Wachusett Skiing

Mads hugging his Johnny Walker birthday gift from me. We both have January birthdays!

While making plans for my birthday trip to Boston, my friend Madhawa – Mads for short – said he wanted all of us to go skiing. Every single one of us said, “No.” I was last on skis when I was about 10 years old and it was horrible and traumatic and I was happy to never do it again. Pedro has the most ski experience, but it’s all cross-country, which is totally different: different skis, different boots, and importantly: no steep slopes. Mads and his wife Udi had never been on skis. Our friend Romain had also never been on them.

“But that’s why I want to do it!” Mads begged. “I don’t know what I’m doing and there’s no one else I want to learn how to ski in front of other than you guys.” I moaned, “It’s so hard. It will be ridiculous.” “We will all be ridiculous together!”

Little Kai is a good sport and ready to head into the snowy world. You can barely pick out the ski slopes in the background on the left.

His enthusiasm was infectious, and I eventually came on board, powerless against his persuasion. I helped him recruit the others, and it was a similar battle with them, but I did like the idea of all of us making fools of ourselves together. It could be a source of laughs in the future maybe. We agreed to purchase the same skiing lessons.

A phalanx of instructors wearing intimidating red, facing all of us trembling newbies. Even though Massachusetts had received a nice snowfall of about 8″ a few days earlier, the snow making machine shot plumes of manufactured snow into the sky all day.

We were DISMAYED when we arrived at Wachusett Mountain in Princeton, Massachusetts, and found out that Mads refused to join us, and chose to stay back and watch their toddler so we could all go “have fun.” What?! Romain also got lucky when he was called to work that day. I wondered if he secretly volunteered for the Monday shift. In the morning I tried to talk Mads into taking turns with watching his son, but nope. Udi had begged to switch and watch Kai while he skied, but nope. So the three of us grit our teeth and put on a brave face and went through with it since the lessons had already been paid for.

I am plotting my revenge as we speak. I told him I am going to sign him up for surfing lessons. Mads responded, “Trust me, you don’t want to see me surfing.” I told him that is exactly the point.

All dressed in our gear and waiting for lesson time.

We got a great instructor, who was patient with us. We were by far the oldest people on the bunny hill by a decade (or two?), and in 30 minutes we saw the young people in other groups move into more advanced levels. Others got their seal of approval for safety and were sent off to go have fun on their own. Our instructor resigned himself to watching us slip and hit the snow over and over. He spent a solid two hours with us, trying SO hard to teach us something.

Udi, such a brave woman, heading over to the instruction area.

Our entire goal was simple: stay upright, turn left, turn right. But….it’s so much harder than it looks. I am proud to report that after two hours of physical and mental effort, I was able to turn right and turn left and usually stay upright.

Finally our time was up and our instructor gave his cheeriest smile and pleaded with us to come back and try again soon. Our purchased tickets allowed us two more hours to play on the mountain on our own – since the assumption was that we had just been turned into decent skiers. But all three of us were exhausted and had had enough, and we happily returned our rental gear and made our way out into the parking lot to find Kai and Mads. And yell at him. 🙂

The photos of us on the mountain make us all look quite happy though! We’re a bunch of fakers. In Mads’ defense, he had never skied and had no idea it would be difficult, and he honestly was trying to be thoughtful and generous by watching Kai so we could learn uninterrupted. I suppose he is forgiven.

Udi took this photo of Romain, Pedro, Mads, me, and Kai.
Kai playing with toys I brought him. I chose animals from my home: deer, chicken, cat, and turtle.
Pedro took this photo so Udi could join the table.

Romain was off work by then, and met us at an Italian restaurant out along highway 2. We had great service and a great meal, but best of all was getting my friends together at a table. I feel fortunate that these two wonderful people, Mads and Romain, adopted me into their circle back when we attended school together. I love that Mads married the also wonderful Udi, who I met this day (and their boy) for the very first time. I am grateful that they opened their arms to Pedro immediately. How sweet my life is when I am so loved by people I adore.

The next morning, we were blasted with a real New England cold snap!

And just like that, our vacation was over! The next morning when we went outside to get our Uber car to go to the airport, my phone said it was 8 degrees (-13 C) while we waited. Our driver said it was the coldest day of the winter so far. Despite the beautiful sunny skies, I was glad to be going back to rainy Portland, where at least it’s usually too warm to snow.

T-shirt weather inside the airport, parka weather outside. You can see the Boston city skyline in the distance.
Leaving Boston and the Atlantic Ocean.
Liftoff from Minneapolis/St. Paul for the second half of our all-day travel day. Compare the layout of the streets in Minnesota, compared to the layout of the streets in Massachusetts. It’s easier to tell which ones were based on a city plan.

When we arrived in Portland that evening, it was deliciously warm, and the next day it was like summertime!! 57 degrees at my house and Pedro said it reached 60 degrees (15.5 C) at his place. What a difference.

