“Conversation about the weather is the last refuge for the unimaginative” – Oscar Wilde
I‘ve always liked this quote. Yet, regardless of what Oscar Wilde says, in places where life is dictated by the weather, talking about it is sometimes necessary, especially at a ski resort during a snow drought.
Since my last lengthy text post two weeks ago, written during a snowy night, there has been virtually no snowfall. Whatever snow fell two weeks ago quickly melted under the sun. The open runs existed as dangerous slaloms of snowpack, with occasional exposed ground, capable of destroying skis, and worse, causing crashes. The open runs only persisted because of a battalion of snow machines operating around the clock. These are not the renowned conditions Alta is famed for. So people just didn’t ski, and if they did it was with the caution of someone juggling chainsaws for the first time.
Over the course of this snow drought the lodge remained mostly empty, with only a handful of reservations. For a few nights the restaurant staff presented elaborate dinners in the main dinning hall for the rest of the employees just to practice serving and to use up product.
The first week of snow drought was my work week. I mainly painted ceilings, and sanded things. While working, the lack of snow was a non-factor. During my seven days off, which ends tonight, the lack of snow really didn’t bother me either. It drove a few people crazy.
Aside from that I had been preoccupied. On Monday, the last day of November, the first of my days off, I bunkered down and spun out the last 4,500 words of my “work in progress”, successfully completing the nanowrimo.com challenge. That’s over 50,000 words or roughly 175 average book pages. So now I have a frantically written rough draft novel that began on a living room couch in Mandan, ND and finished in room 104 of a lodge in Utah. I’m pretty happy about the whole experience.
From there the rest of the week-off is a blur. There was a cold hike up to a ridge. Another day I traveled with a couple of co-workers to Park City to skateboard. Brian, a laundry employee from Wyoming, fiending for a snowboarding fix, strapped a skateboard to his feet with old bike tire tubes and proceeded to shred the concrete park like nothing I‘ve ever witnessed.
On Thursday Chad and I procured a car and spent six or seven hours driving through outer Salt Lake satisfying our own fixes for necessities like espresso, and most importantly, Chinese Food. Thank you Fortune Cuisine.
One thing is for certain, until yesterday there was not much for skiing. As a result I’ve witnessed many strange, humorous, and desperate acts emerge from the woeful, ski-deprived employees of the lodge. Of course there is the obvious, time honored fallback of liquor. Drinking liquor at high altitudes can have ridiculous consequences as proved by a late night grappling tournament in the hallway that took place amongst some of the younger staff members earlier in the week.
Yet, that is perfectly sane behavior compared to some of the diversions created by the older, and in some cases, sober people living here at the lodge. For whatever reason, a basketball ended up out here. Utility buckets were placed on either end of the frozen parking lot and the first ever game of “midnight ice basketball” took place. Just imagine the most exciting elements of both hockey and basketball rolled into one dangerous sport.
Then, another night, someone, likely in the grips of dreadful boredom, discovered “indoor rock climbing” using various furniture and fixtures of the shared dwelling. When there is nothing else to do these kinds of things happen. It’s even worse that table tennis has lost its once golden appeal.
Luckily it began snowing yesterday afternoon. Skiing is now a viable option. Although it would have been interesting to see what kind of inventive activities people could have lapsed into under the influence of another week with snow.
Substantial snow has fallen in the last twenty four hours. Through misty clouds, chair lifts are delivering skiers to the tops of mountains. People are smiling again. There’s excitement in people’s voices. The snow arrived just in time. Sanity has been restored.