Getting the Boys Back

I only hit the ice rink once this week. I am still working on my loop jump. I am not making much progress. A three-or-four-year-old girl skated by and gave me a compliment. I felt both embarrassed and inspired. I need to get back to the rink at least three times a week to get the loop jump down.

I have been back to the skatepark almost everyday. My pumps are getting better. I realized that I had been doing it all wrong. To pump, I just need to extend my body and keep skating to the top of the pipe. I jumped instead and that what how I lost my momentum. After I found my groove, I spent an hour pumping yesterday and my body was aching afterward. In the evening, I felt like I had no bone left in my body, but it was a good feeling.

Đạo is now taking over Đán’s Roces Aggressive Skates. He is breaking in and loving the skates. He can drop in with more confidence than before. He can also pump well. In contrast, Đán took over Đạo’s K2 Rollerblade. He is still a great skater. I am not sure if he wants to try skateboarding. I wanted to sign him up for a week-long skateboarding camp in the summer, but he is still unsure about it. He can if he wanted to, but I am not going to force him.

Đạo and Đán are willing to go to the skatepark with me and their reward would be a boba tea. I can accommodate that. I need to get Xuân back to the skatepark as well. He used to be good with the scooter, but he just stopped. The weather is so beautiful now and it would be awesome to be at the skatepark than to sit at home on their computers.

Minimal Progress on the Loop Jump

I went back on ice yesterday despite having pain on my right joint. The gout hadn’t completely gone yet. Since the loop jump required using my right foot, I was in so much pain. I skated for fifteen minutes and had to take a break to rest my feet. I continued today and the pain was tolerable.

I am making minimal progress on my loop jump. I could only make half of the rotation. My landing was still messy. I could not balance myself to check out. I was getting frustrated.

Learning ice skating required patience and persistence. I have been working on the loop jumps for days—an hour a day—and I am still struggling with it. I just need to find the rhythm and everything will click.

Ski Resorts

Our last ski season had turned me into a skiing fanatic. I wrote down my experiences on each trip we took, but I wanted to have a quick roundup of the resorts we had skied in. I’ll update it if our list grow in the future,

Attitash Mountain Resort

★★★★☆

Located in Bartlett, New Hampshire, Attitash has two mountains: Attitash and Bear Peak. Unfortunately, we didn’t venture out far since it was our first ski trip after two years on hiatus. We spent three days on Inside Out, which was the green trail near the learning area. It was definitely a great learning experience, but we need to come back to explore the advanced parts of the mountains. Attitash has a small learning area, which is not recommended for beginners.

Liberty Mountain Resort

★★★★☆

Located in Fairfield, Pennsylvania, Liberty is a nice little resort. Since it is only an hour and a half away from our home, our family skied here on weekends. It has a decent bunny slope for beginners as well as steep and mogul slopes for more advanced skiers. My favorites are the double-black diamonds: Upper Ultra, Upper Eastwind, and Upper Strata. I also like the blue Lower Eastwind to work on my mogul skills.

Mount Snow Resort

★★★★☆

Located in Dover, Windham County, Vermont, Mount Snow is a big resort. I took Vương on the Long John, which is a green trail, and we spent almost an hour on there. Skiing with a harness strapped on a three years old was not easy. We fell a couple of times and my feet hurt from plowing to slow him down. I went with Đạo, Đán, and Xuân on the black trails and we had fantastic runs. I wouldn’t mind going back to Mount Snow if it would not be too crowded. It has a huge learning area, which is great for beginners.

Okemo Mountain Resort

★★★★☆

Located in Ludlow, Vermont, Okemo is is huge resort. We went to Okemo when Đạo, Đán, Xuân, and I were already skied double-black-diamond trails at Liberty and Roundtop; therefore, we could take on most of the trails. What we loved about Okemo was that the trails were so long. We skied from blacks to blues and it could take us 15 to 20 minutes to ski. The trails were also wide; therefore, we had plenty of room to turn and to maneuver our way down. We hit double-black diamonds including Big Bang and Rolling Thunder, but they seemed easier than Gunberrel at Roundtop and Upper Strata at Liberty. We will definitely come back to Okemo when we have a chance. Okemo has a long belt carpet and learning area, which are great for beginners.

