By Luke Robinson
I am about to talk to you about two things I have never been good at: Snow skiing and growing beards.
Calm down, calm down. I know it’s exciting when a semi-writer tells you in advance about how little he knows regarding the mundane subject matter he is penning, but let’s stay focused here.
Also, in lieu of an appropriate segue, I will just jump right in.
…So there I was in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, with the Birmingham Ski Club trying not to look like the world’s most Southern-fried tourist. Unfortunately, my cover was blown early when I walked out of my hotel door wearing a borrowed onesie ski suit. The suit was great (and apparently expensive), but it was not until later that I learned that only two types of people wear onesie ski suits: really, really good skiers and guys who are about to be shot out of a cannon at the circus.
It also did not help that—given that I was a novice skier at best—I asked my instructor if there was a slope easier than a “green” for me to traverse. To unfortunately quote myself, I specifically asked if the mountain had any “panks or urnges” in a lame, drawl-laden attempt to sound like I knew what the hell I was talking about. (Spoiler alert: I had no idea what the hell I was talking about).
And why would I have any slope knowledge? I grew up on a lake, not a mountain! (I am terrible at water skiing, too, by the way.) Also, the last (and only) time I had actually been snow skiing I spent less time busting my ass on the slopes and more time losing my ass in the casinos of Lake Tahoe.
All of those facts explain why I was moderately concerned about spending money to go snow skiing in the first place. Traveling a great distance to do something I am not good at in front of a lot of people while wearing expensive rental equipment doesn’t usually encourage me to sign up, you dig? Heck, I didn’t even know Birmingham had a ski club! That sounded as strange as the Seattle Sunbathers Association to me.
But Birmingham does, in fact, have a ski club. It even plans up to six ski trips a year throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Since this was our first official act as ski clubbers, the wife and I were relative strangers to the other members at the beginning of the trip. However, it took only a few short hours to make several new friends. More importantly, new friends who weren’t overly critical of my skiing’s terribleness.
They were also friends who, luckily, didn’t make negative comments (in front of me at least) about the mangy outposts of hair lining the perimeter of my face. You see, in a horribly misguided attempt to fit in amongst the Western-spirited locals, I let my “beard” grow. I thought it would make me more cowboy-y.
Sadly, even as a 43-year-old man, I can only manage to produce random, moderate groupings of scattered fur from my chin to my earlobes. My beard makes me looks less “Latino soap opera star” and more “deranged, middle-aged, strung-out brother of a boy band member.” Late in the trip, a woman wanted to take my face to the local humane society to be checked for worms.
Anyhoo, on our ski club’s big ski trip we did more than just ski; we snowmobiled, too! If you have never been snowmobiling, I highly recommend it. It’s really quite thrilling. The scenery can be awe-inspiring. Another perk (sort of): Riding a snowmobile upwards of 45 miles will also make you more regular. As my icy chariot roughly rode upon the snowy plains, the bumpy terrain near jiggled my innards right out of my body (excuse the medical jargon). I thought I was going to have to get my onesie dry cleaned, I tells ya!
The food was wonderful as well. It wasn’t just piles of rib eyes stacked high because we were in cow-country, either. For example, have you ever had elk bolognese? Me neither, but they serve it there, and I heard it was great!
In the end, this seven-day excursion to Wyoming changed my whole attitude about snow skiing. I honestly can’t wait to sign up for another trip with the Birmingham Ski Club (and if they will take this two-party, out-of-state bad check I am writing I will be signing up quicker than I thought!)
If you are interested in joining the Birmingham Ski Club, visit Birminghamskiclub.org. Tell them the guy with the bad beard sent cha!