After we had lunch at Rio Grande for Clint’s birthday, I got onto a plane headed for Chicago. Chicago itself wasn’t very exciting. I was there for training for my new job, and so I was only there Sunday evening through Friday afternoon. All week, my coworkers and I were talking about getting out to see the town one night so we can say we did it. We planned on doing it Thursday – the reasoning was Friday was a half-day so it wouldn’t matter if we ended up tired.

Wednesday rolled around and the people started talking about how the temperature was supposed to drop drastically, so they wanted to go that night instead. My motivation died after the seminar. I would have gone if they were going, but my feelings wouldn’t be hurt if they didn’t. The other two girls were kinda “eh” about it too, and so that ended up swinging the vote to “no”. We felt bad because apparently, the last girl really did want to do it that night, so we promised to do it on Thursday “no matter what.” Easier said then done, because Thursday was COLD and SNOWING. But we kept our promise and three of us went to see the town. We decided to take the train into the city. The hotel shuttle driver told us the best stops to get off of, and explained that the bus from Howard to Skokie stopped at 10:30, so if we wanted the hotel shuttle to pick us up from the train station, we’d have to make sure to catch that last train.

The train-ride up was pretty interesting. One of the girls had never ridden on public transportation before. So we get onto the train, and it was like a wall of urine smell. Yuck. That girl was headed right for the corner seat in the very back. I quickly said, “No! Not there!!! Sit over here.” So she comes to the middle and was like “Why?” And I was just like, “That’s where people would urinate.” She was like “That makes sense.. Someone’s drunk and…” She stood for awhile because she didn’t want to sit in pee, but eventually she did sit down. She was pretty nervous about the company on the train, though. I don’t blame her because she was wearing a fur coat and jewelry.

When we got to the city (we were taking the “Grand” stop to go to Harry Careys), we exited the train station, and it was COLD!!! And WINDY!!! And SNOWY!! We all had to use the restroom, and so I pointed at the first restaurant/bar I saw and said, “Let’s go there!” So we went into the “Rock Bottom Grill” and used the rest room. They still wanted to go to Harry Carey’s so we decided to catch a cab to take us there. After we were at Harry Carey’s, one of the coworkers had her heart set on Chicago style pizza. We asked the bartender for suggestions, and she said “Duo’s” So we caught a cab to take us to Duo’s. So I don’t know what happened, but the other two girls suddenly decided instead of Duo’s, they wanted to go to House Of Blues. Apparently, it was an impulse buy. They saw it there and said, “Hey, that looks cool!” And it was cool. We spent the rest of the night there. We ended up missing the cut-off for that last train from Howard to Skokie.

What we were *should* have done was catch the city train to Howard, and then get a cab for the rest of the way between Howard and Skokie. But instead we caught a cab all the way from the city, and the guy charged us up the wazoo and took us all around the world to get us back to Skokie. We were slightly paranoid that he didn’t know where he was taking us, and/or was going to take us somewhere else and who-knows-what-would-happen. I had my pepper spray that I bought at Clint’s suggestion, so I had that handy in case it was needed.

My plan for Friday was to catch my plane at 4:35pm, and land at 7:20pm, and then stop at home to say hi to Clint, and switch suitcases and head to Snowshoe. In the back of my mind, I knew that wasn’t going to happen. My plane had very minimal delays – from 4:35 to 4:59pm. We landed around 8pm, I think. I got home sometime between 9:00 and 9:30. John The Canadian and Clint were hanging out, and they asked me if I wanted to watch Xavier: Renegade Angel with them. I said no. While I finished up some last minute packing, I kept thinking about the drive to Snowshoe, and those windy mountain roads that I’d be taking alone in the dark at 3am in who-knows-what conditions, while tired out of my mind…. At 10:30, I said, “I guess I’ll get on the road.” Clint begged me not to, so I decided to act on my doubt and not go Friday night. Probably a good move. I hung out with Clint & John the Canadien, and went to bed around 12:30. My intention was to get a couple of hours sleep, and then get up really early (4:30 am) and drive there and get there by the time the sun was rising. Clint and John ended up talking me out of the 4:30am plan, but I set my alarm for 6:30am. When the alarm went off, it wasn’t happening, so I reset it for 7:30am. I got on the road by 8am (since everything was already packed and all I had to do was load the car).

At around 9:30am, I stopped at a Sheetz for coffee and a restroom. I also bought some cigarettes so I wouldn’t have to bum all day. Around 10:30, I stopped to use the restroom again (stupid coffee) and top off my gas. Shannon called at that time to find out how far away I was. When she found out I was in Churchville, we agreed that she’d leave my lift ticket on the table, and would hide the key under the shovel outside. She also mentioned there was a bed for me. Angel had also talked about how there were beds for everyone when I had talked to her the night before to tell her I wasn’t coming Friday night. Angel had also mentioned something about ghosts. I didn’t really know what was going on, so I didn’t worry about it. (I didn’t know what the situation was at the time, and now I’m going to try and stay out of all that drama that ensued. I’ll just say I understand both sides of the story, and leave it at that.)

