When a southern girl from the deep humid south straps on snow skis for the first time...it's bound to be interesting, right?
Indeed, right indeed.
We were invited to go skiing with our friends who, without exaggeration, are nothing short of expert skiers. Expert. Skiers. After arriving at the ski resort and surveying the crowd there, I honestly think Riley and I were the only newbies on the slopes that day.
Most everyone looked like they qualified for the expert category leaving Riley and I as candidates for the bunny slope. As we awkwardly struggled to get our mammoth ski boots clamped on to the long skinny skis, little tots as young as 3 and 4 years old whizzed past us completely carefree.
It was only a few days before the huge blizzard was to descend on the New England states of the east coast U.S. Yes, that meant us. We've traded in hurricane panic for blizzard preparedness. This news of impending feet of snow didn't phase hardy New Hampshire-ites. They, instead, dreamed of the fresh mounds of snow that would be gifted to them from the blizzard gods at every ski resort in the state.
|The gorgeous drive up to Ragged Mountain through New Hampshire countryside|
In December, we arrived in New Hampshire during what the locals touted as the most frigid temperatures they've experienced in decades.
Now, it seemed we weren't to miss out this developing Blizzard Apocalypse of the decade. Baptism by fire...but, in our case...snow!
We had no idea that there exists a most enchanting, adorable, cozy ski resort that is only 25 minutes north of the farm that we are leasing for the winter.
Our newly discovered ski resort is called Ragged Mountain. Not only is it handsomely striking with its huge red barn, converted into a ski lodge, silhouetted against the pristine white slopes, but the drive up and over mountains delights the traveler with bucolic farms on one side and cozy New England salt box homes on the other.
We had never even seen skis or ski boots in person, up close. EVER. We rightly anticipated that this was going to be a steep learning curve (no pun intended). Once we were strapped into all of the equipment, feeling completely awkward and clumsy, just trying to move in a forward direction to meet our ski instructor was a grandiose and complicated effort. Do we swish the skis? Do we try to walk with these gangly sticks? Thank goodness for the hand held sticks...I mean poles...
Two hours later...well into the ski lessons...I think every muscle in the thigh and buttocks area had been exercised.
My mind, at that point, drifted over to the "après ski" treats that might be included at the end of this workout. For two hours, we cartoonishly made our way down the "bunny slope" for beginners...we rode the "magic carpet" up and down the tiny (or frightening as someone like I might describe it) hill. I tried to remember what our friends had mentioned earlier in the day. "Let's meet up for drinks and nibbles in the ski lodge...". Those words were beginning to sound more and more enticing as we moved from the "V" stop maneuver to the "S" shape curve maneuver.
Hours earlier, I was focused on just trying to stand upright as those "après-ski" plans were being discussed. I did remember our friends mentioning something about all meeting up in the lodge after skiing...where there was a beautiful huge fireplace...hot soups...cold beers...
|Ragged Mountain Ski Resort in New Hampshire|
"Is this lesson over with yet?"
After another hour of grueling concentration, thigh muscles burning, several wipeouts headlong into the frigid snow, I couldn't help casting evil glances in one moment and longing glances in the next moment at the whiz kids who were flying over the snow ramps. Most are dressed in adorable brightly colored matching hats,boots, skis, and goggles.
After several hours, Riley and I were finally getting the hang of it. At least we were melting into the juvenile crowd on the bunny slopes a tad more. In all fairness, Riley was much more sure of himself on the skis that me.
|The Waffle hut! The Waffle Hut! Yet to be experienced.|
A delicious scent kept wafting over to us. Through my thick scarf wrapped awkwardly around my face, I could smell something that smelled like...waffles?!
Ragged Mountain Ski Resort has a little hut out on the slopes turning out hot waffles for hungry skiers. Hot, delicious, fresh waffles! Forget "après ski" nibbles, one could stop between ski lift runs and have a freshly made waffle.
|Preparations underway for the BLIZZARD...nuts, berries, cheeses, juniper berry sausage...white wine...|
We didn't make it to the waffle hut. Our ski instructor kept us dedicated to the slopes all afternoon...but we made a mental note to check out this ski slope offering the next time...
And there would be a next time. Only next weekend, Riley and I forgot just how sore our muscles had been. Our pride was suffering being in such newbie status, so we headed back out for lesson #2 to see if we could make our way up that learning curve.
|Delicious hot soups in the ski lodge...|
The impending blizzard was 2 days away from pummeling the east coast of the U.S. It was big news at this point locally and nationally. I was beginning to receive texts and emails from worried family members. Patrick was away for the month in Italy so it looked like Riley and I would be protecting the Nehemiah Ordway farm from...what? We weren't too sure what this blizzard had in store.
My mother-in-law, partly joking but partly serious, suggested we tie a rope from the car to the front door so we can get out in case of emergency. I laughed (albeit a bit nervously) as we noted passages from those adventurous early American stories in the beloved novel Little House on the Prairie. But I did glance around in the barn to see what supplies were on hand in there.
Patrick kept checking in on us from Florence. We busily hauled wood from the barn and stacked them into neat piles under the porch of the house. That way we could just open the back door and reach for wood without having to trek from the house to the barn and be swirled away by the BLIZZARD!
Because the weathermen predicted we would probably have a power outage for 2 days, we bought flashlights, candles, filled tubs with water, located more snow shovels and made sure we had several days of kindling on hand.
|With much hard work...we made it to the "après ski"lodge|
complete with roaring fire and hot drinks.
I bought sausages, fruit, nuts, cheeses, etc. I figured if we were going to brave our first blizzard in the northeast, it might as well be with delicious nibbles at our finger tips in front of a continuously fed fireplace...right?
