Snow Tubing Anyone?

The frolic architecture of the snow.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Aunt Heather Piper & Kyle Snow Tubing 1-27-13

Me & Kyle taking a break of snow tubing at Hidden Valley 1/27/13

Two Saturday’s ago, Kyle went snow tubing with his youth group.   Not being able to resist in playing in the snow, I too went.  Did I mention Kyle really wanted me to?  Yep!  And that alone made my day.  Not to mention God gave us the most beautiful day!  It was sunny, not too cold, almost no wind and the slopes were fast.

At Hidden Valley, their snow tubing area is off the beaten path, isolated from the rest of the  lodging and skiing area.   It was actually kind of nice, we didn’t have to fight traffic and the congestion with the rest of the ski resort.

It’s been years since I was snow tubing, let alone at Hidden Valley.  Mom’s work, Gutchess Hardwood’s used to go every year with their employees and their families.  In fact, if my memory is not misleading me, the one year we went, dad participated in the snow tubing excitement, right beside me and Kyle, while mom sat inside and watched us.  Kyle asked dad to go this year, but all dad said was, “What? You want me to break a leg?  I can’t do that anymore.”   I beg to differ.  If dad would get his body back into a little bit of a better shape, I think he could have gone.  It doesn’t matter he’s sixty-two, he’s actually pretty healthy, considering.  I truly hope, when I hit my sixties, I am still able to snowboard, snow tube, snow shoe, run, walk, roller skate, ice skate, hike, and the list goes on and on.  At least that’s my plan and I’m sticking to it!

Anyway, we had a great time!  Kyle was able to bond with some of the  kids, who all knew each other from going to Latrobe school.  Kyle only gets to hang with his fellow youth group members when he’s at CCD class, during his monthly youth group meetings and sometimes when he serves mass.  For all of these, it is a limited amount of time and he is there to serve a specific purpose and not to just hang out and socialize, especially in church.  So the snow tubing activity was a fun way to get the kids together to just hang out, which they did!

On a side note, everyone involved from the parents to the members including Mrs. Milko, the fearless leader of the Sacred Heart / Saint Cecilia Youth Group, are really good people.  I mean down to earth sincere individuals, who want to help the community through serving others, spreading the word of God, setting an example, all while strengthening their faith.  Pretty impressive!

Snow Tubing Sacred Heart Saint Cecilia Youth Group 1-27-13 Aunt Heather Piper

The Sacred Heart / Saint Cecilia Youth Group snow tubers. Hidden Valley 1/27/13

At first Kyle was glued to my side, not really socializing with the others.  He seemed a little reserved, very unlike Kyle, but I was there to give support and help him have a nice time.  Actually, spending an afternoon with Kyle and playing in the snow was like heaven to me.  I couldn’t have been happier!  I’ll say it again, it was a great day!

Sometimes we went down the slopes together, holding onto the opposing tube; sometimes we pulled a Superman and went down head first with our arms stretched out; sometimes we raced each other; and sometimes we did a combination of two.  Personally, I will admit, some of the fun involved tormenting Kyle.  Yes, I can’t deny it, I was instigating my fellow rider a bit and it was amusing!  He always gets so bossy and sometimes he is too structured.  Did I mention we were there to have a good time and not work the coal mines?  So to throw a monkey wrench in his plans, I would change them up a bit and do what I wanted.  Example.  Kyle would say, “Ok Aunt Heather, I’ll sit in my tube and you run and jump on yours to push me.  I’ll hang on to your tube and then I’ll let go when I want to.”  Ya, his plan worked for about five seconds until he realized I got a hold of his rope attached to his tube and I wouldn’t let go.  To really be silly and let’s face it, to push his buttons further, I would yell out, “I won’t let go Jack, I won’t let go!”  I swear, even through the snow flying in my face I could see Kyle rolling his eyes at me.   The best was when gravity took hold of us racing toward the bottom of the hill and Kyle was gloating like he was ahead of me.  Then, in the middle of the run, I would spin our tubes around so I was in the lead and I would yell out, “Eat my dust!” Kyle would grit his teeth and grunt at me saying, “No fair Aunt Heather!  You are suppose to be behind me!”  Then to show me up, he would race me, but wait till I was ready.  All I heard from the tube with the slight lead, “Hey Aunt Heather, eat my dust!”  Too much!  It was all in good fun.