About 10 miles after leaving the Exxon gas station, my “check oil” light came on. D’oh! By that time, it was looking more like deserted western Va, and my phone didn’t have any signal. I pulled off at the next gas station, which was a country store – that was closed and deserted. I checked my car and found I had an extra quart of oil. However, it was regular oil, and my car currently has synthetic oil in it. I tried calling my family on the payphone that happened to be there. There was no answer. I tried several more times in case they just didn’t get to the phone in time (that happens a lot in their household). Then I tried calling my Uncle Timmy, Angel, Shannon. At one point, I hung up the phone, and the mouth piece fell off. It was still connected with wires, but I was worried that if I finally did reach someone, they wouldn’t be able to hear me. I tried to call Farmer’s roadside assistance line 800#. I asked the guy my question, but he didn’t have an answer for me. He said, “This is a dispatch line to send a tow truck. Do you need to be towed?” And I was like, “No, not yet.” At least I knew he could hear me. Finally I was like “Well, I should try Vicky. She always answers” So I called her up, and lo and behold, she did answer! So I asked for Sean. She was all confused as to why I’d ask for Sean, so I explained I needed car expertise. She said she wasn’t sure how much help he’d be, but put him on anyway. Sean listened to my predicament, and then immediately googled for the answer. Turns out, it’s OK to add non-synthetic oil to a car that has synthetic oil in it. If worst had come to worst and I hadn’t reached anyone, I was going to try it anyway, and pray, but I felt much better knowing that the internet said it was OK.

A few seconds after getting back on the road, I went over the experience in my head. Suddenly, I realized I couldn’t remember screwing on the oil cap after I poured in the oil. So I pulled over as soon as I could and opened my hood. Yup, the engine cap was missing. I looked at the hood where I had left it, and it wasn’t there. I kinda looked around inside the hood and didn’t see it. So then I decided to retrace my steps. Driving back to the country store, I kept my eye on the other side of the road, and never saw it. Then I got to the gas station, and didn’t see it. I got out of the car, and opened the hood again. Still didn’t see it, but I was like, “Whoops, I forgot to turn the engine off. I don’t want to be looking around in here with it rumbling like that.” I started to walk back to the driver’s side door, and I heard a noise. I knew it was the sound of that cap bouncing off the ground. I turned back around, and there it was about 5 feet away from the car. I figured it was somewhere inside there and dropped out and bounced, but it just seemed like it had fallen from the sky. I had prayed to St. Anthony on my way back, so who knows…

So, after all that excitement, the rest of the way was pretty easy-going. I got to the mountain at around 1:30pm. I ended up coming in the back way, and started at the Top of The Mountain. I drove right by it and went to scope out the Shamrock lodge. I got to Seneca and decided I missed it, and turned back around. I realized I needed a parking pass anyway, so I went back up to the top and got my pass. They gave me a map showing me exactly where Shamrock was. I drove into the parking area and found a nice spot about two doors down from our lodge. I pulled in, and then I was going to reverse and straighten out a bit, but there was a car behind me. I tried to motion him to go, and he got out and was like “You’re in my spot. I live here.” I was like “Where am I supposed to park?” and he was like “Up there somewhere, I guess.” He was kinda an asshole. Unfortunately throughout the trip, it just seemed to me that I kept seeing him everywhere. I hoped if it was him, he didn’t remember me as the girl who tried to steal his spot. I did wonder what he would have done if he didn’t happen to pull up right then and I had just merrily parked in his spot and wasn’t around when he came home.

Turns out, there was a nice big parallel space right in front of our lodge, and Kipp was standing out there. So I drove up and parked in the spot, and then Kipp asked me if I had a key. I don’t know why he thought I would happen to have a key, but I just said, “It’s under the shovel.” And Kipp was like “Really? Under the shovel! I’ve been standing out here for like 20 minutes!!” D’oh!

Kipp was nice enough to give me a sandwich. He was supposed to meet everyone at the Shaver’s Center at 2, and it was 2 by then. He had attempted to come back because he had forgotten his wallet. He forgot that Casey had his key. We headed out and met up with everyone else at the Shaver’s Center.

I skiied during the day with Kipp, Casey, Shannon, Christian, and Peter. I can’t remember what Stacy & Louise were doing. Eventually we headed back to the condo, and Angel & Ian were watching the end of Ghostbusters. I was hungry, but nobody else was eating. I ate the leftover hashbrowns that Peter had made for breakfast to tide me over until dinner. They were delicious.

