Vermonters are proud of their upbringing, and I’m no different. I often boast about “the 802” having 20 alpine ski resorts. I live within a 30-minute drive of five; but I’m usually speeding, so don’t tell my parents.
The Green Mountain State lives up to its name, in that no single road is straight or flat. Those who understand how to drive a two-wheel drive vehicle on a snow-covered windy dirt lane can maintain at least 10 miles per hour over the speed limit. It’s peaceful and, since billboards are illegal, they take in views the entire time. When you’re headed to one of the mountains, you will drive through one of the state’s 100 covered bridges.
Sure, I’ve nearly slid off the road before, but that’s because I was headed to the ski mountain. It’s the risk you have to take. And yes, I was trailed by an off-duty cop at 7 a.m. and tracked down later because I was 25 over at the bottom of a hill.
You see, for those who think the Midwest terrain and its culture is sensational, when you go down a hill you have to go up another. Except in my case, it’s about a mountain with about a 1,700-foot vertical drop and I try to use momentum.
I can’t wait to get back to New England and fit in as my everyday snarky self. I won’t be banging a uey to return to the flatland known as Illinois until Jan. 20. Thank the Lord.
When I go home for the first time since summer on Dec. 17, I’ll immediately shovel my driveway and hit the hay by 9 p.m.
Vermonters always pack their stuff the day before. Here’s my list: boot bag, ski bag, GS racing Blizzard skis, Head boots, Rossignol poles, cheap grey Sports Odessey helmet I never returned, long wool socks, plaid pajama pants, flannel boxers, long sleeve undershirt, snowpants, flannel button down, Bradley hoodie, driving gloves, heavy duty mittens, 20-year-old green hat, snow boots, ski mask, flimsy goggles, cash, Clif bar, water bottle, cell phone (pro tip: tuck it inside your jacket chest pocket), heavy duty orange jacket and a season pass.
I’ll be up at 6:18 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 18 and eating oatmeal with maple syrup my dad bought at the sugarhouse down the street. Why 18? Because that’s how many runs I plan to get in before lunch at 1:18 p.m. Not to mention that chocolate chip Clif bar around 9:18 a.m.
After I smash some Vermont Country Deli mac and cheese and a Snow Market poppyseed muffin, I’m back out on the hill for at least 12 more bombs.
The goal is to ski four times a week each winter, otherwise you’ll wear yourself out and can’t put in full days. Most lifts spin from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Now, I’m a good student and never miss class or show up late. The ski mountain is like school for Vermonters. In order for school to be canceled and called a snow day, at least a foot and a half must have fallen by 7:30 a.m. In fact, public schools build three snow days into the school calendar each year. When that happens, the kids are at the mountain, guaranteed. Every school has a program where taxpayers pay to have local children learn to ski on Wednesday afternoons.
Skiing is my escape from reality, I scream, fist bump liftees, cut off rich suburban moms in Gucci jackets, rumble up the stairs in my clunky boots, don’t put the lift bar down, breathe second hand joint smoke and, most importantly, educate visitors about the greatest region of the United States: New England.
I’m free when I’m riding on the waxed metal down an icy trail. Snow is the greatest thing the world is graced by each year. It’s fun rain. Life should be fun. Escaping the pressures and stress of the world is fun. Skiing is fun. Vermont has great skiing. Vermont is fun.
Skiing is freeing and I try to lead a low stress lifestyle. When I’m on my skis, I don’t worry about finding a job.