Evan's Eyes

Web Log Entry #0042, Sunday, February 9, 2003: Day 83

Anchorage Sunrise: 9:00am Sunset: 5:28pm High Temp: 39° Low Temp: 33°

Stan and I drove to a ski resort to not ski. That's not as Zen as it sounds. We went to Alyeska, a resort about forty-five miles south of Anchorage to ride the "60-person" tram. I envisioned a huge flying saucer of a vehicle, like a floating dining room. The tram car (Coach? Gondola?) was the length of a Buick, and eight feet wide, so if one might be able to pack in sixty people if they had no ski equipment or claustrophobia issues. There are windows, but they would be fully obscured at that density, making the experience a long elevator ride with a sea-sickness factor. Fortunately, the car wasn't packed, nor was it a rough ride, so we made it to the top without incident.

Since we weren't skiing, the two areas open to us were the observation deck and the snack bar. The four-star restaurant was closed until dinner time. So we observed from the observation deck. This was the best part, even with the low clouds and falling snow, the view was fabulous. As previously mentioned, Alaskan mountains appear geologically "young." They jut up quickly from the valley floor, all jagged and rough. Stan was estimating they top out around 4000' elevation, but their bases are around sea level, and all that altitude happens very quickly. Clouds and snow swirled around their peaks. Quite impressive.

The tram stop was halfway up the highest lifts, so skiers were zipping by in the wide ski run. They make it look so easy. I might ski more if I could zip down the mountain so gracefully, and had a No-Injury guarantee (My skiing ability allows me to stay up just long enough to reach the speed where falling down is really painful. So I quit skiing).

Also on the observation deck were a dozen teenage girls in team jackets with the letter 'C' on the back. They were amusing themselves by yelling "Do a trick! Do a trick!" to the skiers and snowboarders on the run right below the deck. They'd cheer enthusiastically for anything resembling a stunt. I think they would have cheered for someone falling down with style. Stan and I lost interest in that before they did, so we moved on.

The ski resort is obviously arranged to favor skiers. If we weren't going to hurtle down the slopes, there wasn't much else to do up there. We looked at the map of the ski runs and admired the giant wheels and counterweights for the tram, and decided we might as well go back down the mountain. Joining us on the next tram down was the cluster of teenage girls. It turns out they were mostly from Louisiana, which seems a long way to come to exhort snowboarders do stunts for you, but they never gave another explanation. It seems as good a reason as any, I guess.

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© 2003 Evan M. Nichols