No Time for Rollerblading

As skiing and snowboarding have wrapped up, I am slowly transitioning over to rollerblading. My passion for rollerblading is winding down. I haven’t had the motivation to learn new skills. I just keep doing what I have already known.

I haven’t been to the skateparks as much as I used to. I need to spend more time doing housework. For two days this week, I chose to tidy up the house rather than hit the skatepark.

Đạo and Đán have little interest left in rollerblading. Soon they will lose all of their skills, if they stop skating, which is a shame. I can’t do anything about it. They are old enough now to make their own decisions and sitting in front of their screens for hours is their choice.

Xuân still enjoys scootering and joins me whenever he can since his schedule is almost full. He has swim meets, tutor sessions, piano lessons, and Scout activities. He stays busiest out of all of us.

Vương joins Xuân at the skateparks every now and then. He rides his balance bike, but not really into it. I am just glad whenever he decides to come with us.

I haven’t set my foot in the ice skating rink in a while. I wish I could go back, but not at this time. Soon I will give up rollerblading as well.

I hate doing the housework. It is such a waste of time. No matter what I had done, the mess would resume a week later. It is just an endless cycle. The longer I ignore it, the more it will creep up on me. The more stress I acquired. I just can’t let all the shit pile up. I don’t want to live in that environment. I haven’t invited anyone from outside of our family to our house after the first year we moved in.

49 Days on Mountain

I broke my own record for the number of days I spent on the mountains this season. We started the Epic Pass in winter 2021/22, in which I spent 26 days. In winter 2022/23, I spent 37 days. This season, winter 2023/24, I spent 49 days. I put my Epic Pass to good use.

In the past few months, I made decent progress on skiing and snowboarding. My skills on both were about at the same level. It was fun learning new techniques in skiing and snowboarding as if I were competing with myself.

I was glad that I picked up snowboarding. A forty-something guy learning snowboarding for the first time was a huge challenge, but I conquered it. Snowboarding definitely had a young, punk-rock vibe to it. Although I picked up snowboarding, I made the right decision not to give up skiing. I still have so much love for skiing. It got me into the game and I got hooked.

I enjoyed the ability to switch my brain from skiing to snowboarding and vice versa. Both sports gave me so much joy on the mountains. I didn’t feel any stress when I hit the slopes. I just let myself go. I tried to alternate between skiing and snowboarding from one day to the next so I would never get bored. When I didn’t feel like snowboarding, I could switch to skiing. The only downside was that I needed to be on the slopes more to do both sports.

My wife was not happy about it, but she always supported me. She understood my relentless drive. If I get into something, I go all in. Just like when I fell in love with her, I went all the way. For skiing and snowboarding, I wouldn’t do it just for pleasure. I would need to make some progress. I wouldn’t train hard to be a pro and I wouldn’t compete with anyone else. I competed with myself. I wanted to learn something new. I am still working on my carvings.

I had a fantastic season with my family and myself. I can’t thank my wife enough for buying our passes, booking our spots, and supporting my passion. No doubt, skiing and snowboarding are expensive sports. If our family of six would go skiing for one day, it could cost us over $1,000 if we needed lift tickets, rentals, and lessons. With our own equipment, Epic Passes cost us about $2,800. With rentals and food, our entire season cost about $7,000. That was more affordable than a week of vacation, which would cost $8,000 to $12,000, or a trip to Việt Nam, which would cost us $15,000 to $20,000.

The Epic Passes were an investment upfront, but they were worthwhile since we skied and snowboarded more than 10 days. The Epic Pass was also controversial as Vail acquired more and more resorts. On the good side, we could explore different mountains. If we didn’t have all the options, we probably just skied at Liberty, which is located closest to us, and nowhere else.

My wife had already purchased Epic Passes for us. Let’s do it again next season.

Day 6 at Stowe

Today was my last day skiing and snowboarding at Stowe. The sun was shining bright. Unfortunately the conditions were sticky. I skied on the blue trail and I could barely move. After 5 days straight of skiing and snowboarding for 6 hours each day, my legs were exhausted. I could barely turn my legs; therefore, I didn’t even bother trying to carve.

I went on the double-black trail to see if I could ski. I could make quick turns on skis better than I could on snowboard. Somehow I hesitated on my toe side turns when I was on deep slopes with big moguls. I hit the black trails and another blue trail. By 11:00 am, I was too exhausted to keep skiing. I called the day.

