The beginning of the end
Wednesday 18th March - sunny
Seeing as we worked for a full week, then taken our level 2 and had been thrown headlong into another full working week (not to mention we've had guests staying for the past 2 weeks) we were beginning to feel quite tired from having no days off. It was feeling a bit of a chore rather than pleasure, and the crappy bulletproof conditions weren't helping us enjoy it any more.
No rest for us though. Jackie had been missing us after all these guests and exams. It was also her turn to have a visitor and she wanted us to join her and Ben on their activities for the rest of the week. So the fun started with a
downhill decent that evening. As the clocks have gone back, the days are now longer and so we jumped on the last chair with Eric in tow for a sunny stroll (and slide) back down the hill.
We started off with a visit to the windpit, which has gather plenty of the recent snowfall, and then walked along the Kootenay connector before leaping off it into the powdery slopes, which we tried to slide down on our snowshoes (quite unsuccessfully). We then cut backover to Buckhorn to hit the steeps on our bums.
Donned in sexy green binbags we slid our way down much of the slope, testing out various techniques. The Superman (front down face first) has always worked well for me,but I found it is less comfortable with keys and a camera in your pocket. Eric took to this position very well and rocketted down the first few slopes.
The binbag brigade
We stopped for a bit to show Ben the old mine shafts and tunnels and then carried on down, this time on my bottom. Jackie was adopting a very feminine sidesaddle position to keep her bad knee out of harms way.I'm sure that sliding down mountains on a binbag is a great way to fix tendon damage! I on the other hand had found a much faster, but considerably less feminine way to slide. Riding on your lower back is the fastest place to slide, but you need to keep your snowshoes out of the way and so I hitched both my legs up at the knees. It looked a bit like a birthing position of some sort, but you could whizz down the hill at 100 miles an hour.
A face full of snow
We finished the run with a contest of a particularly steep drop to see who could get the furthest. Ben won with an astonishing distance, and we hadn't even been watching his technique, dark horse! At the bottom of the hill we were all starting to feel starving and were excited to find out that Jackie's mum was cooking us all Indian tacos. We had no idea what they were, but it was food, it had to be good.
Indian tacos at Jackies
The tacos were deep fried bread dough with beef mince and salsa etc. on top, delish! Stuffed to exploding we waddled back to the car and went home to bed.
Thursday 19th March - Hard as ice
Conditions are still poor, but a few good lessons to break up the day. The lack of rest was taking it's toll on some of us and poor Christian fell asleep in the lunch room. Still no time for early nights, tonight I was driving the gang to the White Swan Hot Springs.
One tired little man after a hard day's work
Now that it is still light the hot springs were quite a different experience. For starters the drive there was far less icy and frightening, although you can see all the boulders in the road from the rock slides and the cliff edge at the side of the road as we drove past the ravine. Once we got there it was a lot more comfortable weather for changing and we could actually see all the pools down to the river.
White Swan Hot Springs
Getting ready to hop in
In the water we chatted away with the other visitors and Jackie and I were brave (or mad) enough to even dip in the river. It takes your breath away it is that cold, at the moment it is all melting snow run off so probably not much over freezing.
Out and dry, we started the drive home only to find after 10 minutes that the fuel light went on. With 80km still to drive and no gas stations open at this hour it was a hairy journey back. But it miraculously worked out and we even dropped all the guys back to their homes and got up the driveway.
Friday 20th March - sunny, but we're too sleepy to notice
Jackie borrowed the truck this morning to get Ben back to Cranbrook for his bus, and that meant filling it up! She got as far as the golf club down the road and it died completely, lucky we live at the top of a hill. She coasted right into the Husky station and all was good, what a star!
After work tonight, we had all been invited over to Erics aunt and uncles for dinner. They are a lovely, kind couple. Ione is a typical proud housewife, cooking marvellous food and wanting us all to enjoy ourselves and Lyle was the man of the house inviting us in and keeping us well watered and in good conversation until dinner was served. He worked nights, monitoring and rehabilitating young offenders. There were 7 of us that came over for dinner, in addition to Eric's family and Leo their lodger (and captain of the Dynamiters). The table was laden with delicious food, including roast beef and yorkshire puddings, and after Grace we all tucked in. The most unusual of the dishes was a concoction of peach, pineapple, banana and marshmallow, that you were meant to eat with your main course. It tasted great but I ate it on its own.
Dinner at Eric's aunt and uncle's house
After dinner was over and we'd helped with the dishes, most of us went over to Darrell's house. He took his level 1 at the beginning of the season and has been joining in sessions with us, and today was his birthday.
