February 1996 ski trip to Big Sky, Montana

WARNING: If you are a vegetarian, you probably want to skip this story. I may work on a vegetarian version at a later date.

Here is the long-awaited sequel to the story I never wrote. This is what was supposed to happen: I fly into Salt Lake city, meet Trok (real name Steven) who flew in from Chicago, and we take a flight to Bozeman Montana to go skiing. All this was pre-planned, so nothing other than what was described should happen, right? Well, if that happened, there would be no point to write this story. I even spoke to Trok in the morning to go over what would happen if one of us missed our connecting flight. The plan was that whoever made the flight would get the rental car, a Chevy Cavalier, go to the lodge and then come back in the morning and pick up the other. Not pleasant, but really no other choice. We really didnít think this would happen anyway.

Once again, this is what was supposed to happen the first day. I would fly into Salt Lake City, Trok would fly into Salt Lake City from Chicago and we would both take a flight to Bozeman. The time between connections for me is one hour. Letís just say that the only accurate part is that I flew into Salt Lake City.

Iíll skip the bullshit that is encountered when flying out of JFK airport, the worst in the world. We, being everyone on the plane and myself, taxi out about five minutes late. An announcement is made that the flight will take four hours and 15 minutes. The scheduled flight was for just over 5 hours, so now I have an extra 45 minutes wait for the connection, making it a whopping one hour forty-five minute wait, or 105 minutes. We take the ridiculous serpentine path to liftoff, covering a couple of miles, when an announcement comes over the speaker that we have to go back to the gate because a pressure valve wonít close, which allows the cabin to pressurize so we can breathe while in the air. It didnít really bother me because I have room for error now with the extra time between connections. Another announcement is made that it should only take a few minutes because maintenance will manually close the valve. We spend 90 minutes back at the gate and finally taxi out again and liftoff. No problem, I still have ten additional minutes added to my original 60. An announcement is made that the flight will be four hours fifty minutes. Uh-oh! I guess he said that before, but I misheard fifteen for fifty.

Hmmm, let me see. The two hours and fifteen minutes I thought I had, has to be recalculated. Subtract 90 minutes for late takeoff and 35 minutes for correct flight time. Iíll be late by about twenty minutes. While we are in the air, another announcement is made that they cannot tell us if the connecting flights will wait because that is a local decision. Just before getting into Salt Lake city, another announcement is made that gives us the gates of our connecting flights, but to check with the Delta agent as to the status of the connections. This makes me a little scared.

We land twenty minutes late, just like I calculated. My assumption is that a connecting flight will wait up to an hour for the passengers. I was wrong. When I ask about my flight, the response is, "Oh, Bozeman is gone. Youíll have to go to the ticket counter and reschedule." Sarcastically: Great! Luckily I spoke to Trok in the morning about what to do if one of us misses our connection.

I take the long trek to the ticket counter; This is big frigginí airport! They book me on an 11:30am flight the next day, into a hotel about 15 minutes from the airport in Woodscross, give me taxi vouchers to and from the hotel, and give me a four dollar voucher for breakfast. I go outside and look for a taxi. The first one I walk up to, wearing a big cowboy hat, says he is not taking any passengers right now. I wait for another, and ask him. He looks puzzled than says that after he unloads his passengers he will be glad to help me. He is a little slow in the brain department, but who am I to complain; I just want to go to the hotel and get in touch with Trok.

I get in the taxi. There are two six-packs of beer on the floor. Oh great, this guy isnít "slow," heís drunk! Ahh, who cares, letís go. He tells me, "Hey, lay down in the back seat until I pass the terminal." Huh, what could possibly be the reason for this? Was he going to kill me? Like I said, I just wanted to get to the hotel, so I did it. He explained to me that he wasnít really supposed to pick up passengers after dropping some off. He would have to circle the terminal and drive into the "loading" zone instead of the "drop off" zone, which is just the next lane, separated by a curb. It turns out he wasnít drunk, he was just a little slow.

