March 20, 2003
Hey, Test Monkey! Stop working!!

As much as I tried to align myself with Bary and Caroline (i.e. Buying their friendship), their loyalties were still in question at departure. At least it’s the closest I’ve ever been to having someone on my side ;). But to make matters worse, there I was sticking my foot in my mouth with a barrage of e-mails right before the trip (Some things just never change.).

Everyone arrived on time, and proceeded to rent all the SUVs at the airport, or so it seemed. After an 85 mph drive through snow, our SUV caravan arrived at our cabin. I had a slight delay enjoying the festivities as work had me on my mobile phone in the car (getting pelted by snowballs no less – thanks, Bill). The cabin was awesome. Three levels, a pool table, sauna and an outdoor Jacuzzi…all working! Scott, Bary and Perry (coined Dingle and Dangle) took off for a half-day of skiing at Park City, while others tested out the Jacuzzi, and I, uh, worked. At least we all got together for dinner at Grub Steaks to finish the evening, and encounter our first injury: Bill slamming the car door on his finger. Which was quickly followed by Scott’s smart-ass comment “Bill, if you had asked me before you did that, I would’ve told you not to do that”. Brilliant, Scott.

Thursday we headed to The Canyons for our first full day of skiing, while Val and Caroline went snowshoeing. Great, fresh powder, and best of all minimal picking on Test Monkey! Woohoo! At lunch, we all learned that bananas don’t ski, and I’m sure my jacket will still smell like of bananas on next year’s ski trip! After a couple of pitchers and appetizers at The Smokehouse (where Perry rudely spilled half the beers) we headed home, to the hot tub and the pool table (where Test Monkey did not lose. Did you hear me? I DID NOT LOSE.) After a delay for a broken SUV, due to Laura sitting on the drop gate (Scott’s always saying she needs to lose weight), we hit The Wasatch Brew Pub for dinner. It was a quiet night as we prepared for the long drive to Alta the next morning.

Alta was Alta: always great. And it was snowing! After a day at the spa, Val and Caroline joined us for après ski, for some pitchers, while I sat quietly re-lacing my shoes (thanks Bill and Chris). Then the après ski continued in the hottub back home, with a bottle of JD. There’s nothing like gargling and swallowing in a hot tub (JD, that is). Once the JD was polished off, most of managed to crawl up the stairs to an awesome pasta dinner. And the fun didn’t stop there, as Scott, Laura, Chris, Brenda, and myself headed out to The Monkey Bar (naturally), Cisero’s and finally The Spur (Great find). We even managed to have some strange beeping noise follow us home. Hmm, I’m not sure how they ended up in my cell phone…

Saturday was our mid-trip rest day. Bary and Caroline headed to Park City. Bill, Denise, Perry and Val went dog sledding. Scott, Laura, Chris and Brenda went snowmobiling. And I, of course, worked. Once everyone started returning to the cabin, things started to pick up. As I was being distracted on the balcony, Scott stuffed snow down my back. This lead to a chase through the house, first dowsing Scott with water, then fighting for my cell phone, as Scott held my phone out of my reach, attempting to activate the voice dialing by yelling “Call Elana! Call Elana!” You have no idea how close he was. After the ruckus, we headed for the sleigh ride dinner. The ride up the slope was cold, the entertainment was okay, and the food was great, except maybe for the woman who passed out (I think she had the trout). We finished the night meeting up with Maureen and Jim at The Spur. He seemed to behave well, at least for the moment.

The next day, we headed out to Brighton (along with a little sticker that kept showing up on my snowboard, my helmet, you name it). It was a great day of skiing, which winded down at après ski at Molly Green’s. Then we headed home for Val and Caroline’s amazing chicken dinner. This is also the night that Denise proved to us she really has blonde roots with comments such as “What does beaver taste like?” and “Ducks don’t fly, do they?” Don’t worry Denise, we luv ya! Almost as much as Banger! (Hey, I’m writing this story and I can say whatever I want, you loser East Coasters!!!)

For our last ski day, we headed back to The Canyons. By now, the snow was noticeably melting, but we still got in some good runs. No highlights except maybe that Jim and Maureen didn’t show for lunch, and I got snowed (with wet slushy snow) on the last run by Bill and (Dangle) Perry. Nothing that a nice hottub couldn’t cure! And since it was out last day, we HAD to finish the vodka. Around and around it went, just like the JD a few nights earlier, which we all vividly started remembering (or the after effect at least). Perry barely noticed his bathing suit was pulled down as he stood up in front of Denise. And there he was, dangling. Denise looking…for anything. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. But it set off a frenzy of activity, as Bill ventured into the pond first, followed by Mike and Bary dancing around in ankle-deep pond scum as Scott did a belly flop. It was so shallow that it looked like Scott was making a snow butterfly on his stomach! He was quite the mud man when he got up. And thanks, Scott for washing it all off in our shower. ;) Poor Chris. He was offered $500 to do the same. Oh well!

