Last year I made it home from Seattle in time for the Halloween festivities and at the time that was a big step. To be around the kids and wander around our neighborhood was a wonderful treat given my situation. One other highlight was the chance to go to one of the ski swaps. Yes, this is a funny event to highlight the fall season but while other people croone and swoon over changing colors, falling leaves and football tailgaiting skiers have a few highlights of our own. The obvious is the first snow followed closely by the discussion of the ever rising costs of skiing (mainly lift tickets and season passes) but hidden in the discussion is always the excitment around the annual jamming into a room of gear and struggling to get the gear someone else thought was no good anymore. The ski swap!
These events are found all over the country. In high school gyms, hotel conference rooms, and now in fancy sports complexes. I remember so clearly when I was a kid being involved in all the set up and take down, the clean up and recovery which goes along with an event. For a few years when my mom was the winter sports club secretary in Steamboat we spent a long weekend dealing with the incoming gear, the massive rush of people, the insuing madness of money collection and distrubution back to the owners just to get what was a small cut to go into the club fund. I still can’t beleive that ski clubs make too much money on these event but they sure are exciting. Most of those years where my family was involved the kids spent a good deal of time running around causing trouble rather than helping out. I know we were more interested in scoping out any good skis and eating the pizza which was for all the volunteers. As I grew older and I was actually helping it was just a good way to meet all the diehard skiers who you had to know through proving yourself out in the elements. In college I remember joining the glass pushers (first in line), to get in and find the best deal which was funny because I was sponsored and already got most my skis free. There was some rush to the whole scene which I can’t really describe.
I think often those swaps, as many are now, are timed well with the yearly dose of new ski porn (ski movies) which seem to rev the ski crew up. I am rapidly realizing though that the newer ski movies are full of just downright crazy poeple. Growing up I was pretty sure I could do anything I saw in those ski flicks but now I know I can’t do it, don’t see how anyone would want to do some of the stuff, and pray my kids won’t be going even bigger than what on a screen already looks too big. The sense of possiblity and wonder of the upcoming ski season is so thick after watching one of these. The ski swap is sort of the palpable and tangible tug towards reality as you race through the lines of skiis looking for something to help you carve up the slopes of your dreams.
One thing which is so much different now is that the most highly sought after gear tends to be the nordic ski equipment. I love the fact that this is the case because it means people are excited about getting healthy. I don’t like it so much now that I don’t get free skis because I have to join in the madness. With kids in tow it makes it much tricker. Still I hope that the kids are seeing the excitment to the whole ordeal. I hope that seeing their friends, the closeness of the crowd (which I am not so much a fan of these days), the feeling of excitement, and the holding the future winter fun in your hands as you walk out with a lighter wallet is a true treat.
Last weekend we braved the big ski swap here in Anchroage. It was a real mad house. We did pretty good. The kids didn’t get lost, we didn’t go broke, and only made one unneeded purchase (a pair of boots for Liam which are the same size as his already are). We saw a lot of friends. Talked to a lot of people and no matter how much we complained about doing it we enjoyed it. Well, at least I did. Now, winter can really come, the swaps have happened, the movies have roled, bring on the snow.
Head Up, Heart Strong. I need a cure.