I make it to the hotel at about 11pm local time, 1am NY time, and it starts snowing. I ask the front desk to give me a wake-up call at 8am and have a taxi for me at 9am to give me plenty of time in case of another fuck-up. I go to my room and leave a message at the hotel for Trok to call me back. I fall asleep waiting for the call. The phone rings at 12:45am. I tell Trok my flight information and go to sleep. I wake up. I have no watch. None of the TV channels show the time. What time is it!!! I go to the front desk. It is 7:45am. That makes sense; I am still on NY time, and I would be waking up now. I go back to my room and get the wake-up call at 8am. Good, they are reliable. I go down to get my taxi at 8:50am and ask if there was a taxi due at 9am. They said yes. At 9:05, the woman at the front desk comes up to me and says that the taxi service doesnít know where the taxi is but they are sending one immediately. It comes in ten minutes with a guy with no larynx. I make it to the airport by 10am. The plane leaves about ten minutes late and Trok picks me up at the airport.

There was no Chevy Cavalierís left, so we got a Nissan Pathfinder 4-wheel drive. Yes! On our beautiful scenic drive back to buckís T-4 Lodge, Trok tells me that he didnít even get to Salt Lake City. When he got to the airport in Chicago, he was told that his flight would be two hours late. No good, he only has a 45 minute stopover. So they book him on a United flight to Minneapolis and then he takes a Northwest flight directly to Bozeman. He said he was going to surprise me in Bozeman, thinking that I would be pissed off that he missed his connection, and then, SURPRISE, heís there already! The joke was on him when I wasnít there.

Bozeman received about 8 inches of snow overnight and the roads were terrible, so the 40 mile trek took an hour. Finally, we make it to the lodge, and I dump my stuff in the room. Lunch time.

For those of you looking for more sex and violence in my stories, there was none, so I made some up; I hope you will enjoy it. Upon arriving at our lodge in the middle of a Sunday with nothing to do, we headed down the road to a small pub. I have a buffalo burger. I thought it would be cool to try and join a militia group for our one week stint in Montana, one of the states know to have many militant groups. We didnít want to seem to eager, or else we might be mistaken for government agents. I started reading my Sucklist to Trok, and a guy with nine fingers and nine teeth seemed to take interest. We got to talking, one thing led to another, and he told us to meet him outside after we finish eating.

We go outside and he took us in his pickup truck into the mountains. There was a small shack with a bunch of criminal types and burly looking girls. Elmo took us for another drive into a large field with what appeared to be porti-potties at the end of the field. We were given guns, someone yelled, "Yo-Ho," then a bunch of people ran from the porti-potties. We were told to shoot them. I got all four I aimed for and Trok got only one. We were told that they were members of the FBI, CIA and ATF that were captured recently. We went back to the shack, told about their operation, and asked to join. We agreed, for fear of our lives.

There was a big party to follow where we all had drugs, moonshine whiskey and an orgy ensued. Out of the whole crowd, there was one particular girl who caught my eye. She was a short blonde girl with huge hooters and all of her teeth. I went over to her and we struck up a conversation about salamanders and newts. Her name was Elma. We had a lot to drink and she brought me outside to a barn where she stripped out of her clothes. We then took one of the zebraís out of itís pen and had sex on the back of the zebra, while riding through Gallatin National Forrest in a snowstorm.

When we woke up in the morning back in the barn, she told me that she was Elmoís sister, and that he was the actual Oklahoma City Bomber. Timothy McVeigh was just there to scout out the building. The bomb was supposed to go off at night, but the clock on the bomb only had a 12 hour timer, not a 24 hour timer like Elmo thought, so it went off at 9am instead of 9pm. They wanted to claim responsibility for the bomb if it went off in an empty building to give their "cause" a name, but because they didnít mean to hurt anyone, they thought if they claimed responsibility for it, that they would lose a lot of support.

