Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all of our family and friends that read this blog.

We four went to Jenny Lake with our friends Bob, Sally and Liz. We have been doing this for over 20 years and the tradition continues.

I had hoped to do a blog entry while at camp but when we arrived we discovered that we had no phone service. Since the internet service and the satellite TV are all connected
 through the phone, we were out-of-touch for four full days. 

When the service guy finally showed up on Monday morning and figured out and fixed the problem, it was too late to do any blogging. The problem ended up being attributed to mice eating through one of the phone lines. The service guy was able to access the second line that came into camp and we were once again back in contact with the world. 

When we arrived on Friday we found a few inches of crusty snow on the ground and  some snow and slush on top of 8-10 inches of ice on the lake. The guys shoveled loops and a hockey rink on the ice in front of camp, with the hope that the temps would drop below
freezing at night and we would be rewarded with great ice.

B,S, and L arrived just before noon on Saturday and the temps were still hovering around the freezing mark. We made a few runs down the sledding hill and looked longingly at the ice that wasn't quite frozen enough. Now, through the years we have never let adverse
weather conditions (too warm, too cold, not enough snow, too much snow, etc.), get in our way of having fun. We have invented games and activities to match whatever conditions exist. This year was no exception. 

One traditional activity at camp over New
Year's is the Polar Bear swim. Sometimes this has happened at midnight, and other times in the middle of the day. This year's obstacle to this activity was the fact that the Old Swimmin' Hole was frozen over. So the manly men decided to chop a swimming hole in the ice near the beach. Equipped with
a variety of implements of destruction, they began chopping and sawing a hole in the ice.
The hole was made about 20 feet from shore, where the water depth was about 4 feet. When the hole measured roughly 8 feet by 5 feet, and was somewhat heart shaped, it was
deemed the perfect polar bear hole and plans were made for when the swim would
actually happen. The menfolk were ready to take the plunge at anytime, but they wanted
company. Now, since I have 2 polar bear swims under my belt (under my suit?) I am
exempt from ever having to do it again. Liz, on the other hand, has never done it and
was the recipient of very strong pressure to jump in this year. She firmly stood her ground and was a spectator and photographer at the Sunday night swim. When our JL neighbor, Howard, told us he wanted to witness this swim that he has heard about for years we invited him to join in the documentation of this event. So, on Sunday night at 8:30 we gathered around the hole with cameras and headlamps. A thin skim of ice was
removed from the hole and the ladder from our float was pushed into the water, resting against the edge of the ice to give the swimmers an efficient way to get out! Bob, Corey,
Jim and Tucker stripped down to their suits, posed for photos and then jumped in in
groups of two. The rule is that you must submerge yourself so your head gets completely
wet, or it doesn't count as a swim. They all jumped in and out of the hole quickly as we
landlubbers snapped photos as quick as we could. It was great fun for all! 

We had company on Sunday-Sally's sister Sandy and Liz's friend Kim and her boyfriend,
Chad, joined us late in the morning, stayed for lunch and through the mid-afternoon. None of our guests accepted our invitation to stay for the polar bear swim.

Our guests warned us that the weather forecast was calling for 3-9 inches of snow over night (Sunday to Monday) and we awoke on Monday morning to 10 inches of beautiful
snow! Time to snow tube! We spent the morning grooming our bobsled-type course down the hill next to camp. We'd flop down on our snow tubes at the top of the hill by the
flagpole, snake down the hill, gaining speed in each banked turn, flying through the final straight away, over the wall, and onto the beach! One needed to brake or bail out before
getting too close to the swimming hole. We went down singly and in trains of 4 or 5 of us all linked together. More fun-but tiring, and we were running in the First Night race that evening in Saratoga. So after lunch we all rested (some of us napped) until it was time to leave for the race. 

This is the 10th year of the Saratoga First Night race and our 4th year of participating. Six of us ran, and Tucker served as our
coach/cheerleader/photographer. The conditions were great for running-temps right around the freezing mark, clear skies and roads cleared right down to the pavement. Shortly after the starting gun sounded, the fireworks started, which was a nice distraction from the pain in my knees! We were all pleased with how we ran, especially Corey, who took 2nd, out of 1,000 runners and ran a personal best time. Way to go, Corey! One of the perks of running in this race is the showers that are available to the runners after the race. Most of us had not had a shower since Thursday night or
Friday morning, so this is a real bonus! We returned to camp for some singing and dancing while preparing our steak dinner. 

At about 10 PM, we went out for some more sledding. Howard joined us for this activity
too, and enjoyed several tubing runs down the hill. Shortly after I joined in the fun we decided to do a backwards train down the hill-something we had done in the morning.
Our train of 7 went flying down the hill, with me in the lead. The sky was full of stars, the air was crisp and cool and there was no where else I wanted to be. That is until we crashed! Our train went over the wall and onto the beach and somehow went off course at which point my back smashed into an outrigger part of a catamaran that was stored on
the beach. Our train came to a screeching halt as my back hit the metal outrigger and then my head hit the boat. It briefly knocked the wind out of me and I hurt! Plus, my favorite Gore-Tex rain coat got a big rip in the back! After getting some immediate triage from Tucker, I assured everyone that I was OK, but that ended my sledding for the night. I sat on the beach with Howard for a little while, while I made sure I was steady enough to
walk back up the hill. I thought I might do another run (forwards this time so I could see where I was going), but once I got to the top of the hill I
realized I had a good headache and my back hurt, so I called it a night. 
I am quite sore and stiff today, but no serious injuries-nothing that would keep me from snow tubing again!

This morning the snow began falling again at 8 AM so we all started to clean up and pack up and head home before the weather got worse. 

All in all, it was once again a great way to bring in the New Year! We thank Bob, Sally and Liz for many ways they contribute to the fun of our time together.

I hope 2008 is a happy, peaceful, and prosperous year for you.

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