Saturday, February 07, 2009

Why my job rocks, part #47

Every winter at the end of January, beginning of February, this whole area celebrates winter in a Winter Carnival...Saranac Lake Celebrates as a town (this year is their 111th Winter Carnival) and the Lake Placid School system celebrates in what is the longest continuously running Winter Carnival held by any school in the country (and likely the universe!)...we took off Thursday and Friday from the drudgery of book-learning to enjoy the outdoors and excessive cold of the North Country with our student...it was super!


Thursday we had the opening ceremonies (speakers, Carnival royalty, the school band, etc.) and then we headed out into the cold for an afternoon of skating and sliding...Mirror lake (the lake on which most of the town of Lake Placid is around) is plowed off to allow people to skate on one part of it, and the rest of us climb the toboggan tower and slide on wooden sled down an icy track onto, and across the lake...it is awesome and noisy and bumpy and scary and fun and really cold...


The people running the toboggan tower cram 3-4 people in each sled and throw them down the tracks...you are going screaming fast by the time you are halfway down the incline and once you hit the ice on the lake are going just incredibly fast (they have a warning for people with heart conditions, back conditions, mental instability, over-developed sense of safety, etc.) and once you are out on the ice you inevitably start to spin in slow circles while the still shooting across the lake...


The runway across the ice is plowed smooth for about 300 yards, and if you have enough mass in your sled (as mine somehow always does...) you can end up overshooting it, which yields a dramatic slow-down in a cloud of powdery snow and a bumpy grinding to a halt of the sled...followed by a long walk back across the lake...


Here you can see my sled (of course I have a student carry it) on the way up to the top...it was a beautiful day, although just ridiculously cold...it stayed below zero all day, and got windy in the afternoon, yielding windchill temperatures in the 20s to 30s below zeros...




This is my sled team at the end of our first run...if you click on the picture to enlarge it you can barely make out in the extreme distance the toboggan tower...it is an incredible ride...howling down the track, a blur of faces to one side as you listen to a high-pitched scream that may be yours or may be your sled-mates, and then BOOM!, you're out on the ice and begin to rotate in the circle, seeing all of the mountains and bright blue sky growing up and away from you in every direction as you continue to rocket across the lake...


The kids kept warm by running back to cram in as many rides as they could in the afternoon...we were all stiff with cold and happy at the end of the day!



On Friday, we all go over to Whiteface for a day of free skiing...the mountain gives all of us lift-tickets and rentals and lessons for the day, and we run wild on the hill...we teachers spend the first little while helping kids get outfitted and buckled (I chose blades this year, really short skis with both ends tilted up so that I can actually ski backwards), but may try out a snowboard next year...


Once everyone is set, we head out and up onto the mountain...lots of the kids take lessons, and then disappear all over the huge mountain...


This year we seemed to have the mountain almost to ourselves, which was really nice...Lake Placid kids skiing everywhere, having fun and enjoying the company of their classmates and teachers during a perfect day outside of the classroom...a great way to break up the winter doldrums...


, and the day was much warmer than Thursday had been...up into the 20s and sunny, with a blue sky all day long (after a little snow in the early morning)...it was awesome!...


Here is a reachout picture of me and one of my students on the chairlift zooming up the mountain after lessons were done...the kids of Lake Placid seem to be fearless, and I spent lots of the day playing the "cautious old man" card, and keeping the kids that I skied with from too dramatically over-reaching their skill levels...the great news was that everyone had a great time, and none of our students got hurt...


Here is a picture of one of my students and a fellow Grade 6 teacher, George Bailey, up at the top of the mountain, after barely convincing the enthusiastic student not to try his luck with Bear, a black diamond trail...just yet...


We had much better luck skiing on one of the easier, wide open and almost empty, trails that would bring us back down to the lift for another run (and another, and another, and another...sigh...fun day)...You may not have noticed in the previous picture, but George was wearing cross-country skis and spent his day making graceful telemark turns while our students (including the one pictured above) generally zoomed down the mountain in straight lines to maximize their speed and chance of early death...I took advantage of the day and my blades to spend the day zooming and turning and sometimes skiing backwards, taking pictures of the kids and teachers that I work with and enjoying the sun and the cold and the freedom and the awesomeness of my job...

To hammer home the point even further, we got back to the building, had a paycheck waiting in our mailboxes, and were released to the weekend early...


On the way home, I took a picture of this year's ice castle (in Saranac Lake) out of my car window...we'll be visiting it today with Ben, and watching fireworks over the frozen lake tonight...

1 comment:

LaLa said...

Wow just wow.