The day started with a threat. A certain Offspring claimed the discovery of a snowboarding sweet spot currently off-limits according to the snow patrol, while mysterious evidence of recent use in the form of tracks proved otherwise. And I don’t mean the kind that leaves scat. At his own peril, he contemplated ignoring the warnings, risk having his lift ticket pulled and board like the banshee he had become. After all, he reasoned, he’d just buy a new one, with Spouse’s hard-earned cash. The conversation spiraled from a reasonable explanation of alternatives to his way of thinking, like the snow patrol roped off areas because they were dangerous, to an abrupt autocratic, dictatorship style ending, “No, you will not do it and if you get caught you will sit in the room until we leave thinking about how much fun the rest of us are having.” Spouse did not enjoy the pleasure of participating in this interlude of mountain mongrel maintenance given his absence from this trip.
The three of us left. Offspring #1 convinced Offspring #2 and I into testing our new-borne snowboarding skills on a winding trail while he careened to the bottom via an alternate path. Suspicious from the onset as the trail exhibited no signs of life, several reasons for the vacancy soon became apparent. For one, my bath tub encompassed more girth than this. Next, sheer drops off the side led to endless, white, nothing, nary a twig or blade of switch to break our neck breaking fall, and finally it was best traversed on ice skates as a sheet of blue ice blanketed the narrow path from stem to stern. The wind cut our now raw faces with sharp, jagged ice pellets as we crept down. We passed two skiers- both of whom decided it was safer to walk. Other than that, not a soul. But- Hallelujah- salvation beckoned from the right. I suggested abandoning ship with a quick climb over the embankment where we could then join the fun on the run next to us. She readily agreed. Or I think she did- the ice that collected around her neck prevented up and down movement of the head. Ernest Shackleton certainly did not endure this much pain on his ill-fated journey to the Antarctic. We emerged gleeful to be free of the death ride to the bottom like ship wrecked sailors celebrating the appearance of a boat in the distance. What I did not anticipate, were the two unseen snow patrolmen on the other side of the embankment, on the hunt for rule breakers. When in Japan, do not break the rules- it is not tolerated and causes one to become an outsider. (more later) With no tree cover, they spotted us immediately, and clamored over each other to investigate the unruly mom with her bleating moppet. Whatever chastising words erupted from the blustering snow patrolman’s mouth were lost on us. I surmised by the waving of their poles, that we were being instructed to resume our treacherous journey toward death by exiting the happy hill we had illegally joined. I smiled my big stupid grin, and OS#2 said “We’re ok. All fine,” in Japanese hoping this feeble attempt at friendliness combined with feigned ignorance would save our lift passes. Silent, unsympathetic stares greeted us in return. We trudged back to the precipice of doom. Not long after our return to the ledge, we noticed our escorts. The two snow patrolmen had appeared out of no where above us, and followed 15 feet behind making sure we didn’t try to escape the death descent again. Or to perhaps ensure our safety. We were marked. Rule breakers.
Best to get to the bottom, take a break and let our chaperone’s forget about the whole unfortunate incident. Hopefully others would take our place in their memory during our break. Poor Offspring #2 was exhausted and on the verge of dehydration or starvation- one of the two. Whichever is worse. I was frost-bitten. Or maybe that’s just an age spot on the tip of my nose.
Bursting through the doors of the resort, a Heaven of food courts awaited. The angels sang as we inhaled the atmosphere greeting us.
The choir clapped and rejoiced in the recesses of my mind as I drank in the sites.
But first- food. It was time to teach Offspring #2 – referred to from here on out in this post as “Grasshopper” the lesson on how to order food in Japan.
Step #1- Most important- decide on your order and memorize the number.
Step #3-Locate the number of your food choice (don’t rely on the picture on the machine in case the picture is unrecognizable versus your menu choice)- insert money, and push the button that corresponds to your food choice.