Snowy day on the slopes
DescriptionThis was a hard storie to write for some reason. Maybe because it was longer then the others, I havent figured out the comma yet, or maybe I did ?
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The snow fell heavily the morning Ryan came to pick up his two children John and Jenny. His ex wife Lonnie expressed deep concern over his plan to take the children up into the mountains to go sledding. Ryan assured her they would be fine, but it is the nature of a mother to worry. Lonnie had heard from the children about some of their other wild adventures, so she didn’t try to tell Ryan how if it was snowing this heavy in the valley it must be a blizzard higher up. Ryan’s looked at his ex wife until she looked back at him. It only took a split second, but she saw in his face what she needed to know. They had been married long enough for her to realize there was no reason to doubt him. Ryan was glad to see her smile slightly. It was never his intent to leave her feeling uneasy. He loved Lonnie more as the mother of their children then he ever did as his wife. With lunch packed in the truck, and the cab all warm and toasty they wasted no time getting on the highway. The trip was going to take an hour or more, but Ryan was good at using the time to ask questions that required more than just yes, or no answers. Ryan loved to hear his children talk about the things that were on their hearts. Once he got them going they might rattle on for quite some time. As Ryan approached the summit he noticed a large number of cars had slid off the road. He could feel the back tires of his truck loosing traction and starting to fishtail. Ryan had to blot out the sound of his children for a moment to concentrate on keeping the truck on the road. He knew if he kept a steady throttle and a watchful eye that he would do just fine. The children soon saw how their fathers concern was focused on his driving, and looked at the heavy snow that covered the road. Ryan assured them they would all arrive at the lodge safely soon if he just paid attention to his driving. Ryan didn’t want John and Jenny to sense any fear in him, but when they rounded the bend and the entrance of the lodge came into view they sure did see the relief come over their fathers face. The parking lot gave abundant evidence that others had braved the journey to this destination as well. Ryan found a spot up near the entrance, and they all abandoned the truck as they made a bee line for the lodge. Ryan was excited to check in at the ticket counter, and to their great amazement there was no line. Ryan stepped up to the counter to pay the fee. The attendant was glad to receive them, but also informed them that they would not be able to enter the slope until the next session. Ryan took this news in stride as he calmly asked when that would be. Looking toward the clock the young woman explained that it would be another thirty minutes. She continued by showing Ryan the schedule, and how each session was forty five minutes long. Ryan thanked her, and turned to break the news to John and Jenny. They were content to wait; they had heard what the woman said, and stood in anticipation of the next opening. Ryan turned back to the attendant and declared their intention to wait. The snow had ceased and he didn’t want to stand in the lodge in front of the ticket counter. He also didn’t want to go outside to hang around in a parking lot. As he pondered the possible ways to spend the next half hour he was interrupted by the young attendant. He didn’t want her to feel awkward as he stood there he just couldn’t think of anything else to do. Ryan was relieved of that burden when she told him it was okay to pass by the counter, and go out on the slope. Ryan was amazed at what he had heard as he asked the young woman if she was sure. She assured him that it would be fine. Ryan thanked her, and took John and Jenny passed the counter where they were given a sled. Once through the doorway they were able to see the many people poised at the top of the hill waiting to slide down. John raced over to the edge with his sister close behind and Ryan in a distant third. The children were the first to descend the long gradual incline. Once Ryan saw that they were fine he laid belly down on his sled. Thoughts ran through his mind of when he had last done something like this. Memories of snow flying in his face, and a fast, bumpy ride to the bottom filled him with anticipation. Ryan eagerly pushed himself over the edge. The hill started off with a steep grade to bring the speed up right away. He began to think that going down on his belly was a bad idea when the bumpy hard packed snow started pounding on his ribs. It wasn’t all bad though, the snow became much smoother toward the bottom, and he was able to keep a steady clip. It was then that Ryan saw the large berm waiting at the end of the ride. Instantly he realized that he had to show up in one piece at work on Monday morning, and images of him in a body cast led him to roll off the sled. Ryan still flew over the hump, tumbled a few times, and then came to a rest on his back with his eyes closed. As he wondered if it would be wise