I drove back to my room to rest. I cooked a bowl of instant noodle and drank a hard cider brewed right in Vermont. The alcohol kicked in and I decided to get back to the resort to snowboard. I went on the black trail and I got tired. I finished one run and I was done.

I went back to my room and booked a tour of the Alchemist Brewery. It was a fascinating tour. I am ready to head home. I miss my girl and boys.

Day 5 at Stowe

I woke up this morning and it was raining again. I went downstairs to eat breakfast and went to the car to adjust my snowboard bindings. I dialed back from +20° (front foot) and +15° (back foot) back to +18° (front foot) and 9° (back foot). I wanted the ability maneuver around the trials and not just carving.

I arrived at Stowe Resort around 9:00 am and the rain had not stopped. As headed to the lift, I found my ski poles on the rack. I brought them back to my car. I headed to the lift that took me to the black trail. This trail is perfect for me to snowboard. At the top, I had to do quick turns to get down the steep black slopes. In the middle, I had to do short turns to get around the moguls. At the bottom, I could continue to learn to carve. I was having a hard time digging my board into the snow on my toe side. Fortunately, I watched Seung’s video and he talked about digging your back knee lower will make the board grip. It worked for me. I kept going back to this trail to do my three turns.

On the last run, I decided to take the blue trail instead. The blue trail led me to the double-black-diamond slopes. I hesitated for 5 seconds and decided to go for it. They were pretty steep with big moguls. I side-slipped on my heels most of the time. I couldn’t make a turn to my toe side. At least I made my way down and I didn’t have to call the ski patrols to get me down.

Tomorrow will my last day. I will try to ski down the double-black-diamond slopes. I can do short turns on skis pretty well. We’ll see.

Day 4 at Stowe

The sun finally came out this morning. The conditions were fantastic. They opened up the black-diamond trails. I put my carving practice on the blue trails aside and enjoyed skiing on the black terrains. They were steep and narrow, even more challenging than the double-black-diamond slopes at Liberty and Roundtop. I wished my boys were here. They would have loved them.

I skied on the black trails for most of the day. By 3:00 pm, I was exhausted. I could barely rolled my feet. The rain began to fall. I called it the day. I went back to the ski racks to pick up my poles and they were gone. I didn’t use my poles because I wanted to focus on carving. I left it on the rack in the morning just in case I decided to use them.

The last time I was at Stowe, December 2023, I lost both my skis and my poles. I left them overnight. This time, I lost my poles on the same day. Stowe and Vail, this is an issue at the Mansfield Lodge. You need better security. Other than that, I had a great time.

Update: I found my ski poles the next day.

Day 3 at Stowe

The sun came out in the morning. The sky was gorgeous. The conditions were awesome. I headed to Stowe around 9:00 am.

Last night, I watched Lars Horstmann explained the positive-positive stance on snowboard for carving. This morning, I applied his method. Of course, it was harder than the way he made it seem to be. I even increased my front foot from 15 degrees to 20 degrees, but my toe turns weren’t gripping into the snow as I wanted to. I am on the right track though. I just need to figure out the right posture.

At noon, I went into the lodge for lunch as the band named Blues for Breakfast was setting up. At 1:00 pm, they started to play. The rain was pouring outside so I decided to sit, drink, and enjoy the music. At 2 pm, the rain lightened up. I went back to the trails to practice more carving. The rained picked back up.

I left Stowe around 3:30 pm and came back to my room to take a shower. I headed to Ben & Jerry’s for an experience and some samplings. Unlike the Turkey Hill experience, in which I could sampled as many ice cream flavors as I could, they only gave out one sample. The mango flavor was pretty good though.

After the 30-minute experience, I looked for a laundromat to wash my clothes. With the rain and my sweat, my clothes smelled bad. It was my first time using the laundromat in over 30 years.

When we first came to America, my weekend tasks were doing the laundry for my mother, sister, and myself. My mother came with me once in a while when she was not busy cooking. All the memories rushed back. I missed her dearly.

Day 2 at Stowe

I was too tired last night; therefore, I went to bed around 9:00 pm. At 8:00 am, I went down stairs, the Round Hearth Café and Marketplace, for breakfast. I met the owner and his wife. They are a young couple who run the café as well as the B&B upstairs. Nice folks!

