So on Monday morning last week I found myself at uni at 7:15am, packing the cars for the trip. Anthony had gone out and acquired some roof racks for his car, and thus eagerly volunteered to carry the skis. We piled the rest of our collective junk into his car and mine. It was a bit of a squeeze, in my car at least – Yuta spent the trip squished into the back seat surrounded by luggage. Robyn rode shotgun in my car, while Emily, Mikey and Alice went with Anthony.
At around 8:30 or so we finally started out. After a few unnecessary detours, caused by a lack of understanding of who was supposed to be navigating, we finally got onto the ring road. Then onto the Hume, and so on. The trip up was relatively uneventful – we stopped at Euroa for morning tea, although since the others were there before us we only had a few minutes break before they wanted to head off again. We stopped somewhere for petrol – it might have been Euroa, or Seymour, and filled up. All the way up! I’ve never filled my car up before. That cost $60. (as an aside, I filled it up again yesterday from close to empty, and it was again $60; it looks like my tank has a capacity of about 50 litres)
Once we got to Bright we stopped to get chains, do some shopping, and get lunch. Because my car was so weighted down with luggage, there was precious little space between the wheels and the arches – 3 or 4 cm perhaps. So you couldn’t get your hands in there, meaning we apparently had to use older style, harder-to-fit chains. The guy showed us how to put them on several times (trying different sizes and whatnot), and made it look quite difficult. Anthony’s car is front-wheel drive, so while it also was relatively low by design, he still had just enough room for the “better” chains. The guy at the rental place was great, though – really nice – and we were soon prepared and paid up ($80 for both for the week; cheaper than I expected, so I’ve no complaints). We then had lunch – Anthony & I were both pining for pies for some reason, so we wandered down the street until we eventually found a bakery. They had very good pies, actually, and reasonably priced, too. I was surprised how few places were open though, at lunchtime on a Monday. Granted Monday isn’t traditionally that busy a time for Bright, in ski season, it was still surprising that probably the majority of cafes were closed.
And then we set off again. I’d also nipped into the supermarket to stock up on Coco Pops (the last bowls-worth of which are still in the glove box in my car :) ) and chocolate bars; when I was skiing at Kirkwood I’d carried chocolate bars with me, and they’d been great. So I grabbed a dozen or so. As it turns out they didn’t last two full days, but then I didn’t really expect them to. ;)
The drive up to Hotham itself, from Harrietville, wasn’t that bad. I took it very slowly, just in case – I’d been driving for four hours or so by that point, so my right leg was cramping a bit, and I wasn’t sure how well the car would handle with all the luggage and the damp roads. As it turns out, just fine – no signs of slipping or anything like that at any point. I did end up turning on the overdrive to get that little bit more oomph – some of the hills are quite steep. But it made it up there no problems at all. We pulled up right outside our lodge, safe and sound.
Although there had been a problem with the parking booking. While Emily had booked the two cars together, for some reason the resort had messed up just the ticket for Anthony’s car – it expired the day we got there. So they told us we’d have to go take that up with Resort Management. The guy at the gate was really nice, though – gave us some extra maps and whatnot. Since Emily had already paid for us, we just drove on in.
Once we got up there we unpacked the cars and everything, as you do, and checked out the lodge. Anthony and I then took the cars down the road a bit (east) to the long term parking. We then put the chains on, since – while we didn’t expect much snow – it’s a lot better to put the chains on when the car isn’t buried in snow. :)
As it turns out, since all the luggage was out of my car at that point, there was plenty of room between the back wheels and the arches, so I had no trouble at all getting the chains on. Once I’d figured out the mechanism they went on in a few minutes, no problems. Anthony similarly had his on in virtually no time. We then both headed back to the lodge. While we’d been away the others had all gone skiing, we found out later. They were ready to go again when we got back, so we geared up and set out.
I can’t recall exactly where we went… I think we went up to Big D and played around at the bottom of that, from memory. Actually, I think it was already dusk by that time, so we were only there a few minutes before the ski patrol were kicking us off the slopes. We hung around a little longer after they left, but then headed back to the lodge.
I was pretty unimpressed by the end of that first day. I hadn’t expected us to be hitting the downhill slopes much at all, let alone straight away. I was still getting the hang of just walking in the skis when we did. Then there was the downhill part… cross country skis are really, really, really bad at downhill. They’re very thin, presumably to reduce resistance when walking through the snow, and very long – which means you tend to go very fast, with little control, and simply cannot snow-plow stop. At all; it hardly slows you down. Since you’re only attached to the skis at the toes, via a relatively flimsy clasp, you have very little control over them. It also takes a while to get used to their movement when you lift your leg – they tend to fall down at the front, but easily get caught at the back, causing many spills. Even by the end of the week I hadn’t quite mastered that.
Anyway, it also didn’t help that I had unknowingly only tightened the clasp to the first latch, not the second, so they were way looser than they should have been. All this added up to a rather uncomfortable and accident-prone first ski. But the others seemed to have better luck, on average – especially Mikey, who had been on cross country skis once before, but only briefly.
But it was good anyway just to be out in the snow. Once we got back to the lodge, we quickly took over the couches in the lounge, and relaxed.
Eventually we broke out some of the games – Anthony demonstrated Texas Hold ‘Em Poker, and a few games were played. We also played with these dice called Lie Dice that Emily brought, which is actually akin to the dice game played in Pirates of the Caribbean 2, albeit with only one set of five dice. You pass them around the circle, each time looking at the dice and getting to reroll however many you choose, and then you say what you’ve got (e.g. a flush, or somesuch; the die are marked with the high five cards plus ace, not numbers). But you have to beat the previous bet, so it’s always going up. Eventually someone will claim the person before them was lying (although they can’t look at the dice first), and then whoever was wrong loses a life. We played that for quite some time, the seven of us plus Michael – another guy roughly our age staying in the lodge. In the end it came down to me vs Mikey. He called something, like four of a kind or somesuch, which I really should have pulled him up on. But I decided not to. As it turns out, he had absolutely nothing – not even a pair. And since there was only two of us, he knew what he was handing to me. So I re-rolled all five dice, and actually rolled exactly what they’d already been. Now the odds of that happening are just tiny. There was no way I could play that – I just couldn’t help but laugh. Damn! :)
No one else stayed up to watch the conclusion of that game, the pansies, so it was then that Mikey and I went to bed, ready for an early morning ski on Tuesday.