What I’ve Learned on my Solo Ski Sojourn II

What’s the point of a Solo Ski Sojourn if at the end we don’t come out changed, enhanced, transformed? And even if the transformation takes place, what is the point if we don’t reflect upon the change and more importantly, try to understand the “why?” Not everyone has to go through this transformation—but I do and I did. My thinking may be flawed, but here’s what I believe I learned on this journey:

What is important shifts. When I began the Sojourn, the big news was all about the Democratic presidential candidates. By the end of the Sojourn, it was all the about life or death Coronavirus pandemic. Some called it a hoax, a political game, no big deal, blown out of proportion. None of us seemed to understand the global or local significance—Even I didn’t think it could impact me in my little world even as my son in Japan was hunkering down in his tiny apartment in Hiroshima. How complacent my outlook. It’s not anymore.

Luck plays a big role in life. I started this Sojourn in Canada, driving across the Canadian Rockies. I figured the roads would be like our Interstate highways. I was just lucky that the weather held for me as I drove west. All roads are NOT like the Interstate system, but I got off the main roads, anyway. I would not recommend driving across the Canadian Rockies in winter unless you have lots of time for unforeseen weather issues.

Canada is not the United States. Their laws are different, their history is different. Their relationship with England is different. I now think of the wonderful Canadian people I met as North Americans as I am a North American. We have that common bond.

Driving long days—8-9 hours straight—is detrimental to my rear end. I actually got the beginning of bed sores on my butt after two long days of driving. OMG, how do truck drivers do it?  This never happened when I shared the driving—I think in that case I moved around more.

There is a beautiful little valley in Oregon that is the home of some of the best pinot noir wines in the world. Willamette Valley is the home of Linfield College in McMinnville (where my niece Cassidy attends) and many, many wineries, including an old family friend’s Maresh Red Barn Winery. It’s definitely a place I want to return someday. It was a jewel I never knew existed.

Canada has a rich history of Japanese immigrants helping build their West. The early Japanese and Chinese immigrants integrated communities all across California and our West, a couple of which I visited: Locke and Walnut Grove along the Sacramento River Delta. One I grew up in, Hardin, Montana. The Japanese Canadians and the Japanese Americans had similar parallel experiences. My conversation with the Uruguayans who were part of the 70+ ski group at Deer Valley made me think about the Japanese South Americans, and their immigrant experiences. Another shiny object to chase.

Taking mountain tours is a great way to get to know an area without struggling with a map. It also helps alleviate the boredom of skiing alone. My own company got tedious, day after day. Having new people to ski with was great fun, challenging, and made me push myself a little bit harder.

Visiting the same resorts in different years can result in very different experiences. Last year—monumental snowstorms everywhere. This year, not so much. At some of the same mountains, I had totally different experiences because snow conditions were different.

Libraries are great ways to learn about community. Community museums are, too.

PSIA Women’s Summit—One key take-away from this educational event–there are two mindsets, the learning and the performance modes. When in the learning mindset, ski at 110%. Practice failure. When performing, ski at 90%. And: skiing with other women is great fun!

Ski drills and exercises helped me get better. Video drills helped, but skiing with the PSIA mentor and other PSIA instructors REALLY helped.

When tired, rest.

If really tired, rest a lot.

I slept on 20 different beds with different pillows, blankets, sheets, temperatures. The mattresses ranged from lumpy to luxurious. I have heard of people who take their own pillow with them when they travel. I learned that I don’t really care what the bed feels like, whether the pillow is fluffy or flat, firm or soft. I don’t sleep particularly well anywhere, or said in a more positive light, I sleep equally well wherever I am. Which means I didn’t seem to miss my home beds (I have two home beds, one at the lake and one at the Landing Pad). In spite of my indifference, I was glad to get back to “home.”

Plans change. Extenuating circumstances may cause big plan changes. Roll with the punches.

There’s comfort in coming home. You don’t have to live out of a suitcase.

Grab and Go. Getting my dog back after two months of travel. Son Tom volunteered for the hand off, meeting me halfway between the Lake and the City.

I thank my lucky stars that I have three kids who are kind, strong, independent, and great parents—to me. They allowed me to test my boundaries, yet they cautioned me to be careful. They supported my off-the-wall adventures without judging me (at least they didn’t let me know if they were saying I was crazy when I was within earshot.) They laughed at my jokes, bad as they were. They encouraged me to take risks without driving off cliffs. They gave me permission to test my wings. Yet I know if I need them, they will be there.

Who knows how our world will change with the Coronavirus swirling around us. But even before the significance of the pandemic became apparent, I had decided I would not be doing a Solo III next year. On my bucket list is the Australian Open Tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia which is held the end of January each year. That’s smack dab in the middle of ski season in the Northern Hemisphere. I have booked a week in Melbourne through Worldmark, and if the world is travelling again, I’d like to go to the Open next year. I had thought I’d visit my son Lee, who is in Japan right now tutoring English, and he might join me in Austrailia. But it is the year 2020 and the world is on hold. No plan is the plan.

Solo Ski Sojourn II

Making face masks while I Shelter at Home

3 thoughts on “What I’ve Learned on my Solo Ski Sojourn II

  1. Hanna says:

    So well said, Elaine! I loved the part about your kids as the best support system–letting you spread your wings while still knowing you have roots in love. My AirBnb experiences were like your “tours,” providing the company and that extra layer to the experience. Cheers to the transformation your solo travel brought! -Hanna


  2. Peggy Bowers says:

    I had lunch with you at the bar in Steamboat, just before Covid 19 struck. I enjoyed lunching with you and learning about Mountain Tours! If i recall you live in Minnesota where i grew up. Anyway, enjoy the summer and adventure on……Peggy Bowers


    1. elainekoyamawrites says:

      Peggy, thanks for you note! We were really cutting it close at Steamboat. I was going to head to Winter Park and Summit County after my week at Steamboat, but all those plans fell through. I high tailed it to MN, and have been sheltering at the Lake. I met the most wonderful people on my Sojourn, and you were one of them!! Here’s to next year!


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