Roundtop Mountain Resort

★★★★☆

Located in Lewisberry, Pennsylvania, Roundtop is fairly small. Since it is about two hours from home, our family skied here on weekends. Its learning area is tiny. I wouldn’t recommend it for beginners. It has two double-black diamonds: Upper Ramrod and Upper Gunbarrel. Upper Gunbarrel is my personal favorite. Its moguls used to intimidate me, but I found them fun after learning my way around them. In my experience, once you’ve mastered the Upper Gunbarrel slope, you can ski anywhere. Though I haven’t been to double-black diamonds on bigger resorts.

Whitetail Mountain Resort

★★★☆☆

Located in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, Whitetail is a bit bigger than Liberty and Roundtop. Since it is only an hour and a half away from our home, my family skied here on weekends. It has a sizable learning area, which is great for beginners. After my first skiing lesson, I went on Park Place, which is a blue trail, and skied straight down. Needless to say, I was falling like crazy. My personal favorite is the double-black Bold Decision. I also enjoyed the black-mogul Exhibition.

Wildcat Mountain Resort

★★★★☆

Located in Gorham, New Hampshire, Wildcat seems to be an adventurous ski resort. Unfortunately, we didn’t venture out too far. We stayed mostly on Snowcat, which is a green trail near the learning area, since we just returned to skiing after two years on hiatus. Wildcat has a tiny carpet belt. I wouldn’t recommend for beginners. We definitely need to go back to Wildcat to explore the rest of the mountain.

My Love and Fear of Skateparks

Before I started rollerblading two years ago, I didn’t even know that parks for skaters existed. Once I discovered one after another, my world opened up a whole new level. Nowadays, skateparks seem to be everywhere. Like a kid searching for his next playground, I always googled for a nearby skatepark when I traveled to new places. I used to take my kids with me to discover a new skatepark, but they had lost interest in rollerblading. I adventured out on my own instead.

Wherever I went, I always found the skateboard community to be welcoming and encouraging. Most of the time, I was on my own because I was the odd one out. In occasions, there would be one or two aggressive skaters. For the most part, however, I had always been the only old-ass rollerblader with a helmet and full protective gears. As much as I love skateparks, the fear is real. Dropping into a deep bowl could be quite dangerous. I fell a few times. The helmet, which cracked, saved my head. The knee, hand, and elbow guards saved my body. One time I fell on my butt and I was in pain for weeks. Another time, I twisted my right knee and that took weeks to heal.

These days, I am more cautious at the skateparks, especially the ones that I discover for the first time. I would study the ramps and the bowls first before diving in. Age is definitely a factor and I can’t take the risks. I still have responsibilities, but I love to add a bit of danger into my life. I am always fully-guarded just in case.

I am putting together a list of the skateparks I have visited so far. I might go back and add more in the future, but here’s the list:

Albert I Allen Memorial Skatepark

★★★☆☆

Located in Wildwood, New Jersey, Albert I Allen Memorial Skatepark has decent snake zones with bowls to drop in. I skated here every morning when we stayed in Wildwood for vacation. I am looking forward to going back this summer.

Fort Belvoir Skatepark

★☆☆☆☆

Located in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, this skatepark is small, which is good for beginners. Advanced skaters might get bored.

Herndon’s Skatepark

★☆☆☆☆

Located in Herndon, this skatepark is tiny, which might be good for beginners.

Lake Fairfax Skatepark

★★★★☆

Located in Reston, Virginia, Lake Fairfax Skatepark has a decent bowl and low ramps suitable for beginner and intermediate. It haas bright lights for late-night skating. My kids and I used to skate here quite a bit. They had lost interest though.

