In previous posts, I think I have mentioned one of our family’s traditions. Every year Flight and I take turns planning an anniversary trip and it’s a total surprise to the other person. The planner gets to tell the person what to pack and reveal the year’s destination in whatever manner serves best. It’s been a really cool tradition, one I can take no credit for as we stole the idea from my cousins. I got to plan our first anniversary trip, which was really only fair since Flight pretty much planned our wedding because he was far closer to the Matterhorn than I…
For our first anniversary, I booked us a place in a lodge on the Utah-Idaho border that was well known for its backcountry snowmobiling, which neither of us had ever done. Cool, right? My preconceived notions didn’t get much further than imagining crisp wind whistling by as we carved out fresh tracks in the wilderness, you know, kinda like skiing but bigger and faster, and maybe a little louder.
Have you ever been snowmobiling?
Two observations that remain firmly entrenched in my memory bank from the one and only time I have ever driven a snowmobile. First, they are neither as steady, nor as sturdy as they look. I, ahem, do not have the best history driving things that are unwieldy, especially those that have a tendency to flip. When snowmobiles do flip, and make no mistake that will happen if I am at the helm, and tumble down a hill executing roughly 13.5 rotations before coming to rest perfectly turtled, more so resembling a dead insect with feet in the air than any cryptodira I’ve ever seen. Another point of information, such inverted snowmobiles are rather difficult to return to rights and require a surprisingly long period of time properly on their treads to de-flood the engine before they will again start. During this pause in activity you may lose any remaining feeling in your fingers. I am not making this up.
A little aside… I am lamenting not having taken a picture of the incident as I just tried to google “upside down snowmobile wreck” and found no images anywhere close to what I managed.
The second thing I remember is that I had never been so physically exhausted following any activity. To put things in perspective, at this point in my life I had: been through the Navy’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) School; run the Marine Corps Marathon; graduated from the Naval Academy; and slept 18 hours a day as I recovered from a near-fatal car crash. I knew what it was to be tapped out and snowmobiling put all of those experiences to shame. Every single muscle in my body hurt, my intercostals (the muscles spanning the ribs) complained with every breath and parts of my legs to which I had yet to be introduced steadily keened with my every lurching step back to the lodge after turning in our keys. Fancying ourselves in reasonable shape then, Flight and I marveled at how unexpectedly wiped we were after our day backcountry snowmobiling.
Our two-hour surfing lesson left me similarly baffled at being equally depleted, with the added bonus of sporting bruised ribs. Granted my level of fitness is certainly not where it was 15 years ago, but I can certainly see why surfers must be in great shape. Two hours of paddling through non-standard wave sets, pushing into a perfectly balanced surfer crouch to ride the waves in, and hauling myself back on the surfboard to start all over again was utterly draining. Push-ups and burpees have nothing on so performing these repetitive motions.
Having never really gotten the hang of skateboarding in my middle school years and, acutely aware that I need no further traumatic brain injury, I haven’t tried snowboarding, so I had no idea I was goofy. I’m sure many of you would be happy to point out that my goofiness is quite obvious (you’re welcome for the soft pitch), but in such boarding circles the term refers to which of your feet rides forward on the board. Apparently I stand much more naturally on a surfboard with my right foot forward and most people have their left leading the way. Who knew?!
I had attributed my initial awkwardness in getting up to a crouch to, well, it being my first go at this whole surfing business. That and I don’t exactly have perfect balance. However, after I performed several Nestea plunges as the safest bail-out maneuver somewhere almost mid-crouch, I swapped my surfboard leash to my other ankle thinking I should give it a shot goofy-footed. While I’d love to say I then proved to be a natural and skillfully rode every subsequent wave, that would be a far cry from the truth (see the pictures on Flight’s post here…)
Changing to goofy-footed certainly made it less awkward for me to get up, and I did so on my next try, but it was still incredibly hard work. So much so that it got to the point that while I was so stoked to have gotten up on any given wave, I was rather hesitant to ride it all the way into the beach for fear of having to paddle all the way back out through the surf to try to catch the next one. Exhaustion notwithstanding, the experience lived up to its righteous hype and I hope we have the opportunity to catch a few more waves while exploring Southern California. In the meantime, I’ll vividly remember all I associate with this view of San Elijo and pray my ribs heal before then…