Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Ski trip

Took my son skiing with the Boy Scout troop over the weekend. What a trip. The kids had fun, but the adults were driving most of the day. What should have been about a three-hour drive turned out to be 5. One way. The roads to the slopes were jam packed with skiers.

We left at about 6am, loaded with kids and equipment. Lots of people have their own ski stuff. I was surprised at how many. The only person who had to rent everything, skis, poles, and boots, was my son. The drive up to Gifu Prefecture was really nice until we were almost to the slopes, then the traffic started. The signs along the way that report traffic were saying 12-15 kilometers of traffic.

When we arrived we parked, boarded the shuttle bus and headed up to the base of the mountain. I didn't ski. My job was to hang out at the "lodge" and wait around in case of emergencies. Fine with me. I didn't have anything. At least my son could borrow my wife's ski wear. (Luckily, she doesn't go in for the flowers and frills.)

The cost of the event was staggering. I paid somewhere around 80 dollars for equipment rental, lift ticket and fees for my son. I went as a volunteer, so I didn't have to pay for gas or anything. But then there was food. I wouldn't really mind if the place were comfortable and if there were places to hang out, but basically, it was a building with enough chairs and tables to call itself a lodge. Nowhere enough to accomodate the number of visitors. The experience was far too costly for the quality of the accomodations. It was packed with people. Fortunately I took food with me, because there was no way I was going to fight the crowds to eat anything there. My son ate what I had prepared for him and then ate something on top of the mountain. There was a small restaurant up there I guess. The snow was pretty slushy. I guess one cannot expect miracles at this time of year.

The good part was that he and all the kids enjoyed their experience enormously. My son repeated over and over that he wanted to go back. It was his first time on skis. The leaders were very good about teaching the kids how to ski and then sticking with them as they tried it out for the first time. I guess it took my son an hour to get down the hill the first time, but by the end, he was up and down in ten or fifteen minutes.

Great experience for the kids. A very long, ten-hour drive and ski trip for the adults. It was worth it to have the kids have that kind of experience, but if we decide to spend money on skiing next year, we are going somewhere good. My guess is that there are package deals that include bus transportation, lodging and ski fees. Sounds like the ticket to me.

The place gets good reviews from some people.

No comments: