After a wonderful Thanksgiving meal, the fam spent the night at Chez Nonna and PopPop. Four and I woke up early for the long drive to Hunter Mountain in New York. Every year, in high school and early college, my buddies and I used to go to Hunter Mountain on Black Friday. It was a great tradition. Now that we've all moved on and/or away, it's time to start a new tradition. Not knowing how long Four would last on the slopes, I decided to leave early so we could be there for most of the morning and feel like we got in a good day if he faded during the sometimes crash-prone afternoons. Even though he was so excited to go -- skiing had been my carrot for the week to help remind us of our good behavior -- getting him up as early as we did was pretty comical. M, who was up getting ready for work, pulled the covers down and started talking to him gently and rubbing his back trying to ease him into his day. He sits up with his scrunched up face and 'hrumph' attitude, grabs the covers, and lays back down. After finally getting him up and dressed, we had the best day.
About an hour into the drive, we stopped for gas and coffee. I kept asking him if he wanted anything, juice, snack, etc. He politely declined everything. He only peed because I was going. We later stopped at a McDonalds (his favorite) just off the highway, I asked if he wanted anything. Again, he declines citing his desire to go skiing.
Once we got to Hunter and got our tickets, we only lasted two runs before Four's hands got cold. It was pretty cold that day. As we walked back to the van to get his other gloves and then to the lodge to get lunch, I nervously wondered if we were done for the day. Nonetheless we had a great lunch together, and when he got too shy to continue talking to the lovely Argentinian couple across the table from us, we went back out on the slopes. We had started the day with him in the Racer Chaser vest and a ski tip lock. At different times he would ask to try it without one or both of these aids. The only green run open had some sections that were probably steep enough to not truly be green. In these areas, we would fall often without the vest on. But really, he was doing great. As the day went on and our runs started piling up, he started to seem uncomfortable on the chair. I kept asking if he was cold, if we should call it a day, if we should take a break -- truth be told I was getting uncomfortable snowplowing all day in my nearly 20 year old alpine boots (my tele stuff arrived the Monday after). But he wanted to keep going. Finally, on what turned out to be our last lift ride, I could see him wincing in pain. He finally admitted that his hands were cold. For his last run, he wanted to ski down without his vest and tip lock. He did great. I think he only fell twice that last run and did a get job of checking his speed on the steeper sections. I was so proud of him!
After that last run, we started over to the van and he just melted down. His hand hurt. We turned around and went into the lodge for hot chocolate. His poor hands hurt so badly that he wouldn't use them to hold his hot chocolate. After lots of hugging and holding his hands we got it together enough to make it back to the van. As we got changed into our street clothes, I told him that he really should have told me sooner that his hands hurt, especially when I keep asking him. He replied, "I just wanted to make sure that you had a fun time." You could have knocked me over with a feather. I wanted to cry. I told him that the trip was about him and me having a great experience together and the number of runs that we made or the length of time we spent on the hill wasn't important, that being together was what was important.
We were pulling out of the parking lot at 3:48. Four was asleep by 3:51. As he slept, the words to an old Jane's Addiction song found their way into my head:
And if you wonderAnd again, tears came to my eyes.
What I would do
I would do
If I could
You know I would
I would for you
I would for you