to move he thought he could at least open his eyes. To Ryan’s joy his two children were staring down at him. By the look on their faces Ryan could see they were wondering if he would ever move again on his own. For a moment he left them in suspense, but quickly a grin came over his face. After taking a physical assessment of his body by moving around a bit on the snow Ryan rose to his feet with his sled in his hand and loudly proclaimed “that was a blast, let’s go do it again” John and Jenny led the charge toward the trail that pointed to the top of the hill with Ryan following close behind. Along the trail was a tow rope, but it was moving so slow that it would take forever to pull someone to the top. Ryan and his children ignored it as they scampered their way up through the snow. Once at the top they waited for an opening large enough for all three of them to go down together. This time Ryan sat down on the sled to avoid the abuse upon his ribs. On the count of three they all went to push themselves over the edge. John and Jenny toke off quickly while Ryan fumbled about trying to get himself going. His children were about half way down the hill as he cried out “wait for me” Soon he was on his way only instead of the bumpy hill pounding on his chest now it was sending jolts up through his back. Ryan never remembered it being like this when he was a boy. As the sinister mound at the bottom of the hill came quickly into view Ryan imagined how he would look limping into work on Monday morning. Again Ryan’s sense of self preservation overcame his sense of adventure as he rolled over on his side lessening his impact. Ryan had fared better on the descent this time. As he located his children he felt as though he had mastered the hill. Again they charged their way up the hill. A new adversary unleashed it’s fury on Ryan’s body. The hill, not so much the lower three quarters, but that last portion that was used to give a good start was taking its toll on his energy. Fatigue soon set in. Ryan looked over at the joy and energy his children displayed and wondered how he was going to make it through the day. As they approached the crest Ryan was saved by an announcement from the management. Over a loud speaker a voice called for everyone to retreat from the hill. To his joy the announcer also proclaimed that the slope would undergo a thorough grooming. The final word was that this would take forty five minutes before the next session would begin. Ryan quickly took his children out to the truck where he had a lunch in a cooler ready to be prepared. Ryan had a rough aluminum shell on the bed of his truck, and in this shelter he had camp stove. After climbing over the tail gate and closing the door they all shed themselves of their thick, wet clothes. Ryan was tired and hungry and glad to have chance to rest. As he warmed a pot of tomato soup, and prepared cheese sandwiches to be grilled he started talking about the adventures on the slope. John and Jenny soon took over the story telling as Ryan smiled at all the joy they expressed. He didn’t know how he would make it through another session that would be longer, but he knew he would have to find the strength somewhere. He hoped it might come from the nourishing food. The soup was quickly hot and the sandwiches went for a quick pass over the flame in a frying pan. With the soup poured into bowls Ryan doled out the grilled cheese sandwiches as they were ready. The stories and laughter still roared from the children as they enjoyed their warm lunch. Sensing the rest period was nearly over and seeing the children were done with their meal Ryan gathered up all the dishes and put them in a box for later. About that time the announcement came that the slope was ready for another session. The door of the shell flew open as two eager, energetic young adventurers soon stood in the parking lot next to the truck draping themselves in their winter garb. Ryan followed suit as they all hurried to the entrance of the lodge. They had already paid their fare so they quickly exchanged their tickets for a sled. Ryan was rested up and ready to attack the hill once more. John and Jenny darted out in front of him to take their place on the crest. Ryan met them as he placed his sled next to theirs. This time they shoved off together, and began their plunge to the bottom. Ryan noticed by the fourth or fifth turn that the children were moving slower and slower up the hill. In an effort to make sure they fully enjoyed the experience he offered to tow their sleds up for them. They were content with that for next couple of times, but soon they wearied of that also. Ryan tried putting them on the tow rope, but there were so many people on it that it was moving slower then molasses in January. Ryan quickly abandoned that idea, and told them to get in the sleds so he could tow them to the top. This worked out well for the next few passes, but there was now that steep grade near the crest that was taking its toll on Ryan’s stamina. As he continued to push his way up the hill with his two children in tow Ryan ignored the screaming pain in his legs. The slight sound he could not ignore was the that of his son John saying “go faster dad” Ryan lifted his head slightly, than heard a man next to him on the trail say to him” ya dad go faster” Ryan turned to look at the man who spoke those words only to see him grinning back at him. Ryan’s face smiled back as he let loose of the ropes leaving John and Jenny stranded on the pathway. Once the load was off his legs his accent to the top was made considerably easier. Ryan crested the hill with plenty of time to watch his children trudge their way up. He stood waiting for them as they schlepped their way over to him. Ryan stood silently gazing down at the faces of two very exhausted children. After an effectual pause he asked them if it was time to go home. They were so tired all they could do was nod their heads up and down. Ryan looked over the hill and saw all the other children, than turned and led his own two exhausted ones toward the lodge. After returning their sleds they proceeded to the front seat of the truck. Ryan was content that they had derived all the fun out of the experience that they could as he started up the engine. The snow had quit falling shortly after they arrived and now the sky was a beautiful blue. Ryan was relieved to see the snow had melted off the roads, and now and traveling was much easier. The children had fallen asleep in the front seat within ten minutes of their departure. John had gone down first, and Ryan looked at Jenny to see if she would follow. She looked like she was wide awake, but when Ryan looked back a minute later she also was out. Ryan reached out his right arm to pull Jenny and John toward his side. He had seen them fall asleep in the truck before and never liked having them in that slumped over position. With his left hand firmly on the wheel Ryan guided the truck down the windy mountain road. Occasionally he would look over at the children for a moment and wonder if they were growing to understand the vast limits of their potential. Today they were on the mountain, but where would life take them tomorrow. Would they remember the adventurous things they had done, and face life’s challenges with confidence? The day was still young yet as Ryan thought of what else they could do. Ryan knew of a scenic attraction that was on the way. A large waterfall with a hiking trail that led to the bottom was just a few miles off the highway. He hesitated slightly as he approached the exit, but then a smile came across his face as he imagined them all hiking down the trail to the river. Lonnie and he had taken them there when they were very young, and Ryan knew they would enjoy it much more now that they were older. As the truck rolled to a stop in the parking lot the children began to awaken from their nap. It was Jenny who spoke up first asking her dad where they were. Ryan looked at John’s face to see that he was wondering the same thing. Ryan looked around a bit in a quizzical way as he asked them if they recognized anything. Jenny who is slightly older said she thought she had seen the place before. Ryan opened the door to step out of the truck as he invited them to come have a look around. Jenny remembered the covered bridge that stretched over the road while John said he remembered the parking lot. Ryan led them over the bridge by a restaurant and souvenir shop on the other side. A casual walk down a pathway placed them on a canopy covered observation deck overlooking a great, roaring cascade of water. The children both ran to the edge of the deck and pushed their faces against the protective grate. Ryan’s son John quickly turned to joyfully proclaim how he had remembered this place. Jenny turned to her dad to remind him of the trail that led to the base of the falls. With eager voices they both asked if it would be okay to walk the trail to the bottom. Ryan was just as eager to go as they were as he gave them freedom to lead the way. The snowy, slushy trail necessitated the acquisition of hiking sticks, although the mere fact that they were hiking was more than enough reason. Ryan spotted one for John rather quickly, and with a little scrapping with a sharp rock John to an immediate liking to it. The next one Ryan found was more his size, and after a few sharp raps on a tree to knock the moss off he was sufficiently equipped to meet the challenge of the trail. Jenny let out a sorrowful moan as she stood empty handed. Ryan encouraged her that something would turn up soon and we should keep our eyes open for it. It was John who found one for her lying along the path. He picked it up and just like his dad he knocked the moss and snow off of it with a few quick raps on a tree. As John eyed his new found treasure he felt as though he liked it more than his own. Trying pawn off his old one to Jenny she refused to accept his hand me downs and opted to continue the search on her own. The trail led through the trees that still had remnants of the snow fall resting on their branches. Much of the snow was melting in the sunshine now which produced a beautiful rain fall in the forest. Jenny had still not found a hiking stick so Ryan told her to get in back of him in case she began to slip on the increasingly muddy pathway. This made her all the more disgruntled, but Ryan