Back to the Ghee

Shopping and eating out have taken a back seat in my travels, a significant change from former sojourns. I realize now that in spite of the level of physical activity I engaged in on these trips, my alcohol and dining calories kept my pounds up. Never one to stress over a pound or two, I figured that I had hit a plateau in my weight now that I’m in my mid-60s. Then Covid hit and I spent a year sheltering at Lake Irene. I started yoga. First a 30-day challenge that turned into another 30, then another. I began intermittent fasting. I’ve always been a low carb/high protein eater and I cut the carbs even more. I lost ten pounds during 2020.

I think I probably had the Omicron variant of Covid back in January. Covid hadn’t gone away, and I was still avoiding restaurants and large groups as much as possible. Going back to Driggs to ski Grand Targhee and Jackson Hole I figured I’d keep to the small bubble of friends that I was staying with.

The world is unpredictable and the best laid plans don’t always manifest the way we think. I almost made a 180 when the ground rules in Driggs didn’t quite meet my expectations, but I didn’t. The bubble I thought was “safe” turned out to be uncertain. I decided to stay and work the plan as best I could.

I had decided this year was going to be focused on carving cleaner, more complete dynamic turns. I’d spent 25 years as a ski and snowboard instructor—part of being an instructor is ongoing training. The last 10 years I had been teaching snowboarding, so I hadn’t had a clinic on skis for that long.  I hadn’t paid for a lesson in over 40 years, either. I decided to take a paid lesson at Targhee to focus on carving.

Mark, one of the bubble roommates, was my instructor. We were both nervous, our roles changing from casual acquaintances to student/teacher. At least he was part of my bubble, so from a Covid perspective, we were cool.

I started the morning at Grand Targhee with a bluebird day, taking the first chairs with the ski school old geezer group. These four guys (their numbers change depending on who’s working and who’s not) took Dreamcatcher up and screamed down Rock Garden and Wild Turkey. It was great fun, and a perfect way to warm up for my lesson.

First runs with the Ghee Ski School old geezers on Rock Garden. If you look way back in the distance, you can see Lone Peak at Big Sky.

Mark, my instructor, and I started on Shoshone lift, the teaching area of Targhee. Easy, large radius turns, focusing on a clean edge on the downhill ski. Then we added tipping and steering the inside ski and holding on to the turn longer. We graduated from the easier runs and took Dreamcatcher to the top. He took me down blue runs to focus and practice keeping the edges cleaner, completing my turns. I learned so much!

The next day Bill and I free skied Targhee. It was great fun watching his smooth flowing turns; his slender, streamlined form angled over his skis. I so wanted to look like him. But I am beginning to realize, maybe, that I am a different kind of skier. I have skied with people who look like Bill—tall, slender, boots together skiers. They look like thoroughbred racehorses—elegant, sleek, long-legged. I, on the other hand (even ten pounds lighter) am a quarter horse. Compact. Muscled. Closer to the ground.  

In fact, I don’t know what I look like skiing. Sometimes I think I am looking sleek, only to see a photo and realize I look like a coiled spring. Oh, well… we had a beautiful day skiing, sharing the love we have for the sport as companionable friends. The day flew by.

Bill is a tango dancer. But as you can imagine, there aren’t many opportunities to tango (dance, I mean) in Driggs Idaho. So he had begun a dance class at the Driggs City Hall. Wednesday night was his class, and I was prepared. Little to his knowledge, I had surreptitiously taken a few dance classes back in Minnesota. I wanted to impress him.

But, like so many things this week, my plan was waylaid. There were too many women! Not enough men to “lead”, so I decided the need for leads was greater than my need to impress. I volunteered to lead. Aside from the fact I’m not accomplished at tango to start with, I was blind leading women who were just learning, too. It was still a great time, with much laughter, stumbling and missteps. Haley was my partner, and we bonded early.

Tango lessons in the lobby of Driggs City Hall. We may have disrupted the City Council Meeting.

It turned out Haley worked in the Jackson Hole village, and we decided to ski together the next day. I picked her up at the free parking lot at the intersection of Hwy 22 and 390 and drove us to Teton Village. It turned out Haley worked at Hotel Terra, which is right next door to The Hostel. I’d been reading a book Powder Days by Heather Hansman, which has a section on Jackson Hole. She calls out The Hostel as an iconic home for hard core skiers and wannabes.

Haley and I skied together until she had to leave to go to work. We made a date to take the sleighride through the Elk Preserve on Saturday. Then I headed out to meet the daughter of a good friend. Madi and Ben had converted an ambulance and were doing what I was doing—driving the west, skiing and meeting up with friends. The three of us made some turns together. I was nearing my goal of 10K vertical, and it was lunchtime. I had my half a roast beef sandwich and crushed chips in my backpack. We parted ways and I stopped at the Casper Lodge for lunch.

Lucky to find a table in the crowded lodge, I sat alone until a couple asked to share the table. And what a lovely couple—it turned out he was from Steamboat, and she was from Granby! The two locations I was headed to next! But the coup de gras was that they host bicycle tours of Cuba… OMG, two things on my bucket list—bicycling in Europe (ok, Cuba isn’t Europe, but it is a foreign country) and visiting Cuba. Fortuitous indeed! I am so excited to explore this option. Sharon texted me right away and shared their website: . Check it out!

The sleighride through the Elk Preserve was bumpy on the frozen snow. It was a cold day, and Haley was  a wonderful companion. As it turned out, Haley was transgender and our conversations were lively and enlightening. She was the perfect person for me to hang with as my own relationship was rocky and her perspective on life was calming and helped prioritize my own issues. We got up close and personal with the elk, some bulls showing off their huge antler racks. After the preserve we went to downtown Jackson square and visited Mountain Trails where my brother Harry Koyama has artwork displayed.

My time in Driggs and the Tetons was coming to an end. The next stop I was hosting a group of women, and already I was stressing I wouldn’t get to the Worldmark resort before my guests. Besides, the bubble I was living in was getting a little bit weird.  So I upped my departure date by a couple days to make sure I could make the 400 mile trip in good time.

It was time to leave Driggs behind and fall in love with the next destination. Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

#JacksonHoleElkPreserve, #ElkPreserveSleighRide, #transsexual, #girlfriends, #HeatherHansman, #HarryKoyama, #MountainTrailsGallery, #SkiJacksonHole, #Skilessons, #Carvingclinic, #TheHostelJacksonHole, #Skibum,


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