Thursday, March 26, 2009

Farewell Alpe d'Heuz;On to Annecy

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Every SM Euro trip must come to an end and what an ending we had. After two days of storms and/or flat light and just “OK” ski conditions Thursday dawned with blue skies and a four inch dusting of new snow. Thoughts of packing were tossed and the group rushed through breakfast and out the door.

Claudine and her chasers attacked the powder on the hill nearest to and visible from the hotel. By the time the next wave of skiers hit the slope the first group had a half dozen runs under their belt. It was a picture of happy skiers. Judging from radio intercepts it sounds like the trip leader led her group into pasture land around noon. Participants claim they didn’t actually ski on grass; rather they were on thin layers of snow….

Some stayed in that area all day while others moved around the mountain to sample new skiing and restaurants. The sun stayed out and, though soft slopes were encountered, you didn’t have to work hard to have a great day.

Now it is packing time, that end-of-the-trip time when you have to pack wet gear and try to figure out how you got it to Europe in the first place.

The blogger will be off line for a few days. A trip recap may be produced but no promises on timing. I will let you know when it is available.

Good resorts, good weather and good snow all contribute to a successful trip. But the real key is a good group and the 2009 group was indeed a good one.

Robin and Gretchen Callan always bring a balanced energy to the trip; she is exuberant and he is a calm and moderating influence.
Dick and Kay Krutch, though they didn’t ski, were always around with a pleasant smile and a good story.
Eva Sabo took her spoons in stride and made the most of her first trip.
Katie Van Hees also joined the action with aplomb and, in addition to skiing, has become addicted to Sudoko by her roommate Eva.
My wife, Kathy, has put up with my blogging and proofed most of the postings. The good stuff is hers and the errors are mine alone.
Linda Lee has been a goodwill ambassador, engaging in long conversations with friendly locals at every stop.
Her son, Jason Tang, has been a non stop bundle of energy photographing anything that moved both off and on the slopes.
Veteran travelers Steve and Lin Sanford have been enjoyable ski companions and full of good spoon stories.
Larry and Vicki Geist have brought an energy to the group. Even after having their flight was cancelled and their skis lost Larry was a bundle of optimism.
Tom Naden, at eighty years old, is a role model for all of us struggling 20 years behind.
Tom’s son, George, is either crazy or committed. In addition to skiing hard and fast he manages to fit in a run each day, snow or sun.
Rich and Sue Smith are fun to be with on the slope or in the hotel. Rich claims he has imposed a 10,000 word per day limit on Sue but it doesn’t seem to dampen her energy.
Bob Dixey and Mo O’Neil liven up any dinner and his rendition of “Happy Birthday” will live in our memories.
Ed and Lorrie Meyer seem to enjoy every minute on the slope and off.
Stephen and Michelle Turnovsky, with their academic backgrounds, raise the collective IQ of the group and offer most interesting dinner conversations.
Kim Kaiser has managed to balance skiing his brains out with time for Pam, who is on injured reserve for this trip. We are glad she was able to make the trip.
Kevin and Sylvie OKeefe have been kind enough to allow the blogger to visit their room each night and post the blog. The blogger’s computer doesn’t seem to speak enough French to hook to the internet. And Sylvie’s command of the French language has helped in several tight spots.
Robin deRegt is a welcomed addition to the group. She and George Naden were even able to use their medical skills to assist a young skier until ski patrol could take over.
John and Carol Powis are always fun to have around. John has given new meaning to the term “my best friend” and Carol is the most spoon worthy traveler who has never actually received the spoon.
Robb Rough, except for the night he totally forgot about the bargain wine party, is always a key part of the group and conversation.
Mark Matthews appears to be having fun even though his wife has been in Vegas with their daughter doing we don’t know what all.
And finally there is the fearless, competent, care free leader of this whole rag tag bunch, Ms. Claudeen Lyle. She holds the whole thing together and proves that beneath the veneer of carefree whimsy lies an organized trip leader who can “bring’em back alive” after a long two weeks in Europe.

Kevin was able to pass the spoon on to Kim who was accused of leading the fast skiers off course and into some “walk out” situations. Kim, for his part, claims he wasn’t actually the leader of the group at the time but, never mind, he now wears the spoon.

Following Wednesday dinner about half the group gathered in the bar (now that’s a shock isn’t it?) The restaurant manager showed up and began pouring shots of various area liquors. Most were good, though some could double as paint remover. But few turned him down, not wanting to appear unappreciative. After several shots the blogger retired and, it was reported, the shots and new brews kept coming.
We were not sure what motivated his behavior though some believe he was feeling guilty about an incident at the dinner hour.
In any case, when I arrived for Thursday breakfast I was pleasantly surprised to see that everyone appeared to have made it back to their rooms and there were no Ski Masters still reclining in the bar.

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