24 thoughts on “Wachusett Skiing

  1. You’re now fully broken into the art of skiing thanks to Mads! ❤️ 😂 I am awaiting the chance to make a fool of myself on a ski slope, but if it’s Hawaii and surfing, I’ll take that Crystal! I’ll take that from you! ❤️ 😆

  2. Oh goodness, that must have been fun in hindsight. Falling on your tushes over and over in the snow and feeling quite ridiculous. Nothing could be better. How could they not love Pedro? He’s a delight. Sending hugs to you both.

    1. Aww, Marlene, you are the sweetest to say that. I think he is a delight, and I’m glad he made a good impression on you. And yes, we have a distinct experience and a story to tell now. And I’m not sure it was “fun,” in the moment, since it was difficult, and cold, and embarrassing and tiring, but in hindsight, it’s kinda funny!

  3. Oh I’m sooo eager to learn how to ski. It was only in 2019 when I touched snow for the very first time and it was truly magical — one of the most memorable experiences in my life so far. Since then, I’ve been intrigued with skiing. Looks like you had a lot of fun, Crystal!

    1. Ha ha!! I need to get you and my friend Mads on the slope together then, since you two have all the desire to learn it! It is wonderful that you have the memory and experience of touching snow for the first time as an adult, so you can remember it. I grew up in snow and to me, it’s just a cold hassle most of the time, ha ha! I really do hope you get a chance to learn how to ski soon! You are exactly the kind of person who would make the most of it. It was quite easy for us to get that introduction, since lessons included equipment rental, and they helped us put it on and everything. And the lessons went entirely at our speed, so we were grateful. I hope you are taken care of this well for your first ski lesson!

      1. I guess snow to you is like the sun (and hot, humid air) to me. 🙂 I only began being appreciative of the tropical heat after I came back from a month-long trip to Europe back in 2007.

    1. Ha ha ha!! Yes!! We were all so put out, and he just laughed and thought we were exaggerating. And then he had to listen to his wife tell the story all the way home. And then he watched her suffering with sore muscles for the next two days, and THEN he finally realized what he had done.

  4. Oh my! Of all things possible – you were skiing!!!! Too bad that you were here in the summer. Monte Amiata and its chair-lift are waiting for you two to return, now that you know how to ski. I must say that I applaud you to consent to this. You’re a brave woman! That surfing lesson MUST happen, your friend deserves it! 😀 I’d love to go skiing with you and help you out with learning, and show you what fun it can be. I always loved to ski and experienced such freedom on the slopes. I liked going fast too. Fun! I think my feet are too painful for the tight boots these days though. You are safe.

    1. Oh no no no. I am glad that there was no snow on Mt. Amiata when I was there. No, it was difficult, and frustrating and so scary. So so scary. I was just gripped with fear the whole time, especially when the instructor said anything about getting us off the bunny slope and onto the big slope. As we would go down, the instructor would watch us and call out commands. One time I went past and he called out, “Get that terrified look off your face!” ha ha ha. Any time my skis would get even the least amount of speed I would panic and fall over to make myself stop. Any time there was a person in front of me, I was just certain I would plow into them and break some kid’s arm or something. It was all awful and horrible and cold and I really, honestly, never want to be on skis again. Ha ha! You can take Mads to Monte Amiata and you two can live the joy of skiing or whatever the heck it is. I am glad to hear that you have a love of skiing, and can think of it as freedom. That is a nice description.

      Surfing is a different story! I’m no good at it – never had lessons, but just being in the water is magical to me and I don’t care if I’m no good at surfing. So, maybe that’s what some people feel about skiing. Anyway, Mads agreed that he would take surf lessons if I insisted, and I do. We have a trip planned (all of us in the photos) to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, and that’s when I will strike my retaliatory blow!

      1. Ooooo!! A brilliant plan! Ok, no more skiing for you… just, hm… how about water skiing?¸;) (That ski teacher should teach you first how to break. Then how to fall.)

      2. Ha ha ha. My only attempt at water skiing was disastrous and painful when I kept smacking the water with my face. I’m afraid I’m not much of a sportsperson. 🙂 How does one break on skis? Do you mean brake? He did say that the whole reason we were learning to turn is because that is how one stops. Just turn until your skis are no longer pointed downhill, and you stop. I was able to do that a couple of times. What I really wanted to learn was how to get up once you’re spread-eagled on your face in the snow. That would have been a helpful lesson. We just relied on each other to drag us to our feet again.

      1. Depends where you live. On the other hand, it makes counting easier. I’m form December and I’m having increasing trouble calculating my age. (Counting on your fingers all the way to 68 takes a long time) 😉

      2. Omigosh, yes!! That’s a bonus I had forgotten about. Not only was I born at the beginning of January, it was in 1970, so with a year that ends in zero, it’s so easy to keep track of my own age. 🙂 I’ll bet if you count on your fingers every time you want to know how old you are, your hand-eye coordination will stay sharp! Also, I never even THOUGHT of celebrating my birthday in a different hemisphere in order to avoid the cold. Holy Moly this is life-changing.

      3. I’ll tell my grandson that if HE keeps counting on his fingers, his coordination will be even better. (He’s 5)
        1970. Oh my Gosh. I finished high school in ’70…

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