Once we all cleaned up, we headed to Chimayo’s in Park City to meet Maureen and Jim for dinner. What a relief to have someone else picked on (Jim) for a while. Gosh that guy could talk crap! It was a nice dinner, to wrap up the vacation. And one final foray into Cisero’s for a final drink ended the evening.

The next morning, we got up and packed. No pranks, but we saw remnants of the crazy night before: Footprints in the pond mud, and something that looked strangely like Scott’s scrawny chest print, in 2 inch deep pond water. Nothing like leaving our mark in a creative way!

The west coasters said goodbye to the east coasters, Dingle (Bary) hugged Dangle (Perry), and Test Monkey sighed relief. Until next time…the big 40 for many of us. See ya then!

Posted by mbang at 11:12 AM
March 07, 2002
Headline (by popular demand): Test Monkey Pulls Groin

Headline (by popular demand): Test Monkey Pulls Groin

“Gosh Scott, it’s almost time for the ski trip and Banger hasn’t tried to do something stupid to get himself in trouble.” Laura inquired.
“Well, come to think of it, we did get a bunch of strange answering machine messages” Scott replied. “And he did call from Apres Ski in the Austrian Alps to rub it in.”
“I’m not buying it.” Said Laura suspiciously.
“Yeah, me neither. Keep your eyes open.”

My plan was to get to the condo before heading to the airport, to set a few traps, but my Munich flight was delayed, so I got a late start. The arrival was fine, other than Bill and Scott maliciously jumping on me in the baggage claim area. I also was abused for waking up Scott at 11:30pm to verify flight info the night before. What a wimp.

After an hour drive, with a stop for food and such, we arrived at the condo. There was a ping-pong table, pool table, multiple kitchens, lots of porches and a killer view of the lake. (Hey Fat Bastard! Two washers and two dryers!) The required hot tub on the deck was, amazingly, working but it was as cold as Laura’s personality (You and I know I’m kidding, but what are the odds I’m gonna eventually pay for that comment?) Paul (Perry’s brother) showed up to take us out on the town. We ended up at Steamers for food before heading back and praying for snow. Praying for snow. Yeah, right. That’s like me hoping for a vacation where no one picks on me.

As we packed up and headed to Heavenly, I tried to crawl into the rear seat. Scott and Laura thought it more appropriate if I were jammed in the rear floorboard. It’s amazing that (with enough force), a human can actually be stuffed into such a tiny space. So tight was the space that the pressure on my Camelback caused it to free flow under my jacket and soak my shirt. I still wonder why I call them friends.

On the slopes, conditions were dismal. At least we have each other! (group hug). The best run may have been on inner tubes. The first one down, Chris, had it easiest, but the last one, Perry, wasn’t so lucky as a barrage of snowballs came down on him. Without Super Soakers, this crowd can always improvise. But this time, Perry didn’t do something stupid again, like dive into the SnoCat and break his collar bone…

But what’s a vacation without an injury? Banger and his groin. Here are three versions of what happened. You make the call:
A) I was attempting a 720 off a cornice on a double black in Mott Canyon. In an attempt to avoid hitting two dumbass skiers (Perry and Scott) who stupidly cut in front of me, I purposely ditched, choosing to injure myself rather than hurt others.
B) On the cat walk between the Nevada and California sides, I unclipped and tried to push my snowboard forward on a flat slope. I was going a bit too fast and I slipped and pulled my groin.
C) There was no injury. I faked the whole thing. It worked, as I continually suckered Laura into always giving me a tow on flats and uphills. What a sucker!
If you chose “A”, you were correct. “B” is what I’m sure y’all will claim had happened and if “C” were true, I’ll be dead a few minutes after Laura reads this.

Regardless of the answer, a happy hour with sushi at the base lodge and then the Jacuzzi under the stars was a great way to wind down. We opted to eat in that night, with shake n bake. Later, most of the group hit the Casinos to see what they could lose. No real damage, but we still had a few days to kill…

For Friday, Bill and Denise decided to hit Heavenly as the rest of us packed up for the long drive to Squaw. Although it was a very scenic drive, and a beautiful ski mountain, there was no snow. Arg! Time to kill Banger!!! How about we send him down the icy slope to see if it’s doable? (Hence, the birth of the Test Monkey) Not much to report on the slopes, except for Perry trying to relieve himself and realizing that his zipper was frozen. Small things tend to freeze pretty fast, don’t you think? We wrapped up early and hit Apres Ski before heading home.