encouraged her that is was for her own good. John didn’t help matters any by reminding her that he had offered her one earlier. Jenny’s mood changed quickly when just then John’s feet slipped out from under him and he landed squarely on his rump. As Ryan helped him to his feet he looked back to smile at Jenny who now grinning from ear to ear. Ryan handed his stick to Jenny, and proclaimed that he would lead them the rest of the way down to the river gorge. Within a few minutes the rocky shoreline of the river was in view. The trail led to a lower observation platform with a few other people on it. Ryan led the children along the wooden walkway as they approached the base of the falls. John was the first to express his desire to abandon the wooden platform and advance closer to the river. Ryan was eager to get a closer look at the falls. Jenny stood halfway up the railing gazing at her dad and waiting for the word to go. Ryan had been down here in the summer with Lonnie when they were still married and the children were very young. He had seen how many people had passed by the wooden walkway to go relax near the shore as their children played in the water. The only reason they would be the only ones today was because it was a cool winter day. Ryan led the charge over the rail and John and Jenny followed. They migrated toward the river where John commenced to throw rocks into the water. Jenny leaned on her hiking stick while Ryan poised his eyes on the falls. Ryan had always wondered if it were possible to position himself behind the waterfalls. He examined the shoreline to see if there were any hindrances to stop him. Realizing he needed a closer look he began to migrate in that direction. Jenny saw what he was doing as she followed him at a distance. When John got wind that they were moving he started out in the same direction. When Ryan saw they were both within an earshot he announced his intentions try to find a way to get behind the falls. John ran up next to him with excitement in his eyes as Jenny slowly made her way toward his side. Together they walked three abreast along the rocky shore until the way became so narrow that they had to continue in single file. Just as Ryan suspected, the way was blocked by a large jagged rock wall. The only way by was to go into the river, or Ryan thought, could they scale the wall? It looked course enough to hold a firm grip on their shoes, and not so steep that it would drop them in the river. The one thing Ryan did not know was how far the jagged wall extended, and what he would encounter on the other side of this great convex obstruction. Ryan stood there for a moment to ponder the situation. Jenny was the first to ask if he was going to try it. Ryan reached out to grasp the rocky wall, with a bit of wonder in his voice he said “I don’t know”. With that he pulled himself up as his shoes bit into the course surface of the rock. Ryan bounced on the front of his feet a bit to assure the grip he had felt secure than turned to look into the face of his son. John was eager to follow, and the approving look on his father’s face gave him the confidence to reach out for his own hold. The waterfall was less than twenty feet away, and with Ryan’s new vantage point he could see a platform just a few feet further along the rock. As Ryan turned to relay this news he saw how Jenny was now following after John. The three of them carefully scaled the jagged surface in single file until they came to that level spot near the base of the falls. The water was pounding down with tremendous force as they stood in awe of it. Ryan reached out his hand to examine the force before them. John watched in wonder at what might happen. Ryan’s hand was briskly slapped down with what felt like a thousand stinging needles. He drew it back and continued to gaze at this roaring giant before him. The mere image of it commanded reverence. For the next thirty seconds Ryan and his children stood just a few feet away as the mist dampened their faces, and the heaving rush of it filled their hearts with awe. The stillness of the moment was shattered when John mentioned how nice it would be to have a cup of hot chocolate. Ryan tried to ignore the statement and hold on to the moment as long as he could, but he couldn’t deny the power of suggestion from his son’s statement. Ryan turned to see the response of his children who were now waiting eagerly to see what he would do. After a few seconds it was clear they were done with the falls and would settle for nothing less than a cup of warm cocoa. Ryan looked out over the river and considered all that it took to get to this point, and all that it would take to get back up to the truck. He knew of the perfect little place to take them so he calmly encouraged them that they would get the journey under way. Ryan again took the led by mounting high on the rock and moving slowly across the surface of it. Jenny followed first this time with John close behind. Ryan was concerned about his children, and encouraged them to take it slow. He didn’t get so cautious as to instill a sense of fear in them, but he did let them know that the river was swiftly flowing beneath them. Once they were