The start of “Fire & Ice 2014” is officially underway. I’m beginning with “Ice”: Snowboarding and cool weather in Germany and Austria with my brother and his family. Then comes the “Fire”: Desert time in Morocco with my brother.
After only 17 hours of trains, planes, and automobiles, I very safely and soundly arrived in Walchsee, Austria. I can’t even say how wonderful it was to see my brother Phil’s face when he picked me up at the train station. We met up with Jen, my brother’s wife, and their two boys, Oliver (14) and Ronan (12), at the ski resort. It still warms my heart when my nephews give me the same giant hugs they do today as they did when they were little. And it’s always great to see Jeni — she’s family, too. I was ready for my first meal: Cheese spaetzle and a couple weissbiers. After leaving the resort, we grabbed some groceries at the “supermarkt” before heading to our apartment. After a hot shower, I passed out by 8:30pm. I made it 30+ hours on three hours sleep.
Phil: “Don’t worry. There’s a lot of runs you can warm up on when we get up there.”I was relieved to wake up the next morning without any jet lag. Phil, Jen, and I went for a nice walk around the very cute and quaint town of Walchsee, Austria with their dog, Clover, before heading snowboarding. Jen had a headache, so it was just Phil, me, and the boys at the resort. I was definitely intimidated when I saw what I’d be “playing” on for the day.
Phil: “Take your time. This one wore Jeni out the other day.”I seriously wanted to throw up. I’ve been boarding in Colorado, and those mountains pale in comparison to what I was seeing. When we got up to the top, it wasn’t too bad. Phil was right. We headed down the first run,
comparable to a “blue” in Colorado. It always takes me a bit to get my “sea legs” when boarding. It was really warm … 40s, which made the snow very slushy. Plus, there’s a lot of man-made moguls from all the skiers. If you’re a snowboarder, these aren’t exactly ideal conditions. But the runs were beautiful. The conditions were very diverse among the 14 different interconnected resorts (there were a good 100+ runs). Being a recovering perfectionist, I was admittedly frustrated because I couldn’t really get into a groove all day. We gradually worked our way up to more challenging runs before making it to the top of one of the many massive mountains.
When I woke up, I was 100% certain I wasn’t going to be doing any boarding. My elbow was throbbing.
Phil: “Wanna check out Salzburg?”
We made dinner and were hanging out when Phil said, “Let’s go home now and avoid morning traffic.” Jeni and I looked at each other like Phil was crazy. How are three adults, two kids, a dog, and all our stuff going to fit into a BMW wagon? In a half hour we had all our stuff packed up and were wedged in like a can of sardines. I couldn’t help reminisce of the style – it was so familiar to every road trip my parents took us on. (The BMW wagon was a definite upgrade from the Chevy Cavalier wagon of my youth.) After a short hour and a half drive, we were at Phil and Jen’s very beautiful and comfortable flat in Munich.This is one of many things I love about my brother – he’s just as up for an adventure and changing course as I am. And what a fun day it turned out to be! Phil, Jen, the boys, Clover, and I walked around the beautiful, medieval town all day. We hiked up a very steep hill to get to Salzburg castle and took in the breathtaking panoramic views. The hills really were alive! After covering the castle grounds, we continued walking around the city before heading back to our apartment in Walchsee.
I’m now enjoying a cider beer, chilling with my family, which feels pretty perfect. The plan tomorrow is to have a “date day” with my nephews while Phil and Jen get some time to themselves.
My elbow…well, I’ll just say that the Austrian Alps won. It’s still purdy sore. A tad swollen, but I’m keeping up with the ice and ibuprofen. I can’t fully straighten my arm, but my strength and range of motion gets better as time goes on. Luckily, Ronan has amazing hands and has been giving me massages the past couple days, too. I’m generally an injury-prone klutz, so I’m managing just fine. Really. Life can be so much worse!