I'm just not a cold-weather person. However, I agreed to chaperone The Girl's spring band trip to Winter Park Colorado. Everyone told me how much fun I'd have skiing and when I mentioned my complete distaste for the cold unless it involves a frozen cocktail they all said, "Oh, but it's a DRY cold. You won't even feel it!" What a load of overcooked horse shit! This poor tree was standing upright and looked like it belonged on a Christmas card when we arrived. By the time we left, it had snowed so much, the poor thing looked like it belonged in a Tim Burton movie.
We aren't even going to talk about the 18-hour charter bus ride with the old lady passing the most noxious gas across the aisle from me the whole way, and the failure for the driver to remember to stop for meals. It snowed the whole time we were there, but let me mention that Winter Park is 12,060 feet above sea level. That's more than 2 miles up, folks. Guess what! There's no fucking AIR up there! The first day I couldn't walk more than 10 feet without stopping to gasp for breath. I felt like I was hungover from a 3-day bender and ready to pass out any minute. I knew I wasn't going to be able to even attempt to ski that day because I couldn't get my breath and felt cognitively impaired from the lack of oxygen. Nevertheless, I was fitted for the hundred pounds of ski accoutrements (60-pound boots, 40-pound skis and the ski poles that kept flying everywhere in part because they were astonishingly light in comparison to the other equipment and in part because I don't know how to handle them), and lugged them back to the condo - stopping to hyperventilate every 5 feet because now I was loaded down like a pack mule. We went to the ski village, but I just ate lunch and went right back to the condo so I could make some attempt at adjusting to the altitude, although I never really did all 5 days we were there - and yes, I drank water constantly and it didn't help. I can't tell you how many times I thanked myself for quitting smoking 12 years ago.
While I was vainly attempting some semblance of recovery by wheezing on the condo sofa, and watching the snow fall, which left me even more out of breath, The Girl took the ski class and attempted the first bunny slope. It took her an hour to get down and she hated every minute of it. Immediately upon reaching the bottom, she went straight to the ski rental place and returned her equipment, telling the folks there, "Thanks, but this was NOT fun. I'm more of a margaritas on the beach kind of girl." That night, she got sick - as in riding the double-decker porcelain bus sick (<--concurrent diarrhea & vomiting which requires one to sit on the toilet and vomit in the trash can). The next morning was the competition, but she was still sick, so we called her band director to let him know. He sent up Pepto, which she took and promptly shat back out. Needless to say, she wasn't able to perform at the competition that morning. We spent the day in the condo. She slept and I read a couple of novels and watched the snow come down while practicing my new hobby of asphyxiation.
The next day we both felt a little better so we rode the shuttle bus into town for some shopping and Indian food. It was interesting to notice that the other passengers on the bus who were geared up to ski did not look like they were having fun. In fact, they all looked pissed off. I kept thinking, "Isn't skiing supposed to be fun? These folks don't look like they're having fun at all."
In town, I found a place that sold a tiny bottle of "rescue oxygen" but it was $40 and we were going home the next morning so I didn't buy it when I saw it, thinking that maybe another shop had it cheaper and if they didn't, I'd just come back later. I couldn't find another store that had it, and by the time I got back to the original store, they had closed for the day. By that time I was willing to pay triple that just to get a few moments' relief.
We went back to the condo so I could return my ski equipment, which had sat unused in the condo since I dropped it off (<--read: threw it in the floor) the first day. I thanked the rental guy for the room decorations and he seemed surprised that I never made it to the slopes for all that big fun everyone else was having. Nevermind that in addition to anoxia I was also freezing my ass off the whole time, despite wearing no less than 3 layers of clothing plus a jacket and a coat at any given moment. Later in the day, we attended the awards ceremony, which was fun, even though it was still snowing. There were kids from all over the country. One of our choir girls was selected to sing the national anthem for the opening of the ceremony. Both our band and choir received superior ratings and best in class awards. The event coordinators held a big street dance for the kids and I went to dinner at a little BBQ joint while the kids danced, mingled and made new friends. I drank a DrPepper, ate about 5 pieces of okra and half a rib and started to feel nauseous. I thought I was going to hurl on the walk back to the bus but managed not to. By the time we got back to the condo half an hour later, you guessed it - it was my turn to take a spin on the double-decker porcelain bus. Let me state that I just don't get sick other than a cold once every 18-months or so. On the even rarer occasions when I throw up, usually it's a very quick, small and quiet affair. Not this gig. No, I was throwing up with a volume and profusion I didn't even see during morning sickness. All. Night. Long. I was so weak and breathless that I didn't think I was going to be able to get my luggage downstairs to the bus but somehow I made it. So, trash bag in hand, I snagged the seat closest to the toilet on the bus just in case I needed to continue with the previous night's festivities. Oddly enough, no one wanted to sit by me once I explained my malady, so I had the luxury of having 2 seats to myself for the ride home, which lasted another 20 hours. The highlight of the trip was seeing one of my favorite actors, Billy Bob Thornton, at The Big Texan Steakhouse in Amarillo on the way home. That's him in the ballcap kneeling on the front row. Although there was much discussion of mustard, please be proud of me for not saying, "Fuck me Santa" in front of the kids, because I reeeealllly wanted to.
We didn't make it back to Fundietonfieldvilleview until 4am and didn't make it home until nearly 5 after unloading the bus and driving home. I had to be at work to teach at 8am & The Girl had to be at school at 8:30 - "or else." Fuuuuck. At least we could breathe and were through gagging, shitting, barfing and gasping. It took another 3 days for my lungs to not be sore anymore. I'm just glad to be back home, well, and able to breathe again.