Friday, July 21, 2006

Winter Park Extravaganza!

Yesterday, Mosch and I had an extra-fun outing with two kids in his family. I'll call the kids A and K. They're 10 and 9. K lives in town and we see her pretty often; she's the one who came over to our house recently and spent the day with us. A lives in Austin. They're not related to each other, but Mosch is close with both of them, and he wanted them to meet.

We picked the kids up Wednesday night and got up yesterday morning and headed for the Winter Park Resort, where you can ski in the winter, but where they also have a ton of neat stuff to do in the summer. We got all-day passes, which gave us unlimited access to the alpine slide, a maze, mini golf, a bungee trampoline (where you have bungees hooked to a harness and you bounce on a trampoline), the big ski lift (my personal favorite), etc. I'd been there twice before, with my cousin Erin and my aunt, and it seemed like a great place to take kids. I'd wanted to take Mosch too, and for him this was a good opportunity to get the girls together.

alpine slideWe had an awesome day. The alpine slide (shown in the picture) is the big attraction there, and it's the biggest one in Colorado. It's basically a sort of tube or partial pipe (as you can see). You slide down it on a fancy sled.

The sled has a place to sit, and plastic on the bottom that slides along the track. It has a handle in the middle. If you pull the handle towards you, some braking material goes down under the sled and makes you go slower (or stop), and if you push the handle forward, some wheels come down and you go faster. It's up to you to control your speed so that you don't fly off the track (though I think you can go at any speed safely if you ride properly) or hit the people in front of you.

To facilitate not hitting the people in front of you, there are two tracks - a slow one and a fast one. On the slow one, you're allowed to go as slow as you want, and sometimes there are little kids on there (3 or 4 years old) who go really quite slow. (If the parents are smart, they ride behind the little kids in case somebody comes down too fast behind them. I've been hit from behind, and it's frightening but not actually painful.) On the fast slide, which is otherwise identical, you're supposed to go fast and be experienced.

I only rode on the slow side with my cousin and aunt, but yesterday, after one trip down the slow side, the kids were ready for the fast lane, and we all switched over. Whee!

The slide is LONG...I mean, all the way down a mountainside. It probably takes about 2 minutes to slide all the way down it. There are a lot of turns and dips and things, of course. You take a ski lift to the top.

marmotAll kinds of animals live nearby. We saw a ton of ground squirrles (or chipmunks, as I think of them) and marmots (big fuzzies like a badger or a beaver). I saw three marmots on one slide trip alone, all sitting right next to the slide. (I saw a ground squirrel perching on the side of the slide itself, seeming oblivious to me zooming by on my sled.)

We went down about seven times. My worst trip was when I got a bad sled that wouldn't go fast. I was in the fast lane and there was a guy right behind me for a lot of the time - I could hear his cart going click-clack click-clack too close for comfort - but he never hit me.

The last trip down - not just my last trip, but the last trip of the day, after closing time - I actually fell off my sled. I had lost my fear of the slide and could feel that my attention in general was waning - I wasn't paying enough attention to the curves in terms of where I was leaning (there's no way or need to steer). During one curve, I felt that I was leaning slightly the wrong way, and as I continued, I felt it get worse and I knew I was going to crash. You can get really hurt on the slide, so this was bad.

Eventually my sled turned over and I was sliding down on my butt quite fast for a long way until I slowed down enough to put my hand down and stop. (Mosch was behind me, and I was afraid he would hit me while I was sliding down with no sled.) I scrambled out of the track and pulled my sled off. I waved at Mosch as he went by and assured him I was fine so he wouldn't stop. After the track was clear (I could see a good way up at that point, which was good), I clambered back on with my sled (harder than it sounds) and came down the rest of the way.

I managed to only get something like a rug burn on one elbow and a similar scrape on the heel of that hand. I was saved by my shorts, which I bought at a thrift store for $2, and which are kind of cargo-type shorts made of a slightly stiff canvas, so they stayed in place and protected me from the worst of the sliding.

Meanwhile, the two girls got along not fabulously but well enough, and, as they say, a good time was had by all. We dropped them off around 8 and got home at 9:30 after eating dinner, and here I am at work today, a bit sore and exhausted but happy about the good time we had.

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