There are two standard questions that serve as conversation starters when you meet someone for the first time in Wanaka during the winter. They are: "So, you here for the season?" or "Been up the hill much?" They're kind of the equivalent of the "What's your major?" question asked by oh so many college freshmen. But I digress. Anyway, I received some strange, uncomprehending looks when I responded in the negative to those two queries over the last few months. The 'never summer' crowd of skiers and snowboarders--those that pop back and forth between the northern and southern hemisphere chasing winter year-round--who descend upon this little berg? burg? burgh? (I really must look that up sometime) every winter seem utterly perplexed by the fact that people actually live here all year and might not actually be here solely to ski (or board). In all fairness, I guess this is technically considered a ski resort town. And in more fairness, even most of those who are not here solely to ski (or board) go up the hill at least a couple times during the season.
This last Sunday, for the first time this season, I 'went up the hill'; and for the first time in my life, I strapped on a snowboard and hurled myself down a mountain (read, the very gentle decline of the learners' slope at Cardrona Ski Resort). With Shannon's board, helmet, and goggles; Mike's gloves and boarding pants; and a hookup on free boots at the rental shop from Amy I was ready to see what all the hubbub was about.
I'll say this: I can see how snowboarding could be enjoyable. I wouldn't go so far as to say that I, however, enjoyed it. I mean, falling down (sometimes quite hard) and picking myself up again a couple hundred times over the course of a few hours is not how I'd describe a particularly enjoyable day. Now, I think with a little bit of practice I might eventually get good enough to find some enjoyment in the activity, but for now, uhhh, not so much.
I don't mean to imply that I was completely hopeless. I mean I did show some (however slight) progress over the course of the day. For instance, I actually got pretty "good" at falling. What I mean is, I figured out how to fall, when I knew a fall was imminent that is, in such a way as to keep the potential damage to my body to a minimum. Sad to say, I never figured out a way to do the same for my pride. Still, I am glad I went and gave it a go, and, the soreness I've felt for the past four days not withstanding, I do actually look forward to getting back up on that horse, so to speak, and trying again.
The only thing is, my first day of the season happened to fall on the resort's last day of the season. Looks like I'll have to wait until the mountain reopens next June for my day two. That reminds me, did I tell you I was staying in Wanaka and making it my home for the foreseeable future? I didn't? Hmm, that's weird. :-)