I told Elma that I was against what happened in Oklahoma, and the next thing I knew, I was bonked over the head. Trok and I woke up at 6pm in our room with a note that said, "Great shooting, great sex, but youíre too frigginí weird for us."

Dinner time. We go to the Dining Room for an expensive dinner. Might as well eat in style our first day. I have Antelope. Yummy! I have a stout beer called Zonker. Excellent! We go back to the room and watch some TV before turning in to get a good night sleep before we have our first skiing adventure.

Itís funny, but the main reason for the trip, the skiing, is not the purpose of this story. Today, Monday, I wake up at 7:30am and we have breakfast in the lodge, then head out into the sub-zero temperature. Itís only a 15 minute drive to our destination. We pay five dollars for a premium spot and buy our 4 out of 5 day lift ticket, then go inside so I can find and "ugly" hat which I was unable to do in NY. Schwing, I find the exact hats I as in the market for. I get the hat with the 20 spikes sticking out. I also see a cat-in-the-hat style also. Iíll get that tomorrow. As for the skiing, the conditions were great, the insides of my nose froze, and the Masque, that French piece of shit didnít do a thing, so I stopped using it. I got a fresh turkey sandwich for lunch. I have never seen good food, let alone fresh food at any ski resort. All day, people are making comments to me about my hat, all positive of course. We finish skiing at about 3:30pm and go to the bar to wind down. I get a Black Dog Ale, and Trok gets a hot chocolate with peppermint Schnapps. We go back to the lodge, and I have the stew tonight at the grill section. It consists of "wild game" meat from antelope, buffalo, elk and wild boar. It was basically unfilling. I had an American unfiltered wheat beer, also non-satisfying. We go to sleep at 10:30 or so.

The next day, the following things happened the same way: I wake up at 7:30am, we eat breakfast at the lodge, itís cold, and we ski. I bought the two and a half foot high Dr. Suess hat today and get all positive comments again. Nothing unusual happens today. We go to the bar at the mountain, and I have another Black Dog Ale. We have Pizza tonight at the grill. It was okay. I also have another Zonker tonight and we go to sleep around 10:30 again.

Wednesday, is Yellowstone day. Slight more than 40 miles from our lodge is the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park. We get there around 11am, hitting a top speed of about 80mph. We rent snowmobiles, the only for of transportation into the park in winter. We also get helmets and boots due to the sub-zero temperatures. In our adventures through Yellowstone, we average only about 20mph because we didnít want to finish the extravaganza too early. We were told that the trip to Old Faithful and back, which is about 60 miles, would take five hours at a leisurely pace. We admire the hot springs and scenery along the way, and get to Old Faithful about one minute after it erupts, so we have to wait another hour (actual times vary between 52 and 100 minutes). After itís eruption, we head back at 30-35mph, because we are a little behind schedule. We make it back to the rental place at about 4:30pm, and then head over to the IMAX theater to take in a 6 story high movie. The feature movie is about Yellowstone starts at 5pm and the Grand Canyon movie started at 6pm, so we see the Yellowstone movie. We then head back to the lodge and tonight we eat in the dining room again. I have pasta with chicken, but no lemon juice. Another Zonker, also. Like before, we go to sleep about 10:30pm.

Thursdayís started the non-mundane aspects of out skiing. We started taking chances by going off-trail and to the more steep trails. At one point we got gutsy and started heading down a pretty steep black diamond trail, but after just 20 feet of so, we stopped and decided it was to dangerous. We had to walk back up the start of the trail to a pathway leading past this trail. It was steep, and I was a little tired, but Trok almost died from exhaustion. He was laying there like a lump of jelly. We rested a couple of minutes and then took the trail that never ends. I guess we built up some courage later, because we decided to go off-trail into some trees. It sure was fun, and pretty scary, too. There was a little jump where we went airborne on a narrow path that maybe one skier went through before. I skied right over a three and a half foot scrub, with one leg on each side. What a thrill! I crashed into a tree, and fell many times but had fun doing it. The snow was so soft here that when I tried to stand up, my skis would sink about 3 feet into the snow.

