24 Hours in a Ski Resort (USA Day 59)
I’ve never been skiing, so to be in a ski resort is a slightly alien feeling. Off-season, it’s very odd. You have all the apres-ski bars and restaurants, well-to do families prancing about a main street full of gift shops, but then there’s no snow. Well, not enough to ski on. Nevertheless, this old goldmining town is historical and cute, and at such altitude that just existing up here provides a dreamy, light-headed atmosphere. More on that later.
Our main activity today was taking the gondola up to the ski slopes which, in the summer months, is used as a sort of theme-park, with little 1-man rollercoasters, mini-golf courses and zip wires. They’d ploughed all the spare snow into a big pile for our enjoyment, and offered various resort-type activities for utterly astronomic prices. It all looked fun, but we couldn’t help thinking everybody would be a lot happier with a pair of skis clipped onto their feet.
From the moment we stepped off the gondola, I felt drunk. It only got more extreme as the afternoon progressed. My mind and body were utterly separate: a pleasant feeling I’m sure if you’d planned for it to happen, but quite upsetting if you just wanted to spend an afternoon not-skiing. At one point, I thought it was a migraine. A while later, it was hunger, but two large plates of things dipped in cheese did nothing to pull me down to earth. By the time we were wandering home, my mind was failing to remember basic words. While looking for postcards, I sat staring at a sign that read ‘Hotels and Spas’, repeating the word ‘spas’ over and again to myself, panicking at why I didn’t know what it meant. To be fair, it really isn’t a word.
So I guess this was altitude sickness. Even though I didn’t feel nauseous, have a headache, or any other of the usual symptoms, it was either that or hard drugs. We tottered home, downed a closetful of water and went back to bed. By the evening, I was completely better.
We spent the evening with our hosts, eating great food and playing cards. The plan tomorrow is to climb a fourteener, but if I get drunk on air again, that simply won’t happen.