The kids have been asking us for a couple of years to take them snowboarding.
I've got to tell you, this is not something I get excited about. I can do fairly well on skis--or could do, it's been decades since I last trusted my life to a couple of strips of wood. However, I did compromise in Virginia--when Walmart had a sale, I bought some El Cheapo boards the kids could take down the driveway. That worked well.
However, now that we were in North Dakota, land of snow, we were stuck--I mean, committed--to taking them to a real slope.
Rob had it planned for months. We'd go on President's day, which was after the inspection and his trip to New Mexico. He called me from 70 degree weather to remind me to rent the snowboards from the base rec center. I went out in 7 degrees--not once, but 3 times--to get the boards for me and the kids. But I consoled myself with the thought that the prediction for Monday was a balmy 12 degrees Fahrenheit. Rob would have to rent his at the resort, but getting them on base saved us about $50.
We got a late start, which was fine. Rob and I figured we'd get a lesson, goof around an hour and go, anyway--I mean, 12 degrees?!
As we hit the road, we looked at the temperature gage on our car: -9.
It had warmed to -6 by the time we got to Bottineau in the Turtle Mountains. (Elevation 2600 feet! That's--what?--half the elevation of downtown Denver? But oh, how they advertise. All along the road we say signs: --> Elevation 1617. --> Elevation 2205. We weren't quite sure what the elevation was where we were, since all the signs had a little hand pointing off to the right. Must be higher to the east.
Bottineau is a little resort with Black Dimond slopes that probably count for a nice blue in Colorado. However, we were interested in the bunny slope, anyway. Lessons, we discovered were free! So armed with lift tickets and an instructor, we made our way to the tow rope. That's where the trouble began.
First, everyone's board had the feet facing the wrong way. I had to remove my gloves to twist the attachments. What moved so smoothly in a nice warm rec center fought me out in the sub-zero. I was ready to cry, but I got them twisted.
Our instructor showed us how to latch both feet in and hop to the tow line. Only Alex was brave enough to try.
One by one, the kids grabbed the line and went up. Liam refused to go. Rob finally, convinced him by assuring him he'd be right behind. Of course, Rob lost his grip on the line about a third of the way up. Then Liam lost his. As he went scooting down the hill, doing very well but scared out of his wits and screaming, "How do I stop?" I let go of the time to rescue him. Of course, I had no idea how to stop either, so I struggled to keep my own balance, with my glasses fogging and my hat slumping past my eyebrows, I was shouting "You're doing great! Just fall on your butt!"
In the end, he slid to a nice gentle stop and I fell on my butt. That's when I learned that I was not limber enough to reach my release catch without some serious strain.
Of course, after that experience, Liam refused to attempt the slope again. As he lay on the snow--now he had no trouble with falling back--I looked up the hill for my husband. Maybe he could give Liam that "you can do it speech"--
As I looked up, I say Rob take what was his fourth or fifth tumble of the run.
"I quit!" he announced. "I want to ski. This S(&*s!"
So I left him with Liam and made my way up the hill. At least three of the kids were enjoying themselves. Alex and Amber were especially thrilled. At the top, Steven informed me that he does better with his feet in the other direction.
After another few frozen frustrating minutes trying to push the little pegs and twist the stupid boot latch, I declared defeat. I couldn't tell the difference between front and back anyway. I turned to the instructor. "Is there any reason he can't just turn the board around?"
He told me the front was longer than the back. I measured with my boot. If they were, it was negligible. I looked at the bunny slope, thought of my son's mission--get down in one piece--and declared, "You can turn the board around. it's not like you're going to hot dog." Off he went.
Now to get down in one piece myself.
The instructor showed me how to go and how to stop. You have to lift your back foot, swing your board so it's perpendicular to the slope and lean back on your heels. Easy, right? I pushed off, got a little speed, swing my foot around, leaned on my heels--
--and kept on sliding until I fell on my butt.
He stopped, told me again how to stop, then showed me how to get up. You swing your board around (there's a lot of that in snowboarding, apparently), so that you are on your stomach, then lean back on your heels. I swung my board around, feeling pretty proud of myself (my muscles complained later) and got up--
and started sliding backwards. I managed to twist so I was sort-of facing downhill.
20-20 hindsight, I should have asked him how to steer.
"Uh, you really want to try to stay away from the fence," he suggested, as I lay face first, my board tangled in orange rope and frankly laughing my head off.
"Thanks. I'll get the message to my feet!"
I fell twice more getting down the hill and came to the same conclusion as my husband. thanking the instructor for his patience, I left the kids with him and traipsed to the ski shack. Inner tubing. That was my speed.
In the end, all the kids elected to inner tube. Steven got tired of falling on his butt. Amber sprained her wrist but wants to go again. Alex, naturally, loved it, but tubing is more fun. Rob traded the board for skis and had the time of his life. I ended up in the cantina and running back and forth to the car for the kids.
We stayed about 4 hours. On the ride home, the temperature read -5.
Snowboard rental: $67.50
Skis and lift tickets: $137
Inner tube rental: $18
Snacks on the way home (including hot soup for me): $25
Bragging rights for snowboarding in subzero weather: Priceless.