My little brother is visiting for the long weekend and I’ve had little time to write in between our little hiking excursions, games of Snatch-it, and viewings of The Social Network. However, I find myself with a little time on my hands while Peter, Zach, and Leroy take on the slopes at Monarch Mountain. My condition forbids me from joining the (exhilarating, terrifying, fabulous) fun, and so I’ve taken the opportunity to explore the near-by town of Salida, CO. I have visited Salida only once before, but it will always hold a special place in my memory. As I settle down in my cushioned leopard-print chair at The Simmering Cup, it seems only fitting that I tell you the story of that day.
It was January 9th, 2010 and Zach picked me up early in the morning. A co-worked had generously given us two free lift tickets at Monarch, so Zach was taking me skiing for the first time. I had over-slept, as usual, and wasn’t quite ready when he arrived, but he was more energetic than ever, running around the house helping me gather gloves and scarves, making suggestions regarding what to bring or wear for skiing. We had just settled into the car when he realized that he had left the snack cooler in the house, so he ran back in to get it. Then we were on our way.
My previous skiing experience was limited to a bunny slope in Pennsylvania when I was eight or nine. The only lasting impression I retained was fear of the rope tow: it shredded my mittens and lurched something awful. And falling. Falling hurt.
Learning to ski with Zach was an entirely different affair. He gave me a few general guidelines, let me practice stopping once or twice, then took me up the lift: no lessons, no bunny slope–nothing. And it was incredible! I made it down the first run without falling once, though I must admit that I screamed (half delight/half terror) all the way to the bottom.
Zach stayed with me the whole day. He kept behind me, even though I’m sure my beginner’s pace was painfully slow for him. He helped me up when I fell (for the beginner’s luck on that first run didn’t last all day). And when I really wiped out and sent a ski sliding down the mountain ahead of me, he went ahead to fetch it and then trudged up the slope in his ski boots to return it to me: no easy task.
By the time the lift’s closed at four, we were exhausted. Skiing is a full body work out and we had been at it since 9am. Miraculously, I hadn’t acquired any injuries, but I was sure looking forward to a shower after the two hour drive back to the Springs. Zach, however, had other plans.
As we drove along the winding mountain roads, I was just about to lean my seat back for a well-deserved nap when I noticed Zach was turning off the main highway. “Really?” I thought to myself, “The route home requires exactly one turn from highway 50 onto 25. How can he be screwing this up?”
Trying to keep the exasperation out of my voice, I said something along the lines of “Honey? Aren’t we supposed to stay on this road until we get to Canon City?” Rather curtly, he muttered something about a short cut. Determined not to get into a fight after such a good day, I leaned back in my seat, closed my eyes and tried to hold my peace. (We had been dating for about 10 months at this point, and fighting over directions just felt too cliche.)
His “short cut” took us into a residential area, and soon we were going 20 miles an hour, past subdivisions and ranch homes. I was just getting ready to protest again when he turned up a drive way marked “The Tudor Rose: Victorian Bed and Breakfast.” Wide-eyed and scandalized, I looked at him. And oh, if he didn’t look mighty pleased with himself! “You wanted to shower?” he asked. “I think they have a place for you to shower here.”
After getting keys from the proprietors (lovely people who couldn’t stop grinning at me for some reason), he took me down to a gorgeous mountain chalet. (See how gorgeous?) The trunk of the car produced several of my nicest dresses, and the “forgotten” snack cooler revealed my make-up bag, my perfume, and even my curling iron. “Why don’t you go upstairs, shower, and take a nap,” my dear boyfriend suggested. “Our dinner reservations are at seven.”
Let’s pause a moment here: I knew that this was it. The big day, the one I’d been waiting for my whole life. The elaborate deception, the thorough planning, the fancy evening wear all led to only one possible conclusion.
And, would you look at the time? It’s almost 3:30 here in Salida. I’ve got to hit the road so I can pick the guys up by four. But don’t worry—I’ll finish the story. After all, it’s the story of my favorite of all days.
Stay tuned and, in the meantime, don’t judge me based on the whole bed-and-breakfast thing: all shall be explained.