Until this week, West Yellowstone had always been a really sweet-sounding place with lots of snow (except when there wasn’t) that good skiers got to go to in the beginning of the season.
When I was in college, I never went to West Yellowstone, because I was not a good skier, and also, because it 2,500 miles, three airplane flights, and a ridiculously expensive shuttle ride from my house.
Fast forward to 2010, when I have the sweetest job in the universe. Finally, I would get a chance to head to check out what one ski-acquaintance calls the “cross country skiing jock-sniffing capital of the world.”
First, though, since I would be missing Thanksgiving at home (otherwise known as the raddest holiday in existence), I had to head back to Maine for what has become an annual tradition: the Bowdoin ski team’s rollerski to my house. Basically, this is exactly what it sounds like: the Bowdoin team gets in a van, drives a few miles out of Brunswick, and then rollerskis the 40 or so kilometers to my mom’s residence in the town of Hallowell, where she cooks enough vegetarian chili to feed an army. Yes, that’s hyperbole, but not actually that much, because the first year we did this, the team plowed through the food that my mom had prepared in about ten minutes, which I’m pretty sure blew some (or all) of the fuses in her brain and reconfigured them so that now the amount of chili she makes can be measured in proportions of metric tons. Needless to say, despite the presence of Dan Polasky, who probably eats more in a single meal than the Colby Ski Team does in a week, there was still enough chili left for me to take some back to Williamstown and stick in the freezer, which I was pretty excited about.
Twelve hours after arriving back in Massachusetts, Topher and I were in the car headed for the Albany airport. For some reason, Delta decided to let us check our bags for free, which was the last non-stupid thing they would do all day. I guess they did give us vouchers for free lunch/dinner, but that was only after the data link between the terminal and the airplane in Detroit failed, preventing the transmission of some crucial information about the weight of the airplane. We waited on the ground for no less than one hour for this problem to be resolved, although Topher and I had both immediately come up with what we thought were some innovative solutions to this problem (handwritten signs? text message? carrier pigeon?). Oh yeah—and before this, we also had a ridiculously awesome interval session between two terminals in Detroit that entailed a ten-minute sprint with bags and jackets and ended with me smelling not delicious, and sitting down in my seat next to a very nice minister named Keith and his wife with my t-shirt entirely soaked through with sweat.
Eventually, we arrived in Bozeman, which is a pretty rad place, and from there, we caught a ride with one of Topher’s friends, whose name is Erik. Despite preposterous quantities of snow and temperatures I had not seen since hitting up Fairbanks last January, Erik managed to get us to West Yellowstone on Tuesday in time for us to go for a ski and hang out at the Expo for the evening.
I don’t have much cohesive to say about West Yellowstone, aside from the fact that it is a pretty fun place, and that the skiing was absolutely fantastic—classic earlier this week, and skating today. But a few disjointed observations:
–We had a bunch of meals at the Freeheel and Wheel, which in my mind is probably the coolest possible set-up for a store: a ski and bike store combined with a coffee shop, which also has ridiculously delicious enchiladas. And a cool guy that works there whose name is Thor.
–Elevation. It is hard enough to ski in a place where there is no oxygen. Add in the fact that West Yellowstone was my first few days on snow this year, and the fact that I seem to have an especially hard time with altitude, and I was basically at level 2.5 for all eight hours I was skiing in West Yellowstone. My heart rate would get jacked up just opening and closing my bindings. No joke. Sometimes I would be in the hotel room and realize that I was out of breath just from walking around. Ouch.
–Two miles down a road out of town is Wyoming. Topher and I skied there today, which was sweet. I got to add another state to my lifetime tally, although he won the sprint to the state line.
Finally, I leave you with this parting shot of Topher in the lobby of the Holiday Inn, with a new friend.