After awhile, we planned to go night skiing. The plan was to go at 7, and then when it closed at 9, eat dinner then. After a couple of runs, I was thinking on the lift about how I had maybe about three more runs in me. Turns out, I wasn’t going to get three more runs in. I got creamed on the next run down. Peter had fallen like 2 seconds before I did. His wasn’t nearly as bad though. According to the witnesses, the guy jumped over a bump, and landed so he was sitting on his skis and basically sledding at like 35 miles an hour. He whooshed past my friend Shannon, and veered straight into me. I hurt my wrist and my right butt-cheek, and felt really weak. The main thing that scared me was the writhing in pain right after he did it. After a few seconds, my head cleared and I was like, “Oh, I don’t feel that hurt…. What actually hurts? Can I move?” and I started to try to get up, and someone said, “No! don’t move!!” So I laid there just letting everything settle. Eventually I realized I wasn’t hurt that bad, but the main thing I was noticing was the weak feeling. It wasn’t like light-headedness or dizziness… Just general weakness. I needed a snack after that. I think whatever energy I had turned straight to adrenaline so I had to replenish. Kipp was nice enough to buy me a bag of doritoes.

I thought maybe my wrist was sprained and needed wrapping or something. I could barely hold my pole (which is majorly bent now, btw). So Kipp got a ski instructor to come down to look at me. When the guy got there, he was like, “Are you the one with the wrist injury?” and I was like flailing around to take my helmet off, and grabbing my water, and he was like, “If your moving it like that, you’re fine” So, we went inside, and he checked for swelling, but it was all good.

Kipp said if he wasn’t so worried about me, he would have punched the guy in the face for skiing like that.

So, after that, there wasn’t really enough time to get more skiing in, so I had one more run in me to get back to the shuttle for home. Everyone was nice enough to go on a beer/food run, so I didn’t have to put forth much effort. I kept up with cleaning the dishes so I can say I was pulling my weight. 🙂 Angel & Ian made some frozen pizzas that hit the spot even if the first one was undercooked (it was the oven’s fault). I had some really good German beer that Peter bought. I forget what it was called. Hoes something or other??? Peter? I think Clint would really like it, because it had that hoppy taste that Clint’s fond of. I thought it was delicious.

Sunday, I decided to stick with Angel & Ian & Peter so I could follow them home and not have to worry about being on the windy mountain roads alone. We got some good skiing in. My wound wasn’t too limiting, either. My wrist was feeling better. My right butt-cheek was still really sore, but it wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t exist. So I took it somewhat easy but the only time I really noticed it was when I was getting into the lift. I went down the Grab Hammer, and I have been on it in the past, but it was really steep. I made it down, but I wasn’t ready to do it again after that. I decided to stick to the blues after that.

A couple of times, I kept getting tripped up being on the lift with snowboarders. At one point, Angel was like “Carolyn and I were caught together”. Then later, some stranger was next to me and I knew something was up when we got on the lift, and I was like, “What am I stuck on?” It was the guy’s snowboard. He had hooked himself under my skis. Then getting off the lift, he and I got stuck together and ended up falling. I took the blame but Peter agreed that it didn’t seem to be completely my fault. The third time, it was all four of us on one lift. Peter, me, Angel, and Ian were on a quad lift with the plan of heading to the shuttle and calling it a day. Somehow, someway, the two snowboarders and me got tangled up, and I ended up taking Peter down with me. My ski popped off and everything. Then whoever was operating the lift didn’t stop it, so the chair behind out got dumped right into us. Finally they stopped the lift, and a ski instructor (who I thought was similar to the guy who’s parking spot I had taken) helped me up. I took my other ski off and high-tailed it to the shuttle. I don’t know why I was having such trouble dealing with snowboarders on the lift. Sorry about that, I’ll have to practice more and notice what I’m doing wrong.

We finally got on the road around 4pm. We made one stop to eat at McDonald’s the second we got onto 81. There was a Dunkin’ Donuts across the street that was very tempting, but I decided at the last minute to skip it and just head home. I thought I was haulin’ ass, but it turns out, Ian is way better at haulin’ ass, because he caught up with me and my head-start, and then passed me and left me in the dust. 🙂

Sunday night, after listening to Clint’s tirade about how dangerous skiing is and how worried he was about me, we watched a movie, Spider-Man 3.

Monday, poor little Beavis had to be dropped off before 8:30 am to be neutered. I picked him up at 4:30pm, and he seemed pretty miserable in the car ride. Then we got him home, and I fed him, and within an hour, I knew he wasn’t in too much pain because he was going crazy playing around. He was jumping at his ball that’s hanging from the kitchen ceiling, and he was pouncing on the plastic sheet that came from Clint’s foofchair. It was so cute. So, Beavis is no longer a tom, he is now a gib.

Monday night, we watched Borat. I didn’t have to go straight to the hospital because of a hernia from laughing so much (like my father), but I did find it really funny and laughed a lot :).

And that was the end of my crazy week. I get to now say I have travelled alone, but I wasn’t *really* alone because I had coworkers with me, but it’s a start.

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