Lancaster County Skatepark

★★★☆☆

Located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, this skatepark is close to my sister’s house. It has a huge bowl and a snake zone. When mother was in the hospital in the last two weeks of her life, I came here every morning to clear my mind and to think about her. I cried and fell here by myself. This skatepark will always remind me of her.

Manassas Skatepark

★☆☆☆☆

Located in Manassas, this skatepark is very small.

Matt Hughes Skatepark

★★★☆☆

Located in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Matt Hughes Skatepark has decent ramps and a half pipe for intermediate skaters. I skated here in the afternoons when we stayed in Myrtle Beach last summer for vacation. It was not bad.

Nags Head City Skatepark

★★★☆☆

Located in Nags Head, North Carolina, this skatepark has deep bowls as well as snake zones. It is geared toward intermediate and advanced skaters. When I visited it recently, which was a few weeks ago during our spring break vacation, the wooden ramps were not in good shapes. It needs some maintenance. My kids and I only skated here one time.

Overlook Skatepark

★★★☆☆

Located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Overlook Skatepark has ramps only. At the time, I could only skated around the park and small ramps. I’ll revisit it in the future to see how far I have come.

Powhatan Springs Skatepark

★★★★☆

Located in Arlington, Virginia, Powhatan Springs Skatepark has two bowls and a snake zone. I usually dropped in from the bowl of the snake zone. I tried the deep end of the smaller bowl and fell on my ass. I was in pain for weeks. I have conquered the smaller bowl, but I have not attempted the large bowl. I go to this skatepark about three times a week during my lunch break at work. It’s my afternoon exercise away from the screen.

Rodanthe Skatepark

★☆☆☆☆

Located in Rodanthe, North Carolina, this skatepark is small, but has high curved ramps to ride up only. It doesn’t have the top copping to drop down. I couldn’t do much here, but the playground nearby is very nice. The kids loved the playground. We biked here every morning on our recent spring break vacation. The kids hit the playground and I hit the skatepark.

Schuyler Hamilton Jones Skatepark

★★★☆☆

Located in Alexandria, Virginia, Schuyler Hamilton Jones Skatepark has straight and curve ramps. They are high enough to drop in and skate around. My kids and I used to go here on occasions. They used to love it. Even Xuân liked riding his scooter here. Now they are no longer interested.

Scott D. Eagles Skatepark

★★★★☆
Located in Woodbridge, Virginia, Scott D. Eagles Skatepark has the highest half pipe I had seen yet. It also has a steep bowl. The only area I could skate was the street course.

Shaw Skatepark

★★★☆☆

Located in Washington, DC, I only went here a few times during my lunch break. It has a small bowl and a few ramps. It was usually a bit crowed when I went there during lunch hour. I don’t mind skating here once in a while.

Van Dyck Skatepark

★★★☆☆

Located in Fairfax City, Van Dyck Skatepark is perfect for beginners. I learned to skate down straight ramps, curved ramps, and quarter pipe in this skatepark. This is also where I twisted my knee trying to ride the quarter pipe. I still go to this skatepark whenever I can because it is the closest to my house. My kids used to join me in this skatepark. These days, they rather go to the playground areas.

Wakefield Skatepark

★★★★☆

Located in Annandale, Virginia, Wakefield Skatepark is a step-up from Van Dyck Skatepark. It has three areas from beginner to intermediate to advance. I started off at beginner then moved to intermediate. I never thought I would ever go near the advance area. One morning I decided to drop in from the highest curved ramp in the park and hit my head on the concrete. I was blacked out for a minute. The helmet cracked, but I survived. If I didn’t have my helmet, I would have been in trouble. These days, I have conquered my fear and dropped in from that highest ramp. Wakefield is a bit further from my house, but I go here whenever I could. My kids used to join me here, but they don’t like going to this skatepark anymore.