At Darrell's party
We met a variety of people from town at the party and they were all very friendly. One guy looked just like Richard Branson. The less social of the group found an entirely different way to entertain themselves but throwing coasters at each other. Thankfully the coasters were made of felt and it kept them entertained for hours. Any mums looking for a way to keep your children quiet when visiting others I would advise a sneeky pack of felt coasters for your handbag.
Home to bed, with the huge satisfaction that there was no reason to get up in the morning!!
Saturday 21st March - who cares, bed was too appealing
Rest at last! We got up very late and did surprisingly little. Christian started looking into universities in Australia and I looked into Visas and it started to become a reality that we might actually make it out there.
Adrian had kindly invited us over for a dinner of posh fish and chips, beer-battered salmon and scallops. It was very yummy. Kathy came along too and we prepared the food together and ate it over a few episodes of South Park. After dinner we spoke with Jackie and the boys and arranged a plan to go riding in Whitefish tomorrow.
Sunday 22nd March - overcast and then sunny and slushy
Up early again! Ready to leave by 6am. The gang arrived at ours and we started the drive to Whitefish. Crossing the border was much easier than expected. They asked us a few questions about how much citrus fruit and soil we had brought with us, which we thankfully passed with flying colours. Apparently Jackies group breakfast of rice pudding and strawberries was more than welcome to take a brief sojourn to the US. When he demanded why we were going to America and I answered "to go snowboarding" he happily believed us. It may have had something to do with the 5 people in woolly hats and low pants and a flat bed full of snowboards.
I was exhausted from yet another early start and the thought of hitting jumps immediately was really unappealing, so Jackie (who's injured knee needed keeping away from the jumps), Christian and I went up the main chair, had a coffee in the mountain cafe and then checked out some of the resorts runs. They were super; big wide runs with lots of natural hits, sidewalls and gullys. So, revived by caffine and a run, we headed back over to the jumps.
The guys on the park chair
Initially the jumps all looked a bit big and scary and so we took a ride down to check them out. They were pretty big and scary, about 15 and 25 ft. But at the bottom there was a kids park with two 5 ft jumps and a variety of boxes and rails. Vaughan and Eric were already hitting the big ones and so it wasn't long before we were stepping it up and trying them out. It took a lot of air just to clear the flat knuckle and land on the steep run out, and a couple of times I landed short and felt my knee joints shudder as they disappeared up under my armpits. Christian was experiencing the same problems with his cautious air, but before long we were giving it more oomph and making the landing more often than not.
Christian was throwing big melons off the jumps by the end of the day and even I had gone for a few grabs. We'd got spins in on the smaller jumps and even naughty Jackie was hitting up the rainbow rail they had. Vaughan went for a 5 off one of the big jumps and scared himself a bit but he pulled it off and did some other pretty sexy grabs. And talking of 540's Christian got his first ever 5 off one of the smaller jumps and was very happy!
We only stopped briefly for lunch and by the end of the day were feeling pretty confident with our park riding. If only there was one in Kimberley. Christian and I finished the day with some shopping. The local shop had a sale on and we couldn't help ourselves but buy some bargain snowboard gear. I got some Bonfire pants for $50 and a Volcom Jacket for $150. Christian, who has been after a black jacket all season to go with his crazy (sorry awesome apparently) pants got a nice, Four Square one for $100. All in all a successful shop.
The long drive home started but thankfully it was no longer my turn to drive so I sat in the back and dozed as we lumbered home to Kimberley.
Monday 23rd March -
Today was pretty boring lessonswise. Vaughan and Eric have been given the boot by the ski school, which means a bit more work for us. We were surprised to see this happen, but they are part time staff and as the number of lessons is going down all of the time they were the first to go. I hope this lack of money doesn't result in them going home early, it'll be bad enough splitting up our little 5-some at the end of the season.
Tuesday 24th March
After work tonight, Liana had invited the entire snowboard school round for dinner. So at 5:30pm, Chris, Mark, Eric J, Jackie, Vaughan, Hannah, Eric Blair, Trevor and Chelsea turned up to join Liana and Anali for a delicious dinner of cheesy hash browns and roast beef in sauce followed up with choc mousse for dessert. It was really yummy and worth the sacrifice of having bought Lindor chocolates and not being able to eat them myself. We then all went down to the cinema to see the Watchmen. Unlike most of the superhero movies it was a bit too violent for me and there was a bit too much nudity for poor prudish Eric (even though it was mainly just a blue nuclear man).
Dinner for the masses at Liana's
The other end of the table