November 25, 2005
When I was growing up, we skied Manhattan during the summers.No, not New York. Manhattan Park in East Grand Rapids, Mich. Though it was nearly as flat as the Big Apple, it still offered the most topographically interesting terrain within biking/walking distance from our homes.It was also the finest mountain biking within our middle-schoolers’ bubble of a world. But after the 100th time or so, the biking got dull. So we hauled some old skis to the park, clicked in at the top of one of the hills and made a bunch of jump turns down the slope in our shorts, arguing over who was Scott Schmidt and who was Glen Plake. Then we did it again. And again.We named just about all the trails – over-the-top names like Certain Death or Little Slice of Heaven. We destroyed our skis. And I’m sure we bloodied a knee or two.They won’t be building any chairlifts at Manhattan any time soon, but it was all we had at the time. And actual winter skiing in southwest Michigan is not a whole lot better than jumping and sliding around on our dirt trails. (Plake can attest to this, since he visited our real ski hill one year, though as far as I know he’s never taken on Certain Death.)At the end of this Thanksgiving weekend, let’s be grateful we live somewhere like Aspen. Very few are so lucky.Riding Gent’s Ridge on Thanksgiving Day, I was thinking of home and the family and friends there whom I miss. But I shed no tears. No, it was all smiles following the early morning discovery of the soft stuff on the sides of Northstar.Yeah, there were a few rocks poking through here and there. But believe me, not as many as there are at Manhattan.