So, a few days before the big blizzard of the decade swept in, we thought we would get on the slopes one more time. Since we ended up the first lesson more vertical than horizontal, we could only move in one direction, right? Up?
|The drive up and over beautiful scenery to Ragged Mountain|
"Up" was the opportune description of our destination that second time on the slopes. Our ski instructor let us play around on the bunny slopes and the magic carpet a few more times. Only a few more times...
He then promptly announced that it was time to get on the ski lift, ride it up to the top of the mountain (which I couldn't even see from the bottom) and then... what??
...come flying down like these super hero children whooshing by on our right and left?
I seriously started to line up what choices might be on offer of hot soups in the cozy, warm...safe...ski lodge after this ordeal. Just focus on the "après" part of this lesson, I kept telling myself...
Maybe it was time to sample the whoopie pies that I saw nestled in with the baskets of freshly baked goods...a hot chocolate to sip on perhaps...or perhaps move straight to a savory cheese platter with chilled white wine while settled in and relaxed next to the gorgeous open fire place built right into the center of the lodge. Here comes the ski lift...this is going to get interesting fast...
I have only seen ski lifts on T.V. I had never experienced or even given much thought to the operation of a ski lift. We hobbled like penguins up to the ski lift line with the rest of the skiers. I eyed the heavy iron contraptions that were swinging around, bonking skiiers in the knees so they will promptly sit down. Then, they are whisked into the air with one tiny iron bar to hold every one in.
|So many people in New Hampshire are dedicated to feeding the birds|
Oh, dear...as we try to time it just right so we sit on the lift and not in the snow bank, I keep focusing on what kind of soup I am going to try today? Clam chowder? Chili? Tomato?
Before I knew it, we were floating smoothly up Ragged Mountain on the ski lift. As we got our bearings, the 360 degree view around us was breathtaking. Skiers were flying down below like bits of brightly colored confetti fluttering to the bottom. A beautiful bank of clouds hugged the top of the mountains and created a halo effect that was so soft and pretty. Multiple mountains could be seen in the distance overlapping one another dressed in different hues of whites to lavenders.
|Literally, the calm before the storm (...or Blizzard)|
Forget the après ski soup options for the moment...this beautiful panorama was certainly worth the built up hype I imagined being plucked up by the chair lift and then swooping up the side of the mountain.
The relaxed experience of floating in the air, wrapped by beautiful vistas, snuggled into the ski lift would last approximately... 3 minutes.
And then...I think the entire mountain was alerted to the fact that a 40-ish old woman had just head planted into the snow bank at the top of the mountain while being unceremoniously flopped out of the lift with quite the loud clap of the iron bar making unlucky contact with a determined jaw bone. Yes, that's right..WHACK!
Apparently the timing of getting oneself off the ski lift and down the steep slope to get out of the way of the next group of ski lift arrivals...is a skill that would need much more practice on my part... than the ordinary newbie.
|Apple Spice and Raspberry Spice muffins for the big Blizzard|
My attention diverted from the serene vistas surrounding us as soon as I saw that end to the lift ride coming up. Trying to manage my unwieldy skis, awkward poles, and fear of being "dumped" out of the chair...I stood up too soon.
Apparently, I knocked into the bar that was lifted up over us as I flailed around for my footing, causing it to lurch back down, smacking me square in the jaw, knocking my head to the metal chair lift and plopping me onto the top of Ragged Mountain.
I laid in the snow hoping that no one noticed my incident. Perhaps all those pro-adolescent skiers would just leap over my prone body with hardly a moment's concern. However, I was pretty sure that rings of cartoonish butterflies were fluttering in a circle over my head...alerting everyone to my existence and predicament.
I lifted my head up to survey the damage. My jaw throbbed from the impact and I could taste a little blood in my mouth. One sweet woman began packing snow on my jaw.
Blurrily, I saw a cartoonish scene of medics flying over the hills. They were loaded down with huge red first aid backpacks. I don't know why, but I thought the entire arrival of the medic cavalry was so comical. Medics on skis were flying in from several directions looking like they were having WAY too much fun while descending upon the "incident". Injury on the bunny slope...go, go, go!!
In horror, I realized that my spill had forced the ski lift to come to a screeching halt. No pre-adolescent pros were flying over me after all. They were dangling their skis in the air waiting for me to heave my battered self out of the way.
Everything turned out fine in the end. Fortunately, I was not going to get a terrifying ride strapped to a huge orange sled that takes injured people down the mountain.I had to recite my address, rub my aching chin, and brush the snow off.I had a new (rather small) battle scar. I shook all the snow off. I was treated to several pep talks about getting right back on that ski lift and successfully whisking off of it at the top. "No thank you," I politely declined. Then, the entire entourage skied down the slope watching my progress as I tried deftly to do those "s" curves just right. I resumed all thoughts of soup choices as soon as I could get these darn ski boots off my feet.
At the bottom, I promptly announced the day over and done! Skis unclamped, boots stowed away, finger tips starting to warm up again, we headed wearily to the lodge where the ground was stable and the food is hot and delicious.
My choice was steaming hot tomato soup. While glaring up at the monstrous ski lift,I sipped the delicious soup slowly in front of the crackling lodge fire place, simultaneously cursing the fact that I would probably now build up a ginormous fear of that beastly contraption.
My hot bowl of soup would be topped off with a dessert of New Hampshire favorite...the whoopie pie with cream filling. Later that evening, a steaming hot bath was in order and all thoughts of the slopes were abandoned as we safely tucked ourselves away in our little safe farm.
Safe for the moment, however! Time to turn our efforts to preparing for this so-called BLIZZARD of the decade.
|The beauty that is the aftermath of the blizzard|
Labels: apple spice muffins, muffins, New Hampshire, Ragged Mountain ski resort, raspberry muffins, raspberry spice cake, skiing, spice cake