We almost didn’t make it to dinner that night, as Bill and Perry decided to race to The Cantina. It started out with Bill almost taking out Bary and Caroline as they were arriving at the house. Then there was Bill and Perry running red lights, and swerving through traffic freaking out other drivers. Even in the parking lot, Bill decided to hit me! Uh, hate to admit it, but Perry won…

Bary and Caroline showed up just in time for dinner, and to add fuel to the “How else can we make fun of Banger” fire. But we had another distraction at Rojo’s Bar later that night: The Game Stranger. “Whales tails, Prince of Wales…Nay…” Nuff said. He did manage to pawn some beer before we all bolted. Some of us snuck off to Mulligan’s for a couple of pitchers to end the night.

Saturday was our break day. Denise, Lisa and Val hung out at the cabin, while most of the gang went snowmobiling. The snowmobile adventure was boring (i.e. put-put), as the tour group included others (i.e. families) that slowed down the group. Glad I passed on this event! Chalk one up for Banger!!! And not much to report for the rest of the day, as Lisa headed to San Fran for business, and the rest of us went shopping in town, and lost a few bucks. At least we got a free round of drinks at the California Bar. We had fajitas at home that night and rested for the long drive to Kirkwood. The drive would’ve been shorter if Bill’s SUV wasn’t stuck behind Mama Bigelow’s suburban. We passed the time by playing Viking from van to van. Don’t you just love those 2-way radios?

Kirkwood was a good ski day. There was even a snowball fight, which lead to violence, and eventually property damage (Hey Bill. Nice racing pole!). Test Monkey sure earned his keep, as he was sent down slope after slope, injured groin in tow. If his board made loud scraping sounds, the run could be aborted and Test Monkey could be left on his own. If it sounded like soft snow, everyone followed. You guys are ruthless!

Back home, a few activities (Pool, hot tub) got going. A nail-biter beer pong game was the highlight, with Scott and Bill beating Chris and Banger, 30-29. Actually, a second game, uh, (whew!) broke out, which involved ping pong paddles (and a hot tub cover), but used for a different purpose. In my opinion, Chris’s “quality” far outweighed Scott and Bill’s “quantity”. All worn out, I headed to my bunk, only to find it filled with snow. So, I jumped up to the other bunk, only to find it also filled with snow. No wonder Bary and Caroline were wide awake (busting out laughing), and Scott was suspiciously walking around. Well, the evidence (a vial of snow-making chemical) was soon found in the kitchen. That’s what I get for setting Scott’s alarm to 4am.

So, our final ski day at Heavenly was probably our best, as conditions seemed to be getting better. Test Monkey was on strike, but to no matter, as most of the slopes were doable. Except maybe for one, where Bill held his own yard sale. And I mean yaaaard sale (He’s got the bruises to prove it). In the end, we were back at happy hour, with a surprise sighting of “The Game Stranger”. Luckily, we all managed to dive under the tables for cover.

After a short break at home for some hot tubbing, ping-pong, pool and to shower up, we were off to Hoss Hogg’s for our final dinner. I’d say it got quickly out of hand, as Perry folded the placemat into a, uh, uh, something that Denise felt inclined to take home. And I won’t recite the conversation that night, but phrases like “artichoke nipples”, “Suck the bone”, “Nice Head, Caroline”, “Moist towelette” come to mind. And then there was Laura yelling “Shut the Bang! Shut the Bang!” in the parking lot, trying to avoid a stranger (no, not the Game Stranger) from jumping in our vehicle. Maybe it was due to too much laughing at dinner, but that night, in Caesar’s, it seemed everyone lost. Blackjack, Wheel of Fortune, Val hitting on the dealer…nada. (Just kidding, Val).

At home that night, I walked into the bedroom, suspiciously listening to Bary and Caroline trying not to laugh. Something’s up. Alas, I discover my bed has been short sheeted, kind of. Seems the whole house is in on these pranks. Bary and Caroline were meant to protect me (Gosh, I pay them enough), not be adopted by y’all as partners in crime!!! Money just can’t buy loyalty when it’s so much fun to join the other side…

The next morning, everyone was up early for the drive to Reno. Paul showed up with breakfast, everyone packed (including filling my car with empty beer bottles and pine cones) and just like that I FINALLY GOT OUT OF THIS NIGHTMARE!!!

“Gee, Scott. Do you think Banger learned that he can’t win against us?”
“Probably not, Laura. He’s stupid enough to try something next time we see him. Keep your eyes open.”

March 2002

Posted by mbang at 12:52 PM
March 10, 2001
The Vail Valerita!