safe on the rocky shore the children collected their hiking sticks and began the trek toward the walkway, the trail, and up the hill. It was a silent walk this time, and even Ryan couldn’t deny that the thought of a warm cup of cocoa resting comfortably in his hands would be welcome treat after spending most of the morning outside on a cold day. Once they reached the truck and settled in on the front seat Ryan told them a little about where they were going. It was a fifties style cafe with a soda fountain with lots of goodies including hot chocolate, really good hot chocolate. The children’s excitement flared as images of warm pastries and marsh mellows in there cocoa floated around in their heads. Soon they were driving down the main street of the rustic little town that still held to its roots as a glorified logging camp. On one side of the street was a park with a chunk of the world’s thickest tree on display, and many remnants of the rail road that hauled the logs out in the past. In the shade of the trees stood an old depot that now served as a museum and a ticket booth for the steam train rides in the summer time. On the business side of the street laid a row of shops and restaurants that were trimmed to hold to the old logging town image that was prevalent throughout the town. Ryan found a nice place to park his truck in front of the train depot directly across from the cafe. The town had no noticeable changes since the last time he had been there. Ryan opened the door of the cafe for his children than followed them inside. It was just as he had remembered; the walls were plastered with photos of logging trains, loggers, and logs. The three of them took seats at the counter as the cries for hot cocoa sprang up from his children’s mouths. The attendant behind the counter approached them dressed in a nostalgic uniform and Ryan ordered three hot chocolates. The children beamed with joy at the anticipation of their warm treat while Ryan focused on the dozens of photographs throughout the inside of the cafe. The cafe held a charm to Ryan because it was a cross between a rustic home in the mountains, and fifty’s style diner. These were two things that he would dream of during the day. Ryan would have loved to live in a rustic home in the mountains in an age when things didn’t seem so complicated. But as life has its ways of interrupting our dreams so also Ryan’s children interrupted with their request for a refill on their hot chocolate. Ryan never treated John or Jenny as “interruptions” but with joy he responded to their voices eagerly. Now Ryan aligned his focus on the wonder of his two children and their call for a refill. He agreed to one more, but then he insisted that they be on their way. The children had their cups refilled but Ryan did not. As he watched them sip hot cocoa he asked them if they were having a good day. They both replied that it was good, and they thanked him for the hot chocolate. Ryan wondered if it was just the cocoa talking, but who doesn’t like a warm cup of cocoa in their cold hands. The children tilted their cups back for the last time, and Ryan lifted his tired carcass from the stool. The children of course wanted one more cup, but Ryan smiled down at them with love and told them that their adventure must continue. Ryan had looked at the clock earlier and realized there was still a long journey home, and if they got started now there would be enough time for dinner before they were expected to be back. As they exited the warmth of the cafe and headed toward the truck Ryan heard John ask if they could go look inside the train depot in the park. Ryan couldn’t deny the attraction to the ornate early American structure. Besides he knew the children would love a ride on the train. Although the train was not running during this time of year he hoped to gather some information about when it would be running. Ryan found a schedule posted to the depot door and took a mental note of the dates and times. Meanwhile the children were looking in the windows at all the antique artifacts. John insisted that his dad come take a look. Ryan was equally interested to see what was inside. From the nearest window Ryan saw antique freight boxes, an old hand cart, and what appeared to be a ticket booth that would likely be used to collect the fares when the train was running in the summer time. On the wall was a college of photographs of the railway when it was in the height of operation. After seeing all that could be seen Ryan called the children together and led them to the truck. As they took their places in the front seat Ryan took one last look around the quaint little town before closing the door and starting the engine. It had been a long time since their grill cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, so Ryan quizzed the children about whether they were ready for dinner. Both of them returned with a hearty” Yes”. Ryan encouraged them with the news that they going back home to get a bowl of chili at their favorite diner. Soon after they were on the road Ryan noticed young John nodding off to sleep, and he knew his daughter Jenny wouldn’t be far behind. He decided to keep their attention by