Aunt Heather Piper Snow Tubing Conga Line 1-27-13

Snow Tubing Conga Line. Hidden Valley 1/27/13

Eventually, the kids spread out and started teaming up to race each other and combining tubes to go down in groups.  Kyle and I joined in, which really was a blast!  At first we had about twenty some bodies, each in a tube connected for a roller coaster ride.  It was the perfect amount of people.  We really did picked up speed and road the hill till the very end, which is usually the safe overrun no one ever reaches.  We did!  From that point on, Kyle wanted to keep joining the group.  Wherever Kyle went, I followed, that is until they tried to break the world record.

It seemed like everyone who came with the youth group decided to join together to make one massive tubing conga line.  It was unbelievable.  At that moment, I decided to hang on the side lines and take pictures of this never ending line of excited riders.  At the top of the run, there wasn’t enough room to line the participants up, so the passengers had to climb the hill behind them to form a long line of bulging tubes.  Originally, they tried to organize the tube train along the top flat part, but that created a bend in their tubing creation, which broke off when they attempted to straighten out to race down the hill.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, I was going to participate in the over sized serpentine line of tubes of people whether I wanted to or not.  As the riders started out, they immediately lost control and jumped the line.  I was trying to shoot a video of this event and was suddenly taken down by the line that went a rye. (see the video below)  Luckily, I still have some spring to my step and I bounced back pretty quickly!

Never-the-less, snow tubing was a success!  Thank you so much for the Sacred Heart / Saint Cecilia Youth Group for choosing this event and to Mrs. Milko and the other parents for setting it up!  It was a great time for the kids and adults alike!

posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Observation & Imagination,Snowboarding and have No Comments

Snowboarding – the Beginning…

We all started snowboarding in the beginning as a family just to be closer together, go on trips.  It was our soccer, but instead of dad yelling at me from the sideline he is there riding with me and hitting the jumps even before I am hitting them.  ~Shaun White


Me, Casey & Kyle taking a break from snowboarding. The Foggy Goggle fireplace is the best! 7 Springs 2009

Snowboarding has become something of our thing between me and Kyle, starting him when he was three years old.  One snowy day at my parents house, I decided to strapped my snowboard on and ride it down my uncle’s field.  Kyle was fascinated by the sport.  S0 I placed his little feet between my binding on the board, held his hands and rode him down through the powder.  Kyle just loved it!  Now I wasn’t going fast, or doing anything special.  We just rode the one side of the board and fell over into piles of snow when we felt like the run was done.  He seriously had a blast!  We both walked up and down the hill and I strapped myself in and out of my bindings countless times that day.  On a side note, I was beat!  My legs and arms got a workout!   We rode past sunset and all the way into night.  Kyle didn’t want to stop, he wouldn’t admit he was getting cold and wet, but I knew better.  Since we started in my parents yard and passed over the driveway before heading down the field, sometimes I would get stuck on the driveway.  Dad joined in on the unplanned fun and assisted us by giving me little pushes to get us going.  That one random fun day started Kyle’s love of snowboarding.  In fact, at one point Kyle looked up at me and said, “Aiya I’m a snowboarder!”  With a huge proud grin spanning my face, I encouragingly said, “Yes you are buddy!”


Kyle throws me a smile while riding the chairlift at Snowshoe WV… snowboarding fun! 2010

A bit small and young to be riding, I decided to try Kyle out anyway.  I figured he was low to the ground and pretty patted so what could it hurt?  Kyle really enjoyed snowboarding or at least the idea of it.  When he was four years old, I took him up on the slopes to officially ride his first run.  He was fearless and loved it!  Since I never taught a youngster to ride before, I thought it might be better to get him an instructor.  That was his Christmas gift, I purchased him instructor lessons and his jacket, bibs and gloves.