The Vail Valerita!

The arrival at the airport was somewhat uneventful, which was a good thing. This time, no one's luggage ended up in South America! And we'll just ignore the fact that, through my brilliant navigation, ten miles into our trip, we were passing right by the Hertz lot. Again.

Once we got on the road (the real road), things started looking good. It was snowing. POWDER would await us! Eventually though, anxieties ran high when the road kept disappearing in the white out. So intense was the snowstorm that when a bag of potato chips exploded (due to the lack of air pressure), the entire van screamed! It was a good thing there was a level-headed, quick-thinking, intelligent, non-east coaster in the car to calm everyone's nerves (Yeah, yeah, I know I'm going to pay for that last comment someday, but it was worth it.). A tense six hours later, we arrived and immediately noticed the hottub needed water. Just like dedicated troopers, Perry and I started filling it pail after pail until it was ready. And remember it's not a ski vacation unless something is broken.

Talk about a great first day! Back bowls. Powder. No crowds. But where was Erika? Doh! She was renaming one of the lower runs: Erika's Cat Walk. Did anyone ever tell you there are shuttle buses to take you from one side of the mountain to the other??? Well, at least it's a good thing that you weren't wearing your ski boots on the wrong feet. How stupid would that be? (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). Of course, there's nothing like Apres Ski to make it all go away. And with the arrival of Lisa, Andrea and Kelly, we now had a good sized party! That night, we retired to the cabin for a pasta dinner and hottubbing. Boy were we lame.

Things were okay Friday on the slopes. Pete Rose joined us for some runs (when we could keep up with him). There’s nothing like trying to keep up with the Vail all-round snowboarding champ. And let’s not forget Scott, Laura and Mike, who almost found out that you couldn’t get off the chairlift unless the safety bar is up! Whew! Perry would've been talking about that for YEARS! So we finished off the day at the slopes with Apres Ski at the Ore House, where those tiny Corona's became known as "Valeritas". Catchy name, eh Val? After hottubbing, it was back to the town for dinner (The HubCap Brewery), drinks (The Ore House) and property damage (To the minivan unfortunately parked next to us.) But at least Erika was considerate enough to beautifully polish the damage, which now was visible from the slopes…

For the mid-week break, we did the snowmobiling thing. Boy did that guide haul ass! But without Kurt, there were no incidents. Of minor consequence, Erika and Perry tipped their sleds. Did I mention Erika got hers upright by herself? Kind of separates the men from the boys, wouldn't you say, Perry?

After a day out in the wilderness, it was time to hit the city. Margaritas awaited us at Los Amigos. Scott and I managed to secure a few barstools, and before long, Laura, Lisa, Kelly and Andrea showed up. Queso and chips were not a bad start to a fabulous home cooked fajita dinner, compliments of Erika and Val. Wow, for a minute, I forgot PJ wasn't on the trip! Before the end of the night though, Scott, Erika and myself had one final venture to Garfinkel's for a bucket of Valeritas. You go girl!

On Sunday, there was a definite lack of powder on the slopes. But it was a fun day all the same as Pete, Lisa, Kelly and Andrea all joined in for a party on the slopes. Even happy hour on the mountain, with live music outside, was a blast. That was, until Ski Patrol told us to chug quickly if we wanted to ski down, or relax and then have to take the gondola down. Sorry, no wimps in this group. Chug, chug, bonzai! As soon as the skis were off, happy hour continued at Garfinkel’s. And let’s not forget the overheard bar chatter about Michael Chang being on the premise! Geez, that guy seems to show up on all of our ski trips. But pretty soon, the Valeritas were flowing, and the hottub started calling, where the real fun began.

So there we were, Scott and I as the last remnants of the hottubbers, enjoying our last drinks, Perry walking around the hottub with a shovel full of snow, and Erika already inside the balcony, locked. It was soon a stand off as Scott and I stood ready with the empty chip and popcorn bowls, and Perry realized he had no way of getting to the balcony door without getting a thrashing. Truce? Yeah, right. In the ensuing battle, Scott and I managed to empty half the hottub on Perry, as the ground beneath his feet quickly turned to ice. His shovels of snow were few and far between, and with Perry slipping all over, they were mostly hitting the wall, or himself! Soon laughter overcame Scott and I, and Perry gained the upper hand, winging the snow at us. Ouch! Time to get in the cabin. Erika, open the door!!!