Walker Mill Skatepark

★★★☆☆

Located in Walker Mill, Maryland, this skatepark has a nice variety of ramps and a bowl. I only skated here once since it is about 45 minutes away. My sons liked it, especially Đán when he was on top of of his game.

Skating, Freedom, and Success

I didn’t hit the ice rink for almost two weeks. I returned in the past three days to learn the loop jump. I am still struggling with the landing. I kept losing balance and had to put my free leg down. It’s quite a challenge, but I have confidence that I will be able to make it. I just need more time to practice. My only focus now is to nail the loop jump.

For rollerblading, I am practicing the power stop on both my left and right sides. I want to be able to stop at a faster speed. My T-stops aren’t so good either. I need to work on those as well. I also need to pump higher to get myself on top of the half pipe. Dropping in is the only skill that I am getting good at, and yet I haven’t had the confidence to drop in from a steep bowl. I just can’t afford the risk at this age.

Đạo and Đán had completely lost confidence in dropping in. After Đán fell off a high ramp and had a few scratches on his arms and legs, he doesn’t want to go near it again. Đạo is just too intimidated because he hadn’t skated much in a while. Both of them aren’t interested in rollerblading anymore. They rather sit in front of the screen than skate outside. I miss having them at the skateparks with me. I just go alone these days. I am disappointed, but I don’t want to force them to do what they don’t want to do.

Last week, I listened to an interview with Ocean Vương on NPR and he shared that his mother gave him no pressure. She was not the typical Asian tiger mom. She let him do whatever he wanted to do as long as he was happy. If all failed, he could always work at the salon with her. She gave him the ultimate freedom to explore, but he insisted that it was to serve her, not him.

Vương’s story gave me a pause and made me wonder if I have been too hard on my boys. Should I give them the same freedom Vương’s mom gave to him? If I do that, they would just fry their brains in front of the screens and not do much else. I don’t want them to serve me. I just want them to serve themselves. I don’t think Vương’s mom wanted her son to serve her either. He just took it that way.

Of course I wanted my sons to be happy and success is the key to their happiness. My role as a father is to guide them in the right direction. I don’t need to take the credits for raising them well. I don’t care if people would criticize me for my parenting failure. When I was younger, I cared too much about how people perceived me. I was sad and even depressed when I heard people talk shit about me. I worried words would get to my mother. As I was going through my mother’s belongings after she passed, I came across old letters my family members had written to my mother to advise her not to be down about my failures. I don’t know if she took it to heart or not because she never told me. My mother never said to my face, but there were rare moments she revealed that she was proud of me. That was all that mattered.

Finished Freestyle 3

I am unofficially done with Freestyle 3. Since I am learning on my own, the process took much longer than the ten-week group lesson. In addition, I took a break when we went skiing. I learned the backward-outside and backward-inside pivots fast. The back arabesques weren’t much of a challenge. I had the most trouble with the salchow jump. I got it down, but I am still not great at it. I skipped the change foot spin because I do not want to learn any spin. I didn’t learn the dance step sequence because I could not find any tutorial on YouTube. What I enjoyed the most from Freestyle 3 was the toe loop jump.

I am now ready for Freestyle 4. I am going to start with the loop jump. I am not sure the different between the loop and the half-loop jump. Then I’ll work on the flip jump. I am not sure what two arabesques and back 3-turns are. I need to look those up. I am going to skip the sit spin as well as the dance step sequence.

Continuing to learn figure skating allows me to set a goal for myself. Learning on my own is harder, but I don’t feel the pressure to keep with up with my classmates. I used to practice a lot to not embarrass myself. Now I just incorporate it into my exercise routine. At times I felt so frustrated, particularly when I was learning the salchow jump, and wanted to sign up for private lessons just so I can nail the techniques I was working on, but I was a bit shy to work one-on-one with a coach. In addition, I don’t want to pay for private lessons. We’re already spending private piano lessons for two our our kids and other activities including ice hockey and swimming. I’ll see how far I can go learning on my own.

