Wow. Who knew two and a half months would go by so very quickly?
And who knew that so much could happen here in my last two weeks at Mammoth Lakes?
As I’m trying to balance enjoying my time here and planning the adventures ahead, it’s been a little trickier to find time to write and reflect. And yet, that is an important thing to do, so here are a few little blurbs recounting what I’ve been up to.
Enjoy dear friends!
I Won the ‘Tips Up’ photo contest!
Ever since I got here, I’ve been snapping pics out the wazoo because the weekly employee news letter has a photo contest for employees to enter. Now, after roughly 8 weeks working here, I’ve won the prize!
Here’s the winning photo:
Now I get to decide what to use my luxurious prize- a $10 gift card on.
Maybe a yacht?
Trivia Nights at Mammoth Brewing Company
I love trivia. Mostly because I love fun facts, and partaking in the competitive atmosphere is invigorating.
But the real fun is gathering a team of people who each know a very niche subject. Personally, I know a lot about science and a bit about art.
So each Tuesday, our team makes our way to the Mammoth Brewing Company to win some beer and kick some ass.
The first time we went, we did drink beer, but we also ended the game with zero points. I’m calling this one a learning curve.
The second time, we were smarter about the final jeopardy question and finished with 9 points. Woohoo! Not close to the winning score of 57, but also not close to losing since we didn’t ‘double or nothing’ like last time.
Paint and Sip at the Mono Arts Center
Mammoth Lakes has an art center, and I think that’s fabulous.
Every month, they host a paint and sip. If you’re unfamiliar, a paint and sip is where you learn how to paint a certain thing, usually a nature scene, while drinking wine and chatting with everyone there.
It’s been a dream of mine to go to one of these, but the cost of $45 had me going back and forth as to whether or not to get a ticket. So I decided to work a couple of early-ups at the ski lifts, and then when I’d saved enough, I got to do the most exciting thing ever- reserve my ticket!
It was on a Thursday right after I got off of work, and so I quickly took the buses to the center.
Our medium- watercolor pencils.
Our muse- a bristlecone pine tree.
Our wine- California chardonnay.
Watercolor pencils are a really neat media and also a lot different from what I expected. You basically color with the pencils like you normally would, then brush over the pencil lines with a very small paintbrush dipped in water to spread out the colors, creating a watercolor effect.
Drawing the bristlecone was treacherous. Our teacher told us to freehand it- no sketching allowed! It takes a lot of trust in oneself to not look at the paper at all while you outline and eyeball a bristlecone pine branch. I felt a lot better after talking to the other artists, who admitted the process was equally nerve-wracking for them.
Thankfully, bristlecone pines don’t look like real trees. They look like a big old tornado in tree form. Very swirly, very branch-y. So I realized that all you had to do was draw some squiggles and connect them all together to form a tree-like amalgamation.
Maybe the glass of wine was starting to kick in, because I got a lot more confident when it came to the watercolor penciling. Not only did my tree have random streaks of bright yellow, I also made the ambitious decision to do a very bright sunset. I feel like I really connected to my p&s neighbor, whose trees had purple and pink hues. We decided that our bristlecones were special in that they employed the surrealist style.
Anyways, I had an absolute blast drinking, concentrating, and co-conspiring with the other folks in attendance. I think all our trees turned out VERY good. Take a look!
Naturalist Tour (or not?)
On Sunday, I really wanted to go on a snowshoeing naturalist tour.
And lucky for me, they had one! Or so I thought.
Because we’ve had such an uncharacteristically warm spring, the Tamarack ski center closed a week early, and although I waited hopefully for the ranger guide to arrive- they never did.
I didn’t make the journey all the way out there to NOT see any animals!
So I went on a self-guided tour. I walked to the twin lakes, and was treated to hundreds of ducks! All sorts of species, all different calls. They were flying all over the place and it was a delight to watch them while having a picnic on the bridge.
On the other side of the bridge was a snowmelt waterfall. There was no boring place to look, that’s for sure!
Fraud Busting! Woo Yeah!
I finally caught a fraud!!!
‘Frauds’ are how we lifties describe anyone who uses another person’s ski pass. Apparently this is actually a felony (defrauding an innkeeper), and so the company gives us a cut of the confiscated pass’s value.
I had not caught any fraud this season because I couldn’t keep track of all the moving people, and just the idea of confronting someone was enough to send me into a little nervous spiral.
