Last week was a hard week. It was the one month anniversary of Ted’s death and honestly, it was harder than the week he died. In that month, the reality sets in further. I’ve realized for quite a few years now, I did my end of the things around the house and let Ted do his things around the house and now, I’m having to do both and it feels like I have two full time jobs. I mean, I am use to coming home and having things to do after work, but they were my things to do and didn’t require too much thought, so I could do them on autopilot. Now, I have to think about the things Ted did and get them done too and they require much more thought and work. Hence, I feel like I’m working two jobs.
So after feeling sad, overwhelmed, and sad some more, I decided to give myself a break and go skiiing. The place we always go to had been closed for lack of snow, but in the past two weeks had gotten massive dumps, so I decided to go. I didn’t bother asking if anyone wanted to go because I already know that none of my pals in evergreen have a pass to this resort and really, I just wanted to go and see how it would be going alone.
Well, I wasn’t totally alone. I did take a bit of Ted in a container with me. I learned that CO makes some wonderful seal tight containers for various products that are sold in the state that work quite well for sealing up some ashes to travel with.
I swear I could hear Ted bitching about the traffic as soon as I got close enough to see there was a line to even get onto the highway. I contemplated turning around and ditching the idea, but then figured this was my experimental day, so I should just go ahead and see how much time it would take in crappy crappy traffic to get to the mountain.
I had started an audio book recently, so I put that on for part of the time and while traffic was stop and go, it was moving, so while it took a half an hour longer than it should have taken, it wasn’t horrid. I got to the mountain and the parking lots were already full – and I had left a full hour before I would have gotten Ted out of the door. I bluffed my way into our favorite lot and found a spot just a few rows from the front. I thanked my parking angels for keeping that one open for me.
When we ski normally, we have a backpack that Ted always carries. It has the goggles in case we need them, a couple of beers for the lift or to share at one of our favorite stopping spots in the trees, the sunscreen, water, snacks and whatever else we think we may need. I think it is a pain to ski with the pack on. It changes your center of gravity slightly, you have to take it off and on each time you get onto a lift and it can get heavy with all that in it. I didn’t even bring it along. I instead, put a water in one pocket, a beer in another, Ted’s little container of ashes in another, and since I had forgotten my skiing sunglasses and had to wear my goggles, I didn’t need space to store them. So, I learned I could ski without the pack.
With the amount of people in the lots and who were already there, I opted for the small older two person lift that had no one waiting to get on. The lift got me to mid mountain where I could ski down the back side and catch the high speed lift to the tip top that allowed me to ski the gladed area with beautiful trees and always good snow. The lines for this lift were long, but since I was not with anyone, I learned what it was like get into the line for single skiers and make my way on fairly quickly. It’s kinda like the express lane on the highway. You have your own lane and as others make their way with their groups of folks, you get to join in at the last moment to make sure the chairs are all full. You never know who you will ride up with and it’s kinda fun to be the fly on the wall at the end of a six person chair and hear what they are all excited about as you ride up with them.
I took our favorite runs. I left some of Ted on one run that had such good powder and trees that I knew he would love to have been part of that powder and so I obliged and left some ashes there. I then had several more runs and was ready to share my beer in our favorite stopping spot and left some more of him at that spot after toasting my beer to him. Here’s the thing. It is easy to slam a beer when skiing with friends as it gets passed around and in no time, it is gone and the can goes back in the pack and we all ski on. I learned that Ted must have been drinking more than half of an open can when we would stop if it were just he and I, because a full one all to myself felt like I was drinking a keg.
So, I learned that a great ski day is a great ski day and a gift whether it be with a group or all by oneself. Nature is always a good friend to hang out with and never seems to disappoint.
Also on my learning for the week was how to swap out a carburetor, gas pump bulb, hoses and spark plug on a small chainsaw. Last week, Devin and I brought over some wood to be cut and split. I have always done the cutting in our house as Ted was an Osha nightmare on so many things, but put a chainsaw in his hands and it got truly scary to watch. I don’t mind. I actually like cutting wood. Problem is, I never had to deal with the chainsaw itself. Ted would always get it up and running and just hand it to me when ready. When I got the saw out, it wouldn’t start. Oh, it would run for a second if I sprayed the starter fluid in, but it obviously wasn’t getting gas. A few google searches later, I determined that it wasn’t getting gas due to either a gas line or the carburetor. A kit to cover both issues is cheap enough, so I ordered it and learned how to swap out all said parts. I still have the spark plug to do, but that is the easiest part, so fingers crossed that the guys on YouTube didn’t steer me wrong and that saw will be humming up a storm later.
I think the last thing I learned this week I learned in theory as I didn’t actually put it into practice. You see, yesterday, it started to snow in the afternoon at our house. It wasn’t snowing down in town at our office till several hours later, but thinking the roads might be dicey, I left work on time so as to get home as quickly as possible. I did have to make a stop over to Ted’s office to pick up the computer to start the quarterly taxes at home this weekend, but the snow was only an inch or two where I was. As soon as I got onto the highway, thing began to back up. Devin had just phoned me and wanted me to pick up some PHO on the way home, so I asked him to check the maps to see if I should take the frontage road or go up the canyon instead of on I70 which was looking like a parking lot. He said that the frontage road was the way to go, so I exited and started my adventure up the road overlooking the highway.
Initially, it was slow, but we were moving. The issue for all roads at this point was that the higher we climbed, the more snow had fallen and what had fallen had melted and frozen to the road. There were many areas with cars that just couldn’t move, so people had to maneuver around them. From my vantage, traffic wasn’t moving anywhere. When I asked Waze or Maps which way to go home, every route was now over two hours in delays, so I decided to just stay the course on the frontage road and continue on, at the now snails pace we were at. We would literally move 10 – 30 feet and then stop for 3-5 minutes and then continue on. Still listening to the same book that had gotten me through ski traffic the prior weekend, I was fairly entertained and just curious on exactly how long this could really take. The answer was REALLY LONG. An hour and half later, not having moved more than a mile – if even that, I was starting to wonder if I would have enough gas in the tank or what to do about the fact that my bladder was now getting full and needing some relief.
At one spot, there was a small lot off to the side for service vehicles and I saw one person exit the passenger side of a car 6 cars ahead of me and run off. A minute or two later, having only moved such a short distance, said person joined back to the car. I knew what they had gone to do and was wondering if I would be able to just put mine in park and run off the same way. Turns out, that was maybe the one spot that we moved enough that I missed that opportunity and that was the only area where you could have gotten out and not been in the spotlight of the cars behind you. The frontage road is build up against the mountain, and so there is no shoulder or space to run off into like a field or something as you would have if on flat land. I began to ponder more and more just where could one relieve themselves outside of the vehicle in a situation such as this. What I learned, or should say supposed, was that given that for much of the time, we were not moving at all, that I should get fairly close to the car in front of me, turn off my headlights, park my car, and swat in between the two cars. I would be low enough and out of their sight lines, the cars behind me would not be able to see through my car, and there was no traffic coming the opposite direction except for the few people that were giving up and turning around. It really could work. I was sure of it. I just needed to make sure I was centered so that my liquid pouring onto the road would not freeze in a spot that would cause my car to not be able to get traction and inch forward when the line began to move once more.
I started to watch the line of cars in front of me and calculate and keep track of how much time we were stopped each time and how much time I would need to exit, pee, return and move. I even turned off my audio book so that I could properly concentrate on the calculations. I mean it really felt like we were only moving when one of the cars in front of us was turning around and going back down then hill, so, with the right stretch of road, I would be able to see and totally make it happen. It was about this time, that we were on a stretch were I could see I70 once again and could see that while it was slow, it was indeed now moving. I was closer to reaching the next onramp to the highway ahead, then if I turned back, but turning back would allow me to stop and refuel, pee and get on the highway back down the hill, so I became one of the cars that gave up on the route and retreated.
It still took me another hour to get home, but I made it and now have a plan that could work if ever needed in the future. As I write this though, I just remembered that some of the new cars have rearview cameras that don’t just work when in reverse. I could just see people in the car in front taking a video of the middle aged woman peeing right in front of their backup camera and sending it viral. Oh well, people need a story and that would certainly give them one.
Those were some of my learned lessons this week and I’m sure there will be more. Here’s to hoping the chain saw works and if I can get the books done, maybe I’ll just ski again tomorrow.
Here’s a pic from our spot skiing together last March.