Are Epic Passes Worthwhile?

According to my Epic Pass at a glance, last season I skied 23 days on 20,839 vertical feet at 7 resorts: Attitash, Liberty, Okemo, Roundtop, Snow Mount, Whitetail, and Wildcat. I had the Northeast Value Pass, which cost $495. The lift ticket ranged from $80 to $100 a day. Let’s do the math: $80 x 23 days. That’s $1,840. I saved $1,345. My three older kids had Epic Local Passes for $311 each. They saved $4,587.

In addition to saving almost $6,000, Epic Passes allowed us to skip the purchasing line, which could be long on weekends. The equipment rental lines were even worse. I heard people stand in line for two hours. An equipment rental at the resorts costs $45 a set. For our boys, we rented a snowboard set and two ski sets for the season at Sun & Ski. The used equipment cost $150 to rent for each set. We decided to rent for them instead of buying because they grow too fast.

For me, I am not growing anymore; therefore, I bought a pair of used Head skis for $50 and a pair of used ski boots for $40 through Facebook Marketplace. I spent an additional $75 to get my skis tuned, waxed, and adjusted to fit the boots. When I filled out the form, I checked myself as a beginner; therefore; they made my bindings easy to pop off when I slipped or fell. When I skied steeped slopes, my skis would pop off if I couldn’t control myself. As a result, I had to learn to ski well in order for my skis to stay on, which was a good thing. I kept the binding setting as it was even though I advanced to double-black-diamond slopes. I am not sure how old my skis are, but I love them. Head seems like a good brand.

Through my experience, I learned that you don’t need expensive skis to hit all the terrains. You just need to get over your fear and embarrassment. I felt no shame when I fell. In skiing, falling is part of learning and growing. Before I started skiing, I didn’t understand why people paid so much money to just go down the slopes. After I joined in, the feeling of skiing down the mountains was just incredible. The adrenaline rush was indescribable. You just have to feel it to get it.

Skiing is, no doubt, an expensive sport, but you can make it affordable and enjoyable. We spent a bit up front, but we didn’t have to think about it for the entire season. Epic Passes were definitely worth the investments for us. It is a fantastic sport to do with your family. We also saved money by packing our lunches and drinks. Sandwiches and noodle cups were all we needed. We are now ready to look into getting Epic Passes for next year. I am glad that my wife is doing all of the purchases. If it weren’t for her, we probably wouldn’t end up skiing so much last season. My goal for next year is to get her on the green slopes.

Nailed the Toe Loop Jump

I was frustrated with my regression in learning figure skates. In the past few weeks, I could not even begin to attempt the toe loop jump. Even yesterday, my right inside 3-turn was so bad that I could not gain enough speed to initiate the jump. I was about to give up the whole sport. Figure skating isn’t for me anymore. My kids already quit. It must be time for me to throw in the towel as well. I told my wife I was done. She didn’t have any reaction. She knew too damn well that I was just venting out of frustration.

After skiing season over, I was a bit depressed because I need to be constantly learning or progressing. Before taking up skating and skiing sports, web design was my professional as well as personal development. I used to sit in front of the computer as much time as I could have to myself. These days I haven’t kept up with the latest technologies. I just picked up whatever skills I needed to do my job and to continue my passion projects. I rather spent time with my family when I was not working.

My kids and I used to go ice skating rinks and skateparks together. These days they only like going to mountain resorts for skiing, but spring is here and the snow is gone. Now is the perfect time to get back to rollerblading and ice skating, but my kids have moved on. I knew the time would come when they started to have their own interests. I am still glad that we had spent a chunk of time together learning these sports. I will always treasure those moments, including all the ski trips we had taken this year.