I went to the Stowe Resort around 9:00 am. It was raining lightly. I put on my skis and went to the trails. The conditions were OK. I picked up carving on my skis again, but it still doesn’t quite feel natural to roll my knees and ankles. I ditched my poles so I could focus on my posture. Without the poles, I tried to grab my outside boot when I made the turn. I also turned my hips and pushed my knees to the side as I initiated my turns. I did those exercise all day.

I met a couple with two little boys (a two- and four-year-old). Because the four-year-old wanted to ski, they flew in from Florida and ski for a couple of days. Unfortunately, the learning side had closed for the season. The dad took his four-year-old to the bottom of the green slope and let him skied down. They did that all day long. Man, some parents are super patience.

Skiing in the rain was quite an experience. I was a bit hesitated at first, but after a few runs I just went with the flow. As I was sitting on the lift halfway up, the rain started to pour. I skied down quickly so I could get into the lodge to wait for the rain to die down. As I got closer to the lift, the rain stopped. I think Mother Nature was trolling me all day. I had a great time though.

Day 1 at Okemo

Last night, I was too excited to sleep. At 2 am, I decided to hit the road. I drove 3 hours straight to New Jersey. I stopped at the service area and napped for about half an hour. I bought a coffee and continued to drive.

I arrived at Okemo around 11 am and the rain was pouring. I saw people soaking wet coming into the lodge. I asked them about the conditions and they all said “good.” I had lunch and waited for the rain to light up.

I hit the slopes around noon. I continued to carve on my snowboard. I lost count of how many runs I got in. At 4 pm, I drove 2 more hours to Stowe, where I will be skiing and snowboarding for the next 5 days.

Trượt tuyết và Ngọc Lan

Trượt tuyết là niềm đam mê của tôi vài năm gần đây. Lần đầu tiên trong đời đặt chân lên chiếc magic carpet rồi thả hồn theo đôi skis (có biết thắng lại đâu), cái cảm giác tương tự như khi nghe tiếng hát Ngọc Lan lần đầu. Tôi không thể nào chống cự được. Càng nghe tiếng hát Ngọc Lan tôi càng say mê. Càng ski tôi càng đắm đuối.

Ngày xưa tôi sợ mùa đông lạnh lẽo và tuyết phủ kín đường về. Nhưng giờ thì khác. Trời không tuyết, tôi cũng lạy trời tuyết. Mỗi khi được đứng trên núi tuyết, tôi như đứa trẻ tự do tung tăng trên thiên đàng từ những đoạn đường màu xanh (green trails) đến những dốc gập ghềnh màu đen (double-black diamond terrains).

Năm ngoái tôi tự thử thách mình với môn snowboarding. Lúc đầu mới tập rất gian nan, nhưng khi quen rồi snowboarding mở rộng một không gian mới cho tôi. Tuy snowboard rất thú vị, nhưng tôi không bỏ được tình yêu đầu tiên của skiing, nên chơi luôn cả hai.

Trong hai video mới nhất ở Mount Snow Resort (tiểu bang Vermont), tôi dùng “Mal de Toi” và “Prisoner”, Ngọc Lan thu âm trong album Mặt trời bên kia mùa hạ, để giữ lại những kỷ niệm khó quên.

Seventh Day at Mount Snow

Since today was our last day at Mount Snow as well as our final day for the season, I caught the shuttle at 7:50 am to get to the first chairlift of the day. Unfortunately, the wind was too strong, they didn’t turn on the lift to the top as well as the lift at the back side.

There was only one lift opened and it only could take us to the blue and green trails. Since it was my last day and my legs were exhausted, I decided to take it easy on my snowboard. After my first run the blue trail, my legs were already burned from trying to carve. My heel side was fine, but my toe side couldn’t dig into the snow. I decided to change my bindings from -15 degrees (back) +15 degrees (front) to +15/+15 degrees. Just that alone changed the carving game. I was so happy. I ended up carving the entire day. I need to pick up these skills again next season.

I am sad to say goodbye to this season. My Epic counted 39 days on the slopes. I counted 43 days. I knew some days weren’t counted because they didn’t scan my card. My counts are based my journal entries on this blog. I wrote about each day to keep a record.

Without a doubt, this season had been great for us. A special shout-out to my wife for putting up with me throughout the season. I wanted to hit the slopes any chance I had. Skiing and snowboarding were a form of therapy for me. When I was on the trails, I left all of my stress and worries behind.