Thursday, January 24, 2013

All On A Winter's Day

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed a huge bruise on the back of my leg. Since I haven't been falling-down-drunk in a while, I was kind of wondering how I garnered this small ocean of blue on a leg that normally only features varicose streams.

And then it dawned on me: snow tubing.

I took the kids a couple weeks ago on a rare day when not only was there some snow on the ground, but it was barely cold.  That meant Cara, who has the body fat of a small zucchini, could stand to be outdoors for more than 10 minutes.

Now, I just want to put it out there that no one in this household has ever gone snow tubing before.  Probably because of my "crash fear."  Little did I know that a professionally run snow tube park is probably 100 times safer than the local sledding hill, where eight-year-old boys don't actually seem lethal until they're barreling down an icy slope screaming, "I'm out of contrrohhllll!!"

Sledding also involves walking yourself and your ride back to the top of the snow-covered hill.  That's why you don't see the old-timers, the overweight or the Salfino kids doing a lot of sledding.

So in my mind, snow tubing held a high probability level for broken bones, eye damage and/or nose bleeds due to inescapable crashes, preceded by an insufferable amount of grunting and grousing getting the tube back up long hills of packed powder.  Sorta doesn't really seem that fun.

Cut to this past Christmas break.  Every other day, either the weather was lousy or one of the kids was sick: a head cold, it's raining, a stomach ache, it's raining, a migraine (that would be me).  The break was a bust.

A week later, I couldn't take being stuck indoors anymore.  That's when I decided to explore the wild world of family snow tubing.  Not that our whole family would go.  Mike had to watch the NFL games for work, although, he normally opts out of things that smack of "fresh air activity."  So I went online and looked up local snow tubing options.

And that's where I saw two things that convinced me to give this venture a shot:

1) The snow tubes go down bermed chutes, so people can't slam into each other
2) There are conveyor belts or tow ropes to pull you back up the hill

Mike was out bowling at that point.  I knew if he came home before we got out, he'd react with his normal, "You're going to do what?!  Why??  You could break a leg!"  Read: "Cath, don't get hurt because it will really suck for me!"

So I yelled to the kids to get ready with hats, boots, gloves.

Me: "Ryan, get off the Xbox!  We're going snow tubing!"

Ryan: "We're going to do what?! Why??"

Me: "Ryan, you'll be kicked off the game as soon as Dad comes home.  And then it's either snow tubing with me or reading something."

Ryan: "Hold on!  I'm coming!!"

PS--Ryan is 12.  He got his last pair of snow boots a year ago... or so.  Who remembers these details? (More later on the "I can't walk!" portion of our day.)

We went to Camelback Mountain in Pennsylvania.  Ryan has gone to the resort in the summer when the place has its Camel Beach water park going.

Ryan: "It takes two hours to get there.  And with snow, and traffic... we won't get there until dark.  Why are we doing this??"

Me: "The web site says it should take an hour and a half.  Relax."

He put his head back and fell into a deep, disgruntled nap.

An hour later, we were walking through the parking lot.

Ry: "That two hours went fast."

Cara: "It didn't take two hours."

Ry: "It does on our camp bus."

Cara: "That's because your bus doesn't go 82 miles an hour."

Which isn't even legal, so of course I didn't drive that fast.

Anyway, we stood in line to pay and sign waivers saying we wouldn't sue anybody if we got hurt, maimed or killed.  Which, of course, we would.

While on line, Ry noticed most people had on apparel that seemed more suited to snow play than the denim jeans we were wearing.

Ry: "They all have legit snow gear, Mom."

Me, cribbing from the esteemed Ryan Reynolds film, "Just Friends": "We're from Jersey.  We tube in our jeans."

We went along a paved sidewalk, grabbed a snow tube, pulled it over a non-skid plastic walkway and boarded a slow-moving conveyor belt that took us up the hill.

Cara: "This is SO. MUCH. BETTER than sleigh riding!"

Ryan: "Seriously!"

Sad, but then again, my kids were agreeing on something!  It was a beautiful moment.

Our first run was great.  I had smooth ride with a couple of graceful twirls thrown in.  The second run...let's just say that amount of spinning is probably a bona fide torture technique somewhere in the world.  The end of the run culminated with 100-mph spins that were slowed only when I bounced very, VERY hard on something that I hoped wasn't a small child.  Because I bounced twice.  I was considering my lawsuit options as I opened and closed my eyes, waiting for the skies above me to come to a stop.

By the time I could stand again, the painful bouncing was forgotten, due to severe nausea.

But I had paid good money for this brand of fun, so we pressed on.  But by the end of the next run, Ryan said he was losing feeling in his feet, due to a constant pinching sensation.  I had brought a pair of hiking sneakers that he probably should have used the whole time, considering the conveyor belt, plastic non-slip walkway, etc..  Whoops.

This break was also when Cara asked how many more runs we were going to do.  Despite a good seven layers involving wool, down and thermal tech gear, she was shivering.

To be a good sport, she did one more run and beat a hasty retreat to the "snack shack" for some hot tea and a reboot of her circulation.

By now, it was dark.  Ryan and I did one more run.  I watched one mom put her toddler in a tube by herself and give her a push down the hill.  I watched another mom lay on her belly on the rear of a double tube, holding her year-old baby in the front tube.  I marveled at their lack of worry.  Actually, that's not true.  I thought these people were insane.

On the ride home, as Cara thawed out and before Ryan settled in for another nap, I told them we should be glad.  We tried something new!  We got some fresh winter air!  Dad didn't thwart our plans!  AND nobody got hurt!

Okay, well....