After a late night at the Ore House and Vendettas, our final ski day, Monday, saw the intro of snowboards for Scott and Laura, at least for part of the day. It was about time, losers. We finally managed to ski together as a group, giving us all the opportunity to witness an Erika tumbleweed wipeout. Hmm, I wonder how many of those we’ve missed? Soon after, Erika’s tumble was outdone by a lone skier wiping out on a run that was visible from the Los Amigos outside patio. She received several rounds of applause from the bar as she fell, worked her way back up to her first ski, slid past her other ski, got to both skis and finally made it down. But even more entertaining was the poor guy who carelessly tried put his skis up against the bar railing, thereby starting a chain reaction which knocked down ALL of the skis outside the bar (The chain reaction even somehow worked it’s way around the rail corner!). An hour later, after he had finished re-stacking everyone’s skis, he took a bow and was ready for a drink. A big drink!

That final evening, we finished off the trip with a nice dinner at Up the Creek, followed by a final trip to the Ore House for a visit with our gracious host, Pete. Thanks, Pete!

And as luck would have it, all our flights were on schedule. Bummer! Time for that long drive back to the airport, and that constant harassing from Erika…”Where’s my story???”, ”Where’s my story???” Here ya go!

March 2001

Posted by mbang at 01:06 PM
March 24, 1999
Hey Kurt! Ever ride a snowmobile before?

Hey Kurt! Ever ride a snowmobile before?

Once again, the ski vacation with the east coast gang started off with few little snags. SLC (Salt Lake City)? SCL (Santiago, Chile)? What’s the difference? Actually, I paid the New Jersey baggage handlers to route the skis to Chile. (Okay, so I didn’t, but that would’ve been soooo cool!) But the real ski trip similarities were with the incredibly amazing condo, which, of course, didn’t quite work. Sound familiar? I’m starting to think that going on a ski vacation with this group means dealing with a leaky/broken hot tub, putting together the stereo, and figuring out which lights work and which don’t. But at least Val and Liz didn’t overflow a toilet (Uh, you know what I mean). So maybe next time, you should let ME plan the trip, if you want it to go smoothly. (And without even finishing the first paragraph, I manage to dig myself into a hole for the next Bar Golf. One day, I’ll learn)

The first day of skiing at Park City went fine, except for the fact that half the skis were in Chile. Sometimes, it’s nice to be a “spore” (By the way, I’ll probably deck Perry if I EVER hear him say that again) and get in a full day of skiing. But then again, half a day in fresh snow, with a broken leg, beats a whole season at Mt. Snow, right Scott? In any case, Lisa and I felt bad enough for Scott (coming all the way out to Utah and finding out his broken leg was good for an hour or so a day) that we got him a t-shirt, and a bell to ring for assistance. Well, that last gift backfired pretty quickly when he waltzed into everyone’s room the next morning, ringing that @*&#$# bell! Luckily for the gang, Lisa swiftly confiscated said weapon, thereby eliminating the possibility of intentional and malicious physical interactions by the plaintiffs against the aforementioned defendant, pursuant with penal code, sub-section 21. (Sorry about that last sentence, but I had to at least attempt to keep Melanie interested in reading on…keep going)

Well, the next day of skiing went a little smoother at The Canyons. Lots of snow, and everyone finally had their skis! Yeah! Okay, so Scott and Melanie passed on the skiing, but the rest of us had fun. Uh, except for maybe Rich, who unknowingly followed Val down (and then back up, skis in tow) the wrong run. But there’s nothing that 2 hours in a hot tub, with 10 beers, and half a bottle of tequila can’t cure, right Rich? Scott? And let’s not forget a great dinner (ignoring the live entertainment) at Grub’s Steak House, followed by a night at Ciseros.

By the third day, we were ready for some snowmobiling. Little did we realize that Kurt would become our main attraction! I’ll never forget the look on Kurt’s face right after he bolted up that side slope and then realized he didn’t know how to get down! And he followed up his performance by playing chicken with a tree (Word of advice: You’re always gonna lose). But the rest of us had fun as well, playing some snowball jousting, or jostling for the lead position, or catching some shut eye waiting for Lisa to catch up. (Just kidding! We love ya!) We finished the afternoon with a stop at a local brew pub and then all relaxed that night with home cooked burgers at home. Luckily for Perry, I got the grill going. Who would’ve guessed that you needed to at least try to start the burner before spending hours trying to budge the gas knob? Interesting, you SPORE!

And bright and early the next morning, we were off to Alta. Love that place. The runs are very unique, and there was a supply of fresh snow and excuses for Perry’s wipeouts. Scott and Rich cut out due to injuries and a happy hour calling their names, and then it was the long drive back. I guess it kind of drained most of us, as only Lisa, Liz and Melanie had the energy to go out. Get any phone numbers?

