VALOIS, New York - The very last time I went downhill snow skiing in California, I decided that after a whole day of hitting the slopes to take one last run down the intermediate slope.
One last run.
That last run ended with me head-first in a huge snowbank well off the course, with just my skis and ankles showing, my sunglasses mangled. The ski patrol girls were very kind and pulled me out and got me down the hill.
I wore a back brace for, oh, about a month after that adventure.
So yesterday, when I shoved my borrowed Hobie Cat off the beach and out into 10 knots of wind, I knew it was the last run of the season, but I wanted just one last run.
One last run.
The wind, which had been brisk, as sailors say, got very brisk in only a few minutes and the mainsail, always a sticky darned thing, would not go all the way up the mast no matter how hard I tugged. And while I tugged, the Hobie was racing downlake like a rocket, away from dock where Admiral Fox was going to come down to, carrying the beer and drinks and cooler for the one last run of the sailing season.
One last run.
I didn't flip the Hobie, though when I was forced to gybe the boat in about 20 knots of wind, I went up on one pontoon and probably looked a little like the photo with today's entry. Then I sailed straight for the nearest shore - two miles away - and ran that Hobie Cat up on the beach like a Jamaican surfer.
After about a half-hour of trying to figure out how-the-hell I was going to get the boat turned around, the sail up and back up the lake to my dock, (where the Admiral was waiting), I was reminded of why I married a 'lake girl.'
While I sat with waves washing over the Hobie, I spotted a red aluminum skiff making its way towards me, bouncing high in the waves and sending spray up 10 feet.
A rescue boat! And it was Admiral Fox, who had pushed our 16-foot tin can off the shore, cranked the 18-HP Evinrude and came down to help when I didn't come back. She also had seen me racing towards the shore and the sudden stop at the beach.
The rescue effort, like all rescue efforts, wasn't simple though, and the Admiral ended up towing me back to the dock, sails removed, a long, sloppy, wet affair. And today I'm sporting bandaids all over my fingers from the blisters and enough black and blue marks on my legs to look like I was playing field hockey, sans shin guards.
But, by God, I got that one last run.
And although I swear today I learned my lesson about pushing the limits, I can't swear that next summer I won't do same thing.
But no downhill skiing this winter, for sure. My twisted knee (from doing the Twist July 3) will keep me off the slopes, I'm sure.
At least I think so today.
'Well, you know. A man of your age?'
3 weeks ago