Friday, December 28, 2007

Day Three at the Lake

One with the Snow

Nothing much to report from the cabin today. We road-tripped yesterday from the cabin north of Deer River over to Fosston to see some of Soulmate’s relatives at the ancestral farmstead. The fourth generation of Johnsons is being groomed to farm and milk dairy cows (young Carl is maybe 4 or 5, but knows every make and model of tractor ever sold in America, and probably knows how to drive most of them).

It was great to see cousin Katie all the way from big-city Denver. When we pulled up, she was shoveling off the walk, and had already split a couple of cords of firewood for the wood furnace. You can take the girl off the farm, but you can’t get the farm off the girl (is THAT what I smell?!! Just kidding, Katie, you always smell lovely, honey).

Cousin Kristi was there as well, with her handsome husband Raul and lethally cute daughters Ann Marie and Sabrina. They drove up from Rochester where Raul is a big-time drug rep (the legal kind of drugs). I feel a little sheepish: despite being a doctor who should keep track of these things, I can’t for the life of me remember who he works for.

Raul, don’t be offended: I prescribe plenty of medications every day, but can’t tell you the manufacturer of a single one. Actually, I’m pretty sure you don’t care a bit as long as I prescribe the ones made by your company. Whatever they are.

DOC’S ADVICE: your doctor really, really does have your best interests in mind when he talks to pharmaceutical representatives. They are a legit source of (admittedly biased) information that is not available anywhere else. I read the Medical Letter, NEJM, AMA Journal, and all my specialty journals, and cannot get the distilled, useful info I need to pick the best pill for you without also hearing from guys like my friend Raul. Yes, he sometimes springs for pizza or a sub, but no, I’ve never been flown to Vegas or wined and dined at Ruth’s Cris by one of these guys.

It snowed quite a bit all day yesterday (thus my bit of doggerel verse), and highway 2 was a bit dicey going west to Fosston in the afternoon, but the ploughs were out in force and the snow ended around suppertime, so the drive back wasn’t white-knuckle at all. I knew it would be a good day to play in the snow today, and sure enough, it was.

Soulmate and I scoped out three nearby parks that groom the X/C trails regularly: Blueberry Hills north of Deer River, Suomi Hills north of Grand Rapids, and Scenic State Park near Bigfork. All three have fabulous rolling hills and trails for beginners to experts. On our way up to the cabin on Tuesday afternoon, we stopped at Blueberry Hills to ski for an hour. Perfectly groomed trails, 10-12 Km with 4 or 5 short loops, and a warming house and outhouses. Skinny ski heaven!

On Tuesday we tried the first 2 loops, but Soulmate floundered a bit on the Lake loop (#2) where there were some “black diamond” descents that elicited a few shrieks. Well, more than a few, and some of them weren’t exactly shrieks, they were more like mild epithets. Mild epithets are about as strong as Soulmate gets when stringently protesting a mismatch of expectations and reality.

Reality was that, despite being an expert alpine skier, the lack of anything resembling control on her shiny almost-new skinny skis really threw her. Literally. She went down in a heap so many times I finally encouraged her to stop wasting time brushing herself off, since, well, you know…. Her eyes conveyed to me a wealth of meaning which I took as a cue to abruptly change the topic to the hoarfrost on the trees.

She didn’t exactly gush at my description of how intricate and lacey and delicate the trees looked, but at least she stopped wailing. She actually got the hang of the fast downhills a lot quicker than Jim Bell (see my previous post), and by the end, decided that she wanted to come back.

Yesterday’s road trip prevented us from returning until this morning, only to discover 5 school buses and more pickups and SUVs than I’ve seen since the boat show at the Civic center. Who could know that the local ski club would host a high school X/C race today? Soulmate looked pained when I suggested that we ski anyway (the race organizer said the trail was open to classic skiers throughout the race).

She apparently wasn’t interested in getting run over by a stampede of high schoolers (which is more likely to happen at the mall BTW, but I didn’t raise that point to her), so she stayed in the truck and read a book, while I skied. The first two loops were used for the races, so I had to dodge a number of young people flailing about on the skate track, but once I got to the 3rd loop, I had the entire back side of the course to myself.

Two hours of great snow, rolling hills, gorgeous scenery, and the only tracks were mine. Back in skinny ski heaven.

On our way back to the cabin we checked out the north and south end of the Suomi Hills Park and decided that there were enough easy trails to suite Soulmate’s, so hopefully we’re done with all the shrieking and wailing already. Then we hit some minimum maintenance roads that shortened the distance but not the time back to the cabin.

Once back in front of the roaring fire, we had lunch, SM finished her Dick Francis book (I think it was “Banker”), and we headed out on snowshoes to mess up the ski tracks I bushwhacked yesterday (my father-in-law had already run them down with the snowmobile). We walked a couple of miles and headed back for supper. I watched “Miracle on 34th Street” with Jenny and Joshua, read the paper, and wrote this doggerel prose.

Tomorrow we tackle Suomi Hills in the morning and maybe in the afternoon the ice rink my brother-in-law just made on the lake. I’m terrible at hockey, but then so is everyone else in this family, so I’m OK. Broomball is a different story, but that will have to wait for a different day.
BTW, Soulmate is modeling a swizzy Head Method hat from none other than Kyia. I would like to remark on how cool these lids really are, and that you should get one while they're still available.


cmacheel said...

Next time you're in the neighborhood you should check out some of our fantastic Bemidji ski trails. Three Island Park and Movil Maze are worth the drive.

Doc said...

Duh-Oh! I forgot you guys moved up there! We only had a few hours to visit the rellys, so no chance to ski there this time around. I have Bemidji bookmarked for XC next time.