Even though I no longer have my kids to motivate me, I am still holding on to ice skating and rollerblading to keep myself active. If I don’t do these sports, I would become a lazy-ass old fart. Today I hit the ice rink again to give the toe loop jump another shot. Instead of using the right inside 3-turn to initiate the jump, I switched to the backward crossovers to give me more speed. That was all I needed to complete my toe loop jump. I still needed more practice to refine my jump, but I am thrilled to be able to get myself inspired again.

No More Ski

Ski season is officially over. Liberty, Roundtop, and Whitetail had closed this weekend. I am feeling nostalgic already. Skiing has been so much fun, especially spending time with my boys, but it is time to put our gears away. What will keep me active in the spring and summer?

I want to get back to figure skating. My skills are getting rusty. I am still stuck on salchow and toe loop jumps. I need to nail these jumps to move forward. I don’t have too much confidence and passion like I used to; therefore, I don’t know how further I can go. Then again, I am not competing with anyone but myself.

I am still rollerblading at skateparks. I am not advancing much. I am still working on my pumps and riding the half pipe. I have gained confidence in my drops. I fell once yesterday from dropping down a high curved ramp. I felt fine until I went to sleep. My right shoulder was in pain. My body shows its age. I am starting to feel as if aggressive skating isn’t for old men like me. My kids no longer have any passion or interest in rollerblading; therefore, I feel lonely skating on my own. I still do it. I don’t want to give up yet.

Besides these sports, I should be focusing more on housework. Over the years, we have accumulated much more stuff than we need. The more I push off, the more overwhelming I get. I need to spend more time getting rid of things we don’t need. Tidying up the house has been a challenge with four kids. They leave toys everywhere.

As much as I despise home maintenance, I have to do as much as I can on my own. Not that I can’t afford to hire handymen, but I just can’t justify paying for everything around the house that needed fixing. Truth be told, maintaining our house is one of my sources of stress. Then again, what can I do? I am just going to face whatever hits us.

Last Weekend of Skiing Season

On Saturday, we had a surprise snowstorm with the temperature dropping to the teens. We were to cancel our trip, but I took Đạo and Xuân with me to Liberty in the afternoon. The conditions were a bit icy, but still decent for skiing. We skied mostly on mogul terrains. The blue moguls were fun and manageable. The double-black moguls were tough, but I loved the challenge. I hadn’t conquered them yet, but I was more comfortable with them. I understand why many skiers don’t like moguls, but I am starting to appreciate them.

On Sunday, I took my kids and my brother-in-law took their kids to Roundtop. The conditions were great and the lifts weren’t too crowded. The younger kids skied in blues with one of my brother-in-laws and I led the older kids on the double blacks. In the afternoon, Roundtop held a Pond Skim competition. Participants dressed in customs and skied or snowboarded over a pond of cold water. After watching the first few folks dropping into the pond and only one of them made it, I headed over to the double black slopes to do a few runs down Gunbarrel, the steepest slopes out of the three resorts: Roundtop, Liberty, and Whitetail.

I shared a lift with an older woman and we had a short exchange. She shared with me her personal story about her late husband who used to work at Roundtop as a mechanic. She lost her husband over pancreatic cancer. She also revealed that she was wearing his jacket. I was touched. She was such a sweet woman.

After three runs on my own, I met up with my three boys (Đạo, Đán, Xuân) and their cousins (Hân, Khôi) and they all wanted to do Gunbarrel. My three boys and Khôi made it all the way down. Hân plowed down just a quarter of the slope and freaked out. He didn’t want to go all the way down, but he couldn’t go back up. His only option was to slide down on his behind. The second time, Khôi plunged into a tree. Thank goodness he didn’t fall on rocks. After that we went home.

This weekend was probably our last ski trip for the season. The resorts will stay open until next Sunday. Looking at the forecast, the weather will be warm next week. I am not so sure if we can take our last trip next Sunday.

Here’s a clip of me taking my time down the Gunbarrel.