Published March 25, 2009
by Tara Ketner
The time is nearing to bid Schweitzer farewell for the 2008/2009 season. I simply ask what better way to execute such a tearful goodbye than with a “skim” across a pooling of Schweitzer Mountain’s finest (aka coldest) glacial run off dressed in a festive manner closely resembling a dashboard hula doll, decked from head to ski in a wind responsive grass skirt, risque coconut bra with various leis and mardi gras beads (everyone’s favorite theme party accessory regardless of actual theme) trailing behind you and topped off with none other than an umbrella clad, patriotic-esque PBR tall boy in your dominant hand, just throwing your balance off enough to send you careening face over tips into the slushy pond below?! After you’ve dried from the “drippy stage” to merely the “uncomfortably damp stage” you can proceed to fully thaw by shaking off any remaining moisture on the patio as there will be a DJ providing danceable beats all weekend long. Maybe even perform a dance move or two that you’re embarrassed and/or ashamed of in the morning. Why on earth is my 3rd intra-trapezial muscle sore this morning? Don’t kid yourself. It’s certainly not from skiing.
The only difference between North Idaho and the swelter of the tropics? Our flamingos stand on two legs instead of one due to their “lifeless” lawn ornamental nature. So head on up, let your chest hair breathe, eat some yellow snow, bat blindly at a colorful structure capacitated with sinful sweets, spectate as meticulously handcrafted dummies soar over Schweitzer’s horizon line to their instantaneous demise and prepare, of course, to get lei’d. No reference to a tropical party would be complete without the inherently overused and all too easy play on words involving a hibiscus flower necklace…
Published March 24, 2009
by Tara Ketner
As the month of March rapidly approaches its successor, April, I am reminded of what a pleasant yet somewhat disorienting time of the year spring can prove to be. The weather hopscotches from toasty t-shirt clad, layer shedding conditions to a “layer up” wintry snowstorm and back around again within a twenty four hour window. Yellow lenses. Mirrored lenses. Yellow lenses. Mirrored lenses. Suddenly, your face, sun-kissed from the previous day’s spring riding sesh is hidden under a woolen face mask as you hot lap Chair 6 in the midst of slamnation from some of the season’s best snow. Then back to sun and then back, again, to the white stuff. Full blown “summer in the sun and winter in the shade” status.
In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours.” - Mark Twain. You said it Mark.
Due to a summer spent abroad on the globe’s opposite hemisphere and the near conclusion of a third consecutive, back to back winter, visions of summer have been dancing in my head. Is it innapropriate as a member of the mountain’s marketing team to admit my excitement for the onset of summer? Perhaps that I’m ready to trade my snow pants in for a pair of shorts and my boots for some sandals? Summer daydreams including the likes of cruising town via a rustic one speed or flashy pair of quad skates, perusing farmer’s markets for delectably fresh fridge fillers and evening hours lost at the beach with a condensation laden iced coffee and a crossword puzzle (whose fragile newsprint grows wrinkled as a result of drips from the outside of the once frosty cup) have been occupying my thoughts lately. Indicators of spring are apparent throughout Sandpoint as retailers clearance winter goods, snow levels in town subside and there are, once again, signs of life downtown in the form human inhabitation. A friend and I spent some quality time with Lady Liberty at the city beach pier this past weekend. As we snapped the same unpatriotic shots that surely every Sandpointer has snapped, kids and dogs alike splashed along the coastline of Lake Pend Oreille, too dreaming of the onset of summer when it’ll be warm enough to venture further into the water than ankle depth. Summer “wildlife” is migrating back in town and this reality is painfully obvious by the masses of seagulls dumpster diving in various box store parking lots and otherwise scenic waterfront locations. Squirrels scrounge outside my front door, assumingly knowing my weakness for adorable furry creatures. Word spreads fast in the squirrel community of a “sucker.” I buckled and tossed bits of a stale PB&H from my front porch the other morning as a “welcome back” sort of party for the little guys. Although perhaps a health compromise and a contributing factor to their erratic twitching behavior, they just looked so darn cute grasping the sandwich between their petite, freakishly human-like paws. (awww/ewww)
It is only fitting that as I write of premature summer daydreams, it dumps snow in the Schweitzer Village. Don’t trade those boots in just yet as spring may have mentally sprung, but physically, on the mountain, winter thrives. T-minus two weeks until the conclusion of the 08/09 season. Make the most of these final days as it is the fuel that will surely burn your fire come the ancy month of October.
re·vi·tal·ize (re·vi·tal·ized, re·vi·tal·iz·ing, re·vi·tal·iz·es): To impart new life or vigor to.
After working 40+ hours this week (and staying up way too late) I was burnt out. In fact I didn’t even know if I had the energy to make it up the hill for a few runs this morning. I went, thinking at least the change of scenery would do me good. A view from the Lakeview Lodge on a beautiful blue-bird day is enough to make anyone take a moment to prioritize life.
Well, making that trip up the hill this morning was the best thing I did all week. The higher in altitude, the higher my spirits soared. One run down B-Chute and the adrenaline was pumping. I was so amazed at my increased energy level. I will definitely have to do it more often.
