind of mixed bag. Still 10 times better than not being on vacation, but not quite as nice as in years past. My back had been bothering me since midway through November and I'd desperately needed to take a muscle relaxant, but they knock me out for about 18 hours and I'd never had 18 hours to just check out. In an attempt to fit in all the snowmobiling and kids activities we had ended up scheduling two days of skiing, Saturday and Tuesday. That may seem like a good thing if you like skiing, and if I had the muscle tone and the conditioning it would be, but I don't I'm old and fat and my back was killing me. Fortunately I was able to work out an arrangement where everyone would get all the skiing they wanted on Tuesday (as it turns out when Tuesday actually came I had still scheduled too much skiing for the kids). Which allowed me to take a muscle relaxant on Friday night. Good for my back, bad for getting anything done.

I should pause at this point to mention something that's probably obvious to anyone who knows me. My goals for what I was going to accomplish while on vacation were ridiculously ambitious. Not to get into too much detail, but there was a lot of overdo organization and other stuff I wanted to do on my shiny new laptop. In between movies, meals, muscle relaxants, outdoor activities, exhaustion and e-mail I always have a lot less time than I think. And I should know that. Oh well, it wouldn't have been so bad if I hadn't got sick, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Anyway so Saturday was mostly wiped out by the aforementioned medication. Sunday was pretty nice. We went to church but other than that it was a nice day. I think I may have taken a nap... Monday was kids day. That morning we got out the 120cc snowmobile and let all the kids (at least those who weren't too big) drive it around in a circle on the snow covered lawn outside the inn. After spending most of the morning outside I figured Kid's Day was done and I could relax the rest of the afternoon. Unfortunately the kids had other ideas, they wanted to go sledding. Unfortunately the best hill for that was at the top of Logan Canyon, so we piled into the cars and headed up the road.

When we first got up there I wasn't sure if we were going to have snowmobiles. And the kids were eager to get started so I took the first sled ride with one of my kids (my #2 son I think). What I hadn't counted on was that it was warm, and the snow was pretty soft and wet, there was no crust. So walking back up from the bottom of the hill was a ridiculous exercise in wading through snow up to my mid thigh. To say it was "aerobic" would be the understatement of the year, and within 10 minutes of showing up I was already in the red zone. My heart was beating fast enough to be mistaken for a hummingbird and I was breathing in great big gasps. Shortly after that the snowmobiles showed up, but even so I was breathing heavy the whole time. I needed at least 20 minutes of convalescence to get everything under control and instead I spent the next hour and a half in a constant loop on the snowmobile, stopping only to get off and wade through more thigh deep snow to retrieve kids and sleds. Oh and I should mention I had no gators or long johns on, just levis and gore-tex pants. As a result there was nothing to keep those two items from ending up around my knee everytime I took a step exposing my bare lower leg to the snow... Yes, I did a lot of dumb things in a relatively short period of time.

That evening I was pretty tired, but the worst was yet to come. Tuesday we went skiing. We got up there pretty early to make sure the rental shop wasn't a zoo. And that part went pretty well. The morning was dedicated to teaching. We were taking the #2 son up for the first time and me and my youngest brother took on the task of teaching him while the #1 son and daughter went off with two of my sisters. #2 son did really well. But after being accidentally clotheslined by his uncle he was ready to quit after the 2nd time down the hill (not including one trip down the rope tow hill) but after sitting and resting for about an hour I convinced him to take one more run. That run was amazing. He basically skied continuously from the top of the hill to the bottom with only a couple of minor tumbles on some turns. But after that he was completely wasted.

The plan was to have the wife pick him up at noon and then ski from 12-2 with the older kids. As it turns out the older kids had decided they had had enough as well so we sent all three of them home. #2 son was so wasted I was actually a little worried, but unlike old farts such as myself kids bounce back amazingly fast and he was running around later that after noon. For my part my trials were just beginning. I had planned on only two hours of high intensity skiing with my siblings, but since my children left early it ended up being twice that (okay I only made it three hours, but I'll get to that).

So you know how when you exercise to hard, particularly in really chilly air the next couple of days your lungs burn when you take a deep breath? I assume you do since generally I only get through the first half of that sentence when I tell this story in person before people start nodding. Anyway... That's what I was feeling on Tuesday, the whole day I felt short of breath. So my initial hypothesis was that I had overdone it the day before with the sledding and that, in combination with the straining of muscles I didn't even know I had was why I was feeling crappy all afternoon while skiing the blues and the blacks with my siblings.

Right before 3:00 (the ski resort closed at 4:00) I told my youngest brother that I had "two blues or one black left in me". He immediately decided that he would take the one black. So we set off down a black run we'd never tried before. As it turned out it may have been the toughest black at that resort. It was all moguls from the very top all the way to the bottom. The moguls would be broken up by the occasional flat, but each set was longer than the last. Anyway it was pretty brutal, but I made it to the bottom without crashing, so I considered that quite the victory. At that point I hoped into my sisters van and we drove back to the inn.

I think my body was running in survival mode and once it got into rest mode all the lingering fatigue hit. By the time I got back I could barely walk. When I got into my room I collapsed at next to my bed. It took me an hour to take off my winter gear and get into a warm bath. The rest of the night I was completely wiped out. I went to bed early and by the next morning I was feeling a little bit better. But it had begun to occur to me that maybe it wasn't just being old fat and out of shape that maybe I was coming down with something. I managed to get the car loaded and drive to my sister's house. I had left my car there because we had to much to fit in the van and she had taken some stuff up in their suburban. So my wife dropped me off there and I waited for my sister to arrive so I could get the stuff and drive the rest of the way home.

It was while I was waiting that the chills set in. I managed to load the car and set out to make the last 45 minute leg home. I wasn't sure I was going to make it. I was shaking really bad, the heat was on full and I knew then for sure that I was sick, and not just out of shape. This a tiny comfort, in the midst of all my suffering but only a very tiny one. Not to spoil the next leg of this story, but I did make it home okay, and I'll pick up the next leg of the story tomorrow.

Still old, but not as frail as I had feared


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