However, there must’ve been something in the air because this week, I saw a lady who was clearly not the lady on her pass, and confiscated the pass, thereby making 3 days of wages in 15 minutes!
It was honestly so nerve wracking and guilt inducing to confiscate her pass. But on the other hand, now I can afford to actually go on excursions on my upcoming cruise. Woohoo!!!
Total Catastrophe on the Blue Diamonds
From what my coworkers have told me, normal people can naturally progress from one level of skiing/snowboarding difficulty to another in a couple of weeks.
It’s too bad I’m a looney toon.
With some encouragement from my coworkers, I thought I could maybe ski down the hill instead of taking the chair down after my stint at the top shack of the blue diamond ski trail.
What actually happened is that I skied 100 yards to the mid mountain station, got so nervous that I made myself sick, wandered around in a stress induced haze, and finally caught the gondola back down the mountain.
My coworkers were just relieved that I made it back down the mountain in one piece, but I now get the sense that I am an anomaly as far as lifties go, I am quite athletically untalented. Thankfully, we’re all able to laugh about it now, but I’m not exactly thrilled that my attempt to move up a level in ski-proficiency was a bust this season.
This is not an update I’m necessarily proud to share, but I’m committed to sharing my lowest moments along with my highest, so there ya go!
To move past this, I’m going to try and go to snowboarding school as sort of a fresh start. Just to see how it goes. I think it will be fun to learn something new before trying a blue diamond on skis again.
With only 5 days left in Mammoth Lakes, I’ll be honest. It was hard to gather the energy to go and try snowboarding.
There’s a steep learning curve, and failing a lot at something can make you feel very vulnerable even when it’s expected. Still, the excitement of learning something new that comes from trying something new gave me the final push to go to snowboarding school.
Lucky for me, I was the only adult who wanted to learn how to snowboard on Easter. So the instructor and I worked on heel turning, toe turning. and stopping, and also getting on the board and not falling over. Since, you know, both feet are strapped to a piece of wood.
I did fairly well on the magic carpet, but when it came time to try the actual slope, I fell like an absolute maniac. I fell forwards. I fell backwards. I even barrel rolled down a whole section. I just could not get it.
Then all the sudden, it just kinda made sense. I can’t explain it, but it’s as though I was hiking up a cliff and all the sudden, arrived at a plateau. Heel turning started to feel easy peasy, and toe turning went fine too so long as I clasped my hands behind my back to keep from falling forwards.
By no means am I good at snowboarding yet, but I can happily say that I made it down the slopes in one piece! And it felt so cool to learn a new sport, it’s so wonderful to get to try these things for free as an employee.
I had to dash away, though, because right after snowboarding school, it was time for the pond skim!
The pond skim is a yearly even that most ski lodges hold, where participants wear ridiculous costumes and attempt to ski across a 100-foot long pond of melted snow.
Despite loving ridiculous costumes and hoping to participate in Mammoth Mountain’s pond skim, I am told that this event is recommended for expert skiers only. And you know from the previous section that I am absolutely not an expert. So I happily watched the pond skim from the edge.
I had no idea how big of a deal the pond skim was, but on Easter day, the lodge was MOBBED with people all crowding around the gates to watch each skier/boarder attempt the great pond crossing. The energy was absolutely insane. There are MCs giving commentary and a DJ playing specific songs for each contestant, like ‘Baby Shark’ for the guy dressed like a shark. The crowd also screams and throws snowballs at each person, and the contenders who didn’t make it across actually got more applause. It’s almost as if people wanted them to fail!?
My favorite contestant was a guy who’s theme was Elton John. So he had the classic sparkley baseball jersey, right? Well get this: he also had a life-sized paper mache piano that he carried with him as he boarded down the slope. Given that he was carrying a giant prop, he swerved and fell in the water almost immediately and the piano promptly disintigrated into many pieces. Still, it was legendary.
Afterwards, the lodge had a huge raging party, where people jumped up on tables and sprayed bottles of champagne over everyone. Absolute mayhem.
Easter Parade at the Village
For a more child-friendly Easter festivity, there was a parade hosted by the Village. Everyone got bunny ears and candy, and a million children were all gathered to see Wooly and the Easter Bunny.
The parade was actually less of a parade and more like two costumed characters being chased around the village by a million kids for half an hour while they threw candy all over the place. It looked like fun for the kids.
Luckily, my friends and I got to watch the whole event from the patio of one of the Villages restaurants so we didn’t have to worry about being trampled by a million kids.