On the last ski day, the group ended up skiing at different locations. Scott, Kurt, Rich, Laura and myself headed to Park City so we could snowboard, while the others headed to Deer Valley to be pampered and actually take advantage of our so-called ski in/ski out (and maybe walk a bit) facilities. So, it was Laura with the guys, and Perry with the women. Hmm. Not sure what that says about Perry. Did I mention it took a real man to start the grill? In any case, I wasn’t at Deer Valley, so I can’t comment on anything but maybe the female conversation at lunch, but I’ll leave that to Perry.

As for Park City, the bowls were awesome, until I wrenched my hip, and went sliding head first into a forest (By the way, if any of you ever run into my Houston friends and they ask about my incredible extreme snowboarding stories, just go with it. Thanks). Oh, and Kurt in the half pipe was hilarious! All I saw was his determined approach up the side, and then the rotating ends of his snowboard coming down, kind of like a propeller. Radical new move, mon! Laura did well on her board as well. Go Laura! Of course, she did a lot better once she pulled the ___ (ask Laura) out of her boot. You should have seen the look on her face when she found it. Wish I had a camera!

And finally, the same kid spirit came out that last night, as we partied until the wee hours of the morning. First it was dinner at The Eating Establishment followed by dancing at Ciseros. Three cheers to all the injured folks (especially Scott, on one foot) who still managed to make it out onto the dance floor. Little did I know I’d sustain another injury when Kurt would slam the van door on my hand. Yes Kurt, that’s why the dome light was on in the car. But the scary part was actually the drive home. Talk about fresh snow and an uphill drive on the side of a cliff. Now this is where the Thornton’s came in quite handy! And what a better way to celebrate than to jump in the hot tub in a snow storm! The only downside was listening to Kurt talk about how much fun he was going to have skiing on the fresh snow. Will someone please drown him? Uh, ignore that last comment, PJ.

And just like that, it was time to head home. And it seemed to be about time, with all the injuries. First, there’s always Laura’s recurring knee, but we also had Scott’s broken leg, and then Perry had problems with his knee, I pulled a hip muscle, Rich had a foot problem, and Melanie hurt her knee trying to cut in front of a handicapped child in a lift line. Yeah, I know she actually had a collision with some kid, but my version sounds much more exciting! I hear that even the rental van had an injury!

With all the injuries, are we just getting old??? NAHHHH! And we’ve got bar golf to prove it! I hear alcohol is great for injuries!


Posted by mbang at 01:16 PM
March 31, 1998
Bye, Bye, Miss American Pie!

Bye, Bye, Miss American Pie!

Well, I knew that getting half an hour of sleep prior to going on vacation with this group was far from enough. So before the abuse could begin, I decided to appease Scott by upgrading him to first class. Bad move. Little did I know Laura would immediately put me on her shit list. Right after I had bought her the coolest dive mask strap on our last vacation to Cozumel. How soon they forget. But hey, we got kicked out of first class anyway when we starting throwing around the beach ball!

Once we arrived in Steamboat (Jeff being our tour guide), things started to come together. Wow. What a pad. Time to call Lisa! Well, the condo was fine on the surface, that is, until we actually tried to use some simple amenities, like the ice machine, bathroom, stereo, and the hot tub (Yeah, that last one hurt. But at least it didn’t break for a few days). So, as we settled in and assessed the damage, we (and our little fox visitor) munched on hot wings and fajitas and watched the snow fall. Lots of it. After that, it was one of many nights in the hot tub and rolling in the snow all around it.

The next morning, I awoke bright and early to the distant sound of drums. And then it turned deafening as I noticed Scott walking into our room pounding an Indian war drum. 7:30am. Time to ski! It was a great first day, with only one accident. It was Val, with a hairline fracture of her nose. And it really wasn’t that bad. After all, wearing a turtle fur, a coat hood, ski goggles and in near zero visibility from the lift, you could barely tell! But there’s nothing that a few good drinks at Inferno’s couldn’t cure, right? And then for comic humor later, there was Kurt, cussing at the “possessed” television, which kept changing channels and turning on and off by itself for 10 minutes. Uh, Kurt. Have you ever heard of a remote control?

After an awesome day of skiing (and calling Lisa 3 times to rub it in), and an anticipated zero visibility on the mountain, we opted for snowmobiling our second day. All bets were off as no one rolled or stalled, but we sure as hell pushed them to the limit in that 2 feet of fresh powder! Dinner at The Old West Steak House, the hot tub, and a night at The Tugboat Bar followed this. Cool band, the Delta Rockets, but it was the video games that had us, uh, Val, hooked. I don’t think she heard a note.

By Friday morning, with a few new feet of virgin powder, we were ready to hit the slopes again. That is, once Perry and I could get through Liz and Val’s pillow and chair barricade. I guess we deserved it after our pool cue trap, plants in the room and short sheeting escapades. (More to come). On the slopes, there were no major accidents. Only a near miss, where PJ wins the award for the coolest laugh-turning-into-a-cry sound. This was complimented by Kurt’s prince-charming-face-plant-to-come-to-her-rescue move. Oh, I guess I should also mention a friendly encounter with a porcupine in the trees and Perry’s first tumble (Kato!). Then things picked up that evening at Buddy’s Run Bar. The entertainment, Jolly Demis, was a combo singer, musician and comedian and really packed the place. So we naturally, polished off a ton of pitchers (I want a chug rematch with Liz!), danced (Sorry Val, but you can’t lead) and sang along in a drunken stupor (Y-M-C-A!). Luckily, no one noticed, except the guy who tossed Laura a t-shirt. After wearing ourselves out, it was back to the pad for a quiet night, with pasta and Trivial Pursuit.

Saturday. It was officially the weekend. More powder. This time, no accidents on the slopes. Well, Scott did come close with his Academy Award winning Superman-style wipeout. That’s one to tell the grand kids about. But the day was just getting started. Little did we know what was to come at Buddy’s Run Bar.

Okay, so it started off with the same entertainment, the same songs, and the same jokes. Boring. But things took a drastic change for the better (or worse) when he noticed our enthusiasm and called us all up on stage to be the entertainment, at our expense. I’d say I got off easy just having to sing “American Pie”, except for the fact that I kept forgetting the words. At least I didn’t butcher “My Girl” like Scott. But Perry will forever have to live with his new name, “The Beav”. And let’s not forget Kurt “The Shitty Sweater Guy” and PJ “The Bad Hair Girl”. Don’t they make a lovely couple? Oh, and I can just imagine Jeff and Carin’s astonishment when they walked into the hopping bar and realized mild-mannered Kurt was on stage, playing the tambourine and doing his best to play to the “white men have no rhythm” motif. Time to call Lisa!

But I’d have to say the most embarrassing screw up happened when I was singing “My Girl”. The words “I’ve got sunshine…on a sunny day” seemed so right, until he stopped the music and said “Hey, it’s CLOUDY day, you dork!” I’m sorry, but I still disagree. How can you have sunshine on a cloudy day? Let’s move on.

Later that night, Val dragged us back to The Tug Boat Bar. The Delta Rockets were still playing there. If you ask me, I’d say Val had a thing for the chubby singer. I’m Kidding! Chill! Don’t be so paranoid! You too, Liz! Just because I’m sitting on a couch outside your room, doesn’t mean…never mind. In any case, thanks for TP’ing our room.

Sunday morning. Our last ski day. . And for the first time, I was up in time to nail Scott with a pillow as he strolled into our room with his war drum. Yes! Other than Kurt having to leave, we were off for one, last, glorious day of skiing in fresh powder. I still think we should have thrown Carin’s panties in that tree. Such intricate patterns and colors, but I digress. Again, no accidents, at least not on the slopes. I conquered the mountains no problem, but managed to do a face plant in the cafeteria.

And one last time, we just had to check out Buddy’s Run Bar. We lived through all the same jokes and songs again, but kept on dancing. We did one final encore performance of “American Pie” (with the whole crowd following along), and I was forced to sign a few Michael Chang autographs for my adoring fans. Let’s not forget that PJ was no longer “The Bad Hair Girl”!

All worn out, we spent our last night in the pad, with PJ doing a marvelous job on dinner. By this time, the stereo had blown up and the hot tub wasn’t working. But we had each other!!! (group hug) Perry and I did our best to pull one final gag on Val and Liz, by moving their bed outside onto the patio, but we were caught red handed. Things would have worked out perfectly if we had gotten them to play pool. I don’t remember the exact logistics, but believe me, Perry and I did EVERYTHING in our power to lose that game.

Not much happened on Monday, as we packed up and headed to town for some shopping and lunch. And then it was back to the airport, dreaming about all that powder and who would be on the Alpha team next year. Wondering if Val’s nose would ever return to normal (I’m kidding! We love ya!) or if the Salvation Army would ever accept Kurt’s “Shitty” sweater. Contemplating how weird it would be ice-skiing back on the east coast, and wondering how it could be cloudy on a sunny day.

Bar Golf awaits…


Posted by mbang at 01:19 PM
January 13, 1994
I know what you're thinking: Does this guy ever work?