We finally saw daylight through the trees and made our way out only to find that we were at the top of a 30 foot cliff. Uh-oh, we canít go this way. We decide to head to left and do end up by a 10 foot cliff, where we determined that we are not making any progress trying to escape our surroundings, so we remove our skis and toss them down the cliff. Next, we climb down the rocky, branchy cliff to our safety. Excellent rush! When we break for lunch, I am pretty tired to the point where I might call it quits, but figure I might as well die trying to ski rather sit it out. After a couple of runs I seem to regain my energy. Toward the end of the day we are getting tired from our excursions but decide to head to the wide open fairly steep section of the upper mountain. I fall quite a few times, once going airborne in reverse and crashing on my back, losing my skis in the process about 10 feet up the mountain. Ouch, but I am still alive, so not big deal. It was fun anyway. I claim my skis and decide to slide down on my butt for about 30 feet until I see some stable ground. We finish up and decide to try it at this spot tomorrow before we get tired so that we can conquer this section. We head to the bar at the mountain then head back to the lodge.

I am achy, so I go to the outdoor Jacuzzi today.

Tonight I have the elk burger at the grill. It tastes good, but has some pieces of fat that you can get in a regular hamburger, so I am not at all happy with this choice of dinner. However, a waiter at the bar looks very much like the lead singer of Cracker (yes way), who of course used to be the lead singer for Camper Van Beethoven. That is a bit of information for those of you who did not know. I kept trying to see if I can see a sign that the guy really is the lead singer of Cracker, so I loudly spurt out some Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven lyrics but to no avail. However, I am relentless and keep trying every time he comes near. I could have asked him, but that would have taken away the fun. I still think it was him.

Friday, our last full day, and another daring and exciting skiing day. I wake up atÖ7:30; what a surprise. As usual, we arrive at the mountain at the same time, and take one practice run before trying the trail where I crashed and burned. I traversed the trail a little further toward the center before heading downwards. This, combined with my early day strength made the trail quite easy today. We did a couple of more trails through the trees, zapping all of our energy. To round out of skiing for the day we do a couple of the wide trails that we started on Monday and go past closing time today; skiing until a little after 4pm. To the bar, another hot chocolate with Peppermint schnapps, then home.

I need the hot tub again today, and find it packed to capacity. There is barely any room to sit inside but there is nothing going to stop me.

Tonight is the dinner that we decide to "go for it." I am deciding between the buffalo streak and the New Zealand red deer. When I convey my dilemma to the waitress, she says that itís no contest; the red deer is the choice of all the staff of anything on the menu. I am also told that at most restaurants that serve American elk will use the New Zealand red deer as a substitute because it is very similar. Trok gets the Caribou venison. Both meals are unbelievable great. For dessert, we get a chocolate torte. Until this week, I did not know what a torte was. It is a piece of cake make of something not unlike pure chocolate fudge. Schwing! Day over, trip over. Or is itÖ

Finally, Saturday morning and we decide to hang out in Bozeman for an hour instead of staying at the lodge. We head out at about 11am and want to push the Pathfinder to it limits but get stuck behind some Montana hick who probably does this on purpose to get out-of-towners riled up. When we finally pass him (it is too dangerous to do it most of the way due to the winding road through the mountains) I put the pedal to the metal. We make it to 92mph before I am satisfied with our speed to slow it down to 75mph.

Bozeman is a cute little town. We park and go to a record store where Trok buys the new Too Much Joy CD and Robyn Hitchcockís Element Of Light. Next is a card shop where I buy some postcards (I forgot to do that at our lodge). Our final destination in Bozeman is a music store where I pick up a guitar and try to play Glycerine by Bush, partially non-successfully. Back to the car and off to the airport. We go to Salt Lake City, eat and then part way. I head to NY and am told due to snow, we might be diverted to Philly. Luckily, we didnít. Phew! Just fit on five pages.