His first lesson was at Hidden Valley.  As soon as he reached the top of the Bunny Slope, we strapped him in and helped Kyle to his feet.  Instantly, he stretched one arm out in front and one behind himself, like he was giving us a yoga pose.  He turned to the instructor and said, “Let me go!”  A very puzzled and shocked instructor looked at me, I shrugged and gave the nod.  Kyle went down the run and even did a little jump, only maybe a inch from the ground, but never lost composure.  When he eventually crashed in a pile of snow, he gave me the biggest grin from his tiny little round head.  I knew he was hooked!


Kyle ready to get on the chairlift at 7 Springs 2009

A year later when Kyle turned five I took him back up to the slopes.  Since he was a little man, I’ve always and still do, rent his boots and board.  Trying to keep up with repurchasing his gear year-over-year to coinside with his growth spurts just seemed silly.  Plus, I never knew if he was going to change his mind and decide he didn’t want to be a boarding dude anymore.  So far so good, he still loved snowboarding and was having a blast.

One trip to Seven Springs had me in stitches.  Kyle was riding down the bottom of Fawn, and every time he would crash I helped to his feet, so to speak.  Kyle’s swimming instructor, who also happened to be a ski instructor was there with us.  She was along for the ride, and I’m sure for the pure humor of the day.  It only takes an instant for something to happen.  In this case it was one of the funniest sights ever seen on the mountain.

As Kyle rolled into the powder, I helped him up and literally helped him right out of his boot, which were incidentally strapped into the bindings, attached to the snowboard.  Again, Kyle was pretty young and little to be snowboarding, which means his boots didn’t quite fit him.   We had to settle for the smallest boots and board they had, but even with thick socks the boots were still too big.  So needless to say, the gravity and the slick snow did their job and allowed the board to continue on its course of action, without Kyle.  It was hilarious!  The boots were still perfectly strapped onto the board as it ran away from us.  Just then, Kyle in his bright blue winter socks and wearing his helmet that looked like a planet sitting on his tiny shoulders, were running down the slope after the escaped.  It was the funniest sight!  This little guy of about three feet, wearing Smurf blue socks, a noggin that was too big for his frame (his head was always large and round) and his little limbs sticking out from his sides like he was Ralphie in the Christmas Story, was working his way toward the runaway snowboard.  I was dying!  Not being able to assist Kyle, as the onlookers saw, I was laying in the middle of the trail laughing so hard, tears fell from my eyes.  I will say it again, that was one of the funniest sights!  I wasn’t the only one who found humor in the event that unfolded in front of me, so did my companions and those directly above us on the chairlift.

Eventually, someone further down the path saw the possessed snowboard and stopped it.  Kyle ran to claim his board and waited for me to gain composure and ride down to him to start it all over.  Kyle didn’t seemed phased by what happened.  Probably because he didn’t know, that wasn’t suppose to happen.  At least he wasn’t afraid of it happening again.

To this day, I still can see that story unfold right before my eyes, as if I was watching a rerun on TV.  When Kyle and I were riding this past weekend, I brought that story up again.  He kind of remembered it, but still loved hearing the story retold, as it has been every year since.

For the next couple of years, Kyle’s Christmas gift included a season pass to Seven Springs.  He always seemed pleased with that gesture.  Ever since that faithful day, with the use of my parents yard and my uncle’s field, Kyle always wanted to snowboard with me.  I will admit, secretly I wanted him to enjoy snowboarding as much as I do.  I couldn’t be happier!  He’s the coolest!

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Milestone,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Reminiscing,Snowboarding and have No Comments

Snowboarding? Not Yet!

