Val – Last Day to Ski…Blizzard! 21 March 2008

What a wild day this has been! Snow began falling steadily at about midnight last night. When we woke up, there was at least a foot and a half of new snow on the ground, and it has been BUCKETING down and blowing clouds and drifts everywhere since. I had already decided unless the weather was clear and bright, I was not going out.

kissingBut the lovebirds did go out (just have to include this sunny-day photo here) – around 10am, and I later trudged through the blowing snow to mail some postcards (see funny story below) and do some shopping, while part of my heart was whispering ‘oh, I wish I was in this beautiful new snow’, but WHOOOOEEEEE, am I glad I didn’t go!

I bought the perfect ski goggles on sale… which reminded me, Irena told us the funniest thing about one of our ski buddies from my last trip here to ski: Mika, our wonderful cook and NON-stop skier in Kopaonik, does not wear goggles – he claims he cannot hear. (He also doesn’t wear gloves OR anything on his head, ever, regardless of the weather conditions.) I saw Mika and Duki (who both looked fantastic – younger in fact, than I remembered them) in Belgrade – it was great to see them. And I was very sad Voja could not join us, so I missed seeing him – maybe next time, Voja!!

And just now as I am writing this (it is about 1:30pm) Jim walks into the pub covered in snow and says…. “GEEEZZZ are YOU glad you didn’t go with US this morning!!” Their short ski day began auspiciously: As they were walking to the bus in their ski boots and carrying their skis (down a one-block hill), Irena slipped on the deepening snow and fell on her bum! Anyway, they caught the shuttle bus down the valley a ways (which we have all done several times) to take the gondola. When they got to the top and skied the short run from Val over to Tignes, visibility was less than 10 feet and the wind felt like about 40 knots!!! From there they took the chairlift – in the howling wind – to Touvier on the Tignes side (our meeting spot all three times), and at that point they decided to go back home. This photo is from Monday, which was not NEARLY as bad. snowy They also learned that the wind was so high the Aeroski Gondola that goes up to that same peak from another direction was closed due to the wind! The run back to the road and bus from there is easy but LONG – about 3.5k. Vis was still about 1-2 meters, and snow and sky were indistinguishable.

So Jim says to Irena “You go in front, Love, and I’ll follow you so I don’t lose sight of you!” And Irena says “Where is the run?” Jim says “Just go straight, I can see the poles.” (HE says that was the ONLY thing visible – the blue pole markers running down each side of every ski run – see above photo with much better viz.) So Irena takes off, makes one turn, and falls flat on her arse! Neither can figure out what has happened. She asks Jim to help her get up, so he skis over to her and suddenly realizes why she wiped out – because, invisible to them, 3m away, was an invisible 5-foot high drift of snow that she ploughed into, and like a wall of cold marshmallow, bounced her back! They had been alone on the slopes, but 4 other guys showed up, and visibility did begin to improve to about 100m. But the whole trip home was in 2 feet of snow from overnight, and the wind continued.

Anyway, we left the pub and crossed the street, watching a snow-vacuum street cleaner following close behind a dump truck and spraying the snow ahead of him into the truck – they were NOT connected, and were having to maintain an even speed, not always successfully. We shopped a little more, and then went over and sat in the crepes cafe for lunch (remember that Serbs, when skiing, eat lunch at 5pm and dinner at 10pm) and had beer, salad, and cheese fondue with perfectly LOUSY, RUDE service. But we got drunk and enjoyed sharing many old growing-up stories with Irena. When we finally headed home after our last stop, the storm had become a blizzard, with us swearing our way up the hill into the wind. It is now after 9 pm, and we just walked BACK down the hill to the internet cafe in this maelstrom – are we crazy, or what?!!

Some more funny stories: On the way, I was walking behind this tall skinny tall guy in a baby blue snowsuit with a baby pink ski headband on, and OVER his snowsuit he was wearing matching tiny pink thong panties!!! Everyone that passed him was swivel-headed looking at him!! On the way back home again, Irena wanted to mail those dang postcards we have been carrying around, and i told her what one of the shop owners had told me…the bright yellow box just across the street. So she slid over there, and came back a few minutes later saying that is for dog shit!!! LOL! So, is that just French humor, or did we miss the *real* yellow postbox?

condo view 1bAfter we got back from the internet cafe, we finished the day with a dinner of Jim’s ‘Arlene Willoughby’ pancakes with melted Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, jam, and the milk and white chocolate ‘nutella’ stuff, and wine… I think this was to prepare us for our drive out of here tomorrow in the chaos of the blizzard, in a car with a currently-dead battery…the adventure continues!

But ah, it has been such a lovely week of skiing in FRANCE! I will sure miss this view from the condo.