leading them in a rendition of one hundred bottles of beer on the wall. The song lasted long enough to keep them awake almost until they reached the diner; their hunger kept them the rest of the way. Ryan smiled when he pulled into parking lot. He too was hungry, but he also liked this classic little diner. It was a quiet little workingman’s style diner that served simple wholesome meals at a fair and reasonable price. As they entered through the front door Ryan could smell the aroma of baked bread mixed with scent of meat frying on the grill. Their favorite booth was available so Ryan led his children right to it. The waitress wasn’t long in coming with a couple of menus. Ryan had his heart set on his favorite, which was a bowl of chili, but he never knew what John or Jenny might order. They seemed to have more interest in looking over the selections than making one, and Ryan wished they would hurry up. Not only was he hungry, but he also wanted to return the children to their mother on time and the day wasn’t getting any younger. Regardless of the time the waitress would return and Ryan would tell her his request. The children knew they had better chose what they wanted by then or he would decide for them. Ryan was pleased to hear John and Jenny come to a conclusion as the waitress approached the booth. The waitress stood patiently, wondering if Ryan would order something other than his usual bowl of chili. He didn’t want to disappoint her but he really liked the chili. The children asked for the hot dogs and potato chips. The waitress asked if there was anything else, and as they all wagged their heads no she collected the menu’s and walked away. This was the time when the children would become silly. Ryan loved to see them having fun, but he also knew that he had to restrain them somewhat or they would get out of hand. He was glad the order came quickly so it gave John and Jenny something to do other then start a wrestling match in the restaurant booth. Ryan was also eager to put a hearty spoon full of warm chili in his mouth. He looked down at this bowl of steaming sustenance with its chunks of beef in a red and brown stew and was pleased that the waitress remembered to lay a handful of cheese on top to melt. Before he dug into this rare treat he led the children in a prayer of thanksgiving. Looking up afterward he noticed John had slipped a potato chip or two into his mouth. John saw the disapproving look of his father’s face and stopped chewing for a moment. Ryan held him there for a second until he cracked a little smile letting his son know that he understood that he was a hungry little boy. Ryan turned toward his meal expecting the chili to be pretty hot. With a spoon full in front of his mouth he blew on it slightly before testing the temperature with the tip of his tongue. Satisfied it would safe to eat he took his first bite. It was slightly hotter then he wanted, but that didn’t stop him from going directly after another spoon full. He looked over to see Jenny almost halfway through her hot dog and John still munching on his potato chips. He wagged his head as he wondered why they would choose that over a bowl of piping hot chili. To each their own he thought as he shoveled another spoon of cheesy, beefy comfort into his mouth. The sun was setting as they entered the diner and by now it was dark and cold outside. Ryan had to have them home by seven thirty which left him with an hour to kill. On the warm summer evenings he enjoyed taking them to the park, but on nights like this they stayed in the diner. Ryan would ask one of those questions to his children that would start them talking about school, friends, or what’s been happening at home. Before long they would be so involved in conversation that time would creep up on them and it would time to go home. After leaving the waitress a tip and paying the dinner bill they all piled into the front seat of the truck to head just around the corner to their home. Ryan made sure they took all their things and helped them carry anything they couldn’t. Lonnie would often times be on the porch to greet them. Sometimes she would ask Ryan what he had done to wear them out so much, at which point he would gently smile and with just a look into her eye she knew they had some great adventure. By this time the children dragged themselves through the front door and Lonnie bid Ryan a good night. Turning for home Ryan could feel the tiredness in himself as well. As he pulled into his own humble abode and walked through the front door he used the remainder of the evening to shed himself of the utilities of the day and perform a few simple tasks to prepare for tomorrow. As his head hit the pillow he felt encouraged that he had shown his two children a wonderful day and taught them a little something about the capabilities they possessed for good clean fun. Ryan remained faithful to the visits with his children, and years later, after his daughter became too cool for him, he would still see his son John for dinner once a week to go over all the great things he was doing, and every night when those visits were over he would rest easy knowing that he had done all he could teach them well.