A snowflake is one of God’s most fragile creations, but look what they can do when they stick together!  ~ Anonymous

Kyle sitting on ski lift in Snowshoe WV Aunt Heather Piper

Waiting for another run. Snowshoe, West Virginia c. 2010

You know, I am definitely more of a cool weather girl.  I tend to favor fall and winter over the heat and humidity.  You know what?  I think Kyle is the same. He hates being overheated and sweaty, he tends to be a salt water covered kid, all year round.  Sometimes perspiration  just pours from his head.  Even when he was a tiny little baby, I used to walk around with him in a papoose type of baby carrier.  I would place him in this backwards type of book bag, hanging off of my chest.  I loved it, he was safe and my hands were free.  Man, did Kyle make me hot!  It wasn’t too bad in the winter, he was like my space heater, but in the summer it was rough.  I’m not really a sweaty person, which doesn’t do me any good when I run, but having Kyle lay on me and radiate heat, makes my body start to sweat.

Snowshoe WV Aunt Heather Piper

Stacey, me, Kyle and Casey (cousins) Snowshoe, WV 2011

Off of that tangent and onto another… Lately we’ve had unseasonable weather.  It’s been in the 50’s and rainy, except this week, which is just cold with a hint of snow.  I will admit, during the dog days of summer, I do wish for winter.  I enjoy all seasons, but I love snow!  I don’t know if it’s from me or not, but Kyle always wishes for the snow to fall too.  He loves to sled ride and be my little snowboarder buddy.  I started Kyle out on a board when he was three years old.  Taking him on my snowboard in front of my parents house, which is on a slight down hill that opens up into my uncle’s field, that was the easiest way to start him out.  I had Kyle stand in the middle of the board while I was strapped in, holding his hands.  We would go down the hill and eventually fall over into the fluffy snow.  We had a blast!!  Sometimes, during our trek across the driveway, before getting any momentum, we would get stuck and dad would stand there to give my shoulder a push and get us going again.

Going down hill wasn’t so bad, not that that’s a surprise.  But it was tough unstrapping my bindings and carrying my board up the hill while holding Kyle’s hand.  He had a hard time walking in the deep snow.  Those little legs where just long enough to get up over the snow, let along make them move up a hill covered in snow.  It was all totally worth it!  We must have made at least 20 runs before calling it day.  In fact, we kept it up in the dark.  Dad turned on the spotlights along side the house so we could see.  We rode until I realized Kyle’s gloves were pretty wet and his hands were getting cold.  He didn’t want to go in, but I told him I would make us hot chocolate and we would warm up.  Reluctantly he agreed.  Even though my body felt like I ran a marathon, not that I know what that feels like, but I can only imagine.

Kyle snowboarding at Hidden Valley Aunt Heather Piper

Taking a break from snowboarding at Hidden Valley. c. 2010

Now back to the present day, last Wednesday to be exact.  As Kyle and I watched the news, showing a brief clip about the town in Alaska that was dumped with 18 feet of  snow, (Yep, not inches, we’re talking feet)  it was funny, I could see Kyle’s brain trying to comprehend what he heard, making sure he understood what the news anchor reported.  I said, “Did you hear that?  They have 18 to 20 feet of snow.  Not inches, FEET!”  Putting a real emphasis on FEET.  His eyes were in shock and then he turned his head toward the front door, threw up his hands and gave a ‘Where’s our snow?’ gesture.  Meanwhile, it was raining pretty hard outside.  I said, “I guess it’s all in Alaska.”  I knew what his response was all about.  You see, Kyle looks forward to hanging with me on the mountain, as do I.  It’s hard enough to maintain patience for myself when I’m waiting on the snow, but trying to be patient with Kyle is an almost unrealistic task.

Recently we did start receiving snow, which I knew would eventually come and currently go.  But I must say, those 18 feet seem like more fun than our couple of inches and light dusting.  I’m really blessed and happy that Kyle and I have our hobby together.  Maybe that’s why I look forward to winter.  I get to hang with my Narrow in God’s country.

Check out the Cordova Alaska snow situation.

posted by auntheather in Education & Learning,Family,News,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Reminiscing,Snowboarding and have No Comments
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