Published March 13, 2009
by Tara Ketner
(3-12-09) It is the simple things in life that bring me joy amidst a long work week. The noteworthy chain of seemingly routine events commenced this morning with a sunrise cruise up the mountain road via one of Schweitzer’s shuttles. This AM occurrence resides as one of my favorite thirty minutes or so of the day as I tune out any humanoid surroundings and resulting chit chat with my secret sanity weapon… the iPod (thank you Apple). I sip my Craven’s coffee (locally roasted to perfection in Spokane) in an anything but hurried manner and allow my mind to aimlessly wander. As coworkers and “first chair-ers” board the bus, I give them a warm smile that conveys, “Good morning” without actually having to vocalize the monotonous greeting. However warm, the smile is loaded as the moment their body language suggests conversation, I “what up nod” them then cordially point to my headphones. If need be, I resort to the “point n shrug” demonstrating the apologetic reality that I cannot hear you and thus cannot proceed with this conversation. My concentration is on each an every delectable sip of coffee, every defining beat of pleasing background music and the rising sun which has tie dyed the otherwise blue sky with a slapdash sherbert-esque palette. Ahhh. My face is painted with a subtle grin for the duration of the ride, beaming into something much larger and more facially invasive as particular thoughts traverse my mind.
After ruling it far too nice of a morning to be spent behind the dismal glow of a computer monitor, we ventured to the T-Bar first thing for it’s weekly Thursday reopening. Depending on Mother Nature’s mood Monday-Wednesday, Thursdays are either just another day of the week or, in this case, a sunshine and powder abundant adventure of epic proportions. The views seemed especially stunning this twelfth day of March. Will the panoramic oriented slideshow atop Schweitzer ever grow tired? Doubt it. From Sunnyside to Snowghost to the T-bar, it seemed our eyes shot off in every surrounding direction. Between the boundless sky and “well hydrated” Lake Pend Oreille below, the color blue, in all its expansivity, lived up to its calming, crowd pleasing reputation. We caught the light just right as we enjoyed solo ventures up Schweitzer’s Idyle Our T-bar. (Sidenote: Depending on one’s riding preference, regular or goofy, sharing a “T” on a snowboard is often an intimate affair that I opt to avoid when possible.) As we ascended the North Ridge, I absorbed the warmth of the sun into my facial pores and snickered at the phallic-esque shadow that is an inevitability of a snowboarder’s solo ride up this particular lift (due to the T’s placement between one’s legs.) I waved my arms around as if putting on a shadow puppet show…for myself. “Hey check it out!” I shout to a coworker one “T” up. He was entertained, but did not get nearly the juvenile chuckle that I did. Even after accepting that my actions were immature and really not that funny anymore, the corners of my mouth couldn’t help but turn upwards. The simple pleasures. My parents always told me “Tara, as long as you can make yourself laugh…” Thanks mom and dad for understanding and somehow knowing I would need to remind myself of those wise words often throughout the course of my young adult life.
Whether it be an otherwise routine commute to work or a trip down immaturity lane, embrace any and all awkwardly enjoyable moments thrown your way. Give in to life’s simple pleasures and remember, “As long as you can make yourself laugh…”
Published March 4, 2009
by Tara Ketner
I squeezed in a few solitary runs this morning on Schweitzer’s backside. There’s something utterly tranquil about solo powder laps with Chair 6 (aka Snowghost) as your main mode of up hill transportation. After setting my Ipod to shuffle through a current, favorite album and popping in earbud 2 of 2 as to undergo $7.99 worth of surround sound, something peculiar happened. I swiftly made a transition from “routine ride break” to some sort of bizarrely surreal twilight zone-esque mini music video as everything seemed perfectly in sync (not *NSync) with my musical selection. Somewhat reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s infamous Dark Side of The Moon/Wizard of Oz combo referred to as “The Dark Side of Oz”, this particular CD contorted to my surroundings and oddly worked in instances that were otherwise unlikely. The flakes spitting from the sky did so rhythmically while simultaneously the chairs swung to the somewhat leisurely beat of track 06. At one point the lift paused momentarily and upon its resumption (mid forward momentum gain) the music’s pace, likewise, quickened. The music shifted in a synchronous manner alongside the swaying, snow-covered tree branches suchlike it does with the wave of a conductor’s baton. *back and forth, up and down, side to side* As my chair approached the summit and the elements turned slightly more severe, my “soundtrack” switched tracks accordingly to one of the artist’s more intense or rather explosive songs. As I relished in some of the day’s best snow in Wayne’s Woods, a mellow, comforting track accompanied my unaccompanied turns from top to bottom. A fascinating phenomenon as I am certain there was plenty of action transpiring around me that was off key, but due to subconscious observing (I can only assume) everything flowed as a single, fluid entity. There’s something to be said for great friends on powder days, but likewise there is value in dropping in solo as it’s amazing where one’s mind wanders to amidst the 13 minutes of Snowghost solitude.