Fifty-six years ago, I lived in a 32-square-foot trailer in the Sun Valley parking lot. A lot has happened in the past 56 years, but some things never change. This winter, I am living in a big doublewide trailer near The Yellowstone Club parking lot. This trailer is 1,200 square feet and has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a large kitchen, a living room and a dining room. It is as deluxe as a tract house in Torrance, California, without an attached garage.
Fortunately, my new trailer is much more luxurious than the tiny 4x8 trailer from Sun Valley. Unfortunately, like I said, some things never change. Last night when I arrived home from a late dinner, the temperature was two degrees below zero inside my trailer. Apparently, my furnace had broken in the middle of the afternoon and ice had already formed in the bowl that was half full of water in my kitchen sink. It was too late to get anyone to come and fix the furnace and I knew from my previous trailer experience that I was in for a very long night.
First, I checked all of the faucets and left them running just a little bit so they would drip all night and not freeze up while I slept. Then, I took the blankets off of the twin beds and spread them out on the king-size bed.
Next, I put on a turtleneck, my heaviest ski sweater, a pair of long johns and a pair of wool socks. At that point, I had what I thought was just about the right insulation to ward of the zero-degree cold that would be creeping through the walls and windows during the balance of the night. This plan worked until about 3 a.m. when I woke up shivering.
I turned on the lights, wandered around and checked all of the faucets. Fortunately, they were still dripping at the same rate that I had set them, but ice was starting to build up in the three sinks. Once again, I filled up the toilets with hot water. All of the drains were still working, so I thought everything was under control for the next couple of hours.
I climbed into my warmest ski suit, hoping it would provide enough insulation for the balance of the night. I put on an extra pair of wool socks and tucked myself in. As soon as I stopped shivering, I fell right to sleep.
I woke up three hours later, turned on all of the stove burners, ran hot water in the sinks to melt the ice and cooked a big pot of oatmeal. I called the mechanic who quickly showed up, gave up after about an hour and called Sparks, the electrician. When Sparks showed up with all of his equipment, I couldnt understand a word he was saying as he explained why my furnace wasnt working. I left him in the frozen trailer to solve the problem.
I was halfway up on the quad chairlift with three friends when I realized that my ski boots had also spent the night in my deep-freeze trailer. My feet havent been that cold since I broke through the ice on Mud Lake at Squaw Valley in 1949 and had to ride down on the chairlift dripping-wet because there wasnt enough snow to ski all the way down.
Fortunately, after three runs without feeling either of my feet and as far up my right leg as the 16-inch titanium rod goes, I was able to convince my friends to break for an early cup of hot chocolate. As my extremities began to thaw, I wondered for a moment why I hadnt listened to some of my friends who have quit skiing in favor of trying to break a hundred on a golf course in Palm Springs.
I probably havent made the switch because there is nothing else like skiing. Nothing in skiing down a hill has anything to do with wealth, age, reputation or anything else. It doesnt involve scores or courts or courses or fields. Skiing simply involves the pure pleasure of skiing and the rationalization that if I was younger, my body might just do what my mind wants it to do.
If I have to suffer through a few cold nights in order to ski, its worth it. Thats easy for me to say now that my furnace is fixed and I have brought the trailer temperature up high enough to take off a couple of layers of clothes and relax. Plus, the electrical magician who fixed my furnace gave me something special to ensure warm nights for the rest of the winter his home phone number.