Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Earning Our Hot Chocolate

I think by all accounts Rebellion 2010 can be considered a huge success. Mom and I had a great time touring the wilds of northern Maine, visiting with the natives, skiing through the (sometimes) slushy snow, sitting by the fire gulping watery hot chocolate enhanced by splashes of whiskey, and racing into the sweaty sauna after rubbing our skin with icy snow. It was really quite pleasant to be greeted upon arrival in a new camp by a roaring fire in our cozy little cabin, and to be served delicious hot meals every evening and morning. Just how cozy our lodgings were was hammered home to me when I innocently asked a member of Camping Snobs 2010 how their mattresses were, after he mentioned not sleeping well: “We slept on bare slats,” he replied, somewhat crossly. The toughest thing about our sleeping arrangements on Rebellion 2010 was going three days without pillow shams.

Less pleasant were the outhouses, where, when nature called, gigantic piles of frozen feces loomed just a few inches away from our bare bottoms. It was especially unpleasant to visit the outhouse in the middle of the night, so I resolved this problem by dehydrating myself in the latter part of the day. Unfortunately, at our final hut they served cider, my all-time favorite drink, which Mom and I smuggled back to our cabin, heated in mugs atop the woodstove, and enhanced with some Maker's Mark from my Nalgene flask. Needless to say, I regretted it at three o'clock in the morning.

Of course, no trip is perfect, and Mom and I did have some disagreements. One particularly contentious point was the heat of the cabin. With a woodstove, we had three choices: hot, extremely hot, or the same temperature as outside (which actually wasn't so bad – around 20 degrees, thanks to global warming). My preference was for extremely hot; Mom's preference was for the same temperature as outside. On the second night, we tried to resolve this issue by having me sleep next to the stove and Mom on the far side of the cabin. However, she still felt that I added too much wood to the fire, so the next night I put Mom in charge of keeping the fire alight. I woke up several times, and each time it was a bit cooler, but I kept telling myself, “Mom will get up soon and take care of it.” Mom, meanwhile, was lying in bed thinking “Thank God it's finally cooling off in here.” By the time I dragged myself out of bed, the fire was stone cold, and I spent the next hour making a new one (turns out my fire-making skills are subpar at 4 a.m.).

Mom has skied her whole life, and she is an excellent skier. She gets much more practice than I do, since it can be hard to find spots to ski in New York City. Much of the time she was ahead of me, especially since I kept getting distracted by animal prints left behind in the snow (gigantic holes left by moose, evenly spaced pawprints from foxes, hoppity prints from bunnies, and teeny-tiny tracks from partridges). Usually when I got ahead it was because we had trudged up a huge hill, and at the summit Mom had turned around, unable to resist the temptation of the incline, and shot down it with an accompanying cry of “Wheeeee!” At the bottom, of course, she had to turn around and trudge back up again.

However, as I discovered, she does have a couple of weak points. During the four days of skiing and over 30 miles we covered, she never once fell on a hill, even when there was a sharp turn at the bottom or a river that she risked falling into. She did fall, inexplicably, on a couple of perfectly flat spots; the first time it happened I came upon her, lying prone on the snow, where she had been for several minutes as she struggled to get up. You see, once she falls, she is like a beetle who gets turned onto its back: she is incapable of getting back up. Her limbs would flail around helplessly, sometimes getting a grip for a few minutes and straining upward, only to fall back again. I took a few photos and even a video of this fascinating phenomenon.

Thank goodness Mom didn't have the camera to take pictures of me falling!

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