I enjoy snowboarding. I do not enjoy the pain that my body is in the next day, but I enjoy snowboarding nonetheless. When I lived in the Bay Area, I would make my way to Tahoe at least once a season, but since moving back to Hawaii in 2008, I haven't had an opportunity to go snowboarding. So when some friends invited me to go on a snowboarding trip through our base's MWR, I immediately said I would go. Our journey started at 2:00 A.M. which is when we arrived on base to meet the buses. That's right, I said A.M. Considering that I didn't really get much sleep (between Rich's snoring and me waking up every 15 minutes for fear of missing my alarm), I was curious to see how this day would turn out for me. At first, my friend Marissa and I were skeptical about whether we were going to get any sleep on the bus ride because it didn't seem like the navy guys on our bus were ever going to shut up. However, with some not so subtle encouragement over the speakers from our local tour guide (he repeated "be quiet, it's time to go to sleep" at least 3 times), everyone on the bus was sleeping within the hour. A short 4 and a half hours later and we arrived at Joetsu Kokusai Ski Resort in Niigata, a very large and very popular ski resort in Japan, complete with a 634 room hotel and onsen.
After getting all of our gear on (seriously took us like an hour), we made our way up the mountain. It was snowing pretty good which meant we were in for some powder. The first lift took us to the main area where the hotel is located and the second took us up to all the trails. We immediately noticed that 99% of the people getting off the lifts were going left, so being the daredevils that we are, we decided to go right. Just kidding, we went right after the ski lift guy confirmed that's where the red trail was. Our first run was awesome - hardly anyone but us, so we were free to swerve and fall without feeling like we were getting in anyone's way. The best is when a 5-year old kid races past you and looks at you like you're totally in their way. The powder was perfect for falling (and believe me, we all did our share) because it was soft but not so perfect when snow piled up on the board, making it hard to move through dead spots.
When we finally made it to the bottom (seriously took us like an hour), we decided it was time for a break. And by break I mean it was time for us to eat. Of course once we finished eating, we all wanted to pass out, but we had to make the most of our time on the slopes so we headed back up. By now we were in our snowboarding groove, but this run was harder because we were tired, there were more people on the trail and it was snowing harder than before. We also got hit by an avalanche that resulted from too much snow accumulating on the roof of the building we were sitting in front of. By the time we realized it was coming, we were hit with a wall of white and I had snow up my nose and in my mouth. Before we started this run, we agreed we would have time for at least 2 more runs. Somewhere in the middle of this run, someone said "I think this is my last one for the day" to which the rest of us immediately and enthusiastically responded "yeah, me too." Inside I was thinking, I've found the perfect snowboarding buddies! When we got back down we headed straight for the restaurant where we had coffee (I also convinced two of the others to join me in ordering the dessert platter which was delicious), commisserated with each other about the pain we would each likely be in the next day, expressed appreciation for our Japanese homes and the fact that they each had a furo, and relaxed until it was time to make the 4 and a half hour ride home. Ahhh, good times!
So, how did I feel the next day? Well, let me say this on the subject: I could barely move and when I did move it was always accompanied by groans, I heated up a frozen pizza for our dinner instead of actually making something, and at 5:00 p.m. my husband told me I look like I should go to bed for the night. If you ask me, was it worth it? Hell yes, I can't wait to go again!