Do y'all have any idea how hard it is to go back to work (and living on the beach) after being on vacation? Why do I submit myself to such agonizing torture? Is it because I have all these frequent flyer miles? Or there was an accounting typo and I was credited 1865 hours of vacation instead of 18.65? Nah... (Actually, I called in the keypunch error and it was, uh, corrected. I guess Steve P. and all his "Save the Change" stuff actually got to me)

And it's not bad enough that I'm on my second straight assignment in sunny Tampa, Florida, but here I go writing about another vacation. This time, I completed two back-to-back vacations. Life sure is rough.

The setting for this story is ski country. First stop: Lake Tahoe. The TDS Project cast had scoped out a condo to house the twelve us for the week of New Year's. Naturally, the TDSers (Pam Dunn, Scott Heath, Jaye Shaw - pronounced "Hsia", Dave Mosley, LouAnn Trojcak) and their friends were the first to arrive and took the real beds. Amy Force, John Morse and I had trekked coast to coast just to get stuck with bunks constructed of mouse pads stapled to particle board. Okay, so it wasn't that bad, but it was bad.

The skiing was good some days, and overcrowded other days. LouAnn got the award for the best wipeout, flawlessly completing an end-over-end tumbling exercise with skis intact. But then again, there's more to do than ski in Tahoe. Just ask Scotty, who blew out his ACL (anterior-cruciate somethingorother) a week earlier and still came on the trip. Gambling, snowmobiling, hot-tubbing, New Year's, dining, etc, was all "encapsulated" in Lake Tahoe (sorry, I had to put that in there to keep the Techies interested). Even the late night pictionary game turned into a riot. LouAnn's rendition of a cockpit closely resembled something that looked like a drunk rat. But it was the Nielsen contingent (John and myself) who eventually won. John also lucked out on the Nevada side of Tahoe. Having never seen a slot machine before, he hit a 480 quarter jackpot on slots. This won't do much for curing his gambling addiction.

The New Year's Eve celebration lasted all night (at least for Dave, who played craps until the sun came up). The main street into casino row was closed off to traffic and patrolled by a battalion of riot police, but it was still impossible to control our own direction of travel in the crowds. In any case, the next day, the vacation culminated as we watched the Aggies lose in the Cotton Bowl (Hook'em).

After Tahoe, it was off to San Jose for part of a day en route to my next vacation. That day happened to occur around my birthday (Jan 3). So the celebrating continued, as we toured Los Gatos, and the always thrilling TDS housing accommodations.

Next stop: Breckenridge. I knew the trip would be interesting as soon as I disembarked from the plane and saw Greg Businelle with a sign that said "MICHAEL CHANG". (I apparently look just like the handsome fellow) Needless to say, I had to fight off the onlookers to get my snowboard. Eventually, we arrived at our luxurious accommodations. And there was Chip Sherwood with his portable liquor cabinet who's first task was to continue the celebration of my birthday. Here we go again...

With this crowd (mainly Nielsen BSGers) of ten, the emphasis was skiing (or snowboarding). Breckenridge, Keystone, Copper. Sure there were side trips, like to Vail for dinner ($) or gambling in Blackhawk ($$$), but we were there primarily to ski.

So there we were on the slopes. Skiers of all calibers, with distinct techniques. There was Gregg Ruben (Gert) who preferred the challenges of skiing down stairs (thump, thump) to the actual slopes. Most skiers take off their skis before entering the lodge. There was Chip, who made several valiant attempts to join the 101st Airborne, but to no avail. And then Dean Draper. Ah, yes. Dean the man. There was never a problem finding which run he was mastering. First, you'd find his long elf hat. Then a glove, a pole, a ski, another ski, another pole, and then smiling Dean. As for me? No style, just the usual: another injury. But it wasn't sustained by shredding moguls, or catching air on a black. Rather, it was running through the parking lot and tripping over my snowboard. Very embarrassing. So why am I telling y'all this?

And of course, we had to break out our cellular phones. Talk about obnoxious. Ring, ring!
"Hello, Mike? It's Chip. I just crashed on Crescendo. Dude. Awesome jump! Where are you?"
"I'm on the B1 chairlift with Rob Engelhardt, Peak 9. What's up?"
"Greg B, Kevin Smith called from Peak 8. There's fresh powder, and no lift lines. Lunch at Peak 8?"
"Sounds great! We'll be right over. I'll call Dean and Gert. Their lesson should be over soon."

After tumbling down the slopes, we'd relax in the condo hot tub, with soothing music, good conversation and Chip's secret formula apple cider. Some of us then headed off to town. A very good all-encompassing trip. Well, that about wraps it up. I'm all vacationed out, at least for another month or so. I guess it's time to start filling my overtime bank again. Anybody up for biking/rafting the Grand Canyon?


Posted by mbang at 01:20 PM